Sunday, August 30, 2009

Laughter reigned in the ICU

As many of you know, my mom’s occupied a room in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital after undergoing open heart surgery more than a month ago. She experienced two respiratory arrests during the last five weeks and was on a ventilator/breathing machine most recently for more than two weeks.

Thank heavens . . . to quote a cliché, “she has turned the corner” and her health improves daily. The doctors decided to put a tracheostomy into her neck which sounds horrible but since then, her difficulty breathing has eased considerably. And as her breathing becomes better, her sense of humor erupts full force almost daily to the point she nearly made one of the nurses pee her pants tonight laughing.

Mom requested I place a cold rag for her head. A minute or so later, she made a grimace and gestured her fist towards her head several times like she was pounding something into her forehead. OH, NO, I think. She's got a horrible headache or is it a stroke?

Scared to death, I ordered her to tap out a message explaining the problem on an alphabet board. And this is the message I received:

“I need to tack the cloth to my brain. It keeps slipping.”

Relief swept through me. I laughed till I wheezed and me, being me, I told her I was going to ask her nurse if Mom could borrow her stapler. Tape would do if they didn’t trust her with the stapler. She chuckled silently and shooed me on to see what the nurse would say.

Of course, the nurse entered the room with a frown. “What do you need a stapler for, Mary?” Mom pantomimed that she wanted to staple the cloth to her forehead while I explained what she wanted. Thought we’d have to clean up the floor when the nurse finished laughing. I did end up taping the cloth to Mom's forehead anyway, just to tease her.

Candace, her nurse, told her that soon they would put a valve in her tracheostomy which would allow her to talk again. “Then you can cuss us nasty old nurses out.” Mom made the “who?…lil’ old Me cuss you out?” face and batted her eyelashes all sweet and innocent looking.

I told her I really wanted to know what word she said first when she could talk. That woman, my dear sweet 82-year-old mother, looked so pensive and thoughtful and onery (up to playing tricks) that both the nurse and I laughed till I ended up wiping tears from my eyes.

We’ll see what she says.

Report to follow . . .

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