The Alpha Blonde

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This article was written on 04 Sep 2015, and is filled under family, health, parenting.

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Mollie’s Valley Children’s Hospital Story- Part One: Not too-many-hot dogs

It was the second to the last Monday before school was out, and Mollie was dressed and ready to go, perched on the arm of the sofa in the exact way we’ve told her not to a billion times before. I looked at her briefly- it was the second to the last Monday of kindergarten- these things are simply too exciting to contain, after all, and decided to let the offense slide. But then my eye was drawn back to her. Something was off. Her stomach looked abnormally large.

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In the bleary-eyed 7 AM and without any coffee first, I put it away, filed under “Limit to one hot dog per BBQ attended,” letting last night’s dinner take responsibility.

Mondays are the last I see of my beautiful kids Cary and Mollie until Friday afternoon. They’re enrolled in a Clovis school and live with their dad and step mom within the district during the school week. By the time I’d gotten around to picking them up that Friday, her dad met me by the mailbox outside and in a hushed voice he asked if I’d noticed anything strange about Mollie’s stomach. Monday’s too-many-hot dogs belly flashed back into my mind and we agreed to both keep an eye on her, and if it continued to look bloated, we’d get an appointment with her doctor.

By 7 or 8 that night, I was on the phone with him, suggesting we make the call. She bulged in the front and at the sides under her shirts, and she was emotional. We’d decided that even if it was simply a case of too-many-hot dogs, she probably should hear that from a doctor too, if it caused her to swell so much.

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No appointments were available over the weekend, so we had to wait the eternity of the weekend before she could go in on Monday. The last Monday of kindergarten. She slept more than usual, and didn’t fight us when we suggested a nap. That was a major indicator that something wasn’t quite right inside our little girl. Then she had a major meltdown over a floppy hat at a luau themed party. Things just were off.

Monday came, and her dad Doug, took her to have a check up. The doctor agreed that her abdomen looked distended, suggested that it might be fluid in her abdomen and ordered an x-ray.  The x-ray didn’t show anything, but Dr. Schilling still wasn’t comfortable with it. She ordered an ultrasound and suggested I take her in at 7 am on Wednesday when the lab opened.

Let me tell you something about Mollie- she loves medical attention. We keep extra bandaids on hand because she will most certainly need one at least once a week. Getting an x-ray and an ultrasound in one week basically was equal to finding out that unicorns exist in Mollie’s eyes. She charmed the sonographer, who as I look back on it now, may have been asking questions of her and of me to keep our minds off of what she was picking up as she captured images of body parts that I couldn’t distinguish.

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Afterward, I had promised her a gigantic breakfast because she’d had to fast, and Mollie was eager to tell the waitress at Irene’s that she had just seen pictures of her bladder, kidneys and even her gallbladder, whatever that is!

It was while I was driving her back to her dad’s house that I got a call from her step-mom Rebecca, with the words that still chill me to the bone, “Dr. Schilling needs to talk to us immediately. Can you be to her office by noon? Don’t bring Mollie.”

Noon was twenty minutes away. The pediatrician’s office was 15 minutes from where I was and I still had to drop Mollie off, and find someone to watch my baby. Luckily, Mollie’s aunt Ashley was up to the task of adding an extra kid to her babysitting duties that afternoon, and I sped toward Kaiser, cancelling meetings I’d had set up for that afternoon and blubbering incoherently to a coworker on the phone as I drove.

“There is a mass in Mollie’s abdomen.” Dr. Schilling explained, holding back her own tears as Rebecca and I sat there hand in hand, shaking. “You’ll be hearing from Oncology at Valley Children’s later this afternoon.”

Stunned and not ready to pick up the kids from Ashley quite yet, Rebecca and I decided that public crying was in order, so we stopped at Starbucks to collect our thoughts and formulate a game plan for the evening. We would spend the day together until the oncologist called and rally around Mollie, without letting on that we were worried to her or any of the 4 other kids who would be milling around and picking up on our cues.

And so we did. Our husbands joined us as they were able to leave work, and we declared it a pool party night. Our friends who are absolute angels brought dinner over, and we all swam and waited. Finally the call came through. An appointment was set for Friday morning, as soon as we could bring her in. “Can it be after kindergarten graduation?” Yes, but hurry.


Part two coming soon.

 

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