it's what there is to do in the ICU
I have needed to review my initial post in order for me to get busy typing this installment. (For those new to the journey, WELCOME! If you wish to start at the beginning of the story, (or need a refresher like me because it’s been so long) you can find the link HERE.
What have I been waiting for?
Thanks for asking!
A LOT it seems.
I have been writing, just not this story.
For me, writing “what is essential…”is the only kind of writing worth writing.
So I thank you for your patience as my need to write a couple of different stories took precedence.
The most recent story took the form of a grant.
Whatever for? you may ask.
So glad you asked, again!
For those unfamiliar with the initial iteration of Dying To Talk, it launched as the first-of-its-kind, Live call-in radio program on 91.7 FM KALW.(Its creation and evolution is a story for another time). The Universe loves to eavesdrop and seems to have a profound capacity to listen to the heart without the need of a stethoscope. So, when I inadvertently happened upon a request for podcasts that ask "The Big Questions" I had to respond. (You can read the elevator pitch in this footnote:)
Why mention it now? you may ask.
Thank you for asking, again! (I love being surrounded by people who are curious).
I am telling YOU now so I may make a request.I am not looking for pats on the back or encouragement. Rather, my request is for YOU to hold me to account for completing what I said I would do, no matter what, because I can.
So please, Stay Tuned (pun intended:) and Stay Nosy.
Okay, for the second bit of writing that has been delaying THIS bit of writing, I inviteyou to explore my new website. I would love for you to come play and share unabashedly… like I am now. This is a slightly (very) uncomfortable ask for me, though as I reflect out loud (my keyboard makes a lot of noise) when passions take over the beating of the heart, life tends to feel uncomfortable in a magically intense sort of way…in which case, I hope it never ends!
Which brings us back, or into the Intensive Care Unit.
Rolling into the ICU was surreal. Which is very different than scary.I was not afraid. I suspect knowing the place so well, albeit from a different vantage point, helps. Still, being on a gurney with my yellow-hospital socks twisted around my feet matching the layers of sheets and blankets I had acquired in the ED twisting around my legs and torso, the anticipation of transferring from gurney to ICU bed was intense.
I recognized exactly where I was as the brakes on the gurney wheels were snapped into place. My ICU bed was directly across from a person who, 24 hours earlier, was my patient.
As empathic as I strive to be, reminding myself when I care for others, “this could be me”, I never imagined being in this exact position and condition in a place I had anticipated I would be at this moment on this day.
The intensity of the “pang” in my throat seared as I repositioned myself into the ICU bed, affirming no other position could be considered. Though I wasn’t surprised as the intensity of care quickly intensified, I would have been rendered speechless (were I not already) by the intensifying experience of feeling intensely cared for…and not just by the medical team.
For all the time I have spent helping people be as comfortable as possible in what I assumed until this moment as the inherently uncomfortable setting of the ICU, I was amazed at how increasingly comfortable I was becoming.
Andy, on the other hand, was becoming increasingly uncomfortable (and not just because the bedside chair did not support his heavily fatigued body). His desire to stay by my side and his need to leave to be with our youngest son, was palpable.
"I have to go,” he finally conceded. “But I will be back as soon as I can.”
I looked at him quizzically, thinking, Our son needs you! I am fine. I have Intensive Care surrounding me.
“What do you want me to bring back?" he said in response to my silence.
My blank stare added to his fatigue.
"What do you need? Toiletries? Toothbrush?"
Given the pain I experienced just opening my mouth for the various clinicians in the ED, the thought of brushing my teeth had not crossed my mind. Yet, the question of need lingered. I realized what Andy was really asking. He was trying to bring me comfort. Andy knows me better than myself sometimes. Especially when I am not feeling well (which honestly is the case for most people).Andy knows his presence is intensely comforting to me. And in that moment, he knew he was about to be absent.
The intensity of the situation suddenly clarified.
I reached for the clipboard and pen and began to write.
"My fox on my nightstand."
Now given I was experiencing the world in a new and otherworldly way, I can appreciate how you, reading this, might think: she's loopy...it's the medicines..she's delirious...it's the ICU...
I assure you, it was neither.
I was Acutely Present. Intensely Aware.
Andy and I have practiced having conversations about what matters most for years. I knew he would know how serious and seriously important my answer was/is/remains.
When Andy returned, he had fulfilled my wish and then some.
Dying to hear what comes next? No need to die…subscribe instead! And receive the next installment automatically:) Thank YOU for joining this journey to heal the planet and our humanity ♥️
Foreshadowing. Think: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The link above is Live though don’t call in, because whoever answers won’t know the answer… if you do have questions as you listen, post it below and I will do my best to answer!
As a hospice and palliative medicine physician, when I ask patients what would they do with a magic wand, their answers are never “just give me more time.” It has to do with what is most essential about their life right now. So instead of being seen as the grim reaper, I think of myself as a fairy godmother making their final wishes come true. These are their stories. Welcome to Dying To Talk.
To be clear, a request is different from an invitation (which you can accept or decline, pure and simple). A request is an actual ask. Not to burden (because you know from earlier installments how I feel about being a burden). Rather, I trust and am grateful for who you are in my life, so am intentional in my request that YOU hold me to account.
Though I suppose Stay Ear-y (definitely NOT eerie) would be more anatomically/ physiologically appropriate.
This is an invitation. See footnote 4 if you have questions.
As a marketing tactic, I think they named it well. Feeling Intensely is what it is all about in here.
Though in this moment it was a bit eerie which is very different from feeling nosy or ear-y.
Not that Andy knows you or anyone else better than you know yourself, rather, that having an advocate who knows what matters most to you is best determined while you are well, so that person can step in and remind you when you are not thinking so clearly when you are not well.
Foreshadowing shadows are getting longer.
WELCOME. You have arrived and are now standing in the aforementioned shadow. My request for my Fox was not just because of my Love for the Fox and his relationship with The Little Prince in Saint-Exupery’s story. (If you don’t know the story, pause, go to the library, or give yourself a gift or ask me for a gift and I will be delighted to send you a copy).
Andy’s ability to respond to my request is akin to the conversation between the Little Prince and the Pilot. It is a matter of taking the time to understand what is of “Consequence.” In other words, what matters most. I could talk/write for days about The Little Prince. If you’d like to discuss, please put your comments below so we can talk about matters of Consequence. If you’d like to have an advocate like Andy, or become an advocate for those you love, come play with me HERE. As subscribers to this story, you have a special coupon code: becauseIcan! So, what are YOU waiting for?
Hold that thought…