Thursday, September 22, 2011

All Patched Up

Tracie is out of surgery and doing well. The doctor told us that she had about a half of an inch hole in her heart. He also said that as holes in hearts go, this was a whopper! He repaired the hole using a piece of surgical Gore-Tex called a Helex device. . Can you believe that this woman has run marathons with this big-ass "hole" in her heart? Any of you want to pick a fight with Mama you do it at your own risk. She will be staying overnight for observation and we will be home tomorrow around noon. Right now there is no pain and she is just a little groggy from the procedure. I am sure that by Sunday she will be challenging Drew to an arm wrestle. Let's all be glad we live during a time of modern medicine. Brilliant people have fixed my wife. That's right kids study up on your math and science!

Heart Repair Facts

When you tell someone you are having heart surgery the first reaction is...."WHAT?"  This is the reason I have been hesitant to share with the world that I am having the hole in my heart repaired.  Let me back up and start from the beginning. 

I have suffered from migraine headaches most of my life.  My earliest memory of headaches is from when I was 8.  I had a horrible headache that would not go away.  It lasted most of the day and I remember crying and asking my mom what could be done.  We tried a dark room, a cold cloth on my head and even medicine,which I was not good at taking and would "gag" down.  It finally went away after a blessing and I went to sleep.  Since that time I have had migraines that ranged from minor irritation to excruciating pain associated with changes in my vision, difficulty speaking, facial numbness and numbness in my hands and legs.  They are always worse when my body is in stress.  Pregnancy, loss of sleep, surgery, marathons or strenuous exercise.  I have always had these so I ignored them and chalked it up to me being me.  Apparently, it wasn't normal.

A few months ago, my mother found out that her brother that passed away waiting for a lung transplant had a Patent Foramen Ovale or PFO in his heart.  This means that as a baby the valve that goes between the top two chambers of the heart or atrium never closed.  This valve is open in a fetus to allow blood to flow from the mother to flow through the body without going to the lungs for "cleaning" and oxygenation.  When babies are born this valve closes and circulation of the heart becomes normal.  This is the case or about 75% of the population.  However, I am finding that 25% of us have varying degrees of closure.  When my Uncle's doctors found his PFO they told him it was hereditary.  They told him to inform his family, as it could be a possibility for them as well.  Since that time, Martha, another aunt and my mother have both found they have PFO's or Atrial Septal Defects (AFD) as well.  Martha had hers fixed in March.  Anna, my mother, did not need hers repaired.  Although she has a ASD it is not large enough to repair.  Mine on the other had is quite large.  They range them in size from 1-5.  Anna's is a 2,  mine is a 5+.  This means that the blood  and that should go from my heart to my lungs to be cleaned oftens goes right back out to my body.  Blood clots and other impurities that would normally be cleaned up can go through the hole and are a concern as they can go anywhere in the body.  If they go to the brain, you have a stroke.  If they go somewhere else, they can cause other problems.  I have had other problems and feel lucky that I have not had a major debilitating stroke.  I have heard sad cases of some that have not been so lucky.

To make a long story short, I was training for a triathlon to complete before my 40th birthday this fall.  As my training schedule got more difficult, my headaches got worse.  I had a weird "bruise" on my earlobe that looked like a weird birth mark or peticiae, when blood vessels break under the skin.  It went a way but concerned me.  I was doing what I could to alleviate them.  Sleeping well, eating good, and taking a multivitamin.  I was seeing spots behind my eyes after standing up, or running a hill, or even coughing.  I knew something wasn't right.  Reluctantly, I put my triathlon aside, and went to the Dr.  She prescribed a echo cardiogram.  This showed a "borderline enlarged right atrium."  Because of the nature of my job, I deal with a lot of medical health issues.  I have heard of PFO's before and thought I fit some of the symptoms.  While researching PFO's on line I found that that was one of the indicators of the heart working harder than normal. 

My Dr referred me to a cardiologist.  I have a good friend I grew up with that is a cardiologist, Dr. Scott Hacking.  He prescribed echo cardiogram with bubbles. This means they put CO2 in an IV and see if it goes from one chamber of your heart to the other on ultrasound.  Immediately after getting the bubbles, I started seeing half of things.  This is a normal indicated for me of a migraine.  I saw the bubbles go across the atrium and was relieved.  My symptoms were not just in my mind.  Scott referred me to Dr. Sherman Sorensen.  After some additional testing, they found that the bubbles which simulate blot clots go to my brain.  I am at a high risk of stroke.  I also have a blood disorder, Anticardiolipin syndrome.  This syndrome makes me clot more easily and was one reason I lost Rhett.  After talking with Dr. Sorensen, I found that the hole in my heart could also have been a factor.  I just cried on the way home from this appointment.  My life has been spared numerous times.  Through five pregnancies, c-sections, liver surgery, and four marathons, I have not stroked out.  I am still healthy and able to be a vital part of my family.   Yes, I have an angel baby.  But he also saved my life and Luke's life by his existence. Nothing is a coincidence.  The Lord watches out for us individually.

So today, they are mending my broken heart.  Ha ha,.  I will have an angiogram type procedure to feed a filter or umbrella type device to my heart.  The procedure will take about an hour and then I will be in recovery for another two.  I will spend the night at the hospital and come home in the morning.  Dr. Sorensen and his staff have preformed 10,000 of these with fewer complications than you can count on two hands.  I feel very confident that things will go well.  I have had a blessing and that gives me solace as well.  The Lord will be watching out for me and I know I am in good hands.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Adam Gets Braces

Adam got his braces today.  He was supposed to get them in August, but had to reschedule due to a family reunion.  He has had a RPE or Pallet splitter since June.  He looked like a hillbilly for a while with his teeth spread out for two months.  Being 10 years old, Adam is an average boy.  Goofy and playing it to the hilt.  He had a great little dance to go with the teeth.  Always a comedian. Even though he is only 10 he has a 12 year old mouth.  He has lost all his baby teeth and his big teeth are growing in nicely.  He is growing up so fast. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rock Climbing for Labor Day

We spent the afternoon rock climbing in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Had an awesome time.  Drew lead the climb and Mom "cleaned" it.  Madi was next.  She did great until she decided she wasn't.  She cried, Dad was frustrated too, and she was done for the moment.  
Luke and his "Friends"

Next was Luke.  He has not climbed before other than hiked and less than 5 feet off the ground.  He had his 5 point harness on and was playing with the "Cams" and "Friends" in the cracks below the climbs we were on.  These are apparatus' that secure climbers to the rock when bolts are not available.  They compress in size when the pulley's are pulled and then expand when released.  Luke has learned to maneuver them.  He was hanging from the cracks and placing them himself.  He decided today was the day he was going to climb.  We put the climbing shoes,which are two sizes to big, on him and up he went.  He went up about 15 feet and  got nervous.  Daddy helped him and showed him how to be a monkey and jump with his legs bent.  He continue to climb. Kids are awesome climbers because they have a low center of gravity and they use all parts of their body to climb. Luke was making moves, adults have a hard time making.  Dad was thrilled.  He went all the way to the top, 80 feet.  However, once at the top, he forgot to be a monkey.  He wasn't scared but he was trying to climb down.  That can be dangerous as well.  Jared decided that wouldn't work.  He had Drew belay Luke while I belayed him.  He climbed up and to help Luke down.  Lukey was so excited and not scared in the least.  It was amazing.  So fun. 

Madi before climbing
     The next climber was Madi, again.  She didn't want to get shown up by her little brother.  She climbed all the way up and cried the whole time.  She too is a natural, but is afraid of heights, she thinks.  What can we do? We don't make her climb, but she is so competitive she will not be bested.  She gets that from me, I guess.  It is not fun to see your flaws come back at you.  I hope I can help her use it for good. Once on the ground she was thrilled.  Ask her now and she says it was awesome.

Adam finished the route for the evening.  He too is a natural climber.  He has great upper body strength and knows how to use his feet.  Like Luke he also has been a climber since he was toddler.  Lots of practice climbing trees,tables, and anything else 2 feet off the ground.  He also made it to the top, however, he panicked and couldn't get himself to sit/lie back enough to lower down.  Dad had to go to the rescue once again and help Adam down.  He was rather traumatized, but survived.  Dad had to give Adam some extra snuggles at the top to reassure him he was safe.  Because Adam is such a big kid, we forget how old he really is sometimes.
D being 14

Drew belayed Adam for the first time and did great. He loves climbing and asks to go daily.  It is a fun family activity.  I have forgotten how much I enjoy it too. Either that or I didn't realize how much I liked it before I had kids.  We are all getting better.  The older our kids get the more I enjoy hanging out with them.  We don't have to have electronics or stuff to be happy.  Like the commercials say: "It's about TIME." 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Madi gets her braces off

Red letter day in our house. Madi got her braces off today. She can't quit smiling. Beautiful girl.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kids do the "darnedest things"

Sometimes our children do things that make us either laugh or cry. Like Elder Wirthlin's conference talk a few years ago, "Come what may and Love it". It is always better to laugh at ourselves. This will make you laugh too.

My new calling is Wolf/Bear scout leader. There are three of us so that there are atleast two of us at each activity according to scout guidelines. Between my work schedule and kids games and activities of my fellow leaders, we usually end up with just two at a time. Anyway, yesterday our scouts were in charge of the flag ceremony for pack meeting. Our Wolf scouts brought the flag in. I stood behind the "Denner" or lead scout and helped him call out the directions to the color guard. They were a bit nervous but did great. After the flag was posted we all returned to our seats. We have a new Scout Chairman and he had no idea he was to help "coach". I didn't know I was going to be in charge so I had to "wing" the commands. It went ok.

As a leader, I am entitled to wear the "Den Mother" uniform or yellow scout shirt. I have refused to do this on principal, since I think they are awful. I was wearing my regular clothes, shorts, pink shirt and sweater. This is what I looked like:

So, as I was returning to my seat, I passed Madi sitting next to me. Jared was sitting behind us with Drew and the remaining 30 parents were spread out between two sides of the primary room we were in. You can see that I have darling roses and details on my top. Madi was very interested in them as she reached up with both her hands, as if she was grabbing apples and squeezed the flowers and my chest. Jared, Drew and the 20 other parents laughed. I turned bright red, and said "Well, that was nice". The friend next to Drew turned three shades of red as well. My friend and fellow leader, sitting next to me, said, "I guess we didn't do the flag ceremony right, everyone was laughing." My response, "No, they were laughing at me."

Adam receives his Arrow of Light

Adam is a Webelos scout. He has been in this den since his last birthday in January. He received his Webelos badge in April. He decided he wanted to get his Arrow of light in six months. I helped him stay on track by taking his book with us everywhere we went. When we went to Moab for Spring break, he did two activity pins, Naturalist and Traveler. For the Naturalist, we looked at the rocks and plants in Arches. We found Indian paintbrush and Yucca on our hike to Sand Arch. It was educational for all of us. For the Traveler pin, Adam learned to read a road map and how to follow a compass of a map. We talked about how to follow directions in a car and on the interstate. I don't remember how I learned to read a road map, but I enjoyed teaching him how to do it.

Now after six months he has earned 9 activity pins--Artist, Outdoorsman, Readyman, Handyman, Traveler, Craftsman, Scholar, Citezen, and Fitness. He knows the Scout Motto and Oath. The Arrow of Light is the highest award a cub scout can earn. They had a fun ceremony for him and another scout that earned his award as well.

We painted his face like an indian and got to do the "El Toro" cheer. They place their hands on their heads to make horns and yelled "El Torro" three times. Since Adam is a "bull in a china shop" occasionally, we found it to be very fitting. We are very proud of him.