Little Elroy Shows Remarkable Resilience
For any parent who has had to endure the long wait while their child is in surgery they’ll be familiar with the feelings of isolation and helplessness. There is nothing that can prepare you. Even though you realise your child is in the best hands possible, it doesn’t make the torturous wait any easier.
It’s a feeling all too familiar for Northland mum, Anna Hagen. When her five-month-old baby boy was wheeled behind the surgery doors it was the most frightening time of her life. “Even though the doctors have performed the surgery hundreds of times, they still have to inform you of all the things that could go wrong. Then you have to sign the consent form. It’s the most terrifying time of your life.”
When Anna delivered her second child, Elroy, nothing prepared her and her husband for what was to come. At just five days old the midwife discovered a heart murmur. On further investigation it was found little Elroy had Tetralogy of Fallot, a combination of four different heart defects. Open heart surgery would be scheduled for when Elroy turned five months old.
“It was a pretty huge shock to us. Not only do you have the stress of dealing with a new born, but to be told that Elroy was sick, just added to the worry.”
But that wasn’t to be the end of it. Elroy kept getting ear infections and bronchitis and was constantly sick. After numerous tests and monitoring, doctors discovered the lower part of his trachea was squashed. In addition to that, he had a rare genetic condition which meant he was going to struggle with development.
“We were living in Auckland at the time, battling traffic and all the stress getting to and from appointments and work. So, we made the decision that in order to have a better life and where we could spend more time with Elroy and his older brother, we had to move.” The family packed up and shifted to Northland.
Fast forward a year and the change in lifestyle and pace has been the best move they could’ve made. Elroy‘s condition has meant he is behind developmentally and needs on-going therapy. But it is something they can handle a lot more easily from their home just out of Whangarei. Anna works part-time in the mental health sector and her husband is a freelance graphic designer.
The other saving grace for this little heart family is the support they’ve received from Heart Kids. “Being able to connect with other parents has been amazing. We will never forget the kindness and support at the hospital, the meals in the freezer and someone to talk to. And then coming home and having that continuity of care is incredible. Knowing you are not alone is the most reassuring thing.”
For little Elroy the future is uncertain. Anna says he’s an incredibly caring, loving and cuddly child with a cheeky sense of humour. And his resilience is remarkable. “You know when he cries then he really must be in pain.” Meantime, it’s just a matter of taking each day as it comes and enjoying all the special moments along the way.