Friday, October 14, 2011

Joy Comes to the CCU

A joyful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me.” Genesis 21:6 (ESV)

Treasured friend,

I just shared with my friend Rhonda, whose dad is recovering from bypass surgery, a memory from my own dad's bypass.

You need to find the funny even in the really bad times, or you'll go nuts. With that in mind ...

Dad was in CCU after his bypasses with tubes coming out of everywhere and his hands restrained; we were appalled at how he looked. Fortunately there are no mirrors in CCU, so he didn't know how bad it was.

He couldn't talk, of course, because of the ventilator and feeding tubes. He was clearly feeling miserable in every square inch of his shrinking frame.
Someone--the night nurse, I think--taught him how to communicate by spelling out words in the air--rather Helen Keller-like. One of the first times he was awake when we got our 5 minutes per hour to spend with him (that's the limit for visits in CCU), he kept spelling out S-K-R-A-C-H in the air with his finger; then he'd grab for my hand. When I reached to hold his hand, he'd push it away a little and weakly scratch the back of it.

It took a while. But we finally figured he thought he had been scratched. Feeling like the mom of a toddler, I tried to sooth him. 'It's okay, Dad. I know a scratch hurts, but it'll go away.' With all his grave wounds, a 'skrach' didn't seem like a big deal. You had to love the spelling, though -- those drugs in surgery certainly do a number on the thinking centers. (To think this was the man who taught me to spell!)

He couldn't be stopped, though. The air spelling continued--with great flourish on the K. And each time, he grew more insistent and more frustrated.

Finally, the nurse who had taught him this rudamentary communication interpreted for us: he wanted us to scratch his head -- he had an itch.

Even in the bleakest moments, a ray of hope often comes in the form of a good chuckle. May the Lord bring one of those into your life today! Even years later, this story still ripples a round of laughter through our little circle.

Blessings and prayers,


© 2011, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email:

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had more of a sense of humor in '93 when my dad had colon cancer surgery. After smoking most of his life (more than 68 years), he was on a respirator and restrained. It was hard to see him bucking to get loose and they kept telling him if they didn't restrain him, when he was sleeping he would unconciously rip all that stuff off his face, all that stuff that was keeping him alive. He survived and lived three more years to die of a heart attack. Through the years I've grown to laugh more and not be so serious. It takes away a lot of stress. Thank you for valuable information you give in this blog. Love you.