Thursday, April 21, 2011

A bunch of letters you might not understand...


Yes, we are currently in St. Louis for Livi's most recent workup of neurological information. Since 8am this morning she has been having an EEG and that will be done tomorrow morning. EEG stands for Electroencephalography. What essentially happens is they put these electrode things on her head with some super duper bad smelling glue stuff, wrap her head in gauze and tape to keep it on, and at the other end of the wires that attach to the electrodes there is some contraption that sends all of her brain waves to a computer room across the hall from our room. Make sense? Thought is a picture. I call it EEG ponytail...

All those wires are attached to this thing in that blue backpack that transmits the brainwave information. They also are constantly video monitoring the room--yes, I've thought about all the inappropriate things that could be caught on tape, but I figure we can't be the weirdest people who have ever stayed here. I'm sure there are stories.

She has had an EEG several times before, but not in over a year and never over night. Usually they just run them in a lab for an hour or so. The waves can tell them where in the brain the seizures are coming from and sometimes why they are happening. Sometimes they won't tell you much at all. Just depends.

Tomorrow after they let us take the electrodes off we will try to wash all that goopy glue out with shampoo they will put an IV in her and take her to a lab downstairs where they will do both an MRI and an LP before they bring her back up to the room.

MRI is pretty common acronym. It stands for Magnetic resonance imaging. You can do an MRI of basically any part of the body. They will, of course, be imaging Olivia's brain. It takes lots of pictures in cross-sections and allows them to look for lesions, tumors, structural abnormalities. Last time she had an MRI she had no abnormalities, but it could always change, and the parts of the brain are so fluid that one person could read something on the MRI that another doesn't. This could show us where the seizures are coming from (if there is a tumor or something) or what part of the brain is affected (if there is some affected tissue because of loss of blood or something). I'm not a doctor, so don't quote me on all that, but from what I understand that's kind of close.

The MRI lasts about an hour or so, depending. For both the MRI and the LP Olivia will be sedated because she will need to lay completely still for both. We are a tiny bit concerned about that simply because sometimes, when she was much younger and sicker, Olivia would need help breathing while under sedation. They will give her oxygen if she needs it and she should be fine.

The LP might be better known to you as a spinal tap. The LP will look for things in the brain and spinal cord that the MRI can't--the information in her fluid. If she is lacking certain cells or has abnormal ones that can affect how information is processed and exchanged in the brain. They are specifically looking for a vitamin deficiency (B6) which can be known to cause epileptic seizures. Right now she is on a dose of extra B6 just in case because it can't harm her any. If there is a deficiency, they should be able to give her an extra big dose and rid us of the seizures. Wish it would be that easy!

When she is done with all that she will come back up to her room to wake up with us and we can leave. We are planning to stay one more night here in St. Louis in a hotel room since we don't know how long it will take for her to wake up. We could all use some rest before we head home. Hope you enjoyed your science lesson. Here is a picture of Brian and Olivia today...


  1. God sure picked good parents for your beautiful little Olivia! Take care, Emily (Huitsing) Laird

  2. oh my word...that looks like a lot of craziness. but maybe it's more just waiting around and keeping her comfortable. praying for you guys. and praying that the tests show what you need them to show. love to you guys...

  3. So glad this is getting done. Crossing fingers really hard that St Louis medical eyes see the puzzle in a way no one else ever did and we get some control and answers. Go Olivia!