"We found a mass in your daughter's abdomen."
Scariest words a mother can hear. Your mind instantly thinks "tumor" and "cancer" and serious, even life-threatening, certainly life-changing diagnoses. It's even more scary when its said seemingly out of the blue, with no warning, and no expectation of anything.
It started with a new pediatrician. As our journey with my 2nd daughter, my light of joy, continues -- through psychological testing, genetic profiling and more specialists -- we were referred to a new pediatrician. We met her at the end of May, and I quite liked her. She had read the file I had sent on for my daughter. She asked pertinent questions, she listened, and she quietly observed my baby girl for the better part of an hour. At the end of the conversation, she did a physical exam, and ordered further testing, including bloodwork and an ultrasound.
I thought the ultrasound an odd request, but shrugged it off. Doctors are often curious, and in Canada, at least, we have "free" publicly-paid health care. So it was simply setting up the appointment to get the test done, with no real cost to me.
I made the appointment for a Saturday morning. That way my ex-husband could watch our other children while I was with this one. She handled the ultrasound well, especially given how ticklish she can be in that area, and despite the awkward positions. The bloodtests were harder to get, but we managed.
Monday morning, the pediatrician called me. (Another reason I'm very impressed -- she called me personally with the results of the test!) She told me that the ultrasound had shown a 5 cm mass on or near my daughter's kidney, and they weren't sure what it was. She said that she wanted another exam, and was ordering a CT scan as soon as possible.
After I hung up the phone, I was in shock. Literally shaking. I've been through lots of hard things before, but this ranked up there with the scariest things. I don't think I've been that scared in years. I was absolutely terrified for my daughter.
I called my ex, and my parents to let them know this new development. Then it was just a matter of waiting. It was a couple of very nervous days to wait. But Wednesday we got our appointment -- Friday morning. (A third reason I am liking this new pediatrician -- she get things done fast!!)
Friday morning, my ex husband came over, and drove us to the hospital. He was again "babysitting" so I could be with our daughter for her appointment. We found our way through the maze of hospital wings and got to the right spot. The nurses were awesome with her, and gave us a private room where my daughter could be away from people and watch videos on my phone. They wanted her to drink a lot of fluid, and they had to put an IV in for a contrast dye before the scan. The IV was awful. She nearly had meltdown and was ready to pull it out again herself, but we did get her calmed down.
She did really well with the scan itself. The technicians had showed her how the machine worked, and gave her a couple of test runs before the actual scan. I was able to be in the room with her for the test, and she held my hands. The first two pictures they took were before they added the dye, and then finally the nurse came in to inject the contrast dye into her IV. Again, that nearly undid everything, but like a trooper she was able to let them get it all done and the last picture taken.
We went back to the room we'd been in before, and she was impatient about getting the IV out. But the nurse was great and distracted her with chatter while taking it out and finally it was done. We left the hospital and went home again.
Waiting for test results all weekend was also a nerve-wracking time, but I turned nerves into energy and rearranged my house (lol! Amazing what you get done when you need a distraction!)
Monday morning, 9 am, the phone rang. (Have I mentioned how much I am really liking this pediatrician??) The nurse explained exactly what they found. It wasn't a tumor. Rather, my daughter has a serious (but completely treatable!!) case of constipation. Apparently this is rather common in children like my daughter. Between the sensory issues, the lack of understanding and the developmental delays, she is either not able to, or is holding back on going regularly.
You can't imagine my relief. The answer was gross, but simple. And treatable. There are going to be some lifestyle changes, particularly diet changes for my daughter, but with medication and careful monitoring, this is a problem we can fix.
There are lots of parents who don't get the same results I did. They get told the scary-sounding words like "cancer" and "surgery" and "chances of survival." I'm very grateful that our story is different, but I'm also incredibly conscious of the fact that life can change at any moment.
For a while at least, I think I'll just love on my kids a tiny bit more...