“Thank you for letting me come with you.” AJ said as he pulled his truck into the parking garage.
The two of them had agreed at dinner the night before that AJ should come with her to the doctor’s appointment and be able to ask any questions he had instead of hearing things secondhand.
“It’s probably easier for the doctor to explain than me and you can tell him about your concerns.”
“Well I still appreciate it. I know it’s a big deal for you to let me come. All I want to do is be there for you and this might help.”
I hope so, Kat thought to herself. I hope it doesn’t make it worse.
The doctor had scheduled an echocardiogram for her before the appointment and Kat got up enough courage to ask AJ if he wanted to sit in for it. He surprised her by saying yes and the technician let him in as soon as everything was set up and the leads were attached to her.
Kat and the tech pointed out where the hole was and he could see her heart beat.
“Want to hear it?” Kat asked.
“It makes a noise?” he asked quietly.
“Yes it does.” The tech turned up the volume on the machine and all AJ could hear was what sounded like a plunger.
“That’s your heart making that noise?” he yelped.
Kat laughed and nodded. “It freaks people out the first time they hear it.”
“I can see why!”
The tech finished the test and asked AJ to wait outside while they took everything off Kat and let her get settled again. He joined her and Dr. Anderson in his office a few minutes later.
“Nice to meet you AJ.” he said extending his hand. “Kat’s told me about you.”
“Well, depending on the day that could go either way.” AJ responded with a nervous laugh.
“It was all good. She told me that she was bringing you because you had some questions for me.”
“I do and I’m not used to this so there might be a lot of them.”
“That’s fine. I’ll do my best to answer them.”
“Ok. My first is that I need you to explain exactly what this is.”
“That one is easy. It’s a hole located between the two ventricles in the heart. Usually the blood from the body passes through the right ventricle and then leaves to be oxygenated by the lungs and returns to the left ventricle. However, Kat has an opening allowing blood to flow from one ventricle directly into the other.”
“Um, I think I need it in English.”
Dr. Anderson chuckled. “The two sides of her heart are not supposed to be mixing blood but they are because of a hole. One side is leaking into the other. It also means that her heart has to work harder to provide enough oxygen for her body’s tissues.”
“That I understand better. I have another question. Why is her heart acting up now? I mean she’s had this hole since she was a baby.”
“You can never guarantee these things. Her heart has just decided that it can’t handle all the strain and unfortunately, it doesn’t have a nice way of saying it.”
“What does that mean? What could happen?”
“Her blood could shunt.”
AJ looked confused.
“The blood flow through the hole could start reversing direction.”
“What happens then?”
Dr. Anderson sighed. “Several things. Her blood could not get enough oxygen, her lungs could overfill with blood and/or the blood pressure in her lungs will increase. Basically, she will go into cardiac heart failure.”
AJ’s mouth dropped open. He turned to look at Kat who was practically crawling over the other side of the chair. He turned back to the doctor and asked his next question.
“So basically without this surgery, she could eventually die. Is that right?”
Dr. Anderson nodded. “Yes, she needs the surgery. We’ve tried the medication but it doesn’t seem to be controlling the symptoms well enough.”
“What does the surgery entail?”
“We’ll have to make an incision in her heart and cover the hole with a patch. This should take care of the problem but we can’t guarantee anything until we actually see it. That’s why I told her to think about having the surgery…”
“Oh she’s having the surgery! Sooner rather than later. When can you do it?”
Kat sat there in shock. They hadn’t discussed anything and AJ was practically digging the doctor’s appointment book out for him.
“AJ.” she said putting her hand on his arm.
He jerked his arm back and turned to her. “You’re doing this. There is no more discussion. I’m dead serious Kat. We are scheduling it right here, right now. Do you understand me?”
Kat just nodded. She had never seen that look in AJ’s eyes. There was such intensity and it was mixed with something else.
“I think that we should plan it for the second week in January. This was she can enjoy the holidays with all of you instead of being cooped up in the hospital. This type of surgery requires a large amount of recovery time.”
“Let’s do it.” AJ replied quickly.
They set up a few more appointments and scheduled the surgery. After thanking the doctor, he walked out of the office and into the hallway. Kat stood up and shook her doctor’s hand.
“Thank you Dr. Anderson.”
“You’re welcome, although I don’t imagine this made things any easier for you.”
“No they didn’t but it had to be done.”
Kat walked out of the office to find AJ pacing back and forth in front of the door. He took off to the parking garage as soon as she came out and waited for her to climb in before starting it up.
“I don’t want to talk right now Kat. Let me just think for a while.”
They drove home in silence and AJ didn’t even come in when they got back. He watched to make sure she got in and then she heard his truck roar out of the driveway.
“I take it the doctor’s appointment went well.” Brenda said when she saw Kat’s face.
“No it went awful.” Kat said sinking onto the sofa. “I should have told him earlier.”
She started to cry softly. Brenda slid over and put her arm around Kat’s shoulders.
“It’s going to be ok.”
“Not this time Brenda. He’s really mad.”
“And he’ll get over it. This whole thing is a lot for anyone to absorb Kat and you just need to give him some time. Everything will work itself out.”
“I hope so.”