Things I Learned From 11 Days in The ICU

by GregP_WN

We cancer patients know that we are sometimes just an infection, low white blood count, bad scan results, or some other complication away from being in the emergency room, or maybe even the ICU. These are not limited to cancer patients, anyone with one of the many other chronic health issues can find themselves in the same situation. 

What I Learned From 11 Days In The Icu

I recently spent 11 days in the ICU with my Mother-In-Law, while there, I had many hours to observe some things, and experience a wide range of emotions that could be a textbook example of an emotional roller coaster. 

Things I Learned In The ICU

1) Don't go to the ICU to see a loved one with regrets. - Regrets that you didn't visit enough, that you didn't tell them how you really felt. That you didn't go see them on Sundays for dinner when they wanted you to. Don't have regrets that you had harsh words or you might have spoken to them in anger. We are all human, we are all going to have those moments. All we can do is try to do better. Tell your loved ones that you love them because tomorrow isn't promised. Go see Mom and Dad on Sunday and have dinner, find the time. Try to catch your tongue before you say something, we are not all perfect, and if Mom wants her 125# dog to run in the living room and jump on the couch, let him. Try to not have regrets.  

2) When you have been called back to the room asap, no matter how many times you push that elevator's not coming any faster.

3) You can finance someone's kid's education with what you put in a couple of vending machines in 11 days. 

4) A Pet Therapy Dog is a walking, slobbering, drooling flash of happiness and a bright spot in an otherwise bad day. 

Therapy Dog

5) Ice chips are priceless.

6) A mouth sponge dipped in coffee, is priceless plus 1.

7) The Nurse's definition of quiet is not the same as mine.

8) Whatever the Nurse's that work in the ER, intake desk, and ICU earn, it isn't nearly enough.

9) The 2 People in the room at a time, has no wiggle room.

10) The parking garage will eat your car, hide it, and make you search until you go get help to find it. But it was right there all the time.

Love Heart

11) Angels wear scrubs and look like normal people, but posses superpowers.

12) Vince Gill's "Go Rest High on That Mountain" has a personal meaning after watching someone suffer for 11 days

13) Room 5446 was a sad room, a comforting room, room with hard floors, a room to laugh in, cry in, and in the end, a peaceful room.

14) Your loved one will leave you signs. The picture on the left was on the door of the room - The picture on the right is hanging in our house.

There Will Be Signs

15) Dying is not always a bad thing.

My own 30 years of experience of being in the hospital, ER, having surgery's being on the edge of death and not knowing what was coming next has let me experience a few of these too. All I can offer for advice is to be patient, nothing happens quickly. Have trust in the team treating your loved one, they are actually the professionals, not us. Be aware of the fact that they have been working on a 12-hour shift and have already probably put up with crap from a number of people, please don't be another one! And in most cases, things will work out OK, and even when they don't, it will still be OK. Be sure to tell them that you appreciate the work they are doing for your loved one. A heartfelt thank you, will get you lots more help than yelling and criticising will. 

Most of us with chronic illnesses have had to spend a few days in the hospital, ER, or ICU. Do any of these things sound familiar to you? What are some of your own?


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