When you spend as much time in the hospital as my family does—we’re “frequent flyers” and our last stint lasted more than six months—it’s hard to remember each hospital stay. But, there’s something about a week-long stay last winter that my wife and I will never forget.
When our then 3-year-old son Lex was admitted to the Cardiac Stepdown Unit at Children’s, I heard our nurses talking about something called the Share Campaign. Toward the end of our stay, we experienced the campaign firsthand. As we waited for Lex to recover, we kept our eyes glued to the TV in his room as letters from the community scrolled across the screen. The messages were short, but the words were powerful. “Stay strong.” “We’re thinking of you.” “You are brave.” “I’ve been where you are.”
In all, more than 8,000 people took the time to share a personal message. To think about your friends and family praying for you is humbling. To also know complete strangers are keeping you in their thoughts is overwhelming.
After one week of careful monitoring and fluids, Lex was back to his normal self. We enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas at home in Clarksville, Ga., and entered the New Year with high hopes for a smooth, healthy year.
Fast forward to March 2012. Lex was—for the umpteenth time in his short life—battling heart failure. We moved our family into the hospital and waited for a new heart to find its way to our son. More than five months later, on Sept. 21, our prayers were answered when Lex underwent his second heart transplant at Children’s. It was his third heart in as many years.
As Lex recovered in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in the Children’s Sibley Heart Center, one of our nurses asked if we’d be interested in participating in a video for Children’s. Without hesitation, we said yes. When we learned it was for this year’s Share Campaign, we were flooded with memories of being on the “other” side of the video.
When the film crew knocked on the door to our room, it was just five days after Lex’s transplant. That morning, we were starting to see signs of our Lex. Toys were starting to outnumber the wires in his bed. He was smiling without effort and asking question after question about all that was happening around him.
The clip of Lex in this year’s Share video is more than a little boy playing with toy cars. It’s a family overcome with relief and joy that their prayers were answered. It’s a boy receiving a second chance. It’s a bridge to life outside the walls of a hospital.
When people watch Lex and the other kids in the video, we hope they’ll think of our story and send a message. We’ll be sending a message of our own—one that says:
“We’ve been where you are. We know how it feels to wait and fear the unknown. Stay positive. Trust. And know that there are many, many people out there praying for you.”
Please consider sharing your own message. It only takes a minute, and your gesture of support goes a long way. Trust me.