Sunday, August 24, 2014

And Just Like That

* This post was written over the last few days since we have been in the hospital. I started writing it on Sunday afternoon while Magnus was in surgery.

Your whole world can be completely flipped on its head. It is kind of crazy how life can have a way of doing that. Our sweet Magnus was diagnosed with a brain tumor last night in the wee hours of the morning. I think I am still in shock and have not fully processed the information that has been given me. That, coupled with the fact that I have been awake for more than 36 hours has made it hard to think and comprehend and remember small details. I am currently waiting for approximately 3 more hours until Magnus should be getting out of surgery, so I will recap as best I can.

This past week starting on Monday, Magnus has thrown up every morning around 6 or 6:30 AM. He has always had a bit of a weak stomach, but this seemed excessive to me. He didn't do it on Friday morning so I thought we were in the clear. Then he did it again Saturday morning but I was unaware because he had slept over at his grandparent's house. I found that info out later on Saturday afternoon. He was acting completely fine by then and Andy and I decided to go out. We made the kids some dinner and turned a movie on and then went to dinner ourselves. We went to pickup Daphne from her cousin's house and took her home where the kids were getting ready for bed. Magnus was eating a banana. A few minutes after eating it he told me he was going to throw up. He did so and grabbed the back of his head while doing it. After he finished vomiting he started screaming hysterically saying that his head hurt so much and he kept clutching it and screaming. This concerned me, of course. I got him calmed down and ready for bed, but kept feeling like I needed to call our pediatrician. I did that and after telling her his symptoms she told me she was calling Primary Children's hospital to tell them we were coming and we needed to take him to the ER right then.

We woke Magnus up and packed him in the car. Andy and I could be described as underly cautious so we thought we would be there for a few hours and then be on our way home. We were listening to the doctors recommendation but didn't think anything was actually wrong. We were just getting him checked out because better safe than sorry. We even talked about movies we could rent on our way home, and picking up some ice cream for dessert. 

When we arrived at the emergency room they were ready for us and took us right back. We saw the doctor pretty quickly and he examined Magnus and then spoke with us. He told us that they were going to do a CT scan. He also mentioned that they don't take these scans lightly with children because of all the radiation. He gave us a little warning to prepare ourselves. At this point I still didn't think that anything was wrong. Because, you know, bad things like that just don't happen to me and my family.

We went back and did the CT scan. Magnus was awesome and just being so funny and cute. Everyone was commenting on what a cute little boy he is and as parents it is nice to hear that. We think he's pretty dang cute, so we like when others think that too :)

About 20 minutes after the scan the doctor came into the room. He looked incredibly somber and my heart just sank. He brought the stool over close to Andy and me and sat down slowly right in front of us. I felt myself involuntarily bringing my hands up to my mouth. I think it was my defense mechanism, my way of protecting myself of what was to come. The doctor told us that after reviewing the scans, the radiologist had found a large mass on Magnus' brain, the worst possible words he could have uttered.

I felt a rush of ice cold start at the top of my head and slowly move down until I was completely engulfed in chills. I burst into tears and buried, my face in Andy's chest. I just kept thinking in my head, "How can this be happenening? Is this really happening? Am I even awake?" It was such a surreal feeling, I cannot even describe it.

The doctor pulled up the scan so we could look at it on the screen. I kept thinking he would turn to us and say, "Just joking guys! He's fine! Go ahead and go home." But no. We saw our little Magnus' beautiful brain up on the screen and a different colored mass down near the bas of his brain. It was large and squishing everything around it. There was also a large amount of CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) built up causing hydrocephalus. The pressure in there was too much for our sweet boy, hence the vomiting and headaches. 

Andy and I called our parents. We called Rachel so she could go get our other children and take them home with her. What an enormous blessing that she had literally moved in 4 houses down from us just 4 days before. There is no way that was left up to chance. I wandered around the room, shaking uncontrollably. Andy got me a warm blanket and made me sit down. I was experiencing mild shock and it felt awful. Magnus sat on the bed, oblivious to it all, happily watching his favorite How to Train Your Dragon on the tv.

They came in and told us what would happen next. The IV team would be in to place a main line for him to receive fluids and they were going to start steroids for the swelling. On top of that he would receive Zantac to counteract side effects of the steroids. Then he would be admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) where they would keep an eye on him until it would be time for him to receive his MRI. They would intubate him at that point and put him out completely for the MRI, which would tell the neurosurgeons a little more as to what we were dealing with. After that he would come back to the PICU and stay heavily sedated and intubated until surgery time on Sunday morning. That was the plan. 

The head ER doc came in to explain all of this to us. Then the one of the neurosurgeon team came in to go over some things with us and answer questions. When they would ask, "Do you have any questions?" Andy and I would just glance at each other with looks of disbelief on our face like, "Are you serious?" 

The whole time this is going on, Magnus is just sitting on the bed, playing my iPad, occasionally glancing up at the movie, happy as can be. I still haven't digested everything at this point. I feel completely sick to my stomach and cannot stop shaking. I just keep looking at my sweet little  boy, the little boy my husband and I made together, the little boy who is our youngest, truly our baby, and thinking, "He looks so perfectly normal. How on earth can this even be happening to my child?" I wanted to go over, scoop him up, and run away forever.

The IV team came in to place a line. Magnus freaked. The mere sight of a needle has him shrieking. Well, that was something he would get over pretty quickly, I guessed. The wonderful ER nurse who had been taking care of us all evening came in and told Magnus he was going for a ride. We headed up to the PICU for admittance and to report to the team of doctors and nurses that would be fighting for and protecting our sweet boy for the next few days. 

Let me tell you, if the surreal feeling downstairs wasn't enough, then walking into the PICU surely sealed the deal. As we went through the doors, Andy and I following the 2 nurses pushing Magnus' bed, there they were. The warriors, waiting for us. Men and women, lined up, standing next to the room that was to be our home for several days. Standing tall and strong in a smattering of various colors of scrubs, their war uniforms. There were about 12-15 doctors and nurses all together. They all gathered into the room with us where the ER nurse pulled out Magnus' chart and began from the beginning, listing symptoms, diagnosis, care plan, and medications. Andy and I stood in the corner, clutching each other. My eyes were trained on Magnus, still happily sitting in the bed, the center of attention. If I happened to glance at one of the medical professionals, I received an immediate reassuring smile, a slight nod, kind of like a, "You can do this. You got this."

"Do I?" I thought. We would see.


Lisa said...

What a brave strong Mom you are. I only know a cancer story from my point of view, the patient. I forget that there are many sides to the story, the parents, the spouse, siblings, children, etc. Thank you for showing me the love of a parent.

Liz and Logan said...

I am so glad you're blogging about this experience--not for your blog readers' sake but because I know you will appreciate being able to go back and read details you will surely forget.

Your description of being admitted to the PICU and walking in for the first time brought back a flash flood of memories for me. Oh how I remember that moment; it's one I will never forget. I can picture everything in my mind exactly how you described it.

This experience will make you stronger than you ever thought you could be and you will have an even greater understanding of what an amazing spirit your little Magnus is.

Our prayers are with your family always!


Amber Kei said...

So few words to say about this. Just because I'm in shock too. I'm grateful for your family. We have been praying for your nonstop. Love you all. You are so strong. I'm grateful you and Andy have each other.

Jasmyn said...

Thanks for writing this all out, Sarah. That's what I did during Marc's surgeries, to pass the time (cause we all know I can write WAY too much!) and to lay everything out to make sense of it.

I agree with the nurses, You got this. We just moved out of my in law's house after a longer than we hoped stay and I keep getting comments like "You must be so grateful to be out of there. I don't know how you handled it for so long. I could never do that." My response has always been, yes you could, if you thought you had to. You could if that was the best option for your family. You can do more than you think you can when you just simply need to.

I know you know all this, but I have faith in you! Praying for your whole family.

Most Happy Girl said...

Sarah and Andy,

I am so sorry about what you are going through. Your family will be in our prayers.

Nancy & Russell Merrill

Carolyn said...

You are in my prayers. It is so amazing what they can do now. It will be a rough long road, but there is so much they can do these days.

Matt and Joanna said...

Oh Sarah... I can't help but read this and sob. You are so amazing and strong. You are all in my prayers.