A POCKET OF LINT
When we checked Mitch into the emergency room we knew things were serious, but we didn't grasp how serious things were until nurses started calling doctors and doctors started calling other doctors. Everything went from routine to rigorous in a big hurry. My little son was crashing and by the time he was moved to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) he was pale. He was different.
Natalie and I followed little Mitch to his CICU room but waited just behind the glass wall for things to settle. We didn't want to get in the way as the medical team was quickly trying to stabilize him. Mitchell’s eyes grew big as he watched this concerned medical team scurry about tending to his care. As I peered through the glass wall my heart sank and my soul ached. There was my son, my little soul mate, and he was in big trouble.
By the time Mitch was stabilized the ER doctor (Dr. Herman) who had escalated Mitchell’s case to the CICU came to our floor to see if Mitch even survived. When he walked in our room and saw that Mitch was still alive relief washed over his face. I was so touched that this doctor actually cared. My son wasn't just a case number, or a biological puzzle to solve, or body to fix … Mitch was a little person who had feelings and family who loved him … desperately. Humanity and compassion was clearly not lost on this doctor and his short visit, to show that he cared, did more for our hearts than he will ever know.
Dr. Herman knew what to be and when. He was all business when trying to save Mitchell’s life and get him into the CICU. But after the emergency passed he was human … he cared. I can say the same about everyone at Primary Children’s Hospital who cared for our son. They not only cared after him, they cared about him.
Within a few hours we would learn that Mitch was experiencing end-stage heart failure and that he had days to live. Weeks if he was lucky. We weren't sure if Mitch would leave the hospital alive.
During our week-long stay doctors and medical staff would occasionally comment how moved they were by our love and dedication toward our son. Natalie and I slept together on a couch made for one. We never really slept – but we tried to rest. These doctors told us that some children are left for extended periods of time and their parents seemed emotionally disconnected. What we thought was normal love and attention seemed unusual or uncommon to them. My heart broke for other children who were left feeling unloved.
When we told Mitchell he would need to stay at the hospital for at least a week his eyes filled with tears. He didn't want to be there – he just wanted to be home with his family and to play with his friends. By the time we left the hospital, having been discharged to die at home, my sweet son asked about his homework and wondered if his teacher would let him have a little more time to complete it. With all that he had experienced, doing his duty was top of mind for my son. Mitch, even in the depths of hardship, was an honorable and noble soul. I hugged my son and said, “Oh, sweet Mitchie, don’t worry about that. Let’s just go home and focus on family.”
Family and a pocket of lint was all we had left. Medicine had failed us – there was no cure. Transplant policies failed us – pointing to antiquated philosophies. And our hearts almost failed us – we were so scared.
After everything in our world failed, Pat Furlong with PPMD, and Dr. Cripe from Nationwide (who we honor as heroes) came rushing to help Mitch. But too much was happening too late.
There was nothing we could do but go home and love this little boy with all of our heart. And our hearts trembled.
Family and a pocket of lint … I would rather have that than all the riches of earth and honors of men. I am reminded of Oscar Wilde’s cautionary phrase, “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” I pray I am never counted among those of whom he spoke … for the value of family is without price. And family has a value for which I would pay any price.
Here is an image of Dr. Herman examining Mitch in the Emergency Room: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=622937311069267&set=pb.192859897410346.-2207520000.1388611662.&type=3&theater