Saturday, February 16, 2008

El corazon

I think the God of Your Choice is big into tests. And it's your job to do your best to pass said tests. Here's a catch-up on the current test I'm taking:

Yesterday, we took Oliver in to have a diaper rash looked at (I thought it was a little bit of a yeast infection, it was, ointment given) so while we were there I asked to get the confirmation that all went well with his echocardiogram that was done on October 17th (at his one-year check-up, his doctor heard a heart murmur that had been unheard of since birth). I thought it was going to be like the CAT scan he had where "no news is good news," well, it turns out, "no news is O's pediatrician isn't really on the ball." Turns out, the "ECHO noted elevated velocities in the arch and aortic narrowing suggestive of coarctation." We turn to webmd for understanding:

Coarctation of the aorta is a common heart defect present at birth. With this defect, a portion of the large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body (aorta) is abnormally narrowed or pinched. Coarctation of the aorta reduces blood flow to the body, requiring the heart to pump harder to meet the body's demands, which over time can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, or other complications.

The most obvious symptoms of coarctation of the aorta are signs of heart failure-such as difficulty breathing, poor weight gain, sweating, and being sleepy and fussy most of the time-and decreased pulses in the legs. This condition is usually detected in newborns during normal blood pressure checks and by listening to the heart. Further tests, such as echocardiography, may be done to confirm the diagnosis.

Coarctation of the aorta requires surgery. If the condition is not repaired, a person with coarctation of the aorta may not live past the age of 40 or 50.

And here's more.

We now have an appointment tomorrow at Yale Pediatric Med Ctr to meet with a doctor who will probably do another echo and if need be, he can do some sort of procedure where they blow up the aorta to check it out further. The wonderful, wonderful nurse knew exactly how to talk to me when I said, "What does this procedure entail or do I want to know just yet?" She responded, "You probably don't want to know just yet but it's better than surgery." And she stressed that surgery isn't always the only option and the fact that he's growing like crazy is a really good sign that this all could be relatively minor.

So we have an appointment tomorrow at 2:45. I'll let you know more when I do.

After an EKG, several blood pressure tests, and another echocardiogram (all of which O did splendidly except for the EKG because the woman wasn't all that pleasant),the doctor does not feel that it is a coarctation. He is a little concerned that the aorta may have a bit of a twist to it which could cause problems as he grows or could fix itself. Either way, he wants to repeat the process in 3 months and keep an eye on it somewhat regularly - fine by us!

Thanks so much for keeping us in your thoughts and thanks again for just being there (I'm here for you, you know that, right?),

Kay, Tommy, and the rockin' Oliver ("He's bigger than my 4 year old!" the doctor was quoted as saying. And after we talked about how much he's sleeping and confirmed it's because he's growing and not heart-related, he asked, "Wanna trade?")

2/14/07 – a day of hearts
We are off to Yale tomorrow for Oliver's follow-up heart testing. I'm not too worried about it and still remain oh-so thankful that The Big Dogs are keeping an eye on everything...but just in case, please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. If you need something to focus on, here he is in all his Valentine's glory.

2/15/07 (the day after Valentine’s Day – heart, heart, heart)
We had another round of heart testing today which included another echocardiogram and EKG. What I thought was going to be a, "Okay, come back again in 6 months to so we can keep monitoring him" sadly was not. As of right now, it looks like Oliver's heart issue may be a coarctation after all (see below). The next step is to get an MRI to get a better look at what his heart is doing then there are two options for treatment. The first is the heart catheterization and the second is surgery (both mentioned in the link below). There are definitely pros and cons in both (the former would probably need another session in a couple of years and a stint years after that, the latter is heart surgery but would probably not need followups) and right now, our doctor, who is a specialist in the former feels surgery may be the better option judging by how much of the aorta/ventricle is involved.

Either way, Oliver's age is PERFECT for either decision. His insane but proportional growth (he is now 36 1/2" long and 35 pounds) is a good sign of good health. And our doctor and his colleague are pediatric cardiologist specialists at Yale.

So they will call me early next week to schedule the MRI which are usually done on Thursdays for pediatrics. Our doctor will meet with his colleague to get his take on things and we will talk in the middle of the week to discuss the MRI and the next steps.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers and I will do my best to keep you updated.

Oliver is in great spirits (he HATED the EKG but forgave the woman soon enough). Tommy and I are hanging in there. I had a margarita at dinner and it was delicious. Tommy is up to something for tomorrow for my Valentine's Day present (the hints are: "no opened-toed shoes, wear something I wouldn't mind getting dirty, no jewelry, and we'll be gone for two hours counting the commute") so that's a nice distraction. And we both know that it'll all work out and this too shall pass - it's just getting to "it" and the "pass" that's the tricky part.

Correction: I kept saying MRI when really it's probably going to be an MRA.

Today was Tommy's Valentine surprise for me (not sure if that's what you had confused with "today") - he took me to the penguin contact program at the Mystic Aquarium - I got to pet a penguin and listen to her heartbeat (seriously, enough about hearts!). It was so cool!!!!!! And we got there early so we were able to look around the aquarium - there's currently a bat exhibit there and it's designed really well so you can see them really closely - I love me some cute little bats.

It was a really nice distraction...though I did get a teensy bit choked up when I first thought of the heartbeat coincidence....but no one saw. Then later I was at the commissary and that damn Dido song (Resting Here with Me) came on and it was all I could do to not break down in front of all the payday shoppers (seriously, you NEED two carts?). That song killed me when Tommy was out to sea and the sob saga continues.

I now hate not being around Oliver. He's at such a precious age right now. Really trying to walk on his own but can't let go of the one finger of mine or Tommy's. His little Frankenstein walk is just priceless.

I’m just saying, if anything bad ever happened, you can find me tagging Great White sharks for science while wearing a chum necklace.

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