Thursday, May 17, 2012

A second opinion, and life goes on

It is hard to believe it has been just a month since we discovered my boy has two heart defects that will require surgery to repair. Life continues to fly by with science fair projects, end-of-year school performances and wrap-up of our spring sports schedule. Sometimes, I can even forget we have this major event staring us in the face!

Not so, last Monday. My boy and I met with a cardiologist for a second opinion and a repeat echocardiogram. Not surprisingly, the second opinion was the same as the first. Yes, there are two large defects that need to be repaired to prevent further compromise of my son’s heart function. Knowing that I’m a nurse practitioner, this cardiologist even took the time to do the echo himself, walking me through the pictures and showing me the defects and altered blood flow. He also included me in the assessment, putting my hand on my boy’s chest so I could feel the force of his heart beating against his ribs, not a typical assessment finding!

We talked about how healthy my son seems, and the doctor explained that because my boy is always working at an increased effort, he has less reserve. Light bulb moment! That explains why he struggles more than I would expect to peddle up a mountain on his mountain bike and why I’ve twice had to carry him the last 100 yards up Mt. Evans, a 14,000-foot mountain you can drive up most of the way. I would frequently get frustrated with him during these times. Often, the biking was at his request, and then he “refused” to keep up, often throwing a fit when the rest of us peddled on ahead. Pile on the “mommy guilt!”

Although I really appreciated the second physician’s time and patience with us, I will stick with the original doctor’s office. It is more convenient and is associated with one of the best children’s hospitals in the country. So, surgery is scheduled for the third week of June with the chief of the cardiothoracic department. He comes highly recommended and he has an NP as his assistant. (He can’t be all bad!)

Years ago, I worked in an adult ICU doing open-heart recovery and was the lead on the balloon-pump program. The up side is, I am prepared for the surgery, knowing what to expect. The down side is, I keep remembering all the complications, all the times people returned to the unit still “open,” the times I rushed to the OR with the balloon pump praying for a miracle, the times I sat with families after passing along the news that “things are not going well.” I keep holding to the truth that my boy is healthy and strong, and that this is corrective and planned surgery—not an emergent response to an ailing heart with blocked blood flow.

In the meantime, life goes on with Cub Scouts and camping trips that were planned prior to surgery, together with baseball practice and building of bike ramps, using construction debris scavenged from around our cul-de-sac—typical, active boy fun.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.


  1. Thanks for the update - please keep us posted and we will keep your whole family in our prayers.

  2. So sad to read this; you have our prayers, too. Darrick & Muna Lee

  3. So sad to read this ... Our prayers are with you. Stay strong.