These days I think of myself as a 2000 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo. (You were probably just thinking that, too, right?) Stunning and sleek, the ladies love me. I can go from zero to 60 faster than you can say intracardiac wires, but I’m delicate, so be gentle. Try to test my limits and I’ll be back in the shop needing more replacement parts.
It seems the doctors feel the same way, because now that I’ve been doing quite well for a week or so, nobody wants to push me. They’re taking me off of breathing support and medications slowly. I mean slow for realz, slow like a bale of turtles charging through a vat of Nutella. Goodbye Speed Racer, hello Rollin’ With My Homies.
Meanwhile, I’m doing swell. I asked my doctor what he thinks is going to happen.
I said doctor…DOCTOR! Mr. M.D. DOCTOR! (Just kidding.)
He said after I move out of CICU – minimum of 10 days, maximum of by the time the Cubs win the World Series – we move to a regular hospital room and focus on eating and weight gain. Though he is by no means certain, he expects my heart to cooperate enough for me to bust out of here, start growing and, within a year or two, only be on Aspirin for medication. And, of course, come back for new valves periodically when I need them.
Being on the slow boat to China here has given me a lot of time for reflection. When you get to be my age, you do this a lot. Someday you’ll understand.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you a few of the life lessons I learned while being here at Boston Children’s Hospital.
1. Be kind. Everyone is nice to me here. I have a lifetime to return the favor to others. So do you.
2. Stick up for yourself. Sometimes it’s the right time for the littlest Who in Whoville to start Yopping.
3. Stick up for others. Not everyone can Yopp for themselves. If it’s the right thing to do, Yopp for them, even if it means you find yourself in the soup.
4. Give to charity. Start with the Ellianna Grace Foundation. They help families who need fetal cardiac intervention like I did.
5. Sing songs. This makes everything better. Here are the 5 songs dad sings to me: True Colors (Cyndi, not Phil), Sad Songs and Waltzes (Cake, not Willy), Overkill (live acoustic, not 80s studio), Tell all the People, and Can’t Get it Out of My Head. Which, of course, I can’t get out of my head. Ironical, no?
6. Let your True Colors shine through. Don’t be afraid. Let them show.
7. You catch more hot nurses by being nice than playing hard to get. I mean you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Something like that.
8. Say the nice things that come to mind. I really like it when everyone says, “Ari’s so cute. Ari is such a good baby. Ari should turn his blog posts into a book.” I don’t like it so much when they say, “Ari looks like crap today.” I heard that, yo! And it stings…to the bone, man, to the bone.
10. Be prepared at your 18 week ultrasound. It could save your child’s life.
11. Don’t freak out when life throws you a curve ball. They told me I needed a second open heart surgery. People were surprised when I didn’t react one way or the other, and it turned out just fine. So far…
12. Don’t be so busy looking for gold that you miss the silver lining. Having kids doesn’t always turn out like you think it’s going to, but then you end up with a darling son like me. See…silver lining.
13. All poop is to be measured and tracked for volume, color, and texture from here until the end of time. Everybody does this, right?
14. Wonder at life. Given everything I’ve just been through, I feel like I’ve been seeing things with fresh eyes again, discovering what the world has to offer like I’m learning it all for the first time. When you’ve been around as long as I have, this isn’t so easy. If I can do it, you can, too.
15. When you come to a fork in the road, take it. (Thanks, Dr. T.)
16. If you find yourself going through hell, keep going. (Thanks, Winston Churchill.)
17. And, finally, this love thing is where it’s at. I get the warm fuzzies when mommy and daddy say, “I love you.” Could be that or the Ativan, but why split hairs. Make sure you tell people that you love them. After all, it’s what we’re here for.