As Gibbs made his way into the ICU room he noted mentally that Tony's hands were restrained to keep him from pulling out necessary tubes and lines. His abdomen was covered in a thick white gauzed bandage and he now sported a central line in his right upper chest, blood infusing into two of the three intravenous ports.
Dr Pitt was standing at Tony's bed speaking to his patient in soft tones, not wanting to startle him as he came back to consciousness. "Tony, I need for you to wake up."
Tony eyes started to flutter, a grimace crossed his face, the pain from his surgery, his ordeal, evident on his face. The familiar sounds of beeps, smells and whirls of machines doing the work that his body was unable, unwilling, to do at the moment started bombarding his senses. It all seemed too familiar and he just wanted to close his eyes again and block it all out, make it all go away.
Dr Pitt looked over to the nurse and nodded for her to give a small amount of the intravenous drug for pain, the medication syringe attached to the intravenous line, the dose would be given in small increments until he was able to communicate to Tony what was needed, without the medication putting him to sleep.
When Tony seemed to be in less pain he proceeded with bringing him to a more alert level. He needed his patient, his friend, to be awake to do what needed to be done
"Tony, I need to get you off this machine, I need you to try to breathe on your own." he coaxed his patient, hoping that this would be a lot easier than last time.
Tony's eyes opened half mast, he looked exhausted, the past few hours had taken a tremendous toll on him. His chest hurt where they had done compressions on the way to the hospital, his gut hurt and he felt as though he was going to vomit but the nasogastric tube that had been placed down his nose into his stomach during surgery was suctioning everything out. He shook his head, he was too tired, he was hurting too much. He wanted the man to go away.
"Tony, you need to get off the ventilator, your lungs can't tolerate a prolonged amount of time on this machine. Do you understand?" Dr Pitt knew he had to be truthful with his friend, he had to get him off, bottom line.
Tony closed his eyes, not wanting to be bothered, unwilling to be tortured any further with medical procedures or lingo. He just ignored the question, hoping that the man would eventually give up and go away.
Gibbs knew that he had to assist, Tony was shutting the pulmonologist off, his stubborn second needed a swift kick and he was just the one to do it. He walked over to get into Tony's line of vision, his voice not as soft and gentle as the physician's, "DiNozzo, you will do as the doctor says, you have to get off that machine." he pointed in the direction of the ventilator.
Tony's eyes went open and wide, the familiar voice had gotten his attention. His eyes found Gibbs blues and he attempted to communicate that any other time he might listen but today he just hurt too much, maybe some other time, maybe.
"Tony, we know you're hurting but in all honesty we have to remove that tube from your throat, it's imperative." Dr Pitt attempted again but felt he was failing miserably. As a physician he knew what he had to do, it would not be the most pleasant thing to watch.
He reached over and removed the vent connection from the endotracheal tube and watched to see if Tony could take breaths on his own, hoping for the best. Tony's eyes closed tight, his face reddened, and sweat formed on his brow, he was suffocating and as Dr Pitt started to place the vent back onto to the endotracheal tube his hand was stopped by Gibbs.
"Tony, you need to breathe, just take a damned breath." Gibbs voice was firm, authoritative.
Monitors started to scream, Tony's face was getting redder, he was shaking his head, he couldn't force his body to do the simple task, it just wouldn't comply. Why couldn't they see that he couldn't do the simple task.
"Tony, remember when you saved Maddie and me from drowning, how you felt when you reached the top of the water with our bodies in tow? How your lungs burned from the deprivation of not having breathed in minutes, ached from having been unable to take in a breath, but then when you reached the top remember how the air just rushed into your body, remember how good it felt just to breathe?" Gibbs was hoping that this would work, that Tony was listening.
Tony nodded, he was listening, Gibbs had gotten his attention. At that moment though the monitors started showing their concerns by squealing even louder, growing more intense in their sounds. The heart monitor was showing Tony's elevated heart rate, his O2 Saturation monitor's numbers illuminated with a flashing red urgency the plummeting numbers, the warning that the patient was getting to dire levels, levels that meant that death was impending if actions wasn't taken soon, but Gibbs held firm, Tony needed to take a breath."Take a damn breath DiNozzo!"
Tony shook his head, his lips taking on a tint of blue, he just couldn't make his body work, he couldn't make his lungs do what they refused to do...to breathe.
"Remember when you came up out of the water DiNozzo, all you wanted to do was to get air to your lungs, to breathe." Gibbs voice was closer, his face right in front of Tony's, starring at him, giving him a strength that was unwavering." Tony, get that gulp of air, you can do it because you don't want to drown." Gibbs' right hand found Tony's and he gave a firm grip. "You can do this Tony...I know that you can do it. Breathe DiNozzo, take that breath!"
The monitors were now flashing, the ventilator screaming with a high pitched sound, wanting to make its presence known, wanting to be reattached to its patient, the multiple alarms were warning the physician that time was running out for his patient if someone didn't intervene. Dr Pitt looked on nervously,his hands ready to reattach the ventilator.
Then it happened, Tony, somehow, delivered what Gibbs had demanded of him, his lungs sucked in his first rush of oxygen into his lungs.
The monitors quietened after several seconds, and when he was able to get a few more breaths, even though there were a rapid succession of breaths that followed, he was finally able to get the hyperventilation under control... Tony started breathing almost normal breaths, his color started improving to its almost normal pink tone. His saturation numbers started rising, his heart rate started to calm. Tony was breathing on his own. Finally.
"Atta boy Tony." he rubbed Tony's hair as Brad deflated the cuff attached to the endotracheal tube. Gibbs took in a breath he had been holding too. He was proud of Tony.
Tony nodded and closed his eyes, exhausted from the ordeal, who would ever have known that breathing could be so difficult, well after the plague he had experienced it too many times and he was tired.
"Cough Tony." Brad instructed his patient who complied and he slid the tube out from his patient's throat, a venti mask was quickly placed on his patient's face, Tony's oxygen levels were deemed to be more within a normal level. The doctor knew he wasn't out of the woods yet but this was one hurdle, he knew their would be more.
Dr Chen stood at the door, an observer of something he had never witnessed before. He may need this man Gibbs again.