On Thursday, I went in for a planned check up at the University of Michigan. It was an appointment I was waiting for with much anticipation, hoping to hear that my heart was improving and that I could maybe wean off a med or two. Well, things went a little different, but I walked away from Thursday feeling like I had many of my questions answered and feel equipped to move forward until my next check up in May.
I started off the day, meeting with a physician’s assistant to look at my rib. My rib (near my shoulder blade) has been giving me a little bit of trouble, especially at rehab. I can feel it move and at times, you can see something poking out of my back. I right away thought that it was my broken rib, but I didn’t want to seem crazy, so I asked the surgeon’s office about it. When the PA felt my back and had me do some arm movements, her first words were “oh yeah…oh yeah…” as I moved my arms up and down. It is clearly still broken and clearly has a lot of movement yet. The PA asked a fellow surgeon what she thought and sometimes a plate is put in to hold it in place, but it would require surgery. Not going to lie, I’d like to bypass on another surgery for awhile if I can, though if needed, I can muster up the courage for another one. Meanwhile, the PA wasn’t real comfortable with that answer, so she decided to page my surgeon, who was in surgery at the time. He was willing to meet with me and take a look at it, when he was done.
My surgeon is known to be very confident in what he does, while giving grief to his patients too. That’s just his love language! I told the PA that he was going to give me so much grief for being back in “his” office! When he walked in, he right away wanted to listen to my heart, even though that’s not why I was seeing him. He wanted to know how life was, and then looked at the rib. He said he believes that the rib cracked during the second surgery, when they opened up my sternum. I knew I had a gap in another rib, but learned that they cut a notch in it, so that they wouldn’t have to create a larger incision (the things you learn). Unfortunately, it’s not that rib that’s bothering me, but the one above. He said there isn’t much they can do, but that it will heal. It’s abnormal to have a rib broken, but even more abnormal for it to still be broken. But hey, if it’ll happen to anyone, it’ll happen to Kristin!
The surgeon reminded me that they put me through the ringer with the first surgery and then having another open heart on top of it, was a bit much. To hear HIM say that they did a number to me, made me think I wasn’t such a wimp about it after all. But then he also told me to suck it up and hopefully it will heal (yes, he literally told me that) :). Gotta love the “tender” words of my surgeon! He truly has the biggest heart though and I was thankful to meet with him again. Though he suggested I come back as often as I can to say hi, but not to have surgery. I like that way of thinking!
Onto my heart appointment! I was given another medication to take to hopefully decrease the number of extra beats my heart has and to increase the function of it as well. The heart’s function is reasonable, but could be better. Also, the number of PVCs (premature ventricular contractions) I am having is not unreasonable, but could be better. Right now it’s about finding the right balance in medication, that will hopefully increase the strength and function of my heart. The PA said that after two surgeries so close together, that my heart has a LOT of healing to do yet. Healing that I PRAY will happen someday, but my heart is in the hands of the Great Physician. What He chooses to do or allow, is best.
Unfortunately I am still part of the “heart failure team” (I was hoping to graduate out of that program after surgery), but I know it’s where I will get the best care. I am still retaining some fluid, so the additional medication will hopefully help with that also. I have had low blood pressures lately, so it will be interesting to see how my body responds to these new changes.
I will be going in for blood draws to monitor my levels and fluid levels, along with daily blood pressure checks, to ensure my heart is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. I am just baffled at how intricate the heart works and how medications can help the heart function better. Is that not just AMAZING?
So is the heart getting better? That’s debatable, but am I getting better? ABSOLUTELY!!!! A month ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing what I am doing now. I have more endurance, more mobility, have less pain, am sleeping much better, and am much stronger! Granted it doesn’t take much to gain strength when you don’t have much to begin with, but I can lift Mazy no problem now. I might “umpf” while doing so, but I can at least lift her! In her words…”Mommy can lift me now!”
When I get discouraged about my heart and how I feel like I’m back at square one, even after two surgeries, I am making progress. I really am. I need to keep perspective on what’s going on and what God is doing. He knew even before my first surgery, that this is what recovery would look like. He knew I would need rehab to help me get back on track. He has a purpose in such a time as this. That is why I am trying to keep my head up and keep looking forward. Every rehab session is one step closer in the healing process.
Slow and steady will win the race!
While talking about recovery, I can’t help but talk about how far Mazy has come. Brings tears to my eyes! For weeks she had such an anxiety about us leaving and had a hard time adjusting to me not being able to be her “mom” in the way I used to be. It was a hard adjustment for all 3 of us. I hope to never go back to that time in our life, but I look back and see how much healing God has done too. Mazy willingly goes to others now, not worrying about if we will leave her behind and never come back. She also knows where all my scars are, and has to count them on the daily. Everyday she asks me if my owies are getting better, and I always tell her God is making Mommy all better! If you ask her who is making Mommy better, she will tell you Jesus. It just softens my heart to hear her faith. She likes to look at my scars and kiss them, and let me tell you, they sure feel a whole lot better when those kisses come! Doesn’t matter what age you are.
We have so much to be thankful for. It’s been a journey and a journey we continue to walk through, but God has been faithful and oh so good to us! All we have to do is look down our dining room towards a door in our hallway, and see a toddler bed set up, with a sweet little girl resting in it. So much to be thankful for!