What do you fear?
April 4, 2012. 2.13pm.
At that instant, someone seemed to be asking me that question.
I could hear it in my head. Right after the doctor mouthed the words, "Ashton has a heart murmur."
It all began the previous night, when Ash complained a slight nagging pain in his left chest. That pain remained in the morning the day after, albeit lesser.
We packed him off to school, but reminded him to let his teacher know should he experience any further discomfort. And while the wifey and I were having our breakfast, we decided that it was best I brought him to a pediatrician the first thing after school.
And so there I was.
At the clinic. And I heard those words immediately after the doctor's stethoscope parted ways with Ash's chest.
A flood of thoughts and questions rushed through my mind at that instant.
Excuse me? Did I hear right? What does this mean? Does he need an op? Is he going to have a normal life? Is it my fault?
The doctor immediately explained heart murmurs are rated on a scale from 1 to 6 in intensity (loudness). Grade 1 is barely audible, whereas grade 6 is very loud. Ash's one falls between 1 and 2.
Also, of those diagnosed with heart murmur, 90% are innocent heart murmurs which essentially means that the murmur is produced by a normal, healthy heart. It can come and go throughout childhood and it usually goes away on its own as the child gets older and doesn't pose any health threats.
The remaining 10% will be due to a faulty heart valve, or a hole in the heart.
So obviously, Ash would have to undergo an ECG and a heart ultrasound scan to determine the exact cause.
I was already breaking down internally by then. Bit by bit.
But I had to keep that all inside of me. Because of Ash.
I needn't had feared though. Because he was a tiny brave warrior.
Braver than me I reckon.
As the doctor began on the ultrasound on Ash's heart, I stood beside the screen and stared at it.
My mind was a blank.
As the doctor began moving the ultrasound stick from chamber to chamber, ventricle to ventricle, valve to valve and artery to vein, I prayed.
And then those words.
Everything is normal.
Ash's heart fell into the 90% group - that of innocent heart murmur.
An innocent murmur is the sound of normal blood moving through a normal heart in a normal way. Just as we can sometimes hear the sound of air moving in an air duct or water flowing through a plumbing pipe, we can often hear the sound of blood moving through the heart even if there is not a heart problem. Kids with innocent heart murmurs don't require a special diet, restriction of activities, or any other special treatment.
But after that mad rush of adrenaline has subsided, something else crept into my mind.
Going through the myriad of emotions in that short time has brought me face to face with the sobering reality that none of us are promised tomorrow and has pulled on that one nagging ache - the one to make every moment count, straight to the surface of my daily life.
What do I fear?
I fear the loss of my beloved ones, being taken away from me all too soon.
So in a way, today's episode has inspired me to make the most all my resources, time and creative energy while I still have today, and channel them to my loved ones. For they are the ones I truly cherish.