Category Archives: Reflections

Hey Syd, its Daddy-o

Hey Syd, its Daddy-o…

Sorry it has been so long since we chatted (like this).  Last time, I was powered by pure adrenaline, fear after spending 6 days with you in the hospital and knowing there will be a rough road ahead for us.  Over the last three years, Mom has had the strength and words to document our feelings and changes in our lives; she has been incredibly articulate and graceful in doing so.  She is the writer of the family and I am no competition.  So, after three years, I sit here with tears in my eyes; it’s now time for us to catch up.

Hey Syd – we spent a fair amount of time over the last two years being your “voice” for what happened. KFP and her team were great in helping us do so and we greatly appreciate their expertise.  However, there is still more to do and to say.  We are working with a small group to create a documentary addressing safety measures that can be and should be done.  Unfortunately, I have a “face for radio” so it’s good the content and message of this documentary will be stronger than the actor.

Hey Syd – Jack is off to the U of St. Thomas this fall.  Mom and I are so very proud of him and his accomplishments as I am sure you are too. I am sad at times he has had to mature so quickly and those his age can’t understand what he is dealing with.  He does at times still have a swagger. The dude is slightly taller than me and he isn’t shy to remind me of such.  His grad party was a hit and he did a great job greeting folks.  Send him signs you are there, I know he misses you dearly and would appreciate it.

Hey Syd – I know that I told you Jack would continue to drive Libby but it was tough to do.  We did sell Libby to get a car for Jack, but every time I see a Libby on the road, I smile.

Hey Syd – as promised, I got a tattoo, so did Mom.  It was funny, Mom went back a few more times, she now likes tattoos.  Actually, 15 of us got inked on that day.   Jack also got one; we had to drive him down to Sioux Falls, SD to get it done because he wasn’t 18 yet but it was worth it.  He has since added a second tat, which says “Never Give Up”; as you know all too well is one of our family values.

Hey Syd – we still have not figured out a way into your phone.  What is on there you don’t want me to see?

Hey Syd – unfortunately you are not alone now with Austin and Kate.  Please let them know they are missed and loved as much as you are.

Hey Syd – I am looking forward to this evening; the girls and guys are coming over to make your pancakes. Love having them here; the energy, the laughter, their presence is always welcomed.  You have a great group of friends and your Mom and I are blessed to continue to have them in our lives.

Hey Syd – keep sending me notes from above, yes I see them; the first family trip without you and we got off the plane and directly in front of us was a Delta Air advertisement for a trip to Sydney, Australia, the car I followed a while ago that had a Minnesota license plate that said “SYDNEY”, a car in Nurburg, Germany while on spring break with #Sydney on the window and the sign in the dorm at TCU, to name a few.  It is clear to me, from that afternoon on campus, you and your sister would have been Horn Frogs.

Hey Syd – Pastor Lillejord coined the phrase “BeMoreSyd” and it has taken on a life of its own.  It is the web address of your foundation and its even on a race car (thanks Dr. W).  The EP students as well as other schools around town were great remembering and honoring BeMoreSyd over the last few years.    We still see the diver stickers on cars and blue brackets on folks.

Hey Syd – thanks by the way for bringing “Baby Blue” into my wardrobe.  It has a way of highlighting my increasingly gray hair.

Hey Syd – we are not going to do the golf outing this year.  While it was fun and it raised money for numerous scholarships, it is a ton of work for a lot of people and your Mom and I wanted all of the volunteers to enjoy their summer not having to plan for the golf event.  With that said, I still think we should have an informal Diving Contest one of these days.

Hey Syd – your foundation with FEPS has granted 23 scholarships totaling $57,500 over the last three years.  Divers, synchronize swimmers, skiers and those in DECA have benefited from your college scholarships.  While the golf tournament helped fund your foundation and Foundation for EP Schools (FEPS), if folks still want to donate they can via www.bemoresyd.orgor www.foundationforepschools.org.

Hey Syd – one of the things I struggle with is fully expressing how appreciative I am for all that has been done to help us out over the last three years.  I fear at times I have not thanked everyone as sincerely as they deserve.  So many people have done so much for us with their generously, thoughtfulness and selfless acts, I don’t know how to thank everyone and fear I have missed someone.   If you have any ideas on how I can simply say THANK YOU to all, send them my way.

Hey Syd – again, sorry it has taken so long for me to share this, but know that you are greatly missed and loved by many; for me it still hurts terribly and I struggle with how brutally unfair this is, but always remember,

Love ya, love ya more…you win.  Daddy-o.

18Jan/18

Happy 20th Birthday!

As you celebrate your 20th birthday in heaven Syd, our hearts still ache for you every day. I imagine your days are filled with glory where there are no tears, no sadness or sorrow.

There’s nothing I can say that I haven’t said before
Our life changed forever
When God blessed us with you
It changed again forever
When He called you home too soon
Our time is stamped in stillness

Your room remains the same
Not one new photo of you to put on your wall
Everything stopped when Jesus called you home
Our time is stamped in stillness

We miss your smiling face
We miss your infectious laughter
You always had such grace
And taught us what really mattered
Those times are stamped in stillness

I know you’re not alone
You have your sister and your cousin
And so many other’s we know
Sadly way more than a dozen

Our suffering has not gone in vain
He has given us faith to rise above
We know you are still near
You give signs to us everywhere
Our hearts still ache more than one can envision
Keeping your spirit alive is our ambition
If I could have just one last wish
It would be for you to be here
We miss you every day
Our time is stamped in stillness…until we meet again

Happy birthday Sydney Galleger 💙👼
Always love you more

06Dec/17

Justice for Syd/Healing Hand of God

 

Well, I really wasn’t ready to send my letter yet, but when the news media gets ahold of information, it forces me to do things quicker. We’ve been focused on getting ready for the holidays and not on what has recently transpired. The media has been on top of Sydney’s story but we again have chosen not to talk with them. When people hear a story about someone receiving a large settlement, they tend to think that greed is the motivation. That’s ok. People are entitled to their opinion.  However, those are the people that don’t know Syd’s story, people that don’t know us. All I can do is pray for those people that they never walk in our shoes, that they never have to make decisions that you hope will change rules and regulations so this tragedy won’t happen again. Money is not a motivator. Money will NEVER bring our daughter back. For anyone to think that was our motivation, that’s probably why you don’t know us.  The majorities of dental professionals always do the right thing and are very ethical. We hope this is a wake-up call to the very small minority of professionals in the dental field who are unethical. You are dealing with the life of a person not a “thing.”  Is it easy to cut corners, for arrogance or greed? Eventually those corners will start to spiral and become a vicious circle. They may never get caught. But, what if they do? What if a life is lost because of it? Was it all worth cutting those corners? Wouldn’t doing the right thing all along be the logical choice? I wish it would have been because I wouldn’t be writing any of this and you wouldn’t be reading this and I could go on leading my boring, uneventful, private life.

Justice for Syd 

It’s been two and a half years and we are finally able to give Sydney the justice and voice she deserves. Grieving the loss of a child is not the normal order of life. Not being able to let others know how our healthy child died added another dimension of grief and anger.  In October, an out of court settlement was reached with the oral surgeon, Paul Tompach, who performed the wisdom teeth surgery on Sydney on June 9th of 2015. In addition to an insurance settlement, Mr. Tompach was personally responsible to pay an agreed-upon sum of money. While no amount of money will ever bring Sydney back or replace her life, we were satisfied that he was held personally accountable as well.  In the majority of lawsuits, a Confidentiality Agreement and a No Admission of Liability (no admission of wrongdoing) are normally signed. In our lawsuit, Tompach and his attorneys waived both the Confidentiality Agreement and the No Admission of Liability.

How it all started

When we moved to Minnesota in 2005, we moved next door to Tompach’s (future) wife, Tracy. We were friends many years before she met Tompach. Steve’s family had a long history of 30 plus years with Tracy’s family. Sydney babysat her children often and once she married Tompach, she babysat his children too. They trusted Sydney with their children, knowing she would take care of them.

In the early part of 2015, we were advised it was time to have Sydney’s wisdom teeth removed. After spending a plethora on orthodontia to make her teeth look beautiful, we didn’t want her wisdom teeth ruining that smile. It seems to be “a right of passage” as a teenager to have your wisdom teeth removed. I did, Steve did. Jack, yea, maybe not. The Tompach’s were at our home sometime after I knew Sydney would need to have her wisdom teeth removed and I remember the conversation as I stood in my kitchen so vividly. Tracy Tompach said, “He’s the best there is.”  Those words haunt me daily. I trusted that my child would be taken care of just as they had trusted Sydney to take care of their children. And after all, we were friends. I made a call to his office to have her wisdom teeth removed and scheduled it for June 9, 2015. I asked if she needed to come in for a consult and the answer was, “no.”

On June 9th, 2015, Sydney and I arrived at Tompach’s office early and filled out the necessary paperwork…which, was mysteriously never found.  Tompach came out to greet Sydney and me. He said he had looked at her x-rays and said it would be an easy surgery because her teeth were right at the surface. I walked back to the office with Sydney where her surgery would take place, stayed for a minute and then I made my way back to the waiting room. Little did I know, that would be the last time I would ever see her beautiful smile or hear the laughter in her voice.

As I sat in the waiting room for Sydney, Tompach’s receptionist approached me. Assuming she’s coming to tell me Sydney was done, the only words I heard were, “Sydney.” “Cardiac arrest.”  Shock sets in and I couldn’t understand what was happening. Sydney and those two words don’t go together. She’s healthy. That couldn’t be right. There must be a mistake. She was only having her wisdom teeth removed. I’ll spare the rest.  It’s a memory I wish I could erase but to this day, I can’t.

I recall Tompach eventually coming to the ER at Southdale Hospital, saying he doesn’t know what happened. He said he did everything he was supposed to. I was trying to save my daughter’s life and not judge him at the time. I even had the chaplain say a prayer for him that he doesn’t blame himself.

The Edina first responders, fire department and police department extended Sydney’s life that day and for that, we can’t thank them enough. Without them, we wouldn’t have had an extra six days with her. We also have to thank the University of Minnesota Children’s Masonic Hospital doctors and nurses for keeping her alive those 6 days and for being so gracious to our family and friends.

I still see her lying in that hospital bed, lifeless with all the machines and wires hooked up to keep her alive and all the split decisions we had to make.  Our sole focus was on trying to save our daughter’s life. We wanted to bring her home no matter what state she was in. Blaming the doctor (Tompach) did not even cross our mind. As a matter of fact, I still socialized with Tracy, his wife, up until November 2015 and exchanged texts up until the spring of 2016. Sydney’s lifeless body had been through so much in the hospital and we are so thankful that she donated her organs to save so many others. Most of the time I forget she saved lives. I have to turn that thinking around and be grateful for those that still live on because of her checking that donor box on her driver’s license. It’s an unnatural feeling when you have to walk behind a hospital bed, as doctors and nurses line the hallway as a sign of respect, only to have the operating doors close behind your loved one and you know you’ve said you last goodbye.

After Sydney died, we were determined to find out if anything was physically wrong with her. We needed to know for Jack’s sake. We needed that peace of mind. After the autopsy report and other testing on her tissues, sometime in November of 2015, the possibility of Tompach contributing in Sydney’s death became a thought. Things just didn’t seem clear.

 December 2015 – Still in the depths of our grief, we are dealing with sending tissues of Sydney’s heart to be tested for any genetic defects.  In January of 2016, we received news that she had no genetic defects in her heart. At this point we were knee deep in our grief and knew an investigation would eventually need to be addressed. However, we were not mentally ready and decided it could wait. Steve and I have never been litigious so this was a road we never wanted to travel. The only time we ever dealt with an attorney was to have our will drawn up after the kids were born. Otherwise, we like to stay as far away from attorneys as possible. But we knew eventually, we needed to seek the truth of what really happened.

February 22nd, 2016 – The home phone rings. Caller ID says it’s the Star Tribune. I answer, ready with my pitch that I don’t need a newspaper subscription. It’s Paul Walsh from the Tribune asking us if we have any comment to the Minnesota Board of Dentistry temporarily suspending Tompach’s license. We are caught off guard and are unaware of any findings and wish to say nothing. Then the myriad of phone calls and media overwhelms us. Trying to process this information is more than we can grasp.

With the MN Board of Dentistry making the allegations about Tompach, “failed to provide appropriate oral surgery care, failed to appropriately manage a medical emergency and enabled dental personnel to perform tasks which exceeded their legal scope of practice”, it forced us to hire legal counsel sooner than later. This was a hard decision because our emotions were still so raw, yet it was an easy one once we knew that we had to be Sydney’s voice. She died in the hands of someone we had trusted. We were angry. We never gave up on her in the hospital and we weren’t about to give up fighting for her now.

The Internet can become your friend and I’ve had a lot of time to do some research. One of the things I Googled was the Hippocratic oath. A very short summary of the Hippocratic Oath can be described as, “First, do no harm.” The oath functions as a promise made by physicians to maintain high ethical standards in their practice of medicine.

We learned so much between March of 2016 and October 2017. Most of it is too heartbreaking to share because, as they say, “you can’t make this shit up.”

But…I will share some. Tompach did not take Sydney’s vitals before her surgery. He did not monitor her properly. He ignored her lips turning blue and continued on with removing her teeth. He did not respond to the medical emergency that was happening, nor did he respond in a timely manner. He wasn’t prepared. His crash cart was expired and some of the medications were expired. He left Sydney ALONE and waited in the hallway for the paramedics to arrive. This is like a captain jumping ship before his passengers. He had equipment that he was required to use but didn’t because he claims he didn’t know how to use it. It was a machine that required a $12 piece that would alert the first sign of a patient not breathing. This could have saved Sydney’s life. I would have gladly paid for this piece of equipment. He seemed to have cut so many corners…to put more money in his pocket? Because he felt the corners he cut, he’d always gotten away with, so why change? We’ll never know the specific motives. But it was all at the expense of a life…Sydney’s life…someone he personally knew.

Our family lives our life being honest; being respectful; being the best persons we can be; living by the law of God. We’ve lived our lives treating others as we would want to be treated and that’s what we instilled in Sydney and Jack. We are by no means perfect and we sin everyday, but we know that when we sin, we don’t want continue to make the same mistakes. We change our behavior. We have many mottos in our family that we live by and that we all signed…even Sydney. One is: Ask yourself – Common Sense or Non Sense? Another is: Will it cause permanent damage? Don’t do it!

I can’t help but think of the word self-centered. Did he become so consumed with his own needs and interests before his patients? The number of children’s lives he put at stake before and after Sydney’s surgery by not doing all these things is so appalling. He played Russian Roulette with every patient he had, before and after, and Sydney took the loaded bullet. Again, this was someone we knew…someone that we trusted…someone that trusted Sydney to take care of his children. Would he have treated his children the same way? Would he have just given up on CPR and left them alone? I know Sydney never would have told his children to go play in a busy street but that’s exactly what he did.

He posted an absolute appalling picture of he and his staff doing emergency training in July of 2016 on his Facebook page, SMILING. I wonder where that training was in June of 2015…and before! I wonder where the Minnesota State Dental Board was? According to their website, “The mission of the Minnesota Board of Dentistry is to promote and protect public health and safety; and ensure that every licensed dental professional practicing in the state meets the requirements for safe, competent and ethical practice.” Was there nothing in place to check his office and every other Dental office to be sure their equipment is up to date, their medicines are up to date, their training is up to date and they have appropriately licensed staff?  Where is the ethics in all of this?

Another blow to us came in January of 2017. Tompach and his attorney were blaming us for his business closing down, that he’s had so many expenses to satisfy the (allegations) against him from the Dental Board like… emergency training. I wondered if he knew how much money it takes to bury a loved one. The last straw was when he and his attorney continued to say he was the victim in all of this. Really? He still walks around everyday, has a spouse, his children AND a job and I guess, a BMW. Our daughter will never have any of those thanks to him. He took the rest of her earthly life away from her, from us, from her brother, her family and her friends. Yes, I agree. He is a victim. But he is a victim of his own unethical behavior.

We are thankful we can put him and this lawsuit behind us and really begin to heal. It’s been hard to be silent for so long.  It feels great to be able to give Sydney a voice. She CAN Rest In Peace now. We told her we’d never give up on her and we didn’t.  Sydney’s death was clearly preventable.

John 8:32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

06Jul/17

A Message From Mom

My heart is so heavy today. We have learned that a 17 year old boy in Texas, just finished his junior year of high school, is fighting for his life. I don’t know all of the details but I do know he had his wisdom teeth surgery on Tuesday and is fighting for his life today. I will forever live those six days that Sydney was in the hospital but when I hear this kind of news, the numbness all comes back. I’m numb for what his family is going through, for what they will go through, and for this unwanted journey that they never could have anticipated or foreseen. His family and friends are praying for a miracle. We say, NEVER GIVE UP. This week has been hard enough on us but hearing that another child, another family is suffering because of this procedure, is just unfathomable. There have been strides made in the dental industry but obviously not enough and there is a lot more to be done to keep our children safe. Please pray for Austin Silva and his family.

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Happy Birthday Sydney

Dear Syd,

One year, seven months and 2 days since I held you last…but who’s counting? Me. Seven months has come and gone since I wrote you last. So much missed; your graduation, planning your graduation party, your classmates parties, summer fun with your friends, getting in trouble with your friends, fighting with your brother, birthday celebrations, family vacation, family pictures, starting college, getting to vote in your first Presidential Election, Thanksgiving, Christmas…the list goes on and on. And now, another birthday, number 19.   Continue reading

05Aug/16

Thank you!

The Sydney M. Galleger Foundation says “THANK YOU!”

 The Sydney M. Galleger Foundation and the Galleger family would like to thank the many friends, families and  local businesses for their tremendous support of our inaugural memorial golf event: 

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Hey Syd…It’s Daddy-O

Hey Syd…

Its Daddy-O, Love ya, Love ya more, you win.

Hey Syd, I have a quick question – What’s with all these boys that are showing up to the house?  Don’t get me wrong, they are all great guys, they are always welcome, but we will need to talk later.

Hey Syd – We are so very proud of you…

  • The way you carried yourself, the friends you surrounded yourself with and the way you loved little kids especially your cousins Ella, Liam and Nora
  • We are so very proud of the hard work and dedication to your school work. You got your good looks from your mom, but unfortunately got my intellect which means we have to work harder than others and you did just that.
  • We are so very proud of your athletic accomplishments, nine varsity letters– in sports your mom and I couldn’t help you with…we are so proud of you being named Captain of the Dive team for your senior year.
  • We are so very proud of the Volunteer work you did via National Charity league – you thoroughly embraced the tasks with a kindness and maturity well beyond your age
  • We are so very proud of you taking on a leadership role within NCL, leading as president of the class of 2016 with confidence and grace.
  • We are so very proud of you being an organ donor – because you thoughtfully checked a box while getting your drivers license – others are able to live on and you will live on with them.

Hey Syd – you remembered the Galleger Family Value – Never, never quit – and You never quit on anything– when things were not going your way and you were tired, you saw everything to the end.  Whether it was Sports, school work, DECCA projects, NCL events, your steadfast efforts and focus was amazing.

Hey Syd – we always were so impressed with your adventurous side.  You were willing to try anything such as learn to scuba dive, walking on to the high school diving team as a 7th grader, walking on to the Alpine Ski team as a freshman when you had not skied a lot, you campaigned to became the 2016 class President for NCL.  You pushed yourself outside your comfort zone with a confidence that we also admired.

Hey Syd – a tattoo?  Really, seriously?  Ok, I’m in, mom is still thinking about it.

Hey Syd – Baby Blue is your favorite color – we never knew.  We think everyone knows now.

Hey Syd – Jack loves you very much – and is missing you deeply.  He was with you most of last week and greeted everyone yesterday at the viewing.  I am sure you are as proud of him as we are.  Your friends have been so great to wrap their arms around him.  He plans to drive Libby in your honor, but we will see how long that will last, you know he likes sports cars more than SUV’s.

Hey Syd – remember mom and I said quit taking so many selfies – thanks for not listening.  WE love all the pictures; the poses, funny faces, capturing you and all your friends.  Your smile was always so genuine and beautiful.

Hey Syd – by the way, what’s the password on your phone?  I get it you didn’t want to take video of yourself post surgery like other have so you changed your password that Tuesday morning, but we want to get to all the pictures.

Hey Syd – you are so beautiful, both inside and out.  Kids that had meet you a few times or simply saw you around have told us how welcoming and inclusive you were.  Always so approachable and nice.  You were looked up to by many and you did it without an ego – it was just the way you are.  You gave to so many people your time, love, attention – your unselfish giving is a reason why so many people have come to our support.

Hey Syd – where is your Butter Milk Pancake recipe?  We need to get Jen and Emily up to speed so I can have my pancakes.

Hey Syd – You have made a lasting impression so many people in such a short period of time, is simply amazing – we knew you were special, we are proud to now know, everyone else in the community and abroad thinks so too.

Hey Syd – Love ya, Love more – you win.

06Jun/16

#BeMoreSyd

If you lived ten times, you still would not find a better all-around person than Sydney Michele Galleger.  Her passion; her treatment of others;  the way she approached the totality of life – and – the way she conquered every single task of life – (big or small) – Sydney will remain in a class all by herself.  However, true to form, Syd would say: “Hey, I’d really love some company.”  Simply stated, that’s the reason for this foundation/website and is also the fuel behind all that will done in her honor.  We simply will not, ever, ever let go of our love for Sydney!

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01Jun/16

A Moment with Mom

Dear Syd,

One year ago today you posted your last Instagram picture ever. Never could we imagine that your last picture would be of clouds opening up to the heavens and how symbolic it became. It continues to amaze me how many people visit your cloud picture and post beautiful comments to you. Thank you all for putting some gladness in my heart (Psalm 4:7).

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