Sunday, February 1st, it was now Superbowl Sunday, and Isaiah was still unconscious. Our family was beginning to take over the Cardiac ICU waiting room, as we did every day. A nurse came out to grab me as they said Isaiah seemed to be responding. My mom and I went back to his room and, with tears in our eyes, waited. The nurse turned to us and said that he was responding. My mom quickly asked if that was enough. Was it what they needed to deem him neurologically healthy enough to move forward with another surgery to save his life? Thankfully, it was a yes. Next thing that I knew, she ran out to the waiting room to let everyone know. There were tears and smiles and hugs all around. We could finally breathe. We could finally relax a little. I didn't realize it while it was happening, but it was as if I couldn't take a full breath after that first call back home that I needed to come to the hospital because things had gone bad. A huge weight had finally been lifted. I had been praying, desperately, for answers. Would he be okay? Would he wake up? What was the next step?
Since it was Super Bowl Sunday, and the Seahawks were playing, Isaiah would never ever forgive all of us if we didn't go watch the game and spend a little bit of time away from the hospital. Isaiah remained unconscious for the rest of the day (probably a good thing after the way THAT game went). A bunch of his family went back to their hotel to nap and watch the game. My mom, Audrey, and I went to watch the game with some of our family who live nearby.
Monday morning, the impossible happened. I went into his room early, as I did every day, and the doctors were just starting rounds. His heart had begun to heal. They had said that there was NO way that his heart would heal at all, but it was doing just that. The right side of his heart was doing very well and the left had started to recover a bit. They decided that instead of immediately going to the LVAD, they would replace the current (very temporary) heart pump with a different temporary pump that would allow him to fully wake up, participate in the decision process, and maybe even give his heart some time to keep healing. In which case, they would just wean him off of the pump, and control everything with medication. We were in shock. We were so excited that there was even the possibility of no long term pump.
Tuesday he was taken into surgery and they first tried to completely wean him off any pump, but his numbers didn't remain stable so they placed the new temporary pump. He was stable and doing well. His body was responding well to the extra help that the heart pump was providing. They kept him sedated for the rest of the day and expected he wouldn't be awake until well into Wednesday (after being sedated for so long and the rough condition he had been in, they expected it to take quite awhile to get out of his system).
Wednesday, we arrived at the hospital as we always had. My mom and I went back to see how things were going. Remind the nurses to PLEASE let us know as soon as he starts stirring and to see if we could somehow get the breathing tube removed BEFORE he was fully conscious. Just as we walked to his door to get some hand sanitizer before entering the room, there he was, sitting up... looking straight at me. I was speechless.... he was finally awake. I hadn't seen him awake in over a week and had come to expect many times over that week, that I might never see him look at me again. Yet he was. Eyes wide open. The first thing that he said to me when I got to him was "I almost died".
I had hoped to slowly give him bits of information and not overwhelm him all at once, but he already knew the biggest, scariest part of it all. He had almost died... more than once. His voice was pretty rough after being intubated for so long, especially with all of the coughing, but it was SO nice to hear him talk again. Before I took him to the hospital, he hadn't been himself, and I didn't really expect him to be himself when he woke up, especially with all that his body had been through. But there he was... my Isaiah. He was back.
I spent some time talking to him and filling him in on bits of what he had missed. While it is such an awful thing to experience firsthand, I can't even begin to imagine how it felt to hear that that was you... that was your body that had undergone multiple heart surgeries, received multiple heart pumps, flown on an emergency flight to another state, and worse... these were things that I never wanted to tell him, but I knew that I had no choice. I would rather him hear it from me than from someone else. He took it all surprisingly well. I'm sure a good portion of that was due to coming out of sedation and pure shock. Of all things, he kept apologizing. We were just so happy that he was alive, that he was awake, that he was talking, but he hated what we had gone through because of him. That's very Isaiah... thinking of us, instead of himself.
We brought Audrey in to see Isaiah. He had been so worried that he was sick with something contagious before we'd taken him to the hospital so he hadn't held her much out of worry that he might get her sick as well. Finally, he was able to hold her and enjoy her without fear. Seriously... that was the BEST smile I think that I've ever seen. Just 2 days later we were able to bring him out of his room and into the waiting room to hold her for a little while. Now THAT did my heart some good.
To be continued...