Zoe had her third spinal tap today. I carried her to the “Sedation Suite”, as it is called, where the anesthesia is administered and the procedure takes place. We were scheduled to have the procedure at 10 am, but it did not occur until 11:30 am, and so given the NPO order since 6 am, she was a very hungry and upset baby prior to the spinal tap.
While I was walking the floor trying to console Zoe I couldn’t help but notice in the window the other sick children in the area. They were very young and I saw another child that looked to be about Zoe’s age. The suite area was very busy.
The anesthesiologist arrived at our room and sat at the head of the stretcher where Zoe laid during the procedure. A nurse and nurse practitioner stood at either side of her, while I waited near the stretcher watching what took place.
After Zoe was sedated and the nurse practitioner performed the lumbar puncture, the physician told me that my daughter was beautiful and asked if she was my first. I told him that I had a two and a half year old daughter as well. I told him she was very healthy and said Zoe’s disease was very unexpected.
“Zoe will be healthy, too,” he replied. He offered this without hesitation. I found his words profoundly comforting. The confidence in his voice inspired confidence in me. I got the sense that procedures such as Zoe’s were routine for the staff and children could even thrive afterwards. A photo bulletin board on the wall supported this as there were probably fifty or more photos of children who had undergone treatment of some kind and many of whom were smiling and looked to be living normal lives.
Once the LP, as the staff call it, was complete, I sat on a stool next to Zoe as the stretcher was angled downward. This occurred so the chemotherapy that was injected into her spine could circulate around her brain, killing cells that could do damage to those areas. Zoe stayed this way for twenty minutes, as she had the previous time. I gazed at her while she slept and held her tiny, pale hand. Despite the invasiveness, these procedures are saving her life.
Yesterday I was with Zoe when she laughed for the first time. Actually it was akin to a chortle. Very cute and very infectious as I laughed, too. It is nice to imagine that the smiles and the laughs are the first of many of Zoe’s tender firsts.
I can’t wait to see all of them.