One day during the week in January, my wife texted me to let me know they were going to try extubation again. I was hoping this didn’t turn into the chest-closing saga, so I prayed hard that this would work. And it did! He got the tube out of his throat and was on bi-pap for a little bit and did so well, they just put him on a nasal cannula for a tiny bit of oxygen. Success! Chest closed? Check. Breathing tube out? Check. Next up: get the heck outta the hospital!
But, as usual, that would take a little bit of time. Anyways, it was super difficult to concentrate on work because I couldn’t wait to go see Nolan and hold him. I got there and the nurses were happy and so was I. Even the doctors and nurse practitioners were happy with Nolan’s progress. Life was good. The best part: I didn’t have to sit next to Nolan, I got to sit with Nolan.
Life was really good. This is what I waited weeks for. Seeing him without that tube in his mouth that would make his lips look all twisted sucked, but now I could see his little lips and his little nose and even hear him cry. Oh the cries. Who would’ve thought that I’d be so happy to hear a baby cry! So that’s how it would go: I could hold Nolan and talk baseball, tell him my corny jokes, doze off together…whatever. It was just great we were doing it together.
One day I went to visit Nolan at the CVICU and one of the nursing supervisors was in there. I think it was a Saturday or Sunday because it was during the daytime, so it couldn’t have been a work day. Anyway, we were chatting about Nolan’s progress and pretty much they had been working with respiratory to wean him off the breathing machine in an effort to get his breathing tube out. And she said “I think we’re going to try to extubate him today.” And was like “Really? When?” I wanted to be sure to tell Bekah: she was home with Grant and Nolan. She said, “We’ll do it within the hour.” WOW. That was fast! I texted Bekah about it and then when the time came, I went down the hall to the Quiet Waiting Room.
The Quiet Waiting Room is the secret weapon of the CVICU floor. There’s a regular waiting area with TV and coffee and all that jazz. But the Quiet Room is a big open space with low lighting and it’s completely lined with comfy chairs and recliners. I have taken MANY a nap in that room because you can turn the lights out completely and almost no one ever goes in there. So this day I went down there and told the nurse just to call my phone when they were done. I couldn’t sit down, though, so I pretty much paced the entirety of that room praying really hard that this extubation would go successfully and that he would get so much closer to going home. Finally the call came and I could come see him.
I rushed to his room and saw my little guy in his bed. The tube was out of his throat and there was a different one on his nose called bi-pap just to give him a little help but that mostly he was breathing on his own. Poor Nolan looked really pale and his chest was moving up and down pretty hard. I held his hand and he looked at me and his eyes looked really sad and almost scared. I felt bad for him. I knew extubation was a good thing, though. He was making this little, quiet, raspy cry…which was the first time I heard him make a sound in over a month. While he was intubated, it looked like he would try to cry or cough, but the tube in his throat made it impossible.
Unfortunately, it was short lived. Over the next few hours, Nolan showed that he wasn’t quite ready to be off the breathing tube, so they would have to re-insert it. Somehow, it wasn’t as frustrating to me as the multiple attempts at chest closure, I was just sad that the stupid tube would have to do down Nolan’s throat again and I couldn’t imagine what it felt like. Sigh.