Shortly after Zach turned two years old, he would vomit for no apparent reason. his doctor was informed but did nothing. Assuming it was a food allergy, I didn't push it..
By the fall of 1994, Zachary's vomiting was more frequent and now he was sleeping more hours in a day than he was awake.
I took Zach to his pediatrician and was sent home with a prescription for an antibiotic. He told me Zachary had a virus.
Zachary threw up his medicine and the next morning he woke me up, telling me his head hurt.
That afternoon I took Zachary back to his doctor. My mother went with me and we had to beg the doctor to hospitalize Zach for tests. I was afraid he had caught meningitis, which was going around at that time.
That night was a long night for both me AND Zachary. Little did I know that it would be my last night together with him...
Zachary was still throwing up. He was put on a clear liquid diet. Even then, he was still throwing up, so he was taken off liquids. He still continued to throw up...
I felt helpless, because I WAS helpless...
I kept asking Zach, "Mommy loves you, you know that?", and he would shake his fragile little head 'yes'.
His head was hurting him bad by the middle of the night. It hurt so bad he didn't even want me to whisper. Something as soft as a pillow was even too irritating for him. He cried, and I cried...
I remember calling my mom in the middle of the night, crying. My only child couldn't even lay his fragile little head in his own mother's arms. He also continued to throw up during the remainder of the evening.
By morning, his doctor had decided to order a CT scan to "rule out" anything, not telling me WHAT he was trying to rule out. Since I had gotten maybe only two hours of broken sleep all night, I didn't even think to ask.
The doctor came in for morning rounds after the scan was done. HE actually thought Zachary looked better! At this point, Zach was VERY hard to wake up and then he'd go right back to sleep. (And, HOW is that better?!)
A couple hours later I was gently rocking my son on a pillow in my lap when I shifted myself a little . (I was sitting in a wooden rocker and had become sore.) It was then that Zachary threw up for the last time, it was green stomach bile. He had been sleeping face down, so I moved him so he wouldn't have his face laying in his vomit. He then collapsed to the floor and was mumbling something. As I picked him up to ask him what he was saying, he became stiff as a board.
His nurse heard the commotion and came running into the room. We quickly put Zach on the bed and she hooked him up to a machine to monitor him. (I later found out that the nurse had been informed by the doctor Zach's diagnosis.)
Zach was still mumbling off and on and screaming things you couldn't understand. I tried to calm him, but he just freaked out... I knew it was really bad because of two things... First of all, my own son did not know me. Secondly, a nun came in and was praying over my son. I am not Catholic, so when you have one of the hospital's chaplains pray for your very unstable child... put two and two together...
I called my husband and then I called my sister. She contacted the rest of the family and everyone came up to the hospital. Our minister was called in by the nun. The doctor finally showed up on his lunch break. As me, my husband and my mother stood in Zach's hospital room with the nurse and the doctor, we were hit with the first phase of shock. We were told that Zach had a brain tumor, but that it was only the size of a golf ball... ONLY?!?!?
We were then told by the doctor that he had already made arrangements for a transfer to a childrens hospital up in Chicago.
A transport helicopter was flown in to take Zachary to emergency surgery to remove the tumor. Before they transported Zachary, he stopped breathing. They got him breathing again after what seemed like many minutes and had him on a respirator. We all said our good-byes.
We rushed to the childrens hospital, which took us almost 2 hours, and we were greeted by a social worker there. She brought us into a little waiting room and explained to my husband and me that in Zach's 17 minute flight to the hospital, his condition had worsened... He was still alive but had emergency surgery to place a shunt in his head to remove excessive fluid build-up (intracranial fluid).
Around midnite that night there were about 20 of us in that surgical waiting room when the surgeon (who had a stunned look on his face) told us he was able to remove the entire tumor. (Which really ended up being about the size of a baseball). He said we'd have to wait to see IF Zachary woke up before we discussed treatment. IF?!?!
My mom and I took shifts sitting with him that night.
He got worse...
...the rest is just mainly hospital procedures and stress related topics.
Zachary David never woke up...
The hardest thing I ever had to say in my life were those words... you know, the ones to have our only son taken off life support. They squirted ice water in his ears to prove he was brain dead. (If there were any living cells, they said his eyes would have rolled around from the ice cold water.) I prayed his eyes would roll...
My baby was indeed dead.