Just over a week to go now until Joel has his first MRI scan since his treatment. He has always had a general anaesthetic for his MRI's, but since he now needs to have them every three months for the next three years, I thought he should try to do them without anaesthesia. In the States it is common to train young kids up so that they are able to cope with the scan without sedation. I've been looking at their sites and have picked up some tricks along the way...
I ordered a toddlers play tunnel and Joel has been practising laying still in that to get used to the claustrophobia of the scanner. He's been listening to an awful 30 minute long track of the horrible noise of the scanner, some of which sounds like a woodpecker, a pneumatic drill and a persistent fire alarm. He will be able to listen to an audio CD. He's chosen 'The Further Tales of Peter Rabbit' by Emma Thompson. He listened to 'The White Cat' read by Emma Thompson during his Proton Therapy, but can no longer bear to listen to it!
On Friday we visited the MRI department at Treliske. We took photos from the front door of the Tower Block, down to the basement and the reception and waiting areas, as well as a couple of photos of the staff, before seeing la piece de la resistance - the MRI scanner. I thought that with the photos I can put a little photo book together to remind him of what to expect on the day. So far so good. Fairly confident that he can cope with laying still again - I think the radiotherapy is still in his not so distant memory and he knows the importance of laying still and has the visualisation techniques to stay calm.
Our biggy at the moment is him coping with the canula. Typically he needs to have contrast dye. If he didn't need it then we'd only be dealing with the scanner. He hates canulas - with a passion. I only have to mention them and he's in floods of tears, like hysterical.
I am armed with a number of tubes of magic cream and dressings so he can practise just having the cream on his arm. He's managed to allow me to tape a canula on top of his skin whilst playing doctors with Doctor Bear and Monkey. We squirted water through it for a bit of fun. We are closer than we were, though a lot more conversations are needed.
We discussed it tonight and a little bit of bribery (actually quite a lot) ended with him saying that he would give it a go. He would accept the canula without running off down the corridor, like he had previously said he would do.
It's so hard. Trying to prepare him for what's to come. I don't want to do it. I don't enjoy it. I know though how important it is to get him prepared. It will be such an achievement if he can do his scans without anaesthesia, as over the next few years he would be clocking up quite a number of general anaesthetics, which can't be good for such a young boy.