Although it has been 5 years since the bittersweet December day we got to come home, the holiday season always reminds us as a family of Akron Children’s Hospital and the love and care we received as our son Bryce spent 33 days in the pediatric intensive care unit.
Bryce was life-flighted on AirBear with seizures, which we later found out was caused by an intraventricular hemorrhage to his brain at 3 weeks of age. They call this a brain bleed. As Bryce flew in the transport helicopter, our family got to Akron by car as fast as an hour drive could be.
Meeting us in the hallway was pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. (Roger) Hudgins. He performed a 3-hour emergency surgery. He came out to the waiting room when he was done to share the news that Bryce was stable and on life support.
As a family we asked so many questions: What will happen to Bryce? Will Bryce live? Dr. Hudgins said we just don’t know the outcome. He has an external shunt to drain the blood and that he would be monitoring Bryce every day and time will tell. That was the first day of 33 days in the PICU.
We prayed and prayed for a miracle. We had ups and downs. Bryce had good days and bad. We spent our first Thanksgiving with strangers who became like family at Ronald McDonald House.
As a family we never left Bryce’s side along with several doctors, nurses, and therapists in the PICU. As sad as we were, as a family, we watched Bryce fight for so long, we never felt alone.
We had so much support from the PICU team, as they did rounds at the change of every shift and answered any questions we had. The doctors sat at Bryce’s bedside to share any updates, and the amazing nurses were so helpful and took care of Bryce every step of the way.
We watched Bryce fight. Even through the low points of respiratory distress we never gave up and neither did Bryce.
The pages turned and Bryce seemed to be doing better. He received a G-tube (gastrostomy tube) by Dr. (Robert) Perry who added a snowman bandage on Bryce’s G-tube site when he was done. He always adds drawings to cheer the kids up after surgery. This was the first step to going home.
It took several weeks after that but Bryce was well enough to go home for a bit. We learned transitional care and all about the G-tube to make that happen — just for Christmas! We knew he would be re-admitted, but so happy that he was on the road to recovery.
He had several MRI and CT scans, as well as visits with Dr. Hudgins and Dr. TK (Thiruvengada Kulasekaran). We were monitoring for hydrocephalus. Weekly visits tuned into monthly visits, monthly turned into every other and then just 2 times a year. In May 2014, at age 3, Bryce got a clean bill of health from neurosurgery.
We still see Dr. TK every 3 months for seizure monitoring. It’s been 2 years and 3 months since his last seizure.
Bryce does have developmental delay – mostly in speech – but we will get there. It will just take time. We go to PT and OT (physical and occupational therapy) too for some extra help.
That saying by Dr. Hudgins, “time will tell,” is very true. It sure has.
Fast forward 5 years, we have a very happy, healthy boy who celebrated his 5th birthday in October. Anyone who meets Bryce just adores him. He goes to preschool. He is learning how to swim during PT. He also doesn’t have a G-tube anymore. He loves to eat everything.
Along with my husband, Joel, we want to say thank you to Akron Children’s Hospital – from the AirBear team, to Drs. Hudgins, Perry and TK, as well as the PICU team who loved and cared for our miracle boy Bryce Fricker.
The holidays remind us of all of you and the holiday miracle you shared with us that December night we got to take our miracle boy home.