Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Intubated, Ventilated, and Drug Induced Paralysis

This picture is hard to look at.
To save Wyatt, he had to be intubated. A tube was inserted into his mouth and down past his larynx so he could be ventilated. A machine now controlled his breathing. Precious oxygen and nitrate were forced into his lungs at a controlled rate. My poor little guy.
These machines were frightening. Constant graphs, charts, ominous beeping, warning tones and numbers that fluctuated on monitors, making you grip the armrests on your chair as numbers rose and fell. Once, in the early days, while I was silently bawling my eyes out next to Wyatt as I watched helplessly as the number representing his oxygen levels dropped, a NICU nurse told me to stop fixating on the machines. Concentrate on your little guy and let them worry about the numbers. At the time I thought she was crazy. How could a parent not worry? But she was right. I had to see Wyatt. Not the tubes, pipes and wires. It took a long time for both my husband and I to learn this.

Wyatt had to be paralyzed by drugs to keep him from ripping tubes, wires and pipes from his body. A NICU nurse had mentioned to me he was a fighter though extremely weak; he was attempting to pull the tapes and wires off as fast as Dr. S was putting them on during those first few crucial hours. He needed to be paralyzed but I think that was what really scared me the most. He didn't look real. No moment. No sound. Like a really large baby doll. It frightened me to sit beside him at first. I wanted to touch him, to pick him up and squeeze him to my chest to feel his little heart beat to reassure myself that he wasn't dead. But I couldn't touch him, or hold him or even talk to him. I was torn; I wanted to run away and hide in my hospital room and I wanted to stay. If he was going to die, I wanted to be there to hold him in my arms at least once and kiss him and tell him I loved him before he left me. I didn't want to be robbed of that.

So, I stayed by his side for hours, barely eating and definitely not sleeping. Already suffering from post traumatic stress and anxiety from the accident, I was primed for postpartum depression.

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