June 3, 2012
So! May! TOTALLY FREAKING INSANE, RIGHT?? June, I’m happy to see you. Please be kind.
With the dawning of June comes what we hope is the last chapter of Audrey’s Swollen Neck Saga. We had her post-op checkup with her surgeon on Friday and got the details on the lab results and he checked the healing on the incision and all that good stuff. Basically, they’re still not 100% sure what caused the inflammation in the first place. But, after numerous tests and scans and lab cultures and biopsies, they CAN tell us what it’s not. It’s NOT cancer, (HUGE COLLECTIVE SIGH, BECAUSEHOLYCRAP.). It’s NOT cat scratch disease, tuberculosis, or any other wacky thing they tested for. However, it also didn’t grow any specific bacteria in culture, which means at the time of surgery (three weeks after the whole thing started), there was no actual infection. Which is good news! Except… it still leaves questions, obviously.
Bottom line: her lymph nodes were/are inflamed something fierce (called lymphadenitis) and there may have been an infection in there and perhaps the first few rounds of antibiotics DID clear it up, but it was so irritated by the whole thing that it stayed swollen and gross and that’s why the antibiotics didn’t change anything the last time in the hospital. Or, it may have been caused by non-bacterial something, a virus or fungus or some other immune-type-response. So it’s GOOD that they went in there with their sharp things and cleaned it out and checked out the place so that we know nothing is left in there and we know all Bad And Scary Things that it isn’t.
I will say this: even though it dragged the whole thing out for a long time, I’m actually glad that they weren’t super quick to just get in there and cut it open. The doctors were very patient and wanted to find a cause/solution without surgery, because who WANTS to put a toddler under general anesthesia if it’s not totally necessary? And because she wasn’t in any obvious pain and didn’t have crazy-high fevers or anything, there was no need to panic about it (even if in our heads we were TOTALLY! PANICKING!) So many people give doctors a hard time about EVERY DECISION and you know what? Being a doctor is HARD. Especially when you’re dealing with little kids who can’t explain how things feel or give you any extra info that might help in a diagnosis. Pediatric physicians are 10% doctors, 90% genius detectives. And in the end, we think they handled this one right (and if we had felt differently at the time, we definitely would have spoken up.)
Okay, so what next? Her neck IS still swollen, quite a bit. We have to keep a clean bandage on the incision for a while until that heals, and we should expect the swelling to take some time to disappear completely. Weeks, maybe even MONTHS, believe it or not. So of course my next question to the doctor was, How do we know when we should CALL you again?? What if it’s not healing right and we don’t know if it’s just normal or if it’s something to be concerned about?? And the answer was basically: if it’s getting bigger or looks worse or she gets a fever, call. Go with your gut. Thankfully, just in the past few days, it seems smaller to us, so we’re hopeful it continues that way. Patience and time is what we need now (the soft-spoken surgeon used the phrase “tincture of time” heh) since there’s nothing in there that needs killed, like nasty bacteria. DAMN YOU, VIRUSES AND YOUR MYSTERIOUS WAYS.
The great news in all of this is that she has felt nearly 100% fine the entire time, eating normally, sleeping normally, playing and being her crazy, wacky self. Looking back, I know that our hospital stays would have been a million times harder if she was feeling miserable and sad- I mean, it was a CHALLENGE keeping her occupied for 6+ days in a little hospital room because she just wanted to run and play, but I’d take that over a yucky feeling kid any day. It also reaffirms our suspicion that Audrey is a tough, tough kid because from what I’ve read, lymphadenitis can be pretty painful and she hardly complained at ALL. Even after her surgery, she only fussed enough to get a couple of doses of Tylenol with Codeine and that was it. (Oh! And she also popped a couple of two-year molars this month, because WHY THE HELL NOT, AUDREY? GEEZ!)
So. Here’s hoping we can put this all behind us, because MAN WE ARE TIRED. In fact, within hours of getting home from the appointment, I started feeling a cold coming on- weird sinus headache, sore throat, stuffy nose. By dinnertime, I was in full-on Cold Mode, shoving tissues up my nose to stop it from running down my face. It was like my body just GAVE UP and let it all out after we heard some good news from the doctor. So I’ve spent this first weekend of June laying around like a sloth on the couch playing Where’s My Water and building piles of used tissues while Dan keeps the girls occupied.
But whatever. At least it’s not a hospital room!
(And this picture is totally unrelated, but how cute is my sister’s baby belly??? Little Baby Boy is due in September!)