Thursday, May 22, 2014

Brave Parker’s Second Spinal Tap

As I look for the words to explain what is happening with Parker, I want to impress upon everyone who reads this that Parker is such an incredibly strong youngster dealing with way more than his fair share, yet he is enduring all of this like a champion.  He persists…pushes himself…encourages Michael, Logan and I in such a way that I cannot find the words to match the enormous gift he is to our family.  Logan, Michael, and I have a front row seat to witness his passion for life and his appreciation for the love that surrounds him.  He is so thankful for all who are praying and encouraging him.  And so are we…

On Monday, we went to see the neurologist for a follow-up appointment.  Parker explained to the doctor that he felt he was getting worse.  He told him that his eyes were now blurry all the time and the episodes of intermittent blindness have tripled.  He also explained how his ears feel like a thunder storm and ring and it is hard to hear.  And his head had more pressure and his whole body was now in tremendous pain (surely a JA flare).  And his tongue tremors when he sticks it out… 

The doc examined the inside of his eyes and Parker asked, “How does it look in there?”  The doc replied, “Let’s just say, I wouldn’t want this in my eyes.”  Then, he turned to Michael and me and said we needed to do a direct admission now and plan on another spinal tap in the morning.  He explained that if his pressure was ok, then his increased pain may just be because we stopped the doxepin.  But if it was the same or even higher then we needed to talk about next steps which might include a shunt.  So we prepared for admission…by going to get food, because he would be on a drip until his spinal tap with no food or drinks.  And Michael went home to pack us a bag and get meds.

Last bit of lovin' prior to spinal tap.
I tried to keep Parker busy until we had to go for the spinal tap at noon the next day.  He knew exactly what would happen, since we had only been here 2 ½ weeks prior.  The surgical staff was welcoming and he cut jokes, re-introduced them to Igi and talked about how Igi has been through everything with him…he then explained the whole procedure to the surgeon and anesthesiologist.  Then, he kept telling me that I was a wonderful mom.  And of course, we took a picture together…again.

As I sat alone and waited and prayed for my sweet boy, the surgeon came in and sat on the couch next to me.  There is something about the doc taking a seat next to you to talk.  He started with how incredibly remarkable Parker is and that he is so smart and kind and that he chatted with him prior to the procedure.  He felt that Parker was handling all this better than most adults. He said that he really thought he would be better this round…he was not.  Parker’s pressure had increased in the last two weeks even more and was now at 42.  He said he took off enough fluid to get him down to 20 but he was certain, this time, the post headache was going to be worse; and that we should really just let him sleep through the first two hours of not moving.  He then went on to explain that he was most concerned about his vision.  As I sat staring at him with tears welling up in his eyes, I began to cry.  I asked about my biggest fear…could he go blind?  The answer…yes. He then said that he felt that doing a shunt in his head is quite complicated with his medical issues and that he felt that they were more likely to do a shunt in his spine or put a bolt in his head to periodically tap it and drain fluid as pressure builds.  I then said, “no, he can’t lose his vision, he has lost too much and this cannot happen to him.”  After he left, I sobbed…both his pseudo tumor and the papilledema had gotten worse.

Once I gathered my composure, I went to Parker and held his hand over the next hour and until we went back up to the room.  Well…..the plan had changed while I was downstairs with Parker.  The neurologist had talked to the neurosurgeons and they didn’t feel comfortable doing surgery until there were no other options…so they decided to increase his Topamax and send us home.  I asked why because it obviously was not working for him…but he was firm that this had to be done first.  So then I asked if that meant that he would need another spinal tap.  He just said we would cross that bridge when we get there.  He then advised us to find a neuro-ophthalmologist who could put in a sheath in his eye to protect his vision because if this pressure on his eyes continues for another 4 months (6 months total), then it could cause permanent blindness.  Unfortunately the neuro- ophthalmologist at this hospital was in the process of relocating and the next closest doc that he knew of who does this surgery is down in Miami.  So, we packed up and went home that evening to explain to Logan what was happening to his brother, to rest, and to come up with a plan. 

Yesterday, I called Parker’s rheumatologist/immunologist and explained what was happening.  They too would recommend Miami but that they also have neuro-ophthalmologist at their hospital.  So, now they are trying to get Parker in by Tuesday (since we will be there anyway).   Today, I spoke with Parker’s insurance case manager and the Miami docs are not in network.  So, if we have to go that route, we will have to get special permission.

Hospital art made with surgical instruments.
We thank everyone for giving us some space to be a family, to process all this, and to move into our next steps.  Of course, we are clearly not done with this newest battle and we appreciate every single sentiment, words of encouragement and your ongoing endless prayers for Parker.  Much love and hope.


  1. Your family is in my prayers. God will find a way. *hugs* Julie & Jesse

    Btw Jesse says that art is way cool. But he doesn't want to have to go to the hospital to make something like that

  2. Sending love and prayers daily...

  3. Let me just say that I have been crying with you through this. I know that you know that I am always here for you if you need me. I am so, so sorry that you are all going through this. It is just so crazy, and yet there it is. We assumed the surgery would be the only option right now. The expecting it but having to wait must be killing you. The not-knowing is always the worst. I am always praying for you all. Much love to you all!!!

  4. Parker is such an amazing young man, and you are an amazing family. I'm sorry you all have been dealt this hand, but you are dealing with it so much better than I know I ever could. I'm sending you all the prayers, positive thoughts and healing energy possible. Be strong, as I know you

  5. Not fair! He is so brave and strong. I am praying he gets a break soon. If you guys need anything you have my number. I don't know what else to say. :(

  6. Anything I can do for you, Rochelle? I am praying all the time for Parker, Logan and you and Michael.

  7. I just read your update, I'm so incredibly sorry he is going through this..Parker and your family are in our prayers constantly now and i will add him to my mom's prayer chain in Pittsburgh. You are all so amazing, so strong. Let me know how else we can help.