Four weeks ago we went to the doctors for a bit of a sniffle, Dexter had a cold that wouldn’t go away and I thought it best we get it checked out. Just a runny nose and a little bit of a cough, no temperature but some whinging… nothing unusual.
It’s weird – I feel like I’ve barely taken a breath since that day, since something so routine turned instantly scary as the doctor listening to my son’s chest started to frown and cocked his head, going silent and frowning harder as he listened again and again. My blood ran cold as he told me it was important not to panic then switched to boiling as adrenaline flooded through me when he reached for the phone to make Dexter an appointment with a paediatric cardiologist.
Cardiologist, another one of those C words you don’t want to hear in relation to kids.
The heart in particular seems to be a hotspot for our family, my niece has a PDA and there are other conditions in the family. Dex had a murmur at birth that they couldn’t find at the 6 week check up and I am well aware that a murmur picked up at this stage is usually benign. But… I’m a parent, I’m hardwired to freak out at the thought of anything wrong with my baby and a murmur that results in the doctor putting on his very serious face then telling me slowly and clearly not to panic, one that has the Dr reaching for the phone to book us in himself? Oh yeah, I was scared.
Dexter was a champ, so serious at the appointment but perking up during the echo and telling the lady that he couldn’t get that sound (his heart) on our telly. We were lucky and the tech told us what she saw on the echo, giving us something to obsessively Google whilst reassuring us that if it was serious we would not have a three week wait for results.
Last Thursday, four weeks after that first scary appointment we sat again as a doctor listened to Dexter’s chest before confirming what we already knew and telling us that Dex has a PFO that is (thankfully) “of no clinical significance”. He couldn’t even hear a murmur that day, most of the time a PFO goes undiagnosed but because Dexter was ill the pressure difference jetted blood through the not quite closed valve causing an audible addition to the normal lub-dub of his beautiful little heart.
Part of me feels like I’m being a big drama queen, I’ve spent so much of the last four weeks telling myself that nothing was wrong that I haven’t had time to work through how scary it actually was to have the serious-faced doctor reach for the phone and call immediately for the next available appointment. All week I’ve struggled, beat myself up over what a little thing it has turned out to be, told myself off for the panic and sat staring blankly at a blinking cursor on empty white space as I try to articulate how very scared I was in that moment, how truly relieved and almost silly I feel now that we have confirmation of the results.
He is fine, his heart is fine, not perfect but working just as his heart is meant to work. My heart on the other hand is not so good but it better get used to leaping into my throat on a regular basis – I’m mum to a boy and scaring me seems to be in his job description.
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