One Big Step Forward

The tube is out.

2Today marks two weeks since Avery was admitted to the hospital and it is also the most promising day that we’ve seen in that time. Avery was extubated this afternoon and is completely off the ventilator. She’s still receiving oxygen to assist her breathing, but she’s doing most of the work herself.

The symptoms of the flu have faded, as has most of the swelling. She looks like herself and behaved like herself, too. Though she’s only regained consciousness recently, it appears as though she resents the people in the blue gowns because they’re the ones who move her, stick things down her nose, and generally add to her discomfort. When I saw her for the first time this afternoon, she shot a Lynnette-quality side-eye death ray at the nurse as she prepared the catheter for nasal entry. I laughed. The narrow eye lids, the furrowed brow – it was vintage Avery.

She also started to cry (which I am told is encouraging). Since she’s still on medication, she doesn’t appear to have full awareness or control of her behavior, but for a few minutes tonight, she fought that catheter like the PITA Girl she is and threw one of her classic tantrums that turns her face and upper body a bright shade of red. It was heartening to see shades of the old Avery, but still difficult to watch her tears disappear into the white fabric below her head. She has no idea what’s happening.

The highlight of the night was being able to hold Avery for the first time in two weeks. She’s still attached to 1,203 different wires and tubes, but since she’s off the ventilator, it was actually possible to move her in such a way that allowed her to rest in our arms. She immediately calmed when Lynnette scooped her up; Avery got riled up when I held her until Lynnette tugged my mask down so Avery could see my whole  face. She quieted down pretty quickly after that.

We hope that we can bring Avery home this weekend, but that might be wildly optimistic. As you know, that is not a place I like to be. It all depends on how quickly she can get the liquid out of her lungs. “Is Avery the feisty one? Is her brother the chill one?” the nursed asked us tonight. “Yeah,” I said. “Because she’s strong. She’s been fighting us and scolding us when we pick her up and suction her,” she continued. “Yeah, that sounds right,” I said. I tapped Avery’s yellow-socked foot. “That’s my PITA Girl.”

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