Monday, March 27, 2006

God is in control, like it or not

Some days are harder than others. I've found that Alex's life has brought me so much closer to God than I was. I remember on that Monday walkingn to the hospital just feeling terrible about things after Alex's rocky weekend when I just stopped in the middle of the sidewalk in front of the hospital, threw my hands in the air, looked up to the heavens and said out loud 'I give up God, I quit trying to be in control! Let's do this your way' 3 days later he called Alex home. Now I could get angry about this, that I gave God control and he took my child from me..... but instead I feel like rather than taking my child from me, he ended Alex's suffering and took him home. My fight for control with God was only harming my son.

We are going to try to get a copy of Alex's hospital record. I'm sure it will raise a lot of questions but I really feel the need to know the answers to some of the questions I was too afraid to ask while things were happening. I also feel like we need to know as much as we can about Alex's condition, for our sake, for the sake of people we might be able to help in the future, and for the sake of any children we may have yet unborn.

I've had a lot of people ask me what was the main issue with Alex, the issue that he could not overcome. Although we declined an autopsy, we are quite certain it was diastolic heart failure caused by his hypertrophied ventricle (small and stiff). Which caused something called Diastolic heart failure.. Here is a bit of info on it

'Diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to receive blood normally. The cardiac cycle is divided into two parts - systole and diastole. During systole, the ventricles (the heart's major pumping chambers) contract, thus ejecting blood out of the heart and into the arteries.

Sometimes, however, due to various medical conditions, the ventricles become relatively 'stiff.' Stiff ventricles cannot fully relax during diastole, and as a result the ventricles may not fill completely, and blood can 'dam up' in the body's organs (mainly the lungs). An abnormal 'stiffening' of the ventricles, and the resulting abnormal ventricular filling during diastole, is referred to as diastolic dysfunction. When diastolic dysfunction is sufficient to produce pulmonary congestion (that is, a damming up of blood into the lungs), diastolic heart failure is said to be present. '

Also, people have asked what Alex's heart problem was. I may have explained it early on in his life, as I understood it but now that I understand more, I can give you a better explanation.

Tetralogy of Fallot, pulmonary atresia, absent pulmonic valve

Alex had the most rare and most severe form of TOF. The traditional definition of it is the 4 anomolies:

Pulmonary stenosis- a narrowing of the pulmonary artery and/or valve

VSD- Ventricular Septal Defect. A hole between the 2 lower chambers of the heart, the ventricles which allows oxygen rich blood and oxygen poor blood to mix together before being pumped to the body, giving the telltale 'blue baby' symptom.

overriding Aorta- The Aorta, the artery that pumps blood to the body, is positioned centrally over the VSD

Right ventricular hypertrophy- Stiffening of the right ventricle caused by thickening of the muscle wall

Children with TOF have a boot shaped heart.

Alex's diagnosis was a little varied from this. He didn't have his pulmonary artery, so of course he didn't have the valve either. The PDA or Patent Ductus Arteriosis that fetuses use to circulate thier blood until they are born and thier lungs begin to work is the main, sometimes only way to get blood where it needs to go. This PDA closes normally within the first week or two of life, as the lungs do thier job which is why we noticed Alex having trouble 14 hours after birth, his PDA began to close. Some children have 'collaterals' which is extra arteries the heart grows when it detects an error in design. From what I know, Alex didn't have any, or only a few of these that didn't help him much.

There are some chromosomal abnormalities that can be associated with TOF, and are more frequently associated with severe forms of it. Alex did not have those chromosomal abnormalities so chances are, his heart problem was a fluke and won't repeat itself in siblings or future generations. However, since science hasn't yet uncovered a specific gene for heart defects, it is possible there is some genetic tendancy so our risk of having another child with a heart problem are 2-3% as opposed to 1% which is the risk of the general population.

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