Friday, October 31, 2008

Arwen, Halloween and an Unexpected Journey

What a difference a day makes. Yeah, I know, the saying's overdone. But sometimes it really does fit the situation.

Case in point: Tuesday morning E and I braved rush-hour traffic to commute into Chicago for what was supposed to be a routine visit with her kidney doctor. E's blood pressure was a bit high after we arrived, but the fact didn't surprise me. The ride into the city took us two hours when it should have taken an hour, and with service dog Jewel at E's side we race-walked our way to the office in order to arrive at the appointment on time.

The visit went predictably enough after that. The nurse logged E's pressure, temp, height and weight, and confirmed meds; the resident took a new blood pressure reading; and, well, that's when the morning took an interesting turn.

The resident's reading was high, too. Three more staffers took pressures. E is significantly smaller than the average 16 year old, the resident reasoned out loud, and he'd taken the reading off her weaker left side. Maybe he was using the wrong sized cuff. Maybe if they used a different cuff on her good side...

I don't remember the exact numbers everyone got, but I know the average on top was in the 140s and on the bottom, over 110. E is the size of a two year old. Two year olds shouldn't have pressures that high. My mind went numb at that point because the last time we had numbers like that E was in the pediatric ICU fighting for her life after her aneurysm rupture.

Crap, I remember thinking. No way this can be good. "That's not good is it?" I asked the room. All eyes turned to Dr. L who took his own reading. "I can't let you leave," he said at last.

I remember staring at Dr. L at this point, hearing but not hearing what he was saying. "What do you mean?" I said, knowing his answer before hearing it.

"I need to admit E," he said. "Her pressure is too high. With her history of aneurysms, and the one in the kidney, we need to find out why it's so high and get it controlled."

I nodded, very much aware that just like that our world had shifted sideways.

Long story short, E spent the next 36 hours undergoing a battery of tests and blood draws to uncover the reason for her high blood pressure. The team ruled out aneurysm rupture, shunt malfunction, infection, and heart, kidney and lung issues.

In the end, the culprit was E's diet. Thank God for easy solutions. E's now on a restricted sodium diet. She's not thrilled she has to give up her favorite after-school snack of baby pickles, but as we find new "legal" snacks, she's getting used to the idea.

Now onto the next hurdle. Getting E over a nasty cough and cold, which seems to have taken hold in time for her to miss Halloween. Bummer.

E planned her costume for the day all by herself. We were looking forward to seeing people's faces as they opened their door to a diminutive high schooler dressed as Arwen from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

First choice for a Halloween costume a fictional character from a beloved childhood favorite? Makes my muse proud.

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