At the beginning of the pandemic, my wife and I were preparing for our son Owen to have open heart surgery at Oregon Health and Science University Hospital to repair a heart defect. Owen was born in October and spent the first month of his life in the NICU after having surgery to create an attachment between his esophagus and stomach. During our time in the NICU, we witnessed doctors, nurses and medical professionals who truly cared about their patients and advocated for their various health needs. We observed medical teams as they worked together collaboratively sharing their expertise and talents while doing their best to have a positive impact on the children under their care.
As parents we felt grateful for all of their efforts and their commitment to our son’s health and safety. We admired the strength, patience and courage of many other families we observed in the hospital. We worried about the challenges that were ahead and the possible impacts on our son’s quality of life. My wife and I were also trying to figure out how we would meet our two daughter’s needs at home with the needs of our son in the hospital. It was a stressful time, full of many choices and a balancing act between the hospital, home life and our careers.
What helped our family through Owen’s health obstacles was the supportive community around us. Many people sent words of encouragement, provided meals and just checked in and told us they cared. In addition, we had friends who helped with childcare so we could be at the hospital, loved ones who visited and reminded us to eat when we were focused on our son’s care. All of the gestures meant a lot and helped us as we did our best to be there for Owen as he took on challenges we never imagined.
Owen will be two in October. He had a total of 7 surgeries in the last year, but he is doing great and thriving post heart surgery. We are very lucky to have a healthy little boy and know that many people are facing even greater challenges in their life. Please know that the little things we do for others such as acts of kindness and gestures of support can help people get through difficult times. We are lucky to work in a career where relationships are so important. Many of your coworkers are facing different challenges and stressors. Please do your best to be a supportive friend and person to others. It may not seem like much, but your actions help many of us to find the strength to overcome obstacles in life and value the good times we celebrate together.
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