My Slightly Broken Heart Part 2

Hannah and Mimi
Hannah and Mimi

This story was long, too long for a blog post, despite the fact that I tried to make it concise, so I broke it into two parts, intending to post them one day after another. In retrospect, I realize that while I know the whole story, it is unkind to leave you all hanging. So here it is, Part 2. Thanks for your loving words and prayers. I’ll have more to say on all of this soon. [My Slightly Broken Heart, Part 1]

Saturday I had an echocardiogram and we learned that I have a bicuspid aortic valve which is the cause of the aortic aneurysm. A bicuspid valve is the most common congenital heart defect and most often poses no problem – although it can – and it all gets complicated.

I also had an angiogram which, thankfully, showed there were no blockages in the vessels in my heart. I was scared going into it, but Fentanyl and Versed were my friends and all was well. I won’t mention the interesting shave job needed in order to access the femoral artery, because that would be just a little too personal.

Sunday was a day of rest; the docs didn’t want my kidneys processing radioactive dye three days in a row. The good news was the pressure in my chest had all but disappeared. Yet, my mind couldn’t get past the fact that the surgeon had said that if the aneurysm was any larger than it had measured on the earlier scan, he wanted to perform surgery.

Just to give you an idea of my initial state of mind, in the first consult on Friday night, I asked him how the surgery was done. Mind you, we had been joking around a little with him. It was very late at night and we were all a little punchy.

Doctor:  “Do you want to talk about it now?”

Me: “Well I’m just curious how it’s done.” [I was thinking to myself, maybe they do it with a little, tiny incision, or in the cath lab with a tiny camera going into your heart.]

Doctor: [Holding his thumb and index finger widely spread apart and placing them on my chest] “Well we would make the incision here.”

Me: [ Waiting for him to say, “Just kidding, we do it with a little tiny incision.” Then it dawns on me that he is serious and that they will cut my chest open to fix this thing.] “You know, maybe I’m not ready to talk about this since we don’t even know if I’ll need it.”

Doctor: “Sure, we can talk about it later.”

At 4:30 Monday morning, the nurse wheeled me down to the bowels of the hospital for the cardiac CT scan. There were some unpleasant moments with two IV’s, but we were finally ready. If you’ve ever had a CT with contrast dye, you know what I mean when I say it is intense – and weird. It literally gives you a rush of heat from the top of your body moving downward and ends with you feeling like you’ve wet your pants. I’m not making this up, this is how it was described by the professionals, and they were right.

And then we waited. The cardiologist came in and told me that the cardiothoracic surgeon would talk with me about the results, but I managed to wheedle out of him the aneruysm was .1 cm larger than the first CT showed. That didn’t sound like much to me, but I’m no surgeon, so I had no idea what it meant.

We waited a long time, and all the while I was thinking, “Oh my goodness, I think I’m going to have surgery, and I really don’t want to have surgery, especially one where they open up my chest and what if I die, the doctor said that 95-98% of their patients come through it, but I don’t think those are good enough odds, but then again, I know for certain my life is completely in the hands of my loving God and He, and He alone numbers my days and heart problem or not, my last day of life will be determined by him, and oh man, what if I have to have surgery, and Russ is out of town and I need him here, and how will we celebrate graduations in May and a wedding in June, and I’ll have a big scar on my chest and maybe I need to find a dress that will cover it, and what on earth will I do, and this is going to be incredibly painful, and just think, they have to cut my ribs away from my sternum, and ….”

It was a long day.

Then, all at once, the surgeon walked into my room. He had consulted with four of his colleagues and of the five of them, four agreed the risk of surgery outweighed the risk of not repairing the aneurysm. We would watch it, repeat a cardiac CT in six months, and repair the aneurysm if it continued to grow larger. He prescribed medication, shook my hand, and said he would see me in October.

Just as suddenly as the drama began, it ended. I was happy, of course, and incredibly relieved, but what on earth had just happened? I felt disoriented, off balance, and confused. Four days of my life, dozens of needles, tens of thousands of dollars, deep thoughts on life, death, faith – and in a five minute conversation, it was over.

I’m still a little stunned. I have so many thoughts on this experience swirling about in my mind, so I hope you’ll bear with me as I process some of them here.

The best gift of all was having Mimi and Michele with me. They held me together through those long days and I am so thankful. Russ wasn’t able to get back to be with me, but God provided comfort in his absence. I was covered in prayer, and knew the Lord was with me. I was never alone – not even once.

More soon.

Lisa

 

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

24 Comments

  1. Tara Bradford
    April 16, 2014

    So grateful that you are ok. My mama heart was right there with you in the swirling thoughts and concerns that you spoke of. Praying God heals the aneurysm in the next 6 months and your gift of sharing how suffering is redeemed continues to bless so many. Take very good care of yourself! Your poor hubby must have been beside himself. He may need a stress test when he returns 🙂 Hugs to you!

    Reply
  2. Tisha
    April 16, 2014

    So relieved to hear the rest of the story! So glad you are ok. You are dear to so many people, Lisa.

    Reply
  3. Jen T.
    April 16, 2014

    It's hard for us to process this…I can't imagine how overwhelming it must be for YOU! Thank you for sharing with us. Each of our lives is so fragile. Still praying for your family this morning! That all will be back to "normal"!

    Reply
  4. Chantelle
    April 16, 2014

    Oh my goodness, sweet friend! What an exhausting mess that must have been!! ((((((((hug)))))))) I'm so glad that you're home, safe, and loved. Keeping you in prayer! <3

    Reply
  5. Michelle
    April 16, 2014

    So thankful you are okay. Thank you for sharing! Agree, you are so dear and I haven't even met you. Thankful for you!

    Reply
  6. Bethel
    April 16, 2014

    Oh Lisa, I'm sorry to read about all of this! Praying for your healing, my friend. Take good care. Love you!

    Reply
  7. Deborah
    April 16, 2014

    So relieved all is well…… loved your "stream of consciousness" thoughts while running all the what-if scenarios through your brain – that is so me too!!!! Praying for you always Lisa!

    Reply
  8. brianandracheldavis
    April 16, 2014

    Pbbbbbbhhhh (stress sigh) – That sucks that you have an aortic aneurysm! I am so glad you are back home and normal again… but that you still have an aneurysm stinks! I hope you don't have more "pressure" episodes and that nothing more comes of your adventure than the interesting shave job.

    Reply
  9. Cindy Mc
    April 16, 2014

    Thank you for sharing the rest of the story. Praise the Lord for his mercy and grace. I'm so thankful that you did not require surgery now. I completely understand all of your what ifs…

    Much love, Cindy Mc

    Reply
  10. Susan PD
    April 16, 2014

    We will hold you in our thoughts at my house….relieved for the moment that you are not facing immediate surgery. And thanks for the good advice to all women everywhere—don't ignore signs.

    Reply
  11. Luann Yarrow Doman
    April 16, 2014

    Wow. Just wow. Thankful for the outcome, but what an ordeal to go through!

    Reply
  12. Jennifer Duffer
    April 16, 2014

    Lisa, I am sooooo glad things are okay. Well, okay enough anyway.
    So glad Mimi and Michele were there to give you comfort too.

    Reply
  13. Laine
    April 16, 2014

    Prayers for you and your family.

    Reply
  14. Mary Ostyn
    April 16, 2014

    What a roller coaster! Continuing to pray for you and your family!

    Reply
  15. oldqueen
    April 16, 2014

    I'm glad you didn't have to have surgery. Glad you were comforted in the whirlwind.

    Reply
  16. blesseday
    April 16, 2014

    Wow. I am so sorry you went through all that, but trust it is for a reason. Now I am praying the whole insurance mess our nation is in somehow, miraculously, works in your favor.

    Reply
  17. kristine barr
    April 16, 2014

    Well it is a fairly good outcome. But until you know the aneurysm is not getting larger you probably won't relax. So I will continue to keep you in my prayers. Did they ever say why you had the chest pressure and why it quit?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 16, 2014

      Kristine, that's a really good question. We're not sure what caused the pressure, but we're looking for answers. I have a follow-up appointment tomorrow. I figure that if we never find a reason, I'll take it as a gift from God that revealed the aneurysm. You are so right…I'm really thinking that I can't wait six months to have it checked again. Maybe three?

      Reply
  18. Alisa
    April 16, 2014

    Lisa! Oh my word! No words. Except those that I will lift to the Father on your behalf. I look forward to seeing/hearing you in person in November. I have silently followed your blog for so many years. So thankful for you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 16, 2014

      Thank you, Alisa. I hope to be glowing with health in November.

      Reply
  19. Emily
    April 16, 2014

    I cannot imagine how that felt. We have had serious medical issues with one of our kids, though, and hearing you describe the CT contrast was so good for me. In God's inscrutable providence, it is our SIPD kid who has to do with&without contrast CTs and MRIs every 6 months. It is hard to know how much of his difficulty is universal and how much is just his SI issues coming out. (For the first year, he had to be sedated for IVs bc he had a training nurse one time who dug around in his arm way too much and he flipped. out. as only an SPID kid can.)

    The waiting is hard. The wondering and not knowing is hard. We get "scanxiety" as we call it, every time we go in for a new round of tests. And there are always nagging doubts that somehow they've missed something. But then we remember the truth you proclaimed and we preach to ourselves–our lives are in His hands.

    I will be praying for you as you wait and trust. And we will pray for your doctors–that they would see what is hidden and be wise in dealing with it…

    Reply
  20. amy
    April 16, 2014

    I really would love to sit down with you and hear the too much information parts of the story!! I am so glad all is well now and hope it continues that way!!

    Reply
  21. Angelina Denver
    April 16, 2014

    No way I could wait 6 months either, Lisa! Praying for you! Praying for grace as you handle this diagnosis and whatever comes along with it. Be brave, with God on your side you can do anything!

    Reply
  22. Erika
    April 16, 2014

    Wow. Praise God you didn't have to have the surgery, praying for your healing and God bless your Easter have a happy one. 🙂

    Reply

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