A big “Mahalo” to all of you who prayed for Abbie regarding the brain scans we did this morning! It was quite an experience. As I posted earlier, I had been warned that the DTI test was loud. Wow! Jackhammers on a sidewalk would have been crickets chirping compared to that test! Abbie had earplugs in and earphones on over her ears. I think it was the microphone attached to the earphones that really completed the “Abbie as a Cosmonaut” look. She was also outfitted with a set of goggles that allowed her to watch “Lilo and Stitch” during the tests. With all of that on her head, she was then slid into a little basket that held her head still and straight. Not the most pleasant position for a nap.
I had kept her awake all morning, minus a 10 minute catnap, so that she might be too tired to fidget. As I alluded to above, fatigue couldn’t have a made a sloth hold still on that table! Our dear Maria went with us, so she and I both donned earplugs as well, and each took one of Abbie’s hands and feet in our hands. The noise and vibration were hard on both of us, so I can’t imagine what little Abbie went through as she actually lay in the middle of the doughnut. There were times she cried, so I worried about how the images were going to come out. I should have known that with two women holding on to her and praying the entire time, all would be well.
It was more than well, it was GREAT. The radiologist told Ray with a smile, as the DTI and MRI were completed, “Those were just two very complex scans that went very well…now they are going to think we can do this all the time!” The DTI images were just raw data and have to be processed through the computer to give us usable, readable images. BUT, Dr. L. did show us one of the raw images, which was a transverse slice of Abbie’s brain (horizontal). The DTI uses colors to indicate direction of connection: green is for front to back communication, while red and blue indicate left to right (and vice versa) communication. I have to say, while this was just one raw image, we saw lots of dots of every color….hurrah!! Abbie’s brain is communicating in every direction (my analysis, not the radiologist’s) We don’t expect her pictures to come back looking like that mohawk DTI image I posted, but there WILL be some wires tying parts of her brain to each other.
Then, the technicians handed us a huge envelope with all of the MRI images…we got to take them home! Maria and I could hardly contain our glee, and hurried home for what seemed like Christmas on May Day. Of course, we don’t have a lightbox at the house, so we taped up images all across our sliding glass doors. We got out the films from Abbie’s first (and only ) MRI, done three days after her injury so that we could compare them to the new ones.
Several things jumped out as we spent an hour or so with the images. In no particular order:
1. Looking at her first MRI, I could see that the medulla (brainstem) was bent rather than straight, forced to the rear by the pressure of the swelling in the front of Abbie’s brain. Knowing what I know now it struck me very hard that we came very, very close to losing her…in fact, looking at those first images, I cannot believe she survived that injury.
2. Her new images are nowhere near normal, but that’s not what we were looking for. Her ventricles are enlarged, holding more fluid to make up for the tissue loss as her brain has atrophied. She does not have the same amount of tissue mass that a normal brain does, however, she definitely has grey and white matter, and especially in the upper portions of her brain, the contours are curving and folding.
3. Her cerebellum is smaller, but two important things have happened. One is that a huge gap between the two halves has reduced and is beginning to fill in. The other is that the cerebellum was pushed up out of its normal position by the swelling in the back of Abbie’s brain. This left a big gap between Abbie’s brain and her skull, where the cerebellum was supposed to be. Her cerebellum (which has a lot to do with motor control) is now back in it’s proper place, and the spacing is much more appropriate.
Overall, the appearance of the tissue in Abbie’s brain is much, much nicer. Instead of a big bowl of undifferentiated grey mush, it now is very differentiated by color (light and dark) and by contour.
Given all this, it still was not an easy day. Halfway through looking at the images I recognized the irony in the fact that we had taped them to the door I’d run through to give her CPR, and if we looked past the images the pool filled our vision. Maria was a godsend, and once she realized I was slipping down the slope, she intensified her efforts to point out improvements.
Ray and the boys enjoy watching a show called “The Biggest Loser”, a weight loss challenge. It always amazes me, at the end of the season, to see the “new” person stand next to his or her “before” photo. I drove home from the imaging office today with that thought in my mind — these are Abbie’s “before” pictures. One day she will stand next to those images and we won’t be able to believe that they once belonged to her.
I must give my deepest, most heartfelt thanks (which still seems woefully inadequate) to the entire staff at InVision Imaging. They gave us a profound gift today, with such warmth and caring that I am still at a loss for words.
Abbie also continues to show us each day that she is working hard to get better. Today, Carol came to give Abbie Healing Touch, and was working with her while I cleaned house. I came in to check on them, and Carol exclaimed, “Did you know she can lift her arm all the way over her head???” Why, yes I did, I told her…as of last week that is in Abbie’s repertoire.
She went to RJ’s baseball game with me tonight and was so attentive. Not only to the game, but to the busses passing behind her and people talking around her. Now she can evidence this attention with movement, which engages everyone around her.
So, it has been quite a day, but I want to wrap this up by asking for fervent prayers for Abbie’s buddy Caleb. If you’ve not clicked on his link in a few days, he could really use your support. He came to our house on Tuesday to use the HBOT chamber and Tesla lights. But, he had a little runny nose, so we skipped the chamber for that day. His mom called the next day, to set up a time come over, I thought. Wrong. She was calling to tell me that she’d had to begin bagging Caleb early that morning because his oxygen sats had dropped so low. They went by ambulance to the hospital where he was admitted to the ICU, sedated and ventilated. I saw him last night, and he looked great, but was still knocked out from all the drugs. It seems that the origin of the problem wasn’t respiratory per se, but rather a wave of seizures. I spoke to Kehau this morning and it sounds like his neurologist thinks the seizures were brought on by a quickly spiking fever. This would be good news since that is a transient problem that even happens in kids without brain injuries. I’ll be seeing them tomorrow, and will tell them that all of Abbie’s Angels are praying for Caleb to bounce back.
We’ve never had to go back to the PICU or call an ambulance to the house, so I can only imagine the emotional toll this event has taken on Kehau and Brandon, please pray for them as well. They are a blessing to me, as I see God’s grace illuminate their way through challenges, reminding me always that we have the same Father, same Hope, same promises….what comfort, what joy.