Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reflux in the Park

Another doctor's appointment today. This one was at the ultrasound/imaging unit for a Barium Swallow test. The exam includes swallowing pure Barium (a chalk-like substance) while being photographed by the imaging machine to capture on film what happens in the gut and throat while eating. I am not technically sure why we had this appointment at this late date, but our pedi ordered it at the same time we went to the Specialist, so I am assuming that it was to just have our whole story on file, complete with pictures. For the test, Amelia was an angel. The tech was really worried that she wouldn't drink the Barium, but she gulped it right out of the bottle without problem. I believe the kid will eat anything in any form. . . and the fact that she's had so many different medications to take since a young age probably helps with this tolerance. In any case, the foreign bottle and foreign substance failed to upset her as it would for most babies. She laid on the table without a hitch and the whole appointment saw not a single fuss from the girl--not even when we had to strip her naked and change all of her clothes from a very typical carseat-blowout situation. We left her in her diaper for the test since the Barium would stain clothes and the alternative was a teeny tiny hospital gown with Scooby Doo on it. Very cute indeed, but not something I really want to see my baby in. Having her on the table in another specialist's office (and for the second ultrasound since birth) was enough for this momma.

I waited behind the glass while Justin gave her the bottle and watched on the screen as the test unfolded. It was pretty neat to see when not grasping that it was my baby's skeleton wriggling before me. You could see the typical x-ray type image, but with this bright white substance moving through--the Barium. I could see it as she swallowed and how it emptied into her stomach. It came down her throat in thin, long lines as she sucked from the bottle. When the doctor told Justin to stop feeding her, the white line all drained into the belly. Then, maybe 2 seconds later, the white from her belly shot instantly up her esophagus. It filled up the entire width of her esophagus (much more than went down) until it hit the top of her throat and bounced back. If Amelia was a spitter, it would have come out, but being a silent refluxer, she doesn't let it go that far because of pain. All of this happened in a split second and as soon as it happened, the image was gone. Thankfully, the doc snapped the shot and showed us more closely. It was there in black and white--reflux in our baby. Yes, we knew about this, but there is something about seeing her food shoot out of her tummy and into her throat with such force that makes it more real.

What does it all mean? The good news is that we now have the diagnostic proof of her reflux forever and it is pretty severe, according to the doctor (and really, the pic didn't leave much room for imagination), which we suspected. Knowing that, it is also good that we have been managing it well enough for her to eat and live without pain for some time now. It is bad news because I was beginning to wonder if she'd grown out of it and clearly she hasn't. I was looking forward to trying to take her off her medication when the refill was out--as directed by the Upper GI Specialist, but will now wait since she obviously is still struggling with an immature digestive tract.

On the way home, I thought about all the crying and wanted to cry some more myself. She is such a trooper, that girl. She has been through so much already--too many doctors appointments to count, medication after medication, and so much pain. And here she is, a smiley calm baby. Enough to break my heart.

But who has time for broken hearts when the weather is perfect and the family is together? We took a little trip to the park today. It was fun family time and I got a ton of pics!

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