“Mr. Michaels, the doctors say it’s okay for only the immediate family to come up to ICU now.”
Andy and Barbara take the elevator up to the third floor and follow the nurse down the hall to a partially opened door. Amanda lays propped up slightly on the bed surrounded by medical equipment, and IV lines run everywhere. Her shoulder-length brown hair has been shaved away from her forehead in various places, and the metal halo has been affixed to her skull. Andy finally realizes that they actually screwed the thing into her skull to attach it. Yikes! Her face looks grotesquely bloated with random abrasions along her cheeks as well as along both of her arms. The blue hospital gown hangs loosely on her body, far too large for her petite frame. There’s also a clear breathing mask over her nose and mouth. Her eyes are closed.
“The doctors have an assistive breathing apparatus on her even though it’s not clear she needs it. And she is being fed nutrition through IV lines,” the ICU nurse explains. Her eyes move back and forth from Amanda to the various monitors. One of them is beeping every several seconds so she reaches over and touches a button, observes another set of displayed figures, satisfies herself that they are okay and looks back at Andy and Barb. Her look is one of expectancy. As in what questions do you have?
Amanda’s arms lay limply beside her motionless torso.
“Can I touch her?” Andy asks the nurse.
“Sure, just very gently.”
Andy walks to Amanda’s side and gently strokes her arm looking for a reaction. There is none. She remains motionless. Along the other side of the bed Barb also touches Amanda’s arm.
“Can you hear me Amanda? It’s your Aunt Barbara. Can you move or smile or do anything to let me know you hear me?” There’s no movement from Amanda.
“We’re going to have to sit and talk to her a lot and see what happens. I’ve heard amazing stories about relatives talking to someone in a coma and the person wakes up one day like nothing ever happened. ”
Andy forms an odd smile, one that indicates a mixed bag of emotions.
The nurse hovers impatiently in the corner of the room. She finally speaks up. “We’re going to be monitoring her 24/7 and giving her the best possible care. You ought to try to go home and get some sleep, then come back here first thing in the morning.”
Reflecting on the nurse’s comments, Andy and Barbara walk out of the hospital room and back toward the family room to explain the circumstances to everyone else.
It’s a media circus on the first floor of the hospital and in the parking lot with all the press and TV reporters.
“I’m going to hire a security service to camp outside Amanda's room to keep reporters and the press from prying their way in. I will have someone here first thing tomorrow," Andy says. Barb agrees, then insists that Andy be the one to go home first. She will sleep overnight in the waiting room on a chair or whatever she can find.
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