Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I don't have much new to say yet. Not sure whether we'll get to see her today. I'll post as soon as I know.

A few people have mentioned their curiosity regarding what caused her Sudden Cardiac Arrest to occur in the first place. The short story is, of course, that we don't know. But we do have a few ideas.

Mom has a lifelong history of what you could call head rush. (She has passed this along to several of us.) Her resting heart rate is 40 beats per minute. I think I've seen her pass out 2-3 times--in the middle of nowhere, just a regular day--although I know that it has happened many other times when I haven't been there.

It should have been a huge red flag 6 years ago when she passed out after waking up one morning and stretching. She woke up on the floor, screaming, with a broken foot.

One thing they believe she may have is a disorder called Long QT Syndrome. Say you're looking at an electrocardiogram. (It's a series of wavy lines produced by a cardiograph which measures the electrical activity of the heart.) A normal pattern has a predictable series of spikes and bumps. A long QT pattern shows a longer stretch of the QT interval on the electrocardiogram. Here's what it looks like:
This prolonged QT interval can cause fainting (also known as syncope) as well as Sudden Cardiac Arrest. The QT interval problem can be made worse when the individual suffers a lack of dietary minerals including potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium.

Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) is a genetic condition. If Mom's blood test for the syndrome comes back positive, it would explain a lot. It would also mean that the rest of her children and perhaps siblings would have to be tested and receive some sort of treatments (which are usually not as drastic as implantable defibrillators). People with LQTS can live totally normal lives.

The highly unusual part about Mom's case is that her heart is not responding well to the treatment. As Dad mentioned in his update, we expected her to go straight home after they put the defibrillator in. The vast majority of patients having this surgery respond positively.

What they are just beginning to realize there at the hospital is that even though they are pumping her full of electrolytes (which include sodium and potassium--those elements her heart needs), she isn't retaining them. They are considering that she may be experiencing a kidney problem which is drastically complicating her condition.

For now, Mom and Dad are trying to avoid further surgery until they can find the real source of the entire problem. Your prayers in this matter would be so very appreciated.


  1. As always, thank you Elise. Every bit of news is so appreciated. This explanation helps us understand even though it's a bit disturbing to know there are so many challenges ahead. At least we know a bit more about what to pray for. We're good for that.
    We love you all so much!
    Leanne and family

  2. Elise, that is very insightful and well explained. Thank you for taking the time to do that. This will help me to have more meaningful and specific prayers for Betsy! Good luck today, and I hope you get to see her!

  3. Thank you for this, Elise! It's not necessarily good to hear about these problems, but to get down to what is causing all of this, of course, is somewhat comforting. I know she is in so many prayers, and will continue to be. We all love her and your whole family so much. It's great to read this blog to keep updated.
    Love you!

  4. Elise,
    Thank you so much for this update. I appreciate the medical details in helping to understand what is going on. She is in my constant thoughts and prayers.
    Tracy Glasgow

  5. thanks for taking the time to explain.

    could her thyroid be a factor here? I am sure they are looking into every crevice of possible explanation.

    prayers every other thought here.

  6. man Elise, you sound like a doctor. You explained that so well. Good to know. So glad you have this blog up so we can all receive updates without pestering you too much I hope! Tell Britt I send my love to her. You guys are such a great family-- even though you hate bad things to happen to good people-- I find comfort in knowing that if anyone can get through this.. your parents can and your family can. You are all so close to the spirit and such good examples. Much love & prayers your way from St. George!

  7. It's times like this that you wish Dr. House were not fiction. A Sherlock Holmes would come in handy to figure out the root cause so that it isn't just the symptoms being treated. Thank goodness for your dad's knowledge and clear thinking. I'm grateful to know that they are trying to find the root of the problem. Is there a possiblility that Betsy will need blood or people to be tested as potential kidney donors? If so, how do I get involved???? Many prayers!!!

  8. Thanks for the update, Elise. We love Aunt Betsy so much and are thinking of and praying for her and your family constantly. I think of her every time I put my baby in the baby swing that your mom was so kind and generous to give us! :)
    Sending love, prayers, and best wishes your way...

  9. OH! Now I get it. Elliot explained it to me Sunday but the diagram helps my simple mind understand it much better. Give Betsy my love. I miss her so much.

  10. Elise,
    Thank you for these updates. We just wait for more information about her condition and her progress. Reading the updates helps to relieve a little of the anxiety we all feel. We pray for all of you and hope for answers and recovery.
    Love, Marilyn

  11. Wow, this explanation helped so much and I feel even more hopeful now. I know they will get to the bottom of it and we will be so happy to get our Betsy back. I don't like the idea of kidney problems but if this helps explain why she is still having heart issues, then somehow it is reassuring. Praying always that the doctors turn over every rock and make her well - their part anyhow. Karl, get some rest please. You are worrying all of us too. We love you all so much. Thanks for including the entire family. It really does help. We are all hanging on every word.


  12. Elise,
    Congratulations (and thanks) to you for hosting what has surely become one of the most popular blogs on the internet!
    We love you Betsy. Get well soon. Lance and family.