Yes, these terms (and so, so many more) are becoming a part of our everyday world. This morning (after getting to Skype with her class!) Chloe was taken to surgery for 3 different procedures. First of all a general surgeon inserted an IV catheter into her superior vena cava, the major blood vessel going to the heart. This is where she will receive her chemotherapy meds and also any IV fluids or blood, or medications. This stay in until she is finished with her therapies (for months!). But it will save the veins in her arms and make her much more mobile.
My poor little leftie has had an IV in her left arm, thus rendering her elbow unbendable, since we arrived Tuesday afternoon. The oncologists did a spinal tap, to determine if there are leukemia cells in her CSF (cerebral spinal fluid). If there are, then they have to treat that separately (with a spinal tap each time!). I learned later this afternoon that the preliminary results showed no white or red blood cells in her CSF, which is a great indicator that there are no cancer cells in there. We will have the official results tomorrow. (Blood cells are not supposed to be in the CSF, ever). And lastly, they took a bone marrow sample (through a needle) in her iliac crest, in order to study and determine her particular form of leukemia.
Everything went off without a hitch. I knew it would. We got to walk with her into the OR. I sort of almost felt like fainting. Hospitals in general scare me and surgery scares me even more. I had never before set foot in nor laid eyes on an OR before. In preparation for surgery, we met all of the surgeons, the anesthesiologist, and the anesthetist (I learned the difference between those two today!). They are obligated to tell me about the risks (i.e., worst case scenarios) for each procedure. Each of them asked if we had any questions. I actually had very few questions. I just knew things would go very well. I trusted this, and I told them that I trusted them. In the big picture of what we will be facing here in the coming months, this procedure today was a very small part of it. She came through it with flying colors, everything went well on the first try (I found this out afterwards… I didn’t know that it was possible to not get things right on the first try). She gobbled down two popsicles in about 3 minutes once she came to enough. She was very thirsty.
She had wanted to get down to the gift shop to pick out a present (as I had told her she could do). She had a real burst of energy for a bit, but after that spent the rest of the day sleeping. She had a fever from having surgery while being so sick. It is shocking to me to discover and witness just how very sick she is. She is severely anemic, which adds to her fatigue. Her body is just really struggling right now. On that note I look forward to starting the treatments, even though there will be side effects, but also that is the cure.
The oncology fellow came in this afternoon and explained to me her treatment plan. Or at least the first month of it. She will be in the hospital for the entire month, even though most of the chemotherapy is in the fist 10 days. After that her immune system will be knocked out, so they keep her there under 24 hour care so she does not contract any illnesses. The east wing of the cancer floor is ultimately uber clean, because all of the cancer patients are in the same situation with compromised immune systems.
I never thought I’d see myself in this position, dealing with these things. I’m really expanding myself to understand medicine on this level. Medicine and medical care in this kind of a critical case is SO different than outpatient medicine for kids with overall healthy bodies. It’s breaking my heart that my precious little beam of light is not able to heal on her own. But at the same time I’m having incredible gratitude for the fact that modern medicine has a protocol and a cure.
We’re still in the whirlwind, Craig and I are exhausted and strung out, and caring for Jordan is consuming as well. He’s bored and out of his routine and probably doesn’t understand much of what’s going on.
We’re all at the Ronald McDonald house tonight, in hopes of getting some good rest during what will probably be an uneventful night for Chloe.
Good night! Thanks for your continued comments, love, and prayers.
Steph and Family