When I was growing up my Dad had a sermon that we called “The Chippie Sermon.” It began with a story about a bird named Chippie (Dad, correct me if I mess the story up). One day Chippie’s owner was cleaning out the bottom of his cage using the hose extension on the vacuum, and Chippie was calmly sitting on his perch (maybe even napping). In the owner’s carelessness to complete the task quickly, she moved the hose a little too close to Chippie and swoosh, sucked him right up in the vacuum! Of course, the owner hurriedly opened the vacuum and removed a very stunned and shocked, but otherwise unharmed, Chippie. My Dad then continued the sermon asking (paraphrasing here), “Have you ever had a ‘Chippie moment’? Life is going along just fine and great and out of nowhere, swoosh, you get the wind knocked out of you? Without any warning you find yourself sucked up in a vacuum?” Well, we here in our household had a big “Chippie Moment” happen at the end of May. May 24th to be exact.
At April’s 15 month well-check our pediatrician heard a slight heart murmur. She had never heard one before (neither had anyone else for that matter; not at the hospital, etc), but was convinced she heard one now. Since April still continues to fall off the weight charts she recommended we see a pediatric cardiologist to get it checked out. Being good dutiful parents, we called and made an appointment to do exactly that. To be honest, I wasn’t worried about the appointment at all (and this is from someone that struggles with the sin of worry). I did some research and was convinced that it was most likely an innocent murmur (really nothing); even if was a real one, most didn’t seem to be a big deal and kids often grew out of them. I mean really, if it was something serious it would have been caught much earlier, right? Wrong. (In fact, I was so not worried about the appointment that Mike didn’t even come with me.)
What we discovered at that appointment is that April has a congenital heart defect. It is something she was born with and it has always been there, basically since we found out I was pregnant. Essentially, she is missing a wall in the upper portion of her heart between the right and left chambers (Primum Atrial Septal defect). She also has a couple of leaky valves.
Wow. Certainly not what we were expecting to hear. However, there is a lot of good news to go along with this. First, this is completely fixable. It is a one time surgery and the prognosis for an easy recovery and living a long, normal life is excellent. Amazingly, it is also a relatively easy surgery to do that is quite low risk. To think of how far the medical field has come in this particular area in the last 20 plus years is amazing. It suddenly makes you so incredibly thankful for every baby and child that has gone before yours to bring that technology where it is today.
The tough news. It does need to be fixed and the surgery is open heart surgery. I think it’s those words, “open heart surgery”, that freak me out the most. Yes, this is becoming almost a “routine surgery” in the medical arena. However, you are going in and stopping my child’s heart; it doesn’t feel routine to me.
The big question on most minds I’m guessing is when this surgery will happen. The good news is that there isn’t any rush. While left long term this would cause damage to her heart and not be good for her health, there is no immediate need to fix this right away. In fact, we don’t have to limit her activity at all and she doesn’t need to be on any medication. In the past, they would probably wait until she was closer to age 4. However, technology has progressed so much that there really is not any reason to wait until then any more. We just had our follow-up appointment with our cardiologist yesterday and he now has all of the information needed to start discussion with the surgeon. He will hopefully do that in the next couple of weeks and then we will go from there. For a multitude of reasons, we are hoping the surgery can take place this fall, sometime around September or October. (We have made it very clear though that we will trust their judgement and if they think there is a reason to wait, then we will of course wait.)
I simply cannot end this blog without praising God for the many blessings that we have already seen in this. First, it was discovered. Second, it is fixable. Thank you Jesus!! Third, how amazing the doctors and care that we have to even think of fixing this, let alone make it a “standard” surgery?! And a fourth blessing that has been such a huge comfort to me – I have a dear friend that “just happens” to be a nurse on the heart floor at Dell Children’s Hospital, where the surgery will take place. She has been a huge source of information and comfort and has already gone-to-bat on April’s behalf without my even asking her too. I just see so clearly how God is taking care of April on all fronts. I’m not saying this has been easy on my momma’s heart; I’m finding that walking by faith instead of sight is very tough at times. But I know God loves her even more than we do, I know He is good and I know He is in complete control. I also know that doesn’t bring any guarantees that this will turn out the way we hope and want it to. But in the words of good ole’ Job, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” We know our lives are His and for His glory. That’s the only reason they are worth living!!
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.