This weekend we’re heading down to UCLA for 3 different appointments for David. This hospital has been a significant part of our journey with David. When he was 3 months old, our cardiologist rushed us out of an office visit and down to the cardiology department at UCLA for in-depth testing. Our tiny baby held still while they squirted warm jelly on his chest and looked at his heart on an echocardiogram screen. Once the tests were complete, cardiac surgeons reviewed the results. We left the hospital and strolled through Westwood’s farmers market, eating slices of berry pie while we awaited news of a possible open heart surgery that same day.
I remember what a beautiful day it was and how colorful all the vegetables and handmade crafts were. But inside, my heart was pounding. When the phone finally rang, we got good news. The doctors would not be performing emergency heart surgery on David and we were free to return to our little apartment on Ruby Street, just south of LA. Big sigh of relief.
Fast forward nine years to October of 2011. David was bigger and stronger and it was time to take care of his narrowed aorta and the holes in his heart that made him grow more slowly and become tired more easily. I’ve never been more terrified than when I watched him being wheeled away to the surgery room. Every hour or so, the surgery team called with updates.
We’ve stopped his heart.
We’ve made the first incision.
We’ve repaired the hole.
David is in recovery–all went well.
When the doctor came down to give us a complete report I was flooded with gratitude. How can you thank someone who mends your child’s heart and gives him more years to live? There are no words. Within 24 hours of surgery, David was up and walking, but a collapsed lung on day 3 made his recovery more difficult and painful. After a week in the hospital we returned home relieved and ready to get back to normal.
It took 5 weeks before David was strong enough to go back to school. The skin on the outside of his chest quickly became smooth with nothing but a small scar, but the bones inside of his chest took more time to heal. It took even longer for me to let go of the anxiety I had become accustomed to carrying with me. But slowly, life got back to normal again.
Next week we’ll visit with David’s pulmonologist and meet with a craniofacial team of 8 doctors who will look at everything from eyes and ears to teeth and brain. I feel a mix of gratitude and nervousness. I’m so thankful that we have amazing professionals who care for David and want the best for him. But if I’m honest, sometimes I worry about what the future holds and what health issues we’re going to encounter.
As we prepare I’m reminded that moments of heartbreak and pain have brought us days of joy and gratitude.
I don’t know what the future holds but this moment, right now, is good. This moment is a blessing. David is a blessing. And I am thankful.