Six Months On (Episode 5) — A Glimmer of Hope

“Make good choices!”

These are the words I hear my wife tell our daughters (and their friends) pretty much every time they leave the house. Most people think it’s a mom thing but what if we were reminded of that every time we left the house as adults? It’s worked so far for our daughters. Good choices lead to fewer mistakes. Fewer mistakes means fewer regrets.

Success or failure in my situation hinged on good choices being made. The fact that I was still alive and on my way to UAMS was the result of good choices. It started with me choosing to go to the clinic to get checked. (Yay, me!) Then there was the choice the doctor made to send me to the ER straight away. I followed by making the excellent choice to do exactly what the doctor told me without hesitation or question. (If this all turns out well I’m getting two gold stars!)

The team at Baptist made the biggest choice of all to send me to UAMS. Knowing your own limitations and giving someone else the reigns is a hard thing to do for most of us. But when it comes to saving lives I’m guessing you throw pride out the window to get the job done. This is in no way a slight to the skills or care that Baptist provides (because it is excellent). In fact it’s more of a testament to the dedication of the Baptist team to saving a lives.

When I arrived at UAMS the first step was to get me stabilized. With the torrent of things going wrong with me there was no way this was going to be easy. But a glimmer of hope started to show when they were able to do this in a fairly short amount of time. So much so, in fact, that at around midnight that night the doctors told Susan that they didn’t feel it was necessary to do the ECMO procedure at that time. My blood oxygen level, blood pressure and heart rate were stable and I did make it through the night.

The thing about oxygen is that if you don’t get enough of it you could die and if you get too much of it you can have severe problems as well. The body regulates the amount of oxygen you red blood cells carry at any given time. The air we breathe is about 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen. The problem for me is that ventilator was doing all of my breathing and I had to be on 100% oxygen to maintain the numbers necessary to be considered stable. I needed to be weaned off the oxygen from the ventilator so it was going to be baby steps going forward. Things were still very serious but the most important thing was that Team Van Dusen had finally caught a much needed break. For a brief moment everyone could stop and take a breath (Well, everyone except me, but you get the picture.)

Good choices had won the day.