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Great Ormond Street Hospital

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D Day – MRI

Early wake up alarm

Last night we set our wake up alarm to 4.45am, Ariella needed to eat her breakfast before 5am as per the instructions on her letter and would need to have her last drink by 7am. As we were heading to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in Central London we left our house at 6am, giving ourselves a little buffer of time if the traffic was poor. We weren’t sure how it would be given it’s the first day back to work for many after the Christmas break.

Driving was definitely a great idea, we are quite used to the London driving scene having lived and travel through it on many occasions before Ariella was born. We found a neat privately rented parking space which was on an off street from the hospital, safe in the knowledge everything was in hand. When we stepped outside it was immensely cold and dark, this morning was frosty and sub-zero. The car took a long time to defrost before we could set off, Ariella however was coping marvellously at this point.

The drive up to London was uneventful, we found the parking space with no problems and arrived at GOSH with an hour to spare. Given everything was still closed we watched Cbeebies in the main reception for a while before eventually heading down to the MRI department. From here we met the nice lady who was doing the sedation for Ariella, we opted for this instead of general anaesthesia as the recovery time is quicker and the risks are less.

In the second waiting room of the day – Waiting to be sedated.

What this means however is Ariella needed to swallow an amount of nasty tasting liquid, she was prepped with all the little monitors and the liquid was measured based on her height and weight. But when it came to taking the medication that’s when things took a turn for the worst. Ariella was sick half way through her dose, she probably only had about half or less of the original dose. We were told to wait and let her try to sleep to see if it was enough as the MRI would only take twenty minutes. She did fall asleep but not deeply and would wake when moved, they decided to top up her medication but just as the doctors came in to do so the fire alarm sounded. You couldn’t make it up, there she is fast asleep on a hospital bed with a flashing red light above her – did she wake, no. They thought great she doesn’t need a top up! But once the alarm had stopped she rolled over, in between this the doctors went to go see if we could use the MRI machine next as we had missed Ariella’s slot in all the sedation woes. Another patient was about to go in and given Ariella now needed a top up we would have to wait.

I think we waited in that sedation room for about two hours from the very start which was all very fast and positive to the finish which was Ariella eventually being wheeled out fast asleep. They had put some little ear defenders on her, as everything has to be made of plastic they were neat little stick on ones for each ear and an ear plug inside. She had a breathing mask on too which would monitor her breathing while in the machine and finally a little tiny heart monitor made of plastic too attached to her finger. Ariella when awake was fascinated by the little red light this makes, when she woke she swirled her hands back and forth making the wire move around.

I couldn’t go into the MRI scanner room with Ariella so Jamie went instead. Inside he was first checked for no metal, they weren’t bothered about little things like what’s in his glasses or on his zips – but more like loose change, dental implants etc. After that he lifted Ariella from the gurney trolley onto the MRI machine – doing so actually woke her up. The radiology staff were confident though that when she went under the machine she would fall asleep given she slept through most the loud noises of the fire alarm and was now equipped with ear plugs and ear muffs. Her head was fixed in place and extra ear protection was added, and then she was moved into the main part of the machine. Jamie was handed a little alarm to use which he was impressed with, because it worked off air pressure (think of a bubble at the end of a tube) – given that no metal could go in a machine so a traditional panic button wouldn’t be allowed. He was told that if she started wriggling or crying to squeeze that to activate the alarm.

After this the actual imaging started – each 1 of 4 taking about 5 minutes each, although he doesn’t remember which each image said it was along the lines of different parts of the head or upper spine. Also with him in the room was the anaesthesia nurse who monitored her vitals throughout from a monitor attached to her foot, while the radiologists were in a separate room filled with monitors and space-age looking equipment. Inside the MRI chamber there was a mirror above her head so Jamie could make out her eyes, but it was slightly too dark to see that they were open – only that her head wasn’t moving (a very good sign!). As time went on Jamie was feeling more relieved in there given that there was no need to interrupt the tests and she seemingly was staying still, so he took the time to let his eyes wander around the room and marvel at all the specialist equipment that had been purposely built to not have any metal; particularly impressed with the bubble alarm, metal free headphones, and the projector/mirror combinations allowing for a DVD to be played from afar.

After a while, the radiologists came in with a big thumbs up to say all the imaging completed successfully, and she was removed from the chamber to reveal she had indeed been awake the whole time! Either she was too drowsy or too scared to move – or just perhaps knew what she just knew what she had to do. At this point we were all moved to the imaging recovery room, where Ariella rested and had some food.

We thought that it would take ages for Ariella to wake up but because of the low dose by the time she was put into recovery she was starting to snap out of her glazed over look. This is where she became fascinated with the beeping pulse monitor and looked like she could use a little something to eat. We brought a few of her favourite snacks with us, knowing she would definitely like them and that they wouldn’t be rejected. Cheese chunks and those Goodies toddler spicy tomato healthy crisps, she loves those. Once Jamie could leave us for a little while he went to Starbucks to retrieve two very well-earned coffees and some toasted sandwiches, one for each of us. Ariella doesn’t tend to get that sort of thing so she wasted no time munching down half a melted cheese and ham toastie.

We were told that we would need to wait until it had been two hours since she took the final dose of the sedation medicine, which was a lot less time than we thought it would be. Recovery compared to the rest of the day passed quickly and before we knew it we were heading on her way home, in the warm car, light traffic and one sleepy toddler whom currently as I write is napping away in her own cotbed.

I couldn’t get a copy of the scans straight away but have applied for them through their records department. We will see the neurology team in late February to discuss but If they find anything that needs immediate action we will be told sooner.