21 years ago…
Five Reasons why I am Grateful for Modern Medicine.
Rather than enumerating them, suffice it to say, five people in our home would have died without the intervention of modern medicine, including me. Instead of going into each one individually, I’ll just share the earliest and most soul wrenching one. This week, I was reminded of our experience by hearing a woman in my ward recount her trial with a young son, reading Allisa’s current story, and reading Stephanie’s memories. Here is our story…..
Twenty-one years ago, this month, our oldest was born. He was a normal baby in every way. He came on his due date, took FOREVER to deliver, and was amazing in the way every first baby is. We traveled for the Christmas holidays. He was about a month old. He seemed pretty fussy the night we arrived home. I just assumed it was the traveling.
He was inconsolable throughout the night. I held him, sang to him, slept with him….anything I could think of. By the time the morning rolled around, I could tell something was terribly wrong and we needed to get him to the doctor. He was pale and lethargic.
We were able to get the first appointment with the pediatrician. He took one look at the baby, listened to his abdomen, asked me if he had spit up any green bile (which Kyle did right then), and proceeded to order and administer a spinal tap. The doctor told us that he believed Kyle had a blocked bowel and that we needed to get him to the hospital right away. Our pediatrician was also our stake president. My husband asked him if he would help us give our baby a blessing. Our stake president said, not to make light of the priesthood, but you don’t have time. Get him to the hospital right now and give him a blessing there, which we did.
They started an IV right away and took x-rays. Within an hour or so, they told us that Kyle had perforated one of his bowels, that stool and air were all throughout his abdomen and he would need emergency surgery right away. They told us there was a 50% chance, he would die in surgery or not come out of the anesthetic. We had not given him a name and blessing and asked if that was something we should go ahead and do. Yes, we should. We made the necessary phone calls and blessed Kyle right there in the pediatric ICU unit in his little hospital clothes….my husband and his best friend. Then he was taken to surgery.
We waited for news from the O.R. for six hours. Finally, a doctor came out, introduced himself, and said that our baby was now stabilized. They had a few more hours of work, but he would be alright. At the time, I did not take in that Kyle being ‘now stable’ meant that at one time, he was not. We would later learn that they lost Kyle on the operating table and that if that particular doctor had not been in the hospital, Kyle would have died. A nurse who had been in the room, moved into our ward several months later and told us the story.
Because the doctor who saved his life was the director of newborn ICU, he wanted Kyle up where he could keep an eye on him instead of in the pediatric ward. (If a baby leaves the hospital and then is readmitted, policy dictated that they went to the peds ward.) Kyle remained in the NICU for a month. He had a colostomy (where they pull out the intestine onto the stomach wall and provide a bag for the waste to accumulate in). It was a week before I could nurse him. We have a Polaroid of him with all of his tubes, ng, iv, respirator, etc…but I don’t have a digital copy. I well up in tears every time I look at it.
Over the next 2 and 1/2 years, our little boy had three more major surgeries and seven minor ones. Every night and morning for seven weeks, we had to manually stretch his rectum to get it ready to be reconnected. As I am remembering a lot of the things we went through, it all seems like just some very horrible dream. It was so very difficult, but I learned so much. I had many, many spiritual experiences during that time…all of them gave me new information in how to live better.
Kyle had Hirschsprung’s disease. They believe it is hereditary. It is more prevalent in boys than girls. If you have a child with Hirschsprung’s disease, you have a 1 in 7 chance of having another child with the disorder. Being that we have so many boys, I wonder every single time if we are going to have to do it again. When I read stories like Allisa’s, I am reminded of the feelings I had during that time. They come right back. My throat gets tight. My eyes start to water. I have a small knowledge of some of what they might be feeling. I completely lose it when I visit a NICU and see those tiny babies fighting for their lives. I feel for their parents and those who love them. I do not want to do it again. But I am so very grateful for the things I learned during that time, as difficult as it was.
And today? Today my little boy is 21 years old and serving a mission in Brazil. He has no permanent problems except for the scars than cover his abdomen. I thank Heavenly Father that I got to keep him for a little while and that I get to continue to watch him grow and develop……thanks for our not so little miracle….and my heart and prayers go out to those who have similar experiences and maybe a different outcome. We could have easily been one of those families, five times, and one day, may be anyway.