So, I’m a pediatric nurse, which must make me abundantly qualified to care for a child with a complex congenital heart defect like our little Dolly’s.
Yeah, not so much.
You see, when I was in nursing school, I had ZERO interest in anything to do with Cardiology. It scared me. I did a rotation through a Cardiac step-down unit and there were a couple of older guys there waiting for new tickers. They were on an intermediate care unit because they were hooked up to what amounted to an artificial heart and couldn’t be allowed to leave the hospital. They were bad off. Their care was complex and their prognosis was scary. I didn’t dig how sad the whole thing was. I really like them though. I still remember each and every one of their names, and their awesome wives too.
I decided right then and there that this was NOT the specialty I wanted to practice in. So, I slept through that portion of Anatomy & Physiology y’all. Yes, I’m confessing. Sometimes, it was a zone out. Sometimes, it was full-on close your eyes and drool in the huge lecture hall kind of sleep. Don’t get me wrong, I know the basic anatomy. I still had to take the test (FYI, I managed a ‘B’ in that course), but as for the deeper understanding of the complexities of the heart and defects associated with it, yeah, I didn’t really care.
When I began to work in pediatrics as a new nurse, the units in our hospital were divided by diagnosis. I loved Hematology & Oncology. Give me a Leukemia diagnosis any day. Those heart kids were on the ‘other side’. I think I floated over there a few times, but I wasn’t assigned those kiddos. They were for the experienced nurses.
Can you see the irony that’s about to smack me upside the head?
I am now a mom of one of those kids. Dang. I wish I hadn’t slept quite so soundly during those lectures. In all honesty, FPD, the Spanish Interpreter, knew more about congenital heart defects than I did when we were reviewing Dolly’s file. I had to get up to speed REAL quick. Thanks to many other heart mamas out there, and a really nice Cardiothoracic Surgery NP on the other side of the country, I’m doing okay now. I understand Heterotaxy, Hypoplastic Left Heart and Tricuspid Atresia. Dolly doesn’t have any of those. She has two separate congenital heart defects that are each fatal in their own right if not corrected.
The more I research, the more I realize how much of a miracle she is.
Here is a good image of a normal heart next to Dolly’s heart.
Do you see that red ‘x’ that I drew? Yeah, that pink part (the ventricular septum) is the wall between the ventricles of the heart. The ventricles are basically the pumpers of the heart. They pump the oxygenated blood to all the other important parts. Dolly doesn’t have that little pink part. Instead of having two pumpers (ventricles), she has one.
As scared as I am though, I’m thankful everyday for the fact that she has just the right combination of defects to keep her alive until I can get to her. It’s not that I don’t worry about her and all the things that could go wrong, it’s just that I’m a glass half full kind of gal, and knowing what a miracle her little broken heart is makes me feel better, like maybe someone is watching out for her. Someone has a plan for her. I know exactly who that someone is.
who hopes you didn’t sleep through her lecture. You never know when the irony will slap you upside the head.