A Part of Our Family

The Howard family shares a message of thanks to Connecticut Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders following their son’s last chemo.  

gage-photo-for-blogOur son Gage recently finished his last chemo on September 18th. We would like to thank all of the wonderful staff at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center!

Our world was turned upside down in July of 2013 when we learned that our son Gage had Leukemia.  From the very beginning the nurses on the 8th floor were amazing!  Dr. Andrea Orsey is truly an amazing physician and we cannot thank her enough for what she has done for Gage and our family!

His nurse Barb is hands down the best nurse around!  Gage loves her (as do we)!  I am pretty sure Barb can read minds because no matter what she always knew what to do to make Gage feel better!

These last three years have had its ups and downs.  We are so very happy to say that Gage has finally finished his chemotherapy.  It makes our hearts happy to see him just get to be a kid.  We could not have done it without you Dr. Orsey and Barb!!  You will forever be a part of our family!

Lots of Love XOXO,
The Howard Family

Kids Helping Kids: Christopher’s Toy Drive

 Becky, shares her son Christopher’s inspiring story and why he wanted to give back to fellow patients at Connecticut Children’s this holiday season. 

img_0708We brought Chris to the ER in January 2015 after he was unable to walk. Doctors found a tumor on his spine which began a whirlwind of scans, needles and a hospital stay that, at the time, we didn’t know how long would last.

The one thing that Chris could look forward to and that we could use as a reminder to get through the next procedure, chemo or scan was the prize box and toys he received for being so brave. Kelly and the rest of the staff at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center were instrumental in helping us through one of the toughest times we have faced as a family and one way we felt we could thank them was by giving back.

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Last December, I wanted Chris to give back to the hospital in a way that was meaningful for him and something that was feasible to do year after year. He decided that a toy drive was a good idea because he always looked forward to getting a toy at the end of his visits. He wrote his letter and made a list of family and friends that he would like to ask and send his letter. After the toys were donated, he wrote thank you notes to those who donated to show his appreciation. He did the same thing this year. (Now that he is in first grade, his letter was done much more independently!) He added several people to his list and those that he asked were so excited to help him.

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The best part is seeing the excitement on Chris’ face when he looks at the toys people donated as well as when he was giving the toys to Kelly. We hope to continue this each year and that it gets a little bit bigger to be able to make even more kids smile. We are so proud of Christopher for wanting to continue this tradition and for being able to see the importance of giving back!

Thank You for Taking Care of Us

By Melissa Wert, a grateful mom

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I snapped this photo moments before Nick took Ryan back into the OR, and held his little hands while his 31″, 27lb body went stiff and he succumbed to the anesthesia gas mask attached to his tiny face.

The patient advocate at Connecticut Children’s was nice enough to smear the mask with grape Chapstick, so that Ryan couldn’t smell the strong gas. It’s amazing what tiny details bring you great comfort when the entire situation feels totally out of your control. This is the face of a small boy who has no idea what’s happening, just that his day isn’t right. No eating. No milk. Anxious parents. A strange place filled with so many strangers, all looking at him.

This is the face of a dad about to bring his baby boy into surgery. Terrified but resilient, counting on the prayer we said in the car as we parked, taking every extra moment we had to not walk inside. Please keep our boy safe. Let him come out stronger, healthier, better.

His procedure was minor, but our fears were large. I’m coming to realize that as NICU parents, the feeling of having your baby whisked away from you with no idea what’s happening next returns to you all too easily. Too quickly. And likely unnecessarily. But it’s always there – the fear. The anxiety. The heartache. It shapes how you parent and who you are as parents. But it also makes you strong. Brave. Willful.

I’m happy to report we’re all back home and little Ryan is happy as a clam, back to his normal self, but with some sparkly new ear tubes we’ve dubbed his “robo-ears”. Thank you, so much, to everyone who prayed for us and sent us your well wishes. They worked.  And an even bigger thank you to the amazing staff at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center for taking such good care of all three of us. #BabyLove #DontForgetDads

Top 6 Holiday Hazards

By Kevin Borrup, JD, MPA, Associate Director, Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center

Twinkle, twinkle little star...Most injuries are predictable and preventable and we want you and your family to stay safe, happy and injury free this holiday season. Take precautions to ensure that your holiday plans are not interrupted by a visit to the emergency room. We have assembled some quick tips for what you can do to prevent injuries to you, your children, and family and friends this holiday season.

Motor Vehicle Crashes
Last December drunk driving crashes resulted in 840 deaths across the nation. Buckle up and make sure all your passengers are appropriately restrained.

• Do not drink and drive, and do not let friends drive impaired.
• Remind all your guests to designate their sober driver.
• The safest place for children is in the back seat.
• Child safety seats reduce the risk of death in a crash by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers aged 1 to 4.

Christmas Tree Fires
Christmas Trees are a big part of the holiday season for many families. Unfortunately, they are also the source for approximately 250 home fires each year. So, take precautions to keep your family safe.

• If you have a natural tree, keep it watered, and never leave lights on when you are: not home, not in the room, or sleeping. If you have an artificial tree, use the same precautions by turning the lights off before you go to bed and when you are not home.
• Place your tree away from any heat source, including away from fireplaces.
• Use the newer LED lights – they do not get as hot as traditional incandescent lights.
• Inspect your old lights for fraying cords and replace them as needed.
• Avoid using real candles.
• Practice your fire escape plan with your family.

Falls
5,800 individuals are treated each year for falls involving holiday decorations. Another 2,000 are treated from injuries sustained after tripping over extension cords.

• If you do need to get higher up in decorating inside or outside your home, use a ladder rather than a chair or other furniture.
• If you are stringing lights on your house with a ladder, make sure the ladder is stable and on level ground. As you work, stay level with the area you are working on and do not over reach.
• Do not string extension cords across walkways, hallways or in some other way that makes it a tripping hazard.

Choking Hazards
During the holidays your children will be exposed to new toys and even new foods. Be aware of what is age appropriate for your child. The biggest concern with small children is choking.

• For young children, check to ensure that toys do not have small parts that could be placed in a child’s mouth.
• Be aware of toy labeling to ensure that the toy is right for your child’s age.
• Tree ornaments or icicles can pose a choking risk as well.
• Common holiday foods like peanuts and popcorn should not be given to kids under 4 years old.

Dog Bite Prevention
This holiday season, we all need to be aware of our pets, especially dogs. Over 100,000 children under 10 are treated in hospital emergency departments annually for dog bites. Over the holidays you may visit other people who have dogs, or you may have a dog. Any dog, even your family dog, can bite.

• Never leave young children alone with a dog.
• Teach children to be gentle and to never tease or bother a dog that is sleeping or eating.

Feeling Depressed
The holidays are filled with a sense of joy, but for many can also be a time of stress and anxiety. Some people can feel so depressed that they no longer want to live. In Connecticut, someone dies by suicide every day of the year on average. There are a number of things you can do for others, or for yourself to feel better during the holidays.

• If you know someone who is isolated or alone, include the person in your celebrations.
• Sometimes helping others during the holidays can help you to feel better too. Volunteer your time in a soup kitchen, for a toy drive or give a hand to your neighbor.
• If you feel that you or someone you care about is in crisis, dial 2-1-1 (in Connecticut).
• You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255.
• Dial 9-1-1 if you are in a life threatening situation.