No Place Like Home

Patrick was finally discharged last Wednesday, Feb 2nd. Happy Groundhog’s Day to us!

On a side note, Patrick’s Aunt Aubrey also came home from Brazil that day–she had been serving as a missionary for over a year and a half. A good day all around.

Here he is with Dr. Lane, one of the Pediatric Intensivists, and Dr. Nigro, Patrick’s heart surgeon:

Ready to roll out:

Patrick rebounded really quickly with the feeding tube (NG tube) in the hospital–we were able to keep his belly full. Unfortunately, it was a bit TOO full most of the time and he had a lot of trouble keeping the food down. I don’t think he like the Portagen any better in reverse…

I had to put the tube in to prove that we could handle it at home in order to get discharged. Here I am using my lovely plastic stethoscope to make sure the tube is in the right place. If I could hear air “popping” into his stomach when I pushed it through the tube then we were good to go.

We were pretty excited when one of the Nurse Practitioners suggested that we try Enfaport, another non-fat formula. It is new or not-as-common or something like that. Patrick likes it much better and although he came home with a feeding tube–it came out the next day and we have not needed to put it back in. He is eating on his own, and getting closer and closer to the amount of formula they would like him to have each day (about 25-28 ounces).

We are also allowed to give him breastmilk now as long as we remove all of the fat. We thought Patrick would be delighted to have breastmilk again–but he didn’t really react much. Maybe it isn’t as delish without the fat? I can’t blame him. At any rate, he likes the Enfaport just fine so we are sticking with that to play it safe. After this month his lymphatic system should be well enough to go back to our regularly scheduled feeding program of the fatty-fat milk.

Patrick is thriving at home and we are so grateful for all of the prayers and support that got him (and us) through this adventure. I can’t even tell you how nice it was to have people feed us, visit us, write/comment, and I am still amazed by Patrick’s fantastic grandmas who helped care for him in the hospital. Thanks to them I was able to spend some nights at home in my own bed, leaving Patrick in good hands. He is one loved little dude!

Patrick’s bedtime schedule is still a little out of whack from the hospital, but that is a small price to pay for his heart to be working so much better ♥.

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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!

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 ♥