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Posts Tagged ‘Pericardium’

My Big Fat Life – Gabriel Update

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2015 at 4:33 am

I didn’t want to talk about this until I had the appointment, but I finally got Gabriel in to see a pulmonologist.

Since we are now one episode away from the doctors wanting to remove the pericardium sac of his heart, I wanted to make sure that they looked at all things before moving forward.

A friend posted something on Facebook, and the in the comments one of the women mentioned something about pleurisy. It reminded me that one time, early on, one of the doctors said his symptoms were like those of pleurisy. I didn’t think much of it, because I didn’t know much about it, plus it was early on in and I didn’t know a lot about a lot.

The woman provided a link, and I clicked. You know all those symptoms the doctors have told me that aren’t textbook, and baffle them? Well they are textbook, but for pleurisy. This motivated me enough to get a referral to the pulmonologist and get their opinion on things. Since I haven’t been able to shake the feeling they are missing something, this sort  of confirmed my concerns there might be other things going on. At least some very suspect symptoms that are worth looking into.

He agrees that while Gabriel does have the symptoms for PPS (posterpericardiotonomy syndrome), he also seems to have some symptoms of pleurisy. He feels that Gabriel definitely needs a cat scan of his lungs when he gets sick again, to look at things more closely before they even consider moving forward with the pericardium removal.

Hopefully Gabriel won’t have another flare, and perhaps this is all just precaution. At the same time, I have been preparing myself for the fact that he may very well have to have it done, though I pray he won’t. At least we are one step closer to hopefully finding some answers to the symptoms that are baffling his doctors, and stressing his body out.

 

 

 

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My Big Fat Life – What Are You Staring At?

In Uncategorized on June 2, 2014 at 8:20 pm

I used to get really offended when kids would stare at Gabriel when we are out in public. You see, because of the prednisone doses, Gabriel has been dealing with a suppressed immune system. Because of this, when we go out I make him wear medical masks to reduce his chances of walking into a cloud of droplets when kids (or adults) cough and sneeze, and fail to cover it up. This isn’t a hard concept to learn, yet I see people fail to do this all of the time.

Lately I have come to the conclusion that kids are just going to gawk at my child no matter what, and it’s not a reflection of crappy parenting, kids are just naturally curious and lack the politically correct barriers we enforce on everyone else around us. What I haven’t come to accept yet, are the adults that not only gawk, but I have seen whisper and then giggle while looking at my son. This isn’t even a politically incorrect response, it’s just a social douche move. I can handle the kids gawking, but the adults who lack any social grace just annoy the heck out of me. I’ve started just looking right at them, and informing them that my son isn’t contagious, I am protecting him from people. Yes, maybe a snarky response, since I am also giving them the “people like you” look when I say it, but really.. what the heck?

As if my son doesn’t already feel weird about the weight gain from the prednisone, he now has to deal with wearing a mask which further singles him out, just so he can have some sense of normalcy in his life, by getting to go out and do things. Add the fact that kids and adults (who should know better) stare, and it’s not exactly the most amazing experience to go out in public anymore.

I thought I would share a thought that may help with the social experience if you ever find yourself in the space that you are staring in curiosity, that would not only remove any idea that you may be one of those people who lack any social swag, but would also make the person on the receiving end of your stare, maybe a bit more happy. It’s really easy.

Smile.

Yes, just smile. No, not one of those douche snark ew-what’s-wrong-with-you smiles, but just a nice kind smile. If you find yourself staring at the guy in the wheelchair, or he kid with a medical mask on, and they see you.. smile. Make it look like a moment you are offering a moment human connection, and just smile. I would much rather you smile at my child than give him on of those expressionless stares, and whispering giggles. Okay, so you are probably stating and wondering what is going on, or maybe you are thinking to yourself some expression of sadness for whatever it is that ails a person to be in that position to begin with. Whatever it is that is going through your mind, just please find a way to offer up a genuine and kind smile. A kind, generous and often welcome response to whatever it is you are thinking can make all the difference to the person of your curiosity.

As for your children, it’s okay. Maybe not to other moms, I can’t speak for them, but I can speak for myself. Just perhaps if you notice your child staring, use that moment to teach your child to smile in response to making eye contact with other people. When you get to your car, share with them that sometimes people look different and that is okay, and a smile is an appropriate and polite way to quietly greet others. Can you imagine the way we could change the way we interact with others by simply teaching our children, and ourselves, to smile at other people?

That would be a wonderful thing.

Last night Gabriel had some pain, and it bothered him up most of the night. It was in his shoulder, which is one of the symptoms that we typically deal with when fluid starts to build up around his heart. Thankfully it is now 8 in the evening and it never progressed, so I am relax a bit with the hopes it was just a random ache or pain.

Since today is Monday, that means another taper of the prednisone and it being the 2nd of the month, it means this is the start of his very last taper. I always find myself riding the wave of anxiety when the time draws closer for him to go off of the security of the prednisone, but this time we have that little purple pill on board (colchicine), and so I am trying to let the cautious hope ease the crop in that wave, just a bit. I’m not really doing such a great job of it, but after months of having been in this place before, I am learning some coping skills. One is that I am shutting down emotionally from those around me, but I am not shutting people out. In the past, I just went into emotional survival mode and shut everyone out, with all of my energy focused on trying to ride the wave without falling off and belly flopping into my metaphoric ocean of anxiety. Now, I am still in that place, but I am learning to ask for a hand from those I trust will help catch me. I’m still not 100% with this skill, but I am getting better.

I still don’t have a lot to give out to those around me during this stage of the process, and I am learning to be okay with that. I used to put a lot of expectation on myself to meet the expectations of those around me, even in my stress, but that would just weigh even heavier on me, and honestly I can’t do it. I am learning to identify the difference of the expectations of others put on me, those I put on myself, and the reality of what I should take on at any given moment. That might sound like a big lesson, but really I am just living it one moment at a time.

Now if we could just live human connection, one smile at a time…….

(Gabriel at the grocery store. As my daughter, Sarah, recently acknowledged on a recent shopping trip.. no, I don’t mess around with the cereal)

Gabriel Shopping

 

 

My Big Fat Life – Gabriel & Day One

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2014 at 11:13 am

Gabriel took his first colchicine pill this morning. It’s a little purple pill. It’s weird to think how much hinges on that little thing producing huge results. It reminds me of something Gabriel shouted out once, while trying to wrestle with his older (and much bigger) brother, Ben. Keep in mind this was before I knew he had a heart defect. I probably would have offered him a coloring book on the history of non aggressive play, with some soft and non threatening crayolas, had I known before they tried to do all of that play wrestling that brothers do. But I remember it so clearly when Gabriel was standing up and trying to get Ben into a mock head lock. Both boys were laughing so hard, and through the laughter Gabriel shouted out ” I may be small, but I am much bigger than my size!”. Those words were so big to say, as Gabriel has always been much smaller than his older brother despite how close in age they are.  I am hoping that is the case with this  little purple pill as well. I am hoping it is much bigger than its size, because it has a heck of job ahead. I am pretty sure Ben let Gabriel win that day, and I hope that little pill helps Gabriel win again.

When the Rheumatologist first told me about the colchicine, he told me that he had used it in only two other children with pericarditis, and without good results. He went on the state that he had just recently read an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, that says colchicine had showed promising results from preventing/reducing recurrence when used with Prednisone. What they are doing, is keeping Gabriel on the prednisone, and starting colchicine at the same time. He will taper off the prednisone over the course of weeks, until he is on colchicine only. Then we wait. Typically Gabriel starts to get sick within 2 1/2 weeks after stopping prednisone. If he can maintain on the colchicine, then that little pill is doing great big things. If not, then.. well, surgery.

When the Rheumatologist told me about the drug, he gave me a choice between that or methotrexate. The pros of colchicine are that it works much quicker, and Gabriel really needs to start getting better sooner than later. I was concerned that he hadn’t seen promising results though, and I needed more answers. Someone forwarded the report to me, and I was able to find some more after I Googled the study. I had questions about the study, so I emailed one of the investigating physicians in Italy, and asked a heap of questions. I was really worried he might not email me back, but within the day, he answered.

We exchanged emails back and forth for a few days, and he was able to answer my concerns. I started asking as many questions to cover all the basis I could. I wanted to know how many were teenagers, how many had underlying health issues, and so on. Things I felt I needed to know to help me make the most educated choice for Gabriel and might give him the best chance at feeling better, and avoiding surgery. The investigating physician stated that colchicine is worthy of adding to his prednisone treatment, so this seemed to be looking like this might be the medication worthy of a try. Even though the Rheumatologist hadn’t had promising results in the past, we all know Gabriel doesn’t seem to respond typically to a lot of things, so maybe he is the one patient that will turn this around. That is my hope, anyways.

So here is to little, but big things, today.

 

(Gabriel and I, 4-2014. I have no clue why he is squinting. When I asked him why he was, he couldn’t remember either)

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