Sunday, November 7, 2010

Words Can Make It So

Sometimes I play the game of denial, that if I don't say/write something, then I can pretend it's not true and that everything is just fine and dandy.  I guess I believe in the magic, or power, of words that way. 

So here's something I've been procrastinating writing about because I'd rather not think about it too much.

I mentioned Ellie's MRI last month to determine if a tethered spinal cord is contributing to her recurrent UTIs. (Which, btw, are under control lately thanks -- I'm convinced -- to the prophylactic dose of antibiotics her pediatrician put her on.)

We got the results impressively fast -- the pediatrician called me the following day in the late afternoon. (Why do pediatric test reports come back so much faster than adults'?) Unfortunately, the MRI was inconclusive, so Ellie has been referred both to a pediatric urologist and a pediatric neurosurgeon.

Apparently her spinal cord is not tethered in an obvious way, but there were other abnormalities that prompted the pediatrician to call the neurosurgeon to discuss what she thought. And the neurosurgeon said to send Ellie over, so we'll go there on Jan. 6, the first available appointment.

From what I've read and heard, it's not uncommon for the radiologist to think a cord is not tethered, but the neurosurgeon to think it is. In my case, I've had two lumbar MRIs; one radiologist said it was tethered, the other one said it was not. The same neurosurgeon looked at both sets of images (without, I think, bothering to read the radiologist's report!) and said it was definitely tethered. 

I guess sometimes you have to take a leap of faith when you decide whether or not to do what a doctor suggests. We're not ready to leap into surgery for 
Ellie yet, but we'll go and listen to what the neurosurgeon has to say, and we'll go see the second pediatric neurosurgeon in town and see what he has to say. And then we'll decide if we want a third opinion and should go up to Seattle or down to the San Francisco area for it. 

Here's what the radiologist wrote about Ellie's spine that was abnormal: "There is mild narrowing of the neural foramina and the L5-S1 due to facet hypertrophy and a broad-based disk bulge."

The pediatrician said that was very unusual to see in a kid Ellie's age. She said she has sometimes seen that in obese kids ages 10 and up, but that Ellie is definitely not overweight, much less obese, and so much younger anyway. 

She also wants us to see a pediatric urologist, which has been scheduled for Nov. 22. 

And I'm looking into taking Ellie to a child psychologist, partly because we're not sure how much of Ellie's bladder/bowel issues are behavioral and how much are physical/medical. I'm hoping a therapist will help us get closer to the truth, and also that she will be able to talk to Ellie about these doctor appointments and, if we get to that point, the surgery itself. Hospital/medical stuff is just traumatic for kids, and however we can make it all easier and less worrisome for her the better.

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