Michael Madson‘s son Gabe has congenital heart defects that have influenced his life in many ways. Gabe, now 13, had septal and aortic defects repaired as an infant and just before kindergarten had a “tune up” (surgeon’s term!) to remove a sub-aortic membrane. At that time electrical connectivity was affected and, unexpectedly, Gabe became pacemaker dependent. Subsequent surgeries to adjust and replace devices have been additional milestones in Gabe’s development. Gabe is an avid baseball player and mountain biker who doesn’t allow his history to affect his present activities or future plans.
As an infant Mike and Gabe shared a special bond. Mike, then in graduate school, was Gabe’s daily companion while his mom worked. A regular schedule of play, snacks, meals, and naps broken up by medications and classes (yes, Gabe would attend too!) was the norm. Once gainfully employed Mike traveled for work quite often; every day with Gabe became one or two days a week at the most. That early one-on-one period was a very special time in Mike’s life, one that he comes back to often when alone with his thoughts.
Mike is now married to Erin Salisbury, who puts up with a lot as wife and stepmom to Gabe and Alyce!
Chris Perez is a Heart Dad to Nolan, a twin who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Nolan had the Norwood Procedure at 7 days old, the Glenn Procedure at 7 months old, and continues to receive physical, occupational, and speech therapies weekly. Chris hopes to use his experience as a Heart Dad to educate others and give back to the community. For his 32nd birthday he did 32 Random Acts of Kindness in order to promote CHD Awareness. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and three sons, including Grant (Nolan’s twin – 19 months) and Hudson (4 years). He works in administration for a large healthcare system and is the author of a blog for heart dads: http://hlhsdad.wordpress.com.
Links Mentioned in our Show:
Half Heart. Whole Life. (Chris’ blog)
“The Meaning of Cost for Families of Children with Congenital Heart Disease” (free abstract available online)