The day consists of 3 hour long visits 11, 4 and 7.30. We got there for the first one on Saturday. The ICU unit at the hospital was not open yet, which gave Sal a chance to greet the other visitors, like old friends I might add, a little community supporting the patients inside.
Toms mom and dad we’re there and it was good to meet them and discuss the last few days, Jane a source of knowledge at every turn.
Tom was awake and happy to see me when he could take his eyes off Sal for a minute. In quite a talkative mood, which took me a while to get used to as he mouths the words but the voice box doesn’t get any air so no sound.
Progress had been made on the ventilator (as his lung had fought off the
infection) and he’s was back on cpap, which is a system which allows the patient to partially breath on his own. The nurses were very nice, quite happy to talk and answer questions, Toms main nurse during the day is a guy with a little gold speck in his front tooth full of smiles, information and positive talk. The second visit Tom was quieter a little drowsy but still smiling and talking. Tom’s in a bed next to about 6 patients, all of whom you learn the stories of as the visits pass and have been there for some weeks. The atmosphere is about stability and progress, as slow as each one may be.
The next day i noticed a real change in Tom (Sunday). The morning visit he was pretty drowsy, conversation was limited but he was thinking and choosing his words much more carefully, perhaps a little pensive, still with smiles and questions of my life. The afternoon and evening visits he was all eyes end facial expressions which I know, to me this signalled an acceptance and acknowledgement of the requirement of what the day brings. As emotional and devastating as this is, Tom seemed ready, compassion and understanding for himself, a realism to the mammoth task ahead, for that day.
By Monday morning the lung doctor instructed the ventilator to be turned down again and Tuesday for him to breath on his own. Amongst the many battles he faces, the two I felt he was well aware of were his physical and his psychological battle. Both encouraging the other as even small gains can be felt and certainly made, on both fronts, while I was there.
In addition to spending time with Tom I was able to catch up with Sal, who deserves a special mention. She has many balls to juggle and not enough time, she has a knowledge of Tom and his needs so inherent, it was amazingly comforting to watch. The shock has taken a considerable toll on many people as Tom is such a wonderful man and touched so many, Sal on the top of that pile. She soldiers on being there in every way for Tom, keeping her girls parented and all of us informed, in two countries. With so many variables, and an honesty and determination which makes us very lucky to have her there. Thanks Sal.