Numbers

The outer wall of Jasmine’s world is defined by numbers. She’s on x liters of oxygen. Her blood oxygen is x. Her blood pressure is x over x. She gets x milliliters of this med over x hours and on and on it goes. Sometimes when I write updates, all I do is spew numbers because it’s easier to do that than it is to face the bigger picture that those numbers make. How do I write the measure of her pain? How do I write the measure of how I feel watching her slip away, if slipping away is what she’s doing? My mind and my fingers recoil from the thought.

Obviously, Jasmine is not doing well. While she was only on any oxygen non-rebreather yesterday (a device that provides oxygen only — it does not assist the actual process of breathing), she requested they start her on a bipap in the middle of the night. That she requested it is telling as Jasmine really hates having things on her nose and that’s exactly where this thing sits. A bipap is a step up from a ventilator. There’s no tube down her throat and it sits over her nose. When it senses she is having trouble breathing, it applies positive pressure to her respiratory system via her nose, helping her lungs to expand properly.

An x-ray this morning showed little or no change. Whatever is happening, we are only holding steady. The meds are not fixing whatever is wrong. Yesterday they started Jasmine on intravenous feeds because her stomach will not tolerate much food. This morning, we added a blood transfusion to the mix because they have drawn so much blood and she can’t keep up.

Today she is sleeping fitfully under the influence of Ativan, a anti-anxiety medication. She is afraid of not being able to breathe. I think it’s mostly the struggle of it that bothers her, because with the help of the bipap, she is getting plenty of oxygen. Her blood gases are good. We pay attention to this because if her lungs were not doing an adequate job of expelling carbon dioxide and infusing oxygen in her blood, she could suffocate. At this point, that really doesn’t seem to be a threat.

Every test they have run comes back negative. The doctors simply don’t know what’s wrong with her. I can read on their faces the frustration they feel. It is comforting to know they care the way they do. Various people from different areas of the hospital have come to see her, they are all concerned and today, upset by what they find. This is what makes SLCH such a stand-out institution. The caring coupled with the technology. Even still, I am afraid this combination may not be enough. I am really, really afraid that this is it. I really, really hope that in the next few days I will laugh at myself for being overwrought.

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