Breath Holding

November 12, 2006


Mom was moved to ICU today. When I arrived this morning, her pulse/ox was only at 88 (normal is mid-nineties), which means she wasn’t getting enough oxygen. After a chest x-ray that was ordered “Stat”, we got a radiologist’s report that things hadn’t changed much. Which in this situation was a blessing. Couple that with the fact that her fever has all but gone away, we exhaled a little bit.

But then the pulmologist came in. And his opinion made us catch our next breath. His opinion was nothing like the radiologist’s. His was much, much scarier.

Basically he said some kind of virus (best as they can tell) has roared through her lungs and done considerable damage to the areas between the lung cells – or the interstitutal areas and she was losing lung function. She needed to be moved to the ICU where she could receive oxygen in a better way and we needed to try massive doses of steroids to hopefully reverse the inflammatory process that is progressing aggressively.

The message was not delivered gently, but it was clear. If the steroids don’t work, we’re going to lose her.

Is it ironic that it feels like we are holding our breath for the steroids to work – and my mom is struggling to breathe? Or is it in bad taste? I don’t know. My day started at 4am and I lost my ability to think clearly hours ago.

We’ve spent the day making phone calls to friends and family with updates – each with the caveat that Mom, my Grandmother and The Swimmy know none of this – and never will in a perfect world. We visit with friends and family and apologize lovingly for not allowing them the opportunity to visit my Mom…because if she saw a flood of people showing up at the hospital, she would know something was wrong. So, we keep the secret. We shoulder the burden no one should ever have to carry. We protect until we can’t any longer. It’s all we can do, and the most respectful act we can carry out.

There is so much more to write, but I just can’t get the thoughts out of my head and on to the paper. So instead of fumbling through the words that just aren’t coming, I’m going to hit publish and go to sleep.

But before I do, I’ll say the prayer The Swimmy and I say every night.

G-d bless the ICU, and all of our friends and family. And keep them safe and happy and healthy. Amen.

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5 Responses to “Breath Holding”

  1. dee Says:

    I got teary reading this. I hate that you all are having to go through this struggle. I will say an extra prayer tonight for your mom and hope that she improves soon. Thinking of all of you.

  2. Sara Says:

    My heart hurts for you — holding my breath too — prayers continue.

  3. jen Says:

    I can only echo what Sara and Dee had to say…
    I wish there was some way to help, some way to make it all a bit easier.
    I will be thinking of you.

  4. Sylvia Says:

    I have tears in my eyes from reading both this and the last post.
    I’m holding you and yours in my thoughts & prayers. Hugs to you all.

  5. Chris Says:

    No, it’s just ironic. Hugs to all of you. I’ll think good thoughts and breathe a little bit for all of you.