On March 6, Adriann Anderson wrote “The Final Meeting” on her blog, Fisher’s Journey Up the Mountain. In this entry, she speaks directly to her infant son, Fisher, who died unexpectedly on Jan. 14, 2014. Adriann talks about Fisher’s tragic death and the steps she and husband, Ben, have taken to convince Mercy Hospital to change the procedures that contributed to his death. What follows is an adaptation of that entry, and a raw and honest look into the grief process of a local mother:
Hey Fish, my bubby, it’s been a long week; a trip to Des Moines to go meet in the PICU about you. Your buddy, Dane, turned two this week so we celebrated, and Mommy took her preschool class on their field trip to the Civic Center to watch “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” It was a really fun show.
But I want to tell you about our meeting Tuesday night. We were up there [at Mercy Hospital] advocating for you, Fish, and for all the other heart babies there. The day you coded, the CLS said to us, “You can wait down here or go on up to his room, but I’m afraid if you wait here you will miss him in transport.” We didn’t want to miss you and have you upstairs wide-awake without us wondering where we were. So, we went up to your room and waited for them to bring you. We should never have done that, and I’m very sorry that we did. No matter what the hospital told us to do, we are your parents and we shouldn’t have gone anywhere. Forever, for the rest of our lives, we will wish we could change that one decision. If we had, you may be here with us today.
After CT and recovery, you were angry. They said you were crying rigorously. It has always been known that we were not to let you cry too hard or for too long because it makes your oxygen stats go down. [They said] you cried and cried on the elevator ride up. Eventually you “settled down.” When they brought you to us you were “sleeping” on the nurse’s shoulder. As soon as we saw you, we knew something was wrong. I took you and knew you had stopped breathing. If we had stayed down there with you, you would’ve never gotten upset and cried too much and had your stats drop. We should’ve been there to see you immediately and feed you. You were starving, and had not eaten since 9:30 that morning [due to the required fasting]. We would’ve fed and cuddled you and taken you upstairs ourselves. But we didn’t, we listened to the staff. The hospital has agreed to require that parents be with their children in the area of their procedure and to travel with them at all times.
The next point [we addressed] is that you were not on any monitors when you traveled between recovery and your room. We have always wondered why, and were never happy with the answers we got. We felt if the crying was making you destat on the way up in the elevator, if they had you on a pulse ox they would have seen that and been able to give you oxygen to keep those stats up. You did not travel on monitors because you were traveling to a non-monitored unit. I asked if the intention was for you to just sleep there that night and get spot checks or if you would’ve been hooked up to the monitors for the night. I thought it was weird that we might stay the night in a hospital with no monitors hooked up whatsoever. Dr. [Thomas] Becker said, because of your health condition, you would’ve been on constant pulse ox monitoring that night, so I kind of got upset and loud then. Fish, I asked them this question: “If Fisher was on p-ox monitor in recovery, and they were planning to put him back on it when he got to his room, why in the [heck] did he not travel on any monitors?” No one had answers for that. There are no answers because it just should have happened. And it will happen for other kiddos. They are changing their protocols so that any cardiac patient will receive constant pulse ox monitoring when they are there for pre-op appointments (like CT, MRI, etc.). Also, any child 17 and under leaving recovery and going to a room will also travel on monitors. While I am so very glad to hear that these changes are in place, it’s too late for us. We don’t get a chance to try again.
Balloons float in the air, released on the day of Fisher’s goodbye.
So bubby, good things are happening up there. I believe they have worked hard to see where they needed to make changes and they are making them. They did some calling around to other hospitals—many of the children’s’ hospitals—and none of them had protocols that involve monitoring between units when transferring to a non-monitored unit, either. If Mercy sticks with it they will be the first in our area, and maybe others will follow them. Maybe you will help save a whole bunch of kiddos, Fish!
I started to get nervous on our way to Des Moines for our field trip. Anytime we’re in the downtown area where we have spent so much time with you, thoughts of you just swirl around in my mind. I kept it together and pushed those emotions down—in fact, I do that all week long. I wonder what tomorrow will bring since it’s been a few days from my last meltdown.
I’m starting to make some plans to visit other heart mamas, to spoil the PICU girls from time to time throughout the year, and getting this wall finished sometime. That will be tough. [The wall is the remodeled area in the corner of our kitchen, where we’ll place Fisher’s pictures, the quilt we are having made and his rocking chair.]
I’ve had several days where I feel okay—much better than last week. But your dad is leaving with Coop for their Royal Rangers trip tomorrow and I hope I don’t get too bummed while they are gone. I’ll try to keep busy with Sissy. If you were here, it would just be the three of us. It’s supposed to be somewhat nice tomorrow. Maybe we would have taken you out on a little walk.
Fisher, I miss your laugh and your smile. But I miss those eyes the most. Sparkly blue, wise old eyes, that could make me stop in my tracks to come and hold you to dance in the kitchen. I love you, Fish, as much as the day is long and then some.