Here we are again. Preparing for another Luke surgery. If you’re keeping track, this is number SIX.
As one of my friend’s recently texted, “Surgery is going to be fine, btw.” This I know. My head knows that Luke will rock his heart surgery. My heart just has never really recovered from the other five surgeries to various organs. We may have left Dell Children’s, but it has never left me.
In the scheme of Luke surgeries, this one is slated to be relatively straightforward. We will arrive at Dell early on Wednesday morning, get checked in and then the surgery will take approximately 1.5-2 hours. They’ll keep us in PACU (post-surgery area) for the next six hours, observe Luke and then likely send us home. I know! Heart surgery before breakfast and home after dinner. For those that have asked, here’s the skinny on Luke’s heart defect and what we’re doing.
From the patient brochure:
“A PDA is a heart defect that occurs when a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth, as it normally should. The ductus arteriosus is an open channel in every fetus that allows blood to bypass the lungs, which are not used until the baby takes its first breath after birth. Shortly after the baby’s first breath, the ductus arteriosus should close permanently. If it does not close, it is known as a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).”
What does that mean for Luke? While he’s not short of breath or have fatigue, we do believe part of his poor weight gain can be attributed to the PDA. He expends quite a bit of energy shunting the blood where it should go because of both his PDA and his VSD (the other heart defect/hole in his heart). Some have asked, “If you’re closing the PDA, why not close the VSD, too?”
Um, it’s complicated.
To put it simply, it’s not so simple. We think the VSD is closing on its own (best-case scenario) and we’d rather not put Luke through another surgery if it’s not necessary. The PDA, however, if not closed by now, won’t do it on its own. So, the PDA closure it is. I’m a visual gal, so I hope this helps. The heart on the left is Luke’s current heart. The heart on the right is what it will look like after the procedure. That circle pullout in the middle is a closeup of the device we’ll use to close the PDA.
The procedure involves making a small incision in his groin area and feeding a catheter up to his heart. From there, Dr. S will measure the oxygenation levels of all four chambers which will tell us the exact size of the PDA and the VSD. That will be HUGELY beneficial to us and his doctors. Once Dr. S is satisfied with the placement of the duct occluder system (it’s basically a wire mesh filled with polyester fabric) to “plug” the hole. After about three months, the device will be permanently embedded in his heart as scar tissue secures it in place.
For post-op, they want Luke flat on his back for several hours – pray for us! – and we’ll do a repeat echo (sonogram of the heart), along with blood pressure readings to make sure everything is where it should be. If all looks great, they’ll send us home after about six hours of observation. His recovery at home will likely be quick and he will be back to his funny, cute, miraculous self in no time.
Here I sit, partly freaking out and partly at complete peace. My own heart vacillates between the two. On one hand, I know God has this. He has walked with us through some dark days and has always held us when it seemed like the deep, dark abyss of uncertainty and fear would swallow us whole. On the other hand, it scares me to death to hand Luke over to another surgeon for yet another procedure. That hand off sucks. Thankfully, Scott will be there with the tissue ready. I am hopeful and prayerful that we are making the right decision for Luke. That this closure will decrease his risk of getting icky things like endocarditis (an infection in the lining of the heart) and allow him to gain a bit more weight.
With each passing procedure, each specialist, each diagnosis and each milestone, I am learning to lean more on God and less on my fear. It is hard to relinquish control. But, trust is what got us here and trust will take us from this life to the next.
Jesus, we trust in you. Be ever present with our sweet Luke. Watch over Dr. S, our anesthesiologist, our nurses and the entire medical team as they give Luke a new and improved heart.
St. Luke, patron saint of physicians and surgeons, pray for us!