Wednesday, April 07, 2010

My Brother's Heart

I've been updating about my brother's hospital stay on Facebook, but I thought I would extend it and ask for more prayers on his behalf.

My older brother, Aaron, was born with a congenital heart defect.  He has a bicuspid aortic valve with aortic valve stenosis.  I didn't know what that meant except that he had two valves where he should have had three.  While growing up the best I knew about any complications was that it might cause some minor inconvenience at some point in the future.  That's no longer the case.

About a month ago he got sick with flu-like symptoms.  They happened around the same time as several of our other family members came down with something, so he didn't worry about it.  As time went on the symptoms continued and got worse.  He finally went to the doctor last Saturday because it was keeping him from work and feeling terribly.  The doctor couldn't find anything wrong and ordered blood work.  It came back the next day that he had an infection in his blood.  Aaron had felt his heart working harder for a few days and told the doctor about his condition.  The doctor said he could almost guarantee the infection had reached his heart and to go to the hospital for antibiotic treatment.

We expected Aaron to be in the hospital for 2-3 days until the blood cultures came back clean.  The plan of attack was to pump him full of antibiotics until his blood culture was clear, then keep him on antibiotics outside the hospital for another 6-8 weeks to make sure everything on the heart was infection-free.  This morning (day four) the cardiologist's assistant came in to tell Aaron that there was bacteria in his blood and that it was for sure on his faulty heart valve.  Aaron was also told that the stenosis on his valve has gotten tighter over the years and suggested a valve replacement surgery regardless of whether or not antibiotics took away the infection.  That involves opening the chest.  My dad had bypass surgery 18 months ago, so we have seen what that bit of awfulness is like.  It looks like that's probably the way it will go.  I don't know if they'll wait the 6-8 weeks to finish the round of antibiotics or just wait until the blood cultures are clear. 

The good news is that recovery time will probably be better than we expected.  It should be less than a week in the hospital after the surgery.  I think that's encouraging.  It was certainly helpful to hear that within a couple of hours after getting the call that heart surgery is likely.  The world kind of closes off for a minute until you can try to think of what to do next.

Other good news is that the three teeth that are the likely cause of the infection will be removed today.  We hope that cutting off the source will speed things along.  So far that's all the information I have.  We hope He can get over the infection quickly so he can move on the next step.  Any extra prayers you could send his way would be appreciated.

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