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Archive for March, 2013

Vigil

3 a.m.  It’s mostly quiet here in the ICU waiting room.  The lights are dim, white blanketed forms lay across pull out chairs.  From some come quiet snores. Others move restlessly. The wheels of a cart occasionally clack by the door.  6 families try to rest as, in another room down the hall, their loved ones struggle to live, or struggle to die.

I am one of those who cannot sleep. I keep a vigil, praying silently for answers, here in case there is a need.   In a room close by, my father-in-law struggles. Struggles to breathe, struggles against the ventilator tubes down his throat, occasionally struggles to talk, struggles against pain. I haven’t figured out, it isn’t clear, in which direction he is struggling.  Is there enough fight left in him to live?  To go through this who knows how many more times?  Or is he tired of the fight? Are 78 years enough, is he ready to go home to the God he so fervently believes in?

Tubes run from him in every direction.  One line runs into his stomach to deliver an antibiotic to fight the infection in his gut.  One line runs from neck, pulling his blood from his body, running it through a machine, returning it clean through another line.  His kidneys have failed, there is fluid in his lungs, making each breath an effort.  There is fluid around that huge heart of his, causing it to work extra hard.  Hasn’t he worked hard enough? Does he want to continue to labor for his very existence?  Should we force him to?

A short while ago I wandered down the hall, stood at the doorway of his room.  Diabetes has made his skin so fragile that the pressure of a touch can tear it.  Massive bruises cover the parts of his arms that I can see.  His mouth moves against the ventilator tubes, as if he is trying to spit them out.  I want to tell him that its okay, he can stop if he wants.  But its not my place.  My mother-in-law, his wife of 56 years, his sons, his daughter, it is their right, and their place.  They know him so much better than I, but I love him no less.

It seems there is nothing but questions.  Will the dialysis make his kidneys start working again?  Will the antibiotics kill the 4 different infections that are at war with his body?  Is he in pain?  On the next ventilator test will he breathe easy on his own? Or will he struggle to move his massive chest? If he fights through this, is it only so that he has a few more days?   Is he only fighting until Todd can get here from Seattle, or is he truly fighting to live? Will he ever be able to go fishing again, or will he simply sit in his chair for a time, and then go through this all again?  Why must dying be so hard?

I wish I was a seer, and could know what the future holds for him.  I wish I could wave my magic wand, and make everything easy for him.  I wish I could ease my husband’s heart and pain.  If wishes were fishes, I could feed an army.

The only thing I know, for certain and true during this vigil of mine, is that he raised a family with love.  And this family, through love, will be there for him, for each other, till the struggle is through.

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