Monday, June 18, 2012

Why MRIs make me cry

(Written April 2012)

I wake her up at 4:30 am, gently shaking her awake & explaining that she needs to eat. She nods her head; a groggy "Yes, Mommy" escapes her lips. I carry her to the dining room and offer her choice of cereal. "Mommy cereal," she says. Frosted Mini Wheats it is. As I pour her cereal, I decide to pour some for myself while I wait.

She eats and says, "I'm done, Mommy. I'm ready for bed again." I leave the dishes in the sink, too tired to bother rinsing. We stumble back to bed and I am surprised by how quickly she falls asleep again. I silently praise the Lord and drift to sleep.

I wake again. I don't want to get up, but I need to make sure Amber can still have her sippy cup of water. I fumble for the Droid phone that we got for free from a friend of Cam's. I check the time: 7:30 am. In one hour, Amber can't have any water until after she wakes up from the MRI. The MRI should take 1 1/2 hours and it starts at 2, so it'll be at least 3:30 pm before she gets some more water. I try to fall asleep, but the anticipation (and dread) of the day ahead make it difficult.

We wake up at about 8 am, and Amber wants "pony shows". At 8:30, Cousin Joey comes over and plays with her, helping get her mind off of her hunger. At 8:40 am, I pick the nearly-untouched sippy cup off the table and put it in the kitchen, silently chiding myself for not reminding her to take several good swigs of it before it was too late.

In a few moments, Amber reminds me that she's thirsty and hungry. I groan inwardly for her, and remind her that I can't give her anything because it's MRI day. She whimpers a bit, and I feebly offer my apologies to her.

I have to eat today, to be able to feed Evie, so I guiltily slink back to Granny's room with cereal when I need to. Cam and I keep a cup of water on the kitchen counters, inaccessible to Amber because of the baby gates. I try to keep the lights off in the kitchen, hoping the darkness will conceal the water cup and refrigerator. Cam and Joey also "disappear" for moments at a time in order to eat, then return to her later.

Hours pass. and it's time to leave. Amber's been waiting for this, because Daddy promised she could eat after the MRI, and pick any place she wanted. She remembers that we're going to the hospital with the "toy room". I remind her that she's also going to get an "owie princess glove" (IV) and have to drink the "yucky drink" (sedation), not wanting her hopes about the day too high. She insists on asking, "but it's the one with the toy room?" "Yes," I say, and leave it alone. I'm decide I'm OK with her being positive about this.

We arrive and take much effort getting our stroller out (by we, I mean Cam). It's a child-proof, adult-proof, fold-up Graco model, and it finally opens due to Cam's sheer determination. I throw our two bags and lunchbox (for while Amber's sleeping) underneath, grateful not to have to carry all the extra weight.

We register @ the front desk and look at some fish in the aquarium. I notice one is blue and green and I call it an NF fish. I ask Amber what we should name it, and she says, "Enna" (Emma with two "n"s.) We dub the fish "Enna" as our pager goes off. We breeze through check-in, registration, MRI waiting room, receiving and offering the proper paperwork. As I wash Amber's hands in the restroom, she reminds me about the "toy room", so I promise to ask when we return to the MRI waiting room. We reach the receptionist's window in the room and Amber starts, "Mommy, you promised..."

"I know," I interrupt. I'd sort of hoped she'd forget about it so I wouldn't have to ask such a forward question. I ask anyway, and they graciously open the door to the "toy room". Amber sets about her business immediately, asking for toys while Evie alternates between happiness, contentment, and fussiness. Nurse Mary comes in and takes us to the prep room - Amber protests that she still wants to play. I tell her she'll be back. The doctor explains their MRI procedure, constantly reiterating that we already "know the drill", but going over all of it anyway because she has to.

We sign some papers and they start preparing for my least favorite parts of the day: IV and sedation. I lay her on a stretcher and they tightly wrap her in a blanket, swaddle-style, leaving one arm free. I am told to stay at her head, and I stroke her hair and try to comfort her with songs. Amber's not very pleased with me at the moment, and I suspect that she secretly hoped she'd be able to skip this part.

They insert the IV; Amber screams. Tears well up in her eyes and start to roll down the sides of her cheeks. "Shh..." I whisper in her ear, "Mommy's here." They tape up her IV with at least 5 pieces of medical tape and a sticky Ace bandage, then give her the "yucky drink". I've tried it and I know it's no picnic, having to drink the stuff. The nurse has her down the entire syringe, promising a surprise if she does. That's all the motivation she needs, and she swallows all off it and is rewarded with a princess dress-up set (crown, clip-on earrings and necklace). Amber asks about the toy room again and they allow her to go back and play for a bit.

The medicine takes effect quickly, but she fights tooth and nail to continue playing. She stubbornly flops around in my arms, using all the strong will her three-year-old body can muster. She throws a fit as I hold her, frustrated that I won't let her walk around on her own. Her head swings around and I constantly reposition myself to ensure her safety.

Finally Mary comes in to ask if we'd like to try rocking her. "Yes," is my frazzled reply. Cam and Evie leave the room as Amber and I get settled in the prep room. We get into the rocking chair and Amber begins to relax. Mary lays a warm blanket (sleepy GOLD) on her and she quickly falls asleep.

Now, the frustration is over. I'm alone with my beautiful firstborn; she's cradled in my arms and resting peacefully. "There's my angel," I think to myself, and I can't resist showering her with kisses. My kiss lingers on her forehead, and I close my eyes to prevent myself from crying. It doesn't do much good - my eyes are full of tears as I hand her over to Mary. They wheel her out on the stretcher and ask us to wait in the waiting room, or go get something to eat. I haven't allowed myself to cry yet, but it's coming.

Back in the waiting room, the tears fall silently and unabated. I don't have to be strong anymore. Cam gently asks why I'm crying and I can't answer him. I don't really know why I do it, but I do it every time. Cam volunteers to bring us some lunch, and I nod approvingly.

When my hero comes back with our lunch, I munch it down and we share some laughs about how loudly I eat. I try to eat quietly, but I can't: Cam and I agree that it's not possible for me. It just sounds "loud and slow". I also wolf down our peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some awesome Cheetos. I decide I should write to pass the time, so I ask the man at the reception desk for a clipboard and paper.

Amber is wheeled out while I'm in the restroom. "I had a feeling that'd happen," I mumble as I get our stuff together. I walk the stroller right next to the stretcher as Cam follows,  carrying a sleeping Evie. We get into the elevator to get to the recovery room. On our way in, Mary tells us that Evie can't be in with us, so Cam stays outside while I accompany Amber. I panic for a second, wondering how Cam will get a hold of me if she needs to eat, but they show me the door to the waiting room in case I need to get to him. I promise myself that I'll check in on them from time to time.

I talk with the nurses as I watch my sleeping girl. I'd wanted to continue writing about today, but the recovery nurses look busy and I'm out of paper to write on. I don't want to bother them for another piece. I turn classical music on and spy a Magna-Doodle. I figure I can draw while I wait... so I start trying to draw Amber. I can't quite get it right... her arms are too short and it doesn't do her justice. Oh well. I want a picture of it anyway... as bad as it is, it's probably the best drawing I've done of her. I grow restless as I notice a machine that monitors how much saline solution they put into her IV. It says there are still 13 minutes left. I check on Cam twice, and the second time, Evie's awake. I have him "trade" with me and lead him to the door of the Recovery room.

Evie is restless, and any attempts to feed her are met with her frustrated cry. She wants to look around, and not only that - she wants to be walked. I walk her around as I converse with some nice folks about her. I promise to pray for her 13-year old nephew who had heart surgery. Cam meets me on my way to the restroom (gimme a break - it's a long day! LOL) and tells me that they want my help waking Amber up. We "trade" again and I'm back in the room with Amber. Nino asks for one of my hairs. "You wanna test it for DNA to make sure I'm her mother?" I think to myself. I give it to him but say nothing about my curiosity. I wait for him, half-nervous about what he's going to do with it. He holds it and inserts it into her nose, moving it around in order to tickle her. He catches me off guard, and the unexpected nature of his use for my hair causes me to chuckle more than a few times. "She's still pretty knocked out," he determines after a few tries. "That's very ticklish, what's I'm doing."
He adds more saline to the IV to help flush out the sedation, and continues about his business. I wait for it to finish, and when it does, I try the nose-tickle technique. She responds more to it now than she did the first time, and I keep doing it, saying, "Aaammmbbbeeeerrrr," as I go. Finally she opens her eyes. I beam with pride and ask if she wants some juice. I hold her up and give her apple juice through a straw. She wants to chug it down, but I take breaks in-between to keep her from being too gung-ho about it. I show her my drawing and she asks to draw on the Magna-Doodle.

Nino detatches her IV and all the other monitors, and after I lift her into the stroller (gotta bring one of those more often!) she draws on the Magna-Doodle. She doesn't want to give it up, so Nino says, "I think I have something" and disappears for a few moments. He returns with a cat beanie baby, and I take the Magna-Doodle away as I show her the kitty. She giggles and takes it, and we stroll out to meet Daddy.

One of the first things Daddy asks is where she wants to eat (he's starving). We left our house at 11:30 am and it's 6:30 pm when we leave the hospital: we're both tired and hungry. Amber cheers, "Cheeseburgers!" at Daddy's suggestion, and we look forward to Baker's when we get home. It seems like it takes forever for us to get the food, and we drive home with it. "No fair," I tell Camron as he eats fries on the way home. "I can't reach the fries!"

When we get home, Daddy treats her like royalty, setting a TV tray up for her. We settle in for the night, watching "Muppets Treasure Island" and making sure she she doesn't try to walk anywhere.

The day is over; now all we have to do is wait until mid-May for the results.

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