Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas in Hospital: A Look Back

This has been an interesting year.  We got a chance to relive some of our hospital experiences in the summer which was a surreal trip down memory lane.  Several times this week I have been reminded of our Hospital Christmas 8 years ago.  Those were difficult times.  Russell was being kept alive by an artificial heart and we were waiting for an donor heart.  We were hoping for that elusive Christmas miracle.  Our frustration peaked on Dec 23rd and 24th when the young girl in the bed next to Russell received her heart transplant.  To make matters worse...Russell had two echos to assess him to determine if he could be the recipient of that heart.  The first echo showed that the donor heart was physically too large for Russell.  Apparently, it was very close to being a fit as a second echo was ordered and measurements were taken a second time.  It just wasn't meant to be and Russell missed his chance.  This made for a very sombre Christmas Eve.

It was times like this that writing was a very welcome distraction.  I hunted through my archives and found my blogpost from Christmas Eve - 2008.  It is really interesting to read some of these old posts and try to understand what I was thinking at the time.  I think I was obviously looking for a distraction.  It seems odd to compare a trip to the moon to our hospital journey, but we certainly felt like we were certainly in an alien environment and honestly it was nice to think about something other than "hospital world."

These are the kind of thoughts that go through your mind when you are a long way away from home and have been living on the edge for three months.

Christmas 2008:  Stollery Children's Hospital - 4C-ICE

Dec 24/08 - Christmas Eve
Posted Dec 24, 2008 2:03am

40 years ago on Christmas Eve, three people were in the midst of an epic journey that captivated the world’s attention and united the world in admiration of man’s accomplishment of space flight and man’s first journey to the moon. Those three astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders, addressed the entire human race from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve 1968. Realizing the magnitude of this achievement they were overcome with the desolation of the lunar landscape. In their address to the world they acknowledged a much greater achievement than the technological marvel of space flight but instead the grandeur of the creation of the heaven and the earth by an almighty creator. This trio of astronauts were the first to see a lunar sunrise and to see the earth from a million miles away. The experience must have been exhilarating.
As we also consider our journey of the last few months. We also marvel at the technological achievements that medicine and science have achieved through the Berlin Heart and ultimately through organ transplants. We consider ourselves fortunate to live in an age where our son can have a chance at life where only a few years ago that hope would not have existed.
Ultimately, we share the message of the crew of Apollo 8 and choose this Christmas to celebrate in a unique way. The following is the transcript taken from NASA archives as the crew of Apollo 8 addressed the world on Christmas Eve 1968 by taking turns the crew read from the Book of Genesis.

William Anders:
"For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you".
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."
Jim Lovell:
"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."
Frank Borman:
"And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good."

We too marvel at the creation but in different ways as these three astronauts. This Christmas we see the amazing creation of life. I have often referred to the day Russell was born as a truly “perfect” day. I do not know why we were chosen to have such a unique family. Nicole and Russell are our two miracles which have certainly changed who we are. As we wait for a heart, we know that there is certainly a lot in store for us. We take comfort in the knowledge that there is a plan for our family and that as we have been cared for over the last twelve weeks we will be cared for in the next twelve.
One thought I had while I was reading about Apollo 8, was the recurring thought of the climax of their mission. That once they had reached the moon...they still had critical task ahead of them. They had to return home. Like the astronauts, we know our journey here will not be complete until our family is once again ... home.
To all of you who have been such a great support these past few months, we say a huge thank you and Merry Christmas.

The previous post from 2008 was also very incomplete.  We did not get our heart transplant Christmas Miracle.  Just like the crew of Apollo 8 in 1968...they returned to earth and completed their mission on Dec 27, 1968.  Our mission to get Russell a new heart was completed Dec 30, 2008.

Merry Christmas All!

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