Once again, we have a new pediatric cardiologist for Clare. This is our fourth cardiologist in six years. We loved #1 (who we met when Clare was barely 24 hours old), but she moved to Virginia. #2 was nice personally, but really disappointed us professionally. #3 was incredible personally and professionally, but having Clare's primary cardio in Boston did not end up working for our family and Clare's various medical needs. So we're on #4. We switched back to Children's Hospital at Dartmouth, but went with a new doctor practicing there.
We met Dr. G for the first time at Clare's six-month visit on Friday - EKG, echo, and examination. Dr. G is young, vibrant, thorough, and wonderful with Clare. A good fit for us so far. Her office is literally seven minutes from our house, we know from experience that we can pop in for a quick peek or blood pressure check if the occasion arises, and she practices in the same larger group as Clare's pediatrician, endocrinologist, and nephrologist, so they have access to each other's notes and Clare's medical records. That all works for us, so I pray that Dr. G works out! We've never really been that picky or unhappy with any of our providers, so it's been weird to feel as if we have not really had a cardiologist on board over the past two years.
Clare's visit went as well as expected. She remains clinically stable, which is the good news. Her gradients remain about the same, and her blood vessels are growing, but still not at a great rate (this is not unexpected with the severity of Clare's stenosis). The echo could not get a really good view of the pulmonary stents, so it's unknown how they're holding up. (Four years ago, one of Clare's stents was actually crushed in her artery and the echo did not pick that up. The doctors found out when they were in there during a cath.) Her ascending aorta and arch continues to look fabulous (this is the portion that was surgically repaired six years ago). Her descending aorta continues to also look stenosis-free. Her EKG was solid, and based on that, her coronary arteries seem to be good as well. Her blood pressures were fabulous, so she can continue off any hypertension meds. We have been monitoring her weekly for over a year now off meds, and the pressures are usually very good for Clare's condition. Her pulses were good, and all-in-all, a wonderful examination.
However... (and here it is, the not-so-good news)... Dr. G agrees with the previous cardiologist's assessment that Clare should undergo a cardiac catheterization in the near future. Prior to Clare's appointment, Dr. G had already spoken with Dr. B, the liaison cardiologist in Boston (Dr. B is a different cardio than the one we had been seeing as a primary in Boston, and he has been involved with Clare's case since her first catheterization at three months old - Dr. B is our cardiologist whenever Clare is inpatient at Children's - I know, it gets confusing!), and she reviewed the Boston echos on paper (Shawn is going to get her a digital copy of the actual echo video). Since it has been an amazing four years since Clare last underwent a cath, all agree that it is time to look at what's going on inside her vessels, other than just doing echos. Right now, the plan is to do another full work-up with Dr. G here in Manchester in six months, then schedule the cath a few weeks after that.
Dr. G cannot say right now what the plan will be during the cath, but we have been through this six times before and are quite familiar with the nature of this beast. I am 99.9% sure that Clare will have her pulmonary stents and smaller pulmonary vessels dilated. At the very least, the doctors will shoot a lot of dye and take a lot of pictures! They will be able to get better views on how her stents are holding up, what her coronary arteries look like, and maybe even exactly what her renal arteries look like (we've had those scanned recently, but a cath is always more accurate). So we'll hold tight for six months and take it from there.