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What Was Old is New Again

“He scares me. I’m an ICU doctor, and he scares me.” Those were the words spoken as James was being admitted to ICU on Friday. He had already been in the hospital for a few days, but now he was working much too hard to breathe and needed help right away, before things got a lot worse. He was on the maximum amount of vapotherm (heated, high-flow canula), so help this time would come in the form of intubation and a ventilator. This was the only way to give his little body a break and let it begin to heal. I never imagined the day would come where I, once again, would be at his bedside, watching oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and heart rate on the monitor over his head. It felt like a nightmare and I wanted so badly to wake up. James had not been this weak and this sick since he was born.

We were thrown back into a world with blood gases, PICC lines, art lines, vent weans, daily x-rays, NG tubes, blood cultures, ET tube cultures…and the list goes on and on. It was terrifying. “We’re doing everything we can.” “He’s not out of the woods yet.” “We will watch him very closely.” Statements were spoken that filled us with fear, questions and uncertainty. How would we get through this? How would James? And then old instincts kicked in. This is a world we know very well. We’ve got this. We slowed down and concentrated on the moment at hand. He was stable, and stayed that way. Then he required slightly less oxygen. Then he was starting to breathe over the vent. James was doing better than expected. We used our old tricks to comfort him, and let him know he wasn’t alone. James used his old tricks, and a few new ones, to show us he’s got a lot fight left in him.

James has made remarkable progress the last couple days, and we’ve adjusted to this world again. There’s nothing scarier than seeing him back on a ventilator, but our experience has given us some peace amidst the fear. We’ve learned having a critically ill child feels similar whether they are a tiny micro preemie in the NICU, or a two-year old in ICU. And although we were frightened of the uncertainty before us, we fell back into old routines and we’re getting through this one day at a time. Like a good friend said, it’s a lot like riding a bike.

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2 thoughts on “What Was Old is New Again

  1. I wish I could take all the uncertainty, fear, and sheer exhaustion you are feeling and take it from you, if only for a few minutes. Your strength and insight never cease to amaze me, Alison. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in even the toughest times. You are touching so many people through James’ story.

    • Thank you Faye. I wish I could do that for him too…wish I could take it all on for him. There are lots of times I don’t feel all that strong, believe me. Somehow God gives us what we need, our strength is sufficient for what we face. I have found that to be true through so many situations with James. I hope the blog is helpful to someone, but even if it isn’t, it is very theraputic for me. Helps me to put things in perspective at times. Thanks for all your support and prayers for James…it makes a difference.

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