Friday, February 12, 2016

Spinal MRI results and a Ben & Jerry's coma

Shew! Longest week ever, y'all! Eliza and I have been burning up I-65 to Nashville as if all other roads don't exist. At this point, I do feel like I've earned at least a little placard owning my own stretch of highway, no?

After her last brain MRI showed the beginnings of a small cyst at the top of her spinal cord, Eliza's team asked us to come back pretty quickly so they could get a better look at things. A sedated spinal MRI would give the neurosurgeons all of the best images to see what was going on. 
Sedation? Y'all, hold me.

So on Sunday, Eliza and I headed up to Nashville so we could be at Vanderbilt bright and early Monday morning. Because she'd be under anesthesia, my gal pal had to be without food for quite a while. Something I expected to go over like a ton of bricks. I feel like modern medicine should have a work around for starving people by now. It's 2016, folks! 

But my little lady was pretty well behaved and slept thru a lot of the hours she was hungrily waiting. Bless. I would have resembled a Betty White snickers commercial. Hangry is my most deeply felt emotion. 

(Hangry eyes. She's no fool.)

I was doing pretty well with the whole process until I learned that I couldn't be with her during the MRI. It brought me right back to those awful surgery moments! So when they said they'd call me in two hours, after she woke up, I did what any self respecting mother would do - sat my emotional behind directly next to the Vanderbilt Ben & Jerry's and ate all my feelings.  

Instead of two hours, I got a call about an hour and twenty minutes in. Sure that something was terribly wrong, I answered while fast-walking towards the Imaging Department. Emergency? Nope. My little lady had passed out immediately without the need for any assistance. And then woken up immediately after the test was over and sedation turned off. She eliminated twenty minutes of work before the test and twenty minutes after the test. Oh and the nurse immediately conveyed that, not so shockingly, Eliza was starving! Please come quickly with any sustenance, she begged! 

Incredible time management. A great follower of directions. HANGRY. It's like looking in a mirror. You're welcome, world. 

Eliza was done-zo with that imaging department as soon as she had some food in her belly so we scampered upstairs for our follow up with the neurosurgeon. 
With Vanderbilt being a teaching hospital, you pretty much always have to be ready for a gaggle of medical peoples to show up to basically anything. Dr. Bonfield came into our appointment with a couple of med students and spent several minutes showing off Eliza's complicated spina bifida closure. She's a bit of a celebrity with all her fancy scars. 

When the images came out though, things got a bit grim. It turns out that Eliza has not one, but two, somewhat sizable cysts in her spinal column. One at the top below her brain stem, and one near the bottom around her closure. Fluid collects in these little pockets and eventually they put pressure on the various nerves and whatnot around them. That pressure cuts off the information sent through those nerves and causes the areas that those nerves reach to stop functioning (arms, legs, etc). Cue minor mental panic attack. 

So what do we do? Well, nothing. Reaching these cysts isn't as simple as poking her with a needle and draining them. They're deep inside her spinal column. Getting to them means going through several really important layers. Basically, they cut her spine back open, drain them, and the close it back up. Cue my second mental panic attack.

My neuro bro went on... 
A. It's crazy major surgery.
B. With the function in her lower extremities already so precious, it's a huge risk that she could lose it! 
C. She's a tiny peanut baby and nobody wants to mess with her itty bity self unless they absolutely have to. 

Right now the cysts aren't really bothering her. So the plan is to keep on keeping on. She'll continue to have these sedated spinal MRIs to monitor their growth and we'll keep a keen eye on her function levels in case anything starts to looks awry. The goal would be to avoid surgery for as long as possible. And there's even a chance that they could stay asymptomatic! Yes, sign us up for that, pretty please! 

We left with mixed feelings. Ick that we've got a new something to watch out for. Glad to not need immediate surgery. And generally over-stuffed with Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. Oh wait, that was just me... 

Thanks for following along on another bif adventure. We're praying for the lamest, most boring cysts in the history of cysts! And to make it 6 months until her next spinal scan! 

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