She Squeezed My Finger (She Smiled, Part 2)

Today is Saturday November 12, 2016. Seven weeks ago tomorrow I brought my wife to the hospital. ICU visiting hours do not begin until 9:00 AM, but for some reason I had to be here almost two hours early on this quiet Saturday morning. Well, quiet may be stretching it a bit. A woman is asleep in a chair across the room and is snoring loudly enough to crack the plastered walls. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration. I try to find humor along the way.) She has a loved one in ICU and spends the night in the waiting room just as I did during the first days of my wife’s stay.
During these past seven weeks my wife has experienced a twice-ruptured brain aneurysm, a stroke, a craniotomy, a subdural hematoma, a tracheotomy, weeks on a ventilator, weeks with a feeding tube, and countless tests and procedures. She should not have survived the first bleed, and only one in one hundred survive a second bleed. She has twice needed a blood transfusion. Her oxygen level tanked. Her heartbeat is erratic at best. Quarts of fluid have been drained from her head. She has had hydrocephalus, vasospasms, and seizures. The skin on her face is rough and peeling. One side of her head is misshapen because they did not put the bone flap back in following the surgery to remove the hematoma the day after the craniotomy, etc, etc, etc…. During all of this, most of which she will not remember, she has won the hearts of everyone who has cared for her and even those who haven’t.
Basically, this is part two of the blog (“She Smiled”) I wrote last Sunday evening, the day before her craniotomy. That day she smiled at me. Her smile was not a polite smile to please me but a real big smile that lit up her face and made her eyes twinkle. I haven’t seen that smile since. This past week she has been in a constant state of semi-consciousness at best. Yesterday, she blessed us with the gift a several minutes of consciousness. She gave me half smiles and responded to my questions by squeezing my finger. “Do you love me? Squeeze my finger if you do.” I couldn’t help but meditate on the difference a week has brought. A smile so large that it filled her face made my day a week ago, and yesterday my day was made when she opened her eyes for the first time to look into mine and squeeze my finger.
I have always enjoyed the way a baby grasps a finger, but I never thought I would be joyous over my wife doing the same.

Stan Means
Elder Source Senior Ministries