Everywhere I go, people ask: "how did you know?" I find it hard to answer in a nice neat sentence, because there was so much that went in to actually finding his tumor...and a lot of it had nothing to do with me. The other question I get a lot is: "How did this all come about?" or "What lead up to him getting an MRI?"
In order to answer these questions here is Mason's story, On Finding a Tumor. It's pretty long, though, because I can't ever tell a story without all the details--it's a super-flaw of mine. And I realize that this is all from my point of view, but that's the only one I know.
Over this whole summer, Mason had been different. He was his usual excited, playful self, but he was slowly and slowly more tired. He wanted to be carried when we went anywhere; even on short walks. He couldn't make it half-way down the street before needing to be held. He would play outside less and less. Pretty soon, he wouldn't even want to go outside, instead opting to sit in and watch TV, or play with his trains at the table. This was SO unusual for Mason. This is the kid who could play outside for hours, and still not want to come in! I thought that maybe I was enabling him to become lazy, and he needed to get more exercise in so he would be more motivated, and be able to walk places on his own. I had no idea that it could be anything else.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
At about the same time Mason's "laziness" started, he had also been throwing up. It was nothing alarming, but he would just throw up once a week or so. Because he has exercise-induced asthma, this was not unusual for him. Anytime he ran around too much or got too worked up, his asthma would kick-in and would become short of breath, causing him to throw up. In fact, over the three years of his life, he had developed quite a reputation for throwing up sophisticatedly; he would play, throw up, and go back to playing. No big deal for him.
It's hard to tell when the throwing up stopped being caused by his asthma. But there was a definite point sometime in July, when it started getting worse. I attributed this to minor illnesses: colds, the flu, 24-hour bugs. It happened sporadically, and then wouldn't happen for days, so it was hard to tell exactly what it was. Just when I was ready to take him to the doctor, he would stop throwing up. Then it would start again in a week. Frustrating! I'm sorry to say, that after two months of it, I had accepted that I may just have a "sickly child," and was ready to throw in the towel on trying to diagnose whatever sickness would come next. There never was a fever to worry me, so I could deal with occasional throwing up.
On August 25th 2010 (during the problems with his "colds") I was talking to Mason as we were getting ready for the day. I was putting his clothes on him and telling him where we were going that day. After we had ran all our errands, I had a surprise planned for him: we were going to Cupcake Chic, his favorite place at the time. I leaned down to his right ear and whispered the news excitedly. As I pulled back and Mason turned to me saying: "what?" I had the most radical experience of my life. It is often described as a light bulb clicking on, with a funny picture of Albert Einstein and his crazy hair, and that is exactly what it felt like. The past few months of this same thing flashed through my mind so fast I could barely comprehend, but I knew one thing: Mason was deaf in that ear.
There are a few times during the course of my life where I have felt and/or heard the Holy Ghost's direct impression so clearly in my mind that I am shocked by it. This was one of them.
After that, I played a "game" with him, where I whispered in his right ear and he had to tell me the word I was saying. Each time, he could only tell me the word when I whispered it in his left ear. I waited anxiously for my mom to get home, so I could show her the "game," and ask what to do. I had no idea if there was a special doctor I had to take him to for ear problems. She told me to start with his Pediatrician, and she would tell me where to go from there.
The next day, we went to his Pediatrician (who is amazing, by the way). She checked his ears, and saw no signs of fluid build-up, or anything that should cause hearing problems. But when I told her about the "game" she became worried, and decided to refer us to the hearing clinic for further testing.We both agreed the timing was just perfect, because there happened to be a monthly free hearing test clinic going on at the hospital the very next day. No waiting! I took Mason in and they did the normal hearing tests that see if his ear drum is responding well. These of course came back showing that nothing was wrong. I think the doctor almost sent us home at that point. But he thought for a second, and then told us that he wanted to do just one more test. When the test was done, he came and talked to me saying that yes, Mason has significant hearing loss in his right ear...it was worse than that of an elderly person, and there was very little hearing left. He said there was no sign of damage to his ear drum, so it was probably something to do with the nerve that sends the information to his brain. He referred me to a specialist at Primary Children's, and said that Mason would need to have an MRI, to see if something was wrong with the nerve.
Surprisingly, this wasn't devastating news. Maybe I'm a horrible mother, but on the list of things that could happen to my son, hearing loss was nowhere near the top. By that time, I had already imagined and feared them all--hoping I would never have to deal with them. But this, I could handle; it was only in one ear! How fortuitous! He still had one good ear. Mason still seemed to be his same happy self, so I had nothing to complain about. Life was good.
Click here to read part 2 of Mason's story.