Friday, December 23, 2016

Fruitcake Day

Hello, me again.

12 days ago, I wrote a post about how we were done with chemotherapy and we had no more appointments for 6 weeks. I knew when I wrote it, it was all a bunch of baloney! Tillery hasn't followed medical plans ever, so why start now?

So here we are, two days before Christmas, writing a post about an ambulance ride...

This morning was great. We slept later than normal (this is our first full day out of school for Christmas break) and eased our way into the day. Luke ran out to get the paper this morning and discovered that we had missed getting our mail yesterday and in it was a package from a friend. Inside was a small fruitcake with her recipe. We all sampled it and decided we should give fruitcake a chance and that was our goal for the day...tackle fruitcake baking!

A little before noon, I was heating frozen pizzas while making my grocery list, the kids were at the kitchen table playing with dominos, and Joe was in the shower. As I was taking a pizza out of the oven, I heard Tillery's head hit the linoleum floor behind me and immediately knew what happened. She had been sitting in a chair that isn't her normal chair with a booster in it. She was probably reaching across for something on the table and lost her balance and fell. As soon as I heard it, she started shrieking.

I took her into the living room and sat in the chair with her to start doing my own neuro checks I have become accustomed to doing: check all incision areas, feel around the shunt, feel around the bone flap, look at her pupils, look for redness or swelling anywhere, see if she can calm down. Joe heard the screaming and crying and came running out from the bathroom to check on things. I told him I thought we would be ok, we just needed to wait for her to calm down. He went back to the shower and I tried talking to her about other things, trying to make her laugh, trying to distract her. She kept crying. Her eyes were droopy and she kept trying to close them. I knew she hit hard and I didn't want her to fall asleep so I was trying to soothe her without letting her drift off. But she kept crying and closing her eyes. It was like her eyelids were too heavy for her.

I remembered it was during normal business hours so I called the oncology clinic to ask if I should bring her in to get looked at. The lady who answered the phone put me on hold to get a nurse for me. Then, Joe came out of the shower and saw that she was still just as upset as when he saw her a few minutes earlier. I told him I was on hold with the clinic and he said, "Hang up and just call 911.".

Remember, we've done this. She's had falls and we've been in the trauma bay about to lose her. She's gotten bleeds in her brain. She's had her shunt malfunction. She's ridden in ambulances and had to be airlifted. We don't take chances.

So I hung up and called 911. I told them that she had a fall and said, "She has a brain tumor, hydrocephalus, a VP shunt, and a recently placed synthetic bone flap." They said, "An ambulance is on its way to take you to Children's."

While I was on the phone with 911, Joe was trying to get Tillery to follow his finger with her eyes. She couldn't/wouldn't. She was saying the front of her head was hurting right between her eyes. With a shunt, you always fear the pressure that can build in their brain if it stops functioning.

I called a friend and tried to play it cool, "Hey, are you really busy or do you think maybe Luke could come by for a visit....An ambulance is coming for Tillery and we were wondering if Luke could hang with you." (Thank God for the Williamses and the Vaughns who have had to answer this call for us too many times!)

We went to East Tennessee Children's and things were pretty routine. Tillery had calmed a lot by the time we got in the ambulance and the ride distracted her from her head pain. She played her favorite car games (I spy something green...which is never anything green, and I see a flag!). In the ER, they did neurological checks on her and she checked out fine. We decided that rather than do a CT scan and expose her to more radiation, we would do a series of x-rays to look at her head and shunt and make sure there was nothing obviously wrong. The shunt series looked fine so we were released to come home. We will continue to watch her for signs of shunt troubles over the next few days but for now, she seems fine.


Tonight, we got back on track with our plans. Luke and Joe had a game night while Tillery and I got to work in the kitchen. We made the fruitcakes we planned to make earlier today. Some days don't go as planned and sometimes some really yucky stuff happens. If you don't let it knock you down, at the end of the day, you can still have your fruitcake.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Here's hoping for no more updates from us until the new year!

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