Of Cones and Toes

Patrick enjoyed a routine visit to the Cardiologist this afternoon {“enjoyed” may not be the right word…but he was fairly brave and tried to curb his indignation, tears, and requests to “go back to the gold car.”}

P’s troublesome ticker looks pretty much the same as it did in July. While there is no imminent danger, we will need to do something {in coming years} to reduce the amount of blood that regurgitates into the atrium–enlarging the right side of his heart. Dr Rhee feels that a surgical procedure called a cone repair will do the trick. The idea is to move the three leaflets of the tricuspid valve up where they should be and reshape them into a cone.

Before doing a cone repair, the surgeon(s) will probably want Patrick to get older/bigger. In the meantime, they will call us in soon to do a study on his heart to see if he still has electrical pathways in his heart that could cause SVT (rapid heart rhythms). If SVT is still a potential problem, then they’ll do a low-risk catheter ablation to get rid of the SVT pathways. Both the study and the cath procedure would just be overnight procedures (so that they can monitor him after he’s been under anesthesia).

In other news, we are loving our new house (will share photos in the near future) and getting excited to meet the soon-to-be fourth member of our family. My due date is May 1 and so far the baby is healthy and whole. We had a fetal echo done in January to take a close look at his heart–it looked totally normal. The only item of not was that Patrick’s baby brother has 12 toes! The better to kick me  with, of course…

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Steady as He Grows

Patrick had a cardiology check-up yesterday and Dr. Rhee said that while his heart is still enlarged, it has not become any worse. If his heart stays as it is, he may not require any future open-heart interventions!

It is likely that P will need a couple of less-invasive procedures in the cath lab (one to test the electrical pathways again and make sure he’s not in danger of an arrhythmia, and one to further close his ASD). But we can handle quick over-nighters at the hospital for these types of procedures. We’re so grateful things are holding steady!

I would upload a photo of P wearing nothing but a diaper, hospital anklet, and sandals in the exam room (playing with cars of course). But I don’t have my phone  (which contains the photos)with me, so instead here’s one that Braden took on Monday (also with cars). You’ll just have to imagine that you can see his pot-belly and chicken legs ♥

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!

Jeremiah

My nephew, Jeremiah, was born this morning and is in the NICU. He is a heart baby too, he has transposition of the great arteries (TGA) and a ventricular septal defect (VSD). To further complicate things, he has a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).

He was only expected to live two hours at best but surpassed the two-hour mark hours ago. We are praying for a miracle.

Jeremiah’s mom, Heidi, is recovering, but to read more information on his diagnosis pre-birth you can visit Heidi’s blog: Gibbering Madness.

My mom sent this update earlier this afternoon:

Hi All,

I just got back from University Hospital. Bryce got to Utah yesterday around 4 p.m., and by 8 p.m. Heidi was in labor. They went to the hospital around 3 a.m., and Jeremiah was born at 4:20 a.m. by C-section. He weighs 7 lb 1 oz and has quite a bit of shimmery light brown hair—that looks curly.

He is in the NICU and has already lived four times longer than they had been told to anticipate. The doctors there are so good at communicating with Bryce. They have spent most of this time trying to get the carbon dioxide out of Jeremiah. It can be as huge of a problem as too little oxygen can. His carbon dioxide numbers have been going down all morning—which is what they’ve been hoping would happen. At one point they were going to use a surfactant to try to get his lungs to “unstickify” and open up more, but when we left, they had decided not to do the surfactant.  They didn’t want to run the risk of making a hole in his lung with too much pressure if they didn’t have to do it.  They have two pulse ox machines going on Jeremiah that report his oxygenation both at the feet and at the top of his body. He is generally around 70% which is good considering his heart has the pulmony artery and the aorta connected opposite of where they should be. He has a large hole between left and right—which is usually problematic. In Jeremiah’s case, it is helping his blood to mix and making it possible for a little more oxygenated blood to get pumped out.  They have Jeremiah being cooled to help prevent brain damage—and maybe other reasons, too. His intubation took 10 minutes, so there is a possibility of brain damage. The doctors said he responded very quickly once they got the tubes in, and they thought with the cooling, his brain might be OK.

I know I was introduced to lots of doctors in the NICU, but I remember no names or titles. Bigwig doc from Primary Children’s was there observing Jeremiah. He was working with Jeremiah’s two in-the-room doctors. They would explain every move to Bryce—who didn’t leave unless they asked him to (during shift change and reports). Bigwig doc was going to call bigwig heart surgeon to discuss the possibility of doing heart surgery today and getting Jeremiah onto ECMO after the surgery. That was never offered as a remote possibility prior to today, so even that possibility is nice to cling to. He still might not make it, but there is that remote chance.  Oh, and by the way, his feet are just fine—not clubbed as they had been told they were. Miracles do happen.

Greg took a couple of pics on his new cell phone while we were at the hospital. I will get Danica to email them to me and I’ll include them here.

Heidi’s Mom has been in California helping with another grandbaby that was born. She hopped onto an earlier flight and should be back in town by 1:30 this afternoon.

As we were leaving the hospital around 11 a.m., Heidi was begging to get up and go see her baby. They had taken her there once in her hospital bed on the way to her room. Her feeling has now returned to her feet, and she thought they might let her go spent 5 minutes or so in NICU. I hope they did.

Heidi and Bryce are both exhausted, so texting or email would probably be the kindest way to communicate with them.  Heidi is in room 2305 at University Hospital. I would guess she’ll be there for 3-5 days, so that lets me know that I’m going to be running back and forth with Isaiah whenever possible.

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for our family!

Love,

Colleen

Chylothorax

Yesterday after Patrick had been drinking breastmilk again his chest tube started to drain white/milky. The nurse explained that this might be a sign of chylothorax (‘chyle’ just means ‘fat’), and this morning during rounds they confirmed that it has continued and diagnosed it. Basically, during surgery his lymphatic system was traumatized somehow and is now leaking the fats from Patrick’s breastmilk.

In response, they have Patrick eating a special formula called portagen (he’s had 1 oz so far–it is funny-smelling, but hopefully he doesn’t think so). He may need to be on a portagen diet for up to 6-8 weeks, but it will just depend on how he’s doing. From what I understand, portagen contains medium chain triglycerides instead of the long chain ones found in breastmilk and regular formula. The important thing is that the portagen does not need to be processed through Patrick’s lymphatic system and therefore the fats won’t leak out. That will be a win-win because Patrick will be getting the nourishment he needs and the drainage can eventually stop so that the chest tube can be removed. He’ll be much more comfortable without the chest tube.

Other than the chylothorax, Patrick is doing great. His BP is no longer a problem and they have been able to decrease the number of drips/meds he’s on. He’s down to oral tylenol and ibuprofin (actually he’s on a stronger version of ibuprofin, but I can’t remember what it is called) for pain.

This morning he was interested in looking at his books, although he was a little frustrated that he couldn’t hold the books and help turn the pages like he usually does (he still has an IV in his right hand so it is bandaged up and has a sock on it…) He was trying to grab his feet as usual, and wanted to be picked up. Despite his annoyance at his currant limitations he is quite a trooper and is now napping.

Patrick's personal harp performance Tuesday evening.

Yesterday he got to sit in a bouncy seat that vibrates. Having his head elevated aleviates some of the pressure that goes to his head as a result of the Glenn procedure. The vibrations kept him from sleeping too deeply (gotta keep that BP up!). And being able to bounce him was helpful for calming a baby who can't be held and rocked quite yet.

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!