For the month of May, in honor of brain tumor and NF awareness month (so convenient to have them at the same time!), I am trying to tell our family's story of living through both. I hope that by the end folks have a sense what brain tumors and NF can do to a family, why and how we can work for better treatments (and maybe a cure!), and why we should always, always hope.
This one might be a little long. Ok, it IS long. sigh. And I don't think there will be pictures.
G’s eye check on August 3 was really not particularly dramatic. She did have some issue seeing some of the letters on the chart, but I was not super concerned. I got glasses in kindergarten, I figured maybe she was nearsighted too, even though Dr. C said that G’s problem didn’t seem correctable. The vision issue was slight (not even 20/50), but Dr. C couldn’t fix it with those little lensy things she had, so she said we probably should get an MRI.
You would think that somewhere some warning bell would have gone off in my head, but she didn’t seem worried. Heck, I didn’t feel all that worried, I knew maybe we’d have some kind of optic issue but I wasn’t that worried.
No, I am not the sharpest crayon in the box all the time.
Dave & I were set to go away for a 10th anniversary trip to Cape Cod the week after G’s eye check, so I set the MRI up for August 30, after we came back but before school started. I didn’t want G to miss any of the beginning of first grade.
Our trip was awesome. Just amazing, we loved everything, we talked about bringing the kids to Cape Cod, we talked about what we wanted for our family in the next 5 years or so, we made plans and dreams and joys together in that magical week.
And God laughed, not the nice kind of laugh.
We came home refreshed and full of renewed energy for parenthood and life and mayhem. I assembled the school supplies the kids would need, got all the uniforms ready, just prepped for fall.
Monday, August 30, 2004, we brought G for her MRI. We had promised her Burger King after the scan, knowing that she had to fast before sedation. Once again she fought the meds, but then she slipped off to sleep and the techs wheeled her away.
Dave and I sat in the waiting room, he went to get us coffee while I tried to block out the daytime tv blaring over my head. I think Bill Cosby was on some talk show, which was entertaining for a moment. A dad and son came in to get the son’s leg MRI-d after a sport injury. I wrote more melodramatic poetry about how scary it was to be back in this spot again, waiting for a scan.
Finally G was done, they gave her back to us, she woke up, and we went off to Burger King.
I think now about those techs, those people who saw the scan, and then gave my 6 year old curly haired diva G back to us. I think of those folks, and I think of how much that day must have sucked for them. They knew. We didn't, and they knew what was going to happen to us and they couldn't tell us or do anything...I feel so bad for them.
As I type this, G just came over to give me a “homework stress” hug. I needed a hug right now, too.
We got the requisite happy meal and then Dave dropped us off at home while he went back to work. I told G when she was less post-sedation we’d get her the promised Care Bear. Hey, bribery should never be underrated. The kids were playing and watching PBS or something, I don’t even know, I just know it was warm and sunny and I had the windows open.
The phone rang around 2:30 or so, it was the eye doctor.
Wow, that was so fast! I was so relieved, I thought I’d have to wait a day or two for results.
Foolish, foolish mortal. Oh, stupid girl.
MEDICAL LIFE LESSON ALERT: Phone calls an hour after getting home from a medical test of any kind ARE ALWAYS BAD. EPICALLY BAD. SUPER BAD. AWOOOOOGA! BAD IN BIGGER THAN CAPITAL LETTERS BAD.
The eye doc told me that I needed to call our pediatrician, the scan had showed something, a lesion, there was new medicine called temodar that you could do at home that could take care of things, this mass, but I should call our pediatrician, I needed to call him right away, he knew I’d be calling (ie so I would be able to break through the Great Wall of China that is the pediatrician’s reception staff) and I needed to call right away.
I was so grateful for the call. “Thank you SO MUCH for calling so fast, I really thought I’d have to wait, “ I told her, so relieved.
I cannot even fathom what she thought, she just told me no problem, make sure I call the pediatrician RIGHT AWAY.
I called Dave first, told him that there was some kind of lesion but I just had to call our pediatrician and he would give me the fuller report. Dr. C hadn’t made it seem like a big deal, so I would call and let Dave know what the doc said. Dave was cool with that, so was I.
So I dialed The Pediatric Center, and SO WEIRD, the nurse answered and got all crazy efficient and put me RIGHT THROUGH to the doctor. I couldn’t believe it! Right through!
MEDICAL LIFE LESSON NUMERO DOS: IF THEY PUT YOU RIGHT THROUGH TO THE HEAD OF THE PEDIATRIC PRACTICE INSTANTLY WITHOUT ANY TIME ON HOLD THAT IS NEVER A GOOD THING. EVER. NOT EVER.
“So Dr. C told me to call you…” I said.