Sept. 14th:Hospital Madness
Most of you probably already know this story b/c I posted plenty about it on Facebook...but for those of you who don't know, here goes...
It was an ordinary Sunday evening and Tim was finishing bath time with the boys. After getting them dressed for bed, he came downstairs and casually asked me, “Have you felt the lump on the back of Rowen’s knee?”
Of course, I said no and thought nothing of it.
But then Tim asked me to google ‘poplateal fossa mass’ and a bunch of links to orthopedic articles appeared. They basically all talked about different kinds of lumps, like cysts (fluid-filled lumps), lypomas (fatty-tissue lumps), and other scary lumps, like cancerous ones. And this is when I started to worry.
Normally, Tim doesn’t dwell on most of our kids’ medical problems. He tells me to go to the pediatrician and have the boys checked out. Fortunately for us, our pediatrician, Dr. Cleary, is our neighbor J
Dr. Cleary was already coming over for another issue. I know what you’re thinking-he comes over all the time!! BUT, honestly this is the first time we’ve asked him to come to our house. Tim noticed during bath time, that a rash that Rowen has had on his arm for the past couple of weeks had gotten a lot worse. The rash that had been a few bumps, was now 15-20 bumps and were crusty and inflamed in nature. We basically wanted him to look at it and see if it was worthy for a trip to the hospital or a minor rash that would go away on its own.
Well, after Dr. Cleary confirmed that the rash was a Strep infection that merited 10 days of antibiotics, (glad we had him check that out!!), he took a look at Rowen’s lump. He basically confirmed Tim’s diagnosis that it needs to be checked out, 1st by X-ray and also by CT-Scan or MRI.
I’m definitely starting to get scared while listening to their conversation but also just trying to act casual about the whole ordeal. The shocking part about their conversation was that if Rowen indeed needed an MRI because the X-ray was inconclusive or showed something that needed a closer look, we can’t get the MRI done at the hospital on base, because they don’t have an MRI machine here. What!?! Okay, so not a big deal, right? We’ll just go to the hospital out in town and get the MRI there.
Not exactly…apparently that wasn’t a good option. Children under a certain age (can they hold completely VERY still for a lengthy period of time) need to be completely sedated to have an MRI procedure done. Apparently, docs out in town do a lousy job on sedating children, like very little or no sedation at all! So Dr. Cleary recommended that if an MRI is needed, we should go to Trippler Medical Center, an army hospital located in Hawaii. Yes. You read correctly. Hawaii.
Now, I’m definitely starting to freak out. Traveling to Hawaii for a medical procedure for one of my babies?? Albeit everything could be completely fine and we’re traveling there just to make sure the lump is just a benign cyst or lypoma, but still, Hawaii??
The main reason we wanted so much information on MRIs anyway, is because an X-ray would basically confirm that there is a lump behind Rowen’s knee, and give us no other advanced info besides that.
In worse case scenarios, i.e. the lump was cancerous, then an X-ray could reveal a bit more info, like show calcification around the bone, etc. But Tim thought from the beginning of all of this (unlike me) that the lump was probably benign, but still needed to get it checked out to be 100% positive.
The other reason we really wanted to do an MRI is b/c while CT-Scan is available at the hospital here, CT-Scans involve radiation and Tim wanted to avoid radiating any part of Rowen’s body unless completely necessary.
Anyway, after Dr. Cleary left, Tim and I continued to talk about this. And by that, I mean that I asked a BUNCH of questions and Tim tried to answer them the best he could, without being completely annoyed by me. By the end of the evening, I was worrying myself silly about this and broke out into tears. Tim always gets freaked out if I cry about something, so he did his best to console me. But at this point, I was just plain worried about Rowen and that wasn’t going to go away until some medical tests were done and Rowen’s lump was diagnosed benign.
We decided that Rowen would get X-rays done first thing in the morning and then head to school after that. His X-rays showed that there was an egg-sized lump (pretty big, huh??) behind his knee, but revealed nothing else. So far so good…at least the x-ray didn’t show that the lump was anything worse than just a lump.
After I had gotten Rowen on the bus to school, Tim called and told me that the radiology and anesthesia dept. could get Rowen in for a CT-Scan later that afternoon. Great! Not about having to get a CT-scan b/c of the radiation, but b/c it could get us closer to finding out what this lump is. We decided to do the scan b/c it could have been a week before we could have gone to Hawaii for an MRI and did we want to wait that long without any other info about the lump besides what the x-ray already confirmed was a lump? Absolutely not. That would be mean a week of sleepless nights for me, someone who is already not sleeping well b/c I’m 30 weeks pregnant!!
When I picked up Rowen from school that day, I explained to him that we were going back to the hospital to get more tests done for his knee. He asked me why and I told him, that we just wanted to make sure everything was okay and that he would have to be a very big boy at the hospital.
"But mommy, my knee doesn't hurt. Why do I have to do more tests?"
Seriously, this question and some others that he mentioned, were just heartbreaking...
When we got to the hospital, we went to Anesthesia so Rowen could get his IV put in. Rowen was so brave during this. I'm sure it hurt b/c they didn't numb the area b/f doing the IV. That would have required two needles, and the doctor thought, let's do one needle and get the IV in and numb the area afterwards so he doesn't feel that the IV is there.
The procedure he was getting done was a CT-Scan with IV contrast. CT contrast is used to make specific organs, blood vessels and/or tissue types "stand out" with more image contrast to better show the presence of disease or injury. Thus CT contrast highlights specific areas of the resultant CT image or "dyes" it.
The hardest part of the afternoon was the scan. Rowen had to lay on the table (and also be very still, which is hard for 3.5 year old!) and no one was allowed in the room while the scan was taking place b/c of the radiation. He was definitely scared to be in the room alone and was crying the whole time. I tried consoling him from outside the room and talking to him on an intercom so he could hear me while the scan was taking place. The total scan took a few minutes, but it felt like forever with Rowen's crying and me standing outside the room waiting for everything to be over!
I was standing next to Dr. Weigle (he and his family are our good friends here) and watched as the lump area became covered with the 'dye'. Considering that the dye didn't cover any portion of lump, it just outlined it, provided Jeff's (Dr. W) with preliminary info that the lump was benign.
After the scan, I got Rowen out of there as fast as possible!! He had his IV taken out and was given lots of hugs and kisses, and candy, of course!
The next day, Tim and Jeff discussed the scan results and Tim came to a conclusion that for right now, the lump is a Baker's Cyst and is nothing to worry about for the time being. He also decided that it wasn't necessary to get an MRI right now, but that we'll just have to watch the lump and look for changes to occur, if any at all.
Obviously, I was so glad when this ordeal was over, but more importantly, very blessed to learn that Rowen's lump was nothing to worry about.
After going through this experience with Rowen, my heart truly breaks for the many moms/dads that have children with medical problems. To go through time and time again, what I had to do once, because their child has cancer or some other injury or disease, has to take strength and energy that I can only dream of.