Love in the ICU
Valentine’s Day started like any typical day. I dropped my son off at school. I placed my baby in daycare and arrived at work. Things were moving along smoothly until 10 am when my brother called. Per my request, he stopped at my home to check on my mom, who had been feeling ill. After staying with her awhile, he noticed that she started to turn gray and not feel well. I let my boss know I had to check on my mom and off I went. When I got home, I knew I had to take her to the hospital. Let me tell you; my mom did not want to go. She fought us. We had to carry her.
I had this intense feeling come over me that this could be the last car ride with my mom. We arrived at the hospital, and we were rushed in. My mom was in such a tragic state; they had to take her by ambulance to another hospital. And this is when her story started a new chapter. She became unresponsive in the ambulance. And by the time we arrived in the ER, she was full-code, as I was repeatedly told, although I was not sure what that meant. And the doctor who seemed to be in charge started talking to me about my mom’s wishes if she would want to be resuscitated.
I asked my husband to leave and cover for me at the school Valentines Party. Then the doctor ran through with me how acidic her blood was, how low her blood pressure was, that her temperature was 93. The chaos and scurry in the Emergency Room numbed my senses to the point that it made it hard to focus on what people were saying. And the medical staff was moving so fast; I could barely stay out of their way.
We chose life for her, to resuscitate her, I quickly looked at my brother, and he responded with a look of approval. I saw my mom fight for her life. It was hard. Once they got the breathing tube in, I remember talking to her and reassuring her that she was alright. I kept saying, “Mom, it’s me. I’m here for you.” She ended up being on a ventilator for four days. For four days, my brothers and I camped out in an ICU room and tried just to be ourselves. We talked about our childhood, and played Uno and prayed.
Mom is now home, with me, and is working on fully recovering. And after experiencing so much with my mom, I would like to encourage you to savor every moment of where you are. This time will not repeat itself. Even if it is hard, find joy. Make joy. Even in the hospital, we created moments that feed our soul. Even though I now know the pain and anguish that comes from watching a loved one hang on and fight for their life, I also have a renewed understanding of how strong love is.
My take-aways from this rollercoaster journey:
- To savor moments, even if they aren’t sweet.
- Holding a hand that is not holding yours back is still a privilege. Speaking to a loved one, who can’t answer back, is still talking to them. When my mom finally came to and was able to speak with us, she shared that she felt loved.
She also shared, when she woke up, that she was walking through the woods, with her grandson, and he was telling her a story, and a light said it was time to wake up. She said she was sort of mad because she didn’t get to hear the end of the story. When she shared this, I could only think of how my son had been praying for her. That his prayer was so powerful and precious that God placed it in her heart. And God gave her happy thoughts until the moment to wake up came. He was there, the whole time.
You are your loved one’s advocate!
- In the ICU I requested to be a part of shift changes with the nurses. This helped them, and me, stay up-to-date and informed. Now looking back, I’m so glad I did this because it helped ensure she was receiving the right medication and at the right time. It also allowed me to love the people who were taking care of my mom.
Set the environment.
- I asked if we could have Christian rock playing, and nurse Jenna happily opened the hospital’s Pandora account and played music that ushered in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Know what you’re feeling, are just feelings, but wherever you are, and whatever you’re feeling; you’re not alone in those feelings.
- I know that I tried to stay strong. My mom was fighting for her life. I remember when I finally really cried. It was after friends had visited and I had shared with them that I wasn’t ready to lose my mom. That was my reality, and it was selfish, but I am still not prepared to live my life without my mom. After I had cried, and related to others, it was almost therapeutic.
Embrace where your loved one is.
- A friend shared with me that sometimes you should join in on the crazy.
- In recovery, my mom saw spaceships and clowns with claws. So I embraced it, we would talk it through, and then I would shut the curtains or escort the clown out of the room. It was like playing an imaginary game with a child, and it was the best way to show my mom that I loved her at that time. And to be honest, I laughed and loved every minute of it.
- As a Caregiver, take time for yourself. Eat, drink water, get sleep, shower. Keep your bucket full, so you have more of you to give. Let people love you, and walk beside you in this season. It’s hard and you don’t have to go it alone.
A promise to stand on:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
This verse reminds me of how my mom only remembered walking through the woods with my son, all the physical trauma was covered by a beautiful memory. God promises to never forsake us.