Another year, another heart appointment, and this time around, a very relieved Mama.
Last year we received some pretty great news--that wonky mitral valve that we thought would have to be replaced by his fifth birthday had actually grown with him, meaning that surgery would definitely be delayed. I was so relieved that we wouldn't be spending the summer in the hospital for both Cora's birth and Evie's heart because I knew it was more than I could bare.
Somehow a whole year has passed by again and Everett was back in the Heart Center, kicking back on the table asking the echo tech to "use da wahm (warm) swime because I weawy don't wike da cold stuff" and cracking all of us up with stories about his favorite hobbies (playing on the ipad and eating treats) and his favorite sport (t-ball, because there are really good snacks). He talked his way through the whole exam and impressed the resident with his vast Superhero knowledge. It's rare that I get one on one time with five-year-old Evie, and it proved incredibly entertaining.
I didn't think it was possible, but this year's appointment actually topped last years--that wonky mitral valve of his has not only grown once again, but it is also no longer regurgitating (leaking) non-oxygenated blood in with the oxygenated. Our cardiologist said that from the echo his mitral valve looks absolutely perfect. I was stunned. Mouth on the ground, tears in my eyes kind of stunned. This was a valve that the top Stanford surgeon said would need to be fixed as soon as he was big enough to survive the surgery, this was a valve that just two years ago was regurgitating so badly that the left-side of his heart was enlarging sending our Columbia cardiologist into a measured concern, this was a valve that has caused me so many fits of anxiety it's hard to even count.
"So, does this happen? You know, a broken mitral valve just fixing itself like this?" I asked.
"Well, usually no. But it looks like his has!" the doctor told me with an easy smile.
He gave me the most likely medical explanation for everything looking so great, but also didn't hesitate to mention the incredible way that God created our hearts. I know that God loves Everett and I've known it from the very first moment I laid eyes on him. The way that faith and science have worked together to heal him has left me speechless many times, and this one was no different.
After Everett's first surgery when we found out that it was good enough to save his life in the moment, but not good enough to keep him alive in the long run, I was crushed and wanted to shield all of our friends and family from this devastating news that another surgery was in the works. After all, these people were celebrating Everett's miraculous survival and life--and I could bare the crushing pain alone. It was a brother at church that I barely knew who helped me understand that our people not only wanted to cheer with us over victories but mourn with us over tragedies. He loved us and so did others, and they wanted to experience all of our emotions by our side, even when they were ugly and uncomfortable. His words gave and have continually given me the courage to be authentic in the way I tell our family's story.
After Everett's appointment a few days ago, I had a similar albeit slightly different experience. This time it was good news I had received, but I once again felt the desire to hold back, worried that today's happiness would only lead to heartache later were his heart to take a turn for the worse. After all, we're all expecting another surgery someday, why replace that expectation with hope that could potentially be crushed? Now I'm realizing that that good brother's words are as applicable for me now as they were nearly six years ago. Our people have been there to mourn with us in the past and will be there to mourn with us in the future if we need it, but today I'm excited for them (read: YOU!) to cheer with us over this beautiful victory in Everett's heart journey.
His heart looks great! It's beautiful and it's working and it's an absolute miracle. The doctor said if things keep heading in this direction, he doubts that Everett will need surgery before he turns 20. At that point, his chances of a mitral valve replacement will go up about 4% each year, but who knows where the medical world will be at that point and what will be available for our little heart hero.
The unknowns of the future and the potential of pain still bring great anxiety to my soul, but for today I'm choosing gratitude, I'm choosing hope and I'm choosing love--for Ever, for his doctors and for a Heavenly Father who is watching over us all.