My son Nickolas during a heart examination, he's so brave. My son Nickolas during a heart test, he’s so brave.

Almost four years ago, when my only son had his two-year check-up, our pediatrician detected a slight, “heart click.”  In fact it was so faint, a cardiologist who would later give my son a more thorough examination, declared that the average doctor would have missed it.  The cardiologist went on to diagnose my son with a “bicuspid, heart valve defect.” This condition is predominate in males, and hereditary, and besides my younger brother who also has it, we have no family history of it.   The history our family does have, is that we  follow our hearts.

In fact, my younger brother was first diagnosed with this defect before my son was even born, and with this condition, other males in the family were encouraged to get themselves tested as this heart defect, when severe, can cause the blood to back-flow and the aorta will enlarge and can eventually burst.  When my brother was diagnosed with it, I chose not to be tested initially, regardless what friends and relatives would say, as my heart told me I was ok.  It wasn’t until my son’s prognosis that I decided it was time to follow the doctor’s orders.

That’s me.  I’m  sometimes a stubborn, Leo, Latin, male who doesn’t always listen to what might be good for me, but I was right, as the same cardiologist who tested my son, Nickolas, told me, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing as you have a heart of a 20-year old.”  While my son has the condition mildly, as any father would feel, I’d rather it be me then him. According to the “doc,” he’ll be fine, as on a scale of 1-10, ten being the worst condition, my son is about a one—though he’ll have to take antibiotics anytime a dental or medical situation exists that exposes the circulatory system, due to the higher risk of heart infection. Otherwise, he should live a normal life and could even be a professional athlete with no problems.

My brother on the other hand is more like a seven, not so lucky—he’ll eventually need risky, corrective surgery. Many people go through life not even knowing they have this condition, and it’s deadly. Since there is no family history, some hypothesize there was some gene mutation from my father’s exposure back from his days with the Atomic Energy Commission, were he used to rebuild atomic bombs in the sixties.  No one really knows for sure, as my Dad has survived a long life and will soon reach his 81st birthday.  What we do know, he has a good heart.

While my soon to be, six-year-old son is lucky compared to my younger brother, I followed my heart at first, and my heart was right. I didn’t listen to anyone else, which sometimes gets me in trouble.  As I get older, knowing time is precious, I still follow my heart.  While there will be people that disagree with me about my past, present, and future decisions, I respect that, as our nation gives us the right to agree to disagree.  Regardless, in whatever I do in life, I’m following my heart, nothing more, so please believe in me when I say, right or wrong, it’s my heart that guides me at times.  Though I’ll admit, I’m not always right in my decisions.  

God Bless!  Don’t forget our military troops, their families and friends, without them, we’d have no heart in our nation.  Keep them in your prayers, Rolando.