Why we are at the clinic: part 1

It seems life’s been full of steep learning curves and new challenges for me these days.  Since November I have: gotten the ball rolling with the women’s training center, moved house, and dealt with a major health challenge concerning my daughter.  I’m going to go into that because…I’ve explained it a lot in the last few days and I’d like to have the full version down on “paper” while it’s all fresh in my mind.  If you like a good story about medical procedures, and who doesn’t, then read on.

It all started sometime in late October/early November.  My husband took the kids with him to the gym, for a fun bonding time.  There’s hardly anyone there so they had the place to themselves.  Our daughter Karima got on the treadmill and put it on as high a speed as she could and challenged herself to run a full minute.  That’s the kind of thing she does, she loves quantifiable goals.  Practice piano for 20 minutes, read 1 chapter…Anyway, they were all happy when they came home.  The next day, she said she had pain in her left thigh.  I figured she must have pulled a muscle because she got on the treadmill cold.  Over the next few days she continued to talk about the pain, halfway down between her hip and knee.  I reassured her it would go away soon.  Well, it didn’t go away.  It didn’t seem to be getting worse, but it wasn’t getting better.  She continued like this for a good 3 weeks.  I suspected she was exaggerating, or that she didn’t actually know what pain felt like because she’d never experienced anything intense.  So I would often say to her, “oh come on Karima, it’s not that bad, don’t overdo it”.  Well the 4th week she started to limp, and wince with almost each step.  I tried to observe her in secret to see if she was only doing it for our benefit.  Some pre-teen scheme to get attention.  She wasn’t.

At the same time, life was so full because I was getting things going with the women’s non-profit which is a huge project for me, we found a great house that we were going to move into, my husband works long hours, and plus she was away at school for 8 hours a day so she wasn’t right there as a reminder.  It was so obvious that she needed help and yet I just didn’t get it together.  Finally I had this big realization that I needed to be a lot better at holding all these things in my consciousness at once: the family, the everyday running of the house, the women’s project, and moving all needed to be equally important.  In a way, having more things to do has forced me to be more aware and efficient than I was before.  My husband and I agreed that taking Karima to a doctor was an immediate priority.  So we went the next day.   As I saw it, mainly to reassure Karima that “it was all in her mind and there was nothing wrong with her so she could knock it off already”.  

The doctor, a traumatologist who knows our family well and was my husband’s English student, examined Karima, found the exact spot where it hurt, and then took an xray there, so of the middle of the thigh.  When he saw the xray, he took another one, this time of the hip.  He showed it to me and Karima, and point to an oval dark place in the extremity of the femur (thigh bone).  I saw it and immediately knew it wasn’t normal.  The first thing that ran through my mind was “am I looking at bone cancer?”.  Then he explained that this is something called a bone cyst.  Perfectly benign, a bone cyst can occur in children during their peak growth years, between 5 and 15 years old.  The cyst fills with liquid that can’t get out, that liquid puts pressure on the bone.  In Karima’s case, the bone was bulging, and very thing.  The biggest fear with a bone cyst is that it will weaken the bone and cause it to fracture.  Karima and I looked at each other and it was so bizarre to hear all this that we laughed with each other.

“You weren’t faking after all!”  I said to her.

“You see!” she said, vindicated.

Then she cried a little because it was new and scary, and now she had something in her bone that made it very weak.

The doctor said that she couldn’t walk on her leg anymore, and basically she had gotten to the point where it was so painful to walk on anyway.  He got out this pair of little kid crutches with colors on them and handed them to Karima.  She was so excited.  Crutches!  She tried them on and took a few bounds.  She walked in there without crutches, and walked out with them, not knowing that she would have them for many months to come.

In the car she was all bubbly and excited, “I just can’t imagine how everyone will react” she said.  All she could think about at that point was how surprised people would be when they saw her with crutches: her brothers and father at home, her friends and teachers at school.  She got home and the boys were so excited about the crutches.  Everyone wanted to have a turn and we had to keep adjusting them to fit little Yousef then readjusting them back for Karima.  For a brief moment, both boys were very helpful to her, Amin said he’d be her “crutch assistant”, hand them to her whenever she needed them.  It was the big news, as we called family members and told them about it.

I forgot to say that the doctor had told us that the standard treatment for a bone cyst is to drain it and inject it with cortisone.  And that Karima would have her first such procedure the following day, in a clinic, under general anasthesia.  Karima was really excited about that, about being put to sleep, and having all sorts of medical procedures.  Oh yeah, and the doctor also said to me that I should have noticed that the pain wasn’t improving.  He said, any pain that stays the same for a week needs to be checked out.  Lesson learned!  I’m so glad that Karima didn’t fracture her bone, can you imagine me telling her it’s all in her mind and then her leg actually breaks.  She and I joked that I just barely missed out on the trophy for Worst Parent Ever.

The next day hubby and I took Karima to the big shiny new clinic (we didn’t know then that we’d become quite familiar with that clinic later on…in fact that’s where I am right not, but I’m getting to that part).  In fact, as much as I’d like to finish the story, I’m too tired now and I’ll just try to post this and write the rest of the tale tomorrow.  I’ll say this much, Karima is doing well now, praise God.