Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Amen Clinic - Day 1

The first day at the clinic was surreal. On one hand, I was so thankful we were there to finally get a glimpse into Shannon's brain. The MRI's and CT's that we had done were more structurally based where the Amen Clinic provided a more functional base of activity levels based off of blood flow amounts into areas of the brain. We really needed the SPECTs because of OMS coming out of remission. We needed to see if blood flow was high or low in cerebellum. I was very happy to finally be getting an answer. On the other hand, I was a bit nervous to hear the results. I was not sure what to expect and was past the denial stage at this point. I wanted to finally see something concrete but then I knew hearing bad news would still send shivers down my spine.

When we were finally called, the first test Shannon had to perform was a concentration test. Now, Shannon has been off all medications that help her focus and concentrate so this was not going to be an easy task. Shannon basically focused on everything but where she was supposed to be paying attention. Poor kid.

Next, we had our IV contrast ready and were off to get our Brain SPECT pictures done in our "concentration state". I have to say, getting the pictures done was a bit of a challenge for Shannon because part of her issue is movement. She twitches here and there and rarely is she ever still even during sleep. Her body is on the move all the time. We had to do our best to get through the SPECT without sedation. Shannon was a real trooper and did manage to complete the task.

After we did these two things, we were then called into another office to meet their "Historian." This person took all the information from my head and files of documentation about Shannon's history. She then compiled this into a nice manageable file for the child psychiatrist to review for our final consultation in two days.

Once we completed these three things, we were free to go home and we only needed to confirm our appointment at the clinic for the next day.

I would recommend bringing someone with you if you plan to take your child to the clinic. If for anything else, to have a backup and a support person to get you through the appointments. A lot of information is exchanged, discussed and created. Having another person can help prompt information that you may have otherwise neglected to bring out to the staff. I even had my husband dial in for a conference call set up when I walked into the Historian's office. Together, myself, my husband, Shannon and my sister gave input and support to the overall process. The staff at the VA Amen Clinic was extremely supportive, patient, understanding and friendly.

For more info on the Amen Clinic ...

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