When a heart patient tells you something is wrong, you listen.
As Namine was getting ready for bed last night, she told us that she felt like her heart was beating faster than usual. We got out the portable pulseox (that’s short for pulse oximeter, which reads the blood-oxygen level and heart rate) and sure enough, her heart rate was about 20-30 beats per minute faster than usual. We called the cardiology department at Children’s Hospital, but being after hours, the clinic was closed. The on-call doctor was paged.
When the on-call cardiologist called me back, I explained the situation. Namine said she wasn’t in any pain other than a headache. There was no chest pain, no trouble breathing, no fever. Still, for a single-ventricle patient anything abnormal to do with the heart is potentially cause for alarm, so he recommended we bring Namine into the ER for an EKG. He notified the ER staff that we were on our way, and on the drive we notified the Critical Care on-call doctor as well.
I always have to remind myself that what used to be called the Special Needs department is no longer called that. “Special needs” as a term has in recent years gained a negative stigma, so the department has been re-branded as the Critical Care Team. Their function is unchanged: to improve communication across all departments in which a child may be seen. In Namine’s case, the breadth is quite large: cardiology, ENT (ear-nose-throat), orthopedics (although now she sees a doctor outside of Children’s for her feet and bones), and pulmonology. Regardless of the name, the Critical Care Team has truly been a blessing.
When we arrived at the ER, it was no surprise that it was packed. Because Namine is a heart patient and she was there to have a potential heart problem diagnosed, she was considered at higher risk and seen quickly. In fairly short order, we were in a room and Namine was all stickered up for the EKG.
Once the EKG was done and its results were seen by the cardiologist, an ER doctor came in to talk to us. The results had revealed nothing abnormal; they had no explanation for Namine’s elevated heart rate. They let Namine go home, since there was no reason to admit her, but recommended we follow up with her cardiologist if the high heart rate persisted.
This morning, Namine was still having heart palpitations so we called the cardiology clinic to see if they could see her. They didn’t have an opening for Namine to see her cardiologist until May 6, but that’s over two weeks away. In the meantime, we’re waiting to see if they want Namine to come in for an echocardiogram or to give her a heart monitor.