Sheriff Sarah

Sheriff Sarah

Monday, September 20, 2010

Memories: The Big Bleed

I'm busy completing an essay for a writing contest and I'm integrating an essay I had submitted for American Baby (which was rejected) with additional segments. I'm busy writing about the event that significantly changes our lives, outside of even the initial diagnosis of biliary atresia and subsequent Kasai surgery. It's the day we discovered what 'varices' really were. It was the day of Sarah's big bleed.

I consider myself very fortunate - though I find myself feeling guilty at times for missing it - for having missed this traumatic episode. I was blissfully at work and a friend was visiting Patty (thank God for Miranda!) the morning of March 3, 2009. I vividly remember receiving a phone message from my dad who had been crying to call him ASAP. Do you ever have those moments when your body tingles all over, and not about happy news? That's how I remember feeling when listening to his message.

The news he had was that Sarah and Patty had just been helo-vac'd from the school not far from our house to Seattle Children's Hospital. The reason was that Sarah had vomited nearly all of the blood in her body on her crib and on Patty. A nurse in the hospital later told Patty a child that small (Sarah was not quite 6 months old) only has enough blood in their body to fill the equivalent of a soda can. Much of it came out in clots and I admire Patty so much for remaining relatively calm in the face of such distress. God most certainly intervened. Our friend, Miranda, called 9-1-1 while trying to shield our then-2-year-old Katarina from seeing Patty come down the stairs with blood all over her. Again, God was amazing. Katarina didn't even try to look, she simply buried her face in Miranda's legs. She never saw a thing.

My dad, who was going to be stopping by a little later to pick up Katarina, felt a nudge (no doubt, again, God!) to come by the house early. He knocked on the door just as Patty was coming down the stairs. He immediately loaded Katarina in his car and shielded her. Meanwhile, the EMT's had arrived and after looking at Sarah, decided they could not afford to take her via ambulance. They would have to take her by helicopter.

I remember my dad describing the scene at the nearby school. When the helicopter arrived, people poured out of the school and nearby homes. It must have been quite a sight. Patty was so focused during this time she doesn't even remember the helicopter ride. She was bent on keeping Sarah conscious and nothing else mattered. There was some discussion of not allowing Patty ride with Sarah, as that was apparently not standard practice. However, the onboard EMT simply told Patty to climb on. If they hadn't, oh man, I hate to think what Patty would have done. You other parents can certainly relate. It was a blessing we didn't have to worry about that.

The doctors and nurses at Seattle Children's have been etched in our hearts (and the helo transport team as well) since that day, as if they weren't already. By the time I reached the hospital later that afternoon, Sarah was quite stable. We didn't find out until the following day that she did have esophagel varices. The spread of those eventually into her stomach, resulted in a very short wait for a new liver. As I've related some on this blog, I sometimes wonder why Sarah received a liver so quickly and others have to wait so long, or don't receive one in time. It's not right for me to feel guilt for something I have no control over. I'm so grateful we have had Sarah with us for these two years.

I won't ever forget that day and that's even moreso for Patty. I wish I could erase all the anguish and fear she felt that day but it's one of those experiences, though we would never in a million years choose to live through, that make us stronger and able to stand alongside others who are now walking that fearful road.

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