Miracle Moments Miracle Moments Of Personal Growth

Y SON ISAAC, would have been 7 years old this year, starting second grade. I would have taught him how to tie his shoes and maybe how to ride a bike. When I was pregnant, his father and I would talk about teaching him to fish and taking him camping. Now there will never be a first day of school, first bike ride or fishing trips for Isaac.

Instead of teaching Isaac about life, he taught me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Isaac was born with a rare genetic disease diagnosed after many months of doctor visits, tests and several hospitalizations. Fortunately, he never exhibited any of the neurological problems that typically occur with this condition.

At 14 months of age, Isaac was diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). After several hospitalizations in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital, Isaac was given a tracheostomy. We were told he would be ventilator-dependent. I learned how to care for the trach and how the home ventilator would work. The wonderful staff at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital taught me all of this.

The first time I changed Isaac’s trach, I thought I would faint. I did it, though, and eventually became comfortable with the task. I enjoyed taking care of Isaac and even started to consider attending respiratory therapy school. But first, I had to care for Isaac and deal with the progression of his disease.

We spent four months at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa in the PICU. The respiratory therapists would come and play with Isaac when they were done with their work. Several nurses would play with him while they cared for him. The doctors answered my many questions. Our stay was filled with so many ups and downs as we eagerly prepared to take Isaac home with us.

Isaac never came home. He died in April, the day the city of San Antonio celebrated its annual Fiesta Battle of Flowers parade. Ironically, Isaac’s battle was now over.

Soon after my son’s death, I decided to enroll in college. I knew if I could care for Isaac, I could take care of others, too. Today I am a respiratory therapist at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital.

I have been in the shoes of parents with sick children and know how it feels to live with the uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring. I understand the frustration and anger they feel and know their sense of helplessness and pain when a child dies. As a rule, I do not share my story with parents. However, the mother of a pediatric cancer patient once started a discussion with me about how she wasn’t sure how her child’s death would affect her. She kept talking. I feel I was placed in that room with her at that time for a reason. I told her about Isaac.

She felt the way I did when I was on “her side of the bed.” A bond between us was made. Throughout the night, I would come to her son’s bedside to do treatments. He died soon after.

I hope I helped his mother feel at peace with herself. I hope I showed her life does not end.
The people who once cared for Isaac are now my co-workers. They have seen me at the absolute worst time of my life. Now they see me doing a job I love—all because of a little angel named Isaac.

Michele Martinez
respiratory therapist
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital