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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Heart Problems

 The last week was really hard.  We realized that Abby might have a heart condition.  She keeps getting "tinglies all over" and it makes her legs buckle and sometimes it makes her faint.
She had described fainting to us one time but I was upstairs when she was doing dishes downstairs and hadn't been a witness to it.  She'd told us about the tingly feeling with buckling legs a few times and we didn't quite know what to do with it.  I've seen her face change to a strange and beautiful rosy pink (very distinct), in reaction to which she immediately turns to me and says that she is having the "tingly" feeling. Her ballet teacher had seen her legs buckle one time and it took her a few seconds to get Abby to respond to her.  Abby seemed confused but she didn't faint.  She is always perfectly normal right after with just splitting headache lingering.  The headache however is gone within a few minutes as well.

Then Abby fell at ballet.  Passed out for a few seconds and fell over like a board.  Her teacher was looking at her when it happened, so we thankfully had someone who could tell exactly what happened.  Abby fell on her chin and shoulder and had the bruises to proof it. Didn't brace herself at all.  Just fell over.  Thankfully it was a soft ballet floor.  Scared the daylights out of all of us.  We went to the ER and they sent us straight to a specialized children's hospital.  Because they had a pediatric cardiologist on duty.  Scary words.  Or a seizure specialist.  More scary words.  It is funny how words can immediately turn a strong woman into a fearful being, barely holding it together.
Driving there was painful.  Arriving in the ER was almost surreal.  Sitting there, where you know people are who spend their days here.  With very sick kids.  With real problems.  And some less sick but still serious enough to warrant a children's hospital.  Why on earth are we here?

After doing an EKG and various other tests, including blood samples, the ER doctor ruled out any life threatening conditions and made sure we understood we needed to go see a cardiologist and our pediatrician for follow-up.  The hospital itself was fantastic and we met Olivia, who took such good care of Abby.  She gave Abby a fabric doll and Abby was allowed to give the doll a butterfly IV, just like Abby had one.  It helped her understand and her scientifically curious mind took over.  In the end, the care from Olivia overcame the scary needles.  It was a triumph.  Along with the fact  that we went home.  Home.  The peaceful place.  Although, for the next few days, peace of mind was not really there.

We saw a pediatrician the next day and it was concluded that it must be heart-related because of the quick recovery Abby experiences.  My family's heart-history didn't help her much either.  My dad passed away at 52 with massive heart-attack.  So did his sister.  But most concerning as far as history goes, is my uncle, who had a pace-maker at a very young age.  Having it be heart-related was relieving in a sense because seizures are scarier due to possible brain damage.  The symptoms prior to the events suggest a heart condition as well, possibly one where one's heart, normally beating at 75 beats per minute, speeds up to 250 beats per minute.  This results in the heart fluttering, rather than pumping blood, leaving the brain without its much needed oxygen and resulting in the experienced fainting.  While this condition itself is scary as it is heart-related, it is neither life-threatening nor urgent.  However, the fainting is.  She could easily fall and hurt herself.  Therefore, she cannot swim, ride a bike, be by herself, climb up trees or any other such things.  Abby is quite enjoying parts of this doctor's order.  I have to go with her to the bathroom and she no longer has to take baths by herself.  Other times she resents the orders, such as climbing at the baseball park.

Abby is worried about what is going on.  She scared about falling and getting hurt since that happened once.  She doesn't really understand the implications of having something wrong with her heart and there is no reason to change that, especially since we don't know what it is.  She is worried about more needles.

We are worried about her falling and getting hurt.  We are worried about the unknown.
It's been a week since she fell.  She had one other episode.  We had talked about her trying to lay down if she can when the tingling starts so that she won't hurt herself.  It worked that time.  She went down to the floor and never fainted.  If that prevented the fainting, then it indicates her heart.  It could also have been just a short episode.  It is hard because you don't know when something will happen.  There are no triggers such as physical activity.  I'm tired, exhausted, weary.  Abby is happy.  She's blissfully unaware as there are more days without incidents and it puts you in a false sense of peacefulness.

Then again, there is the possibility that it is just one of those strange childhood oddities that will pass into oblivion and no one will ever be the wiser.  Here is hoping she inherited my grandma's strong, strong heart and not my fathers.

Update: In the last two weeks, she has only had the tingly feeling twice, quite a reduction in appearances.  She also seems to be at the end of a big growth spurt.  Thankfully she is getting checked out thoroughly.  We haven't gotten to the cardiologist yet but everything else looks fabulous (except that she may have scoliosis...easily fixable at this age).  Here is hoping....

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