“I’m still alive but I’m barely breathing
Just prayed to a God that I don’t believe in
‘Cause I got time while she got freedom
‘Cause when a heart breaks, no, it don’t break even

Her best days were some of my worst
. . .
While I’m wide awake she’s no trouble  sleeping
‘Cause when a heart break, no, it don’t break even . . . . ”

“Breakeven” – The Script

They don’t have places to sleep for parents in the ICU. They don’t want to have to try to get around a cot if there is an emergency.  I guess I could have slept in the waiting room, but I wasn’t going to leave the hospital room for any reason. After being awake for what felt like two days straight, I finally succumbed to sleep on a cushioned windowsill seat in Rachel’s hospital room. A nurse brought me a blanket and a pillow.

I didn’t even take off my boots. I woke up hours later curled into a ball in the windowsill, relieved to have gotten some sleep. Disappointed that there was little improvement in Rachel’s condition.

It’s hard to sleep in a hospital. Someone is always awake, coming in to the room, turning the harsh overhead lights on. The click and clack of instruments against metal trays or the cold, hard linoleum floor as vitals are taken. Blood is taken. The beeping of machines. The blood pressure cuff inflating and then clicking off, then deflating.

Carts being pushed across the cold floor holding mobile computers, the keyboard keys clacking as data is being typed into the patient’s chart.

There tubes and wires everywhere on her little body. Blood still caked on her nose. Occasionally her eyes fluttered open, and she would again flail about as if the giant tube was choking her. We, again, would have to calm her down.

Touching her seemed to agitate her further, so I stayed as close as possible while keeping my distance.

The doctor administered drugs to calm her down in her IV. She was due to be evaluated by a breathing specialist to determine when they could take her off the breathing tube.

“She has to breathe on her own for a specific period of time, then they will take her off,” the nurse stated matter-of-factly.

“How long?”

How long, indeed. I don’t recall what they said, but every time the machine beeped indicating she wasn’t breathing on her own, my heart broke. But, when her eyes finally opened and it looked like somebody was home, I exhaled for the first time since we arrived.

She would live. But, the relief was shortly overshadowed by the ugly reality that we had to face.



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