Dear Jo: The Test (& waffles)

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July 27, 3 years A.B. (after-baby)

Dear Jo,

“Do we really need to do this?”

You asked yourself and Paul this question multiples times this morning.

“He hasn’t even had an absence seizure for a while.”

“We still need to do this,” Paul said. “Let’s just do the test and see what the results show. But, let’s keep praying that he is healed.”

Dear Jo: The Test (& waffles)

So you went through the motions. You finished your second cup of coffee, got dressed, pulled your hair into a messy bun and dabbed on some mascara.

With only five hours of sleep, Emerson woke sluggishly, but quickly found his energy, as if excited for what was to come. But, what did a three-almost-four-year-old know about medical testing? You had done your best to prepare him, but you knew he wouldn’t fully understand what was going on until he was going through it. And as long as you let him take his new Cranky the Crane with him, he didn’t care what you were about to do.

Thankfully you did not have to wait long at the hospital. The tech called you into the room just a few minutes after you arrived. The halls were quiet. You had never been on that side of the hospital (or even knew it existed). You had only ever been in the maternity ward and the outpatient ward when Grandma Bisset slipped on the ice last winter. Unlike those wings, there wasn’t a hustle and bustle. You didn’t even see any nurses or doctors walking around. It was as if the entire hallway was there for just your family.

“I’m Julie,” the tech said as she led you to the room. She explained to Emerson what she would be doing, how she’d put some goopy stuff on his head and then stick on electrodes that would read what his brain was doing. He seemed fine with it all. Until she started rubbing on the goopy stuff.

“It hurts!” he said.

Julie paused for a moment to reassure him. “It’s okay. It’s just like rubbing lotion on.”

You looked at Paul. “He’s just tired,” he said. “He’s going to be more sensitive.”

But after rubbing in a few more areas, Emerson burst into tears. You wanted to go to him and comfort him, but Lyla was sleeping in your arms. Instead, Paul stood and walked over to him.

“I’ll give you a minute,” Julie said, as she walked to her computer in the corner of the room.

Paul leaned over Emerson, comforting your son with the pressure of his own body weight. He whispered into Emerson’s ears, encouraging him to slow his breathing and relax. You didn’t know what all he was saying, but then you realized he was praying. Before the “amen,” Emerson had dried his tears and calmed down.

Once Julie had the electrodes and headgear in place, Emerson asked you to take a picture of him, so he could see what he looked like. You handed Lyla to Paul, then snapped a picture and showed it to him.

“Now one with Cranky, too.”

You obliged him. These weren’t photos to share on social media or put into a photo album. But they were ones that you knew you would keep, not ones you’d look at often, but ones that would remind you of something important.

He smiled and stared at the pictures for a minute. “I look funny,” he said.

As you put your phone back in your pocket, you heard his little voice say, “Hold my hand.”

You moved your chair to beside his bed. His right hand held Cranky tightly, while his left one took ahold of yours. From her computer station, Julie asked Emerson to do a few things: breathe at a certain rhythm, blow on a pinwheel, open and close his eyes. And then she asked him to sleep.

You and Paul looked at each other, raising your eyebrows. You had both wondered if he would be capable of falling asleep in a hospital bed with the EEG head gear. After all, this was the boy who spent the first year of his life avoiding sleep, and hadn’t been much a fan of it ever since. Then you heard it. Only moments after Julie had asked him to close his eyes, you heard the deep, slow breathing that signaled his early stages of sleep.

You looked at Paul. He mouthed, “Is he asleep?”

You mouthed back, “I think so.”

Julie let him rest for 15 minutes before waking him to conclude the testing.

“You did great, Emerson,” Julie said as she removed the electrodes. “You’ll want to take a bath later to get all this goop out of your hair, okay?”

“Okay,” he said.

As she finished what she needed to, you asked, “So, what’s our next step?”

“The results will be passed along to a neurologist for review. She’ll write up a report and pass that along to your doctor.”

“Okay,” you said. You knew she probably couldn’t say more, but you wanted more. You hesitated, but then asked, “So, is there anything you can tell us?”

“I’m the tech and my job is to give the findings to the doctor,” she said. You knew it was her typical response. You couldn’t blame her for following protocol, but then she continued. She dropped her voice, looked you in the eyes and said, “If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about anything.”

“So you didn’t see anything?” Paul asked.

“Nothing abnormal. Nothing to be concerned about.”

Nothing abnormal. Those words kept repeating in your mind. You looked at Paul. He smiled back at you and finally you exhaled.

Released from his apparatus, Emerson crawled into your lap and asked, “Can we have waffles?”

“Definitely!” you said. “You were so brave today.”

“Can I get chocolate chip ones?”

“You can get whatever you want.”

You thanked Julie. “You’re welcome. Enjoy those chocolate chip waffles,” she said.

The tears didn’t start until you were in the elevator. You kept them to just a few, but you couldn’t avoid them all.

“Look what Cranky can do,” Emerson said, as he turned to look at you. “Why are you crying?”

You wiped the tears from your cheek and said, “Because I’m proud of you, Buddy.”

Dear Jo: A {fictional} Diary of a Modern Mom

“Dear Jo: A Diary of a Modern Mom” is a serial fiction story written by Meagan Church. Stay tuned for the next diary entry of one mom’s attempt to chronicle what she has been told are the days she shouldn’t forget…spit-up, tantrums, milestones and all. Visit the Dear Jo page to catch up on the already-published entries. And, be sure to subscribe today, so you don’t miss a single installment:


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{Photo credit: ©Gerhard Seybert –}





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