Cath Recap

Hi Rudy Fans!  First of all, sorry for the silence.  I was writing posts yesterday from my iPhone and between my own incompetencies and wireless dead spots all over the second floor (due to all the radiology equip), I thought a quick update about us leaving the hospital posted.  Now I know what the “what’s going on?” e-mails and texts were about.

First a more detailed recap:  Our day started early with us pulling out of SB at 4:20am.  The upside of leaving that early is no traffic and, even with a stop for gas, we got to UCLA by six to go through check in and prep.  Before too long, we were rolling to the Cath Lab at 7:30.  As has already been documented, I got to be the one parent to go in until Rudy was under.  The second floor always makes such an impression on me–they mean business there–big hallways, everyone gowned, big pieces of equipment standing at the ready and crews of attendants purposefully moving patient gurneys with quiet focus.  You stay with your escort because every corner looks the same and the signs tend to be jargon and technical abbreviations.  If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll quickly be identified as someone who shouldn’t be there.

Even though Rudy is twice the size now, he still looked tiny when he was placed on the end of the 12ft table in the Cath Lab.  He fussed a bit and for some reason, wasn’t able to draw comfort from Daddy in his bunny suit.  Before too long, the Anesthesiologist came in and gave the resident the OK to start the gas and after just a few breaths Rudy was in a happy place.  So small and peaceful one could easily overlook him in the middle of all the screens and huge machines that make up the Cath Lab.

Trish and I were glad to discover that one can now check out a pager from the surgery waiting room so you don’t have to sit there and bite your nails with a roomful of uncomfortable people.  We headed to get some breakfast and soon found ourselves in a mini-reunion in the dining room as doctor and nurse friends came by to visit for the next three hours.  Some just happened to be walking through; others had seen us on the schedule and figured they’d know where to find us.  Thanks, friends–sitting there catching up with so many dear people was a far cry from those first waits where we sat in anonymous angst as the clock ticked on.  Even though it’s an unwanted journey, we can’t help but wonder how robbed we would be had we not met the precious people that came with it.

Good company made the time go quickly and at 11:30 Dr. Harake came to get us so we could sit down with him, Dr. Dan and Dr. Brian to go over what they found on the cath.  The good news is that the heart looks very good.  It is pumping well; there is no leakage or reguritation in the valve, all the pressures they rattled off in all the different places are where they need to be; the Sano shunt Dr. Brian put in is only narrowed slightly on one end, but still quite clear; the pressure in the pulmonary veins is where they like to see it.  Perhaps the only negative cardiac issue is that the heart is enlarged, but that’s not surprising as it’s working hard.  The team did not see any need for interventions (coils, stents, etc) of any kind.

The main area of concern continues to be Rudy’s lungs–which has significant relevance to the Glenn recovery.  In healthly lungs, blood is 99-100% oxygenated as it emerges from them and Rudy is 87% on his left lung (perhaps acceptable) and 74% on his right lung (far below optimal).  There are perhaps three causes for the chronic lung disease Rudy is struggling with:  1)  the extended time he spent on the vent; 2) the struggles he had with chylothorax and the measures the team had to take to stop it; and 3) perhaps some initial deficiencies he was born with.  At the cath back in June, the right lung saturation was about 72%, so there hasn’t been much improvement (though Dan points out that this is better than it declining further).

The team would obviously prefer to do the Glenn with the lungs in optimal shape but there is no clarity on how long this will take and if it’s even possible.  The risk of waiting is that Rudy’s heart function will fail at some point and he’s already far past the typical window for this.  So, the plan is to consult with the pulmonologist to see if there is any reason to believe that Rudy’s lungs can see substantial improvement over the next six months.  If that’s the case, then it may be worth the risks that come with waiting.  If there’s no clear assurance things will get better in that time frame, then we’ll likely schedule the Glenn in the next 30 days and move forward.

There were two specific things we had been praying would come from the cath:  1) Evidence that Rudy’s lungs were healthy and 2) a definitive date scheduled for the Glenn.  We’re glad for the positive reports that came regarding Rudy’s heart, but it’s been a bit of a struggle to come up empty on the two items we were hoping for.  We didn’t have much time to think about it yesterday as we met up with Rudy in recovery and sat with him for 4 hours until he was cleared to go.  Between the scheduling issue that bumped us to first case and the fact that Rudy didn’t require any interventions, they would only keep us overnight if Rudy was having problems coming out from under anesthesia, but he was awake before they wheeled him out of the cath lab.  He dozed off a bit here and there, but was otherwise happily calm.

Recovering with a swig of Pedialyte. The Big Boy held his own bottle!
Rudy's IV - new take on the "butterfly bandage"

Based on our past history, I think we’ll have a hard time packing for a simple hospital overnight ever again.  We proved we can re-assemble the mobile command center that carried us through seven months in short order, however, the only problem was that we hadn’t packed anything for Rudy (like his food and medicine), so that’s why we’re grateful to have friends in the right places–angels in the CTICU (Thanks, Jennifer!) got us squared away with provisions for the drive home.  We hung around LA for awhile and had dinner with friends, both to wait out traffic but also to stay a bit close by the hospital (just in case) before we made our way back to SB later in the evening.

After the long day yesterday, we’ve taken it easy today.  The big kids went off to school so Trish, Rudy and I layed low, only venturing out for a quick picnic down by the beach.  Rudy slept a bit more than usual and concerned us awhile when he looked blue and his sats were in the 50s.  We entertained calling down to UCLA until we discovered that his O2 hose was disconnected from the concentrator.  Duh!  Rudy has proven he can overcome incredible obstacles, but can he survive us?

I’ll try to put words to how we’re feeling as we’ve talked and tried to process yesterday’s results.  I’d have to say we’re feeling EVERYTHING.  That’s the best way I can put it.  Disappointed because we didn’t get the answers we were hoping for.  Weary because we’re still resigned to living life with an uncertainty that doesn’t allow us to plan more than a few weeks at a time.  Crazy in love with this little boy who weathers all of this with such serenity.  Sad that he has to weather it at all.  Awed by courageous people and an incredible facility that focuses so much expertise on us.  Grateful that the first step of the repair done on his tiny heart not only lasted longer than anyone could conceive, but through more complications than most would imagine.  Impressed with older siblings who love Rudy and are shouldering what all this asks of them so well.  Regretting that this is turning into such a big part of the story of their childhoods.  Confounded by the irony that Rudy has a major heart defect but that’s turning out not to be the most difficult thing for him to overcome.  Grateful for friends and family that pray for us and don’t leave us to walk this alone.  All at the same time.  We’re feeling EVERYTHING.


(Hi friends. I thought this got posted last night as we were leaving UCLA but it didn’t. Sorry to keep you hanging.  More shortly, but we made it home and are laying low today. )

Sorry for the short posts but we’ve been discharged and can head home this evening. More medical details later but Rudy recovered quickly from anesthesia and the team did not have to do any interventions in the cath lab, so we don’t have to spend the night.

The short of it– the heart looks very good but there are some concerns still about the lungs. Feels wierd to check in and out of the hospital in the same day. (knock on wood).

Thanks for praying. We’re glad Rudy is safe and made it through with relatively little discomfort.

He’s In

After all the consent forms and information gathering, Rudy was prepped and taken to the cath lab a little before 8am.  Rolf was able to accompany Rudy into the lab as long as he dressed appropriately…good look for him:

Lucky Rolf...they're letting him keep the suit!

So, he’s safely in and sedated and we should hear something in a couple of hours…

Prepped and ready!

Checked In.

Surprises are part of this journey so this chapter started with getting final confirmation at 10:30pm last night from the hospital that we were slotted for the cath lab at 7:30 am (not 11 as we were told a few weeks ago). So, we were up and rolling out of SB just after 4am and got to UCLA for check in at 6am. Rudy slept the whole way and thusfar is enjoying the novelty of the adventure.

More as things develop.

Kinda early to be out and about, dontcha think?
Not so bad once you wake up a bit!
Gettin some momma lovin'

Settling Stomachs

Okay, so I’m probably sharing too much information about what’s going on in our household but be thankful it’s not as detailed of an account as what Max and Livy were discussing this morning as they compared vomit stories with one another.  Ha  Ha  As it turned out,  Rolf stayed out in the living room all night keeping an ear on the sickos…everyone’s tummies finally settled down about 2am.  I stayed in our room with Rudy and so far he’s doing fine.  Unrelated to the events of last night, Rudy had an early morning doctor appointment with a local ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat Doc) so I got him up, ready, out the door and back again before 9am.  First thing this morning, Olivia was pretty weepy and cried as she said, “the worst part of throwing up is that I can’t be close to Rudy” (sweet girl)  but by the time I returned home, she and Max looked chipper and were soon eating saltines.  ‘Praying for a day of rest for the kiddos and a productive one for me as I finish up a few details before tomorrow. 

Although sympathetic to his siblings, Wilson kept his distance and occupied himself with a good book…

We're all becoming a little phobic...
Rudy, however, doesn't seem too concerned.
So far, so good!


Oh my, it seems we’re getting hit hard….Maxi has been getting sick every 20 minutes since 2:30pm this afternoon (it’s now 8:30pm Tuesday night).  Now Olivia has joined the chorus – both are banished to their rooms and I’m nervously covering everything in Lysol spray.  Wilson has resorted to wearing a mouth and nose mask with medical gloves and I’ll be sequestering Rudy back in our room for the night…Rolf has the first vomit watch!  Ugh, THIS of all weeks!!!  It’s discouraging but I’m hoping that because it came on so hard and fast, it will run its course just as quick and NOT SPREAD any further.  Please pray…between the sick-watch and Rudy’s suction needs, it’s going to be a long night.  Thank you!!!

Packing The Overnight Bag

I pulled my overnight bag out of the garage to pack  for this week’s trip to UCLA and I had to laugh because it was still packed from Rudy’s last heart cath back in June!  I guess I was a little distracted when we got Rudy home and the scary thing is I didn’t miss any of the items that were packed away for half a year!  Silver lining? – one less item on my “to do” list this week (pack overnight bag…done).

My heart has been both anxious and excited to move forward as I’ve anticipated Thursday’s cath but, I admit, today’s news of Josiah’s passing has taken the wind out of my sails and I wish we could just scoop Rudy and the big kids up and hide somewhere far, far away.  That, however, is not an option.  We can’t go back, we can’t detour around it…we have to walk forward into (what feels like) the eye of the storm and pray.   And so, we ask all you prayer warriors to, once again, deploy on Rudy’s behalf and blanket him with prayers for wisdom among those planning his treatment, continued healing of his lungs,  a successful heart cath procedure,  an encouraging post-cath report and, most importantly right now, good health.  If Rudy catches a bug, the cath will have to be rescheduled and poor Maxi came home early today because he vomited at school.  At first we thought it might just be because he had a vigorous workout in PE after lunch but he has continued to empty his stomach – five times since getting him home – and, understandably, he’s fading fast.  I’m praying his body clears everything out  soon and he is then able to sleep it off.  Please pray Max recovers quickly and Rudy is protected from any virus or infection lurking around.  

Rolf and I will take Rudy down to L.A. early Thursday morning and Rudy’s cath will, most likely, start in the early afternoon.  For those of you who are freed up to check the blog on Thursday, we’ll post updates throughout the day.   We hope to come home on Friday with a date on the calendar for the Glenn!  Bless you, friends, and thank you!

Missing Josiah…

We’ve been overdue for a post and Trish is planning on writing one this afternoon.  There’s much on our hearts as we approach Thursday when we’ll return to UCLA for Rudy’s heart cath.

Even if a cath is among the less concerning procedures Rudy has had to endure, having to check back into the hospital brings on a flood of memories and emotions.  Our uneasiness is heightened by the news we just got about his fellow warrior, Josiah, whose HLHS battle ended on Sunday.  Even though thousands of miles separate us, our hearts are knit together with Milo, Erin, Daylia and Hazyl.  May God give them peace and comfort in circumstances where no words can.

More shortly–thanks for walking with us through this.

Celebrating MLK Day

We braved the harsh rainy weather early this morning to make our way to the annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration at the historic Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara.  We felt it was worth bundling Rudy up and taking him out in this dreary weather to see big brother Max present his winning poem at the big event.  Max was this year’s first place poetry winner in a city-wide competition among 1st-6th graders.  It was a morning filled with state and local dignitaries, speeches and music but our favorite contributor was, of course, Max:
Live Together Poem by Max Geyling
We should treat each other equally
Black men and white men with
Black women and white women
And all other kinds of colors of people
We should bring each other flowers
In the early morning hours.
As brothers and sisters living in peace,
Our hatred and sorrow will be released.
If we listen to MLK Jr. and keep our cool,
We’ll perish as friends, not as fools.
Luckily it’s over where I live
Because I have friends of all colors.
We’ve noticed we can have fun
With the ones our ancestors called dumb.
We can play together,
live together,
cry together,
laugh together,
and die together.
At our school you won’t find one fool.
Miss Grant came in support of Max! -So sweet

 Max was well supported by Wilson, Olivia and Rudy and his teacher, Miss Grant, who was kind enough to come as well.  It was a special opportunity and Rudy enjoyed being a part of it all…

Rudy likes celebrating MLK Jr!
The Arlington Theater offers the added bonus of viewing the actual "Gone With The Wind" couch used in the movie! Rudy is wondering why he can't get a diaper change on it...

And so, we mark our journey with Rudy with yet another memorable holiday.  ‘Just 10 more days until the heart cath…anxious and excited…and, as always, very grateful.