There were three different floors. White tile. Blue tile. Floral carpet. I didn’t notice wallpaper, or pictures, or curtains. That tells me my head was down more than it was up. My eyes downcast. Figuring out how to absorb all the trauma and still be a newlywed was a task that took concentration and thought at a moment when my brain was nearly incapable to of putting thoughts together. Holding onto the positive while facing down reality was my daily exercise. Any sign of good news was taken into a choke hold by my mind and not let go of, despite the obvious fact that life was upside down.
They took Bill off morphine in the night, that way they could untie him without him being aware of it. It was an experiment to see if he could handle being free. He passed with flying colors. The sedation had done its work and allowed him some calm so that he was no longer in fight or flight mode. His speech was conversational now, and even though there were still some random thoughts mixed in he could carry on a conversation, albeit the conversation of a three year old…still it was response to his environment. It is very important for a head injured person to be aware of things outside of themselves, it is also very difficult. On this day he had made great gains…talking about things around him, and staying in the bed all by himself. This earned him a ticket out of ICU to the surgical floor…the one with the floral carpet…to await his nose surgery. His condition ranking went from critical to serious. A small but positive victory!
They did not have any private rooms available at the time, but they did have a double room right across from the nurse’s station, with a blue tile floor. Since there was no other patient in his room I was allowed to sleep in the other bed until they needed it. Louise and I took turns every other night. On the surgical unit Bill did not have constant nursing care like in ICU. The nurses were great, but they were divided between many rooms, so we did not have their undivided attention. Being that Bill was in toddler mode, he was unable to be left alone for any length of time. He was still connected to the IV and a catheter was still in place since he was scheduled for nose surgery the next day. He could not yet get up out of the bed on his own. In my mind this was all good news because it meant I could see him more than 10 minutes every two hours. It also meant I had a crash course in nursing. Learning how to work the IV machine, which seemed to beep every time he moved, made me feel official. In the night I had to reset it what seemed to be a million times. Me, the medical chicken, checking his IV…wonders never cease.
Surgery day arrived and with it my heart moved to my throat. I was nervous for him. They said he could have some adverse reactions to the anesthesia. It felt to me like I had just gotten him back when they came to whisk him away again. He wanted me to walk with him as they took him. He was scared. Think 3 year old in a man’s body. I held his hand all the way down the hallway until we reached the double doors with the sign “authorized personnel only.” He kissed my hand and said, “I love you Shell” and he was gone. I stood at the door with tears streaming down my face, and watched through the little window as they rolled his gurney into the operating room…with a white tile floor.