Sunday, October 30, 2011

The dog in her favorite spot.
Me in mine.

It's good to be home.

I spent the week in Denver meeting the Boy's family. (I'm going to have to come up with a blog name for him. Capitalizing Boy like that makes it look like he's some sort of weird deity.) It went well. As well as could be expected given my near disdain for staying with people...and meeting new people...and talking to people.

And did I mention that I stayed with people?

They were altogether gracious and hospitable. If you're ever looking for people to stay with, I can't recommend these folks enough. I'm just not a staying with people kind of person.

More on all that later.

Right now, my bed is calling.
My bed.

Like I said, it's good to be home.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A foxhole

At one point, I just looked at him and said, "You know, I have no idea what to do here. No idea. If you could just keep me from fucking it up any worse. Please."

In case you've ever wondered, what does it sound like when my doctor prays?

Except, maybe it doesn't sound like that at all. Maybe your doctor has his spiritual shit together and his prayers are all, "Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy medical knowledge..." Or maybe your doctor is a brilliant atheist (I've yet to meet a stupid atheist) who never finds himself standing at your bedside at 3 am with no idea what to do next.

Maybe this is just what it sounds like when I pray.

I don't do it often at work. It's not because I don't need the help. (God knows I need all the help I can get.) I don't ask for help because I'm not sure that God cares about the same things that I do.

I am all about making you better in this moment--relieving your suffering, curing your disease, keeping you safe. And, I'm just not sure that he's all about those things.

That said, when I had absolutely no idea what to do next, I looked at him and said, "Please."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

An accident

We have a young teenager in the unit this week. This is to say, we have a child in the unit this week. He was hit by a car. There was no room in the pediatric ICU, so he is with us. I much prefer to take care of kids. (Even when they're really sick? Isn't that sad and depressing? Yes, even when they're really sick. For reasons I can't explain, this kind of sad does not depress me.) As such, I may be the only one in the unit who doesn't wish we could transfer him.

Yesterday afternoon, the family descended on the unit, a flock of red eyed, puffy faced birds, thrown out of their v-shaped flight into a pile of broken winged mess. They were exhausted, but restless. When people brushed past them in the hall, they drew back, as if every unexpected touch was a static shock. They looked and behaved as people often do right after an accident--a lot like desperate addicts, pacing for relief they can neither conjure nor find.

They came in waves to his bed. Surrounding him on three sides, they stared at his body and looked for the boy they knew. And then they tried to will him to wake up. One of his many aunts reached across the bed, over his chest, and grabbed his mom's hand. "He's going to be fine," she said, wild eyed. "I can feel it. I just know it." The rest of them joined in chorus. He was a strong boy. He was going to get through this. He would wake up, his hair would grow to hide that 8 inch scar on his head, and he would walk right out of here, back to video games and after school sports and girls.

I had to hold myself back. I wanted to grab his aunt's hand with the same force as she had grab his mom's and say, "Stop saying that. You don't know that he's going to be fine. And it doesn't help." It doesn't help because his mom knows that he may not be fine. As she looks down at those staples in his head, his purple eye swollen shut, she knows. And as the chorus sings out in denial of all that lies in front of them, she is left alone to face it.

Hours later, after they've all been persuaded to go home, she and I sit with him. She is at the head of the bed, stroking his forehead, whispering half prayers. I am at the foot, sipping tea, staring at the monitor over his head, trying to decide what I'm going to do next if that intracranial pressure keeps going up. She has just finished doing reiki and the room smells of white angelica, an oil of protection and security, strength and endurance. I find myself hoping he soaks up every drop of it. I'm running out of things to try, and I really want to tell her that he's going to be fine.