Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

N's Heart

Baroy is taking N to the cardiologist today for an echo and a consultation. I'll be at work, then driving into the Valley to pick Em up from a playdate at a friend's house.

Before N was born, if you had told me my child would be seeing a cardiologist and I wouldn't be there, with stacks of research and a dozen written-down questions in hand, I would have laughed you off the planet. But in the past three-and-a-half years (as of yesterday, to be precise), N has taught me more about the difference between sickness and health than I could have imagined. In his short life, my very healthy little boy has been poked and prodded and x-rayed and ultrasounded for no less than a dozen different issues, ranging from hernias to growth delays.

This cardiology thing was an offshoot of all that. More than a year-and-a-half ago, N came down with pneumonia, and had to be hospitalized for a couple of nerve-wracking days. A couple of weeks later, we went to see the pediatrician (who works in the hospital) for a repeat x-ray to make sure his lungs were indeed clear again. She called me into her office to show me how beautifully clear they were (because she knows how fascinated I am with all things medical), and pulled the x-ray up on the screen. Then, carefully, she said, "But there's one small problem..." His heart was enlarged. Not huge, she said. Probably at the high end of normal, or the low end of abnormal, depending on how you looked at it. She was going to get a second opinion on it, she said, just to see whether it needed to be followed.

Two weeks after that, I found myself in a dark room with a technician, watching my son's heart beat on an echocardiogram. It looked, to him, like a PDA--a patent ductus arteriosus. I dove into the research while waiting for the 'best cardiologist in the hospital' to have an opening for us. The day we went to see her, we were there in full force: myself, Baroy, even my brother-in-law, who was worried about what all of this was going to lead to. As it turned out, the cardiologist didn't think it was a PDA, but rather an even more benign condition in which N had simply developed a few extra blood vessels in the area, which might have been causing his heart to work a little extra hard, which migh have led to the enlargement seen on the x-rays. Nothing to worry about. No surgery. Come back in a year.

A year came, and N came down with pneumonia again. (He is, many doctors have said, an extremely healthy child who gets sick a lot.) During the workup at the hospital emergency room, they did a chest x-ray, and I asked to see it. Because it was only a small pneumonia, and you could see the margins of his heart quite clearly, I asked the resident if he would measure it for me, and let me know if it was enlarged. "No enlargement here," he replied.

Which brings us to today, and why I'm going to sit here in my office and finish out the day, while N gets another echo and he and Baroy see the cardiologist again. I thought we could skip it altogether, but the pediatrician really wanted us to follow up--and apparently so did the cardiologist, who recently had asked the ped about how N was doing and when she was going to see him again. So we're following up. But, to me, it's over with. There's nothing wrong with his heart. He's my strong, healthy, tiny, hemorrhoid-and-hernia-ridden boy, whose heart is whole and pure and loving. The only heart enlargement going on here is mine, which swells each and every time N tells me he loves me or puts his head down on my chest and strokes me hair. He's fine. I'm sure of it.

But, yeah, I'll have my cell phone on all afternoon. Just in case.

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