Emotionally draining. Happy ending.

I don’t even know where to begin, but to say that last week was one of the most draining that I’ve experienced. I felt like I was a rubber ball thrown from one wall of emotion (terrified) to another (scrambling, nervous) to another (relieved, elated) to yet another (insanely enraged beyond all imagination).


Really. I’m not exaggerating.

Oh, where do I begin?

Andrew This is the little 4 year old boy who’s been complaining of headaches and “Mommy, my bed is twirling” for the past few months.

So, we took him to the doc:
“I can’t think of any reason why he’s got these symptoms. Let’s watch it for a few weeks and see if it keeps happening.”

And we went home and just kept careful watch of what might trigger these episodes.

A few weeks later, I brought him back to the doc, prompted by Andrew’s teacher who mentioned to me that he was complaining about his head.

Doc: “I think we should get a brain MRI because blahblah blah TUMOR blah
blah TUMOR blah BRAIN blah blahbla
blahblah TUMOR.”

There probably were a few more blahs in that conversation, interjected by several OH SHITs. But who’s keeping record?

Armed with lots of lab orders, phone numbers and a bunch of big, fancy medical terms that I quickly scribbled down, I just went on autopilot, arranging for specialists, labwork, insurance approvals and the MRI.

Because our insurance plan is more stringent than a hamster’s ass (being self-employed or a small business really sucks for affordable options), I spent hours on the phone getting the runaround. It was no fault of the insurance company – they have their rules and I signed paperwork agreeing to follow them. And of all the parties involved, my nurse case manager was most helpful.

But Andrew’s doctor’s office held the ONLY key to getting all the other tests and appointments approved. AND THEY KEPT PASSING THAT DAMN KEY AROUND THEIR OFFICE. At noon, Rick had possession of the key, but oops! He’s out to lunch. Call back. Then he passed it to nurse Kathy who then did a quarter-turn underhanded toss to office manager just seconds before her 2-minute time out. Leave a message. Then office manager Stacy dribbled it to center field, fake right, fake left and shot it towards the basket, only to be intercepted by what’s-her-name the receptionist. Call back.

Oh, if you can’t tell. I don’t know jack shit about basketball. Whatever.

Finally, I got the brain MRI scheduled at the hospital for Tuesday morning. But wait, the a bumbling nurse calls Monday afternoon saying they had a scheduling goof and the next opening was in 4 weeks. Would we mind waiting?

hmmmm…it’s just a possible FUCKING TUMOR in my kid’s head. What do you think???

So after my little hissy fit, they gave in an told me to come tomorrow morning 7am sharp. We get there at 7am. We checked in and waited. And waited. And waited. An hour and half later, still waiting. Keep in mind that Andrew wasn’t allowed to have a drop of fluid or anything to eat since midnight. My poor baby is thirsty, “a little sip of water please, Mommy?”


I go ask. “Oh, I’m sorry. We’re missing some paperwork from his file. We have to wait until your doctor’s office opens at 8:30 to get the paper faxed over”


and then they forgot about us.

sigh (wishing either I had some Valium or a bag of petrified brussel sprouts to pelt the staff with)

Finally. Andrew’s name was called. Oh my little precious baby was scared. Scared of blood, scared of needles, scared of the mask that they would have to put over his mouth to make him go night-night for a while so that they could get the MRI of his brain. He was so terrified he started shaking, screaming, crying, hyperventilating. He didn’t want the doctors, the nurses, the instruments. He just wanted to go home and hide in bed. So the doctor on duty gave him a “cousin of Valium” to make him sleepy, woozy and more cooperative…just so they could at least get him to lay still enough to hook up all the monitoring equipment and the dreadful mask to sedate him.

I’m surprised that they didn’t offer me a whiff of the stuff either, though I was tempted to wrestle that mask away from the nurse and suck in a few deep, long breaths before security would come arrest me. But I was chicken shit and didn’t.

I stayed with Andrew up until he was sedated and then was escorted out. I have no idea how long I was in the waiting room, but kept checking in with the front desk just in case they forgot about us AGAIN. That waiting room is hell. Not only was the TV stuck on some political bullshit channel but I was going through all possible worst case scenarios in my mind.

After a loooong time, a nurse came to me and said simply, “Andrew is awake. Come with me.” She led me towards a room where a nurse was holding a small, shrieking, thrashing child. The cry was unfamiliar and that was not my child. I know my child’s cry and that is not Andrew.

But it was Andrew. I had never heard this cry before because I am a mother who does everything possible to shield and protect my children from harm, hurt and suffering. And this was the first time Andrew experienced this much fear. It took about a half hour to calm his thrashing body about half the hospital’s supply of Spiderman stickers to bribe him to stop crying.

We wobbled outta that hospital, his legs still unsure of supporting his body as the effects of the sedation medication was still wearing off.

And then began the wait for the results.

I prayed to Buddha that they didn’t forget about us again.

The phone rings that afternoon and it was the original doctor, Andrew’s primary pediatrician, you know, the blah blah blah TUMOR doctor.

“MRI came back fine. Andrew’s brain is normal. Maybe he just needs glasses. We should get him an eye exam”

[this portion of the blog had to be edited out due to extreme foul language]

Excuse me, but a FUCKING EYE EXAM? Let’s see if this makes any sense.


What do you think should have happened first, a $200 eye exam? or a $5,000 brain MRI that absolutely terrified and haunted Andrew so badly he’s got nightmares every single night since?

hmmm….can someone hand me that tennis racket? Because I think I might just have a bunch of petrified brussel sprouts stuffed in my left pocket.

We’re in Los Angeles right now, so the eye exam will have to wait until we return. But I do think Andrew would look pretty damn smart in glasses. Ok, these are really plastic play goggles from this toy.


Anyways, we’re doing great – the boys are having so much fun at PoPo (my mom) and GongGong’s (my dad) house – especially jumping on OPF (other people’s furniture) as they discovered you get a higher bounce and a faster lift on nice, new, expensive leather couches.

We’ll be here for another week visiting, me working, kids exploring….while Scott stays home to work, keep my garden alive (TOMATOES! TOMATOES! TOMATOES!) and try to win a nice, cushy seat in this year’s World Series of Poker, because yeah, we could certainly use an extra $35 million. πŸ™‚ The kids and I miss him terribly! But thanks to email, text, phone calls, instant messaging, we bug him every 15 minutes.

EDIT: While it might seem I might be upset at the medical system or insurance system, I’m not. Yes, they are broken, but I can’t name one country that has a perfect system. I was just upset at the entire situation and specific moronic people that get paid to “toss the key” around. I do understand that doctors practice under such great risk for malpractice suits – so yeah, if I were a doctor, I’d probably cover my ass too. I am very grateful that the tests were negative and relieved that at least no matter what, we can rule out the big “T” word. But damn. I need a new pediatrician!


Los Angeles Cooking Classes

So I’m in LA teaching 2 classes – one on Thursday and the other on Saturday. Both are hands-on classes at Epicurean School of Culinary Arts, a super-cool studio teaching kitchen blocks from the Beverly Center. Wanna come? There are a few spot left in each class. And bring your camera! We’ll talk a bit about food photography and maybe do an impromptu photo shoot of the dishes we cook.

This girl will be helping me on Thursday’s class (excited to meet her and her boyfriend in person!)

and if you’re free on Saturday night and want to assist in the class, I’d love to have you. Shoot me an email at [email protected].

LOS ANGELES, CA Thursday, April 17th 6:30pm: Asian Party Food.

Please contact the Epicurean Culinary Academy to register.

Vietnamese Fresh Summer Rolls with Cashew Nut Dipping Sauce
Minced Chicken in Cool Lettuce Cups with Crispy Noodles
Korean Bulgogi Spiced Burger Bar
Fresh Lemongrass Ginger Ale

LOS ANGELES, CA Saturday, April 19th 6:30pm: Southeast Asian II (different menu from last SEAsian class in LA)

Please contact the Epicurean Culinary Academy to register.

Lemongrass Chicken & Coconut Soup
Malaysian Chili Shrimp
Vietnamese Fragrant Crispy Chicken Wings

Vegetable Pad Thai

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Comments 125

  1. Sun

    OH MY FUCKING GOD, I hope you tore the pediatrician a new one. 1) for NOT suggesting the eye exam 1st, and 2) for the office run around as well. He needs to know what a HUGE hassle & traumatic experience the whole things was. Any ways, I’m so glad that there’s no tumor.

    If you’re ever in the SF Bay Area (esp. the South Bay!) teaching classes, let me know. I’d love to take one of your classes! I get so hungry & immediately crave whatever you’ve made every time I see one of your new food pics. πŸ™‚

  2. Melinda

    So glad to hear good news. And it is good news. I am sorry you went through all this worry but at least you know he has been checked for the big one and is Okay. Many parents are told otherwise.

  3. argus

    Sometimes how these so-called professionals are out of touch with the real world really gobsmacks me. Why isn’t common sense more commonly possessed, you wonder?

    Wish I could join you in a fun cooking session, Mrs Steamy. All the best!

  4. chunky

    that is sooooooo good news steamy! you must be really relieved that your boy is fine. my boy was also sick (hernia) when he was like 2 1/2, got operated on, and came out fine. I could just imagine the pain and the agony you went through…waiting and waiting.

    andrew, i think your new glasses will look so cool on you!

  5. daphne

    Oh Jaden! I can’t believe Andrew had to go through all that crap! Shouldnt an eye examination be offered first? How horrible is it for a child to go through that process when it could be unnecessary!
    Take care of yourself as well!

  6. Joanna

    Every parent’s nightmare – thankfully, though, a happy ending. Andrew’s fears will subside, with plenty of love and a little time.


  7. kat

    OMG! I want to slap that doctor and can you sue that doctor?! I’m glad that it wasn’t a tumor! Take care.

  8. mochachocolata rita

    gosh same ol crap everywhere! glad he’s ok and jumping on opf…u must try it, u NEEDED it (but not on MY furniture) HAHA

    my mum felt killer headaches, and local doctors in indo suggested these bunches of craps:
    – brain tumor
    – eye tumor
    – eye pressure might be so high she might lose her sight
    – skyrocketing high blood pressure (can’t they even check this right???!!)
    – possible stroke
    – a hole in her heart
    – 10001 scary bla bla bla

    which led my mum to singapore for a check up with the best eye doc ever (imagine the ticket cost, accomodation, doctor, 100001 tests) and the conclusion was…


    sounds familiar eh? WAAAAAAWAWAWAWAWAWAW

  9. LunaPierCook

    “Gee, lady … looks like your car needs a new engine … maybe even a new transmission … oops, our bad! Here, have some new wiper blades. That’ll be $7500 for the previous ‘work’ …”

    Dang Jaden, what a scam they’ve got going! GRRRRRRRR … πŸ™

    You know, I can understand them not knowing what to do when I was bleeding so badly last month and my ending up in so many surgeries just to try to put a cork in it. But it seems to me headaches and dizziness should come with a f%#king protocol by now, especially for little ones.

    As always, you’re all in our hearts and prayers! And while you’re in L.A. be sure to check out one of my favorite places, The Original Pantry Cafe. Open 24/7 since 1924, they give you this amazing handmade cole slaw when you sit down, and a great meal will follow. It’s a very cool place!

  10. Fran

    Thank goodness there was a happy ending, but what a horrible way to get there! This makes me appreciate our pediatrician and the children’s hospital here so much more. I hope the little guy gets over that trauma soon. With such a great mom I’m sure he’ll be fine in no time.

  11. radish

    I’m so glad Andrew is okay! what an ordeal… and after all that – an eye exam??? Wow… I’m sure he’ll recover quickly – just give him lots of ice cream for the next week and he should be fine πŸ™‚ Are you ever going to do classes in NYC?

  12. Gretchen Noelle

    Amazing how unfortunately often this happens. I am here in Peru and we brought a gal out of the Andes with major head pain. Five years worth. A doctor ordered and MRI and of course mentioned the tumors, growths, cancers and on and on. As I asked more questions about the headaches, I looked up her specific symptoms trying to get a better idea of natural solutions. When I saw that her type of headaches may be caused by eye strain, we sent her to get her eyes tested and she went back to the mountains with new glasses. I am sure the doctors are trying to rule things out and make sure it is not the worst possible scenario, but it with a child, you would think they would consider the effects and consequences of some of their suggestions and decisions. Sorry you had to go through that, and especially sorry for you little one. I hope the glasses look adorable on him.

  13. Ivy Brown

    I’m so glad there is a happy ending to this. But put in your shoes, I do believe I would have headed for the scotch sooner rather than later.

    You need to bring yourself to Atlanta to teach classes. I’d round up a bunch of people to take them and then we could all meet for drinks and giggles.

  14. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Now’s the time to take a deep breath — forget about the idiocy of the medical system and focus on the fact that your son is fine — and how cool glasses are on little kids — and how often they will break or lose them so you get to keep trying new frames and styles every couple of months…. really. Breathe.

  15. Tracey

    The mind reels. I hope you’re still chewing that doctor a new one. Hell, I hope there isn’t much left of him by the time you’re finished. What doctor orders an MRI over an eye exam?!?

    …but I’m more relieved that your little guy is alright. I second the ice cream suggestion. If I can get some sock monsters sewn up before #3 arrives he can have one as well. πŸ™‚

  16. Francie

    Wow. Just. Wow. My oldest has been through some of those tests and I feel for you. Thank God your son is fine. I thought the same things you were thinking. Sometimes medical staff treats it as just another exam, just another patient, completely forgetting the human end of it. People have emotions, especially worried, frantic mothers (speaking as one!)

    So sorry you and your little guy had to go through this. He probably won’t remember but you always will. He’s lucky to have a mom who gets angry when her son isn’t treated with the precious care he deserves.

    And be sure to remind that pediatrician how hard this ordeal was. In fact, I’d write a letter to the hospital. With medical malpractice always a threat, they take letters of complaint seriously.

  17. joanne

    Poor baby. Poor you! I hope Popo and Gonggong are spoiling him rotten to help erase those scary moments. I’m sure you need some pampering too after all that. Kisses to your boys, and nasty herbal tisanes to you.

  18. Kalyn

    It sounds like a horrible experience, but thank goodness there was a happy ending. Andrew is going to look adorable in glasses!

  19. Barbara

    OMG! What an awful experience! I don’t know who to be the most pissed at…..the doctor for overlooking such an easy solution to the headaches, his office staff for perfecting the art of the run-around at your expense, or the poor way the hospital staff handled your poor baby – have they ever dealt with children before????

    Thank God it wasn’t anything more serious than the need for glasses. Be sure Popo and Gong Gong dote on all of you. After this experience, you need it.

  20. veron

    That a real bad experience. Sorry you had to go through all that. I’ve had a brain mri a couple of years ago and i don’t like it in that capsule. You have to hold your head so still and if you move they have to do it all over again.
    And yes, shouldn’t that eye exam have come first!

  21. rachel

    That’s really awful you went through all that but great that he is tumor-free. And while it sucks that they did the MRI and then decided it might just be his eyesight, it would have been worse if you went to the eye doctor first and that wasn’t it and then you had to wait a month for the MRI and it was a tumor. You really do need to catch those things quickly, especially in children. I know someone who lost a child because of a brain tumor the doctor said was just headaches. So, it might have been hasty on the doctor’s part or just him being proactive and aggressive about something that could have been really life altering.

    Anyway, I got really bad headaches when I was around his age and they turned out to be migraines. At the time though most doctors didn’t think young children could get migraines so I was pretty much in agony for years. Some foods can trigger migraines, if it was me, I would chart what he eats on the days he gets the headaches. Maybe there is a theme? Personally food doesn’t effect my migraines but my mom had them for like 30 years before realizing it was aged cheese and hot yeast rolls (!) that triggered them and now is pretty much headache free.

  22. Julie

    Holy…cow. Poor baby! I feel your extreme pain Jaden–I have a little boy myself, & I just wanted to cry as you were describing Andrew’s MRI ordeal! *breathes deeply* Hopefully he will soon forget his traumatic experience. I agree about the eye exam though, that should’ve been first…hmph! Maybe he will need glasses; if he does, he is gonna be adorable. My little sweetie is bespectacled himself. =)

  23. Sharon

    Wouldn’t be a bad idea (or traumatizing) to investigate food allergies, imo. Can’t quite grasp how eye problems would make his bed whirl, i.e., vertigo. In any case, my primary reaction is teary eyed empathy. I would like to hire you to pen my next diatribe about the depersonalization of the medical community, et al. I just opened up on my own little blog about it, but you’re waaaaay more effective! Mega cyber hug to: {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Mommy}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    You did good.

  24. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    Oh, Jaden! My heart was in my throat as I read this! Believe it or not, We’ve been through the same f*cking thing! There’s a great pediatric opthamologist in town, if you need one.

    There is no worse feeling in this world than the helplessness you feel when your child is at risk. I’m so glad that everything turned out well.

    You might also ask about allergies and sinus problems. They can also cause terrible headaches.

    Have a great time in LA!

  25. mimi

    although i don’t have any mini mimis myself, i couldn’t believe your story and i could only imagine how stressful and crazy last week must have been! unfortunately i’m not surprised that the doc suggested the MRI first (cha-ching!) but i’m glad to hear that your little one is in good health!

  26. Annabel

    What a nightmare! It is beyond cruel to treat anyone like that. Unfortunately it’s far from unusual though – just one aspect of how the medical system is breaking down. I am so glad that it turned out to be all for nothing, though, the best possible result. From what you’ve written, he’ll be needing a pair made of titanium (or rubber bands) to keep up with him!

  27. Mike


    I’m glad to hear that your son is doing alright. I wasn’t much older than him when I got my first pair of glasses, and I hazard to think what my experience would have been had I needed to go through what he (apparently unnecessarily) went through.

    I’m also pleased to see that you worked your way through this with your usual sense of humor fully intact. I would, however, like to see that “deleted paragraph” as I have a feeling your blue streak would make a drill sergeant blush. There’s something about a beautiful woman with a mouth like a longshoreman that definitely does it for me :-).

    Blessed be to you and yours…

  28. Landlocked

    What a horrific experience πŸ™
    Sounds like it’s time to search out a new Pediatrician, and look for one with an intelligent, compassionate office staff!

    This reminds me so much of my experience with my son’s Pedi. The guy took care of son from the day he was born, all those years, and then, in 7th grade, when I really, REALLY needed the Pedi and staff to “be there” for me (football, broken ankle, two pins, blah, blah)…here is what I go from the brilliant nurse, “if he feels like walking on it, let him walk on it”. OH.MY.GOD. When I finally was able to get the kid in to a real doctor, that was THE worst possible advice the oh so brilliant nurse could have given ever in history of the world!

    Needless to say, that was the end of a long time relationship with that office.

    I suggest you do the same, cut ties, and find a real doc.

    I am SO happy to hear that Andrew is okay!! Oh, and from experience (we went thru vertigo, headaches, blah, blah with son also, but he was a lot older than 4!), you may want to search out a pediatric neurologist. They are difficult to find, and you have to wait a long time to be seen, so start soon.

  29. Christine

    What a terrible ordeal for you guys, but I am so relieved that it is likely just his vision! MY GOD, that poor baby.

    Might I add, that you should consider teaching classes in the Philadelphia area. Philly is nice! Historic! The kids will love the museums! And I would certainly take your class πŸ˜‰

  30. Hal

    I’m glad your son is okay–I can’t imagine how scary that would be for a 4 year old boy, knowing how scary it would be a 20-something man πŸ™

  31. Liz Longenecker

    Holy crap… I read this entire post on the edge of my seat almost holding my breath. I can’t imagine how terrified you must have been, and I’m so glad Andrew is all right. You would THINK that glasses would have been the first suggestion! Absolutely astonishing. You deserve a long vacation after what you just experienced.

  32. Jen

    Poor kid! I have to tell you, though, as traumatic as it was for your whole family, it’s good to know for sure that he doesn’t have a brain tumor. They sent my friend to the opthamologist first, got her fixed up with glasses which helped nominally and didn’t detect it for an entire year, which was too late by that time.

    YAY! Jeni!!! Can’t wait to see her at the class on Thursday! I won’t be totally friendless in class!! Jeni…please talk Fuyu into taking the class with me. πŸ™‚

  33. Dr. Biggles

    I’ve been in and out of hospitals so many times in my life (my boys have been through a few with me), that we pretty much don’t give it much thought. In fact, Tiny E (7 years old) stopped me a few weeks ago and said it was time to visit his doctor because he wanted to get some shots. Crazy.


  34. Kitt

    Big hugs and limitless Spiderman stickers for Andrew. And for you, the same, plus Scotch. At least now you know it’s not the worst thing it could be.

    Have a fabulous time in LA with your folks and your classes.

  35. Lisa (Homesick Texan)

    Thank goodness that Andrew is OK and just needs glasses, but what a scary and unnecessary journey to reach this conclusion. I’m so sorry y’all had to go through so much fear and stress. Relax and enjoy beautiful Los Angeles–I wish I could take one of your classes!

  36. KimL

    Jaden, I’m so sorry you and Andrew had to go through all that. What a nightmare. I’m glad he’s fine and hope he, and you, are having a great time in L.A. Take care.


  37. rita

    you gotta be shitting me! what the…?!?!? i’m sorry for all the heartache and headache you went through. i know all these went very fast and your mind was going 500mi/hr – but would a second opinion might’ve help eliminate the MRI?

    i’m just glad that in the end, all is well. my great big hugs to you and andrew – coming from across the pond.

  38. Helen

    I’m so relieved! That sounds utterly terrifying. It’s scary enough when it’s *you*, but there’s this little corner of hell reserved just for parents when your kid is ill.

    I agree with Landlocked, find yourself a new (good!) doctor with a caring staff. I’m married to a one and *I’ve* had a similar situation – with him standing next to me asking ‘all the right questions’! The current medical system sodomizes goats. With cheeze products. Not that I have an opinion or anything.

    (He’s leaning over my shoulder saying, “tell her I would have recommended the eye exam first!”)

    I’m so glad the test came up negative. While PoPo and GongGong are watching the boys, have a good stiff drink/cry/sailor-swear-off and see if you can get the paint to peel.

  39. Danielle

    Oh I can’t even imagine how scary and stressful that must have been for you. We try so hard to keep our children safe and happy, and to have something so terrifying (not to mention totally unnecessary) happen just sucks.

    So glad that Andrew is fine!

  40. Harley

    Wow. That was really quite the situation. I know the pain of being dicked around by insurance companies and then screwed over by the hospitals.

    I’m happy to hear everything’s alright though!

  41. courtney

    Thank God, Buddah, Allah,etc.! Andrew looks so handsome in those goggles. Sorry for the medical incompetance but better safe than sorry. I find doctors are not as smart as we would like to think they are. A lot of it depends on use feeding them info, riding them, bugging them, to really think!Cant close your eyes for a minute with serious issues. And dont get me started about teaching hospitals…Just continue to be the dilligent and caring awesome Mom you are.
    When are you coming to Chicago to teach?

  42. Farina

    Jaden, im sorry to hear abt Andrew. Im glad tht the MRI came out clean. Though reading abt the run-around they put u through really made me mad. Getting to the ‘right’ person at the hospital here is really like finding your way out of a maze! its freaking unbelievable.

  43. Micha

    SO glad to hear it is just glasses for Andrew. My heart was racing just reading your post – I don’t blame Andrew one bit for being scared!

  44. katie

    I’m just reading this and I want to jump up and down and hit someone!!!!
    Not one doctor thought of a simple eye exam????
    No wonder the insurance world is such a disaster…
    Poor you, poor, poor Andrew, Thank God for the happy ending.
    (I’m still mad…)

  45. marion-il en faut peu pour ...

    I’m not good in english coarseness, but I think I would have created some in this incredible and terrifying situation !!!!!
    I’m so happy for this happy ending … but what a bad bad bad scary movie !!! grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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