Saturday, December 8, 2012

Terror, Real And Imagined


It all starts with a small cough.

Three and a half weeks ago, I noticed Lis was coughing.  It may have taken me awhile to notice this, since Lis figured out long ago that two of the best ways to get out attention were to cough or wheeze/gasp for breath.  Normally, neither of them are real, and when we come running, she laughs. Jerk.  Anyways.

I thought—hmm.  Let’s keep an eye on it for a few days.  I read the lovely Swistle’s blog, and she mentioned that she took one of her kids in for a long standing cough-no-fever, and lo! Pneumonia.  I promptly panicked, and Vor promptly told me to get a grip.  When the cough hung around, we went in for the first appointment, and lo! Sinus infection.  When that treatment didn’t work, and her cough got worse while we were in Arizona (forGodssake, away from our doctors!) and her nose got worse, we went back to doctor after we returned from Arizona (how was Arizona? Lovely.  Love it there).

Lo! Behold! PNEUMONIA. 

First, her doctor couldn’t hear anything in her lungs, but the things I was describing were so classically pneumonia that she heaved a big sigh and said, “Chest x-ray.” 

I stared at her with baleful eyes.  “Must we?”  We’ve had this conversation before—we want to limit Lis’s exposure to x-rays, etc, since she needs lots of CT Scans for her head.  Her doctor is totally on board in wanting to limit this as well, since she is going to need an awful lot in the first few years of life.  “Yes. We must.”  I know she would not make this call without truly needing it, so we head to do it. 

I am beyond anxious about the scan, first for the radiation.

That anxiety turns out to be nothing, NOTHING compared to panic I felt during it.  She was essentially in this vertical clear plastic tube, with her arms locked above her head, immobile.  I’m holding onto her hands, singing to her to keep her calm, and the tears are running down my face.  Not because she’s upset, not even because the x-ray is so bad, it’s the freaking flashback.  I’m there, but suddenly I’m back for that CT scan, then I’m waiting for her surgery, then I’m staring at stitches all across her small head, and I’m back in the x-ray room again, crying. 

The nurse is suddenly in there with me, putting Lis in my arms and patting my arm, saying, “Are you okay? She did great!”  I nod and manage to choke out that we’ve spent some quality time at Riley, and she nods sympathetically, then sends us back to the room. 

Pneumonia.  Scans.  Flashbacks.

Her doctor comes back in to look at the x-rays, and then pauses, looking at Lis’s head.  I feel like I am going to pass out when she reaches out and runs her hand over Lis’s old soft spot, and over the new surgically created ones.  I point to the still evident ridges on the side of Lis’s head, and ask—is it just because her skull fused so quickly?  They said her case was rapidly getting worse, and it was complicated.  I just assumed that she would have small ridges like that…?  Her doctor hmms at me, remarks that they are much easier to see than last time.  Maybe it’s just because all the swelling is totally gone now. 

I make a half hearted joke about how it would be just my (bad) luck that we would be one of tiny percent of people that needs the second surgery.

She doesn’t respond.

Lis’s next follow up is Dec 14.  Vor, in the meantime, has talked me out of my terror, out of my paranoia, and into just dealing with the pneumonia.  Let’s leave it to the experts, eh?  I know the chance is small.  I know that I am a worrier, and that I latch on to things, sometimes irrationally, and obsess.  But.  But.  Last time, I was right.  Last time, I stared at my daughter's head shape before the doctor even mentioned it, and I knew.  Last time her doctor ran her hands over her head like that, it all happened. 

So, I think I can forgive myself for being a little paranoid this time around.  It ain't my first rodeo, you know.

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