Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Little Heart to Heart

It's been a crazy past few days. Mom and Grandma have both visited the doctor only to discover they both have (and let me simplify this for you because I can't spell, let alone say the medical term correctly) a hole in their hearts.

Sounds funny, when put that way. Like, I keep hearing lame lyrics of songs and poems of lovers' hearts crushed by something rather dramatic. But no, this is the real deal. And, it's genetic.

Genetic as in, both Mom and Grandma were born with this. Genetic as in, I may also have been born with this. I'll know as soon as I see the cardiologist.

So how can someone survive with this condition? What exactly does it mean to have this? Well, for starters, unfiltered blood is traveling to the brain because it's bypassing the heart. This means there is a high risk for blood clots that could hit the brain and cause a stroke. This also means the body is receiving "dirty blood" that doesn't have proper amounts of oxygen that the body needs. It also means that there is a leak which causes blood to leak out of the hole into the lungs when the heart compresses (which is does, A LOT obviously). This can cause a shortness of breath or a strange taste of blood in the mouth when exerting higher amounts of energy (like when you try to run). This finally explains why I've never been a runner. I literally cough up blood when I run too hard, for too long. It's gross. And it tastes nasty. And I don't recommend it.

Other symptoms include swelling in the legs. BINGO. This explains the mysterious Lymph Edema I've had in my foot for the past 5 years (that no doctor can explain considering this is something that usually develops when lymph nodes have been removed from the body). I still have all my lymph nodes, and some extra lymph fluid in my foot apparently. Just think of all the cute petite shoes I haven't been able to wear for five years. I know! It drives me crazy too!

So anyway, the solution?

There's a hole in my heart dear Liza dear Liza, there's a hole in my heart dear Liza. A HOLE!
Well then fix it dear Henry dear Henry dear Henry, well then fix it.... yeah enough of that.

The doctor enters the body through the groin, will travel up to the heart, and literally put a patch over the hole. Sounds like it would be a lot more complicated (20 years ago it was, I'm sure, as patients had to decide whether to have open heart surgery or not) but these days, it's fairly simple. An over night stay in the hospital if all goes well, and you're done.

You: That's it? Really? A patch? Like a band aid?
Me: Yup, that's it. Really. A patch (yes, like a band aid).

The tissue of the heart will grow over the patch, and WALLA! NO MORE HOLE!

So- I'll keep you all posted on whether or not my stone cold heart needs patching. Maybe then I'll be a warmer, loving person :)

Update: The doctor found a hole in my heart. However, it's not big enough that it needs patching. In his own words "Some holes we patch, others we don't. Yours isn't a big enough risk so we're not going to worry about it." YAY! I feel so much better!


  1. Finally an answer for the general rudeness we have all grown accustome to. Just teasing. I like most love u dearly & hope your hole gets patched real quick. Especially If the double bonus is your leg being fixed. Good luck!

  2. I hope your cardiologist appointment goes well. Please keep me posted. :)