Thursday, February 9, 2012

Echo update + Drew's Story

Well the Echo results came back normal. So I am still no where closer to finding an answer for my fatigue & low energy.


I am going to do some research and figure out where I should go from here. I don't want to be tested for anything that I don't fit the criteria for. So I am not going to run back to my PCP just yet. Maybe it's as simple as a diet change?

On to other things. For the heart story today I choose to feature a boy who I have known since he was about 3.Today he turned 8 years old! I am so proud of the accomplishments he has made in his life and I feel confident in saying that God has an awesome plan for his life.


Drew was born on February 9, 2004 and surprised his family with the news that along with a full head of hair, he also had a broken heart. Drew was diagnosed with an interrupted aortic arch and a large hole between the pumping chambers of his heart about 24 hours after he entered the world. His heart was unable to pump oxygenated blood to his body and he needed surgery to live.

There is no cure for Drew's disease, but a series of three surgeries is commonly performed. When Drew was one week old surgeons at UCSF performed the first stage, a Norwood procedure. After ten long weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit he was finally able to go home. He had a feeding tube and 9 different medications. In June 2004, when he was four months old surgeons performed his second heart surgery, the Glenn. He was in the hospital for three weeks. When he came home he had a lot of help from many different people, including a home health nurse, a physical therapist, occupational therapist, infant specialist, speech therapist and music therapist, not to mention doctors in cardiology, endocrinology and immunology.

When Drew was 4-years old he underwent his third open heart surgery in May of 2008 at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. Surgeons were able to do a one and a half ventricle repair which restores normal oxygenation. Unfortunately he developed a serious sternal wound infection which required him to stay in the hospital for six weeks after surgery. Once he recovered from the infection though, there was no stopping him! He is no longer on any medication and he has more energy than he ever has. He enjoys playing soccer, baseball and basketball with his friends and is doing great in school.

Drew has endured much in his first four years of life. He also has a compromised immune system (he was also diagnosed with DiGeorge syndrome), which means that he has a hard time fighting infections. He has been hospitalized with pneumonia 4 times. Despite all he’s been through he is a very loving and trusting little boy. He enjoys life and reminds me to be thankful for all that I have. The last four years have thankfully, been mostly uneventful. Drew is now in second grade and doing all the typical 8-year old boy activities. We have been blessed to be hospital free since his last open-heart surgery!

Going through a traumatic event like this changes you.  It has the potential to rip a family apart, to drive everyone past their breaking point, or to bring you closer together and find strength in God and in yourself.  Luckily we have had the latter experience.  My husband and I have learned so much about ourselves, each other, and our relationship.  It has strengthened us and we know that we will always have each other to lean on.  God has become a much bigger and important part of our lives now.  It is through the grace of God that we can find the strength to get through each day.

The birth of my son has without a doubt been my most inspirational experience.  Although I never would have asked for a child who needed heart surgery, or to have to go through this horrible experience, a lot of good has come out of it and I would not trade my special little boy for anything.  I would go through the ups and downs, the horrible days and little miracles a thousand times just to spend one day with him.  He is truly a blessing in my life and in the lives of everyone who meets him.  He is my inspiration.

Andrea Himmelberger
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