Is This Really Happening?

Monday, September 14, 2009
Hi, to all,

First, let me say thanks for all the prayers, calls and concerns.  I know I haven't been able to answer all calls or messages, and I apologize...the past several days have been so overwhelming, terrifying, and difficult, so please forgive me.  As I have a chance to update anyone, please pass along the news...also, if I've missed someone you want to forward this to, feel free.

I'm not sure who knows what info, so I will start at the beginning.  Over the past week to two weeks, Bethany has been feeling "different".  Symptoms were vague...palpitations at times, SOB at times, and fatigued, but then would feel better.  Zac had a cold, and Bethany was due to go back to work on Sept 7th..Finn was baptized on the 6th, so we had lots of activities with family and friends over the weekend, which lead her to believe she might be catching Zac's cold, or might have been stressed and worried about going back to work, or just tired out from all the weekend festivities.  By Thursday afternoon she was still feeling bad off and on, so she made an appointment with her MD for Friday after school.  Friday morning, she was too fatigued to get ready for school. so she stayed home, and changed her appointment to 11:30.  Her doctor immediately admitted her to the hospital.  At first, it was thought that she had a pulmonary embolus, but the echocardiogram revealed that she was in heart failure, most likely from a disease called peripartum cardiomyopathy.  The disease can occur anywhere from the time a woman is 5 months pregnant to 6 months after delivery. Little Robert Finn was born July 14th, putting her at about 6-7 weeks post delivery when she got sick.  Her left ventricle should be about golfball sized, and is enlarged to the size of a tennis ball.  Her ejection fraction (the amount of blood pumped out of the heart when it beats) should be about 60%, and hers is only 10%.  She was and is a very sick young woman.  Being young and in good health, her body compensated so well, that her symptoms were vague, instead severe.  The cardiologist in Mobile transfered her to Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans, because there is not a hospital in Mobile that could provide the services she would have needed, if her condition worsened.  More than once, the possibility of a heart transplant has come up.   Kim & I came to New Orleans with little Finn, so his very shell-shocked, overwhelmed and terrified parents could have some time with him.  Bethany's mom, an aunt and a cousin are here, too.  All of us are trying to support those two emotionally, and helping with Finn, who is, thank God, a very easy baby, and excellent therapy for all of the adults in the family who are stressed and hurting while dealing with this in New Orleans. There is a very nice hotel connected tot he hospital, with spacious rooms, so all the baby paraphernalia fits...and that is amazing.  I had much to well as finding out about things like a microwave bottle sterilizer...

Since being admitted to Ochsner, Bethany has had LOTS of blood work, EKG, Chest X-ray, and a repeat echocardiogram.  The results have been the same...10% ejection fraction, and a left ventricle nearly twice the normal size.  Her potassium and magnesium levels have been off, requiring replacement therapy.  Her lungs were full of fluid, due to pulmonary edema.  So far, they have pulled off over 10# of fluid with diuretics, which has made her breathing much easier.  They have started her on 3 heart drugs, digitoxin, coreg and zesteril.  This evening, the stopped the digitoxin, due to her blood pressure being too low.  The plan is to regulate the medications here over the next few days, then send her home to, hopefully heal.  Needless to say...with frequent follow-up.  This approach is "Plan A", as many woman with this disorder will regain nearly normal cardiac function within 6 months to a year.  If she does not get better, there are several other more aggressive treatments to try.  We are hoping and praying that Plan A will WORK.  For  a while today, a heart cath was planned, but the MD's decided that it may not be needed, in light of how well her body is compensating.  It is not completely ruled out, though.  So we are in a holding pattern---"wait and see" so to speak.  Finn has a 2 month check up due Wednesday.  Depending on how things are going here, we may go back to Mobile on Wednesday for that appointment, but, if still feel the need to be here, we'll stay.

Please keep Bethany, Zac and baby Finn in your prayers, not only for her health to improve, but also for their understandably distressed spirits.

God bless!