Thursday, July 9, 2009

Get Crazy With the Cheese-Whiz

A riddle: When is bad news not truly bad and good news enough to make you happy you got the bad news which isn't really bad? Yet?
The answer: Right now, if you're us.

In our last episode we were awaiting Dr. Brad's evaluation of Ethan's atresia repair candidacy. Welp, we got it and it's not great news -- at least not the news we were expecting. Dr. Brad tentatively grades Ethan a 6 out of 10 on the Jahrsdoerfer scale, and says he would probably not be a good candidate for atresia repair surgery. The reasoning is that while he does possess a normal inner ear structure and has normal hearing with bone conduction, the existing canal is extremely narrow and the facial nerve is slightly further aft than is desirable. The facial nerve is also exposed (whereas it's usually covered by a small bone) which makes it extremely vulnerable. According to Dr. Brad there would be a 50% chance that surgery could result in normal or near normal hearing. Would be, except Dr. Brad suggested he might advise against having the surgery at all because of the risk to the facial nerve.
Pretty bad news, right? Not so fast, punk.
Notice the conditional words scattered throughout? 'Probably' not be a good candidate? ... 'Tentatively' grades Ethan? ... Suggested he 'might' advise?" Turns out the CT scan we provided did not include a coronal version, only axial images. (OK, that totally sounded like I knew what I was talking about, right? You're impressed with me, right? At the risk of losing your love, I had to go look these terms up. And I still don't know what they mean.)
Now, I'm not blaming anyone for this mix-up (coughs "AI DuPont Children's Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware" into hands). Some people just get so excited burning a CD that they don't wait to make sure it's completely written before they go popping the damn thing out and showing it off to their friends. It happens.
As a result of this premature ejection, Dr. Brad, while damn near a superhero, is bound by the physical limitations of human-ness and is therefore unable to make a completely thorough assessment of Ethan's condition. With a coronal version of the CT scan, he will be better able to evalutate the situation with the facial nerve as well as other details.
So last night after speaking with Dr. Brad on the phone I called DuPont imaging to make sure they had a coronal version on file and that Ethan would not need to be rescanned. They assured me they did have it and would burn me a copy right then, so I drove over last night and picked it up. Today I'm sending the package off to Dr. Brad in the hope that there may be hope.

So what's the good news that made me happy I got the bad news that wasn't really bad? Yet? Glad you remembered to ask. Well, it's nothing short of my faith in humanity and medicine being restored is all. See, after that last post to this blog where I said we were anxiously awaiting word from Dr. Brad? Well, Ronnie Bean, Dr. Brad's assistant, read that post and sent me an e-mail with the letter attached (thank you to whoever turned Ronnie on to this blog). We still haven't received the actual physical letter, so because of Ronnie's amazing sensitivity we are a full two days closer to closure. In addition to that, there's Dr. Brad himself. While our phone conversation was brief, it wasn't hard to see where he gets the reputation for being warm and compassionate. And even if they end up not being able to do anything for Ethan, just knowing that such caring and consummate professionals exist in this world is really, truly comforting. You don't have to spend a bunch of time in most hospitals -- at least the ones I've been in -- to know just how rare these folks are.
Ronnie and Dr. Brad: Thank you. If every practitioner held to your standards, I dare say the world would be a much happier place.
Now I'm going back to being dark and moody while I wait for word. WOE!

"Kill the headlights and put it in neutral. Stock car flamin' with a loser and the cruise control." -- Beck

1 comment:

  1. I can tell you from my own experience that, even if they cannot help your son, hearing that from a professional that you trust makes a huge difference. Good luck.


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