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(Kris Kristofferson reference)

Caregivers Part 3

There is so much more to say about the original members of my professional team, a few of whom remain members of my team.

There were the two times I removed the trache on my own somehow, causing some concern among those folks :). Even in a morphinic stupor (I might have made up the word ‘morphinic’ but it seems like it should be a real word, you know?), I knew that the call over the loudspeakers about a code in my area had to do with me, since I was surrounded by beautiful young women trying to figure out what to do with me (none of the options they were discussing nearly as appealing as the ones I had in mind :).)

That was the second time :). First time, my wife and another nurse decided they could handle it, and managed to get it back in, no easy thing, considering that unlike others they might have dealt with, they had to be concerned that my throat might be shaped a bit differently following my surgery. On top of that, I do not think that either of them was in to the trach replacement business in their day jobs.

They did it, though, with great concern and effort, and we were all decidedly happier for the effort. And the concern. At least until I decided to take it out again.

I will have to say that they treated it like baiting a hook, though. They didn’t WANT to do it, but knew they HAD to do it. That kind of thing.

No complaints here. I am up. I am breathing.

It is easy to see how some people become frightened or disheartened when they learn that they are ‘losing’ their doctors, even when the reason is that these folks are no longer needed. If we have been lucky, as I have been, they have done so much to save us, and so much to make it less traumatic, less painful, than it might be.

Of course. It is very easy to understand how we fear losing them. But lose them we must, if we are to move on with our lives. Eventually.

Another round with cancer, however, brings you right back into the mix. I know.

And, if you are lucky, to another cast of outstanding characters working on your behalf to save your life. So it was with me. I mentioned the doc who wheeled me to my room, and who deserves special accommodation as a result (what was that, about a $10,000 gurney ride? :)).

But there were others again. In fact, I remember this crew with much more clarity somehow. And I have talked about some of them before: the guys that put the trache tubes in for my surgery, for example, the guys that stuck me for the epidural each time, my cardiopulmonologist, the guy that did the heavy lifting this time. All great (well, with the exception of the bonehead on the second trache tube. I am sure you know how I feel about that throat Nazi.)

There was the fairly obviously, um, let’s just say a guy that I thought was a girl for the longest time… who came around every single day and made sure I had ice cream. And the Philipino male nurse who asked me if I wanted him to give me a bath. Cracked us both up, but not before I acted like I was thinking about it.

And the nurses you have read about I think who saved me during the first part of the MSSA episode, one of whom was able to make me laugh about the entire experience DURING the experience. Those are people you want on your side.

There are many, many others, and it is not as though I have forgotten them, but that I am running out of room.. There was Pakistani Pulmo, my pulmonologist, who was the funniest guy I was involved with, who didn’t know how to dress (and I can probably get a job just dressing this dude everyday, now that I think about it) who sometimes showed up in such a getup that he could be mistaken for a priest, a priest with a fuzzier than normal v-neck sweater and a black suit jacket that did not match his pants.

So funny, though. We competed to make the other laugh, and I am not sure who won. Perhaps my wife won, because one night, as we strolled the halls with my anchor (IV pole and lung pipe apparatus) he saw us and stopped to talk with us and exclaimed that he had worked an 11 hour day, to which my wife responded, Oh, so now you know what it feels like to be a nurse.


We all laughed. Really laughed. And he still says hi to her and asks how I am doing:).

And the respiratory therapists, some of whom were boring and therefore cruel, in a small sense, but others who helped me to carry on, including the lovely young lady who made it seem like an erotic experience to suck in oxygen and inhaler meds through the same kind of mask they drop down when your airplane is crashing.

And the guy who came in late at night, reeking of cologne, to suggest that if I wanted to skip one he was cool with that and he would be back in four hours, me there, nodding vehemently and silently, of course, so that my wife, sleeping in her couch bed off to the side wouldn’t waken and deny this deal, the same guy I talked some sports with on an occasion or two, keeping me connected to the real world and real people.

I hope she was worth it, whomever he was skipping out with, because he could have gotten into a lot of trouble. He is the guy, too, who probably overdid it with the mustard gas, now that I think about it, but still, a deal’s a deal, and I was happy to skip treatment a time or two, as most of you, okay some of you, okay one or two of you, will appreciate.

I am leaving a lot of people out here, especially doctors. There were so many of them that it is hard to keep track of them. But this is not a paean to them, but thanks. I thank them.

They saved me. I thank them. You are the best.

But you were paid caregivers, not that I am giving shortshrift for that reason. You were paid caregivers, even if you were the best. Even if you saved my life, which I know you did, once and then again. Even if you made it as painless as it could possibly be, something I am more amazed by every day, as I listen to others and learn of their pain and hardship, of the carelessness and heartlessness of their caregivers from time to time.

The most powerful caregivers in the world, of course, are those who care with love. The most powerful caregivers in the world, of course, are those who care so much that your pain, my pain, does not equal theirs.