Friday, May 24, 2013

Tears, Clouds and Sunshine

A couple of weeks ago, Elizabeth was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI). Antibiotics put her right again but it is fairly standard procedure to do a sonogram to check the bladder and kidneys to be sure nothing caused it that would merit special attention. On Tuesday our pediatrician called to speak to us about the results. At first I was a little surprised the doctor himself would call, but he has done it before - we have an awesome pediatrician. I got nervous though when he asked if the sonogram technician had said anything to me during the sonogram. She hadn't.

He went on to explain that her bladder and kidneys and the connections to them looked good. But there was a mass about 1cm in diameter at the top of her kidney and they didn't know what it was. He explained, due to the location, there were simply numerous possibilities as to what it was, the majority of them a benign mass that would not be cause for great alarm. I know he was trying to reassure me and help me be calm when he said that the possibility of it being cancerous was only the slimmest possibility, but that word. Oh that word. That C word. In a conversation about my baby. Even after I hung up, I kept hearing that word over and over again in my head. And the tears became impossible to restrain.

What made it worse was that I was literally 3 minutes from finishing this video about a young man who died from cancer the day before when the call came. It really is worth watching.

Our pediatrician had said it wasn't an emergency but recommended Elizabeth have a CAT scan within the next few weeks. With that word repeating in my head, I wanted to schedule it as soon as possible. The next day, I called the pediatrician's office about setting up the appointment but they hadn't gotten approval from the insurance company yet, so I had to wait until Thursday. Wednesday is a blur. I didn't want to do anything. I struggled not to worry and break into tears and if the kids caught me crying I thought of some other reason to give them. I had trouble sleeping. I didn't want to do anything. I just wanted to fast forward time. Or rewind it. Something. I wanted to do something. I couldn't do anything. It was miserable. I thought of those St. Jude Children's Hospital commercials with the kids who have cancer and wondered how their parents endure it.

Thursday morning I was starting to adjust but phone calls brought the reality back into focus.  Fortunately, only 10 minutes after the pediatrician's office called to say they were good to go, the Imaging Center called to schedule the appointment. I was so glad they could take us the next day; the waiting had been awful. I kept reminding myself that the odds were it wasn't a big deal and she seemed fine but one thing I learned in statistics class was that statistics are just that, they are just the odds. To the 1 out of 1000, it doesn't matter that the other 999 don't have it - it just matters that you do.

My dad offered to come with Elizabeth and I to Children's National Imaging Center. I tried to time Brigid's nursing just right so she'd be well fed and asleep before we left. We arrived and they were playing Pixar's Brave in the waiting room. Elizabeth loves that movie and has even picked it as the theme for her birthday party in a few weeks. After we were shown back and she was weighed, the doctor asked to speak with me. We went over a bit of how we wound up here and why and he asked if I'd mind if he just did a quick sonogram, free of charge, to make sure Elizabeth needed the CT scan. With the hope of going home sooner, I said sure. Plus, Elizabeth had already had one sonogram, so it shouldn't be bad since it was familiar.

Children's even has someone assigned just to play with the kids and help them stay calm and try to have fun while they are there. A lovely young lady named Erin offered to get Elizabeth toys and suggested playing music during the sonogram. The sonogram didn't last long though. As soon as the doctor, the head of the division, looked at the sonogram, he said he would speak to our pediatrician but he thought we should just go home. He said Elizabeth simply has a splenule, or, as wikipedia calls it, an accessory spleen. Basically her spleen has a little extra piece separated from it to help make hormones and cells. As the doc put it, she has a little extra insurance in her spleen. My dad said, "She's just accessorizing." The doctor said about 5% of the patients that come in to see him have it. Wikipedia reports about 10% of the population have it. It doesn't cause any extra problems other than "interpretation errors in diagnostic imaging." Oh, and since this sonogram was "off the record" there is no actual record that she has this - if it comes up again, we will just have to argue and explain the situation.

We left smiling. We usually refrain from meat on Fridays but, while I know we owe God big time, it just seemed more appropriate to celebrate today. So we got Taco Bell and 5 Guys for lunch. Brigid miraculously slept until 10:40 and didn't need to nurse until 11:15. And everyone played the whole situation SO well to the girls that now Cecilia and Felicity want to "get sick" and keep telling us what sickness they will get next. It is well and good at their young age that they don't know more than Elizabeth got pictures taken and got to play and pop bubbles at the doctor's office and came home with a bracelet (medical tag), bottle of bubbles and stickers.

It will be a week that will be hard to forget for me though. My mind bouncing from "it's nothing. I have an extra bone in my foot, she is probably just weird like me but in her abdomen" to "my 3 year old could only have months to live" is not something you easily forget. In one phone call my life was turned upside down and in one sonogram all the mercy of the world was thrown upon me. It has been a horribly difficult two days, but it is a blessedly wonderful Friday.

Incidentally, this song has really grown on me and is available to purchase on itunes. Just saying. :)


  1. So happy it turned out to be nothing of concern. Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. I'm so glad it was nothing. I know how long the time stretches between the fear of something being wrong and the test that reassures you that nothing it. A little Good Friday experience followed by a little Easter.

    Have a great weekend, Katherine!

  3. Glad to hear it was nothing! Or at least nothing to worry about. I think God will excuse the meat this one time :).

  4. So, so, so glad she's okay! I can't imagine what you were going through because I teared up twice just reading this!

  5. Very glad it wasn't anything serious! Lol, "... now Cecilia and Felicity want to "get sick" and keep telling us what sickness they will get next." Reminds me of the story of Madeline!

  6. Oh yay! Bless the Lord, bless the Lord, bless the Lord!

    And bless your little one! Oh yay... what wonderful news! But yeah - those are scary memories for any mother to hold onto. {HUGS}