“Be where you are!” were some of the first words spoken to me by the Chaplain at a local hospital. Father Mike introduced himself as I stood over our infant son Jordan laying in a baby warmer dressed in only a diaper and a hat knitted by a kind-hearted hospital volunteer. Jordan and I had just arrived at the ER via ambulance. He was all of 12 days old when his condition had gone from bad to worse. He was immediately intubated and an x-ray showed that his heart was enlarged. It was quickly decided that he would be better served at a university hospital an hour away, so a transfer via helicopter was arranged.
My husband had just left to go pack a suitcase for me, when Father Mike joined me at Jordan’s bedside. He went onto explain his words: “Be where you are!”. Father Mike told me that the next several weeks and months would be some of the hardest in our lives. He urged me to be fully present in every moment – “be where you are” – and to trust that I was in the exact place I was meant to be in, at all times. “Be fully engaged in your oldest child, when you are at home with him. Play with him, interact and give him your undivided attention. Trust that Jordan is well cared for at the hospital, so you can be a wonderful mother to your oldest son. When you are with Jordan in the hospital be present there, pay attention to your surroundings, changes in Jordan and be mindful of his needs. You can do this knowing that your oldest son is safe in his loving home.” Father Mike’s words stuck with me from that moment. I made a decision to follow his advice and be present in every moment, however scary and frightening it would be.
A few hours later we landed safely on the helicopter pad on top of the hospital. From our first encounter with the medical professionals involved in Jordan’s care it became clear to me that everyone there must also have spoken to Father Mike and heard his message. Every single person was present, focused and attentive from the moment they whisked his traveling incubator down the hall and rushed him into the PICU where we would reside for the next six weeks. An endless stream of nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists greeted us over the next few days. They were all caring towards Jordan and professional towards us, the parents. But the most remarkable thing was that we were never made to feel like “just another case” or “a number”. We were Jordan’s parents, Jordan was the patient and for all we knew, he was the most important patient in their care that hour, day, week or month. Father Mike’s message rang loud and clear through the halls of the Pediatric ICU (“PICU”).
Jordan turned out to be a medical mindboggling challenge. He continued to decline, add long medical terms to his diagnosis, and his chart grew thicker and thicker. I had moved into the Ronald McDonald House, but spent countless nights sleeping in his room because that is where I was meant to be at that moment in time. We met Dr. H a week into our stay. From the moment he arrived both my husband and I felt that he would be the doctor to solve the mystery that was our son Jordan.
Dr. H’s professionalism, extensive knowledge and innate ability to pull in the right specialists at just the right time proved to be exactly “what the doctor ordered” for Jordan. Thankfully Dr. H used all the resources and incredible specialists available at his fingertips on the campus of the university hospital. At the time we did not realize what an incredible blessing it had been for Jordan to be transferred there. The very doctors who had dedicated their lives to finding a cure or at least life-improving treatments for Jordan’s diagnosed condition surrounded us.
We had a daily parade of new faces and medical geniuses. It took time, it took manpower and it took patience. But Dr. H never waivered, he helped Jordan through the “PICU tango” of taking two steps forward, one step back and eventually Jordan had worked his way close enough to the discharge door.
Jordan was discharged three days before his two month birthday. At that time there were ten specialists he saw on a regular basis. Regardless of which specialist we had an appointment with at the university hospital, no matter how packed their waiting room was, we always felt that Jordan was the only patient on their schedule for the day. We received life saving care while Jordan was admitted and the service and quality of care continued at the same level after discharge.
Today, five years later the list has dwindled down to one specialist – our knight in a shining lab coat, Dr. H. He was our medical quarterback from day one and he will continue to be the epicenter of Jordan’s medical team. It is because of Dr. H’s presence in the moment, creative use of resources and world-class experience that Jordan can live life fully and completely. Both Jordan and Dr. H would make Father Mike proud.
You have to “be where you are” in order to live in the now!