I heart Micah

24 03 2010

What do you do when you find our your child has something wrong with his heart?

In January, we took Micah to a walk-in clinic with another cold and ear infection. The on-call doctor mentioned that Micah had a heart murmur, but thought it was probably nothing.

Two months later, at Micah’s three year old check-up, his pediatrician spent more time listening to his heart. Normally this part of an exam is quick, but Dr. Sarah was slow and kept asking everyone in the room to be quiet. She then told me she wanted Micah to see a cardiologist at Children’s Hospital. She said that most likely we would go and the doctor would say everything was fine.

But somehow I knew there was more to the story.

Micah was born at 35 weeks, just about one month premature. He weighed 5 pounds 8 ounces, breathed and breastfed well by the end of his first day, and spent less than a week in the NICU. But over the last three years, Micah has grown slowly. He gets sick often and when he catches a cold, he gets much sicker than his big brother. He is calm and he tires easily.

Maybe he does have something wrong with his heart?

When I was pregnant with Micah’s younger brother, Zephaniah, I had dozens of ultrasounds with the high-risk obtetricians. At every ultrasound, the technicians would look for Zephan’s ductus arteriosis. The ductus arteriosus allows the blood pumped by a fetus’ heart to bypass the developing baby’s fluid filled lungs. In most babies, the ductus arteriosus closes shortly after birth. When I was pregnant with Zephan, I was taking medication that could potentially close his ductus while I was still pregnant, which would stress his lungs and heart. So week after week we watched and prayed, hoping that Zephan’s ductus arteriosus would stay open.

Fast forward nearly two years and we’re sitting in the Cardiology Clinic at Children’s Hospital. The kind, experienced doctor spends a few minutes listening to three-year old Micah’s heart. He thinks Micah has two murmurs.

Over the last week, as we waited to see the cardiologist, I have climbed into Micah’s bed when he was sleeping to listen to his heart. Instead of a rythmic lub-lub, Micah’s heart has lubs and gallops and whooshes.

One murmur is normal, just the sound of blood moving through the heart of a young child. The second murmur is the sound of a patent ductus ateriosus. The PDA allows some of the oxygenated blood from the left side of Micah’s heart to flow back to the lungs by flowing from the aorta to the pulmonary artery. Micah’s PDA appears to be small and it seems to have had a limited impact on his health.

Thanks to incredible medical technology, the cardiologists are able to close the PDA without actual heart surgery. The cardiologist will insert a small plastic catheter into a vein in Micah’s leg and follow it to his heart where they will place a small device closing ductus arteriosus. The procedure is relatively simple and on the other side of surgery, Micah should be completely normal.

Even though rationally I understand all of this – that everything is going to be okay – it is hard to discover there is something wrong  with your child’s heart.

I’m sitting here, drinking a beer, probably letting dinner burn on the stove while my older boys play outside and the baby finishes off his second bag of veggie booty. Am I a little numb? I think maybe I should be feeling more than I do, but with everything going on with our children right now, I don’t know that I can stop and let myself dwell.

Heart condition, failure to thrive, developmental delay, hearing loss.

Today we also had an appointment with Zephan’s early intervention therapists. Although Zephan has always been small, we have become more concerned about his growth over the last four months has he has not really gained weight since his first birthday. Over the last month we’ve done testing at Children’s Hospital to look for possible causes of Zephan’s failure to thrive. So far, we do not have any answers and we’re doing everything we can to help him grow. Today at his assesment, we learned he may also have a partial or temporary hearing loss as a result of repeated ear infections. We will have his hearing tested soon. We also talked with the therapists about what we already know, that Zephan is nowhere near walking even though he is 16 months old.

So tonight we ate dinner. We will rest. And we will wake up tomorrow and clean the house and visit friends. Life will keep moving. I am thankful for my boys tonight as the sleep in their beds.

For more information about PDA, click here.




2 responses

24 03 2010

sara let’s talk tomorrow if possible. want to talk about all of that. and i am relieved about there being an answer, a hopeful procedure. what a gift that we live in the day we do. truly. we love your kids.

24 03 2010
Amy Huey

Sara – Got the CBS email and headed to your blog for the full story. You have a lot on your plate, A LOT. Praying for your boys and the multiple layers of appointments/stresses you are going through. See you in April at group.


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