I have a close family member who is in ICU at the moment. It was a sudden event.
Family rallied to her side from all parts of the country as quickly as possible. They stayed for as long as they could.
We gathered data. We planned. We shared meals. We told stories.
They have all gone back to their lives for the time being, and now it’s just me.
Each morning after a run to clear my head and fill my heart and head with good thoughts, I show up at the hospital.
I pick up the phone outside of the large double doors that open into ICU with a button from somewhere on the other side.
“Hi, it’s Jody. I am here to see….”
The doors open and in I walk.
They know me now.
The smell in the ICU section of a hospital is not pleasant. Bodily fluids, residues of procedures performed, cleaning supplies. You get used to it.
Wash hands, wash again. Put on the gown, mask, gloves. Wash hands. Wash again.
The people in ICU are on the brink. Some make it, some don’t.
My family member is facing huge obstacles. It’s the perfect storm of health issues, any one of which can end her life.
While I am sad each time I see her in pain; sedated to the point of little to no response; I am also encouraged by the small things.
A look in my direction. The squeeze of my hand. The obvious calm when I stroke her forehead and hair.
Has she made progress overnight? Will she overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that she will face today?
At first all seemed hopeless. There is no way, I thought. She isn’t going to make it. She has too much to overcome.
But as the days drone on, I realize that it is the little things that start to add up to progress.
The results of a culture test are negative. She is breathing better. Parts of her are starting to heal.
The doctors and nurses are like a team. Each morning they gather for ’rounds,’ and i listen.
They discuss medications, what happened during the night, if she is ready for the next procedure that needs to happen.
Not today, the doctor says. Maybe tomorrow. She needs more rest.
And so I stand by her side, hold her hand, tell her she’s doing great and stroke her forehead.
After a while, I tell her that I am leaving, but I will be back later in the day. She turns her head toward me. I think she hears me. I am having dinner with X, I tell her. She turns her head toward me. She loves this person. I am sure she hears me.
It was a good day because of all of the little things that add up. I believe she will come out of this. I believe she will overcome the obstacles she faces today and tomorrow and the next day.
In our work and in life, we must remember to appreciate the little things. They add up to success if we just have patience, a positive attitude and expectations of success.