Baton Rouge General Hospital
Monday December 6, 1993
Word about the tracheostomy gets around.
Lots of visitors in the evening.
Too noisy in the room.
Later, Jen's oxygen saturation is too low. Instead of 90% and above it remains in the 80's. The respiration therapist orders the portable x-ray machine, leaves to page Dr. Moreland. One of the nurses on duty, Suzie, says he suspects that the tube installed during the operation is too small. While standing at the end of the bed, Dee sitting on the fold-out bed, Suzie nearby, checking readouts, Jen's head lifts in a gag-like response, the trach tube dislodging completely and putting her in terrible distress.
Nurses hurrying into the room. Dee crying, asking what is wrong, what is happening to her baby. Holding on to each other and walking down the hall, getting out of the way, knowing it's bad, better off not seeing. Leaning against the wall, staring back toward the room, people rushing in and out, Suzie hurrying to the Nurse's Station, calling downstairs and asking for a trach kit.
How long will it take to make one up?
Think ER will have one?
Listening, remembering my father dying of a heart attack downstairs, Jennifer not even born yet, reading the list I had typed for him about what medicines he couldn't take, remembering the chaos and uncertainty, fear and confusion.
Daughter dying, a trach kit not quickly available.
Dr. Moreland stepping out of the elevator.
They need help, please, God.
Moreland hurrying to the room. Suzie asking if we know where the plug is for the inner cannula.
For Chrissake, it's in the plastic bag tied to the bedrail.
Dee breaking down, collasping onto the floor, hugging one of my legs.
I can't take this anymore.
Sobbing over and over.
I can't take this anymore I can't take this anymore I can't take this anymore I can't take this anymore . . .
Detaching somehow, always the observer, a strange calmness, preparing now for Moreland exiting the room, standing a moment, approaching us with the news, with an image, and the words, Jen didn't make it.