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Early Visit by Dr Koukkari

Saturday, February 10th, Michelle and I along with "Nana" Sullivan were at the hospital bright and early and it was not long before Dr. Koukkari paid us a special visit. After thoroughly reviewing the films that were taken only the day before and consulting with Dr. Barkovich over the phone, he confirmed for us that the new MRI films displayed no sign of the physical birth defect that he had been positively diagnosed with only days earlier.

After sharing this amazing news with us, Dr. Koukkari didn’t stop there – he said there was no reason we couldn’t go home today! He signed the orders around 9am that we could be discharged and was on his way. Elation! Overwhelming joy! I think that pretty much says it all.

Delayed Discharge

So there we were, sitting in the NICU Saturday morning. We had receive the best news we could have ever hoped for – our son was perfectly fine after a harrowing few days and we had a signed doctor order that paved the way to our discharge. But…where was a staff doctor in NICU to be found that could help us? Unfortunately, Saturday turned out to be a very busy day for the NICU and it was nearly 4pm by the time we finally walked out the front doors.

While we were more than a bit impatient at the thought of waiting hour after hour for the official signature that discharged us, the day turned out to be a great day with all the visitors that we had. George and Natalie Kalousek were the first to visit and it was great to see them. You can imagine their surprise when they heard we were leaving in only hours. Cathy and Nicholas Kozachenko came by as well with a beautiful plant and stuffed animal for Declan. Tony, Mary and the girls dropped by as well and were thrilled to hear that Declan really was heading home. Tony spent a bit of time with Declan before leaving. George and Ingrid Woodley also made it over before we were discharged.

Home at Last

And then we were on our way. Dr. Aldrete was finally able to come by and see us around 3pm and signed the discharge orders. We had all our belongings rounded up already and before the ink was even dry, we were walking out to our car. Joyce was sweet enough to videotape us pulling up – the first moments of our new family coming home. It was evident that Grandma Wirnowski had also been by, leaving a beautiful wall hanging announcing Declan’s birth!
Interestingly, when infants suffer strokes, the evidence of where the stroke occurred and how severe the stroke actually was becomes more visible over time – hence the reason for additional MRI tests four to six weeks after the initial incident. As one might have guessed, Declan was back in the hospital for this set of follow-up MRI scans five weeks after he was discharged, and while it was a bit surprising to some of the doctors, it was no surprise to us that all signs of cranial injury, stroke or SWS were nowhere to be seen.

Some doctors later tried to explain this event in a number of different ways – most explanations we heard contradicted statements that these doctors had made earlier. Some doctors and nurses had the courage and wisdom to see this event for just what it was…a miracle of God. And, if anyone remains unconvinced, please stop by – we have the MRI films that clearly show unmistakable and irrefutable evidence of SWS in our son’s brain one day and gone the next.

In fact, Declan was tested at Good Samaritan hospital for cognitive and motor abilities and development at six months of age using some of the most conservative testing methodologies available – and scored ahead of where he should be in motor development and right on target for cognitive development.

Questions and Ponderings…

So what do you do when “your” life is turned upside down, then right side up again after being dropped in such a situation? First off, I can say it was not “our” life, but one that God entrusted to us. It certainly was an interesting question that begged more questions: Why did this event happen the way it did? Why our son? Why us? What were we supposed to learn from it? Rest assured, these and many other questions came to mind during the first three days as well for many weeks afterwards.

I fully believe that this did happen for a reason and I hope to one day understand all the reasons that God allowed it to happen the way He did. After much contemplation though, I can say that a few things have settled in my heart:

1. This event provided us with but a small taste of the love that God has for all of us. The love that was felt for our newborn son and the emotions that poured through me during those first three days – as intense as it was and still is – cannot even compare to the love that God has for all of us – especially if He was able to allow His son to endure crucifixion and death for all mankind. No matter how much we love our children, God's love is infinitely stronger, deeper, perfect, and eternal.
2. I know that God continues to bestow and pour this incredible, unique love on us as we move into this new chapter of our lives – surely as a reminder of how we need to love our son
3. Never stop trusting or believing in God, especially in times when things don’t make sense and when there appears to be little hope.
4. God clearly reminded us for as long as we live, that this child is His, not ours. No matter how much we have come to love this child, how much we care for him, no matter how much of our own love, energy, patience, etc. we put into this child - it is ultimately still God’s child. He gave him life, He entrusted this life to us, He gave us the love, strength, patience, and endurance to bear the crosses that come with being parents - but at any moment He can take this life back to Himself. We, then, being God's babysitters, will answer to God at the Great Judgment concerning how we loved this child, how we cared for it, how we raised this child, what we taught this child. And this lesson shall inspire us to be better parents, and a better husband and wife team.

Glory to God and His Saints!