Monday, January 15, 2007

MRI at Children's Hospital

Ana's MRI went reasonably well on Friday. She was coughing in the night and awoke with a snotty nose, which triggered my thought of, "Great! Here we go again." Just when we're all recovered from the Christmas cold, here comes the one for January.
Coming down with a cold did not stop the MRI procedure, however. We arrived at Children's Hospital bright and early to find it bustling with activity as if it had been in business all night long. Which, of course, it had. It's a hospital. I may be an early riser most of the time, but I'm used to solitude and quiet at that time of day.
I made up my mind that if I had to be hospitalized, this was the place I'd want to be. The decor was bright and cheerful, with murals and paintings all along the walls. Leon managed to find his way around by noticing the different paintings we passed. "Yes, we're going the right way because I remember this painting," he'd murmur as I scanned the signs overhead to figure out where I was.
The staff were all morning people or otherwise revved up on caffeine. The lady at the desk cheerfully handed me a survey to fill out, "so you can tell them how crazy I am." I grinned and replied, "Not as crazy as I am right now." I'd been up since 5:30 with no food, no hot chocolate, no journaling to center my mind.
Ana was as good as gold--she's a morning person, too. We went back and got her gowned up while a young woman with long, wavy blonde hair who positively radiated warmth and friendliness took her vitals. Then we waited. We played with Happy Bear (a gift from G.G. Walker). Leon flew her in and out of our cubby while she shrieked with her arms and legs outstretched. There was much talk of the Bubblegum-Cherry guy, who finally arrived to pick up his form, then disappeared to prepare the going to sleep medicine. Ana had latched onto the bubblegum and cherry news instantly. The going to sleep medicine was going to smell like bubblegum or cherries or both.
It was a disappointment, however, since it came with a forbidding looking mask. Ana decided that they could keep their bubblegum, their cherries, and their ugly mask--she was ready to leave right then. It took a fair amount of cajoling to get her to keep the mask on long enough for the anesthesia to start flowing forth. The Bubblegum-Cherry guy, who looked as though he spent his evenings eating good food, drinking good wine, and reading books off the New York Times bestseller list, having had his fill of children all day, remarked that the sedative smelled more like Shrek mouthwash than bubblegum and cherries. But by then Ana's eyes had started to roll up into her head and it was time to collect Happy Bear and go find breakfast in the hospital cafeteria.
Why does all hospital food smell the same? It doesn't matter which hospital I visit, I breathe in the aroma of their food and I know I'm in a hospital--some hospital. Leon and I went to have breakfast. Desperately hungry and determined to get the few remaining breakfast items, we did not choose well. Hospital cafeterias also all seem to having an annoying set up that the staff are accustomed to but make visitors wander in a confused circle looking for forks. The food was excellent when I sat down to eat--I was ravenous--but once I had my fill the spell was broken and it became ordinary cafeteria food again.
By the time we finished and had found our way back to the MRI area, the presiding nurse was racing towards us with a relieved expression. Everything was over and had gone well, and Ana was sleeping in her curtained off cubby.
We set up camp beside her bed, prepared to read, sketch, or knit, but Ana was soon stirring. All went swimmingly after that. She ate her cherry popsicle, had her IV removed (which made the most alarming boo-boo), received her fairy princess outfit, and got dressed to go. She bounced out of the hospital, into the parking lot, and into the car, where she wilted on the way home.
It was as if someone had clicked her internal switch to "really sick" mode. Her breathing grew fast and shallow and she began to shiver and tremble violently and complain that she was cold. I felt her forehead, which didn't feel feverish, and covered her in a towel in case she barfed up the popsicle. She didn't improve when she got her home and settled in the guest room bed with "Go, Diego, Go!" on TV. We both dozed off, and when I opened my eyes I reached for her forehead. It was hot. I jumped up and took her temperature. I didn't get a really good reading, but evidently it didn't matter. 105.
I grabbed the phone, while Leon switched the setting from infant/toddler to child/adult. He got 103. The kind gentleman who answered the phone recommended Tylenol, if that didn't work call her pediatrician. We got the Tylenol down her and waited for an hour. It worked. Ana was no longer curled up in a shivering ball. She lay and watched Diego with interest, drank Gatorade, and eventually asked for the crackers we'd been offering. Her temp came down to below 100. The worst was over.

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