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
- 14 minutes – no oxygen
- 75% loss of life blood
- 30+ blood product transfusions
- Morphine withdrawals
- Massive hematoma
- Internal bleeding
- 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.