Isabelle is 15 months old. I've known her since the moment she was born and I love her intensely. When she was 2 months old, her parents noticed a bump in her right cheek. They took her in to their doc and he ordered a CT scan. He said it was a Hemangioma, a tumor consisting of a group of extra blood vessels built up in her cheek. It wasn't immediately obvious (as in discoloration) from the outside, just a cheek growing disproportionately bigger than the other one. In late September 2008, they took her to a pediatric plastic surgeon in the capitol of their state. HE said it was a LYMPHangioma, which is more serious, and has it's roots in the lymph glands in the neck and does major, irreversible nerve damage. He was smart enough to say she needed to be seen by a plastic surgeon at Mayo Clinic because he wasn't good enough to operate on her.
Within 2 weeks, she had an appointment with Dr. Ricky Clay, one of the top plastic surgeons in the country at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. He operates on quite a few lymphangiomas a week, and surgery is the only cure. So off to see Dr. Clay they go in early October 2008. The other doctor was wrong. NOT the more serious lymphangioma but a mere hemangioma, which does NO nerve damage and can be handled a variety of ways. Dr. Clay said most of these conditions in infants begin to resolve themselves with no intervention, by the time the child is one year of age. He said they should see it getting smaller by then, and then gone completely by about age 3,at the latest. He took measurements and pictures and wanted to see her again in a few months. By April of 2009 it had grown quite a bit, and she was about to turn 1. More pics were taken and a late July appointment was scheduled. He wanted to wait a bit more to see if it began to go down visually by age 15 mos. TODAY, July 29, 2009, she is 15 months old, and Isabelle saw Dr. Clay this morning. He said it had changed a bit, a bit flatter up by her eye, but was not a small as he would like to see it at her age now. He gave her parents a choice. He said it would not hurt her to watch it a bit longer, but he could also begin the shots. They would put her under anesthetic for 5 minutes, and shoot a special drug, which I don't have written down here, along with some cortisone, into the site from the outside of her cheek. She would have to stay in post-op for hours until she urinates clear two times, as one of the side effects, a rare one, but a side effect nonetheless, is kidney failure. The pain afterward would be intense, AND the swelling will be huge. He said the first shot may make the hemagioma Bigger all over until the next shot 6 weeks hence. She may need 4 shots total, it may start shrinking in 2 shots.
Her parents had a tough decision to make.
Isabelle's father, after a few minutes thought, said he wanted to go ahead with it. His wife was silent for a few minutes, then said she thought they should go ahead as well, but was beginning to cry. The father asked if he could speak to his wife alone for a few minutes; but she said, no, he was right, she knows it's the best thing for Isabelle. So the assistant came in with paperwork, schedules, information, phone number, etc., and the process began...
After leaving the main Mayo Clinic building, and may I say here - WOW -Extremely impressive medical set-up at the Mayo Clinic! - Isabelle's mother of course began second-guessing herself. I think her father did too. Yet they know this is the best route to take for their daughter. Her mother is so terrified of the pain her daughter will suffer, and also of the unknown. In 6 weeks, when they come back for the next shot, they will all know what to expect, and depending on how bad it is for Isabelle tomorrow, her mother will either be better about the 2nd procedure, or worse. I really think this baby is going to prove to be a trooper. She is such her father's daughter that I think she handle it better than her mother. She'll be surprised at what's going on, and she'll cry with the pain afterwards, but I think she'll not let it slow her down for longer than about 2 days. That's my prediction. We'll see if I'm right. I sincerely, for Isabelle's sake, hope I am!
If you haven't guessed, Isabelle is my first grandchild, her father is my son. I was blessed to be asked to be with my son and daughter-in-law in the labor/delivery room and I was blessed to be asked to come to Mayo Clinic with the 3 of them.
I don't know if anyone even reads my new blog. I haven't posted since the tribute to my folks on July 3rd; so maybe not; but if you do, I will keep you posted on this Love in my life and how everyone is doing.
Amy July 29, 2009