Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful Every Day.

We got a call from Mario's pediatric neurologist in November, 2004. Mario's head CT didn't look right (Mario was still having a terrible time potty training at 5 1/2, so everything was being reviewed).  We were referred to a pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Standish, at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
It's All In His Head.
source: morgueFile
Dr. Standish is kind and soft-spoken. Dr. Standish doesn't own a TV. If you have to see a pediatric neurosurgeon it's comforting to know he's not staying up late, hooked on "Survivor". Dr. Standish pulled up the CT and showed us a blob in Mario's frontal lobe. Dr. Standish believed the blob to be an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). Mario was asymptomatic and with the neurosurgery suite at Children's being upgraded, Mario would not be scheduled until renovations of the suite were finished. Dr. Standish expected to call us with a late January, early February date. As it turned out, Mario didn't get scheduled until April, 2005.
The Day Finally Arrives.
Dr. Standish wasn't sure if surgery was required or even possible. CT scans are a big improvement over 2 dimensional X-Rays, but CT scans don't show everything. So we took young Little Suzy to Grandma and Grandpa, packed a weeks worth of stuff (Dr. Standish told us normal recovery time from brain surgery was about a week as a inpatient) into the Caravan and headed to Children's Memorial Hospital.
Good News.
We arrived at the hospital and went through the normal check-in procedure. After a while, the staff carted Mario to the neurosurgery suite and Mommy and I went to the cafeteria for a little sustenance. Mommy and I checked in at the OR waiting room after a short breakfast and settled in for what we expected to be a long day. I hadn't read more than two pages when the radiologist struts in all gowned up, looking for us. "Good news", he says. "It's not an AVM. Dr. Standish will explain in detail, but what Mario has doesn't require surgery. There is a small chance the artery could rupture so we will have to monitor the artery annually (now biennially). Mario will have to lay on his back for six hours and spend the night here, but you can all go home tomorrow morning." Mommy and I exhaled, got Mario through the six hour lay down, spent the night at Children's and we all went home the next morning.
Post Script Surprise.
I hadn't told many people about Mario's pending surgery, but there will still a few phone calls of joy to make. Mommy and I each called our sides of the family. I called our Rabbi and then I called Godfrey, the best man at my wedding. "Godfrey", I said, "Good news. No surgery for Mario."  "Hey Barry", Godfrey interjected, "I can't stay on the phone long. I'm at Evanston Hospital. Hortense (Godfrey's wife) is in surgery. Seems she has necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating bacteria). The doctors were able to stop the spread and now they are removing a small amount of dead tissue from Hortense's hip. Can we talk tomorrow?" Necrotizing fasciitis is so rare that it is often diagnosed too late to save a patient's life. So on that day in April, 2005 I could have left the hospital (after Mario's surgery) to arrange a funeral for my best man's wife. Instead I took my son home the next day and after getting Mario home, called Godfrey to talk about the Cubs.
It Can Always Be Worse.
Since that day in April, 2005, I've had good days, crazy days, quiet days, happy days, sad days and tough days. But since that April day, I've never had a bad day. That's why I'm thankful every day.

From me and mine I want to wish you and yours


  1. Gratitude is a precious gift to discover. Your deep and scary experience serves as a reminder. Thanks for reminding us of our good fortune. Happy Thanksgiving

  2. Current,
    Thanks for taking time on Thanksgiving to add your thoughts. I am grateful that the whole "Mario might have surgery" never got to scary. Still, it is a daily reminder of what good fortune truly is.