Lots of people end up with "causes"...you know, those specific issues that are near and dear to your heart and that you just wish you could wave a magic wand and fix. For Brianna, it is AIDS and Africa. For me, lately, I've been really struggling with the issue of healthcare in America and specifically, the financial and emotional burden it places on families who have children with chronic and/or serious medical issues.
Henry's heart issues have really brought to light a very tangible thankfulness in my own world. The fact that it isn't really all THAT serious, that it should be a one-time surgical fix (plus likely a lifelong standing appointment with a cardiologist), that while we do have a high deductible insurance plan...once we make our yearly deductible, things are covered 100%. I feel so incredibly blessed that while we have a son with an imperfect heart valve, it may squeeze our budget for a time being, it may stress his mommy out, it may make for more doctor visits...but we are so so so so BLESSED beyond measure.
And it gets me thinking about families who have children with serious health issues that need lifelong treatment...families who not only have to deal with the heart ache of having a sick child...but also have to deal with the financial burden of all those bills...I cannot even begin to imagine how much added pressure that puts on a marriage, on siblings, on mommies and daddies in general. Add to that, that so many families face losing their jobs because they can't be 100% committed to work, families that lose their homes because their medical bills soar high into the MILLIONS, families who after all that...just might even lose their babies.
Somehow, it seems like medical bills shouldn't count into the main credit rating of life. Somehow, you shouldn't lose your house because you can't pay the doctors. Somehow, the financial world should have an exemption clause for these sorts of things. But, they don't. I suppose it would be impossible to determine where the line would be drawn...
Anyway, all this to say that a few months ago I sat at a presentation for St. Jude Children's Hospital. And it just killed me. In a good way. St. Jude's is AMAZING. It is TOTALLY 100% free to all families, regardless of their financial status. They freely share ALL medical research with anyone and everyone around the globe. When they figure out a new procedure, they video tape it and make it available to physicians anywhere...so, a doctor in Kenya can learn how to do the latest surgical procedure. Anyone who has used St. Jude's services has had nothing but the most glowing reviews. I could go on and on, but you can go check it out for yourself. I can't really do it justice. (A local SM girl was basically sent home to die because her brain tumor was inoperable...dad called St. Jude's who had them get on the very next flight...they did the surgery 2 days later...she's home now recovering! Amazing!)
Fast forward to Henry's first birthday. The kid really doesn't need anything. He has more clothes and toys than I care to admit. And frankly, I really don't need more junk to pick up off my living room floor. My initial thought was to just put "No Gifts Please" on his birthday invites.
And then I got an idea. I called St. Jude and asked if they had any kind of in-lieu gifting program...and they DO! So, they made up these cute little postcards with Henry's name and the date of his party and assigned us a specific Tribute #. People can donate to St. Jude in Henry's name...a few weeks later, I'll get a final tally of how much was donated (just the total, not how much each individual gave) and a list of the people who gave (so I can send out thank you cards). I'm really excited!
One of my nightly prayers before I lay Hen Ben to sleep is that he will grow to be a man with a servant's heart...maybe this will help lay the builidng blocks for that...