Today we traveled down to Iowa City for Oliver's MRI and swallow study bright and early the next morning. We didn't get out of Waterloo until around 3:30 pm and we wanted to stop by Williamsburg at the outlet mall to do a little shopping. The boys fell asleep like this on the way down.
We met up with Kathryn, a student we met at Dance Marathon in February, at Texas Roadhouse for dinner. We had fun getting a chance to get to know her a little better and had lots of laughs! We had hoped to get in contact with some other gals this trip, but I had lost my paper with their numbers written down and we ended up not having as much time as I thought we would to visit since Ed had to hurry home for work. Lots of appointments make for a loooooong day at the hospital.
Kathryn and Eden
Eden, Kathryn, Jaren, Oliver
Oliver blowing some spit wads through a straw outside!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Oliver had his MRI first thing in the morning. Ed usually goes into the MRI room with him, but this time I did. I am amazed to see how calm he is when he gets the IV contrast (shot) and then lays there with his head cradled in the head rest and is moved into the tube for nearly 30 minutes. At 9 years old, I would be terrified of all the different noises it makes. I could stay in there with him, but I had to wear ear plugs because of how loud the machine is. He's never had to be sedated for testing which amazes me. While I was sitting there I was thinking of how brave he really is. He amazes me.
After the MRI, we went down to Pediatric Radiology for some more testing. A few weeks back Oliver was choking at least once a day, every day for about 2 weeks. Knowing that this was a sign of the tumor starting to grow, it made me horribly nervous. At his last checkup we went ahead and scheduled a pediatric swallow study to make sure everything was working correctly. Jaren had this done in the summer of 2009 so I knew what to expect this time. There were about 5 cups of barium of varying thicknesses for Oliver to swallow. They had mixed the barium with some raspberry Crystal Light to help with the flavor. Starting with the thinnest mixture they fed him and took pictures of him swallowing to make sure that everything went down the way it should and continued on until he ate some cracker mixture. I stood outside the room, but could see him through the window as well as on the screen. I'll have to see if we can get a copy of the recording of him swallowing. Immediately following the procedure the doctor had said everything looked great. Good news!
This is not Oliver... but gives you an idea of what we saw on the screen. It is a close up of the side of the throat area.
After the swallow study, we went down to the radiology department in the basement of the hospital for Ollie's appointment with Dr. Buatti, his radiation doctor. Each time he comes in he gets his weight and blood pressure taken.
Ollie and Eden squeezing into the chair together.
I never know what to expect on MRI days. I always get so nervous for what we will hear. We were surprised to find out that there was no new growth and that the tumor remained stable, for now. Although this is a wonderful blessing I can't help but wait for the other shoe to fall. I know I shouldn't dwell on it, but I can't help but wonder when his health will start to decline, when we will hear that the tumor is progressing.
Once you enter the world of cancer there is no relaxing. Yes, we take every day as it comes and view it as a blessing. We try to make the most out of our situation and make as many memories as we can, but the fact remains... his cancer is still there. It has always been there. It is just sitting there... lurking. It just makes me sick thinking about it. The cancer is waiting. We are waiting. I still can't believe this is my life. I can't believe that my child has cancer and will most likely pass from this. We were changed on December 23, 2009. Life as we knew it was over and a new life with cancer was beginning. We will never, ever be the same.
It's hard to explain all the feelings that I feel, impossible really. So... off we go again until his next MRI in June. Will he make it until then? This is the first thing I think of when we schedule his follow up appointments. Sick... I know, but realistic. I know far too many kids that have passed in a short amount of time. It's heart breaking... heart wrenching. Sorry... my mind is not a happy place to be at times, but it is what it is.
After the appointments we all headed to Old Chicago for lunch before heading back to town. Lindsay, the general manager, had contacted us about holding a fundraiser for Oliver down there. She and many employees and patrons sent Oliver over 100 Christmas cards last year. It is quite amazing what kindness we've received from complete strangers this past year. We saw fliers on the walls and a huge poster that I had Ollie stand next to. He said he wanted to do his cheesy smile like the photo on the poster! What a nut! We headed home Wednesday and will be down again Friday for the benefit. We can't wait!!