If your rough enough for love, baby I’m tougher than the rest. —Bruce Springsteen
This lyric seems relevant tonight as we had another one of those afternoons that are all too commonplace in this process; one that stretches us and makes us realize that this process with Rudy takes toughness. Just when you think you’ve been pushed as far as you can go, there’s another shove.
The chest drain went in smoothly and gave off lots of fluid, but Rudy’s low blood pressure was of concern all afternoon. We went out to get some fresh air with the kids and shortly after we returned to the room the activity in the room suddenly picked up. I still wonder how these ICU people communicate–first just a doctor and a nurse…then a second doctor…then more nurses and care partners. The room stayed quiet, but focused and intense to where we could pick up that it would be best to pull out the kids and Oma and Opa out to make room for 8 people that were now at Rudy’s bedside. The phones started ringing as other members of the team answered their pages and I could pick up the concern as I stood watching from the doorway. I don’t think Rudy was in as much distress as some of the previous episodes and, probably in shorter time than it felt, they were able to find the right cocktail of medications to get his BP where it needed, but it was disheartening for me to watch. He’s so fragile and delicate and the going is so slow that it really doesn’t feel like we’ve made much progress over where we were a week ago. My kids were in the next room–they need us just as much as Rudy does. Yet it’s so hard for me to focus my attention anywhere else.
That Springsteen lyric first came to me yesterday as we were watching the pediatric patients trick or treat down the hallway outside. The staff had taken time to set up at different doorways so they could have as realistic an experience as possible. The kids were cute, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the parents even though few of us were able to make more than a few seconds eye contact. This wasn’t the Halloween they hoped for, yet they show up for their kids and enthusiastically wheel them down the hallway, making sure that IV lines don’t snag and that costumes can somehow be tied on around the medical equipment that needs to stay attached to their kids. Some of them do it very tentatively and hesitantly and I hope that means that this holiday in the hospital is an anomaly. But other parents move instinctively and maneuver the equipment with a second nature that makes it clear that this isn’t the first time they’ve had to do this. These are the tough ones–tougher than the rest. Who knew what our love for our kids would demand of us.