Sometimes people come into your life who want to help …. who want to make a difference in your life and consequently affect your whole sphere, with positive effects that flow onto other family members and your future. I’m sure you all know about my spiritual Mom and good friend Cheryl, who recently visited from Australia to help and support us during Jensen’s open heart surgery. (There are so many others who I could mention right now too who have also invested so much of there time, love and support). But this about Cheryl – a wonderful friend, teacher and someone who has really loved and wanted to invest in our lives with foundational truth with lasting effects. Thank-you Cheryl for taking the time for us and investing in us, when we really needed help. We love you !!
This is her take on the 4 weeks that she spend with us recently when Jensen went in for surgery in Edmonton. (She wrote this for the Newsletter of the Glasshouse Country Christian College, where she is Head of Primary).
(for all those who have been asking)
‘It began with a phone call from Canada when Helen, my young friend (who is like another daughter) expressed her concerns about the surgery which Jensen, who had been adopted from China in May 2012 just a few months earlier, desperately needed to have as he had 2 significant holes in his heart. Helen and Paul were aware of this as Jensen was a “special medical needs adoption”.
It was a natural response to ask if they wanted me to come there to support them at this time and was actually possible as I had long service due this year. To be honest, Term 3 was perfect timing for me to be away from the College, so the plans were made and flights booked.
Jensen Wei Schirok was born in Kunming City in China and was found abandoned near the hospital (where he would be easily discovered) as he had pneumonia. We believe that his mother knew that he had 2 holes in his heart and needed extensive complicated surgery. When Jensen was found, he was given medical care and placed in the orphanage which was well known for organising international adoptions. It would probably have been impossible for Jensen’s mother to afford the surgery he needed as it wasn’t available in Yunnan province.
For the first 9 months he spent most of his time in a cot and the staff referred to him as “little slow eater”. This was because his body only had enough energy to breathe and digest his bottle – nothing else. However, his fine motor coordination developed very well as I guess he spent many hours touching fingers and thumbs together to amuse himself.
The flight from China to Canada was difficult as Helen and Paul had to keep oxygen near Jensen’s nose to provide for adequate oxygen absorption. There was a serious risk that he may not have “made it” to North America without this. But after 3 months Jensen still wasn’t putting on weight. Bottles were very slow and he wouldn’t touch any solid food so the specialist decided the operation had to be moved forward to August.
What a blessing for them that they live in Alberta Canada where Jensen has access to the very best medical care and his surgeon was not just one of the best, but THE BEST open heart surgeon in the world! So, on Wednesday 22 August, he finally went into theatre and 4 hours later Dr Rebekya gave us the report that it had all gone well. He was so matter-of-fact and at that moment they wheeled Jensen’s little body into intensive care. When you are the best open heart surgeon in the world, good bedside manner isn’t necessary.
Jensen was one of about 15 children in PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) – each with an individual nurse assigned to them 24 hours a day. Machines monitored every aspect of their progress and alarms and bells were constantly going off and doctors and nurses were reading and adjusting data and medications. Jensen was completely sedated and given morphine during these 10 days but, apart from having community acquired pneumonia, made great progress. Towards the end of his time in PICU, various lines and tubes were removed – one by one – and gradually the morphine and sedation were reduced until he was awake. Oxygen saturation was 100% where previously it had been about 70-80%. Finally he was air lifted to Calgary by ambulance then jet and ambulance again. He was almost at the end of his journey – only the NG tube for milk straight into the stomach remained. Then his first bottle! How good it was to see him drinking from a bottle. This went without a hitch, so the NG tube was removed. Jensen remained at 99-100% oxygen saturation – though he hated the monitor for this as he just couldn’t shake it off his big toe.
The final excitement came when we arrived the following morning armed with coffee “to go” and some breakfast for his dad Paul. Jensen saw the “Breakfast Quiche” from Phil & Sebastian’s (Helen’s favourite coffee shop) and immediately wanted some. So – forget the farex and the gradual introduction of texture and lumpy solid foods, Jensen went straight to –
- Mashed potato with cream & butter
- Blended Thai chicken soup
and most important of all
- VEGEMITE & CHEESE RUSKS – made by Grammie (that’s me)
As a little Canadian citizen, born in China with a Canadian father and Australian mother, and Canadian and Australian grandparents – Jensen needed to grow up with VEGEMITE!
I shared most of this in our Year 3 – 6 assembly last week and was amazed how intently the students listened. Many have made a point of talking to me since then and expressing genuine concern and compassion for this little man – once abandoned but now safe and well in Canada. I know that so many families have been praying and keeping abreast of developments over the past few weeks. I have been very touched by the expressions of care and concern since being back at GCCC and have been humbled by your kind wishes for Jensen’s complete recovery.
I arrived in Canada to meet a happy little boy who only had enough energy to breathe and take a bottle and a month later left a vibrant little “man” with a wonderful sense of humour who giggled and chuckled constantly and had a sparkle in his eyes and just a touch of mischief in his heart.”
HEAD OF PRIMARY