"Mommy," Grayson asks in a whisper as he cradles his forehead again, "I think when you have these kinds of headaches....it means you can do things....that you have a special job to do on earth."
I'm so glad he's been watching too many superhero shows.
"Yes, baby. It does mean that. It seems like a curse sometimes now but later, when you learn how to navigate it, your nature will be a blessing. How's your headache?"
Please say it's going away.
"A medium to large, I think it's getting worse. It's all a curse now, Mommy. Did you get headaches when you were younger?
Jesus, kid. Nobody I know in the world gets them like you.
"Yes, I did Honey, but not like yours."
Please, let them stop.
"Yeah, you seem more like a stomachache kinda girl."
Sweet boy, how did you know?
"Yes, you're right. I'm more of a stomachache kinda girl. Ok Honey, finish up, let me get you to bed."
Grayson's migraines have come back in full force and he has been an absolute warrior in dealing with them at school. Sometimes the nurse calls to let me know he has received his medication. Sometimes she calls to let me know he is laying down in a quiet room. Sometimes she calls to give me advice about the tests to ask for at the pediatrician. But every single day since school has started, she calls.
We are back to ground zero with respect to figuring things out. Starting over with a new pediatrician, we are pushing for more tests, more bloodwork and more answers.
"Kids just sometimes get migraines," is no longer an acceptable response for us. At least not for now.
I understand migraines are genetic, that doctors no longer believe they are caused by the narrowing and contracting of blood vessels. I understand the litany of triggers than usually bring on migraines. I have tracked it all: food, drink, weather, barometric pressure, activity levels/hydration, hours of sleep, fluorescent rooms, different smells, new situations, difficult transitions, how many freckles are on his soft little face (12), I have written it all down. The only common denominator I can draw is the weather and maybe blood sugar levels. We have a medical plan in place in his classroom. It's only working half the time. He has already missed days of school due to the pain (or aftermath) of his migraines and school has only been going for three weeks.
On Friday Grayson had an MRI to see, once and for all, if there is anything physical causing these headaches.
The nurse let me go in the room with him and right away I noticed the wilderness backdrop. It was mostly straight but the sticker was loose in the corners which gave the entire room a more antiseptic tone. So synthetic it was denying the natural world from infiltrating even through a picture.
I gently held Grayson to my side. Two nurses came in to explain how he needed to be still, how loud the MRI machine is, and how cool it was they could put movie glasses on him so he could watch Avatar.
I wanted to throw up.
In this environment not made for children, my big boy seemed so small. My tall and lanky 6 year old was tender in that room; a trusting lamb sidling up to tank that was about to take pictures of the soft tissue inside his brain.
Do you guys have a trash can?
Removing my earrings, my bracelet and my watch, the smiley nurse eyed me up and down then asked if I had any other loose items.
What loose things do people have down there, woman? Ohhhh, nope, not a chance, sister.
"They'll be pulled into the magnet," she said as I checked for quarters that might have me rocketing across the room - pocket first - shot into his holding tank with him asking what I missed so far in the movie.
Please let him be ok.
Two nurses, moms in uniform was all I could see, then explained how he couldn't move at all once they put the blanket on him.
"Can I blink?" Grayson asked.
"Yes, but you can't move your head at all, ok?"
"Can I swallow?" He is six. Six doesn't mess around.
"You can but please don't move your head AT ALL," she said again.
Grayson's eyes met mine and I mouthed the words, "AT ALL" dramatically so he would know I knew how freaked out we both were. Sometimes Parenting Gurus tell you to hide your fear from your kids. I couldn't if I tried. Grayson would know I was bullshitting and he'd spend more energy trying to get me real with him again.
"Ok babe, enjoy the movie, blink tons, and swallow lots. I'm going to be right here the whole time, not breathing." I pointed to the wooden rocking chair that had faded gold leaves painted on the back rest. It seemed like a dandelion in an ocean of tweezers and gauze. Like it was there to comfort the one who was there to comfort The One. To be polite, I pretended to be comforted, rocked myself dizzy, and kept my eyes on that little boy who was laying flat on his back while people in scrubs and face masks pressed buttons in a room separate from ours.
Holy Crap. I am going to pass out. Are my flip flops metal?
And then I hear it. Grayson's panic button. I see his little hand reaching for it like a madman, pressing away like his eyebrows caught flame.
"It's not the right movie!!!" I hear him yell from the tunnel. "There is a blue guy with a long tail and yellow eyes, this isn't the right movie. This isn't Avatar."
The nurses shuffle back in, a little annoyed but a lot showing patience. "It's a P-R-E-view, Honey. The movie will start shortly, P-A-Leeeze stay still. You're doing great!"
Seriously, maybe I should text Andy.
"Umm...Ok. I don't want to watch the previews, please. I don't want to watch the movie at all please," and I know because a mother knows.
It was scary. The blue guy with the long tail and yellow eyes was something Grayson couldn't un-see. He is scared in that machine that sounds like a jackhammer. He can't move when it revs up to clack clack clack away like an evil demon for three minutes at a time.
My eyes stay on Grayson, on the small white tent his feet make under the hospital blanket. I will him to be still and remain calm. This is scary but he is going to be ok.
You know how I knew?
Because just when my body wanted to snatch him from the dark metal tube he was in, when I could feel my heart pounding through my knees, when the red numbers counted down but the jackhammer kept going, when I changed my mind about this whole MRI modern medicine thing I saw something in the middle of the contraption Grayson was laying on.
It was in lower case, scratched up and chipped away like a child's craft might be.
That's what I saw. It was a lower case j.
I wanted to believe Jimmy was with us to stave off the bad guys and that was far more comforting than any old gold-leafed rocking chair any day of the week.
The MRI came back and showed a sinus infection with possible Mastoiditis. That second one is only a little scary if not caught in time. His doctor did not feel worried that he really did have Mastoiditis after seeing him on Saturday and examining his ear. She got a second opinion from an ENT and she let us know she doesn't believe he has anything more than a sinus infection at this point. Is this what was causing his migraines? Nope, they don't believe that's it. So the search continues but now we know it's a matter of finding triggers, and not the scary blue guy with the pointy tail and weird yellow eyes. Who has time for that guy.