This is part 8 of a 9-part series describing my perspective as my son was diagnosed with and treated for an Atrial Septal Defect. Other installments: Preface, Discovery, Fear, Choices, Anticipation, The Knife's Edge, Just Breathe, Recovery, Home, Epilogue
Back at home, things started to settle back to normal. We told our friends and family to stay away for a couple weeks because a cold could mess him up. My wife's cousin went home on Friday, and we were back to an otherwise normal family of four.
Except that now we had this turbo-charged toddler to deal with. Remember how I said his heart was pumping about twice the volume it should have been through his lungs? Well guess what -- once the hole was fixed all of a sudden he had this super-duper pump hooked up to an otherwise normal kid. It was like Lance Armstrong training in the Rockies to increase his blood oxygen levels. By Saturday we passed what had been "normal" right up, and he just kept going. Only then did we fully realize just how much this had been affecting him. His energy level was up, he had more color in his face, his hands and feet weren't cold in the morning. In a sense, his temple had been torn down and raised again in three days.
As the days wore on, we found ourselves able to breathe again. We took the kids to see fireworks in a nearby town on the Fourth of July -- 9 days post-op -- and I felt the tears starting to well up when I realized how happy he was to be there, and how differently things might have gone.
Two weeks after his surgery, our neighbors had a picnic and invited a decent sample of the neighborhood over. For many of them, this was the first they had heard that there was anything wrong with our son in the first place. In fact, we had to stop our one neighbor from picking him up under the arms (his rib cage was still healing) -- and folks were absolutely shocked when we told them what he had just been through.
It started to feel like we were just dropping the bomb on folks just to watch their reaction -- "Hey, guess what he had done to him a couple weeks ago..." I suppose we were amazed at the outcome, and wanted other people to feel that same sense of wonder at the little guy's resilience.
A few more weeks went by, and we were at another fireworks show, this time in the town I grew up in. As I watched my son and daughter looking up at the sky, I saw the sparkles in their eyes and knew that we had made the right decision.
Next: Epilogues 1 and 2