When my daughter Mauri fainted at school, I knew that something was wrong. Being diagnosed with a heart murmur at the age of 3, Mauri has always been one to know her limitations and on this particular day, she fell out from simply walking to her class. When the nurse called, I asked to speak to Mauri and she said very clearly, “My heart hurts”. I knew at that time, that she knew what she was talking about and getting her to the doctor was our first priority.
I picked Mauri up from school and took her straight to the emergency room, where my husband met us. After an extensive evaluation by Dr. Toole in Albany, Georgia, Mauri was diagnosed with aorta stenosis (an enlarged heart.) His exact words were, “Mauri was a ticking time bomb and needs to be airlifted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, for emergency surgery.” My first reaction was to pick my baby up and run out the door; somehow thinking that would save her life. The feeling was indescribable.
Mauri’s diagnosis and surgery happened in a whirlwind. While it was her heart that needed surgery, mine ached. I remember feeling that my heart actually hurt after learning that something was wrong with my child. All we could do at that was to put all of our faith in God. He saw me and my family through each and every moment.
Since Mauri’s diagnosis, she has had to undergo a total of three open heart surgeries and spent just over a month at the facilities of Egleston. With prayers, and our continued faith in God, her recovery has been faster than we ever could have hoped. After her final surgery was performed by Dr. Kanter (an amazing heart surgeon), Mauri left the CICU three days earlier than most do. This rapid improvement continued when she was able to leave the CSU after just two days; many patients need to spend a week there. Today, Mauri is back in school and active in the choir. She is doing what she loves to do best: sing, conduct cooking tutorials on YouTube, and dance. We are so blessed and give thanks to God for all He has done for Mauri and our family.
I want to share with the families who are starting this journey that the best thing that they can do is to put all their faith in God. Once you have this type of surgery, it is a life long journey; it has changed our lives forever. I took the initiative to join support groups with other individuals in my situation in order to share my burdens and listen to them share theirs. I would suggest that you learn all that you can to stay abreast of what your child is going through and, more importantly, so you can help them on their journey.
The day that Mauri fainted at school was one of the most challenging days I have ever had to face as a mother, but Mauri showed everyone, including me, just how strong she truly was. While going through the toughest times, the support of our family and friends was invaluable.
When I was nine, I blacked out at school. I thought I was just tired from walking. Boy was I wrong! That was the day that my life changed forever. I didn’t understand everything the doctors would say, but I knew that I had to be brave.