As you can imagine, I'm sure, this has been a pretty wild week. We are still trying to process everything that we went through while trying to get back into real life. Jamie and I have been working hard to get the word out about the dangers of button batteries with the help of the media relations folks at Children's Hospital and the Ipswich Birth to Three Center. We are going to be drafting letters to Parents and Parenting magazines, the Boston Globe and some other local papers. We also may be meeting with our state representative and we certainly aren't going to let it drop with the original hospital that didn't x-ray Hazel or believe us when she was coughing up blood. But that's all I'm going to say about that craziness...
While Hazel was in the hospital, I had my first appointment with the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital. My doctor there confirmed the diagnosis of MS, as expected. She also said that she believes that I have had it for quite some time as there are several "black holes" on the MRI of my brain meaning areas of dead tissue. She pointed out all of the lesions in my brain but had a hard time determining which ones were active because of the contrast dye being administered at the wrong time when I had my scan. She thinks that the brain lesions happen to be in areas that don't effect my every day functioning so that I may not have noticed any symptoms until I developed this most recent lesion in my cervical spine. The lesion on my spinal cord has caused all of the troubles that brought me to the doctor last September, and seems to cause the majority of my perceptual symptoms. MS is really aggravated by stress and lack of sleep, and when Hazel was in ICU I had a couple of days of pretty bad vertigo, but after some rest it went away. Symptoms that come and go like that are called pseudoexaserbations, and are not true flares. All of this together can explain my pretty extreme fatigue over the last few years. Sometimes in the morning my muscles don't even work. Sometimes it takes all my strength and determination to stand up.
So, that's that. I'm going to be going down to Boston every six months for a brain, cervical spine and thoracic spine MRI and to meet with my new doctor. She also thinks that the regimen of Copaxone injections, alternative therapies (acupuncture, cupping, chiropractic, massage, cranio-sacral therapy, yoga) and supplements (turmeric oil, vitamin D, evening primrose oil, and milk thistle) is good the way it is. I'm really looking forward to my three-hour MRI. I bet it's going to be just delightful.
Hazel came home from the hospital no worse for the wear herself. She has this raging addiction to morphine, so we have been working on that at home with a very detailed plan from the pain management team at Children's Hospital. We are doing an excruciatingly slow tapper off of Ativan, then we start chipping away at her methodone, and by Christmas we should have a totally drug-free baby! Last Wednesday we met with Hazel's surgeon at Children's who will be providing her with the follow-up care as long as it is needed. Because she has been taking bottles and fine purees so well, he said that we could start on some finger foods. I was so excited because making Hazel's food is something I love doing, and introducing her to table foods had been so much fun before this all started.
When we got home that afternoon, I put Hazel in her booster and put some Cheerios on her tray while I made some curried potato and peas for her. When I looked over at her, her eyes were watering like crazy and she was having a hard time swallowing. I took the Cheerios away thinking that maybe they were too dry or big to start with. I cut up some really soft pears into tiny bits to give her next, and she shoved them in her mouth. A moment later, I heard a loud gurgling high in her throat and saw her choking. Everything that happened over the last month came rushing back; watching her stop breathing, coughing up blood, the wheezing and strider, breathing and swallowing problems. I ripped her out of her seat so fast and threw her over my shoulder, whacking her on the back. She coughed up a bunch of saliva, Cheerios and pear bits. It had never reached her stomach.
I called her surgeon and he told me to stop feeding her, and that he wanted her to come in for another barium swallow study as soon as possible. Clearly there is a narrowing of her esophagus, likely due to scar tissue. It's frustrating to take a step back, but I keep reminding myself that it isn't life threatening now and that Hazel is going to be okay. We may have a lot of doctors appointments, a lot of tests, a lot of procedures over the next few years, but this is not going to kill her. This last incident also made me realize how close to the surface my trauma still is, too. I need to find a way to deal with this. Soon. We were ripped from the ICU into the middle of Christmas madness and it's so easy to just pretend to move on with life. I just can't freak out every time Hazel coughs. It isn't fair to any of us.
On a positive note, Jamie is still healthy! He better stay that way, too.