Sunday of that same week was the start of my two week vacation from work - aww, no more hospitals, patients or medical things for 2 whole weeks! Family is coming in and I have a few more things to do before our big party... Or so I thought. That very Sunday, Erika says to me, "Mom, I have this sore that hurts". My response as the o-so-caring nurse- mom said, "Can it wait until tomorrow and we can take you back to your doctor?". She agreed to wait awhile.
By that afternoon though she came to me and said, "Mom, this thing really hurts, I think I need to go to the emergency room and have it looked at today. I'm not sure I can tolerate the pain until tomorrow". Off we go to the emergency room. Great! My first day of vacation and where am I but in a hospital....
The doctor does an exam and says, "You have an abscess that needs to be opened and I think you need to be admitted for IV antibiotics". My response, "What!? Admitted?!, Oh alright - just make her better". Now I am starting to think it is a good thing that I am off of work, on vacation, at least I don't have to worry about calling in sick. She may be an adult, but she is still my baby and if she is going to be in the hospital then I want to be around with her.
Erika gets her IV antibiotics, gets her first taste of being a patient (she had great nurses so had a good experience ... if you can call hospitalization good) and then comes home. A few days later on her follow up exam at the office, Dr A comes out and says to me, "The abscess is all necrotic (dead), I have to remove some tissue and clean it up. It will leave an open wound that will be painful but it will heal better this way" (he could not sew it closed or that would have trapped the infection inside). Dr A takes care of Erika and sends her on her way. At least her flu like symptoms are now gone and we are just dealing with this crazy abscess!
Oh the pain! Have you ever had an open wound? Her vicodin wasn't cutting it so we got Dilaudid instead. Her pain was more manageable this way. Again I am thinking that I am glad I am off of work now to take care of her. We had family here for all of our events surrounding my parents 50th anniversary but we just had to adjust and do the things that Erika felt like doing.
Then we get this call from Dr A...."The tissue I took off wasn't good. You need to have a biopsy done on your next visit". Of course, my nurse mind starts to go in to overdrive...Biopsy?, Not good? What are we looking at? But I chose to just relax and wait until we went to the office before I would worry about anything.
Thursday of this week (now almost 3 weeks into her illness), Erika and I go to Dr A for another followup and biopsy. He discusses the biopsy procedure and why he wants to do one and gives me the original pathology report from the necrotic tissue that he had removed the week before.
I held in my hand and read a report that said "HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS FOR LYMPHOID MALIGNANCY". Not just suspicious, but HIGHLY suspicious. Malignancy, as in cancer. My baby could have cancer. My baby could have hodgkins or non hodgkins lymphoma. I must have read those words multiple times...highly suspicious, malignancy, highly suspicious, malignancy.
I have read reports like this before but it was always on someone else's child, someone else's mother, someone else period. But this report had my daughters name on it. Again, I chose not to get too worked up. Dr A even said, "You aren't really freaking out" to which I responded, "Because I can't change whatever is going to happen and I know my God will be with us as we face whatever challenge we need to face" Dr A just sort of looked at me (now, you have to know that I work with Dr A and I totally trust his medical expertise but he isn't the type of doctor who is going to pray at your bedside. He must have thought I was some crazy religious lady) Dr A takes the biopsy and we go home to wait out the next 24 hours.
My immediate response was to send out a mass email to let family and friends know what was going on and to request prayer. Erika and I did not talk a whole lot about things. We chose to just enjoy the evening and watch a movie and wait for the next day. We did talk about the fact that our lives could change and I had to remind myself and Erika that we could only take it one day at a time. The only thing I said was that if she needed to start chemo that she should consider cutting off her long hair and donating that to "locks of love" and get a short haircut. I have seen cancer patients loose their hair and it is brutal - even more so if it is long. Erika's response to that was, "I've always wanted to try a short cut"
So we wait... By night time my stomach is in a knot and I can't sleep. Never once did I think that Erika would die from this potential cancer, but I am worried about her having to go through all these painful procedures. I am worried about her loosing her hair. I am worried that she may never be able to have children. I don't care how old your children are...you still worry. Yet, I still felt, hope against all hope, that "highly suspicious" was a mistake. Maybe, just maybe it was because the tissue was so necrotic.
Yesterday, Dr A called. He said, "the new biopsy just shows inflammation, no signs of malignancy". Praise God!! Inflammation we can deal with. Inflammation gets better without chemo and other crazy procedures.
We had a taste of what it was like to receive bad news. Thankfully we were spared. I know many others who are not spared. I deal with families everyday that are told their baby will die. I often encourage them to enjoy just that day with their baby in their tummy. I had to remind myself of this. Yet, I have a better understanding now. I will treasure each day that I have with my children
I hope I never have to hold in my hand a piece of paper that says, "HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS FOR MALIGNANCY" ever again!! Especially if it has my child's name on that piece of paper.