Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Diagnosis

There are some people who just shouldn’t be nurses. Nurse Panic, who rushes up to us as we approach the ambulatory care ward is one of these people. We’re checking our daughter in for an MRI but Nurse Panic is already shouting that we’re late, they’re calling for our bub, we’re going to mess up the entire day’s schedule. I don’t get a chance to explain we’ve been waiting in an admissions queue for an hour because she whisks O out of my arms, dumps her on the scale and shouts to the anaesthetist that the baby weighs 6.5 kg. I gently ask Nurse Panic to weigh her again – she weighed 7kgs yesterday, and I don’t want them to get the amount of anaesthetic wrong. Nurse P hasn’t taking her anti-freak-out pills, so she screams at me about wasting time. I plop O on the scale and point to the 7kg flashing in front of us. Oh, she says, and shouts at the anaesthetist to change the weight.

The funny thing is, Nurse Panic is a welcome distraction from the fact that we’re soon going to find out what’s wrong with O’s spine.

The general anaesthetic routine is now very familiar to both O and I. The anaesthetist puts the mask on her, she screams and looks at me with confusion. I feel the guilt of a thousand Jewish mothers, the guilt of my ancestors and their ancestors who all know that a baby shouldn't be put under this kind of stress. O falls asleep. I go back to the waiting room with R. We pace for an hour, talk about the shopping list, and rush into recovery.

Only this time she won’t wake up.

The nurse shakes her and puts water on her face. I have a sudden flash of being 14 and drunk outside Zanzibar nightclub. Andy Hirschberg, a girl on my outer circle of friends, is slapping me across the face and dousing me with water. Cunt, I thought then. Which is what I think of the nurse now. I stop her and say I’ll take over. I gently try to rouse O. She won’t wake up. I wipe some gauze in water and R and I take turns gently rubbing the gauze on her face.

Finally, she stirs. I pack out crying.

R gets the MRI scan and we stare at it. Nurse P explains that the report will be sent to our doctor, and we’ll have to wait until Monday for the diagnosis. We’re unbelievably frustrated and I start to second guess what the scan means. I point to the base of the spine – this bit looks stuck, I say. Nurse Panic shouts at me for jumping to conclusions. R has to go back to work so I’m left in the ward with a scary nurse and a semi-conscious baby.

Just then, my father shuffles in.

He takes the scan and comes back half an hour later. In his amazingly quiet way, he manages to get directly to the man who performed the scan. There’s no doubt about it. The base of the spine is stuck to the back. Our fears are confirmed. She has a tethered cord.

She will need spinal surgery. How much and how soon, we don’t yet know. How effective the surgery will be is also unknown. There is only one known in my mind at this moment. I’m taking all my hurt and pain and fear and I’m shoving it aside. My baby needs me to be strong. That’s what I’m going to be.

Two minutes later, Nurse Panic has her arms around me as I weep inconsolably into her chest.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. *hugs*

11:39 am  
Blogger LJ said...

Oh god, YC. I am so, so sorry to hear it.

2:14 am  
Blogger LJ said...

You said in one entry that you hate it when people say, "I don't know what to say," but you know, what you and your husband and baby are going through makes most of what anyone can say sound trite or insensitive. I wish there were words to tell you how much I wish for you all the resources you need to go through this. And that O comes sailing through - healthy and well. I have been thinking about the two of you all day. So there is this stranger out there, YC, who sends whatever good energy she has to you and yours ...Namaste.

7:15 am  
Blogger sbs said...

best wishes for an end to all this, and soon. i wince that R had to go back to work... that four-letter word.

8:27 pm  
Blogger Ova Girl said...

Oh Yidchick. Unbelievably awful and appallingly unfair. You are doing such a great job (as is R), being amazingly strong and calm in such a distressing and difficult situation.

Thinking of you, all three.

11:23 pm  
Blogger Teri said...

You sound so grounded but I know you are flipped out. My heart goes out to you! Keep breathing. xoxo

2:35 pm  

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