When she started complaining of a painful neck a week or more ago, I took her complaining with a grain of salt. A large grain of salt. I expected it to go away, yet after three days she was still complaining about it. She said it hurt to take a full breath, but the pain was in her neck. I couldn't feel anything and massaged it, thinking it was tight muscles. She kept complaining. Her Aunt Kristi listened to her lungs, since she said it hurt to breathe, and she sounded fine.
Finally, one day last week she came up to me with her back to me and asked me to feel her neck. From behind, I could tell that one side of her neck had a hard lump. It almost felt like a bone it was so hard, but I knew it couldn't be. It was located where she had a lymph node on the other side, which is normally soft and rolls around a bit under your fingers. Not this thing -- it was hard and stuck in place.
I know people tell you not to do this, but it's hard not to resist. I can make a personal recommendation on this one: do not Google health symptoms, especially "hard, immovable lymph nodes." The first page that showed up was the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, followed by the American Cancer Society and then the oncology page for the Mayo Clinic.
I made an appointment for her at her pediatrician's office at 11 a.m. the next morning to have it checked out.
I absolutely expected the doctor to come in, examine her and say, "Oh it's this muscle group, blah blah blah, have her do these stretches and ice it. Here's a sticker."
Instead, he found the spot after much description from Marissa and pointing from me, and got a puzzled look on his face. He asked another pediatrician to come in and assess the spot as well, then the two of them went into the hall to consult.
"Well," he said when he came back, "It could be a muscle group that's spasming, but if that were the case she would be in a lot more pain. We think she needs to see a specialist to get a second opinion, so we'd like her to see an ENT. Today."
We already had a relationship with an ENT due to Marissa's ear tubes and adenoid surgery as a baby; amazingly enough, he had an opening at 2 o'clock.
The ENT also found the spot on her neck and said it was a deeply seated lymph node that was acting up; none of the other lymph nodes were involved, and otherwise she was a very healthy girl; no fever, no night sweats, no loss of appetite. However, the possibilities if it was an indication of a greater illness was too serious not to fully investigate.
He ordered a CT scan, and insisted that we have it done as quickly as possible. When we were first given an appointment time of the following Thursday, he had his nurse call the hospital back and get it moved up to the very next day.
While I appreciate that the physicians wanted to get us an answer as quickly as possible, the fact that they all wanted this thing checked out immediately was disconcerting.
Friday morning was supposed to be the start of our vacation. Wayne was going to be starting his Ragnar 200-mile race Friday morning, while Kristi, the girls and I were going to be driving to Wisconsin to spend the weekend with my parents. Instead, Kristi and I and the girls would be checking Marissa in at the hospital for this procedure, while Wayne debated whether or not he should do the Ragnar race at all. (I insisted that he did it.)
This felt like the start of a journey I did not wish to take.
The ENT thought Marissa would have to be put under for the CT scan because they would need to put in an IV to inject the contrast dye and he didn't think she'd sit for it. The next morning when we got to Children's Hospital, the nurse there thought that she would be able to do it while just using nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas. We decided to give that a go.
|Marissa got to keep the mask that's in her hand.|
We got the results on Tuesday of the following week: normal. She does had one swollen lymph node and the ENT recommended putting her on antibiotics to help her body fight whatever it's fighting, but otherwise she is a perfectly healthy kid.
We were so relieved. That's a scare that I can do without. And now, on to vacation at Great Wolf Lodge.