Last week I saw a patient in our clinic for follow-up after he was discharged from the hospital more than a month ago. Let’s just say I was not expecting to see him this way.
This was a man found lying unconscious in his driveway amidst the pouring rain. He was brought in the emergency room comatose, got intubated and was hooked on a ventilator. He was subsequently admitted to our ICU where he spent 4 long and difficult weeks.
He was on life support for most of his ICU stay and at some point he was requiring the highest oxygen and mechanical ventilator support we can give him. He was on multiple medication drips to keep his vital signs from flat-lining. For a couple of weeks his mentation fluctuated between unresponsiveness, extreme agitation, and light sedation. It was touch and go for him for a time. And many thought, including me, that he will not make it.
But he did!
Of course he spent a few more weeks in the hospital and rehab after he went out of the ICU, but he eventually went home.
When I saw him last week, he looked like a different man compared to when I saw him in the hospital. He was walking without assistance and even able to do fast-walk. He was talking clearly as his tracheostomy site had completely healed. His mental faculties were sharp and he really looked good.
He was very grateful for all our efforts and that he was given a second lease on his life. I told him that I wish I can take credit for this, but I can’t. His recovery was beyond me. It is amazing how a human body can heal and recover.
In the past 10 years that I have been in practice, the patients that had been this critically ill and required prolonged ICU stay, and was able to come to see me for follow-up in our clinic are fewer than my fingers. And for this patient to come back almost without noticeable disability, is simply sweet.
I know my ICU career is most of the times trying, and at times downright depressing . However, because of the few cases, like this one, gives me the drive to continue on what I am trained and entrusted to do.