I never look back on the initial incident as a whole. I always get flashbacks of small things. The horrible cough she had when the ventilator was taken out. The sound of the ventilator breathing for her. Brushing her tangled hair. Wandering the empty halls at 2AM while they gave her a sponge bath. The constant red, swollen eyes from crying so much for her. The moment of panic immediately after the vent was taken out, when they thought her airway may be closing. They called in the doctor and respiratory therapist immediately to see if she might need to be re-ventilated.
There was one night in the ICU that I was staying with her. She was completely nonresponsive, and as I sat there in that dark, cold room, my mind was just racing. The nurse didn't even have to ask me anything to know I was struggling. She offered to call in the doctor to talk to me, and I let her. I remember that doctor so clearly. He was a resident, I believe. I don't remember his name, but he was awesome. He pulled up a chair and talked to me for about an hour. One of the last things he said to me before he left was that I needed to be the strong one for my family. I needed to be the voice of reason. I took that comment very seriously, and I have tried very hard to be the one to not let anyone get too pessimistic about her condition, but also not too optimistic when things were looking very bleak.
Today she is with me. I had a doctor's appointment, so she went with me, and I found myself staring at her hands and thinking "I am so glad I can still see her."
We were so close to losing her. It's so morbid, but I remember when I was feeling so exhausted from all the trips to Detroit and staying the night with her and thinking "If the outcome of September 20 had been different, right now we would be trying to adjust to our new life without her." ..and I immediately felt thankful that I could still physically see her.
She is doing well. She has more good days than bad, but she still has those bad days. Some days her memory is spot on. Other days she goes back to repeating herself constantly. I noticed today that when she does repeat a question, it feels like I got kicked in the stomach because it is a reminder of what is gone.