Ten years ago, our granddaughter Tessa, was born in critical condition. Her lungs were full of infection. She almost died. My wife Becky and I were called in the middle of the night to come to Banner Thunderbird Hospital and say our good-byes to one-day-old Tessa. It was a horrible experience. Tessa’s ten-year-old birthday was on September 8, 2020. She is bouncy, enthusiastic, sharp as a tack, and radiates joy wherever she goes. You would never know that Tessa spent 25 days in two neonatal ICUs.
Allow me to share a letter that Tessa’s mother and my daughter Kristin wrote on Tessa's first birthday. Kristin wrote a thank you letter from Tessa as if Tessa wrote it. Kristin sent Tessa's letter to three different hospitals in the Phoenix area and the doctors and nurses, who became life-givers during Tessa’s crisis. Read on.
"Hi. You might not remember me, but you sure made a significant impact on my family and me. My name is Tessa. Today is my first birthday, and I am here to celebrate it because of you.
What was supposed to be a quick little 'surf and turf' turned into an ambulance transfer to one hospital, a helicopter ride to another, and a total of 25 days in two neonatal ICUs. It wasn't pleasant. One terrible, terrible night, it looked dire, but I made it with your help and God’s help.
So, on my first birthday, I wanted to thank you for taking great medical care of me and, for many of you, taking great emotional care of my family.
To Dr. 'A' at John C. Lincoln Hospital (now Honor Health): Thank you for being fantastic from the first time you saw me on an ultrasound to seeing me after delivery. You knew I was going to need some help quickly. My mom adores you. And she doesn't think it possible for there to be a better OB/GYN on the planet.
To Heather at Banner Thunderbird Hospital: You were my very first NICU nurse. You told my family that there was just something about me. We bonded instantly. I somehow knew you were going to take care of me like I was your child. Thank you for paying particular attention to my big sister. It was scary for her to see me sick.
And, thanks to all the others who helped at Banner Thunderbird. Thanks to my LPN, who, my dad said, looked like a military commander standing over me and guarding me through the night. You also told my mom that at my lowest point, I needed lots of hugs and kisses. My parents and grandparents panicked, but those hugs and kisses were what I was waiting for. My stats got better as a result.
Thanks to Dr. 'R' at Banner Thunderbird, who, after doing everything he could with what he had available, had to deliver the difficult news to my parents that you 'had no more margin.' You were amazed when my stats started turning around for the better but transferred me via helicopter to Phoenix Children's Hospital if I needed a baby heart and lung machine.
To Nurse Kate of Phoenix Children's Hospital: You were the wonderful NICU nurse who cared for me for four consecutive day shifts. My parents knew everything was going to be okay if you were there. Thank you for asking my mom if she wanted to hold me weeks before thinking that would be possible. And thank you for telling Mom that what happened to me wasn't her fault. She needed to hear that.
To Nurse Manager Laura of Phoenix Children's Hospital: You were the fantastic nurse manager who checked in on me more often than was required. You were a shoulder for my mom to weep on when she wondered just how much more my little body could take.
To Kim of Phoenix Children's Hospital: You were the LPN who spent an hour with my parents going through the medical progression of what happened to me so they could understand it. You were so patient with my parents, right when they urgently needed it.
To Dr. 'C' at Phoenix Children's Hospital: You were the person my parents trusted most to take care of me. Thank you for giving me a test run to try to 'heal myself' while under careful supervision. Because of that, a second chest tube wasn't necessary.
There were so many of you who played significant parts in getting me healthy, strong, eating independently, and finally going home. Thank you for your dedication to newborn babies just like me. We had a glimpse into how emotionally taxing your jobs must be. My mom saw two baby's code. One made it, and the other didn't. That must be difficult for you.
My parents often think of other families enduring similar fears, worry, and panic. They hope those families get to experience the joy of taking their baby home too.
We have enclosed a candle in this letter. It is not for you to celebrate just my birthday but as a tribute to all the birthdays that your hard work, dedication, and skill have given countless others. We hope you keep it will remind you of all the life you have given to others like me when dark days happen.
So, thank you for my one-year old birthday. Tessa.”
To all of you, community heroes everywhere, whether police, firefighters, social workers, hospitals, pastors, and the like, I would like to thank you and appreciate you! I’m sure 95% of the community would say thank you also. We know you aren't perfect all the time; no one is. Please keep doing the nearly impossible job that you do. Signed, Tessa, and those of us who feel the way Tessa does.
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