TL;DR Playing Avett Brothers songs in the ICU helped my cousin breathe more easily while on a ventilator.
Two weeks ago my cousin Sterling went to urgent care with a bad cold. They told him to go to the ER. In the ER at Wake Med he had congestive heart failure and was flown by helicopter to Duke's cardiac center. Over the course of 4 days he underwent 4 operations to put pumps on the left and right ventricles of his heart. Those are now the only things keeping him alive.
Yesterday, March 4th, his daughter (his first child) was also born at Duke. Last night we started to wean Sterling off of the sedation and wake him up. If you've ever experienced this then you know how awful it is. Each breath is agony. You struggle, in intense pain, to understand what's going on. Sterling was extremely disoriented, confused, and in pain.
The nurses called me back into the ICU to try to keep him calm. I held his hand and told him to breathe easy and not to fight the ventilator. He was still very agitated. I asked the nurse if she thought music would help and she said sure. I started playing the same song we played at his wedding, murder in the city ("There is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name"). His breathing started to slow and relax. He stopped fighting the ventilator so much and fell into a peaceful rhythm of breathing with the music. We sat and listened to music for hours. I told him to squeeze my hand if he wanted more music and he did.
I plan to keep playing songs for him until he can breathe without the ventilator and maybe even more after that.
We both got introduced to the Avett Brothers for the first time in 2009 when I heard their songs at WCU. I've been an avid fan ever since.
I live in California now and I already bought tickets for the greek theatre show. It's my hope that Sterling can be well enough to come to that show with me.
I am forever indebted to all of the band for the beautiful music they've made and the comfort they've provided Sterling. I don't know how I could ever repay them but if there is anything I can do I will.
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