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Christopher Court - The first visit to CHOP

The first visit to CHOP

Christopher Court in the hospitalOn arrival at CHOP, there was a lot of paperwork and a lot of doctors came to see Chris.  Shortly after midnight one of the doctors took Chris' parents to one of those quiet rooms you see on TV medical dramas - soft lighting, fake flowers and boxes of tissues everywhere.  The doctors had been looking at the C.T. scan from Grandview and had identified a large mass in Chris' brain that somehow the Grandview doctors had managed to miss (apparently tumors don't show up all that well on a C.T. scan).  The doctor told them it was a large tumor and that it was inoperable due to its location close to the brain stem.  This was the last thing they were expecting to hear and the use of the word "inoperable" was terrifying.   This was the first of many occasions where his parents had to hold back the tears and stay positive in front of Chris despite the terror and despair they felt in their hearts.

Chris was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit  (PICU) at CHOP at around 2am on the 17th.  He was hooked up to monitors and a saline drip.  Nurses would come in to check on him every half an hour, so no one got any sleep that night.  In the morning a large team of doctors came by to see Chris.  They put him on a high dose of steroids and scheduled an MRI.  The steroids would reduce the swelling around the tumor and ease the pressure on the area of brain controlling Chris' arm and leg.  The MRI showed a tumor the size of a walnut in an area of the brain stem known as the mid brain and extending down into an area known as the pons.  Chris' case was assigned to Dr. Peter Phillips who remained Chris' doctor until the end.  Dr. Phillips called for a biopsy to be taken.  Under general anesthetic a long needle was inserted through the skull and through the brain to where the tumor was and a tiny sample was taken.

During all of this Chris remained in good spirits despite the IV's being placed in his left arm.  This meant he had difficulty using either arm, one was partially paralyzed and the other had a temporary cast to protect the IV.  He was moved from the PICU to the oncology ward which was much more comfortable for everyone - a bigger room, quieter and less visits from the nurses.  On waking up the first morning in the new room, he found a dragon picture made from construction paper taped to the door.  He was delighted, but no-one remembers mentioning dragons to the nurses and they never found out who put it there.  Chris' Scout Pack heard of his plight and one of the Den leaders who happened to work at CHOP delivered a large basket of toys and Play Station games.  By this time the steroids had started to take effect and Chris was starting to get some use back in his arm and leg.  The physio therapists came and fitted him with a plastic brace for his ankle to hold his foot in place while he walked.  Now he was mobile again and able to race his remote control car around the hallways.