Wednesday, September 06, 2006

We are the Morgan’s my name is Elaina, my husband is Kelly, our oldest daughter is Katie and is 12 and our youngest is Kristin who at this point in our story was 9. Our story started in September of 2000, when I was 26 years old. It was late afternoon in September of 2000 while cooking dinner that I felt very dizzy and woke up on the kitchen floor. I had always been what I considered healthy. My family doctor admitted me the following morning to the local hospital for various tests. A day or so later the halter monitor report came back in and it showed my heart rate was periodically dropping as low as 10 beats per minute. I immediately received a pacemaker implant device and was diagnosed with neurally mediated syncope and first degree heart block.

After the time of receiving the implant device up until December of 2005, I periodically complained of weakness and numbness in my limbs, slurred speech, and dizziness. In December of 2005 after having moved into a new home with an upstairs, I was getting extremely short of breath. I would make it no more than a few steps and start gasping for air. I finally went into the doctor expecting to be told I was out of shape and needed to exercise more. That isn’t quite what happened.. I was sent for an echocardiogram (echo). Shortly after the echo, I received a call from my doctor explaining they had found a hole in my heart. I was just in complete shock. I was immediately sent to my cardiologist who was quite surprised with the findings of the echo. He repeated the echo just to be sure and also found an abnormally large hole. He explained to me I had an ASD that he felt I had been born with. He said that pretty much explains all the problems over the last 5 years. He believed I had been experiencing TIA’s which are a type of mini stroke. I was also experiencing episodes of high blood pressure. My oxygen level was around 87% which is why I was experiencing shortness of breath when trying to climb stairs. He explained that since my hole had been left undetected for so many years it had caused me various problems. He said that the ASD needs to be repaired. He then scheduled me too see a surgeon.

In the time I was in between seeing the cardiologist and the surgeon, my youngest daughter Kristin became sick with a cold. After a few days with no improvement and a nasty cough developing I took her in to see a doctor. He was in the midst of his exam with her and asks me how long she had a murmur? I don’t know anything about one, I told him. He carefully listened again and said yes, I hear a murmur. Just to be precautious she should be seen by a Pediatric Cardiologist (P.C.). He scheduled her an appointment immediately with a P.C. The P.C. also heard a murmur and decided to do an e.k.g. and an echo. He invited me to be present during her echo. Just moments into her echo he explained he was looking at a slightly large ASD. I then proceeded to tell him about mine. He scheduled us an appointment for her at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to see another P.C. who specialized in ASD’s. This doctor explained that the ASD needed to be repaired immediately. He told us of our options and gave us time to make the choice. We choose to have the ASD repaired with open heart surgery which we believe to be the best option. She had a wonderful surgeon named Dr. Karla Christian. She specializes in ASD repair via open heart surgery.

While in the midst of having Kristin’s surgery scheduled, I finally went for my visit with a surgeon. He was ready to schedule my surgery and I explained to him my daughter would be going first since we already had hers scheduled. He understood completely and scheduled my next visit for three days after Kristin’s last check up after open heart surgery. They did explain that they are not quite sure what the future will hold for Kristin. They do give it a very promising outlook. There is a possibility she will need a pacemaker someday or another procedure. However, since the ASD is now repaired her chances are a lot narrow of ever needing another surgery. My outlook on this is that medical technology is increasing every single day and at her age which is now 10 years the possibility is unlimited as long as we help support ASD research. I am so thankful that my daughter should not have to experience the problems that I have. Our family is dedicated to ASD awareness and will do everything we can to make others aware and help support this as well.

Kristin had her surgery on June 16, 2006. She is doing wonderful now. It is 2 weeks after surgery and she is already a different child full of new found energy. I keep reminding her to settle down so she doesn’t hurt herself before she is fully healed. It has been a very hard few months for us. I was able to accept with peace that I needed surgery and then finding out your child does too is just traumatic. It was one of the hardest moments I pray I ever have to endure.

The hardest time for me was the time between finding out she needed surgery up until she was out of ICU. The worst moment was them wheeling her away to the operating room and then waiting and praying she would be O.K. Thank god because he does answer prayers. If not for the support of Saving Little Hearts (SLH) and their ability to put parents together to talk to who have been down the same path you are experiencing; the road would have been much more difficult then it already was. The support we received through SLH was just amazing. I pray to be as supportive and helpful to others experiencing ASD and congenital heart disease as they were to me.

Oh yes, and if you are wondering; I go back to see my surgeon on August 10, 2006 and will be scheduled for surgery A.S.A.P. I know that the path ahead is still a bit unsteady for me since I already have issues with my ASD going undetected for so long. However, I know that god and my new life long friends at SLH will be there to help me through it.


Elaina Morgan

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