I believe in miracles!!!! I don't really know how to write this blog post. So much has gone on and there is so much to recognize and be thankful for. I will do my best.
Before my last post, I have to write about a situation that will be very important to my family for eternity. Randy and his family were giving my family blessings. Comfort, healing, strength, things like that. It came time for Randy to give Harper a blessing. He gave her a father's blessing. There is only 1 other time in my life I have seen this happen, but the man that was giving my daughter her blessing was NOT Randy. It was confirmation to all of us that the power of the Holy Priesthood is REAL. Harper's body is going to be strong and not have any problems from the Plavix that I will have to take for 3 months. That was made clear to us during that blessing. I thank my Heavenly Father for trusting me enough to experience this.
In my last post, the surgeon's office had called with horrible news that I was NOT scheduled to have my repair done on Thursday. To say I was devastated is an underestimation.
We decided that we would go to SLC on Wednesday as planned. Our hotel was reserved, Randy had the time off of work, I had childcare all worked out down here and my parents were meeting us up there. I knew we needed to go, even if we had to turn around and come home.
We got up to the IHC hospital in Murray for my 2:15 appointment.
Miracle #1: They changed my appointment from 4:15pm to 2:15pm. This will be important later.
As we got to Dr. Sorensen's office, I had a good feeling about everything. I didn't know what that meant, but we had been praying for a miracle and I knew things were going to go as they should.
We went back and the first test was to check how many bubbles would go from an IV in my arm, to my heart and then to my brain. They used this "halo"-type device to test it.
A heart without a hole would not have any bubbles go to the brain. So, the testing started and as soon as she put the bubbles in my IV, I saw stars and felt like I got kicked in the head. I heard Randy gasp and the nurse told me that I was "for sure a category 5", the most severe category.
The next couple of tests were also testing bubbles going to my brain. They were all in the severe category.
The bubble ECHO on my heart was next, it showed a very large "shunt" (hole). The more testing they did, the more it was obvious that my stroke risk level was very high. More upsetting than the chronic headache is the strokes that I could have.
This picture is tiny, and I can't make it bigger. The bottom black part should have a divider right in the middle. That's where my hole is. That's a HUGE hole. A lot of times, the holes are small enough that you can't see them on here, and on mine, you can see that it's just missing tissue!!!
After CHEWING AN ASPRIN (I know you're jealous) to help relieve the pain from the testing, we went in to meet with Dr. Sorensen. He came in and talked to me about how bad my defect was. The 3 diagnostic tests came back that I was in the SEVERE stroke risk category.
Why strokes? The blood goes into my heart and instead of going to my lungs (a filtering system) and then to all my body, the blood would go straight to my brain. Any clots that form in my body would shoot right to my brain, causing strokes. On the MRIs I had done, there is some little clots that have already made it up to my brain. Not strokes, because there are no symptoms of stroke, but pretty close. Definitely a pre-cursor to strokes.
So, he talked to us about my risk level and told me that in the U.S., the average is for a patient to have 2 strokes before a surgeon would even look at repairing the hole!?! WHY? This surgeon had actually had a stroke that left him paralyzed for 3 hours. That's when he got his PFO repaired and got passionate to change the way the medical field saw this. He's done over 4,000 repairs to date.
We talked about 2 surgeons that he personally has trained to do PFO repairs in St. George. They've done 2. I didn't want to be #3. But it WAS a possibility to do it at home, at a later date.
He talked to me about me nursing on Plavix. We discussed all the risks vs. benefits (all of which I knew from the last few weeks of research and talking to doctors. Glad I was informed.). He told me to do this surgery that I would have to tell him that I had quit breastfeeding, but it was up to me if I really quit or not. I had the bottles and formula at the hotel with the baby and my parent's. I WAS ready to quit if he said I had to. In a very calm voice, he said again, "if you tell me you have quit, I can do your surgery..... now, if you continue to breastfeed AFTER you told me you've quit, is up to you". He respected all the research I had done. And just the few minutes we were with him, I could tell that he was a rule breaker!!! I like that!!! So, I told him that I quit!!! (which, was NOT a lie BTW. I hadn't fed the baby for 2 full hours!!!) He walked out to his nurse, Heather (the one that said I was unwilling to quit breastfeeding and I wanted to postpone surgery because of that) and told her to get me on the schedule for Thursday (the next day). At this point it is 4:15pm (see miracle #1 If our appt would have been at 4:15 still, that would have put us till 6:15pm before he would have scheduled the surgery and by then, insurance would have been closed and it would have been a no-go). She argued with him that I had not quit. They argued back and forth for a few minutes while Randy and I sat in the exam room, waiting, listening because he left the door open. Their argument ended in Dr. Sorensen winning!!! I was going to have surgery!!!
Miracle #2 Heather started calling our insurance at 4:15pm and had me approved for surgery the next day within 15 minutes!!!! WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN?
Heather came in and gave me my pre-op information so I would know what to do until tomorrow's surgery. My operation was planned for 2pm at St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City.
Miracle #3 Dr. Sorensen had over booked surgeries for Thursday. He had 9 on the books, canceled 3 and then had just enough room to put me in.
We went back to the hotel and was full of emotions!!! WHAT JUST HAPPENED? I was scared to death, but was looking forward to taking a drug induced nap and not knowing what is going on during the operation!!!
That night, we got to have a good distraction, my Aunt Darlene, her daughter Tammy, and Tammy's girlfriend Sharon went to dinner with us. Their company was PERFECT!!! I was getting nervous and so their fun attitudes were just what I needed!!!
The future was unclear of what we would face. How would the surgery go? How will the recovery be? How will Harper do without me? How will Randy do all this by himself? Those are just SOME of the questions that were running through my head. Still looking forward to the nap during surgery.
We were all pooped Wednesday night. In bed, sleeping, by 11pm.
The next morning, my head was killing me. I got up and ran out for something to eat before my time had passed that I could eat. Then Randy, my dad and Maddison ran to a store for a little bit while my mom, Harper and I hung out in the hotel room. Time was creeping by. Could the nap come soon enough?
1pm, finally time to go. We loaded all up and headed over to the hospital.
Big hospital, HUGE!!! We got lost a few times, but ended up in the Cath Lab area!!! Who did we see on our way in? Julie Leishman and Amy Canfield waiting to say hi to me!!!! These girls are so sweet and it was great to see them at that nervous time!!!
I got back, got hooked up and then found out that the surgeon was running behind. So, my family and my friends came in to kill time with me. They all made me laugh so hard!!! It was the perfect time to get my mind off things!!!
Then it was THE TIME to go back. At this point, it was 4pm. I had to leave my family and I was scared. Last minute kisses. Lots of kisses.
They rolled me back, got me prepped. I had some really dry-humor male nurses helping me. Thank you, that will me my boobs you will see (because of the monitors) and my other place you will see because they go through my groin!!! I bet they get sick of seeing people like ME in there!!! It would be nice to see a super model occasionally!!! It took them quite a while to fix everything up. Machines to scan my body while they put the device in, getting all the surgical equipment in place, making me as uncomfortable as possible. They were great at it. Wondering when sleepy time comes.
Dr. Sorensen came in and told me it was time to go nighty night!!! YEA!!!! I knew this was going to be GREAT!!!! Fentanyl and Versed.... ON BOARD!!!! Waiting, waiting, waiting...... "Ummmm, hello? I'm still awake!!!". Ok, they decide to give me more, the MAX dosage....... "Ummm.... hello? Still awake!!!!". DAMN IT!!!! That's all they can give me. My fears are in front of me. I will be awake for surgery!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
As it went on, I felt them put the local anesthesia into my groin and felt them cut. Then they did more locals in my vein they were using... OUCHIE!!!! As they thread the tubes up my groin and into my chest, I could feel it. It wasn't painful, but I could FEEL it!!! CREEPY!!! My hands were down to my sides and my right hand was covered in blood from the incisions in my groin.
The surgery took about an hour. They patch they used was a Gortex (surgical plastic) patch, 1" big!!! It was a gigantic hole!!! Everything was a SUCCESS!!!! Dr. Sorensen was quite proud of himself and I was happy with that!!!
I had to lay in recovery for 2 hours, not lifting my head or moving my right leg. That vein needed to seal up (it's about as big as your pinkie finger). I was a good girl and did what I was told :)
They moved me upstairs to room 3S22 for the night. It was loud, really loud. I felt like I was in a nursing home. The night couldn't get over soon enough!!! At 9pm, Randy brought the baby over for me to feed (she was being fussy and wouldn't take a bottle) and then they were off back to the hotel for the night. I knew I would be fine and that Randy would need to help with the baby.
Miracle #4 How is it that my almost 5 month old baby that is exclusively breastfed can have such a chaotic week and come out JUST FINE?
Long night. Really long night.
Randy shows up at 5:30am with Harper. She's ready to eat. Too bad the 7 ounces of breast milk I had just pumped would get wasted!?! I get her fed and then he takes her back to the hotel. At 8, they come in to do my ECHO to check placement of the device and to make sure there's not too much fluid around my heart (can happen with heart surgery). Everything checks out fine!!!
I got a sweet visitor while I was waiting for Heather. My long time friend, Amber. I love her so much. She is so compassionate and kind. Her whole family is. I consider them a special extension to my family. We chatted for a while (we could talk forever!!!) and she was off to work!!! I was so happy to have her come by!!!
Now, we just have to wait for Heather to come in and give me my discharge information. She explains to me that I have a card that I have to carry in my wallet to let emergency people know if anything happens with my heart. It has the size and kind of patch they used. She talked to me about my meds. Asprin everyday and Plavix everyday. IBU 800s will work for the incision pain for a few days and there will be a little bleeding on the site, but it should slow down.
She released me, my regular nurse released me. And we were OFF!!!! We got back to the hotel, I feed Harper again. We got fueled up, packed and we were ready to hit the road. My parents went back to the mountain to camp (I was sooo sad, I miss them so much and I wish they didn't feel the need to go so far to camp.). They will be home in a couple of weeks, so it's not too long, I guess. As we left, it felt like I had been hit by a truck. I was POOPED!!!
The ride home was wayyyy toooo lonnnggggg...... It took us 5 1/2 hours by the time we got the kids and got home. NOT recommended for someone fresh out of surgery!!! But it was good to be in MY home!!!
Friday night I was very uncomfortable. Saturday was a pinch better, but still, no lifting the baby very much, lots of laying down and doing pretty much NOTHING. Sunday morning was the 3rd time in 5 months (all since my PFO repair) that I had NO head pain!!! I felt pretty good. I had energy and no headache!!! That lasted for a few hours, but as the afternoon went on, I got feeling ickier and ickier.
There's part of me that is frustrated that I'm not on my A game yet and then I see the reality that I just had major surgery on my heart!!! I need to chill out!!!!
I am accepting help from everyone. Anyone that asks, I let them help. There is a lot that has fallen on Randy, so I am getting help for Randy, not me. It will take the burden off HIM!!!! It looks like another week of me being run down, so I am being humbled some more. What a blessing it is that we live with neighbors that care that much about us!!!
It looks like my recovery is right on track. I will have a one month ECHO here in St. George and then a 3 month ECHO back with DR. Sorensen to determine the future visits.
Miracle #5 Dr. Becker, my neurologist, is aggressive in getting PFOs fixed.
Miracle #6 I am so grateful for Dr. Sorensen and his aggressive treatment. I can't imagine having 2 strokes before having my PFO repaired.
And the one that started it all out, Dr. Chamberlain.
Miracle #7 He knew something was wrong and sent me to Dr. Becker.
There is so much more that went on. I tried to document it as good as possible, but I'm sure I will think about more. Thanks for hanging in there and reading it all. There have been so many people that have fasted and prayed for us so hard and honestly, that is where the credit should be given. Faith, prayer and blessings. That's why I got my surgery and why it all fell into place like it did. I'm grateful I have no stroke risk anymore. That was scary.
I am a faithful and blessed girl. Anyone that has lived through this with me, wont be able to deny the power of prayer!!! I am so grateful!!!
There will be more blog posts about this, but I needed to get this one going to have the bulk of the info on right now!!!!
Thanks for hanging in there with us!!!