Friday, September 17, 2010

Praise God - good news!

The title is a bit of a spoiler for the rest of the this update, but I couldn't resist!  We are SO thankful for the way that God answered our prayers for Gloriana's heart. =)

First things first, the cardiologist was explicitly surprised at how good Gloriana looked.  He was further surprised to hear how well she has been since the last appointment: good apetite, putting on consistent weight (up to 7 lbs, 4 oz today!), no difficulty breathing, and no bouts of sweating.  He said any or all of those characteristics would have been warning flags that something is wrong.  Not having any of the above problems shows that things are going quite well.

The doctor listened to Gloriana's heart and said that her heart murmur was significantly quieter than 3 weeks ago, which indicates that her VSD (hole in her heart) is reducing in size.  Praise God!  The rest of his exam left him impressed, too - her respiratory and heart rate were both right where they should be, which are even more good signs.

I asked what the prognosis/possibilities/probabilities are from here on out.  He said that there is a 30-40% chance the hole in her heart will continue to close and won't have any problems.  There is a 50% chance that the hole will close more, but not completely - and then surgery would be necessary sometime after her first birthday to make sure everything is fine.  There is a 10% chance that the hole would close incorrectly, causing problems in the tissue around the hole and resulting in surgery to correct that.  Overall, we were encouraged with the set of news that he gave us about the VSD.

I reminded him that 3 weeks ago there were concerns with the mitral valve.  "What's the status of that concern?"  He said that it's likely NOT a valve issue at all - in fact, if it were, we would be seeing difficulties in the areas I mentioned above.  "What, then, caused the enlarged chamber three weeks ago?"  Most likely, he said, it was the change in bloodflow because of the VSD healing, along with the increased volume of blood in that area of her heart from the VSD - "an artifact from the VSD" were his exact words.  "So what about the valve, then?  Any need for treatment?"  He said that valve problems are best avoided and said that they were quite certain we could rule out that problem.  Instead, the chamber has likely already reduced in size due to the VSD reducing in size... and both that chamber and her entire heart should eventually go back to their normal size on their own.

"On their own" is a funny phrase because we know that nothing ever happens "on its own."  "In him [Jesus] we live and move and have our being."  So does Gloriana.  We'll never know whether there actually was a valve problem 3 weeks ago... whether it was merely an artifact from the VSD... or whether - seen through the eyes of faith - that the valve didn't require surgery because the Great Physician Himself healed Gloriana.  Amazing.

We are moved beyond words.  This day - along with so many through the journey of the pregnancy, surgery, bedrest, NICU stay, and the rest of the roller coaster ride since - is one of those "immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine" kind of days.  We were cautioned that we're "not out of the woods yet" by the cardiologist, but this is still very good news.  If all continues to go well - and we don't see any of the abovementioned concerns - we'll see the cardiologist again in about a month.  Incredible. =)

Thank you again for your unwavering prayer support.  I think of the old African-American spiritual song: "If it had not been for the Lord on my side... where would I be?  Where would I be?"  This journey has been - and continues to be - unceasingly marked with grace.  We're reminded today of what Gloriana Joy's first and middle names mean: "God's glorious grace brings JOY."  Praise God!  God is good, all the time.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Midweek Pause

We’ve had an incredible stretch of a week or so, and I thought – if you’ll promise to pray for all three families involved – that I would share a bit of what’s on my heart.

First, my best friend and his wife had a healthy (very) little girl who was born at 28 weeks last Tuesday.  It’s ironic that they’re in the same NICU where we (felt like we) lived for several weeks, but it’s a blessing that little Emily is doing well and that they know the ropes a bit because of our experience.  Please pray for the Darlings – you can follow their progress and hear a story of God’s faithfulness in the delivery here.

Second, tragedy struck our church on Sunday morning.  During the service, news came that a 25-year-old member of our church – Devin Dorn – passed away suddenly that morning.  It came completely out of nowhere, and no one knows how/why it happened.  Devin had graduated from Purdue University last year and left behind a loving extended family along with the love of his life and longtime girlfriend, Jamie.  I saw his heartbroken loved ones at the visitation tonight and saw how loved he was by the number of people there to visit.  Pray for them as they’ll face another long day tomorrow with the funeral.  They’ll need God’s sustaining grace everyday as they mourn his loss for a long time.

Third, our family needs your prayers for three big reasons:
  1. Munster CRC has extended a call for me to be their Senior Pastor.  We hope to respond to the call this Sunday and would appreciate your prayers for discernment in the days to come.
  2. We had mixed results at our urologist’s appointment on Monday.  At one time Gloriana had a slightly enlarged kidney, but now it appears to be normal in size – praise God!  Belladia, however, still has an enlarged left kidney – something that’s been watched since here.  At this point, they think that it’s a Ureteropelvic Junction (UPJ) obstruction.  This simply means that the tube that is connected to her kidney and brings the urine to her bladder is narrow and/or obstructed.  When the urine doesn’t totally leave the kidney, the kidney becomes enlarged (strangely, it’s parallel to the reason why one chamber of Gloriana’s heart is enlarged – the narrowing of the valve prevents blood to flow properly).  The risk for Bella’s kidney is that an infection will develop – and, if left untreated, the infection could cause the kidney to quit functioning at all.  Now what?  We’ll go back on November 15 to see how the kidney is looking, with prophylactic antibiotics to prevent infections from forming.  There’s an 80-90% chance that she will need surgery, which entails a 2 inch incision at the site and inserting a synthetic tube to bypass the UPJ.  The urologist assured us that there is a 98% success rate with the surgery, and an unsuccessful surgery (meaning an infection starts in the synthetic tube or scar tissue forms on the tube and becomes an obstruction) would simply mean doing the surgery again.  Of course, we’re praying the UPJ heals itself (more properly, that God would heal her UPJ) or, if need be, a successful surgery.
  3. Gloriana has a big cardiologist appointment on Friday morning at 9:15.  We’ll be following up on our appointment from 3 weeks ago (seen here), and we’re still hoping and praying that her heart will be healed.  If not, we’re praying for wisdom for the doctors as they determine how best to treat her.

Needless to say, our plates are full this week.  Lots to pray about.  We’re SO indescribably thankful that God hears our prayers and that you’re praying alongside us.  Please pray this week for the Darlings, the Dorns (and Jamie), and our family as we each have our struggles.  Thanks.