"Just" A Cath Lab Procedure

We received the date for Kal’s cath lab procedure-January 16th. It is a 3 day extravaganza-kicking off the day before the procedure with a full battery of tests including a chest x-ray, lung scan, blood work, EKG and a visit with the cardiologist. Kal will stay overnight in the hospital the night of the procedure with a bed provided for one parent.

A visit to the cath lab may seem “easy peezy” after having undergone open heart surgery and I guess in retrospect I felt that way years ago, but now time has passed and I have a bright 7 year old who is so full of life. Life meaning he is a vibrant energetic 7 year old. Life meaning he is curious and full of questions. Life meaning he is my whole life. He is my 7 year old "baby". So when I start to think about January 15th- the day we head into the hospital to face blood work knowing needles have been Kal's biggest medical fear for the past few years, a chest x ray and a lung scan (requiring a needle full of radioactive dye)-I get that old familiar pit in my stomach. I wonder how Kal will deal with all this testing knowing that it is followed by an overnight stay in the hospital to have his heart worked on. I wonder how I prepare a boy who suffers from severe anxiety on a regular day for all this? And I wonder when I tell him about all this-not too soon, but not too late?

I have to consider that he is going to find out by accident if I wait too long to talk to him about his cath lab visit. He is always listening...taking in all that goes on around him, all of it. So even though I plan not to talk about it, I will "slip up" and mention it when he is in ear shot and he will hear it all, he always does. Just tonight he told me he knows I have a web site all about him. I was stunned. I have done all my work when he is asleep. I have not talked about it at all, not ever on the phone. How does he know? When I asked him why he thinks that, he said, "I am a force field." Hmmmm.

I was having a conversation recently with someone who was simply making small talk with me when I am quite sure they got a little more than they bargained for. They politely asked how the kids were doing and I replied my standard, “Good-they are well, thank you.” And then before I could stop myself I blurted out, “But Kal IS going in for another procedure on his heart.”

The conversation flowed back and forth for a bit and then they spoke the words that I have not been able to shake, “Oh, they aren’t cutting him open? It is JUST a cath lab procedure? That’s not so bad. I thought they were cutting him open." And just like that the conversation was dismissed.

For some reason I haven't been able to stop thinking about the conversation. The doctor is inserting a hollow sheath into his femoral vein and pushing through it a long tube with a deflated balloon on one end, stent on the other. The balloon end will snake up the vein, past the liver, and enter the heart. ENTER THE HEART. Enter HIS heart. I dont know, sounds just a little serious to me. He is SEVEN. He is my first born child - my baby. He is my whole life. I know the conversation was an attempt to minimize the situation to ease my mind and make it all seem somewhat routine. The thing is, minimizing the situation does not provide comfort. I guess I was in search of just a little empathy. I know people don’t know what to say. I get that, I do. It is just the life as a mom can be full of worry and fear - add open heart surgery and a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds and you have the life of a heart mom. I don't know, it seems wrong to even mention this now that I have typed it, but I know there are other heart mom's out there who know exactly what I am feeling. Some days you just don't feel like pretending anymore and you want someone to acknowledge that it is a tough road we travel. The optimist in me can now see this conversation as a gift...the words I can use to explain to Kal about his heart procedure. It is JUST a cath lab, nothing to worry about. Nothing serious. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. All will be just fine.

There are six entries in total relating to Kalvin's cath lab.  You can read them here 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in order.  Thanks for stopping by.  We love to hear your thoughts and comments!

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