Update on Arielle, aka ACE

Arielle’s (or ACE as we call him) CAT scan was done at one of the best hospitals we have here in Manila.

Thankfully, he didn’t need to be sedated but the dye that they inject in order to see the brain properly in the scan burnt as it went into his veins. He cried hard but silently.

After trying to find a neurosurgeon to interpret the results and give us the next step, I took him back to the same hospital. Carrying Ace every so carefully, I was instructed to sit quietly. The doctor pulled the films out one by one and talked to himself in low tones, every once in a while using his pencil to make a note or circle something. Finally he acknowledged my presence and gave me the following news.

The cause of the hydrocephalus (or swelling of the brain due to water) was because of a tumor. It was a very large tumor and it was malignant. It was already compressing the spinal cord and growing into the vital areas of the brain. There was nothing that could be done. The skull was mis-shapen, showing a long term growth. The deterioration of the child just the past few weeks showed just how aggressive the tumor was. Relief by putting in a shunt would only prolong suffering. Radiation, chemotherapy may add a few months to life after surgery, but these tumors were recurrent. Surgery would most likely leave the child with extensive brain damage due to the location of the tumor.

I expected to feel relief but I felt numb. I kept thinking what would I do if this was my own child. I left the office in almost a daze. I held his heavy head close to my chest as I bustled through the crowd in the heat to my van. I think I had thought somewhere there would be a miracle solution after seeing the neurosurgeon.

Now, I was left to coach my staff through another terminal situation. The last one had been hard on all of them. They love so deeply and care so gently for the weak ones. I had watched one of them ever-so-carefully bathe Ace just this morning. He loves it when we take care of him, the caregiver had told me. I drove home in the traffic in silence.

The mother. How was I going to tell this young mother who was so irresponsible and selfish? She was still a mother despite all her shortcomings. And then the extended family that I knew so well. The community that they were from. Their faces flashed through my mind.

I took Ace home and tucked his stiff little body into his crib. He smiled at me ever so slightly and I left his room. No tears would come. Tomorrow I would call the mom. We would make plans now for his funeral. I would see if this motivated her to change the direction of her life. I would schedule some grief counselling for my dear staff and hug them all as I told them the news.

Jesus loves the little children… you know that little song? It somehow gives me comfort at this moment.

As I pray, I ask God for strength, peace, and wisdom. I ask you to do the same.