Shaun the Sheep Saves the Day

First things first. After a very difficult day of blood, sweat and tears, we got Gavin’s scans done and the word has trickled down that they are CLEAR. After weeks of crushing anxiety and worry, I feel feather-light to know, with absolute certainty, that everything is fine, fine, fine.

Getting these scans done was a bit of a feat.

Last week I called MRI to confer with them about the “pneumonia situation.” I tried to dance around the issue by calling it a lung infection. The nurse I spoke with rather sharply asked, “Do you mean he’s got pneumonia?” Sigh. Yup. When I admitted that an x-ray had revealed pneumonia, the nurse told me in no uncertain terms that the anaesthetist would  not agree to sedate him. But when I got teary and explained that our appointment was over a month overdue, she relented and made a brilliant suggestion. “Is he old enough, do you think, to try going into the machine unsedated?”

We hatched a plan. We could keep our appointment, explain the situation to the anaesthetist and take it from there. We went in for 8:15 this morning trying to be prepared for anything, which meant that Gav hadn’t had anything to eat or drink, but also had to be ready for the experience in the machine.

The last few days at home have involved many games of “MRI.” Lying still on the couch, and it’s usually been me who’s had to have an MRI while Gav has been the doctor. Okay, he says brightly, I just need to take a few pictures of your brain. You have to lie completely still. Here are some pillows for your head. Oh, sorry, you have to have a poke, too. 

We also watched a few videos designed for kids that show how the machine works, what it sounds like, and what it does. They are overly chirpy and full of stuff like, “The MRI is this totally awesome machine that takes awesome pictures of your brain! Cool!!” A bit over the top for my taste but still useful, so thank you to the hospital people who bother to make these little clips.

This morning we checked in, talked to the nurse and the anaesthetist who was with us for the day. As soon as I mentioned the “lung infection,” the anaesthetist shut it down. No way, no how was she going to sedate this child today, which of course I knew. But she was on board with allowing Gavin to try it drug-free. Okay, then!

We went to the machine and got Gavin settled in. I’d learned ahead of time that the HSC has these video goggles for the kids to wear during scans – very high-tech things that you strap to your face to watch a movie. So I slipped a Shaun the Sheep DVD in my bag on the way out the door. Thank GOD. The only drawback to the goggles is that they don’t have a pair of headphones that fits inside the bracket used on head scans. That’s a design fail. Luckily, Shaun the Sheep has no dialogue so audio is an extra.

Begoggled and ear-plugged, Gav’s head was packed into the bracket with squishy things and I spread Minnow over his legs. I’d told him that I would sit next to him and hold his foot while he was in the machine. With air-traffic controller headset in place, sit, and hold foot, I did, over the next hour and a half as Bean got scanned.

Today was a brain and spine scan, which we only do every other scan, and that is a very lengthy scan even sedated. The other issue was that this imaging usually needs to be done with “contrast” for better scans, but we needed to do bloodwork first to find out if Gavin’s kidney function was up to the task. (He had a higher than normal result on our ER visit two weeks ago.)

Now. If it were me, and I had to get an IV into a child for blood-work and such, I would probably do it before I strapped him onto a table with his head held down in a bracket. But that’s just me. I didn’t really get why they didn’t start the IV ahead of time, as the nurse and tech seemed really intent on beginning scanning. I think the idea was to see if he was successful at holding still first and then starting the IV. So we spent about 40 minutes scanning, with Gavin holding mostly still and doing an unbelievable job for a kid who’s not even four yet.

I guess the images were a bit blurry though, as he was sometimes moving his lips watching the show, laughing or smiling. We kept hearing the tech on the mike, “Gavin, you’re doing a good job, but don’t move your lips, arms or anything, okay?”  Okay! his little voice came piping out of the machine.

Then it was IV time. He was rolled out of the machine but still on the table, and the nurse removed his “Maxilene numbing cream” bandage. (Most useless stuff in the world.) The first poke that the nurse tried did not take. The anaesthetist took over and took two tries in his other hand to get an IV in and working. All this while Gavin screamed, kicked, thrashed and fought. It was heart-wrenching and a challenge for the five  of us pinning him down. But it was in. And then blood-work came back that his creatinine was too high to use contrast, so he had a redundant IV in his hand as he was rolled back in for more scans.

The only thing that kept him okay to go back into the machine was the fact that he was getting Shaun the Sheep piped directly to his eyeballs. He calmed down after a little bit, but still hiccuped a lot in the last scans, which had to be repeated quite a few times. By this point, I was done too. I do not love the dulcet tones of the MRI. I was hungry and stiff from perching on a wooden stool and holding his foot. I was worried and my paranoid brain began to read the facial expressions of tech and radiology fellow. They’ve seen something. They are not making eye contact because they’ve seen something.

This is something that I’m going to have to get over in the years to come. Techs are always going to be terse and unreadable – that’s what they are trained to be.

We were done and could escape upstairs to have a bagel, our hospital meal. I had also promised Gavin an MRI present for holding so still – and he’d already picked it out on our Tuesday visit to the hospital. I had neglected to check the price of this particular logging truck – let’s just say it turned out to be an expensive reward!

And after waiting all afternoon, the news came in from Dr. Bartels as Gavin and I finished our dinner out with Bubby and Da. (YES, Gavin ate a big bowl of chocolate ice-cream.) Nothing left to do but share the news with Daddy and with all of you! We feel blessed.

p.s. I ran into my friend D. at hospital today! Best wishes to your baby boy who has just been through a major surgery of his own. Hoping you get out soon and that all continues well for all of you. Great to see you and hope to catch up again soon! xoxo



5 Responses to “Shaun the Sheep Saves the Day”

  1. Aunt Karen says:

    So wonderful! And Gavin is so fantastic. You always make me giggle with his comments. A lot to go through for a little boy, and you guys too, but these machines are amazing!

  2. diana says:

    Wonderful, wonderful results after a stressful day. Gavin is truly the strongest little fighter and gentle spirit. So lovely to see you all yesterday. Xx d

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yay!Shaun the Sheep! All the MRI kids should watch this! Way to go Gavin! Thank goodness you see the funny side of things. Bubby and Da love you so much!

  4. Uncle Graham says:

    Great news.

    It is amazing how Gavin responded to the challange and all of us could not be more proud of him as you are.


  5. Ryan Pardey says:

    Great blog Erica. Gavin is such a strong little man! I can’t even imagine lying still for that long!!! Most adults couldn’t do that. And you and Craig both deserve all the happiness in the world for having the patience and strength to hold it all together through so much of this over the past couple of years. I’m so happy that everything came back clear! xoxo

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