Martin had his third open-heart surgery already (Fontan operation) in Charleston. To make a long post short, the third surgery was a success and we are finally back home safe and sound. Martin is doing wonderful. His oxygen saturation numbers are consistently in the 90s and his mood is much better (more on that). We are so grateful to finally be back home because out of all our medical trips to Charleston, this last one was probably the hardest and the most taxing. This is why, apart from short Facebook updates, we were unable to write any posts on this blog until now. We apologize for the lateness of this post.
To recap, Martin was born with a severe heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome(Gracie, in contrast, has Tetrology of Fallot). Essentially, he was born with half of a heart. Children with this heart defect normally undergo three separate open-heart surgeries that are performed at varying stages of a child's development. It was finally time for Martin's third. He was the right weight, the right age, and his oxygen levels would frequently dip into the lower 60s especially with activity.
We were facing this final surgery with considerable dread mainly because since Martin is now older (2.5 years old), he would be more capable of understanding and expressing his fears, anger, and anxieties. As it turns out, this is indeed what made this last surgery the most difficult for us. The surgery itself was, thankfully, successful. But the days and weeks after the surgery were incredibly challenging. Having both arms strapped to the bed post-operation, having 3 chest tubes and 2 IVs in his neck and hand, and even just being confined to a bed for the better part of three weeks was torturous for him. To make things worse, the stronger pain medicines actually had a horribly adverse affect on him and so he could only take Tylenol near the end when removing the tubes from his chest.
All of these factors along with constant irritation and sleep deprivation drove his frustration to such levels where he would become inconsolable and would verbally and even physically react badly toward Jamie and myself as we did our best to show him love and comfort. Even though we are fully aware that his physical discomfort and various medications were affecting his mood, nevertheless, this was a very hard and hurtful time for us as any parent can imagine. Painfully hard. So that by the time we were finally discharged we were exhausted and more than ready to come home. The reason why it took so long to be discharged this time was because of a prolonged "pleural effusion" problem which occurs in many patients after a Fontan operation. Our total stay was 3 weeks, but it seemed like an eternity.
The bottom line is that, to our great relief, we are finally home and Martin has been enjoying a good night's rest in the quiet and comfort of his own home. He is so much happier now and the "old" sweet Martin has returned to us! He's a remarkable boy and has bounced back from this surgery with amazing resilience. We are so relieved that this last chapter in Martin's scheduled surgeries is behind us. It feels as though we have climbed a great mountain and looking back we are amazed at how far we have come. As difficult it has been, we have learned many important lessons along this journey that it seems can only be learned in extreme pressing trials. We all know this in our head, but it was drummed into us almost daily how very little control we have over a great many things in life. We have learned to trust more in God's gracious providences. It is not a fatalistic passive attitude that we have, but rather, a restful trusting posture. We're not perfect in this area of patience. Not by a long shot. But we are learning. And during the hardest times of Martin's frustrations and our attempts to show him love, it reminded us of how often we must grieve the heart of the Lord with our rebellious thoughts and our sinful words. If we, as parents, can be deeply hurt by those we love and care for, how much more true it must be in the spiritual realm. When we sin, it makes us pause and think of how our sin must hurt and grieve our Heavenly Father who continues to show us unconditional love and affection. I hope this truth can give us enough sense to hate sin with a greater passion.
We are thankful for the prayers and love of our family and friends. Every kind word is received and very much appreciated.
Martin's Third Surgery PhotosMartin's third open-heart surgery (Fontan Procedure) in Charleston, SC.
Jamie and I have been married since April of 2001 and have five children, Katie, Calvin, Justin, Gracie, and Martin. Please be sure to sign our guestbook and drop us a note!
On February 3, 2012 our 4th child was born with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). He will have 3 "staged reconstruction" open-heart surgeries early in life to reconfigure Martin's cardiovascular system to be as efficient as possible despite the lack of an adequate left ventricle. These surgeries do not correct the lesion, and are instead considered "palliative".
He already had his first (Norwood) and second (Glenn) surgeries at MUSC in Charleston, SC. Let's give God the glory in all things. We learned this Psalm together as a family some time ago and it's very fitting: "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 34.
On November 2013, we embarked on a new journey to adopt a child from China that also had a heart defect. We are still on that journey...