Monday, July 5, 2010


Well, I've returned to the blogosphere after a short hiatus. A lot has been going on with ironing out a schedule and, most recently, arranging doctors appointments. The latest news is that little Miss Leila had developed what looked like a bruise and burst blood vessel on the side of her nose by her left eye. It was a little worrisome then, but after it started to grow, my worry catapulted to a whole new level. I tried to keep calm by telling myself "it's a burst blood vessel and those things resolve on their own within a few weeks," but I had a gut feeling that this was not something that normal. The nurse and pediatrician upon first glance immediately diagnosed it as a hemangioma. A hema-what? Well, I've heard the term before but couldn't recall in what context. The "oma" kept swarming around in my mind because I know all too well that that suffix means tumor. My baby cannot have a tumor. So, a hemangioma is a benign tumor of the cells that line the blood vessels. It's often referred to as a category of birth marks because a child is born with it (even though you might not see it right away). Hemangiomas typically look like bright red strawberries on the surface of the skin, but can look like a purplish bruise if it's beneath the skin. These things go through proliferation (a growth phase) until the child is about 12 months old, rest, and then go through involution where they start to diminish. Most will diminish by the time the child is 5 years old, but for some children it doesn't diminish until they're 10. TEN?!?! Psychologist Mom steps in. That has too many social implications, as far as I'm concerned. This is what I do for a living - help children with acute and chronic illness adjust to their differences and come to terms with their illness, and help them feel like a normal kid. I also provide support to the parents. Oh, man, this is irony at its finest. Am I going to have to do this with my own daughter? Is this a "full circle" moment? Am I going to have to provide support to myself? Ha! Then I kick into "let's get rid of this thing" mode. Well, according to my pediatrician and online resources, oftentimes doctors advocate for no treatment because it's benign and cosmetic, so they let it run its course. Psychologist Mom hears that and immediately shakes her head 'no.' Definitely not. Well, in Leila's case, they might not have an option to let it be given its location at her eye. I'm taking her to see a couple of specialists this week to have the hemangioma evaluated, specifically to determine the risk of vascular damage around her eye. As I understand it, if there's any inkling that it will affect her vision, they will want to treat it while it's in the proliferation stage. How the hell do you treat this thing? Somebody better say something other than the word 'surgery.' Well, often treatment involves corticosteriods and beta blockers. We'll see what other options we have once we talk to the ophthalmologist and cosmetic surgeon. Why am I having to say 'cosmetic surgeon' when my little baby is only 9 weeks old?? I also think to myself that this could be worse. I really hate that phrase, but after working in pediatric hospitals for the past 10 years, I have seen countless heartbreaking and completely unfair situations. So, I'm working on keeping this whole thing in perspective. We're on top of it and doing everything we can do at the moment. And, truth be told, even that's not comforting. Anyone have a magic wand??


  1. Gabriel sends his love and soft little healing kisses to her sweet face.

  2. One of my best friends has a daughter that was born with a hemangioma directly over her fontanel. She went through an MRI and consult with various specialists to make sure it wasn't going to affect the plates of her skull or the growth of her brain. She's now 3, and her hair covers it. Surgery concerns aside, my friend said the hardest part was people who would stare or whisper, because the hemangioma was strawberry red, raised, and about the size of a dime. It sounds like you're definitely qualified to deal with that.

    If it comes to surgery, my daughter had eye surgery about a year ago, and an MRI before that to rule out a brain tumor, and there are a lot of things I learned that will help through sedation and surgery.

    Sending happy thoughts!