It started on Saturday. I usually have lunch with one or both of my daughters on the weekend and this week it was just my oldest, going on 15. I was getting over a cold and while driving she mentioned she had some chest pain. Startled me a little, she had not been coughing, and because she had pneumonia once and bronchitis I pay a little more attention to those symptoms. Of course chest pain could mean anything, one of the challenges of parenting is trying to figure out if it’s serious or just a pulled muscle or whatever. In this case I figured we’d take her to the Dr just to make sure nothing serious, but it wasn’t urgent.
Sunday she goes to the Dr with her Mom. Couple hours later I get a call that I think will be with me for a long time. The xray showed a large mass in her chest and a spot on her liver, she had to to go the ER right then.
So we go to the ER. Get checked in, wait a while, then off for a CT scan. I put on the lead suit so I could stay with her. While we’re waiting on the scan to start she says that she thinks she will have to have surgery but that she won’t die. Almost 15 is far too young to have to face mortality (this is the same year a classmate died of suicide).
The CT confirmed the mass in her lung and with that we were going to be there for a while. Monday they did an ultrasound on her liver. The surgeon came in Monday afternoon with potentially good news, he thought the lung mass was a teratoma and based on what they could see was most likely benign, but would need to be removed. The liver spot seemed to be just a small cyst, nothing to worry about. Surgeon was fine with her going home until surgery, but the other Dr wanted her to stay (just in case you know) until the surgery on Wed or Thurs. The surgeon asked her if she had any questions and she did – am I going to die? Scary stuff, but I’m so proud of her for tackling it head on. The answer was no, delivered credibly, but still, you have to wait and see.
Lots of waiting. I took the day shift, playing games with her, watching TV, walking her around the hospital (because she wasn’t hooked up to a monitor or IV). On Tuesday they spent 2 hours doing an ultrasound of the mass because it was pushing on her heart and they needed to know if it was attached. The result was, naturally, inconclusive. By Wed the new plan was to do the surgery Friday morning, the first time they could have the operating room with all the equipment needed in case they had to do a heart bypass. Didn’t think they needed it, but planning just in case.
Time drags by and finally Friday arrives, off to a somewhat strange start when the anesthesiologist pushes her bed from prep to OR because the nurse wasn’t quite stout enough. Probably cost extra for that. The plan was for about an hour operation, at 90 minutes after going in they come out to say they had just finished an esophageal ultrasound and were starting the operation. Too long later the surgeon came out to say all was well and it did seem like a teratoma, he had a photo showing a fully grown hair in it.
She was in a lot of pain that first day, better on Saturday and up moving some (because if you want to go home, they have to see you walking) and then home on Sunday. After all of that we let her take her time recovering and slowly reducing the pain medicine. On Thursday the oncologist confirmed there was no cancer and on Friday she was back to school and auditioning after school for a play and today we had lunch as usual. Life is good.