(editor’s note: this is one family’s experience and is purely for information only. Your child’s experience may differ)
I wanted to share some information about our experience with my son’s EEG and MRI. Mainly because I searched Google nonstop for hours trying to find some information about how these tests work for a young toddler and couldn’t find much more than a clinical explanation of how they work and why they’re used. That’s not what I wanted when I was nervous about my little monster’s upcoming tests. I wanted to find a mommy or daddy who said they’ve been there and told me what to expect and that everything would be alright. Isn’t that what we all want to know sometimes? So I’m putting it out there for the next worried parent who searches on Google for an EEG or MRI for their little one. I’ve been there, don’t worry, it’s all going to be alright.
What happens during an EEG?
Kaleb did his EEG (Electroencephalography), the test was so much longer than we originally expected. It was about 50 minutes long, after he was all wrapped up and the many many leads were already placed on him.
He was swaddled in a huge blanket and then basically wrapped up and restrained since any movement will alter the test results. Once they had him all wrapped up, he had many leads placed all over his head with goopy glue stuff. He was not a happy camper. There was a lot of screaming and crying at first, since he of course has no idea what is going on. Luckily we had his emergency pacifier handy and they set up a TV for him to watch to keep him distracted. Towards the end they started testing his reaction to different lights, strobe lights, frequencies, etc. He ended up having to close his eyes towards the end because the strobes were getting to him.
Nothing special to do after the test other than be extra nice because we felt so guilty over how sad and miserable he looked all wrapped up. Then comes the fun part, I think we’ll have to wash his hair a couple of dozen times before all the glue comes off his scalp and curls. I leave you with the images that made me feel terribly guilty. Cereal for dinner? Sure thing baby, anything you want <3
Getting the leads placed all over his head. All the colorful wires you see toward the top center of the picture are each one lead attached to his head. That’s a lot of glue to wash out!
The leads were bandaged to keep them all sturdy and in place. This picture also gives you a better view of how he was restrained for the test. His face and feet were basically the only parts exposed.
What happens during a MRI?
Kaleb had his MRI with sedation. Mommy WAS going to go to work that day but she just couldn’t leave her boys to do this alone. She is the MRI expert after all. We woke up early and went to the hospital, poor Kaleb wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything and he signed “eat” and “juice” a couple of times and was getting cranky. Luckily they were playing Disney Junior on a big screen in the waiting room and that kept him fairly distracted. Sedating a toddler for an MRI is a very simple test, but very stressful.
Once we went into one of the rooms they weighed Kaleb (exact weight is very important because that’s how they determine how much sedative to use). They asked us a bunch of questions to make sure he could do the MRI. They then had him change into a yellow hospital gown and keep only his diaper on.
Next step. The IV. The first give him a small injection to numb the area where the IV goes (the top of his left hand). Then they insert the IV into his hand. This involved having to hold him down while he whined “all done” in the saddest voice. Mommy couldn’t bear to look, as she’s TERRIFIED of needles herself while Daddy was as brave as ever.
Then they give him a small amount of the sedative, just to get him to relax, while we go towards the MRI machine. It started working quickly, Kaleb was pretty out of it but still awake. Only one parent was allowed into the MRI room with him while waiting for him to fall asleep. Daddy let Mommy go in with Kaleb because he’s the best. He stood right outside and could see in, but couldn’t see Kaleb’s face once he was laying on the table. They started to give him more and more sedation and he was definitely fighting it for a long time. Kaleb is a bundle of energy after all. Once he finally fell asleep we both had to leave and stay in the waiting room. We had to wait about an hour and a half before he was done and in a recover room.
Time went by soooo slowly. We nearly ran to the recovery room, where we found our little monster okay but very much unconscious.
He was hooked into all the usual machines, checking his respiration, blood pressure, O2 saturation and heart rate. He also had an IV drip to help flush the sedative out of his system. We sat by his side for two hours before the nurse said he should be waking up. We tried to wake him but he just didn’t want to. The nurse finally decided to start wiping his face with a cold wet washcloth and that did the trick.
He was totally out of it, the nurses joked that he was a happy drunk since he kept slurring and mumbling with a smile on his face. Once we were able to get him to drink some apple juice and waited to make sure he kept it down, they removed his IV and let us take him home with us.
It was very hard to carry him since suddenly it was like carrying a very heavy newborn, he couldn’t support his own head. He got very dizzy on the car ride home and was very upset by the time we got him in the house. He couldn’t walk or even manage to crawl without falling over. We decided to put him in his play yard and let him watch cartoons for most of the day. He deserved a break after the horrible day he had. He was screaming bloody murder most of the day until he finally napped. Of course we weren’t allowed to let him sleep more than two hours without waking him. He refused to eat anything other than fruit cups and a banana. We let it be. He went to bed early that night and luckily he was back to his usual self the next morning.