Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Consolidation - Day 7

And so ends our 24-Hour Empathy Campaign, launched in an attempt to make Brayden and Kellen a little more sympathetic to Kendrie’s plight. For the most part they have been good sports about all the extra attention Kendrie is getting. There have been some grumblings about the disparity of gifts that came for her at the beginning, and even a few “you like Kendrie more than you like us” comments, especially when Kendrie and I go away the night before one of her clinic visits and stay in the hotel. Kellen in particular seems to think the hotel is set on carnival grounds and we spend the whole visit riding ferris wheels and eating cotton candy. Little did he know that the only thing she gets to ride is the rolling luggage cart (because I’m too out of shape to carry her and all of the luggage to the room myself!) and that the room service is only fair-to-middlin’, no cotton candy in sight.

Kellen even made the comment yesterday, standing in line on base to receive his flu shot (which he obviously wasn’t too happy about) that he wished he had cancer so he didn’t have to get a flu shot. (Kendrie has to get hers from the oncology clinic.) I leaned right down in his face and said, “Kellen, Kendrie gets shots every single week, in her chest, back and sometimes her legs” and he paused and then said, “so…… I really don’t want cancer then, do I?” I have to cut him some slack, right? After all, he’s only five. Plus, beating children in public is really frowned upon these days.

We decided since they are out of school this entire week for Thanksgiving Break, we would all go up to Atlanta together and let Brayden and Kellen see what really takes place on a clinic day. Remove the mystery, if you will. They thought staying in the hotel last night was great --- made me realize we really should travel a bit more, if a Courtyard Marriott is their idea of “big fun”.

Then they went to the clinic with us this morning (we prohibited breakfast for them, just like it is for Kendrie on clinic days) and they got to meet the nurses, doctor, child life specialist, and see Kendrie go through the “basics” of a visit – vitals, exam, and getting her port accessed for chemo and the blood draw. When it was time for her spinal tap they went to the playroom with Miss Laura, who talked to them about leukemia and what exactly it means. I don’t know if all pediatric cancer centers in the country have Child Life Specialists, but I want to say that ours ROCKS!!

Anyway, Kendrie’s spinal tap went very well. She responded perfectly to the iv sedation meds which make her “sleepy” and also have an amnesiac effect. Thanks to the amnesia, we were also able to sneak in her flu shot in her leg – hey, sometimes what you don’t know won’t hurt you! The recovery time for iv sedation is less than half an hour, as opposed to the three hours she slept after her general anesthesia last week. This makes for a much, much quicker day, which makes all of us happier. Dr. L withdrew a vial (syringe? Sample?) of spinal fluid, which will be tested to make sure there are no leukemia cells present, and they also injected the methotrexate (preventative chemo) into the spinal fluid. Kendrie was a little out of it, but not as much as I thought, since when I told the nurse we were going to take the kids to see Brother Bear this afternoon, Kendrie’s eyes popped open and she said very emphatically, “No, Dad said Cat in the Hat!”

Her ANC number, which is used to gauge her susceptibility to infection, was very good. This means now is a perfect time to take her out and do some of the things we have been avoiding the past six weeks, like restaurants, movies, shopping, etc. The doctor explained that the next two or three weeks, during the rest of Consolidation, the number should stay high and she should feel pretty good. The steroids have pretty much worn off (yes, Kristie, there is a Santa Claus!) and the meds she is on at home (6MP and Bactrim) shouldn’t have any difficult side effects.

So we enjoyed our day today very much. We hadn’t been out to eat as a family since Kendrie was diagnosed, and sitting in the movie theater, munching on popcorn, was great. I spent a good portion of the movie watching my kids instead of the screen, and seeing their laughing faces (who knew Canadian moose were so funny? I’ll bet that Twelve Days of Christmas song by the Canadian guys about beer would send my kids into hysterical paroxysms.) It was a wonderful feeling to have a “normal” day and be able to pretend, even if just for a few hours, that everything was routine again. I even held back from spraying sanitizer at everyone who walked past our aisle at the theater. All in all, a very good day, and I think it was beneficial to our entire family to spend it together. (of course, not ten minutes after the movie ended the kids were arguing over who needed to go to the bathroom more and “why did she get m&ms if I didn’t and *I’m* going to walk with Dad, not you!” Maybe THAT is the real indicator that life today was back to normal!) Here’s hoping for many more “normal” days ahead.

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: I’m not quite sure what happened in that doctor’s office, but my leg is really sore and I think somebody around here is trying to get away with something ….. but I’ll figure it out and then they’ll all PAY!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: The new Roofus doll my Dad bought me from the store tonight -- it burps and everything! I love it! Boo-Yah!

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