Friday, November 05, 2010

"This is my brudder, Yookuss. You need to check his brain."

July 2010: Back to the neurologist we go. Lucas still wasn't walking, and wasn't really showing too much progress, despite physical therapy. She brought her band of merry Residents with her. Residents are a funny breed. They're like doctors who don't really realize that they are doctors. Every question is met with wide, deer in headlight eyes, afraid to give the wrong answer. They answer our questions and furtively glance to their mentor to see if it was right.

The doctor ordered a set of imaging tests to rule things out. She wrote an order for a head CT and MRI, to rule out brain abnormalities and lesions on the brain; and also for a xray of Lucas' hips. Since he is so small, and the tests are all very sensitive to movement, he needed to be sedated for the testing. We scheduled the tests for the first week of August.

August 2010: We headed up to DC on the first Wednesday of August, Lucas was in the backseat, starving to death since he wasn't allowed to eat the morning of the tests. The Hubbin' made the mistake of swinging through McDonalds for coffee, which set off a tantrum that lasted up 395 and over the Key Bridge.

Once at the hospital we checked in, got our wrist bands and settled in to wait. Lucas had brought his new favorite toy, a zhu zhu pet, which trilled and chirped all over the waiting room at an ungodly early hour.
We were finally brought back to the pediatric ward, where they placed lidocaine patches on the tops of his hands, and in the creases of his elbows. After a few minutes they peeled them back, and the Hubbin' held Luc down so they could start the IV. Which, if you've ever held a child down, you know this is no small feat. Once the IV was in, they led us back to a small cubby of a room adjacent to the MRI machine room. They briefly explained the anesthetic, the risks, and the procedures. We brought Lucas into the MRI room, he was hooked up to monitoring machines and they started the sedative. He fought hard not to fall asleep. He held onto my shirt as his eyes rolled back into his head and his cries went from strong and alert to weak and whimpering.

Once he was asleep, I laid him down on the gurney, kissed his face and walked out of the room, crying. To see him go through that made him seem even smaller and more fragile.

We got a cup of (awful) coffee, compliments of Georgetown University Hospital, and waited. And waited. And waited.

They finally wheeled him out, all tests complete. They disconnected the IV sedation line, and by the time we got back to his room, he was stirring. He was disoriented, and his head flopped like a newborn. He gladly sucked back the juicebox they offered, and since he held it down okay, they gave us our discharge papers. The nurse mentioned that the images were all digital, and our doctor would be able to pull them up on her computer.

Well, you don't have to tell me twice. We hopped in that elevator, groggy baby on my hip to go stalk the neurologist. She was in her office, and did have access to the films, but wanted to wait for the reports to come back from the pediatric radiologist. She was set to go on vacation the next day, as were we, but she assured me that she would leave a note in our file for her head nurse to give us results, both good and bad over the phone. We thanked her profusely, and trudged home, weary and emotionally drained.

Monday morning we found ourselves at my parents house, enjoying some beach and pool time with the family. I called the neurology nurse and patiently* waited for her return call. The phone rang as we were all lazily floating in the pool.

"This is the neurology nurse from Georgetown returning your call," she said. I hastily greeted her - I knew who it was, I had been watching caller ID like a hawk all day. "I have Lucas' results here, but unfortunately, I can't give them to you. You need to wait for your doctor to get back to go over this with you."

"But she left a NOTE!" I protested.

"I know she did, I see it right here, but this is really something a doctor needs to discuss with you, I won't be able to answer your questions over the phone. You need to speak with your doctor."

"But...but..." I could feel my voice shaking and my emotions taking control. Any shred of rationality that I had left slithered fast and far away. "But she's already told us they might find underdeveloped parts of the brain, or missing parts of the brain, or lesions on the brain, she promised me you could tell me those things!" I countered.

"Yes, she did," the nurse agreed. "But I can't go over these results with you."

I thanked her for her time, and hung up the phone.

"I've never heard of someone not giving good news over the phone," I said to the Hubbin' and my father, who were both now pacing anxiously around the pool.

I got out, wrapped myself in a towel, and hugged my baby closer than I ever have before.

To be continued. . .

* Read: impatiently

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