Today we continue our series “Sisterhood of Nannies” with a story from Tonya Sakowicz.
Who would have ever thought that one of the hardest days of my life could also turn into one that would remind me how truly blessed I am to know some of the most amazing women in the world?
My son was born on Oct 23, 2004 under very difficult circumstances that nearly cost him his life. In the process of saving him, my doctor had to make a very difficult decision and break his collar bone and pull hard on him to get him out alive and without brain damage. The cost of that decision was damage to a set of nerves in his neck called the brachial plexus and my son, while alive, suffered nearly complete paralysis of his left arm. The injury is called Obstetrical Brachial Plexus Palsy. Over the next few months, we saw specialists, therapists, neurologists, etc… in an attempt to help him recover, and while what we were doing was helping, it was helping only minimally. In late August, 2005, we made the difficult decision to take him to Houston, TX to see the leading surgeon in the World for this injury, Dr. Raul Nath, for surgery. Through the internet, I let my many nanny friends know what we were doing and I had many wonderful ladies offer to pray for us and lots of comments of “let me know what I can do for you”. Then, out of the blue, I got an e-mail from Valarie Gauntt, saying “Hey, I am in Houston and I would love to help—what can I do? Can I give you ride anywhere, pick you up at the airport? Just let me know.” So we arranged for Valarie to pick us up at the airport and the plan was for her to return us to the airport at the end of our stay. We also decided that the trip should be a little fun and made zoo and dinner plans for all of us (Val, her husband Will, my husband Todd and the kids). So late in Sept, my son and I hopped on a plane headed for Houston on a Monday—the plan was for my husband to join us Wednesday and surgery was scheduled for Thursday. All went well with our flight, but Mother Nature had plans in store for us that day, and when Val greeted us at the airport, it was with a hearty chuckle and “Welcome to Houston, we have a hurricane coming!” In shock, I was a little scared, but Val said, “It should be fine—we hear about them a lot, but they don’t usually actually make it here”. Little did we know, Hurricane RITA had her sites set on Houston.
So I called my husband, and he changed his flight to come down a day earlier (as he says, “only a crazy person or a parent would willingly fly INTO a hurricane”) and we moved our plans with Will and Val to Tuesday night. We saw the surgeon and the neurologist on Tuesday, had our zoo trip and then got picked up for our fun night, but had one small errand—a prescription to fill. That alone ended up turning into a serious ordeal as the Hurricane warnings were getting more urgent and so people were scrambling to fill prescriptions in case of shut downs, etc… and poor Will (Val’s husband) spent hours with us trying to find a pharmacy that could actually fill the prescription. He was such a trooper, so patient and so kind, never once complaining about being out so late and running us all over the city!
We got a call the next morning to get to the hospital immediately as the Hurricane had been upgraded to a Category 4 and it was headed right for Houston. The plan was to operate and then discharge him the very next morning as Houston was making plans to evacuate the city. I posted to my nanny groups about what was going on and then called the airlines to switch our flight home to a day earlier…… um nope. There were no seats and no options. I did not know what to do. And then the offers just started flooding in—nannies from all over the country, most of whom I had never met in person said “Just get on a plane—anywhere and we will take care of you—Come to Charleston, Come to St. Louis, Come to Philadelphia, Come to Boston, Come to LA, DC, Dallas, Kentucky,…just get out of there and we will take care of you! The offers just kept coming and I was so humbled by the kindness and generosity of people I mostly only knew through a computer screen. I spent the next hour and a half on the phone with a lovely lady from Southwest Airlines who finally got my son and I on a flight to Dallas (not far, but out of the path of the oncoming Hurricane!) and then, an hour later, got my husband on a flight also. Again I posted, and again the offers of help came in! Marty (Weaver) Byington, a former travel agent turned nanny, spent hours on the phone and internet and finally found us a hotel room (very possibly the very last one!) in Dallas, another nanny friend offered us her SWA travel vouchers to get us home, and another nanny, Rowlanda Smith, who lives in Dallas, offered us airport transportation in Dallas, even though it meant her missing sleep. So that night, I laid in a hospital bed, holding my infant son who had just had surgery, and watching Hurricane Rita (which had turned to a Category 5 hurricane at this point!) head straight for me, thanking God that I was blessed with so many wonderful friends in the nanny community who were willing to go out of their way, inconvenience their lives and help my family be safe. The next day, while chaotic (and a whole OTHER story), saw us arrive safely in Dallas, spend the night there and then fly home to Phoenix the next day, all with the help of some very amazing women and their families! My son, after 2 surgeries (2nd was in Houston the following year—can you say “Hurricane Paul”?), and 5+ years of therapy, has nearly full feeling and about 90% use of his arm—we could not have done it without you. Saying thank you has never been enough. But just so everyone who stepped up with offers of help hears it—THANK YOU!
If you have a story about how another nanny supported you when you were going through a difficult time, send it to us at RegardingNannies(at)gmail(dot)com ATT: Glenda