Yesterday was an incredibly difficult day for myself and my husband, and not just because of the title of this message. Before I get into the visit, I need to give you a little back story first…
Several weeks ago, I was giving Gage his nightly bath. As I rubbed the shampoo into his head, I noticed an odd little lump. I showed it to my husband, and we decided to watch it for a day or two and see if it went away. What we both noticed, though, was that this lump wasn’t like a normal “I fell and hit my head” bump. The bump was rock hard, and just seemed so odd.
After a few days, the bump still hadn’t gone away, so I scheduled an appointment with his doctor. She said it felt like a bone spur or a cyst, but we would need to take Gage to a specialist to know for sure. Because we live in the middle of nowhere, that meant taking Gage to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite… a 3 hour drive from us.
I called and scheduled an appointment with the Pediatric Neurosurgeons at Scottish Rite Hospital, but they couldn’t get us in for several weeks. Over the past few weeks, we’ve watched as the lump enlarged, then got so small it almost disappeared, and then started to get larger again. For weeks, I have worried, stressed, and prayed constantly. It’s funny – just a few months ago, when it was me dealing with a lump in my breast, I was calm, level-headed, and certain everything was going to be fine. Now that it’s Gage, though, my heart has been in knots since we scheduled the appointment with the neurosurgeons.
The day for Gage’s appointment finally arrived. Yesterday morning, we loaded the older kids on the bus, ran to a very dear friend’s house to borrow her car, and headed down to Atlanta. Our appointment was scheduled for 11:00am, and we finally arrived about 10:45am. It was a long trip, but both Parker and Gage did great the whole way down.
The pediatric neurosurgeon’s office was full of so many sick children. It was heartbreaking. I couldn’t help but hold my boys a little tighter and thank the Lord for keeping them from harm thus far.
Around 11:15, they called us back into an office. We met with the Neurosurgeon’s nurse practitioner. She was nice, and Gage didn’t freak out too badly when she came near him. (He’s at the stage where doctors = evil.) She examined the lump, told us that she thought it was a dermatoid cyst, and said that the doctor would be in to see us shortly. She mentioned that it is definitely a benign thing, but it will most likely need removed.
A few minutes later, the doctor came in. He was, hands down, one of the kindest doctors I have ever taken my children to. He examined the lump for quite some time, took some measurements, and asked us about any changes we’ve seen in the lump over the past few weeks. We told him about the changes in size, but how it hasn’t ever seemed to bother Gage.
The doctor explained that he truly believes it is a dermatoid cyst, and he explained it in full detail. When your skin flakes off on the outside, it creates dust. Sometimes, your skin flakes off on the inside, and it causes a cyst. If that cyst isn’t removed quickly, it can actually burrow itself into the bone, replacing the bone with itself. This makes that part of the bone much weaker, and since Gage’s is on his skull, this isn’t something we should just “wait out.” The only thing he wasn’t 100% sure of is if the cyst has started burrowing into the skull yet. He seemed concerned that it had, since typically, you can move a dermatoid cyst around under the skin. Gage’s doesn’t move. Most likely it has attached itself to the skull – whether it’s burrowing yet or not, they don’t know.
So, he recommended we go downstairs in the hospital to radiology to have a head CT scan done. The CT scan would give the doctors a better idea of what they’re about to cut into.
We scheduled his surgery for Monday, September 10th. If the cyst is not into the skull yet, it should be a fairly easy surgery. We’ll go in at 8am and be able to leave the hospital around noon. If the cyst has started burrowing, it will require a much more intricate surgery, as well as an overnight stay. The CT scan should tell us which surgery we should probably expect, but he told us we should still be prepared for anything.
We left the neurosurgeon’s office around 12:30pm, and headed down to patient registration to wait for them to send us over to radiology. We were told it would be a 30 – 45 minute wait. We were all hungry, since no one had eaten anything, so we figured we could wait another 30 – 45 minutes and then get something to eat.
3 hours later, we were finally called back to radiology. At this point, it’s 3:30pm. None of us had eaten all day, and Parker and Gage hadn’t napped at all. The boys were amazingly good. It was me that was ready to fly off the handle. A stressed out, hungry, emotional pregnant woman is not a good thing.
Between 3:30 and 4pm, we watched as every person that came into the waiting room went back before us. Then they came out. Then, someone new went back. At 4:30, I asked the receptionist how much longer we were going to have to wait. She replied that they just had a bunch of emergency CT scans come in, so we would have to wait another half an hour or so.
At this point, I didn’t know if I wanted to scream or cry. My husband, being the amazing, level-headed man that he is, said to me, “Angie, if we were the ones that needed an emergency CT scan on one of our kids, we wouldn’t want to wait for anyone else.” I knew he was right. He was absolutely right. We were waiting on a CT scan for something that’s not life threatening. I can’t say the same for the other parents in the emergency room that afternoon.
So we waited.
At 5:23pm, they finally called Gage’s name. Gene took him back, and I took Parker to ride the elevators and then over to the gift shop. Gene and Gage showed up at exactly 5:30. We waited 5 hours for a 5 minute procedure. But, it was done, and we could finally start the 3 hour drive home.
Side note: We do not have any results of the CT scan yet. They will send those results to the doctor, and he will call me to let me know which surgery we can most likely expect.
We got in the car, and started heading home. Only 5:30pm in Atlanta means one thing: Traffic. It took us an hour to go 10 miles to find a restaurant. After filling all our bellys – and making sure we stuffed ourselves full! – we got in the car and headed home. We pulled in our driveway at 9:15pm. I dropped the boys off, and then I had to return my friend’s car, and then go pick up the older kids from my in-law’s house. I finally made it home at 10:30pm. Talk about a long day.
I do have to brag on Gage and Parker, though. For as long as our day was, and as hungry as we were, those two boys were perfect angels. We didn’t have a lick of trouble from either one of them. I honestly couldn’t believe how good they were. They made new friends all day, and were just as good as good can be. They each had a moment in the restaurant… Gage when we couldn’t feed him fast enough, and Parker when I wouldn’t let him get up from the table to go wash his hands. But, one freak out from each of them in a 15 hour day – with no naps? I cannot be upset about that!
It was a very long day, but at least it was productive. Gage’s surgery is scheduled, and hopefully soon I will know which surgery he will most likely need. I promise to keep you all updated on his surgery and the results of the CT scan.
I want to thank everyone that said a prayer for Gage, and those that helped us out – by letting us borrow their car, watching our older kids, or the countless other ways we have been helped through this. We’re far from done, but at least we have answers, and we couldn’t have those without the help of so many of you.
After spending all day in a hospital full of sick children, I’m squeezing my kids a little tighter and thanking Jesus for His many, many blessings on my family.