Today is the 8th day that my mother has been in the coronary intensive care unit. During the last 8 days she has been intubated, extubated, intubated, extubated, and intubated again. Her trachea and larynx are swollen and bleeding. The doctors look grim, tight-lipped and guarded with their prognostications. There is a steady trickle of humanity intermingling with the beeps, clicks, and rhythmic sighs of the ventilator. Impossible to sleep in a place like that. I am amazed that she is not climbing the walls..but that is probably because she is too weak. Under ordinary conditions she would be considerably more exasperated by her enforced immobility. Part of me looks with a clinical eye at all of this- after all, I need to be alert and vigilent in order to effectively communicate to the rest of the family. Being a touchstone prevents me from connecting to my own emotional turmoil- I need to ‘keep it together’ for the sake of others.