Patrick Burrito

Sometimes Patrick’s love for his blanket combined with his love for perpetual motion results in a Patrick Burrito…

Note the heart monitor sticker peaking out of his onesie. Yeah, there was supposed to be a sensor thingy attached to that sticker, but those often came unattached for some reason. I’m sure that you can’t imagine what the reason was.

The cardiologists had Patrick on an Ambulatory Cardiac Telemetry (ACT) Monitor for 21 days so that they could make sure that his heart rhythmn is healthy now that the amiodarone has cleared out of his system. You can see the sensor battery pack by his leg below:

We were pretty sure that things went well since the only time the monitor buzzed at us was when either a) Patrick had pulled off, rubbed off, or otherwise removed one of the sensors, or b) the sensor battery was nearly dead. Yay for no “events”.

Today we saw Beth Rumack at the new Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) clinic {St. Joseph’s and PCH merged, so the pediatric clinics moved to the children’s hospital}. The new facilities seemed nice and very colorful–but it sounds like we won’t need to spend much time there anyway. Patrick’s echo looked good. His right atrium is still enlarged, but it hasn’t gotten enlarger. His tricuspid valve is still leaky, but it always will be. If things continue this way, Patrick may not even need another heart catheter until young adulthood. We will keep seeing a cardiologist once every 4-5 months for now, but only 2-3 times a year will be SO nice. We are pleased with how well our little P is doing and very glad that he had the surgery when he did.

Stats:

Weight: 8.8 kg (19 lbs 6oz) – 30th percentile

Height: 2.5 feet – 50th percentile

Head Size: 90th percentile!!!

And that’s why they call him Mega Head (or at least Aunt Aubrey does).

We are told that his proportions will start to even out eventually–the Glenn procedure is still playing a large part in the crazy growth curve his head size is on. Credit for that is also due to his genetic inheritance (Patrick says, “thank you, daddy!”)

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Adios Amiodarone

Patrick had an appointment with Beth at the heart center today. Gary was the unlucky one who was tasked with weighing, measuring, monitoring, and echo-ing a squirmy, opinionated 7-month-old. Gary was great. Patrick was…difficult. But they were able to get enough information to tell us that Patrick is doing well. Things look the same as last time–the tricuspid valve is pretty leaky but that’s why they did the Glenn procedure. As long as the right side of his heart holds up under the pressure from the regurgitated blood, there may not be a need for more surgery in his future. This is sort of uncharted territory so we’ll have to see how it goes, but the cardiologists seem pleased with how he is doing.

In fact, he has graduated from his amiodarone–a once daily med he has been on since he was born. Amiodarone prevents the SVT (super-high heart rate) episodes that Patrick had a couple of times as a newborn while still in the PCTICU. At this point, P has outgrown the dose he’s been on and since they have been planning to take him off of the drug anyway, it is better to do it now rather than up the dose. It will take awhile to clear from his system, so in a month or so we will start a 21-day ACT monitor again (he had one for the first couple of months last Fall). I’m not that excited for the monitor, but it will be so nice to have the peace of mind knowing that the doctors (and us parents) will be alerted if his heart does something funky. AND we are happy to have him off of one more drug. Now all he will be taking is aspirin once a day for the rest of his life (to avoid any blood clots in his heart–particularly the troublesome right side).

Patrick doesn’t need to go back to the clinic until after we’re done with the ACT monitor–so not for two months! After that we may only need to take him every 4-6 months. How rad is that?

We should be hearing from someone regarding physical therapy–Patrick  is lagging a little on some of his physical development. His sternum is wired together, and you can feel the bumps under his scar. As you can imagine, this makes tummy time a bit uncomfortable. Also, because the Glenn procedure re-routed the blood from his upper-body, a natural bi-product is that his head has gotten bigger (in relation to the growth of the rest of his body). With his head so heavy, he hasn’t quite gotten sturdy in the sitting position. He’s a strong kid, though, and he’ll catch up. He just wants to skip sitting and crawling and go to walking–if he had his way we’d have him standing, jumping, or walking (assisted) ALL the time.

These photos are from his last regular pediatrician appointment–he’s getting caught up on the immunizations we had to postpone during the pre and post-surgery time period. (Tia, Patrick’s nanny, was nice enough to come with me to the appointment. Six needles…three in each leg! He was a trooper, though.)

Six Months + Cardiac Follow-Up

A week ago our baby boy crossed over to the second half of his first year. What the?!
Here he is in all his 6-month glory:

And a couple of days later…

Also, we had an appointment at the heart center this morning. Patrick is doing well and no longer has any restrictions. Just regular baby precautions. Now we need to help him catch up on his tummy-time and sitting skills. In a couple of months he may get to quite his daily meds. And stay tuned because we get to start solid foods this week!

Our Heart Boys

Patrick had a follow-up appointment at the heart center this morning and they were pleased with how well he is doing post-op. He has gained weight (tipping the scales at 15 lbs 1 ounce) and his “zipper” is healing nicely. Patrick’s head was in the 40th percentile before surgery and despite the amount of blood that backs up in a baby’s head after the Glenn procedure, he is still only up to the 50th percentile for head size. That means he only has “Glenn head” minimally.

Patrick’s cousin, Jeremiah,  is settled at Primary Children’s Medical Center. His lungs are stronger than they had initially thought and they have been talking about ECMO (a machine that will put oxygen in his blood) and surgery today. From what I have heard, they have had some ups and downs, but Jeremiah continues to fight and to surpass expectations. Thanks everyone for your prayers for him. Be strong baby J, we love you!

Postponed

We were nervous about Patrick having surgery with the congestion and cough he has had this week, but his lungs have been clear so on Tuesday they cleared him for surgery. This morning, however, once the anesthesiologist checked him out and discussed it with the surgeon, Dr. Nigro, they recommended that we postpone. We want it to be as safe as possible, so it makes sense to wait until his cold clears up. Coughing and increased pressure on the lungs are definitely not what we want for Patrick while he recovers from having his pulmonary artery (which takes blood to the lungs) messed with, among other things.

We have an appointment to meet with Beth on Tuesday, the 11th and we’ll go from there to reschedule. It’s a bit of a roller coaster but this will be best for Patrick. It has been awesome to have such an outpouring of support–thanks everyone!

Here are some photos from Braden’s ipod–taken in ped’s pre-op and the O.R. waiting area this morning.

It’s a Date

We met with Patrick’s cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Nigro, and Beth on Friday to discuss surgery. We were relieved to find out that Patrick’s surgery is not an emergency and can wait until after the holidays. Patrick is scheduled for a tricuspid valve repair and possible Glenn on January 6th, 2011.

The valve repair requires open-heart surgery. Once they look at and work on the tricuspid valve they will decide if Patrick also needs the Glenn Procedure to take some pressure off of the right side of his heart. The Glenn would connect the superior vena cava (the vessel that brings blood from the upper body to the heart) directly to the pulmonary artery (which normally takes oxygen-poor blood from the heart to the lungs), skipping the right side of the heart entirely.

Once Patrick has gone under anesthesia, he will get a breathing tube and an echo tube. They will make an incision in his chest and open the bone.

He will be on a heart-lung machine–his heart will be asleep while they assess and repair the valve as well as possible. Then they will decide if we need the Glenn. They will wake up Patrick’s heart and, if the Glenn is needed, they will do that procedure. They will also patch up the ASD (hole between the right and left atriums), although they may leave a little bit of a hole to relieve pressure.

Patrick will be in the PCTICU for 7-10 days. Recovery is straight-forward after he leaves the hospital. They expect him to rebound quickly. Risks are minimal–Dr. Nigro estimated a risk factor of 1-2% for major complications. Patrick will need a blood transfusion, so Braden and I had bloodwork done to see if we are a match to donate. He’ll need 3 units of FFP & platelets. We are waiting for the hospital to contact us with the results of our bloodwork, and to let us know what Patrick’s blood type is.

We feel very blessed to not be spending the holidays at the hospital. AND we were given clearance to drive to Southern California for Christmas! We are looking forward to taking our mind off things for a bit as we vacation both in California and then with my side of the family who are visiting Arizona after Christmas. Patrick has many aunts, uncles, cousins and a grandpa to meet!

Leaky

I’ve never seen Patrick SO happy to be back home, but after all of his tests at the Heart Center yesterday afternoon Patrick looked like he could’ve kissed the living room floor upon returning to familiar surroundings. One of his favorite things to watch is the ceiling fan, and he was full of smiles for Mr. Fan. Next he was thrilled to sit in his swing again, and he sat and talked to the little lambs on the swing mobile and smiled at his own reflection in the mirror above the swing. He sure seems to like the handsome dude that looks back at him!

Although he was pretty unhappy about being held down for a chest x-ray, echo, and EKG–not to mention having blood drawn from his little arm–for the most part Patrick was smiley and friendly to the doctors and nurses. Even while the cardiologists were giving us some serious news, Patrick grinned and grinned at Doctor Rhee. Braden and I were not quite so cheerful about the doctors’ report that Patrick’s valve has gotten very, very leaky. Right now the x-ray shows that his heart has not become much more enlarged, but the echo showed that his tricuspid valve is allowing much more blood to leak back into the atrium. His heart is working SUPER hard, and it is only a matter of time before his atrium becomes so enlarged that his heart fails.

Fortunately, Patrick has been eating well and gaining weight, because it looks like the doctors will need to intervene earlier than we had planned. The bloodwork they ordered will tell us how far into heart failure he is, and in the next couple of weeks they will probably do a heart catheter to get a better look at his valve. On Tuesdays the doctors all meet to discuss certain cases and Patrick is on the docket for next Tuesday. Hopefully they’ll have a plan for us after that. Beth indicated that once they decide that he needs surgery, it will probably be about a month before the procedure happens.

For now we are watching for signs of heart failure like vomiting, appetite issues, or labored breathing. Our travel plans are on hold and we are to continue our germaphobic precautions. Airplane rides are definitely out of the question, and even road tripping may be kiboshed so that we stay close to Patrick’s medical team.

Ten Pounder

Patrick saw his cardiologist, Beth Rumack, last Thursday for a routine checkup. He weighed in at about 10 pounds!

Left: 10 Days Old, Right: 6½ Weeks Old

He has been growing steadily and according to the chest x-ray and echo done on Sept. 30th, his heart has not really become any more enlarged than it was at discharge. Also, the tests showed that his ASD (a hole between the right and left sides of his heart) has actually closed up a bit on it’s own. This might mean that the ASD could be repaired via a heart catheter rather than open heart surgery–which I think could buy us more time before the tricuspid valve repair is necessary.

Patrick had occasionally been trying to sleep longer between nighttime snacks, and Beth told us that we could start letting him do so. She told us that as long as he is getting about 20 ounces of breastmilk per day then he should be fine sleeping through the night. At the time Patrick was only eating about 15-16 ounces a day, but once I started letting him go longer between feeds at night, he really picked up his game. Over the last few days, he increased his intake from about 18 ounces to 24 ounces. So far he has still been waking up once or twice during the night to eat (most consistently at 1 or 2 am), but even that has been so nice for me (he was eating every three hours before). Yay for more sleep! I went from a total of 4-5 hours to a total of  nearly 6-7 hours of sleep each night. Amazing.

Patrick literally changes every day. He is developing so quickly, and we are having a ton of fun with him. He has become a lot more smiley and talkative with his little Patrick sounds.

At 7½ weeks old, Patrick likes to:

  • Keep his legs and arms in constant motion (often in his sleep as well)
  • Kick with his right leg more than his left
  • Have his hands balled up in fists still (although we are starting to see him keep them open occasionally)
  • Grip things in his fist (i.e. our fingers, toys, hair–unluckily for Braden’s chest hair, etc.)
  • Pee in the bathtub
  • Poop on Daddy
  • Hang out on the changing table. He has come to appreciate diaper changes more (he HATED them as a newborn) and he really likes to look around at his toys and monsters that hang by the changing pad. Some of our best conversations take place there–he likes to be sung to, talked to, and to learn new tricks while he’s laying there.
  • Hold his head up. Patrick has the head control of a 3 or 4 month-old (as per his pediatrician).
  • Put a halt to ALL other activities in order to concentrate on going #2.
  • Hold Daddy’s thumb while being bottle-fed
  • Look at himself in his crib mirror and the mirror above his swing
  • Sit in his swing, whether it is moving or not. And he loves to sleep there.
  • Watch the lights on his activity play-mat
  • Follow toys with his eyes when we move them back and forth in front of his face
  • Fight sleep with all of his might
  • Ride in his baby bjorn carrier
  • Take his heart medicine–seriously, he thinks it is super tasty and he’s sad when his daily dose is gone
  • Video chat with his grandparents
  • Sleep on Dad…

Second Opinion

It’s easy to forget that something as serious as a heart defect can be pretty subjective. Especially when observation of the problem can only be done via ultrasound. But depending on their experiences and what they see, the experts seem to come away with different assessments and expectations. Happily the surgeon, Dr. Nigro, and Beth, our fantastic Cardiac Nurse Practitioner, immediately told us this morning that they are pleased with where Pedro is at.

Even before saying hello almost, they reassured us that Pedro’s heart has only increased in size by about 10% over the last few months that they’ve been watching. While it is definitely enlarged, they estimate that it is only taking up about 52% of his chest cavity, which means his lungs have not been inhibited in their development. They anticipate that he won’t have the major breathing problems that some heart babies do at birth. AND they don’t think he will need surgery immediately. Their preference, in any case, will be to try everything else first to stabilize Pedro at birth and let him grow a little older before surgery.  Even if he is struggling, hopefully he can “eek by” until he is bigger and stronger. (Yes, the surgeon said “eek”).

In any event, we have a better idea of what to expect. Delivery should be normal, with a little extra monitoring, and just like other babies Pedro will be cleaned up and checked right there in the labor & delivery room (under a warmer). Then they’ll bundle him up for us to hold him! If he is doing okay, we should get a little bit of time with him before Braden goes with him to the NICU (which is on the same floor as L&D). He will be in the regular NICU for about 24 hours or so and then he’ll be transferred to the PCICU (Pediatric Cardiothoracic ICU). He’ll be in the PCICU about a week or week and a half. IF he does end up needing surgery right away it will be within the first week. In that case he’ll be in the PCICU for a few more weeks than he would otherwise.

All Roads Lead to Nigro

Yesterday I had a consultation with Dr. Jedeikin from the Arizona Pediatric Cardiology group (affiliated with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital) for a second opinion/option kind of thing. We were tempted to cancel the appointment because we feel so good about the St. Joe’s group, but we decided that we should see what Dr. Jedeikin  had to say. You know, due diligence and everything.

Dr. Jedeikin seems really great. (And I’m not just saying that because I like his South African accent…) He is very, very passionate about hearts and cardiology. He did a fetal echo and went over Ebstein’s Anomaly with me again. I always learn new things about the heart, and I came away in awe of all of the many facets of a human heart–how do all of those parts work perfectly in most people?!

Dr. Jedeikin’s assessment and approach to Pedro’s case is pretty much the same as those we’ve heard from the other doctors involved. He hopes that immediate surgery will not be necessary, and has pretty much the same plan for monitoring our little guy’s heart–both pre and post delivery. He had good things to say about the Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH), but apparently he could work with us even if we choose St. Joe’s for delivery. He encouraged me to deliver at St. Joe’s since that is where my new OB delivers (rather than switch OB’s again in order to deliver at the hospital near PCH). From this I concluded that both hospitals are a good choice, and we just need to pick the one that we feel most comfortable with. They both have Level 3 NICU’s.

Probably the most interesting/encouraging part of this consultation was that Dr. Jedeikin would involve Dr. Nigro for the surgery aspect. Dr. Nigro seems to be the go-to guy for surgery in these cases, regardless of which hospital we go to.

So, since:

  1. the hospitals are comparable
  2. we get Dr. Nigro either way
  3. the Pediatric Cardiologists are excellent either way

…we are free to choose the hospital and Pediatric Cardiologist(s)  that we feel the best about. We still appreciate that at St. Joe’s I would deliver and recover at the same hospital where Pedro would be in the NICU. We also feel like the program with the St. Joe’s cardiology group is a better fit for us–much more supportive and user-friendly. Also, once you meet Beth, the nurse practitioner, it’s a no-brainer. She is off-the-hook amazing.

Although it did not change our mind, I’m really glad I went to see Dr. Jedeikin. Now we can feel even more confident about our decisions, and I appreciated learning more about Pedro’s heart. Here are a few things I now understand after meeting with him:

  • The tricuspid valve is made up of three leaflets, one of them is the ‘Septal leaflet.’ Pedro’s septal leaflet is dysplastic–which means it is gnarly, thickened and crumply. The other two leaflets are doing all of the work to open and close the valve as best they can–which is why one of the leaflets is longer and floppier, it’s trying to cover the Septal leaflet’s territory too.
  • Dr. Jedeikin did not think that Pedro’s Septal Leaflet would be fixable because it is so dysplastic.
  • If surgery does become necessary, it is possible that they would move the leaflets closer together so that the functional leaflets can adequately close the valve with each heartbeat.
  • He didn’t go into all of the details, but if it becomes necessary to surgically re-route Pedro’s heart so that it operates with a single ventricle scenario (not preferable), there are a few different procedures:

Blalock-Tuassig Shunt

Starnes Procedure

Glenn Procedure

Fontan Procedure

{Pedro could need all, none, or some combination of the procedures. We have heard a little about these procedures before, but had not learned all of the names yet. I’ll activate hyperlinks if I find good descriptions for them.}

Oh and, Pedro’s new trick of the day was rolling. The sonnographer laughed with me this time when Pedro would roll away while they were trying to record his heart. Then he would roll back and punch the ultrasound wand. He definitely has a little personality already ♥