Pectus Excavatum

Okay, let’s begin with a quick quiz. Have you ever played WordPower in Reader’s Digest? No?!  … me neither… *ahem* … but I hear this is just like it.

     Pectus excavatum is:

a) a Latin legal term

b) a spell from Harry Potter

c) a chest deformity

I bet Hermione would know the answer… 

The correct answer is c.  And, well, I have it. I’ve always known that my “chest caves in,” as I would usually phrase it, but only recently did I learn the term for it. I never thought much of it, except for the inconvenience involved with all v-neck clothing. But, upon checking into the ER last week with various symptoms, the doctor called for a CT scan. The scan showed that my chest caves in so severely that it is pressing on my heart. In fact, it has pushed my heart further left than it is supposed to be. This picture isn’t me, don’t be fooled, but it’s pretty accurate.

An EKG later showed that my left ventricle is behaving “abnormally” and my heart is definitely “under stress.” Using the CT scan measurements, a severity index known as the Haller Index is used. “Normal” is about 2 or 2.5, while anything above a 3.5 is considered severe. I measured as a 6.25. Always an overachiever. This explains the racing heartbeat while resting or doing simple activities like walking up stairs, and the feeling like I need to pause and take deep breaths. What I thought had been stress related over the summer was actually brought on by this. Now that the doctor brought all of this up, I recall chest aches that lingered for hours after a tough Zumba class or workout, which I just attributed to my lungs overworking or something unimportant.

Once again, not me, but you get the idea.

In some instances, expecto patronum pectus excavatum can be treated with physical therapy or in minimally-invasive ways, but I’ve been told to expect surgery. I’ll be meeting with a cardiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon in the next few weeks to figure out the plan. Please pray for myself, Sam, and all the doctors involved. Pray for wisdom and discernment for us all, and comfort and peace for Sam and I. If you know me well, you know I’m terrible with all things medical and I tend to work myself up over it.

While it is somewhat disappointing to think that I may have to spend a few months recovering from this while I’m in ENGLAND of all places, I have seen God’s hand at work in all of this. For example, what if these symptoms had escalated while I was teaching full time or when Sam was gone? God protected me through that. I am taking a break from teaching and have the time to recover without the stress of sub planning. Where we lived before, there was no hospital on base and no ER, so medical help would have been more difficult and would have involved many more referrals and phone calls. The base here has a hospital and we are very close to several other highly regarded hospitals and clinics. The surgeon I’m seeing is considered one of the most experienced in the UK. God’s timing is no accident, and I am taking comfort in that.

Once again, I ask that you pray for me and everyone involved, for God’s “peace that passes all understanding.” Also please pray that I may give God the glory in all of this and that I may be a blessing and encouragement to those I come into contact with as I seek treatment. I’ll keep you posted on what’s to come. Thanks for reading!


12 thoughts on “Pectus Excavatum

  1. While reading this, especially seeing God’s timing, my heart is overwhelmed with His goodness and mercy! You will be in my prayers daily. Love, Nanny

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Certainly praying for you, sister! So amazing to know that you are in a good place, in good hands, and have a good husband! God is in control. We love you and will be praying for you!!

    Love from Toledo,
    Ben, Danielle, Caleb, and Macy

  3. Man, Leslie, you do things big. Just today I had a patient with that same thing. We were trying to remember what it was called–I was close, I said “pectus something.” Which was better than the other guesses: pigeon chest, sunken chest, or “oh, that’s just the way he is.” You take care! I wish I could come and be your private nurse. Love you, Aunt Lisa

  4. I am always amazed at God’s timing. And how He works things out. And then I remember… He is GOD. Wish I could be there with you!

  5. Wow! Praying for you and all that this whole surgery process will involve!! Wonderful that you can see God’s timing in this–He had a plan, Hallelujah!

  6. Pingback: A week in review | Adventures in Anglia

  7. Pingback: Two Weeks Post-Surgery | Adventures in Anglia

  8. Pingback: Surgery #2 – Looking Back | Adventures in Anglia

  9. Pingback: Giving Thanks | Adventures in Anglia

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