The Start of Abby's Journey
Abby is our beautiful 5 year old daughter, blonde hair, brown eyes, and cheerful spunky spirit.
We have been blessed with health for all 4 of our kids over the course of our almost 8 years of parenting. Except for minor respiratory issues for Daniel, our 2 year old, we had just dealt with the flu, childhood ear infections, and the inevitable winter cold season.
Thursday morning (5/6) Amy (my wife) went upstairs to find Abby in the kids' bathroom apparently "awake" but completely unresponsive. She would not answer questions or even turn her head to look at you when you were speaking to her. After calling a neighbor for help with the kids and calling me at work, 911 was called and the paramedics arrived. They told Amy that Abby's state was what you would expect to find after someone has had a seizure. Her blood sugar, however, was normal (low blood sugar is a common cause of seizures).
Abby's never had seizures of any kind.
The paramedics transported Abby to Banner Desert hospital (formerly Desert Samaritan), and I met them there. Abby was just beginning to come around, but really only recognized Amy. They drew blood for a full workup to see if she had an electrolyte imbalance, an infection, or something else.
Her coherence improved steadily in the next hour or so until she was talking and recognizing people fairly regularly. They sent us for a CAT scan. When the results came back the pediatric ER doctor took us aside and told us they had discovered a lesion in the right side of her brain. This, as you can imagine, was quite a shock to us, since neither Amy or I have any history of this kind of thing whatsoever anywhere in our families.
The ER doctor had already summoned a pediatric neurosurgeon, who had asked for the films immediately. They moved Abby to pediatric ICU (PICU). As we arrived in the unit, she had a second seizure (something I don't really ever want to experience again). They medicated her as soon as it was safe, and the seizure subsided. As part of diagnostics, they time seizures--hers lasted 11 minutes, which was quite long, they told me.
She recovered much quicker the second time (we never saw the first one), however.
Just two short hours later (at the time it seemed like forever) we met Dr. David Shafron, who is our pediatric neurosurgeon. He showed us the CAT scans and explained what we were dealing with. The lesion is about 2.5 cm in diameter, at the surface of the right rear quarter of her brain (the right parietal lobe). This is the area that handles motor control of the left side of the body in right-handed patients (we had noticed earlier that most of the second seizure happened on the left side of Abby's body).
Unfortunately CAT scans cannot tell what the area is, only that it is not normal. So at 4:00 PM that day we went for an MRI to get some more information. After those results came back, Dr. Shafron (after consulting with his partners and some other pathologists) was fairly certain it was a tumor, not an infection or a naturally occurring mass of blood vessels.
The only way to be sure what the growth is is to biopsy it. However, since (Shafron told us) there are almost no situations where you would leave the tumors in, especially in children, he recommended surgery to remove it. After they take it out they will be able to analyze it and recommend what our next course of action is (further treatment if cancerous or malignant, for example).
We've got a lot going for us. The area in question is near the surface and is not really very large. Patients often recover very well from having this area disturbed by surgery. Shafron tells us that the best indicator of how a patient does after surgery is how they are doing when they enter surgery, and Abby has been doing very well. In fact, you really can't tell she has anything wrong with her right now. Dr. Shafron is also quite well known as being very good at what he does. His practice specializes in this kind of thing.
Surgery is currently scheduled for noon tomorrow. It will last between 4 and 6 hours including all the preparation associated. Recovery time is surprisingly short--she could go home as soon as 48-72 hours after the surgery if she is walking and eating well, and if she requires no further treatment like radiation therapy.
Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. I'll be in touch whenever possible tomorrow to keep everyone posted.