Last night my 7 year old had the mother of all meltdowns. I had been waiting for this to happen for over a week. Cam holds it together in enormous fashion considering all he has been through in his 7 years. Three open heart surgeries and more to come would be enough to reduce me to a sobbing mess on the floor. Not Cam, he is well adjusted, smart, witty - he has a bigger heart than anyone I know. Occasionally though it all just falls apart for him and he can't quite get it back together. I try to encourage him to talk - we have never tried to hide from him the truth of his situation with his heart. While he has no restrictions in his life, he can play sports (and he does with no fear), keep up with his friends, and only has to take an aspirin a day - at times his mind tells him otherwise. It's easy to forget that he walks around with a scarred, still slightly broken heart. His chest is a road map littered with the battle scars from the surgeries and procedures he has endured.
Last Friday he had a check up with his cardiologist. It was a little overwhelming for both of us. Cam was scheduled for an ekg, office visit, and a 24 hr holter monitor (his standard once a year check). While listening to his heart Dr. J mentioned that his murmur sounded louder. Cam's heart sounds like a churning washing machine when it beats - there is no clean bu-bump. We have gotten used to the way he sounds and what is normal for him. Noting that it seemed louder he asked the echo tech to due an unscheduled echo on Cam. Numerous questions issued forth from my little 7 year old - you could tell he was caught off guard. Like he was mentally prepared for the visit, but not the echo. After the echo, the doctor came in to take a look and proceeded in very hushed tones to instruct the tech on more angles and pictures he wanted to see. When all was said and done and I was clinging to the edge of my composure, he said everything looked good. My response to him was that he was freaking me out. He laughed, paused, and said "you know I like to be thorough". Overall, Cam's replacement valve looks great two years after surgery, the leaflets are working well, and he goes back in six months. I asked him after if he was okay, explaining at great length that his heart was fine, the doctor just wanted to be sure. He seemed okay - telling me several times "I'm fine, Mom". So, I trusted, waited, and knew I would be there when it all came out.
Last night as dinner rolled around, I could sense him losing his grip over the emotions and fears. I tried several times to talk to him and was rebuffed. The meltdown started when he found out his brother had eaten the last piece of pizza left over from the other night. He cried, screamed, vented, retreated to his room where he was asked to take some deep breaths and calm down. When he said he could not, I gave him sentences to write to distract him. It took well over 20 minutes for the storm to subside within him. I then sat him down and said "now you need to talk to me". I prodded asking questions. He confided he was scared of what would happen, worried about more surgery, frightened about the thought he could die. I held him close and assured him that he was fine, that he did not need to worry as that was mom and dad's job, his job is to be a kid. I then told him that we found him one of the best surgeons in the country and traveled to California for a reason - because we want the best for him and his heart. I explained there would be ample warning before his next surgery and that his dad and I would as always never leave his side, nor would we let anything happen to him. After several more questions and a long conversation - the smile returned to his face. He was fine and I was left wishing it was all that simple. That I really could always keep him safe and healthy. All I can do is have hope, love and enjoy him every day, and keep doing whatever I need to in order to get the best care possible for my son. After all, this boy is my boy and he is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. I can't wait to see where life takes him and the man he will one day become. You better believe I will do everything in my power to make sure that happens!