Yesterday was one of those weird anniversaries, the kind you really don't want to remember but you can't avoid. March 13 is a lot of things. It's the birthday of one of my oldest friends, and several other people I know. (Thank you facebook). This is random, but for some reason I remember that in 1982 it was the day I received my acceptance to law school. Those things, while important, are not the reasons I remember March 13. I remember it mostly because it is the day Maggie got her trach.
It was 2007, the worst year of my life. My father died in January, my mother's house was robbed in early March and the very next day Maggie got sick. Really sick. Obviously, she had been sick many times before, but nothing like this. She was in the ICU with the oxygen turned up as high as it would go and still gasping for air. It was very hard to watch.
Withing a day or so we were told that either Maggie had to get a trach or we had to prepare to say goodbye. Even typing that now makes me shudder. We knew we couldn't watch her struggle anymore and agreed to proceed with the surgery to place the trach.
It was awful.
I didn't think she - or we - would survive it. We wondered if we had put her through that surgery only to lose her anyway.
She stayed in the hospital for three weeks and then came home. Her care needs increased into the stratosphere and we struggled to keep up. Those first months after the trach placement were very very hard. Basically I lived that entire year certain every day was Maggie's last. She was in and out of the hospital several times, each admission scarier than the time before. But Maggie is the toughest girl in the world and kept fighting.
Eventually things settled down. Maggie recovered from the surgery. She adapted to the trach and the complications of it all started to subside. We became more comfortable caring for the trach and all that entailed. By the time 2008 started Maggie was actually healthier and has steadily grown stronger since then.
Now I have a love/hate relationship with the trach. I love it because it saved her life and made her stronger. I hate it because it is ugly and ties her and us to an unsustainable schedule, which we have nevertheless sustained all this time. .
Now six years have gone by and, as the saying goes, it is what it is. I realized the other day that we have all adapted. Maggie had her graduation picture taken and my neighbor asked how we were going to cover the trach. That question took me by surprise because it never even occurred to me to try to cover it. First of all, she needs it to breathe, even while the picture is being taken, and I'm not sure how we could cover it and have her breathe at the same time; but, in addition, the trach is just a part of Maggie. Ugly as it is, a picture of her with the trach hidden would be bizarre to me.
It was funny to come to that realization because I would have done anything to hide it, or get rid of it, when it first became a part of her. I presumed our ability to adapt took all these years, Then I spied THIS guy sitting on Maggie's bed and realized the adaptation started within days of getting the trach,.
This is a picture of Patrick the Frog. He was a gift to Maggie from her nurse Fely. She wanted a green stuffed animal because she gave it to Maggie on St. Patrick's Day 2007, just four days after she got the trach. We put a trach on him then and it's been there ever since.
He is breathing easier too.
Still, it's not easy being Green.