Friday, January 4, 2019

Emergency Room Visit

This post is #154 in a year-long series ... Through this series of posts I plan to share our family's experiences during our 17-year-old daughter's year-long battle with brain cancer, which began in February of 2008. My desire is to process through the events of that year from the perspective that a decade of time has brought ... for myself, really. But if you'd like to follow along, you're welcome to join me.

Photo credit: Stephen Downes on / CC BY-NC
January 4, 2009

We were truly thankful for the time Hannah was able to enjoy with our extended family over the Christmas season, because once the holidays were over and everyone had headed home, her health unexpectedly began to decline.  Double vision had been an ongoing issue since she was first diagnosed, but it suddenly worsened and she struggled to get her eyes to focus together.  A feeling of being "off balance" was also part of her normal daily life, but virtually overnight she began having to lean on the wall for support as she walked down the hall.  With this troubling and sudden increase in symptoms, I called the oncologist on call at Children's Hospital (it was a Sunday morning) and we were told to bring her right in for an MRI.  Once we got there, I sent out a quick email  ...

We are at Children's Hospital this morning, waiting for an MRI. Over the last couple of days, Hannah has had increased double vision, difficulty focusing her eyes together, and a greater feeling of being off balance. She's unable to walk down the hallway without staggering. So, I called the on-call oncologist this morning, and she had us come to the ER at Children's...we have to go through the ER since it's Sunday. Please pray for a good scan, and that these symptoms will diminish. I don't know if we will get results today, but we will keep everyone posted as events unfold.

God is good, all the time!


Oh, that was a long day.  No emergency room is known for its comfort, and the one at Children's was no exception.  Hannah's vision and balance issues seemed to be magnified as she perched on the edge of the small examination table.  Fatigue was also weighing heavily on her and she attempted to lie down and sleep on that little table as the hours passed.  At some point during the day we left the ER for the MRI suite, and returned to the same little room when it was complete.  Then we waited some more for someone to come in and bring us the results.  For Brad and I, this was an incredibly heavy day.  Even as we prayed for good news, we knew that was probably not what we were going to get.  What other explanation could there be for this sudden increase in symptoms than new tumor growth?  Of course, we could not share these concerns with Hannah, or even discuss them with each other, since she was sitting right there.

Then there was a knock on the door, and the resident doctor came in to share the MRI results.  With unspeakable relief, I sent the following email at 5:00 that afternoon ...

"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow..."

We just heard from the resident doctor who is here on duty in the ER. The MRI showed no dramatic changes from the one done a few weeks ago! She said that the tumors on the brain stem were slightly more bright than they were on the last MRI, but there were no new lesions or any major changes that had taken place. She said there was no real clear indication of increased intracranial pressure, but that the tumors are in a location that could cause that, and they believe that the symptoms Hannah is having are due to slightly increased pressure in her brain. 

So...they are going to admit us and keep us overnight, starting her on a fairly high dose of steroids in an attempt to decrease this pressure. They also just want to observe her to make sure there are no increased symptoms. Basically, as she explained it, it's kind of a good news/bad news situation...the good news being that her MRI is relatively stable with no obvious indication of any new problems, and the bad news being that they don't know exactly why she's having these symptoms, but they have a plan to bring them under control. So we are breathing a sigh of relief tonight, and praising God for answered prayers again!

Tomorrow we will have our regularly scheduled clinic appointment, and we will be able to discuss all of this with our regular oncologist. As far as we know she will still receive her chemo treatment tomorrow.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers for us today....we have really felt them throughout this rather difficult day. God truly is good all the time, and we are so thankful for His people!

Jill and Brad

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