Friday, June 15, 2007

The Path From Hell is Paved with MRI Images

As I shared back in May, Ashley has had some not-so-positive experiences with one of our local hospitals. However, yesterday at that same hospital that in the past has seemed like the burning pit of hell, things went well, very well. And, the same way I felt compelled to share the negative, I now feel compelled to share the positive.

Ashley was scheduled for an MRI under anesthesia yesterday. She has been having many seizures each day, and the docs have not been able to figure out why. Up until the last six months, her seizures were completely controlled by medication. Not so anymore. Instead of one medication that had been working, she is now on three medications which are not working. The seizures have been coming at the rate of 3-5 a day, some small and some not-so-small, but all very, very scary to her and everyone around her. Since she has had two brain tumors in the past, the neurologist decided an MRI was in order to check on the current state of affairs in her brain.

Wednesday afternoon, the day before the MRI, I received a phone call from the hospital letting me know we should arrive at 11am. Immediately the hair on my arms stood on end and I readied for another battle. Ashley has been so traumatized by problems at this hospital in the past, that all we need to do is pull into the parking lot and her anxiety level skyrockets. Combine that with telling her she can’t eat or drink anything from midnight the night before until early afternoon, and everyone may as well go ahead and don their attack dog training suits. I tried to remain calm with the voice on the other end of the phone and sweetly explain why we needed to be the first MRI scheduled for the day. Miraculously, the hospital staff person listened. I was still on edge though, waiting for the declaration that she was just joking, but it didn’t come. Ashley would be the first person to receive the MRI that day. Things began to look up even more when the nurse on duty said that the anesthesiologist would probably agree to give Ashley something to calm her as soon as we arrived at the hospital.

Thursday morning arrived along with reinforcements. Dear Amy would accompany Ashley and me to the hospital. It was still very early in the morning, and the lack of breakfast hadn’t quite registered with Ashley, but the pronouncement of a car ride with dancing to the bass-heavy radio music brought a smile to her face. I just hoped it wouldn’t be the last smile we saw that day.

More pleasant surprises awaited us at the MRI registration area. The staff was cordial – the area was not packed with people – kid’s books were in the magazine racks – and best of all, a TV was available that could be turned to Ashley’s favorite Nick Toon (SpongeBob). True to their word, a nurse soon arrived with some magic medicine to help Ashley relax. I was almost relaxing myself…

When it was time for Ashley to go back to the MRI room, I knew I wouldn’t be able to accompany her. I have a metal prosthesis in my left ear, and having the left side of my head stuck to the huge MRI machine was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my day. It was time for Super Amy to the rescue!! Someone had to go with Ashley until she was asleep because none of the hospital staff knew sign language. So Super Amy assumed her rightful place next to Ashley, signed everything that was going on, and even modeled the pink gas mask before trying to get Ashley to put it on. Although it was extremely difficult for Amy to watch Ashley’s eyes roll to the back of her head, she held Ashley’s hand until she knew Ashley was asleep, offering the much-needed comfort that eased the entire procedure.

Ashley made it through the MRI and into recovery in about an hour and a half. Although waking up was slower than usual because of the first magic medicine she received, as soon as Amy and I could get her from the stretcher to her wheelchair, we blew the joint and headed home. And although getting Ashley into the house on her wobbly spaghetti legs made me envision having to call the rescue squad to help us into the house, Amy, my son Chip and I were eventually able to do it. (Know anyone who builds ramps??).

Ashley was groggy for several more hours, but by mid-afternoon, walked out of her bedroom and signed EAT, EAT, EAT. We knew then that our Ashley was back!

I didn’t have one complaint about how things went at the hospital. Everyone was professional and caring and went out of their way to accommodate Ashley. This was a hospital experience like I believed it should always be. Now if we could just get the emergency room staff to take a few lessons from the MRI unit….

1 comment:

Attila the Mom said...

Wow! Thank goodness it turned out to be an at least--if not pleasant--experience, instead of a disaster!

::big hugs::