An Echocardiogram is a very interesting test. I watched in amazement as the technician placed the gooey ultrasound probe to my ribs, and my beating heart appeared on the screen. She searched around the top of the heart and aorta, exploring every nook and cranny, snapping pictures along the way. I asked more about her schooling and career and became increasingly intrigued by the possibility that I could also see myself in the field. She picked up the probe and covered it with blue jelly, then pressed it along the bottom of my rib cage, letting the ultrasound waves travel upwards into my heart and back again to display the picture. immediately she paused in this new position, and stared. Shifting a few times she asked about my port.
"That's just a regular port, like ones they give for cancer, right?"
"Yeah, a power port", I responded as concern grew inside me. I could see her face change from monotonous with the early morning routine of seeing yet another heart pumping in my small chest cavity, to concentrated. I knew she was questioning something, and the conversation from before withered. Her eyes peered straight into the dark clouds in the screen.
"I have to double check something with Dr. Lootens, and I'll be right back. You can get dressed now" She left the room in a hurry and I knew she was trying not to worry me. I had seen a million ultrasounds at this point, and knew she noticed something. Assuming it was just the tip of the port, dangling in my Aorta right above the heart, I changed out of the hospital Johnny and into warm clothes. She retrieved me and asked me to wait in the waiting room while she grabbed the doctor for a few more minutes. So I sat down, and stared at my hands in my lap. Five, ten, fifteen, then twenty minutes passed. Eventually somewhere past the lapse of time the Cardiologist's head popped through the door and he sat down beside me.
"I don't want you to worry, Elaina, but we did find what looks to a Myxoma in your heart. Ultrasounds work through about seven layers of tissues and bones, and are not the clearest picture, so it could either be a Myxoma or natural tissues. To see it closer we would want to ultrasound you closer to the heart with a Transesophogeal Echo-cardiogram that goes on a cable down your throat while you are sedated."
I listened intently, thinking an array of worries from 'Is this a normal occurrence', to 'should I be worried', to 'wow, they can do an ultrasound from inside? Cool'. All my thoughts circled and thinking thoroughly I wanted to double check one thing.
"Are you sure what was seen is not port related, maybe something on the tip of the port or the tip itself in the ultrasound?" I asked, wearily.
"I believe, if this is what I think it is, that it's something that has been there for awhile." He paused, as if thinking of his next answer. "I will be asking around to get opinions from other doctor's today, and possibly performing the Trans-Echo to get a better look at deciding a course of action to take. Is that a number we can reach you on?" He pointed to the cell phone clenched firmly in my fist.
Nodding my head I loosened my grip and began to gather my things. I bid a farewell of sincerity, thanking the Lord that I trusted this physician. On my way to my car I thought of what this meant, and called my mother to research what the word meant, Myxoma.
Turns out, a Myxoma is a slow growing tumor inside of the heart. Not cancerous, being that the tumor cells can begin there at birth and slowly grow to being large enough to block blood flow and cause many additional symptoms, sometimes ending in sudden death. This is not to be of concern, seeing that I have the introspection enough to know I recognized symptoms early enough to possibly catch this in time. Treatment is surgery to remove the tumorous tissue and cells, and biopsy to make sure it is benign. I go in Wednesday for the Ultrasound surgery, where I will be sedated and have a probe on a cable lowered through my throat to get a close up view of my heart from the inside. We will reassess after that procedure and the results of the Holter Monitor on a decision of what the problem actually is, and make a future plan at that point. Like the specialist said, it could still be nothing. At least I know my heart still beats strong for Valentine's Day.