Removal of object unknown from privately owned liver.
NOTICE TO QUIT
Under instructions from the owner, Lilia Gomez, the mass situated at the left lower lobe of her liver (Tumor Unknown) is hereby given notice to vacate and NOT TO RETURN.
The period of that notice being 6-7 hours from the service of this document.
Date: October 28, 2016
Our 9 year old is losing a lobe of her liver this morning, the pinnacle of a terrifying sequence of events that began last Friday. Both Jeff and I were working from home. Usually, on days like this, I am simultaneously rassling a wild toddler, so Jeff retreats to the downstairs office while I run around holding my work cell phone in one hand, and T’s sippy cup in the other. Around lunchtime, he appeared in the kitchen looking pale-faced, waved his phone and said, “Lili has a mass the size of a grapefruit in her stomach.”
My chest tightened, but I needed way more information before I would be ready to accept that a true crisis was brewing. I reassured Jeff that we would sort it out, and dispatched him to busy himself delivering a baby gift while I gathered more details. As Lili waited for her ultrasound, I interrogated her mom. First, I confirmed that the word the doctor used was “mass.” It was. Next, I asked if it was possible that it could be a little bowel blockage. Lili eats like a champ, so it wouldn’t be unthinkable that she’d have a big meal or two still making their way down. The answer was: possible. I asked Lindsey to describe where on Lili’s stomach the lump was, so that I could narrow down the possibilities. She told me it was above her belly button on the right side, just under her ribcage. This was not reassuring news. The options in that area did not include intestinal anything, they would more likely be lung or liver.
Lili is a bit of an allergic, asthmatic kid. She has peanut and seasonal allergies, is prone to wheezing, and sensitive to temperature and climate changes. Suddenly, I wondered if that occasional cough and regular wheeze meant that something awful was happening in there.
I texted my sister. Twice. Three times. I called her on the home phone. Then the cell phone. Then, I texted her SOS on my cell while calling her from the landline and sending rapid-fire emails. After a bit, she called back from the hospital where she was working. We reviewed possible scenarios. Megan is both a pediatric ER doc and an ultrasound specialist, so I was hoping she would help me get some perspective. She was very careful not to speculate too much in a way that would completely derail me, but she didn’t sugarcoat it either. Something was clearly wrong.
Ultrasound results led to the Yale Children’s Hospital ER which was followed by a complicated, miserable 24 hours ending with Lili’s admission to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center. Jeff and I grew up with the Fareri family. We weren’t, like, barbecuing at each other’s houses every weekend, but several kids in each of our families had been friendly when we were school-age. I reached out to Mike at dawn on Saturday in a panic, and despite not having spent any time together in the past decade, he and his amazing mother Brenda immediately began helping us navigate our way through the ER and then up to an oncology floor. *Please note that Lili is not an oncology patient.* She, and we, are in limbo currently, and will remain there until the tumor has been studied by the pathology lab. Lil’s bloodwork was perfect, scans beautiful, and all signs point to a healthy kid with a rare, exceptionally large benign liver mass. Which would be fitting, since Lili is rare and exceptional, without a hint of malice.
Earlier this week, Lili and I named her tumor Toast, as in “he’s gonna be toast!” And today he will be. At 7:45 this morning, Lili will roll into the operating room for a six hour liver resection. Toast will take some of her liver with him when he leaves today, but there should be no lasting ill-effect on her. After the pathology lab does their thing, Lili has approved donating him to the medical school to help figure out what causes these anomalies. Even uncomfortable, scared and exhausted, she’s still the most generous and thoughtful child.
The next few hours are going to be excruciating as we spend our last minutes with her before she goes into the operating room, and then wait the six or so hours until she moves to recovery. Several days in the ICU are expected, with a total of another week in the hospital. She is going to rock this. We are going to be with her every minute. It is going to be ok.
I love you to the stars, Lilia Gomez, and you are going to be just fine. See you soon.