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Monday, July 16, 2012


S takes after his Daddy--they are both very mechanical and need to know how things work. Documentaries are a favorite in our house, especially ones that cover how things are made or how they work. When S found out Miss Iz was ill, he had to know how and why and as many of the details as he could find out. He needed a run down of her surgery before it happened, had to know where she would be cut, how they would get to her holes, what they would do to fix it. It was hard enough just wrapping my mind around the fact that the surgery was going to happen and then I had to do a step-by-step in kid language :p But until he felt he understood what would happen and why, S could not be calm about it. Once he knew, for him it was simply a matter of waiting for it to happen.

Our experiences have sparked an interest in surgeons of all types and surgeon has made it onto his list of things to be when he grows up (along with garbage man, race car driver, policeman, Indiana Jones, fireman, and a Jedi. But not a pilot since he says he would get sick if he had to go up in the air and have turbulence every day...). Not too long ago, he was picking out something to watch together on Netflix and we settled on Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. Ben Carson is a neurosurgeon and S was fascinated with the different procedures Carson helped to develop and/or perfect. We checked out some books from the library about Carson and one of them, Think Big, has been making my brain turn and turn and turn ;)

In a lot of ways, Carson reminds me of our heart surgeon, Dr W--the kind manner, the humble demeanor where you feel as though he thinks of you as equals, just with different strengths. Carson stresses often the fact that just being blessed with gifts that make him an excellent surgeon is not enough. He relies on all manner of people around him--those that influenced him as a child, those that mentored him, those that support him, the parents and patients who place their trust in him. He writes of the good and the bad, his successes and failures. He talks about the good things that have come from patients he lost--the knowledge gained, the specialized equipment that was available later to save others, etc. I can't help but think of Iz as I read--so many came before her. Whether the child lived or died, the surgeons were learning and gaining experience and perfecting the techniques that today save so many. My uncle was a CHD baby; he died around a week old. I wonder what things his doctors learned from him--was their experiences with him instrumental in another baby living?

Carson often deals with the cases no one else will take. He writes about how sometimes, the only response he has to a parent wondering about whether or not their child has a chance is to think of the alternative. Certain death versus a chance. Even if hope is slim, it is still hope. I can't help but think of all the heart parents before me who had the same choice--think of the alternative. Their choices to go for it, whether successful or not, helped my Iz. Parents today are still making the hard choices, still losing their little ones, still taking the chance. Surgeons are still learning. Perhaps helping Iz through her complications helped her surgeon for the next time. Perhaps the heart babies lost recently in the online community helped their surgeons learn and do more in the future.

I wish to thank those who came before, who are walking this journey now, who will do so in the future. Each surgery, each outcome, each complication, each loss, each success, all of them help build the knowledge that will make things better in the future. When my grandmother gave birth, her baby couldn't be saved. By the time I had my babies, many have been saved. Perhaps by the time my babies have their babies, all will be saved.