During my night shift last week, I came into the ward to find a woman on the ventilator. She had had quite a large tumour removed from her palate and a tracheostomy put in for her airway. She wasn’t unstable or particularly sick post operatively but was a little too lazy to breathe on her own.
The following night, she was back in the ward, coping well with her trache and change of airway. She spoke a language that wasn’t spoken by many of our translators, but she also wasn’t able to speak with her trache in. We were able to communicate well enough with her to meet her needs.
Over the following days, she recovered very well and at the beginning of my shift one day this week, it was time to remove the trache. With a surgeon, ready with a scalpel to cut the sutures holding it to her skin and several nurses standing around ready, she sat wide eyed on a stool next to her bed. With the swift motion, cutting the sutures and a gentle sweep of the wrist to pull out the trache, it was gone! The small hole in her neck gapped open as she took more breaths. Eyes still wide, pulse racing, nurses’ hands reassuringly resting on her, we told the translator to ask her to relax and just breathe normally. Soon enough her wide eyes, calmed and she realised all of a sudden, this strange plastic tube in her neck was really gone! She was back to herself! Her smile spread ear to ear, almost as though her face would burst open with happiness. She reached for every nurses and doctors hand, shaking it and murmuring her thanks. We covered the small hole, letting it close over itself as it heals, and she stood to her feet. One of our other patient’s mothers came over, and began to sing a song of praise and we stood around in a circle clapping along, as our dear patient danced, her arms raised high and her smile splitting all of our hearts open wide with joy! As she hugged every person she could reach, my heart danced. This, these moments, are exactly why I love my job here, where my heart could burst any moment because it just can’t contain any more joy!
And one more photo just because it makes my heart throb!
"Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy!"