The 2014 Lebanon County Heart Walk
Sunday, September 28, 2014
PLEASE MEET CARTER SEAN DUBBLE
Carter Dubble was born on April 29, 2008 and to us, he was perfect. He was chubby, big eyes, dark hair, and was equally as cute as his brother Luke when he was born. We were more than ecstatic that day to welcome our second child, another boy. Now Luke would have a playmate, a best friend, a brother. We were told at the hospital that they had heard a small heart murmur, hopefully nothing major but that if we saw signs of anything wrong, to take him straight up to the Hershey Med Center.
On his 12th day of life we celebrated Motherís day with our extended family. Carter was a little fussy that day, although nothing unusual for him, we chalked it up to a series of rough nights with little sleep. But that afternoon, thatís when I first saw it. I saw a faint bluish coloring around his tiny little mouth. His yellowish tint from being born slightly jaundice was fading, but a new, unnatural color was setting in. My heart dropped with disbelief with what I was seeing, looking for anyone to tell me that what I was seeing was nothing, that I was crazy. But there was only agreement, and within moments we were on our way to Hershey.
That twenty-minute ride to the HMC suddenly felt like it was the longest trip ever. Worried that the ER visit would be packed, all we had to mention was that we felt our baby was turning blue and a whirlwind of nurses and doctors surrounded him and immediately started running tests, hooking him to monitors and putting him on oxygen. The doctor that first saw Carter took his blood pressure on all four extremities and right away had an idea of what was wrong with Carter. He paged the peds cardiologist that was on call and Dr. Johnson was there within 10 minutes to confirm what he suspected. They felt it best to sedate Carter to preform an ECHO in order to get a good read of his heart since he was very uncomfortable and restless.
After the ECHO was completed, they officially diagnosed Carter with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). HLHS is a severe heart defect in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped. And since the left side of the hearts job is to pump oxygenated blood into the aorta and then to the rest of the body, being underdeveloped obviously resulted in very poorly circulated blood, especially to the lower extremities. Carterís aorta was also not fully formed. A normal newborn aorta is about 8 mm wide, his was barely 3 mm. We had learned that Carterís heart wasnít properly pumping blood to his lower organs or his legs, but we were so fortunate that none of them were permanently damaged.
Iíve often said, I never knew the true meaning of fear until I had children. We were told the bad news Ė Carter would need open heart surgery as soon as possible. But when we didnít think it could get worse, we were then told he would actually need a total of three open heart surgeriesÖall within the next few years. So even if weíd get through this, we would still have to do it two more times.
That feeling that I got when we were told that, well, I had never felt a feeling like that before. A feeling of fear, helplessness, and the realization that you have absolutely no control. I thought about when Luke was a baby. I worried about things such as him wetting through an outfit and not having a spare. Now we were thrown a whole new ball game. Now we had a tiny human being that barely weighed 9 lbs, had wires growing on him like vines, the constant smell of iodine and antibacterial hand wash, and he was always pinned down to his slanted bed like a beautiful butterfly that was caught for display. Of course, all of this was to save him, to keep him safe, to fix Carterís imperfect heart. It was that moment in life when you realize you really would do anything for your child. It was that moment in our life that Danny and I would have done anything to take his place, to let it be one of us instead.
For the past six years of my life, Carter Sean Dubble has become my hero, our hero. He continued to fight through all three surgeries, along with six extra bronchial surgeries that were needed to heal his scarred airway that was damaged due to his breathing tube during his first surgery. There are still some nights that I watch him sleep peacefully, and I thank God for him and His grace. I imagine I will continue to do so for as long as heís under our roof.
Carter was born a warrior, a trait that he humbly taught to the rest of our family and friends. Our surgeons, doctors and nurses faced so many road bumps and curves with him, but they never gave up. To them Ė we could never say the words Ďthank youí enough. To the American Heart Association, an organization that is dedicated to improving cardiovascular health, bringing awareness of heart disease to people everywhere and so much more Ė itís an honor for Carter to represent your name.
Carter is Godís gift to us and every day we are eternally grateful to God for allowing Carter to spend his days with us here on earth. Carter is now 6 years old and doesnít totally understand or remember everything he went though, and for that we are also grateful. One day when he is older, we will tell him his whole story. We will tell him of the steadfast love and support that we were shown by family and friends, families we met at the hospital, and even strangers that had heard his name through prayer chains and churches. We will tell him that he never allowed his heart defect to hold him back or to define him. And most importantly, we will tell him his story of hope and faith. The same hope and faith that he gives to other families that have children that are dealing with congenital heart defects. The same hope and faith that we live on today as a family and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.
- Courtney & Danny Dubble
The American Heart Association is the largest voluntary health organization working to prevent, treat and defeat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. These diseases, the Nation's No.1 and No.4 killers, claim more than 813,804 American lives a year. Thanks to all our walkers, donors and volunteers who have accepted the challenge to help fight heart disease and stroke. We cannot achieve our mission without each one of you!