Wednesday, May 19, 2004

“The Best Medicine”

Week #7 of IM #2

Thanks so much to all of you who humored me through my latest emotional crisis and tantrum in the last journal entry. Had I known how wonderful the messages in the guestbook, from parents and friends of every walk of life would make me feel, I would have started having my mini-nervous breakdowns in public a long time ago! As one friend of mine so kindly pointed out …. I have been an un-empathetic grump-butt for years, but isn’t it convenient to have cancer to blame it on now???

Kendrie had her routine clinic visit on Monday of this week, receiving zofran, vincristine and methotrexate through her port. Despite the continually increasing dosage of the methotrexate, her counts have stayed strong, which is wonderful news. She will have her labs done locally next Monday (heaven help us, that means a peripheral blood draw, NOT her favorite thing in the world!) and unless the counts have fallen enough by then to warrant a transfusion, she will be on a small break from chemo (two weeks) before the next Delayed Intensification cycle begins. (DI #2, for all you chemo-junkies out there.) And we are even postponing the start of that cycle by a week for vacation, so having three weeks with nothing but her weekend antibiotic medication will seem like a picnic! Granted, “cancer picnics” usually involve lots of rain and ants and spoiled mayo in the potato salad, but a picnic nonetheless!

At the clinic visit Monday, Kendrie continued the recent downward trend of protesting against her exam and port access. It takes her a LONG time to warm up to the techs and nurses (the phrase **Millennial Ice Age** comes to mind) and this week she had a new tech, new nurse, AND a new Nurse Practitioner. Geez, three strikes. (Obviously, with the wonderful huge, new and improved AFLAC Cancer Center comes the need for new, additional staff.) The one constant is the fabulous Child Life Specialist, Ms. Laura, who has been there for Kendrie (and Kendrie’s mom!) since Day 1. For a really good commentary on the role of a Child Life Specialist, check out Julianna Banana's journal entry of May 15.

Anyway, Ms. Laura explained that it’s not uncommon for children to backslide in their comfort level at times throughout treatment. The phrase she uses, a lot, to reassure Mom is “age appropriate behavior”. I suspect that is “child life speak” for “good god your kid is a BRAT, lady, but I’ll be polite because that’s my job!” but either way, she encourages a lot of role playing and distraction techniques to help Kendrie cope. I can't say as I blame her, I wouldn't particularly relish the idea of someone poking a needle in my chest, either, but it's a little frustrating to think we've been doing this for seven months now and she's still frightened by it. Make no mistake, we no longer have the thrashing/screaming/sobbing child we had at the beginning. Now it's more of the squirming/whimpering/crying variety.

So speaking of distraction techniques, I can safely say we discovered the best distraction technique EVER this week! After the clinic visits the past few weeks Kendrie has suffered slightly from nausea, vomiting and mouth sores ….. but so far this week she is so busy playing self-professed babysitter to our friends Austin and Dylan, visiting from Los Angeles with their mom, Kim, that she hasn’t been sick yet!

Don’t get me wrong, she’s still asking for her anti-nausea medication, but I do think the fun of having our friends here has helped keep her mind off of feeling lousy. The babies are cute, fun, entertaining and engaging. Does this mean I’m willing to have twins to ensure the rest of Kendrie’s chemotherapy go well??? Um, no. But I sure wish Kim and her husband Kenny lived close enough that we could baby-sit more often! Having a friend kind enough to take the red eye from LA, with twins, and then pack up the babies and go to an Atlanta clinic visit with us is definitely the Best Medicine! Thank you, Kim!

Hope you all have a great week!
love, Kristie ps. If you're so inclined, please send up some positive thoughts this week, as Brayden, our 7-yr old, was diagnosed with strep throat on Monday. Normally, I would file that under "minimally annoying" but obviously it's a whole different ball game if Kendrie were to get strep throat. Being the nature of the beast that strep throat is, you don't know a child has it until the contagious period has already passed. So far, so good, as we really don't want Kendrie to catch it. So wish us luck!

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Um, actually, I'm not feeling too bad!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: I get to stay at home and play with the babies while Brayden and Kellen have to go to school. I help Ms. Kim feed them, wash them, and play with them. I pretty much leave the diaper changing up to her, but to be honest (don't tell her I said this) I don't know how she's gotten along without my help for the past six months!!!

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