Sunday, February 21, 2010

"I'm a big boy!"

These days, Kiefer often says, "I'm not a baby. I'm a big boy!" He is very proud to wear his big boy underwear and not diapers because those are for babies. (Note: He still wears a diaper at night. We're not quite there yet.) He can also get dressed on his own. He proudly exclaims, "I get dressed all by myself!" Sometimes the shirt will be on backwards or the socks a bit twisted, but he's getting it. There are a lot of things we'll try to do for him and he'll say, "I do it! I do it!" Roel and I are happy Kiefer's able to do things on his own. It will make things a lot easier when his baby sister arrives.

Kiefer is also a brave little boy. There was a time when he would scream at the doctor's office, but now he doesn't cry... even when he gets a shot. If he gets a scrape or a bump, a kiss will usually make it all better. Unfortunately, there are some things that kisses can't make better. Our pediatrician detected a heart murmur and just to be on the safe side, she sent us to a pediatric cardiologist to get it checked out. She thought it was likely nothing... some kids have heart murmurs that go away as they get older. I had one when I was a baby.

So off we went to the pediatric cardiologist's in mid-January. They weighed him, checked his height and took his blood pressure. The nurse took his blood pressure on one arm the the other. She said, "Well, that can't be right. It's absurdly high. I'm not even going to write that down." Then she called in the other nurse to take it. She found that his blood pressure was high. The doctor listened to his heart for a while and then said that they would do an echo-cardiogram and an ultrasound of his heart. I said, "OK. When will that be?" To my surprise, he responded, "Now." I was sure we'd have to come back. First they did the echo-cardiogram. The technician was great. She explained to Kiefer what she would be doing and asked him if he wasted to see the stickers they would be putting all over his chest. He was fascinated by it and didn't so much as whimper when she hooked up the wires to the stickers. Then it was time for the ultrasound. It took a good 1/2 hour, but Kiefer was a trooper. He did ask a few times, "Almost done?" but other than that, he was a patient little boy. The technician couldn't believe how good he was and she gave him lots of stickers as a reward.

The doctor came in shortly after the tests were done. He had sketched out a very detailed drawing of a heart and started explaining to me how a heart works. He kept going and going and I joked, "I hope there's not going to be a test on this." But I knew that he wouldn't be going into detail if there weren't something wrong. I told the doctor I was scared of what he was about to tell me. I started to cry, but I had to keep it together somewhat because Kiefer was in the room running around and playing. The doctor told me that Kiefer has an aortic coarctation, which means that his aorta is too narrow. That is what is causing the high blood pressure. He said that it would require surgery, but that it was a relatively common surgery with excellent results. He referred us to Children's Hosptial in Boston. They will make an incision on his left back and go in between his ribs to make the repair. 

His surgery has been scheduled for March 15 and they tell us he will be in the hospital for 4 days. On the 11th, he will have pre-op tests, which I understand will be a repeat echo-cardiogram and ultrasound as well as an MRI. He will, of course, have to be sedated for the MRI because there is no way he could sit still long enough for that test. It is hard enough for adults! Based on how the tests go, they may need us to return for more tests on the 12th. We're hoping that's not the case so we can just make it a day trip on the 11th and come home for a few days before we go back for the surgery. One of us can sleep in the room with him and we have booked a room at the hotel next to the hospital. We figure we will trade off nights and it will be nice to have a place nearby to decompress when we need to.

It is very good that this was diagnosed and that it is repairable. We're very thankful for that, but we're looking forward to getting this corrected and put behind us. They say kids his age bounce back very quickly and he'll be up and running in no time. This means he'll be back to using the living room furniture for gymnastics, riding his tricycle around the neighborhood and playing soccer in the back yard. He can also return to being a smarty pants by saying, "Papa says yes!" whenever I tell him not to do something.

Spring seems to be right around the corner. The maple sugaring season has started so we went to the nearby Williams Sugar House in Deerfield yesterday for pancakes. Kiefer is a funny little boy. He didn't want anything to do with the pancakes, but he did eat sausage! On our way out, we got him a little cone of maple sugar, which he loved! Who wouldn't?

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