Friday, September 2, 2011

MRI Update on Naomi's Pineal Gland Mass

I am so exhausted tonight I will have to be less eloquent and wordy than usual, but I wanted to post this report for those who are following the health concerns in our family.

I was up at 3:00am after only a few hours of restless sleep and out the door with Naomi by 3:30am. The air was muggy and warm, but traffic was light and our three-and-a-half hour drive to the children's hospital was quiet and uneventful. We checked in just after 7:00am, and Naomi was put under anesthesia and wheeled into MRI by 8:00am. We were rechecking what the neurosurgeon suspected was a cyst in Naomi's pineal gland (an endocrine gland in the brain). The cyst has caused no problems so far, except to suppress her melatonin production, which causes her trouble sleeping. We give her a melatonin supplement each night before bed to help her fall asleep.

I actually laid down on a bench in the waiting room and fell asleep while Naomi was in the MRI. I'm sure I looked utterly ridiculous, but that power nap provided me the extra fuel to safely drive home. Naomi woke happily from anesthesia, as she usually does, and we were up to the neurosurgeon's office for consultation by 10:30am.

The neurosurgeon first gave us the good news: the mass has not grown at all or changed shape, it is still not compressing the nearby aqueduct or causing hydrocephalus, and Naomi still shows no sign of it affecting her neurologically--all excellent news. The downside was that they used a dye contrast for this MRI (they hadn't used it for the last one), and the mass showed a distinct highlighted ring around the edge of it, with some fuzziness in the middle. He said this was not at all a typical appearance for a cyst and was unclear as to what it meant. We then waited over an hour while he consulted with the radiologist and his neurosurgeon partner. Finally, the three of them agreed that while the mass is certainly behaving like a cyst and not "something bad," it doesn't really appear to be a typical cyst and that we need to take a cautious approach with it, just to be sure.

The cautious approach means this: we will return to the children's hospital on Sept. 13th so that Naomi can undergo a spinal tap to look for levels of hormones in the spinal fluid that would indicate a tumor rather than a cyst. If these hormones show up the neurosurgeon felt that biopsy of this area of the brain is too risky and we would simply proceed with radiation treatments. He was emphatic that he does not expect this to be the case, but that we are just being extra thorough. If the spinal fluid does not show the worrisome hormones then we will repeat the MRI in six months.

Thankfully, they will put Naomi under anesthesia again for the spinal tap so she will not endure any pain, but she will have to lay down in recovery for several hours to prevent her from getting a spinal headache. It will certainly be another all-day event. The next day I have to wake early to take Emma to the next town over for her repeat brain MRI.

Please pray for smooth procedures, for good results, for rest for me. Thank you all for your prayers.

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