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Waiting Room

Sitting here in the quiet, empty waiting room of Providence Hospital’s cardiology wing. There is no one else here, not even an attendant at the desk. Most of the lights are off. It’s quiet. I’m praying for my baby Sarah.

Stephanie’s emails are an adequate explanation of Sarah’s condition for now. I was writing just such an explanation, but using far too much detail, as is my tendency, when Stephanie’s email came through.

Since the tentative diagnosis of a heart condition was made, things have moved very quickly. The medivac team was already being assembled before the doctor in Fairbanks came in to tell us what she believed to be Sarah’s condition. Within an hour, a team of five showed up to take Sarah and me away. It was hard for Stephanie to let her go.  

Upon arriving in Anchorage (I blindly followed the transport team and that frighteningly futuristic looking baby bassinette while all else blurred in the periphery) we were ushered right in to the neo-natal ICU. Within minutes a warm and apparently capable doctor came to examine Sarah using ultrasound. After about ten minutes of pictures, he came to me with the words “massive cardiac anomaly.”

He said she would certainly need surgery, and that very soon. He said it would be open-heart surgery, done while she is on a heart/lung bypass. He said this would have to be done in Seattle.

I asked him about flying her to Children’s Medical in Dallas so that we could be close to family. He didn’t consider it for a moment, emphasizing that she has had this condition for two months, and that something had to be done quickly. Dallas is too far, would require a fuel stop, and Sarah could deteriorate rapidly in flight.

Before the transport to Seattle could be made, the surgeon here has to do a cardiac catheter to explore the anatomy of the heart to develop a road map for the surgery to come. In addition to the diagnostic part of the procedure, she will also undergo an “atrial septostomy.” This consists of a balloon being passed through the hole in Sarah's heart (see Stephanie's explanation below), inflated on the far side, and then pulled radically through the hole in order to tear the hole larger. If it works, she’ll be fine for travel, and the surgery to come will repair the hole. He said he had to inform me of the risks including sudden death if the hole was torn too large or in the wrong place. This is hard information to take in stride.

*   *   *

One of the nurses just came to tell me that the procedure is going well and Sarah is doing fine. It’s been two hours now, and they are just beginning the diagnostic camera work. The balloon thingy will come after.  

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2008 at 08:05PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell in | CommentsPost a Comment

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