me, it all started about a month before Adam was born, when his
mother, Daisy, called to tell me what doctors had just discovered
during a routine sonogram. I was the first, outside the immediate family,
to be told since Steven might want to talk about it. Steven had
been excited about the new baby. This would be Daisy's fourth child, the
third for her and Tony. In a hollow, unemotional, almost clinical voice
it was clear she was still in shock. Having given birth to three healthy
boys, this child had major problems and there was a good chance the child
may not be born alive, or live very long following birth.
I won't go into all the technical
terms but simply put Adam had a hole in his heart, a cleft palate, and
one of the major vessels to the heart was severly underdeveloped. Doctors
explained that surgery might be possible, but Adam would have to survive
at least a week before they would operate. The Medical College of Georgia
Hospital just happened be the home of the Number 2 ranked plastic surgeon
in the United States so the cleft palate became a minor concern in the
entire scheme of things.
The first miracle of what
would become many occured a week before birth. Now having weekly visits
to the doctor Daisy was informed the vessel had suddenly undergone a growth
spurt and was almost normal size. Good news, but a far cry from anything
that would relieve the anxiety the family now faced. Still the operation
would be needed and chance of survival was only 50-50. Personally, I think
took care of that one problem, without medical intervention, just
to make sure everyone understood He was in charge of this baby. No sense
in anyone getting the big head if any procedures after birth were successful.
Adam was born and made it
through that first week to face his first open heart surgery. Once his
chest was cut open, doctors were shocked they had more problems than just
patching a hole in his heart. One of the major blood vessels was wrapped
around a lung and had to be untangled. Another was actually disconnected
from the heart. Somehow, apparently God sending another message, Adam was
receiving blood to his lower extremities through the body cavity ... not
through the normal network of blood vessels.
I will admit to being a coward.
As a former EMT, small, helpless children were always the hardest calls
to deal with. I had been in the hospital enough times to see tiny little
people with tubes and electrodes coming from every part of their body and
it would rip me apart. Knowing the gravity of the situation, and that I
would have to be there for my son if something went wrong, I avoided visiting
Adam after he was born as I had with Ryan and Jonathon while
they were still in the hospital. I can't tell you how old he was when I
finally got up the nerve to go, but he was already out of intensive care.
Instead he was in a private room with a nurse who literally sat in the
room 24/7. I recall the tube coming from his throat, the electrodes, and
the (almost cute) red LED light attached to his toe ... his "E.T."
foot covered with a tiny sock. I could see the vicious scar that started
almost at his back and completely crossed his chest. The plastic surgeon
had done a magnificent job with his mouth, but the cleft palate, to this
day, remains. An opening, in the roof of his mouth, will not be repaired
until after he is past these other critical surgeries.
I also remember Steven proudly
explaining all the hi-tech equipment Adam was hooked up to, telling me
what all the numbers represented and what each switch did, or did not,
do. Spending days at a time with his mother, or Tony, at the hospital
he grew up quickly. Facing an uncertain future for his brother, at age
11, Steven provided assistance to his parents at both the hospital and
tube in his throat and the feeding tube through his nose would remain for
Adam during the first year of his life. After six long, trying months,
Adam joined his family at home. That high tech equipment followed him home
and an already crowded house had to make room for round-the-clock nursing.
Before visiting Adam, when I went to the house, I was required to dress
up with a disposable mask and gown. Steven had become adept at handling
the equipment and I watched proudly as he set up the feeding tube to give
Adam his liquid dinner ... the only food he had since being born.
Steven understood the alarms and what to do if anything happened.
A disc jockey at the time,
I had just left work when either from Tony or Daisy called, I'm not sure
which. A bad storm had knocked out power to their area. The backup batteries,
for Adam's equipment, would not survive the estimated four hours it would
be down after a major power distribution point had received a direct hit.
Frantically Tony and Daisy were making arrangements to have Adam ... and
all the equipment ... moved by ambulance to a hospital. I told them to
hold off for just a few minutes. Doing a "bat turn" in the middle
of the road, I flew back to the station to make sure one of the portable
generators, used for remote broadcasts, was there. Bruce Stevens,
my boss, didn't even hesitate for a breath when he okayed my request. In
less than thirty minutes Tony and I were stringing a cable from the front
porch to Adam's room and there was a sigh of releief as the motor roared
into life ... to sustain a life. This wasn't luck ... it wasn't coincidence!
God, responsible for the bolt of lightning also knew where I was, what
was at that radio station, and how I would react the moment I heard.
about eight months, the day came when Adam was allowed to be released from
the equipment, during short periods of time, to be carried around the house
he had never seen or be placed in a "walker". In the photo you can
see the connection for the tube still in his throat. With an opening still
in the roof of his mouth, Adam has learned to eat solid foods without it
coming out his nose. It will be some time before that can be corrected.
Under normal circumstances, the cleft palate could have been repaired long
ago but doctors felt the heart surgeries were considerably more important.
As brave and tough as this little boy was, Adam's body could only handle
just so many surgeries at a time.