We were all set to go to preschool and I was just going to pick him up after lunch to go get his scan. We also scheduled an appointment with his pediatric cardiologist since we were going to be in the same building. Ingram hadn’t had an echo for about a year and a half and they thought it would be good to check and see if the hole in his heart had closed to rule that out as part of the problem. Right when I asked Ingram and Lindsey (she missed the bus that day; I think she secretly just wanted me to drive her to school) to get in the car, he started crying and threw up again. Needless to say, he was having another headache and stayed home with me. We played at home and watched cartoons and before he went down for an early nap, he had another episode making it two within just a couple hours again. He rested for maybe 30 minutes before we needed to head out for our appointments and ate his lunch in the car on the way (if I had read our instructions for the CT scan, he wouldn’t have eaten anything for 2 hours before his scan). The first stop was his cardiologist and we got had a super good report; they did his echo and were able to see that his hole had closed! We got finished early and headed downstairs for the CT scan and we actually were leaving at the same time our appointment was supposed to start. Craig didn’t even have time to get there because he was waiting on a co-worker to drive him over since he rode his bike to work that day. We left and decided to get some Chic Fil A and took some to Craig since we were so close to his office. It was pouring down rain so we pulled into the garage and Craig hopped in the car and we ate lunch. He took Ingram up to his office because he wanted to get a sucker since he didn’t get one at the doctor’s office. See after his CT scan, they let him pick out something from the treasure box and he picked out a set of Spiderman markers. Did you know markers are really code for leg paint? He colored his whole right leg blue with his markers on the way to Craig’s office which is only 5 minutes away from where his appointments were. When he was upstairs in Craig’s office getting a sucker, he wanted to get suckers for “his girls” too. He calls Madison and Lindsey his girls and whenever he gets a treat, he shamelessly asks for more for his girls. It’s sooooo sweet. After they talked to everyone, they came back down and we headed home to beat the school bus. We beat the bus home and the girls came in and we started snack and homework. They were acting crazy as usual and were looking at Ingram’s leg art work and then the phone rang…
Lindsey was next to me at the computer. She happily answered the phone, acting so goofy. I finally got the phone away from her to say “Hello.” I heard our pediatrician on the line and said “Oh, you got the results back quickly. Is it migraines?” For some reason, I knew when he started talking that it wasn’t good news. I was listening to his words but didn’t really hear what he was saying. He began by saying he was all the way in East Memphis already or he would come to our house to talk with me. When he said that, I looked directly at Madison with my eyes full of tears and asked her to call Daddy. He kept talking and honestly I don’t remember what he said at all so I went to our back porch and sat down on the chair and he started over and that time I heard it. The words that I remember are Tumor, Brain, Hospital, Neurosurgeon, and Now. By this time, I’m in full blown tear mode and Madison is getting upset because she can’t reach daddy. So she emailed him saying, “Call mommy now. Ingram needs surgery :(“ and then signs her traditional “Madison : )” I called our sitter (she was coming over anyway for a dinner we were going to with friends later that night). So she came a little earlier than expected. Then I called our friend down the street that also goes to church with us and just started rambling. I feel sure I didn’t make any sense but at least they knew something was going on with Ingram and knew that a sitter was on the way to our house. At this point, I still hadn’t gotten a hold of Craig and was walking around the house in circles trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. I finally got in the car and was buckling Ingram in at the same time as I was calling the main line at Craig’s office. When they answered, I think I said “This is Ashley Dismuke, I need Craig; we have a family emergency.” Right as they were putting me on hold my phone beeps and it’s Craig calling back. I switched over and started crying, trying to talk to him. I have no idea what I said other than I’m coming to pick you up. I started driving to his office in the rain with tires that are bald and with eyes full of tears. Ingram is in his seat behind me with his markers. We found out later that not only was he painting his leg with the markers, but that he was also painting the back of my seat blue. I called my friend, Stephan, as I was driving down Poplar but I couldn’t say any words; the only sound coming out was crying. Luckily she knew something was going on because after I had hung up with Craig, he had called her husband – who had then called her. Her husband, Chris, left his office in Collierville and stopped at our home to pray with our girls who were scared and he explained what was happening. She already had her children gathered together praying and one of her babysitters had just stopped by to catch up and joined them on their knees. The sitter who just happened to stop by stayed to watch their kids so Stephan could meet me at the hospital. The next person I called answered the phone and was talking and laughing about how she was in the middle of nowhere and was going to probably lose my call. But then she heard the tears and immediately started praying over the phone not knowing what was going on. I was able to get the words Ingram, Tumor, Hospital, and Neurosurgeon out and she, too, started crying. You see, two years ago we met her as a complete stranger and walked alongside her and her husband as their daughter was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma . We cried together and she told me that I had just joined a club that no one wants to be a part of and then we cried and the call dropped.
I pulled into Craig’s office and he was standing outside of the front door waiting for me. I got out of the car and just hugged him and cried. He said “It’s going to be okay” and then he got in the car and started driving. He asked me where we were going and I said, “I don’t know.” I said we were supposed to go to a hospital but I didn’t know which one we were supposed to go to. It’s 5:15 by this time in Memphis and there’s no way to get around the traffic. We start driving but traffic was so bad that we had to go a longer way than we planned. By the time we figured out where the hazard lights were we had almost been the cause of two different wrecks. As we were driving, Craig got our pediatrician on the phone again and he told us to go to LeBonheur. As there were talking, I wrote this word on a napkin as our doctor spelled it for Craig and he then spelled it for me … m..e..d..u..l..l..a..b..l..a..s..t..o..m..a. Based on the CT scan, this is what it appeared that Ingram had; but, they didn’t know for sure.
We get to the ER of Lebonheur and Stephan Rowland is already there. She had already started our paperwork. All I do is walk up to the desk, tell them my name, and they take us straight to the back. I think it was there that I looked at Stephan and she hugged me and I fell apart again. We went from the desk to triage to our ER room with a former Lebonheur ICU nurse (Stephan) by our side the whole time who just happens to be my best friend also. Craig comes in from parking the car and within five minutes her husband Chris is there as well and we’re just praying together. All the while, Ingram has no idea what’s going on. He’s just a 3 year old little boy with a leg colored blue with markers, who is having headaches and throwing up. We are admitted to the hospital and eventually go up to the 7th floor which is the NeuroScience Institute where all the brain tumor patients go. The whole time we’re there, it’s a non-stop parade of family, friends, hospital employees that are friends of friends, and even strangers who heard about Ingram all the way through our hospital stay.
|Stephan, Ashley, Ingram, and Chris|