Lots of Feelings During a Crisis

It’s been a rough week. A family member has been in ICU. Fortunately, we’ve been able to be with her. Again, fortunately, this illness has not been COVID related, although a ventilator was necessary – until yesterday.

In family crisis situations like this, there are many emotions and feelings that flit through both my heart and my head. I’m grateful I’ve been able to be here for my parents. My husband and I are staying with my dad at my parents house while we are here – over a week now. We’ve used his car to shuffle us between home and hospital during visiting hours. My sister has provided food from her co-workers in Buffalo, as well as from herself. We are thankful to not have to cook. She’s been able to continue to work (in Buffalo where she lives) due to our presence. She appreciates this.

My husband, a retired ER physician, has provided medical information interpretation for all of us, as well as relaying information to the hospital staff about any underlying conditions not found in the medical chart. He is knowledgable and gentle in his delivery. The staff has appreciated him to the extent they offered him a job! He is my rock. I am so glad he can be here with us. This is a definite advantage of retirement.

I have been both grateful and envious of the ICU medical staff. I have NEVER seen a team work together such as this ICU team does. And, I’ve worked or been a patient in some AMAZING medical institutions. I’ve been so impressed with their professionalism, calmness, information sharing, and care they’ve provided not only my mom (the patient) but our entire family. It has been refreshing to see a TEAM work together such as this one does. It has not been my past experience in medicine, nursing, or educational settings. They truly work as one, and seem happy doing it. Just WOW! I’ve been impressed by their leadership because a staff does not act like this without great leadership. This, I know!

Although not an outwardly religious person, I was grounded in a faith-filled life by the very people I am now helping to care for. I have prayed, not for any specific outcome, but for God to do His will. We experienced relief and joy yesterday when my mom came off the ventilator. This was an unexpected event, we all experienced surprise. But, we also experienced sadness and heartache when we realized her life will not be the same going forward, and it will be a long road to any recovery.

We’ve had some revelations about her self-care and ability to live independently. This is sad. We realize the work that’s been done by my Dad to keep things going. We recognize her declining capacity. This is difficult and heart wrenching for we knew her as a previously sharp, intelligent, vibrant, strong woman, and educator.

We’ve been able to witness the love family, friends, and neighbors have for her. My parents are lucky to live in a neighborhood where boundaries are respected but love flows freely. We’ve received generous gifts of food, time, questions of caring, and offers of physical help – cutting the lawn, cleaning, shopping, etc.. We are blessed with generous and caring friends and family.

Love is shown in many forms. I’ve tried to remember this over the last week. Not everyone shows they care in the same way. For me, I’ve realized that I show love, many times, by spending not money but my time. Time to sit, time to talk, time to hold hands, time to call, time to talk, and especially time to listen. We, and I mean society as a whole, do not listen to each other well enough or often enough. We need to focus less on ourselves and more on the others in our lives. We suggest, we judge, we offer our opinions, but listening needs to override all of that. Thank you to those who have taken the time to listen, to show their love and caring by being there – to sit, to talk, to send messages, to listen. You are appreciated.

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