Sunday, June 10, 2012

26 Days in ICU

Michael & Abby-Urban Assault Ride-Austin, Texas

In all honesty, my brain cannot wrap itself around it being our 26th day in ICU with Michael.  I cannot fathom how that many 24 hour periods of time could possibly have passed, or that there are things happening that we will someday need to tell Michael about, because he wasn’t with us to experience them.  Only two things are clear to me at this time…..Michael will be proud of how the kids and I have gotten through this time, and that he will be overwhelmed by the love and support that has been shown to our family.  Lord knows, there isn’t one without the other……the kids and I would be a mess if it weren’t for the thoughts, prayers and support of so many….it is literally carrying us right now.

Off on a bike/camping adventure
I knew just enough going in, to know that life in ICU is a roller coaster.  I have watched enough friends go through it, and experienced it myself almost 24 years ago the first time Michael was in ICU.  It does little to prepare you, at least for this length of stay.

Michael started out doing well, considering the extent of his injuries. He got through both surgery to repair his hip, as well as to rebuild his left rib cage in the week after the accident. However then contracted both MRSA in his right lung (the one not injured in the accident) along with yeast, and MRSA in his blood.  With this, the decision was made to do a tracheotomy since our time on the ventilator was already extended, and would continue for some time. We battled these infections for the better part of a week, and then finally started to see him turn the corner towards the next steps in this process.
Michael & Madi

Two days into the turn around, another set back, this one more significant than the first (as hard as that is to imagine).  Fevers started spiking, and while it was clear there was a “bug” somewhere, we had to go hunting for it.  Sadly, it was his lungs, both of them now very sick.  What progress we had made in weaning sedation and the ventilator were lost and we went back to square one.  We did so though with the knowledge that he could follow commands when the sedation was reduced enough, and that he has amazing lungs that, even with a significant infection, were able to tolerate a reduction of the vent.  These two tidbits have made losing so much ground at least a little easier to swallow. I can rest easier knowing them.

As of today, while I am not quite able to say we have turned the corner on this latest infection yet, I can say we are moving in that direction.  Each day his lungs look a smidge better on x-ray, his labs move a little more in the right direction, and we are all breathing easier with him.  He is still very sedated at this time, and the ventilator is doing all the work of breathing, but assuming we get through this weekend without any surprises, an attempt to reduce the pressure being given by the vent may start early next week.  Then the process of weaning sedation and the vent begins again.

His injuries from the accident have been healing during all of this.  The small brain bleed and lacerated spleen have healed…..the last of the chest tubes was removed from the left lung yesterday and the lung injuries sustained are healing…..and the many broken bones are slowly but surely doing their thing.

The doctors are still taking things very day by day with my love, and so, for sanity’s sake, am I.  I have some vague ideas of what the next steps in this process will be, but trying to put some time frame on it all continues to just not be possible.  It almost always is in cases like this.  My mantra of taking one day at a time and making it the best it can be is getting a run for its money J

I really am doing okay. I probably analyze myself and my reactions to things more than most, and do so mostly because I find it fascinating how emotions and the mind work.  This experience has been no exception.  My reactions and typical modes of operation have been turned upside down in this case, but not so much in a bad way.  Unlike my usual approach to something medical, I asked few questions and emotionally protected myself from the extent of what we had going on in the beginning.  I just simply could only deal with a little bit at a time.  It was days before I asked about or looked at any labs….actually, it was more than a week into it all.  I minimized my interactions with anyone I thought might have more information to share than I could handle, and slowly worked my way into this whole mess.  The difference for me from chronic care to traumatic is substantial, and far more than I could have ever anticipated.  It has thankfully all just happened without any real thought on my part.  I have been at peace from the beginning with how I was dealing with it, and how I needed to deal with it all has just been so very clear cut, I have yet to question any of it.  All this to say, I am coping.  I did talk with some people that would know this last week, and they confirm I am still sane (always good to know…LOL).

The kids are coping remarkably well too, each in their own way.  They ask a little more about what’s going on each day, and I suspect, like me, they are emotionally protecting themselves till they are ready.  I get it and can totally walk that walk with them.  They are being loved on and entertained (read: distracted) by amazing people that we are so blessed to have in our lives.  And they, like me, are gearing up for the long haul.  The stress of it all is taking a toll on their health, and each one is dealing with some issues right now, but we have an amazing team of doctors that are quite literally at our beck and call, and that makes a huge difference. 

What I know, without question, is that we will all be okay.  We will find a way to accept our “new normals” and we will continue to truly LIVE as we have for so many years before this.

Our gratitude for all the support of so many is immeasurable. There are simply no words worthy of describing it. Our friends and family are amazing!!

A few links to some awesome articles & blog posts about Michael.....

The ChipIn page (in the sidebar) will have regular updates posted if your not a friend on Facebook.


  1. ===================================
    The HELPER logon is used by family and friends
    that would like to sign-up to help a loved one.

    To access McNair Family's personal CareCalendar site,
    visit and enter
    the following information in the appropriate spaces:

    CALENDAR ID : 113781
    SECURITY CODE : 5897

  2. Heather,
    You truly are a remarkable, awesome lady and this article just proves it! We love you all so much and are here for you! Keep up the good work!

  3. My wife and I are the couple that came to your house a few months ago--while you were packing the POD trailer thingy--and took the trailers and other assorted bike parts that Michael was gracious enough to 'donate'. I was so surprised by Michael's generosity. He gave us so much stuff and didn't want anything in return. I mention him quite frequently to people when they ask about riding bikes to work. They are always amazed someone could ride so far and still be able to do their work. I agree with them that he is amazing.
    Through this ordeal it is clear that you are amazing as well! (Even if you don't ride outrageous distances on a bike.) Even with all you and your kids are going through you are still able to maintain your sense of hope and purpose. We have been, and will continue, to follow along as you make this journey.
    You and Michael are an inspirational couple.


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