I haven't mentioned the trip we made to Children's Hospital a while ago out of fear of sobbing like a child. Again. But with Elijah's surgery anniversary approaching and already being an emotional pregnant lady, I figure it is impossible to avoid sobbing, so..
Children's Hospital in Minneapolis recently completed construction on an incredible addition dedicated SOLELY to its pediatric cardiovascular patients. They hosted a grand opening reception, so the three of us drove into the city to check it out. Everything a heart patient could possibly need is now within one unit. Pre-op, catheterizations, surgery, recovery and short stay recovery are all in the same little spot. And patient rooms have been built with parents in mind, too, so no more begging for a sleep room at night. It is an amazing addition and we are really excited about it.
The first stop on the tour was the new Short Stay unit and I got particularly excited about this area. The "regular" Short Stay unit down on first floor is where Elijah has always gone after his heart caths and we haven't always had the best experiences there (not all bad, just not all good). It will be wonderful to have cardiac-only nurses and nice new private rooms, too, after his heart caths. I was practically skipping around the unit like a giddy little kid, and I wasn't AT ALL expecting the emotions that were about to sweep over me.
Our next stop was at a big room next door to short stay. At first all I was focusing on was Elijah because he recognized the things inside of that big room and he immediately started to panic. Dan picked him up and reassured him that nobody was going to hurt him, as I stepped into the big room to check it out by myself. I took one step in and...oh my, this is an OPERATING ROOM. Yes, I knew that before walking in, but the heaviness of it didn't hit me until I had stepped inside. This is the room where IT happens. And then I completely lost it. It wasn't just a few little tears sliding down my cheeks. It was a full-fledged sobbing that instantly shook me to the core. It was one of those sobs that you cannot control no matter how hard you try. A very nice nurse was in the room giving tours and she was immediately at my side, hugging and comforting me.
Standing in an operating room is extremely overwhelming, with all of the super high-tech equipment and monitors and lights and machines and instruments. And that table right in the middle. The table that my little boy has been on twice and will be on again soon. Past anxieties and current anxieties and everything in between shook my body and heart and soul without warning. Eventually I told myself that I had to stop the crying, after all, we were at a very public event, so I looked at the nurse square in the eyes and tried my hardest to carry on a conversation with her. At that moment, out of the corner of my eye I saw our beloved Dr. Gremmels walk into the room. I thought it was pretty cool that the one person in this world who knows EXACTLY what our son has been through (heart-wise), every little bit of it, showed up at that very significant moment. I kept it mostly together, but almost lost it again when I saw him. He came over and gave me a hug and reassured me that what I was feeling was normal. (Really? Because I don't see anyone else here freaking out!)
I pulled myself together and we toured the rest of the unit and we even ran into Elijah's heart surgeon, Dr. Moga. He told Elijah he was "lookin' good" and gave us his trademark smile and wink. Every time I see Dr. Moga I get emotional, but I was able to hold back the tears this time (probably because there were none left).
Not only is this new unit going to be a lot more convenient for patients and parents (and doctors), but it is a huge step toward keeping little heart patients healthier, as well. Patients will not need to enter the hospital's regular PICU after surgery, which will keep them protected from sicknesses that might be floating around down there. This will also free up bed space in the PICU for other children. Check out the virtual tour of the new cardiac patient rooms, which include private bathrooms, refrigerators, sofa sleepers, tvs and xbox 360s.
This new unit is a really big deal and we are really proud of it. We are grateful we were able to see the new area and we feel so blessed to live in a city with such amazing facilities, nurses, surgeons and doctors.