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Heart Month - Day 3 (Echo/EKG/Xray)

Before Nolan was born Echocardiograms, EKGs and X-rays were things that I only saw on TV, in shows, or in movies. It was always around a very dramatic/traumatic scene, so when we first heard that Nolan had to have one we were expecting the drama/trauma to be in the process of the Echo/EKG/Xray.

We didn't put much thought into what it meant on the OTHER side of the scans, what the scan was actually looking at. Until we did.

Nolan's first EKG and Echocardiogram were at 3 weeks old when we met with his cardiologist for the first time.

The EKG was performed by a nurse while taking vital signs. An EKG records the electrical signal from your heart. Electrodes are placed on the chest to record the heart's electrical signals. The signals are shown as waves and printed out. Once the electrodes are on, the EKG itself takes about 10 seconds.

The echocardiogram was done down the hall from the EKG. An echo consists of about 100 images that are taken with an ultrasound machine. The wand is pressed firmly against the skin, aiming an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart and records the sound wave echoes from the heart. A computer converts the echoes into moving images on a monitor and can take measurements on the images it captures.

By the time we got to the x-ray that day we felt like we were part of a tv show or movie scene. All of this equipment that we had never seen in person before and there we were watching our brand new baby trial them all. The x-ray was very fast and is what showed doctors how much fluid was on Nolan's lungs. He had one each appointment pre-heart surgery and for about 6 months post-surgery.

The hardest part of each is getting a small child to sit still :)

Thankfully, Nolan is a trooper and has always shocked us with how easy he has made that process. The echo that he got the day before surgery he actually won an award from the sonographer, The Most Well Behaved Baby to Ever Get an Echo Ever -- seriously, the tech was so sweet and kept saying that over and over.

Over the last few years, Nolan (and us) have gotten a lot of practice with Echos, EKGs, and X-rays. At this point, I don't even think I could count the number that he has had. The main thing that we are looking for on the Echos is his ejection fraction numbers (the squeeze of his heart), and I have taught myself how to read the number on the screen.

His cardiologist knows I do this and always asks me to give him the reading to see if I am right. It has brought some humor to our appointments and anyone that knows me well knows I like to be accurate.

Lesson to learn - Just because we have gotten good at these things doesn't mean they are easy. Just because you have seen us post about them multiple times, or because at the last appointment we got good news doesn't mean that the anxiety and worry go away before, after, or during each appointment.

CHD is for life, and we are thankful for each Echo, EKG, and X-ray that shows a path forward.

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