Friday, November 20, 2009

Got Panda?

The whole "preventative screening" term is a bit of a misnomer. I'm pretty sure these tests don't prevent anything except a good night's sleep or two. "Early screening" definitely applies as Bella and I had to be to Spa Tripler by 0630 on Thursday.  Phil got the big kids off to school and brought Lily in after that. On the schedule: Lily and Bella's MRIs.  Bella had an MRI of her brain and Lily had her routine followup scans.  Both required sedation as anyone who has preschoolers knows- they can't sit still for 2 seconds much less 45 minutes. Bella did great, although I could tell she was quite uncomfortable with being the "patient". We had their pre-sedation physicals on Tuesday and while Lily was being weighed and measured - Bella heard the nurse say- Oh we get to see Isabella today too!  As I turned to smile at Bella, I noticed that she was quietly slinking out the hall and climbed into the stroller. She didn't seem too keen on being included in this "sospital" stuff.  She was pretty lightweight when it came to sedation too.

Lily has her port, so that access procedure is routine. The nurse practitioner was telling me they would like to dart Bella. She seemed to be taken aback as I laughed out loud thinking of the many times Phil joked how he wished he could toss a tranquilizer dart at the kiddos...later when I relayed that to him that they actually "darted her" he asked- what did she try and run away?  At first I balked at the premise of sticking her twice when once would do it, but the dart is quick and to the point, where as the IV takes precision to get in and then however long to hook the meds up.  So after about a minute, Bella hands me the toy she was playing with and goes completely limp against my chest.  While she was in her MRI, I ran over to the clinic where Lily was getting accessed with both Child Life Specialists and a handful of her fan club.  Then it was back to the MRI for me to wait for Bella and up to sedation for Phil and Lily. We have since agreed along with Child Life Services that Valium should be standard issue for children's sedations. They were just getting ready to leave for her scans after Bella started waking up so we high-fived and gave the other kids kisses and got back to business.

The problem with mind altering drugs is that they, well, alter your mind. Whereas an adult might make infantile decisions, kids make neophyte decisions. Bella can't yet fully command her eyes to open, yet is demanding breakfast. I had promised when the MRI was over we would get breakfast- she wanted me to make good on that. Fortunately she settled for a pink popsicle. When she finished that, she started fine tuning her muscle control which meant she tried to sit up, but while she was focused on that, she forgot to hold her head up and it would pull her back down.  We did this catch and release dance for about an hour when she finally started being able to talk coherently again.  At this point she wanted to play with bubbles and well she would blow and although I saw no bubbles, she apparently did and promptly yelled at me for not popping them. After that, I got to look like the altered one as I popped imaginary bubbles.  She finally seemed to be sitting up and in control, so we ventured to the playroom. She would sit and play and then randomly fall over. I would have video taped it with my phone but I was too busy catching her.  When Phil and Lily returned from her scans we hugged them and came home to be here when the other kids got home from school.

Lily woke up screaming as usual and ordered a purple popsicle. There were no more purple popsicles so she chucked the red one across the room. She then proceeded to yell for an hour and 20 minutes until it was time to leave. By the time they got to the car, it was well after lunch and Phil asked her what she wanted for lunch- how bout panda? in her most innocent, I didn't just chuck a flavored icicle at your head voice. So of course she got her Panda Express. Girlfriend can pound some chow mein and orange chicken after a sedation. 

Phil and Lily actually beat Phillip and Kiera home. Both kids walk in and immediately balk- why don't WE get Panda? Well- when you have YOUR scans, you can get Panda after. BUT we ARE having our scans- tomorrow. Yep. So we get Panda after? Sure. OK.

We spent quite some time preparing Kiera for her MRI. She was mostly worried about the noise. And the clausterphobia. We watched videos and listened to the sounds it makes on you tube.  It didn't seem to help. The next thing I know- Lily has Bella laying under the chair at the desk- she's tied a rope around the chair and is humming loudly- just like the MRI video.  Whatcha doin?  I ask.  -Takin pictures of Bella's belly.

So this morning we didn't have to arrive so early since Phillip and Kiera were going to do their scans without sedation.  We met with Miss Julie who kept one kid occupied while the other was being scanned as well as providing pre and post scanning debriefing for all parties.  Phillip went first and we were delighted to find that Tripler actually has the movie goggles . That made all the difference. Phillip was like a statue- much like at home when placed in front of television. When he was done- he bounced right off the table- of course that may have been because he had forgotten to go to the bathroom before the scan.   As he was returning from the loo, Kiera had just walked into the room. She took one look at the MRI machine, spun around and yelled " I am NOT doing this! There has GOT to be something else!" And she makes a bee line for the door. Fortunately she bounces right into Phillip who grabs her and holds her. We explain to her how it all works and that she gets to watch a movie. And-Phillip tells her- after you're done, we can go get Panda. She looks like she would rather shoot and stuff a panda right now over this, but after a few minutes she climbs up onto the table and I swear I can see her little heart beating right through her shirt. Once we get the goggles on, she's good to go and does fabulous.  And of course as she hops off the machine the first thing she says is " Can we go get Panda now?"


  1. I wish I would have known they were having their scans! I would have sent some cool Welcome to the MRI Club merch. They are all troopers!

    What a commentary - Bella and Lily "playing MRI." I can't decide if I should cry, laugh, or smile.

  2. Hi, I just came across this post and love the creative MRI play to desensitize to the tunnel and sounds! Gorgeous kids.


Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)