Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Friday, April 30, 2004

Cycle 4, Day +22: MRI's and PMS

Steven's final tests began on Wednesday. His brain MRI Wednesday, the spine Thursday, the lumbar puncture Friday.

As anyone with a brain tumor diagnosis will tell you, after the stress of initial treatment is over, much of your life is measured by your MRI's.

The MRI itself is no big deal-- a white tube, a platform for Steven to lie on, a little music (Elvis or Lion King is Steven's MRI music of choice), Steven takes a nap, and the parent reads a book for 45 minutes or so to the accompanying sounds of pounding hammers and piercing shrieks.

But the implications of the MRI results are profound and difficult to ignore.

It was an MRI that brought the news that our life was going to turn upside down, the picture of that glowing monster growing in Steven's little head, pushing his little brain to one side is something I'll carry with me to my grave.

In the online brain tumor support group I participate in, the anxiety that accompanies each MRI scan is referred to as PMS, or Pre-MRI Syndrome, and this week I had it in spades.

Steven's MRI's are always done without and with contrast. The contrast is administered intravenously midway through the MRI.

For Steven's spinal MRI, the technician came in to administer the contrast, then told me it would be 25 minutes more.

The reality is that the technician didn't come back for an hour and 15 minutes, 50 minutes longer than he said. In those extra 50 minutes, I pictured every worst-case scenario.

But, that's always how it is. If the bad news ever comes, it will come as an MRI result.

Steven's MRI results this week were good as expected. A little bit of scar tissue, no tumor. We'll get the results of the spinal tap on Monday.

- Kathleen

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