On April 14, 2013 I was at home preparing to head to Boston for a marathon. It wasn’t the same marathon that thousands of people had trained for and would be running the next day but a marathon hospital stay for our 3 year old son. For three years we had seen amazing physicians in New York and had several successful procedures and surgeries at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at New York-Presbyterian but this time we would be heading to Boston Children’s Hospital for a surgery that we hoped would give our son a better chance at truly surviving CHD.
On April 15, 2013 we had the car packed and were spending quality time with our 5 year old son and 3 year daughter before leaving from New York for Boston. Around 3:00 our phones started ringing and text messages started coming as we turned on the television to see the terrifying events that had just taken place near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I was frozen in fear as the city that I was supposed to be taking my son to that afternoon was under attack. Our hotel was within a mile of the bombings and there was no way we would get there that evening but we had amazing friends who took care of getting us settled in a hotel outside of the city that evening. I went to sleep that night after lying in bed for hours praying that our son would survive his surgery the next day and for each of the victims and their friends and families.
On April 16, 2013 we woke up extra early and headed to downtown Boston. We had no idea if we would even be able to reach the hospital and if we did would his surgery still take place as planned. We arrived to a heavily guarded Boston Children’s Hospital and headed up to check in for surgery. That is where my marvel at the people of Boston began. From the administrators that checked us in to the nurses that took his vitals to the doctors that prepared us for what was about to happen, it was clear that not one person was going to allow what was happening outside the hospital doors to affect the care they were giving our son. By 8:30am our son was taken into open heart surgery wearing a full Superman costume. Twelve very long hours later our son came out of surgery with a heart that had four working chambers for the first time in his life.
Over the next several days as our son fought to recover from surgery and had to go in for a second surgery to have a pacemaker placed, we watched secret service men and women move throughout the hospital, we saw Michelle Obama on a visit to the youngest victims, we became accustomed to the heavily armed police presence at the hospital doors and we were amazed the care our son received from every doctor and nurse that came into his room.
On April 19, 2013 the city of Boston was placed on a lock down. My husband was at a hotel over a mile away as I was in the hospital with our son. That mile seemed like a thousand as I continued to stare at my son and prayed my husband would be safe. For the first time that week I watched the live news coverage as did everyone else. The mood was tense and whispers were heard as shifts were about to change not knowing if after a 12 hour shift as a pediatric intensive care nurse if they would be able to head home. But again they continued to give our son remarkable care and attention.
In the days that we prepared to go home we began to thank our loved ones that had cared for our other two children, that had prayed for our son and supported us in any way that they could. This was a picture we sent out in one of our many updates from Boston over the two weeks we were there. When we got home we sent special thanks to the doctors that had performed what seemed like a miracle on our son. The one thank you that I didn’t take care of a year ago was to the amazing city of Boston! So, THANK YOU Boston! Thank you to each person that touched our son and was a vital part in his recovery. Thank you to every administrator, nurse, doctor, facilities worker, clergy member, security officer, valet, food service worker and anyone else it took to keep the hospital up and running the days following April 15th, 2013. Thank you to every Boston policeman and policewoman that stood guard in front of the hospital to ensure that everyone was safe and protected. Thank you to the hotel staff that offered us comfort in words and gifts. Thank you to each person of Boston that our family encountered that set aside their own fears for their friends, family and neighbors to focus on giving our son a tremendous amount of medical care and love. A year later as I watch my beautiful, strong son run around the yard with his brother and sister I am still praying for the victims of the horrific acts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and their families. Thank you for being Boston Strong!
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With much love and gratitude! xo, Julie