Smart Boy

This post is dedicated the family that changed the course of our family’s lives – Dr. G, his super fantastic spouse E and their son, Smart Boy. They know who they are.

I’m not entirely sure where this post will go.  It’s really long – my apologies.

It’s about an amazing coincidence but it needs some back story in order to illustrate how amazing this coincidence was.

Here we go…

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. This nightmare rushes towards me – I know it ends in an amazing way, but it’s tearing me up inside to write it; to think it.  But it’s a story – and stories are meant to be told.

December 22, 2002

  • Death
  • 14 minutes  – no oxygen
  • Resuscitation
  • 75% loss of life blood
  • 30+ blood product transfusions
  • Convulsions
  • Morphine withdrawals
  • Intubation
  • Massive hematoma
  • Internal bleeding
  • Baptism
  • Last Rites
  • Near kidney failure
  • Massive edema
  • Bleeding out of every orifice
  • Gangrene in the lower intestine
  • Chance of survival – almost nil

Forty-eight hours have elapsed.

It’s Christmas Eve 11:30 PM. Doctors knocking on my hospital room door. Two doctors are telling me that my baby is bleeding out of every orifice with massive edema and internal bleeding. They don’t know why – they need to operate immediately else he won’t survive. They tell me in all likelihood he will die regardless.  They are seeking permission to proceed and do we (the parents) need time to talk?  No – Go – Now.

It’s Christmas Eve – my son is going to die.  I’ve not even held him – I witnessed his Baptism and Last Rites.  I may never hold him.  I’m not religious but I’m desperately praying that he doesn’t die on Christmas.  I’m worried I’ll have ruined my family’s Christmases forever more.  It’s insane but that’s what goes through my head.

The waiting room is filled with our family – it’s 1 in the morning on Christmas Day. I almost collapse and Scott takes me back to my room; they sedate me. I am grateful.  I am guilty – I took the coward’s way out of waiting; Scott had no choice.  I don’t know how he did it.

Dr. G comes to my room (Scott is sleeping there as well). He gently smiles and touches my arm asking how I’m doing. I’m sure my eyes tell him more than my words ever can. He tells us Dorian has survived the surgery much to everyone’s surprise.  He has gangrene in his intestines because he went so long without oxygen after his birth that his all his major organs shut down and so far part of his intestine has died and he has a massive hematoma in his stomach that is bleeding – they don’t know how to stop it. They have clamped off his intestine in a couple of places but there are more areas that look suspicious.  At this point it’s just a minute-by-minute watch. He tells us if Dorian survives two more days he’ll have another surgery.  He tells us the truth – his survival rate is very low; don’t get your hopes up.  If he survives, he may have massive brain damage.

Despite what he is telling us, he is so kind and caring. He saved my son on Christmas. He is Jewish.  A year later, it makes me smile.

Two days later; Dorian is still alive. He also pulls through the 2nd surgery with Dr. G.  He has several internal & external stomas. He is very ill. He is still bleeding internally and requires many transfusions. Dr. G tells us he will be in the NICU for a while. He may not survive – don’t get your hopes up.  He upgraded Dorian  to hour-by-hour survival.

New Year’s Day – Scott & I walk into the NICU…Dorian is being put into a crib instead of the plastic bassinet. He’s up graded to day-by-day survival. I get to HOLD him.  Dr. G tells us he’s amazed by Dorian’s progress; but don’t get your hopes up. Dorian still has a very long road ahead of him.

Every day after that is mostly good news.  Dr. G comes almost every day at 6AM. I look forward to his visits. His heart is kind. Everyone in my son’s life at the hospital is a positive influence on our lives.  We all become very attached to each other.

Two thousand four hundred twenty four hours later, Dorian is discharged with a couple more surgeries under his belt. Dr. G has informed us we can get our hopes up.   We are all of us crying all over the place – nurses and doctors included. Dorian’s main nurse has come to the NICU on her day off to say good bye…she ends up coming over to our house for a few hours.  I miss everyone already.  I am deeply attached to everyone that I have spent countless hours taking to and crying with.  These people are my family.  Dr. G is larger than life to me. He has seen me at my most vulnerable and he still always told us the truth.  That’s not easy.

Yikes – I’m 760 words in and I’ve not even STARTED the MAIN story.  Ok – that’s the back story. The point being I am very emotionally attached to Dr. G.  We see him for about 4 years after Dorian’s hospital stay; about 2x a year.  I’m kind of sad when he discharges us because Dorian is thriving (this part doesn’t make me sad at all!); but we send him Christmas cards and he is never far from our hearts.

Let’s fast forward to 2009 – Dorian is starting 1st grade. He has not suffered massive brain damage; he is thriving and healthy.  He’s going to a small progressive private school which starts at kinder and goes through high school. We love it there.  It’s everything I always wanted in a school.  He tells me about an older boy in his home room (at this school, home room is made up of kids from kindergarten-high school).  He calls this kid “Smart Boy”.  I don’t think anything of it.  But Dorian talks about “Smart Boy” a lot and I can tell he sort of hero-worships him.

Dorian’s school holds its first fundraiser – the book breakfast. Families bring a new book for the library and the teachers make everyone breakfast. It’s my favorite fundraiser!  We go to our first book breakfast. Dorian drops off his book and races to the kid area with his friends.  I wander into the main area where the families are sitting and eating breakfast. I’m a little shy because this is our first year at this school and I don’t know anyone. Scott was unable to join us so I’m by myself looking around.

I look at the sea of families and see a head that looks familiar. The head happens to look up and without any kind of warning from my brain, my mouth shouts “DR. G!” He looks at me and says “DENISE?”  Dorian has wandered in and joined the sea of people now staring at Dr. G and myself.  Dr. G is standing up and his family is looking a little confused.  Dorian then yells “SMART BOY!” – and I realize that Smart Boy is Dr. G’s son.  I’m stunned at this coincidence.  After all the hugging and OH MY GOD’S! I finally let Dr. G go back to his family.

I’m walking around in a daze – and I run into Dorian’s teacher (who I just LOVE – she went to the same library grad school that I did and worked at the university’s main library like I did – so I feel a very tight connection  with her as well).  Anyway, I was telling her about Smart Boy, Dorian and Dr. G and she told me that Dorian had told her on the 3rd day of school that he felt ‘something special’ between himself and Smart Boy.  I’m pretty sure I had tears in my eyes right then and there.

Over the next three years I’ve become friends with Dr. G’s wife, E and Smart Boy was the very first teenager to watch Dorian.  E had to beg me to call Dr. G by his first name – which was and is pretty difficult.  It was only after having a conversation with Dr. G parent to parent (not doctor to patient’s mother) that I was able to feel comfortable calling him by his first name.  Sort of.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that we met Dr. G and his family at a small school in a large city. I don’t know what exactly it is – but it is something.

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Childhood, Coincidence, Family, Nursing, Random Thoughts, Story, Surgery and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Smart Boy

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  3. stacy says:

    That’s in part why I wrote, ’cause I saw you’re a librarian. I mostly keep up with E through Facebook, and the whole fam when they visit our way.

    I have signed up to follow your blog. (I used to hate blogs — I’m much more into them now, as time permits.)

    • Wow – thank you. I’m honored. I don’t actually work in a library (I think of myself now as a ‘faux’ librarian) – I do research for public television. Do you work in a library?

      I used to not read blogs until my friend started writing one and then it sort of snowballed from there 🙂

      Welcome aboard!

  4. stacy says:

    I am Dr. G’s cousin, and I am a librarian. Dorian’s a very lucky guy, to have both an awesome mom and an awesome doctor!

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  6. Kylie says:

    This is truly, truly amazing. Thanks so much for linking this! I’m all teary.

    I will have to dedicate a day to read every single post on your blog.

    It would do me an honor if you would go start reading my LIttle Guy’s Tale. I haven’t finished it–it tracks my pregnancy and will eventually get to the birth and NICU experience we had.

    Also, for many years I wanted to name my (future) daughter “Raina Dorian.” I ended up naming her a different combination of names for various reasons, but still…. another weird coincidence.

  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    What an amazing story. As I mentioned in my comment to you on my blog, it gives me goosebumps, and I’m so happy things turned out well for your son. Sometimes people are critical of the ‘heroic’ efforts that are pursued in the NICU, but your son is proof of why so many of those things are done. Thank you not only for sharing the story, but also for casting your doctor and hospital staff in a positive light. I read so many articles and blog posts about how horrible doctors are, and yes, there are some real stinkers–both in attitude and skills. But there are also many wonderful caring practitioners out there who treat each child as if he/she were his or her own.

    • I try not to read too many blogs about horrible medical people (even though, you are right – like all humans – some are good and some not so good in attitude and skills) … I have to believe that people try to the best they can with what they have. It has to be incredibly difficult to be someone that has people’s lives in their hands and one mistake can cost a life. I was always appalled at how some of the NICU parents treated the nurses and docs in the NICU – these people that are caring for their sick infant – yet the treated them like dirt or as if they did not exist. Fools – these people dedicated themselves to being with these little people at critical times in their lives and all they get for it is to be ignored? NOPE – that I cannot abide.

      My son would have died if not for a doctor that saw a little movement behind his eyelid- I love that doctor more than I can explain in words.

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  9. I promised myself I wouldn’t c…

    You are the anti-Lemony Snicket, Ruty. Somehow, you make everything better around you. I suspect that it’s just your immediate surroundings trying to live up to you. I hope that I am somehow part of your kurass.

  10. Maryann Graziano says:

    I never realized just how rough it was during that time. I guess we got the “lite” version of what you were going through. So sorry that we couldn’t be there for you physically, but we prayed every day for a very long time……
    I don’t know what to call it, fate-karma, but there are souls that touch our souls, beyond words. That is your family and Dr. G’s family. Kindred spirits that recognize “self” ; that’s why Dorian “knew” Smart Boy. Amazing.

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  13. runningonsober says:

    Goosebumps. I can’t seem to create sentences right now, any words would sound pitiful. Beautiful piece my friend. I know it must have been cathartic to write. *hugs*

    (I’m not a big believer of coincidence.)

  14. lolabees says:

    Wow, what a horrific start to what became a beautiful story. I’m struck by many things about it, but one of them being how much you appreciate the people that are there to help you. That’s pretty special. I didn’t think the post was too long btw 😉

  15. RFL says:

    Wow. Beautiful story!

  16. Early Riser says:

    I think that Dr. G feels incredibly fortunate and blessed to know Denise, Scott and Dorian. I bet he feels incredibly honored that Dorian’s parents entrusted him with his care. I’m thinking that if Dr. G feels proud about anything, he feels proud of two things: firstly, that he has helped Dorian and his family be whole. He feels proud because this family that is whole has given so much and continues to give so much to those around them. Secondly, I think that he must be very proud of his wonderful son Smart Boy.

    • I can’t imagine how he could not be proud of Smart Boy – he is a son any parent would be proud to have. And I hope Dr. G realizes how amazing he and his family are. All the sacrifices they make so that Dr. G can do a job that is harder than I could ever imagine. 🙂

  17. This is a beautiful, amazing story. It gives me goose bumps. I don’t believe in coincidences and I absolutely believe that Dorian felt a connection to Smart Boy for bigger reasons than him being a cool, older kid. Kids are sensitive and smart that way. Your strength is one of my favorite things about you. You and Scott are amazing parents.

  18. Lisa says:

    Love this story. I never knew all of that. Wow. You were amazing to me yesterday; you’re an inspirational woman of women to me today.

  19. Lynda says:

    I know your article is about Dr. G, Smart Boy and Dorian, and it is wonderful to see how lives intertwined. But it tells of your tremendous courage and amazing spirit. I remember receiving your call that Dorian had arrived. You voice sounded so small when you asked if I wanted to see your baby, and then you told me the doctor’s weren’t sure if he would make it. In the NICU I saw such a little, jaundiced baby boy working so very hard to breathe and stay this side of heaven. I think all your family and friends were praying for a miracle. I am so glad God said, “Yes!” Dorian is amazing and he is blessed to have you and Scott for parents.

  20. RCW says:

    I’m crying now. That’s such a beautiful story. My heart aches for you — and swells with love. Dorian, Dr. G, you and Scott — you are all amazing and wonderful.

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