BBB wanted to know two things: what was wrong with him and how they got cats to scan. Explaining the cats was the easy part.
“Carefully,” my husband, said. “The trick is you have to hold the cat just so, and then run them quickly across the scanner.” He sighed deeply. “It’s not easy, though. They don’t cooperate a lot of the time.”
“Are you lying?”
Hubby shook his head, looking affronted. “Me? Are you calling me a liar?”
I watched BBB frown, unsure whether to believe his dad yet wanting to believe him so badly, for how cool would that be? But I could see he was also latching onto the more important but hidden message. Brain damage or no, he understands far more than we'd like.
“Then what’s wrong with me now that you need to scan cats?”
“If you want to know what’s wrong, then you need to talk to the big guy.” Hubby pointed to our neurologist, who stands all of five feet tall and was staring intently at his computer screen. It was a good way to pass the buck.
“Is that true, Dr. xxx?” BBB asked.
“Mostly. I find if you sweet talk them a little first, they’re more likely to cooperate.”
Dr. xxx is our thirteenth neurologist; I like to think this makes him our lucky charm. He thinks it makes him all that’s left. He’s lying, of course, not just about being the only doctor left, but the cats. They don’t really scan cats at Children’s Hospital, just brains and other myriad body parts. We don’t tell our son that, though. He’s also more cooperative about tests if he thinks it’s true.
“See this here,” he said, pointing to the computer screen. “There’s a new lesion.”
We craned forward to peer at the screen. Our son ignored him, instead trying to pull the chair out from under the doctor with his foot.
“Or actually,” Dr. xxx continued, oblivious as he tapped the mouse and pulled up another image, “it’s a tiny, old one that’s grown.” He pointed at the MRI scan with his pen. “Right there.”
This is bad news. My son’s head is riddled with brain lesions. As long as they sit and behave, as long as they act nice and quiet and don’t bleed, we can manage. And for several years now, they’ve done just that, been good little lesions. But even though my son has passed the teen years, his lesions are now rebelling.
“It makes sense, the new seizure activity.” He shrugged. “A lesion like that could definitely cause irritation.”
And it has, for now I’m irritated. Fourteen years have passed since my son’s first surgery. Fourteen years since the worst of the seizures, when he would wet his pants and fall to the ground. Fourteen years since they scooped out the lesion and part of his frontal lobe, leaving a burden no child should have to face.
Our neurosurgeon had been telling us for years now that if we can only get our son through puberty (the most dangerous time for lesions) then they usually go quiet. The most precarious time was over; BBB is about to turn twenty-one in five months. We were there, we'd stumbled across the finish line, and now this had happened. The lesions have sucker-punched us. So yes, I’m irritated.
“It’s not fair,” I whispered.
Dr. Megerian shrugged again, leaning back in his chair and crossing him arms. “Just imagine how the cats feel.”