Thursday, 24 January 2013

6 Weeks

Today we hit a milestone.  Cooper's repaired heart is 6 weeks old today!  He is now allowed to have baths instead of showers, and goes back to swimming lessons tomorrow.  His sternum is still healing, but 6 weeks marks the time where the repaired bone is stable.  Since the day of his surgery he has done exceptionally well.  It has been incredible to see him progress through his recovery.  Periodically I have reflected upon the care Cooper received at The Hospital For Sick Children.  As we have said before, the care he received was exceptional, it is the driving force behind our 100km, $1000 goal.  Being a nurse myself I have an intimate knowledge of the challenges of the profession.  I know how it feels to leave your own kids for a 12 hour shift to take care of someone else's family, how it feels to miss lunch, and dinner, to not have a chance to pee for your whole shift.  As RN's I know these, and other challenges exist for all of us.  The nurses that cared for Cooper were extraordinary, despite the challenges of the job they do, despite the challenges I KNOW that Cooper himself presented to them, they treated him with such dignity and respect.  They let him guide his care where possible, they didn't push because they needed to accomplish a task, they waited until he was ready.  I would like to share just a few of the experiences we had.

In the playroom waiting to be called to the OR

His first nurse in CCU, "N," will forever remain as an angel to our family.  N is a friend of Leigh's cousin.  The Sunday before his surgery, when Leigh and I were not is a good place emotionally at all, Leigh's cousin Siobhan communicated some of our fears and concerns to N.  He went out of his way to  advocate for our family.  He spoke to the surgical coordinator, he volunteered to work an extra shift to take care of Cooper, and he addressed some of our biggest questions and concerns.  All on his own time, and all out of the goodness of his heart.  What an incredible blessing he was.  I seriously do not have the words to express what this did for us.  He brought us in to see Cooper as quickly as humanly possible after his surgery.  We watched as he cared for Cooper medically.  We sat by as he ensured that his vitals were stable, that his pain was managed, that his medications were administered, and that his tubes and drains were working appropriately.  But he did not only accomplish these technical tasks.  When Cooper was agitated he soothed him with a soft reassuring voice as he stroked his his forehead until he settled.  I was touched to see him care for my child in the way one would care for their own.

Day 1 post-op in CCU

At change of shift we were asked to leave in order to protect the confidentiality of the other children in the CCU.  We came back almost like flies on the wall, seeing Cooper's new nurse "T," with him. As I approached from across the room I watched as T gently used a sponge toothbrush to clean and soothe Cooper's terribly dry mouth.  I could hear her softly tell him that she was going to help him get all cleaned up and handsome for mommy and daddy.  This was the first time he was awake and alert and responsive.  He just looked so engaged in what she was saying, and I knew that he was connecting with her.  It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of this interaction.  It was such a heartwarming feeling.  Cooper had a hard night that night.  He was in a lot of pain, they had removed his foley catheter and then had to reinsert it later, he struggled as they had to milk the tubes that snaked through his chest to keep them draining, and he was so thirsty he just begged T for "apple juice PLEASE, it's yummy!"  T was calm and collected.  She continued to connect with Cooper, reassuring him, comforting him, and giving him every single last drop of juice or water he was permitted to have under his necessary fluid restriction.

Watching Treehouse

In the morning "S" arrived and ended up being Cooper's nurse for 2 full days.  She was young, no children of her own, but she knew exactly how to handle him.  She was so attentive, so gentle, so loving.  Cooper wanted to sit up in his crib, but was uncomfortable.  She encouraged me to climb up with him to make him more comfortable.  He was happy and comfortable watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates on the iPad, so she insisted that I stay in there with him as she pushed both of us from CCU on the second floor to the cardiac step-down unit on the 4th floor, all in the name of ensuring that Cooper was as comfortable as possible.  I spent the rest of the day snuggled in the crib with my baby.  It was good for this mommy's soul to lay there curled around my sick baby, I like to believe it was good for him too.

Our first walk.  True to form, Cooper attempted to run in the opposite direction!
These are just a few of the memories we have of Cooper's care at Sick Kids. This is why we are driven to give back.

Hanging out with Daddy and Lucas tonight

Swimming lessons tomorrow!  I will make sure to grab a photo to post.  He is going to be so happy to get back in the pool!


Leave us a comment!  Tell us about the great nurses that have taken care of you or someone  you love.


  1. Brought tears to my eyes reading this. We experiened the same care at McMaster over Cristmas when Max was in the Critical care unit. He was only 20 days old and Blair and I often said that we couldn't imagine if he could walk,talk etc.
    I will be sending a donation your way and I thank God trooper Cooper is ok!! Have fun tomorrow at swimming xo Jasmin Felix

    1. Thanks Jasmin! Glad you guys had a great care experience. It sure helps make a very stressful situation more bearable. Hope Max is doing well! Thanks for the support!

  2. What an amazing tribute to those who were your angels in your time of need. My heart aches for you both, I can't imagine the journey you went through. I am so glad that as terrible this must have been to experience, you are able to share with us your positives. I think it is amazing that you are doing this. What an inspiration for all of us to give back! We will definitely be supporting you on this!

  3. Oma is sitting here with tears in her eyes because I know how hard all of this
    has been. I remember that first phone call and the many afterwards, I remember
    all the prayers we prayed as a family united and I am grateful for all the angels that answered our prayers in one way or another. But, most of all I am grateful for a tough, spunky little blond headed boy who toughed it out and inspired us all by his courage.

  4. The tears are rolling down my face, you guys were so strong (even in those difficult times when you felt like you were falling apart). After our short visit this month and getting to know Cooper (not as a baby) I can see what a trooper he is. This is more than enough reason to give back. The distance may keep us apart but you guys are always close family in our hearts. xo Amanda M