Yesterday, Vernon had another procedure that would allow the doctors to try to drain the hematoma in his pelvic region. They didn’t discover the infection living there, so the mystery continues. I trust it will be discovered soon. He continues to run high sweating fevers, but this could also be the body reacting to the drug withdrawal as well as the head-trauma.
However, today we were pleasantly surprised to discover that they were ready to trial Vernon off the ventilator. In this case oxygen is delivered to Vernon through a ‘mask’ over the trach in his neck and he is able to exhale on his own. It can be challenging for the patient to get used to this breathing, but it didn’t take long for him to get the hang of it, and when I left the hospital later in the day, he was still using it. The nurse told me that if he kept breathing well on it, it wouldn’t be a trial wean after all, and he could stay off the ventilator for good.
Perhaps we should change the name of the blog?
In the past couple of days, as Vernon’s eyes have opened wider and he has been able to squeeze some communication through his arm, I have been feeling the need to be by his side even more to give him a voice to hold on to. Yesterday, I thought to ask him if it was dark. He squeezed my hand hard, and I realized that though his eyes are open, he can’t actually see any of us. He hears all these voices around him, some strange, some familiar. I told one of the surgeons that Vernon was now able to communicate a bit through his hand and arm, but when the surgeon held his hand, Vernon refused to squeeze it. In Vernon’s mind, this man (who has visited him nearly every day) was a stranger. It was then that I realized the importance of my own voice in his room. I think he must be quite frightened as he tries to make sense of the fog. A loving touch and familiar voice must be such a relief.
And actually, its a relief to me to know that he recognizes mine.
Today, Vernon had a new (to us) nurse in the room. Lynda is big on making sure the patient works toward their recovery. It wasn’t just enough to see Vernon was exhaling without a respirator. She wanted to challenge him to start following voice commands. As it is unlikely he can see us, she wanted to have him try to move toward our voices. He couldn’t move his head or his eyes yet, but we could tell he was straining hard to move his right side (again the shoulder-arm-hand) toward the sounds of those he knew. She encouraged us to keep commanding him to move his thumb, as the cognitive head-hand connection would be important for him to make. He isn’t there yet, but I can see he is straining to make something happen. After a few tries, he was exhausted enough to sleep again for awhile. I believe his trying is a very good sign that his brain is still strong and that he WANTS to be strong as well.
And this is how we inch forward…