On memorial day 2013 (end of may) I got the kids up early and drove to my best friends house. We had planned a day of strawberry picking at a local farm, a lot of great food, fun for the kids, and canning strawberry jam! It was going to be a great day! Steve was playing a tournament that day in mercer. We loaded up about 7:30 am and were off to shamong. John had woke up crabby. I had been giving him motrin once a day for the last two days for his headaches. He seemed to be off that day. We got to our friends house and got loaded all into one car. 5 minutes out John says he has a headache and wants the windows up. (OH NO! I FORGOT THE MOTRIN!) Thankfully my super smart mommy friend has a well stocked first aid kit in her car. Two tylenol later he seemed better, but still kinda whimpy. when we got to the field, the other 3 kids ran off with their buckets to find strawberry gold. John picked a few berries and demanded we open the car back up and put him inside. I employed my best distraction techniques. cheese sticks, ice water, and his favorite hat. We made it through picking 25 lbs of strawberries and headed back to the house. once we got there, we dressed the kids in swim suits and got the slip n slide set up. John lasted 10 minutes outside. There had been reports of him hitting and pinching the other children. Tylenol is not as effective as motrin (mental note to self). He was whiney and wanted to be held. I gave him a basket of clean strawberries to eat and set him up at the table. The other kids came in about 30 minutes along with a friend. We were talking in the kitchen (4 kids, 4 adults) and just beyond the person i was chatting with my son was standing there staring off into space. All of a sudden he hauled off and whacked the daylights out of a kid standing near by. He then hollered at him angrily in a garbled mess of noise (totally incomprehensible) . The room stopped. (moment of parental shame). Thankfully my best friend has a critical eye similar to mine and a truckload of discernment! I got John to apologize and the other kids were sent outside with snacks to enjoy the sun. My friend and I started talking…..what had just happened? that was totally uncharacteristic of John John. He was really being aggressive when he was not even provoked. It had been a few months since we had gotten the kids together to play, Her observation was that John seemed to be acting completely different. He wasn’t engaging with anyone and was intent on hurting the other kids. He wasn’t having fun at all, wasn’t laughing, wasn’t cracking jokes, or trying to find all the big kid toys. He came over and asked me to take him home so he could lay down in his bed. That is an odd request at noon for John John. We set him up on the couch with a pillow, blanket, and a movie. He was asleep.
Now, there is nothing better than the eyes of another mother. This is one of the many benefits of a healthy relationship. We discussed every detail of what had been going on. We chewed on what the various doctors had said and what the possibilities were. The oddity of Johns personality changes struck my friend as particularly disturbing. Yeah, they struck me as extremely disturbing too. The neurology appointment was still a week away. The mri still at least two weeks away. I shared my fears many times with my friend. I asked her, what would you do. The look in her face when she ever so carefully said “if it was my kid, I would go to the emergency room” struck me. We debated for a bit and kept canning our preserves.
When John John woke up, all hell broke loose. He screamed for an hour straight! God had prepared my mind to be looking for confirmation. John said he thought he was going to throw up. He was rolling around on the couch holding his head and screaming. He rolled around so much he fell off the couch and didn’t even realize it. Now, I was dumbfounded. I had never seen anything like this in my whole life! It was insanity! After an hour he said he didn’t feel like he was going to throw up any more. We popped a couple of tylenol down him. 20 minutes he was a different kid again. My best friend said the only time she had ever seen thrashing around and uncontrolled screaming like that was when her child was coming out of anesthesia from surgery. John John was scaring me. I was afraid to go to the emergency room. What if they blew me off? I put my big girl pants on. My friend had my back. We were not leaving there without a cat scan or MRI. Two moms one child. Serious resolve. Off to CHOP at virtua we went. In the car on the way over I confessed, “I would be horrified, but not surprised if they find a brain tumor.”