Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Another Christmas Eve is upon us.  Many people are doing their last minute preparations for their annual celebrations.  This is a day that I will always be reminded of our Christmas at the Stollery Children's Hospital as Russell was being kept alive on a Ventricular Assist Device (Berlin Heart) and he was waiting for his heart transplant.

Christmas Day 2008
Stollery Children's Hospital  4C - ICE
Susan and I remember this Christmas very differently.  As strange as it may sound I enjoyed this time.  Russell was stable, for the most part, and all of the efforts the hospital made to make Christmas enjoyable for all of the families was enjoyed and appreciated.  Last year I saw a picture of the preparations that were made by the hospital for Christmas Day.  Child Life does a phenomenal job of putting on a very special Christmas morning.
Christmas Preparations at the Stollery
Santa's Workshop

Susan remembers this Christmas very differently.  As she describes it, she would be happy wiping this memory away forever.  At this point we were still waiting for Russell's donor heart and our patience was being tested.  The Berlin Heart had provided a capable bridge to get us to the transplant but even that was risky.  We were one clot away from a stroke or there was also the risk of bleeding due to the anti coagulation.  It was a tenuous balancing act we were performing and Susan felt every but of that pressure.

In the midst of all of that chaos, we did manage to celebrate Christmas with family.  For better or for worse it is a Christmas we will never forget.  We are also reminded how far we have come in 7 years.

Nicole and Russell - Christmas 2015
As Susan had her procedure earlier this week we were also reminded that our journey continues and is far from over.  We will enjoy every moment we have together as we think of all of the families who will be spending the holidays in the hospital.  We hope they can find joy in trying circumstances.  For all of our friends who are spending Christmas in one of our hospitals we wish you a very Merry Christmas and to all of the volunteers and hospital staff, who make a Christmas in hospital a little more enjoyable, a heart felt "Thank You"; your efforts are greatly appreciated.

The note below is for all of the fine people who help make Christmas in the hospital possible.  

'T'was the Night Before Christmas

'T'was the night before Christmas, 7 short years ago,
Where we found ourselves, far from our home. 
I remember the cold;that memorable night.
As our tiny boy, was far from all right. 

In the Stollery's care our boy stayed in good stead
His heart beat held steady with a device by his bed.
Our future uncertain, our outcome unknown
A new heart for Christmas; our impatience had grown.

Our journey had started three months before.
  His heart fell ill and could not take any more.
My 8 week old boy's heart was nearing the end.
His heart was sick and could not be mend.

ICU and hospital our new home became
A heart for a transplant became our new aim.
The days turned to weeks and our fate seemed so grim.
The watching and waiting was doing us in.

One offer, then another; not quite a right fit
Could Christmas bring that one special gift?
Christmas day came, our gift did not come
Another day gone; unanswered prayers to some.
One day passed and then another, an end not in sight
We doubted and fretted; would our boy win this fight?
But unknown to us the stage had been set.
In a city far away in the Pacific Northwest.

Another young boy was clinging to life.
A story filled with sorrow and unfortunate strife.
The stage was now set; a decision was made.
A call of compassion and plans were well laid

Early that morning just before the New Year
A heart had been found; joy replaced fear.
The waiting was over; a new chapter began
Our gift of new life was all part of the plan.

As I think of this time and memories so fond.
We stop and remember my son's kindred bond.
A selfless choice, by a father and mother.
A new beginning for us; an end for another.

At this time of year I remember our plight
And our special gift that ended our fight.
Our Christmas wish to one and all.
Is of joy, and peace, and thanks above all.

Merry Christmas from Donald, Susan, Nicole, and Russell

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