It’s Thanksgiving here in the United States and while I’ve been sneaking in some truth into my son’s curriculum I do have to say that the idea of taking the time to reflect on the past and what is good in my life is a good exercise. It’s good for my mental health and for my soul.
I have lots to be thankful for this year despite all the negatives 2020 has unleashed on the world. My family is still together. My mom, my sister and her family, and my husband’s family are all healthy. I have taken the opportunity to spend lots of time with my son this fall and as much as we drive each other crazy, we love each other more. I have watched his little mind learn and it’s a delight.
And honestly, I’m thankful my son is still with us. He was born with a pulmonary artery sling. So, I’m thankful for science and medicine and the doctors that treated him.
We didn’t know anything was wrong until he got his first cold. His breathing was shallow and he wouldn’t eat. That was our first hospital visit. He was hooked up to oxygen and IVs and given breathing treatments. After the third hospital stay, we pulled him out of daycare and hired a nanny.
He was sent to a pulmonary (lung) doctor. She performed a bronchoscopy. He was put to sleep and she took a look inside his lungs with a camera. She had several different ideas of what might be wrong. None of those ideas were correct. She noticed something that sent us to the cardiologist.
Once at the cardiologist, they did an EKG and an echocardiogram. The echo showed the pulmonary artery sling. His left pulmonary artery branched off from the right pulmonary artery and was laced between his trachea and esophagus.
He needed surgery to fix it. Otherwise, every time he had a chest cold, he would end up in the hospital on oxygen taking breathing treatments. There wasn’t a pediatric cardiac surgeon in my area so, we had to go to Atlanta. Six days after he turned one, he had the surgery, a pulmonary artery sling repair. They opened up his chest, put his heart on bypass, and moved his artery to where it’s supposed to be.
It was so nerve-wracking. My EE, my mom, and my sister all sat in the waiting room. It was impossible to carry on a conversation. After hours of waiting, he was out of surgery and in the ICU. It felt like we lived in that hospital for weeks when it was around five days. And we brought him home on so many different types of medicine. He began walking within the month. The pulmonary doctor released us from her care after a few months. And eleven months later, the cardiologist told us to come back in 2 years.
My son still goes to the cardiologist every two years for an EKG and echo. Just a short check-up to make sure everything is still closed and working correctly. He can run and jump and do everything any other kid can do. He has no medical limitations.
The next summer we put him back in daycare (despite how amazing our nanny was, we couldn’t afford her much longer).
This month is the 5th anniversary of his surgery. He’s now in Kindergarten, he is learning to read and write, and he can play video games better than I can. He’s my healthy boy. I love him with all my heart, even when he’s mad at me or I’m mad at him.
So, I implore you to take a few minutes and think about the things that you are thankful for today and tomorrow and the next day. It doesn’t have to be something momentous. Somedays I’m thankful for my cat purring on my lap. Or that I have time for a nap.
Let me know what you’re thankful for today or tomorrow or whenever.