Sunday, June 17, 2012
There were a lot of really terrible days during Brennis' hospitalization and recovery. Many great, wonderful days filled with love and friends and family but certainly many other ugly, sad, gut wrenching days we just had to get through and relegate to our past.
The day of Brennis' surgery was one of those days. Brennis was in the hospital for ten days total but it seemed like the day of his surgery took up about a week of that time. I had been at the hospital almost the entire time since Brennis was admitted except for an hour long daily trip home to see the dog and get a quick shower. 98% of that time I was sitting in the chair next to his bed (the other 2% I was out smoking cigarettes in my car). After Brennnis' surgery was over there was no place for me. They took Brennis right from the operating room back to his room (which at this hospital was equipped as a stand-alone Intensive Care Unit) where he would be monitored by a one-on-one nurse until they were able to remove the breathing tube. I was only allowed back during a very short visitation period that evening. I felt a bit misplaced but I was somewhat grateful for the time away.
I don't recall what I did during that time. I think I went home and fell asleep with the dog on the couch. I had stayed with Brennis at the hospital partly because I wanted to be with him but also because our house had ceased being a place I enjoyed with him not there. Actually, I hated being there. It was quiet and seemed darker. It definately had no "life" inside. Even during my short trips home I felt a huge weight of sadness while I was there an couldn't wait to leave. Thankfully people were coming several times a day to take care of our dog Chance. I did miss Chance but every time I looked at him all I saw was his sadness because his Daddy wasn't home. Being there was just too emotionally draining for me. It was too quiet.
When it was finally time to go for the visitation that evening I was glad to be able to see Brennis again. I knew that he would be in an awful state. He would be hooked up to all sorts of machines, have a breathing tube in his mouth and would probably still be unconscious. I didn't care. I just wanted to see him.
I got there just as the visitation hour began. In fact, as I was pulling into the hospital parking lot I was in line behind Brennis' mother and his brother. Thankfully we all got to the room at the same time so we could be there for each other.
Brennis looked very much like I had imagined. He was still unconscious but his color was good and despite the tubes and wires I could tell that everything was fine. His nurse was at the foot of his bed attending to the dozen or so monitors and controlling the input of the drugs that were being remotedly administered by tubes dangling from poles that surrounded Brennis like a metal curtain. "You're just in time," she said. "We were just waking him up".
We were all excited and felt very fortunate to be able to be there when Brennis woke up. All three of us surrounded Brennis and talked to him while the nurse slowly began to stop the medication that was keeping him unconscious and allowed him to regain consciousness. It didn't take much time at all. We were there to see him wake up and, more importantly, he was able to know that we were there when he woke up. I was standing next to his bed rubbing my hand on his forehead when he opened his eyes. As he slowly regained consciousness we could tell he was trying to talk. He mouthed the word "Love". After a few moments he mouthed "Ow!". We knew then that he was going to be alright. He couldn't really talk but between those two words and the "thumbs up" sign he was able to give us we communicated quite a bit in our short visit.
Anyone who knows Brennis will tell you that he likes to talk. I rembember when we first started dating when I was in college I fell asleep during our first telephone conversation because he was nervous and rambling on and on about something (not sure exactly, I was sleeping). He isn't one of those people who talk and talk and don't listen to what you have to say. He just likes to talk. He likes to tell stories and shoot the breeze. So it was more than a little strange all of us being in the room together because we had always relied on him to be the conversationalist. If he wasn't talking he was giving us something great and fun to talk about. So we were mostly quiet.
Soon the nurse told us she had to perform some tests to see if they would be able to take his breathing tube out. After a few minutes and a lot of effort on Brennis' part he passed the test and the nurse was able to take his breathing tube out. Because the tube was such an irritant to his throat he still wasn't able to do more than whisper "Love" & "Ow".....I'm fairly sure there was still so many drugs coursing through his veins that they might have been the only two words he could remember.
We didn't stay long. We wanted him to rest and there really was nothing to say. We knew he loved us and that he was in pain. He communicated with us everything that was going on in his life with two words and a thumbs up gesture.
It seems strange that we spend so much time trying to explain ourselves, to struggle to get our point across, to tell someone how we feel about them when this very highly emotional, complicated situation could be summed up with two words and a hand gesture. It made me wonder if we spend too much time trying to "communicate" when really we could just say what we really mean. How many times have you tried to be honest with someone and didn't want to hurt their feelings and ended up just confusing them? How often do we beat around the bush when we really want to tell someone that we like them.....or love them (or don't like them)?
Living in the moment means making the most of the time we have. It means seizing the opportuntities that lay before us and taking advantage of them. Part of that is being able to communicate what we need to the people around us. I am genereally guilty of letting my passive-agressive side win when I am tired and don't feel like dealing with problems. I just storm around and don't say anything.....angry that nobody knows why I am upset.
There are a lot of reasons that we don't always say what we want to say: We don't want to hurt people's feelings; we don't feel like getting into an argument; we are not entirely sure we really believe what we are going to say. I have to believe, however, that there are many more reasons why we should say what we want to say. It is direct. It gets us what we need. It allows the people around us to know us better because we are being our authentic selves. It is honest.
Once again it is about choice. How can I make the most out of this opportunity to communicate with the person standing in front of me? What is it that I want to say and how can I say it in the best way? And it's not just the tough stuff. We often miss an opportunity to tell people the good things too. We figure there will be another opportunity. Sometimes there isn't. We've been given a voice. It is a gift. We are not doing anyone any favors by not using it.
That night I went home to sleep. It was quiet and lonely and I was up most of the night wanting to call the hospital to check on Brennis' status. They had told me that I could call as much as I wanted but I knew that they were busy and every phone call took them away from patients. I also knew that if something was wrong they would call me. So I curled up on the couch with Chance. We layed there silently and drifted in and out of sleep. I missed the sound of Brennis' voice. I missed his footsteps in the hallway. I missed all of the little quirky annoying things that used to make me roll my eyes at him. I knew that the worst was over and he would be home soon. That made me feel better. Without him my life was too quiet.
Posted by Todd at 7:38 PM