The same year that Corey and his girlfriend had a little baby boy they named Donovan was the year that Emma developed a mystery that took the doctors early a year to figure out! It was also the same year that Emma was nine years old and when they figured it all out she was almost ten.
It was actually the previous December that she first showed signs of being ill. Emma came to us with many allergies and asthma.....something that I had never encountered before, and had to learn all about. I never had to watch if one of my kids was around wool ( sheep...when we went to a farm it never occurred to me that she shouldn't touch the sheep !)... Hay/straw also caused a problem...cats and rabbits.....she was allergic to many seafoods and avoided many outside chores with her grass and leaf allergies. She went to a respirologist regularly ad we learned all about the different puffers used by people with asthma.
The day we went Christmas tree hunting, Emma was not well and spent most of the time in the van sleeping. She complained about pain in her chest and shoulder....a trip to the doctor revealed pneumonia . This was the first of four times that we would have this diagnosis in the following year! By August, the doctors were trying to do tests for Cystic Fibrosis ...trying is the operative word because the main way to determine this is a sweat test.....the problem was that Emma didn't sweat....Ever.....the doctor could never get enough sweat to test!...they tried everything!
About this time Emma had another appointment with her respirologist out at McMaster Children's Hospital for her regular six month check up.....on the way home she once again complained of terrible pain in her shoulder and chest....when her discomfort and crying increased, I briefly stopped at home and then headed down to the next small town called Grimsby to go to our local hospital to see if they could figure out what was goi,noon and what was causing the pain...I suspected that she had pneumonia ....again.
The doctors at our local hospital decided not to try and attempt anything...they figured she needed a cat scan and contacted McMaster, the hospital we had just left! They arranged for us to meet a specialist there and the ct scan would be done! Finally, I thought, we'll find out just what is going on.
By this time, Don was home from work and the three of us went back out to Mac. After they did her intake they said her cat scan would be first thing in the morning and they admitted her. When she was taken to a room, we found that she was under quarantine because they had no idea what the problem was.
The next day, the cat scan was done, and we were in her hospital room, trying to keep her amused when two doctors came in...all gowned and masked.....one asked to speak with us ...he introduced himself as Dr. Walton....I recognized the name because he had operated on our first grandson a few years earlier.....he said that Emma needed some surgery...that they needed to go into her lung and retrieve something that they figure she had aspirated and it was now lodged in the lung! They questioned me about whether she had vomited in the last year and I replied no, nothing like that had happened. He assured us that he'd find out the next day when they went in and took a look.
The next day she was sitting there, playing video games when they came in and took her to the OR. We headed to the waiting room to wait for the results.
An hour and a half later, Dr. Walton came o the waiting room with information that sent us reeling. He said...' When I went into the lung a tried to remove th mass, it started to hemorrhage ....she lost quite a bit of blood...'how much'? I asked....he said..' About enough to fill a pop can'...so, says he...' She is in the PICU...pediatric intensive care unit....we have immobilized her by keeping her unconscious and paralyzed...we have to give the lung a chance to stop bleeding.....when you go in you'll see a lot of tubes.....breathing tubes, IV's, wires to monitor her vitals, a tube in her side to drain, a catheter , so she can pee'.....we sat there stunned.
They took us to the PICU and we could only stand and stare .....this little girl who had been happily playing video games two hours ago, was now just lying there, paralyzed and unconscious, tubes coming out of everywhere we could imaging....three different IV's going....we just stood and stared.
Don and I took turns staying with her and going home to look after the other kids. Don stayed with her the first night....the only place he had to sleep was down the hall in the surgical waiting room...that's where he spent the night...just In case.
They kept her unconscious for two days, and when she woke up the bleeding had stopped. P Dr. Walton said he'd have to go back in to remove whatever it was but he'd have to wait for the lung to heal itself so they sent us home.
Two weeks later, in the evening, we received a telephone call...I was shocked when the man said it was Dr. Walton! Since when do doctors call your house, let alone a surgeon....but we were to find out that Dr. Walton was a very special doctor.
He said that when they had tried to remove the mass that they had also done a biopsy. It showed that Emma had a tumour.....a very rare tumour called a Spindle Cell. He was pretty sure that it was benign but they wouldn't know for sure until they removed it. He said that he'd schedule the surgery for two weeks away....just under a month before her tenth birthday.
Meanwhile, they scheduled an MRI, they wanted a better picture of how the lung looked...Dr. Walton described the MRI as looking at a sliced loaf of bread...they would be able I determine better the condition of the lung. After the MRI he said that there was quite a bit of damage from the tumour ....he would try to save as much of the lung as he possibly could. It was Emma's right lung that was affected.
On October 5th, she was admitted to McMaster Hospital, and once again was operated on by Dr. Walton...his time the surgery lasted seven hours, he removed her middle and lower lobe of her right lung. The tumour had done significant damage. Once again she was in the PICU, with tubes and wires everywhere. After two days she extubated herself, much to the surprise of the nurses and started on the road to healing. She was released on Thanksgiving Day and we drove from the hospital to our eldest daughters home for Thanksgiving dinner.
We were indeed thankful that this ordeal was over......and the tumour was benign.