I won't repeat everything that happened over the next couple days, but Eli had a lot of exams and testing done. Finally, they were able to confirm what we and everyone else thought was happening: Eli had suffered strokes. One stroke on the left side of his brain and several on the right side of his brain. The doctors had no guesses what Eli's prognosis would be. Over the next few days, Eli made a few advances. He slowly started waking up more. I had spent many hours in his room praying he would just open his eyes. His eyes moved around the room but we weren't sure if he could focus on anything. He fussed and cried. He was inconsolable at times and we had to guess what his needs were. Those things, plus all the other frustrating things he was experiencing, were torture, but the worst was just not knowing. Was this the best he would ever be? Was he going to improve from this point? Don't get me wrong, we were so grateful that our little guy was alive (and actually thriving from a cardiac standpoint) but what kind of life would it be? Would he be bedridden? Would he walk? Would he speak again? Could he see? Would we ever be able to care for him at home? An even bigger fear for us, was he the Eli we knew before surgery? Would that little boy ever be able to show his personality to us or was he gone forever? It was scary, frustrating, and a blur.
The days passed. Remember those hours I spent praying he'd open his eyes? Fast forward six months and now I have many times when I feel like a hypocrite for begging him to slow down and go to sleep for a few hours!!! It's a wonderful feeling! Not only did Eli open his eyes, he also spoke, he smiled, he laughed, he sat up, he held his head up, he swallowed, he ate, he drank, he walked, he ran, he raised his arms above his head, and many other things. None of those things have been easy. We've all worked hard to help get him this far. He still has a lot of work to do, mostly with that left hand and arm. But he has come so far.
None of the doctors were ever pessimistic with us, they were just very honest and said there was a lot of potential damage. At the same time, they were optimistic with us. They would often offer stories of encouragement about advances they had seen with other patients. I don't remember any of their stories having as much recovery as what Eli's had, so I don't know if he's more amazing than their other patients or if they just didn't want to set our bar too high in case Eli's recovery wasn't this good. Either way, we're grateful for their guidance.