Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rolling With The Punches

First let me say thank you to all of our family and friends for their comforting words, offers of support, kind gestures, good vibes, and prayers. We are blown away by the vast array of people who have taken the time to reach out: total strangers; old friends from grammar school to law school; friends from former jobs; and honestly many folks with whom we haven’t spoken or seen in several years. Wow. Many of you have made Shell and I smile, laugh, and/or cry with happiness. Thank you, every single one of you.

Speaking of the wife, she’s reminded me to call our son August – not just Gus – every once in a while, too. Done. Moving on.

Since Monday afternoon, we’ve been in a whirlwind. Up to 4 pm that day, we were under the impression that Gus’ heart was basically okay. But his second echocardiogram showed a change from his original one over the weekend. Around 7 pm, an ambulance took Gus in a tiny box on a stretcher from the neonatal ICU at Beth Israel to the neonatal ICU at Children’s Hospital across the street. On Tuesday, he moved up one floor to the cardiac ICU. He is stable and resting comfortably there as of Wednesday night.

At the risk of butchering the proper medical terms and a technically accurate summary of his status, here’s my understanding. A duct in G-man’s heart was supposed to close when he took his first breath but it stayed open. A portion of his aorta (probably defective already) began narrowing as the duct stayed open. Meanwhile, pressure increased in his lungs, which caused Gus to breathe more often and rapidly, which further worsened the pressure. The doctors are now medicating Gus and intentionally keeping the duct open to prevent increased pressure in his lungs. He’s on an IV for food/hydration. He’s got tubes, wires, lights, and buttons connecting different body parts to machines making all sorts of noises. He will almost certainly go to surgery to correct the narrowing in his aorta and relieve the lung pressure either tomorrow or Friday. Unbelievably, no one with whom we’ve spoken knows when exactly his operation will take place – but that is literally my only complaint with the hospital. (Well except the traffic situation leaving the parking lot – can someone please sort that out?)

To back up, Shell checked out of BI on Tuesday morning. We spent all day at Children’s NICU bonding with Gus and meeting with various medical peeps. The news kept getting worse. Hi, I’m an endocrinologist. Gus has hypothyroidism. We need to give him a pill every day now for the rest of his life. Much more seriously, the cardiologist was concerned that Gus’ lung pressure was worsening. They wanted consent to transfer him to the cardiac unit and put him on a ventilator. The punches just didn’t stop that day.

We went home that evening, which was difficult to say the least. (Shell has made about 90% of Gus’ caretakers cry. It’s her test to make sure they care, I think.) But we needed to get home to change clothes, shower, sleep in our beds, but most of all, to see our little Greta. She needed us and we needed her. She brightened our moods immediately. I think G’s bath went a little long that night. And we had an impromptu dance party before bed. It was therapeutic for all.

So today, we spent the day at Children’s cardiac ICU. The staff there (and everywhere else for that matter) have been absolutely wonderful. Most importantly, Gus looked great. He just seemed better. Your and our prayers are being answered, I swear.

Though we could not feed him, August’s mom got to hold him. I kissed him whenever I could. It was finally a good day.

Before I sign off, I’d like to share something special that happened today. We asked to meet with a chaplain when we arrived. Before Gus was born, the wife and I agreed that we would do something for both of our kids at the same time, which would be analogous to a baptism or christening – but done by us at our home in our own way in the company of family and friends. We hadn’t hashed out the details yet but the seeds were germinating. However, in light of the unpredictability of Gus’ impending heart surgery, we wanted to improvise a little somethingsomething to recognize both the little man’s arrival and the immediate challenge he faced.

Not long after we arrived, a woman stopped by and introduced herself as one of the staff chaplains. We explained our spiritual beliefs as well as we could in the ten minutes we were together. We explained Gus’ situation and the work-in-progress we had originally planned to do at home. She left to go to her office and returned within 30 minutes. She came back with a proposed outline. We added a few tweaks.
And just like that, we experienced a beautifully simple meditation of sorts together. We forgot about everything except how much we love our son in those moments. It was perfect.

We’ll continue to keep you updated the best we can. Thanks again to all pulling for Gus out there. Keep up the good work.


Colleen said...

First, I want to congratulate both you, your wife and daughter on the birth of August. He's a lucky little guy!! I always forget how small the world is. You probably won't remember me but yesterday my friend was forwarded your blog post about August. She had received it from her cousin Erin Silva (Von Handorf) and forwarded it to me. Upon reading it, I said to myself that your name sounded very familiar. I thought I had a case with a Dennis Teravainen a few years back. Anyway, in reading your blog and seeing your "law related" references I knew it was you. Unreal to be reading your blog at this point in time. I can't even remember the case we had together but I had to say hello. I have been thinking about you all since I got the email yesterday. I will keep little August in my prayers! Congrats again on your little guy!

(I'm with Feinberg & Alban, P.C. - not sure that would ring any bells!)

Scott said...

Sounds like good knews overall. Glad to here it. I love the nickname G-man.

Shannon said...

So much love going out to you guys. Sending out prayers and thoughts of health and strength to August. He is in the best hands medicine has to offer, surrounded by the most amazing and loving family. We can't wait to meet him and celebrate his arrival. We love him already! Love Dave, Shan, Ella, and Lily

Pat said...

bang it out, gus, den and shell. got a lot of faith in the spunk in both of your genes that g-money (no trademark infringement) will rise to the challenge. love you guys and tell greta that, while the spotlight is temporarily diverted, she will soon have to share the love of creepy uncles.

dottie said...

Michelle and Den: I am thinking of you guys and praying praying praying for little Gus. Much love and peace to you and your family.

Dottie Enrico

Bill said...

Den & Shell,

John & I are thinking of you both, Greta and the G-Man. Know we're both sending good thoughts, much love and positive energy your way.


Anonymous said...

Dennis and Michelle,
I have been watching, praying, thinking and hoping for you and August. Having been through this with my brother Dan and his son Daniel since his birth 31 yrs. ago, I understand the ultimate love, fear and frustration that your family is experiencing. You both are extraordinary people with strength and tenacity that you probably did not know that you had. The depth of your love and strength is being tested daily. Please know that you are surrounded by love and August is in the palm of God's hand.
I am here for you; in whatever capacity I can be of help. Love to you August and beautiful Greta. Barbara

Barbara Conn said...

Sorry I did not post that comment with my name. lol, Barbara Conn

jill said...

Liam and I are keeping G-Man in our prayers! G-Man is a fighter! Keep your chins up and stay positive. Thinking of you all!
-Isis Jill & Liam

jill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake said...

Den and Shell,
Thank you for taking the time to update the blog. We all appreciate it! It is especially nice that you have been so open with the whirlwind of emotions and medical events.

Jesslyn and I are thinking of Gus, Greta, Shell, and you. Let's go G-Man!

Jake H.

Michelle Ruxton-Taylor said...

Hi Michelle & Dennis,

I know you don't have time to read every last comment, so I'll be brief and to the point. A good friend of mine reminded me to pass along to you that you should request a Child Life Specialist at Children's. It's a person who can yes, help August, but can also help the two of you and Greta with all the swarming emotions. They can be a wonderful support, resource, and advocate. Later down the line, they can offer play therapy and the like for Greta to be able to understand at her age level.

As you have been since Friday - your in my thoughts and prayers. I think I even caught my hubby who doesn't believe in God, but does believe in a higher level of spiritual energy saying a prayer for G-man on a few occasions.

Roberto said...

Dear Dennis,
I admire your courage in the way you face this new challenge in life. With warmth in both mind and heart, you and your family will be in my prayers. Much Love from an old friend!

Roberto Barbery

Bethany said...

Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby boy! I pray his health will continue to improve and he will be home with his loving family very soon.
A little something to keep in mind, I have a cousin with Downs Syndrome. Mary is thirty-one. She has traveled and seen the world as a Global Messenger for Special Olympics. Know that August is going to have many opportunities to experience the world. He will live a full, happy life along with Greta as they clearly have parents who know how to embrace life in every capacity.
God bless you all as you begin your path as a family of four.

Anonymous said...

Den, Michelle, G, & G-man.....shout out from your crew at 410 E 3rd. Congrats! We are thinking about you guys and send our love. G-man has got some Southie roots, so I'm thinking he's got some fight in him!!
Matty, Amy & Annabel