Sunday, August 8, 2010

Alyssa's Test

Alyssa had a growth hormone stimulation test done on Thursday. It was tough but she was tougher. She had been really nervous about it but I never doubted that she would handle it all like the champ that she is.

We arrived at Children's hospital first thing in the morning. We were directed to the oncology department where the test was to be performed. If you ever need a bit of perspective on life, spend a day in the oncology department of a children's hospital. Our day was rough but we couldn't help but feel grateful that our visit didn't involve chemotherapy. The reason for our visit was by comparison so minor.

We were shown to station 3 and Alyssa was relieved that she didn't have to wear a hospital gown. Warm compresses were placed on her arms to prepare for the IV. She was so good at putting on a brave face.

You can see from the machine behind her that her baseline BP was 87/64

After a few minutes, the nurse inspected her arms before inserting the IV.

"Wow, you've got muscles! Are you in gymnastics?" she said.

Though Alyssa was a girl of (very) few words all day, that helped break the ice. She's also got great veins in those strong arms so the IV went in effortlessly.

Immediately after the IV was started, Alyssa was given a drug called Clonodine which causes blood pressure to drop. As I understand it, when blood pressure drops, the pituitary gland is stimulated to release growth hormone. Blood samples were taken every 30 minutes with the goal that we might be able to ascertain whether or not Alyssa's body produces growth hormone properly.

Drop her blood pressure did. And fast. Within minutes of swallowing that little pill, Alyssa's BP was only 75/38. It was necessary to start pumping her with IV fluids in effort to keep her blood volume up.

The drop in blood pressure made her very weak and tired. She rested as much as she could between the frequent blood draws and blood pressure readings.

I've never seen our strong little girl so weak.

After about three hours, a second drug called Glucagone was delivered via shot in the arm. This drug caused her blood sugar to spike and like the effects of Clonodine, should cause growth hormone to be released. Although she did vomit once, her body seemed to tolerate this second drug much better than the first.

I was sad to see her feeling so awful and yet she was such a good sport. Around lunch time, while Alyssa was lightly dozing, I went down to the gift shop to get her a pick-me-up. I came back with a soft and cuddily Webkinz puppy. The nurse suggested she name it Rocky because Alyssa was such a rock star patient. She decided on Cotton Candy instead.

This testing required Alyssa to fast but after the last vial (10 total!) of blood was drawn, she was finally allowed to eat. By then it was 2:15 in the afternoon. Her blood pressure continued to be too low and we hoped that eating would help bring it up.

She looked significantly better after eating two bowls of cereal and several packages of crackers. She said it felt like she was having a very late breakfast.

The nurse and Jon and I were taking bets on what her blood pressure would be once she was done eating. We were convinced the numbers would be higher. At 3:15 her reading was a disappointing 80/37. The doctor would not allow Alyssa to be released until the bottom number was at least 40.

Finally at 4:30, we got a 85/40 and Alyssa was released with a caution that we watch her carefully. What was supposed to take 5 hours ended up taking nine.

While Jon and I cursed the rush hour traffic, Alyssa did this:

We're glad it's over and thankful that Alyssa handled it all so well. We've really tried to teach her that while trials like this are definitely not fun, they can help us grow closer to the Savior if we let them.

She is back to full strength and will return to the gym tomorrow. We don't yet know any results, but we pray that this test will provide us with some valuable information and help us know where to go from here.


Lucy said...

So intense. Man...I'm alternatively impressed that medicine can manipulate the body in such ways and horrified that medicine can manipulate the body in such ways. what a hard day for Alyssa! And kind of scary about the blood pressure too, especially knowing she was given drugs to purposely lower it.

Hope the answers will be clear and meaningful - either way. What a great girl.

Sara said...

What a trouper! I'm interested to hear the results of the testing. From what I've seen Alyssa seems so healthy, she's just small:)

SuburbiaMom said...

What a long and scary day! You are all so brave and patient. Hope you hear some helpful news!

Chad said...

Alyssa you are one tough customer! I am certain that the results will be favorable and helpful!

Mom said...

It's hard to see such a tough little girl so wiped out. I'm so glad she's feeling better.

Erin said...

I'm glad Alyssa is back to her usual strength and vitality. You are a Rock Star, Lys! We'll be praying for positive results.

Michelle said...

Ohh... what a sweet girl. We'll definitely be praying!

Camille said...

Man, it's hard seeing Alyssa looking so happy and cute in that first picture, and then slowly looking worse and worse. I can imagine that much have been really hard for mom and dad too. We're so glad she's back to herself and we hope the results come back looking good.