Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Donut Spiral

Pablo's been dreaming of having his very own top hat. Mommy and Grady made that dream come true this afternoon.

We just returned from the MRI lab. Another major test checked off the list. Dr M recommended that we do the MRI without sedating Pablo. We agreed. Any time we can minimize the meds, we're for it. Plus, with all the experience P has had with the CT machine, our instinct was that he'd be OK with the general experience of the MRI. He was generally OK with the MRI machine, and with laying on the bed. When the tech strapped him across the chest with a thick white Velcro strap, his anxiety heightened. When she placed a giant padded sensor on his chest and strapped that onto him, he nearly backed out of the deal. When I tell you he freaked out, the words don't and can't convey what it felt like for him, or for us, to see him, helpless and mortified. The overall premise of our son having cancer is gut-wrenching, disorienting, and crazy-making. We are rarely so blatantly scared as we were today.

Jo Ann and I did our best to calm him, and it worked. The tech pushed a button and the bed slid into the donut.

Jo Ann stood at the receiving end of the donut. She stood with her arms extended, placing her hands on Pablo's head as the bed slid toward her. I kept my hands on his legs and feet. We held these bookend positions for the duration of the scan. The procedure was meant to take an hour. At the end of the hour, the tech came in and told us she had to do an additional 15 minutes of scanning. P slept for a large chunk of the time, except the start and finish.

Now, if you've never been in the same room with an MRI machine, let me describe it for you. The machine makes a constant pounding / thrumming noise, at about 140 beats per minute. Then there are a few other sounds each of which sounds like something off the second Nine Inch Nails record—scary, loud, menacing, like note-perfect industrial rock string stabs and horn jabs. Add in Pablo's screaming, and you've got a cacophonous fright-fest, just in time for Halloween. Just when it was getting unbearable for Pablo and for us, it was over.

All the spooky stuff was worth it. I went into the tech's cockpit to see the images. Three giant flat screen computer monitors showed various views of Pablo's body from all different angles. Some of his organs were pulled up in sub-view windows. I looked at the pics and said a prayer that they show conclusive evidence of a cancer-free Pablo.

Dr M and the radiologists will review the game tape, and let us know the real answer. In the meantime, we can all pray that Pablo is still cancer-free.

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