Monday, February 4, 2013

Living on Life Support

Most people think of the term "life support" as the means to an end. Perhaps that is true in most cases, but not ours. To us, "life support" is the means to a beginning. Norah recently had her half-birthday, turning 18 months old. She is definitely a toddler. She throws fits. She gets frustrated. She gets annoyed with her family. She wants to do everything her way and on her own terms. But yes, she is still on life support. She has a trach, a ventilator, a long-term feeding tube, and enough gear to start her own medical supply store. She lives in the hospital still, and our hope is to get her home by the time she turns two years old (but who knows if that will actually happen). While we try to live life fully and happily now, we sure look forward to breaking free of life support.

Jeff and I often daydream about our future. There are so many unknowns, as with all lives. We wonder if Norah will still be dependent on these medical devices when she goes to school. We wonder if she will choose American Sign Language or spoken word. We wonder when we will hear her sweet voice for the first time. We wonder what it sounds like. We wonder if she'll grow to be proud of her challenges, or embarrassed by them. We daydream about the day she is decannulated - the day she gets her trach out. It will be an overnight stay in the PICU, and it will be coming full circle. We wonder how old she'll be. At first we pictured her toddling around, all of her favorite nurses chasing her around the unit. But now maybe she'll be coloring in her favorite coloring book. Maybe she'll be reading a Harry Potter book. Maybe she'll be painting her toenails and texting her friends about how bored she is.

We daydream about Norah and Harper taking care of one another. He will protect her, and she will protect him. They will fight, they will laugh, and I can only hope that they will be close.

There is certainly another sort of life support aside from the medical type. There is the life support that requires the love of those around you to lift you up and help you get through tough times. There is the type that creates wonderful memories to draw upon when life gets difficult. Right now we live on both sorts of life support- the medical and the emotional. It is difficult, frightening, and completely beautiful.

A very wire-and-tube-filled photo of Norah during her recent
PICU stay last week. Her hair is amazing.

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