On Monday our almost year long health scare finally came to somewhat of a conclusion after we met with the head cardilogist at Children’s Hospital.
A week before we traveled to get our two older kids in Ethiopia in April of ’06 we got some disturbing news. We were on a conference call with our travel group, and the social worker asked Brian and I to call them when we were done because they needed to talk to us. I could tell it was some sort of disturbing news. Brian asked me how I know it was bad news. I stated, “I know social workers. I am one of them.” We hurridly called back to find out that our then 3 year old had been taken to his embassy physical, and they had determined his heart was on the other side of his body. He also had a blockage. That was all they knew.at that time. Our social worker stated, “You know you have options.” I told her, “He is my son and my only options right now are to determine how to be with him, and how to get him the best medical care possible.”
Even though I hadn’t yet met Estifanos, I knew he was my baby. He was in my heart, and he was my son. Everyone at the Horizon House was surprised by the E man having a heart condition. Anyone who knows my son would be. He is the most active and happiest boy most people have ever met. He was taken to two cardiologist in Ethiopia that week. Brian and I went through every scenario in our head including the worst. All we did know was he was our son, and we were bringing him home. We have a medical director of a hospital in our family, which helped us during this difficult time. He and his staff read the reports from Ethiopia and determined first that all E man’s oragns are reversed. One in 10,000 people have this condidtion. I had never heard of it before this. This condition is much better than if just your heart is reversed. This condition made sense now because when we got our referral they noted he had an enlarged spleen, but it turned out the doctor was looking at his liver. They also determined that the blockage could be treated. We traveled a week later and brought E man and Meron home.
In June we finally got our first appoitnment with a cardiologist here. That cardiologist told us he thought they could do the ballon intervention, but that we needed to see the head cardiologist. Now the E man was taking this all in stride . He likes the bracelets at the hospital, and the toys he gets, but me on the other hand not so good. I have always hated doctors and hospitals. I guess it is funny I married a Phd.
Anyway in September we finally saw the head cardiologist who stated that they needed to do a catherisation, and that he didn’t think it could be fixed with the ballon. He thought the E man may need open heart surgery. After I took the E man back to school. I was so sad. Why him? He has lived through so much pain and hardship in his short three years of life. I then remembered though that if he was still in Ethiopia this would never have been discovered, and he may have died at an early age. This thought put it all in perspective.
In December, he had the heart catherisation. They could not do the ballon intervention. The head cardiologist stated he didn’t know what was best, and needed to consult his team. He stated, in a normal heart, they would have to do surgery because of the blockage, but since the E man’s heart is reversed it is better for him because that valve is used to working harder.
We then had to wait another month to hear their decsion, and again we prepared for the worse. On Monday after waiting for two and a half hours to see the doctor, the nurse practioner came in and listened to his heart. She stated, “It sounds awesome.” I looked at Brian and we both thought that this has to be good news. The doctor then came in and told us that E man does not need open heart surgery. We felt so reliveved.
I realized, at that moment, that although my son has only been in my life 10 months, I can’t imagine loving him anymore if I had given birth to him. My mother, who is not a religious person, told me maybe that all of the years of struggle to have children and adopt came to this exact moment. Estifanos has an amazing life here, and his heart condidtion can be treated. If he had stayed in Ethiopia, it may have never been discovered, and it could havbe gotten worse. This morning as I watched my now 4 year old playing with his baby sister I thought about how it was just about a year ago that I ached to be with him, and help him through this medical crisis. He and my two beautiful daughters are a survivors though, and anyone who knows them sees the joy they have for life.