As we spent our Thanksgiving with our Cardon Children’s hospital family getting Chemo we are here for Christmas as well. Can’t believe Christmas is tomorrow. Audrey finished her 6 day inpatient chemo on the 1st of December. The next week we had off from chemo but still had a number of clinic visits. Everything checked out fine and we had a good week at home. The following week on the 7th we went in for chemo but Audrey’s Platelets were to low and still needed to recover. They said the radiation causes them to recover slower for a while. Nothing ever goes as planned. It really makes planning work trips difficult. Audrey went back in on Wednesday and her platelets had to be 75 to start chemo. She came back at 77 and was good to go. This chemo is the nasty stuff. One of the chemo causes her mucus areas to die off and come back which is super painful. Another chemo really beats up the counts and causes her to feel bad. Before they can start these chemo’s she has to be very hydrated. While they were checking her hydration level they noticed white cells in her pee. They suspected a UTI and they were correct. While we got chemo they also started treating the MRI. Chemo treatment was done late Friday night so we figured we could go home on Saturday. There goes that planning stuff again. Turned out the UTI virus type she had needed an IV antibiotic and they couldn’t reach insurance on the weekend to get approval so we would have to stay until Monday. We knew we had an MRI scheduled on Monday at 11AM that we thought we had scheduled far enough out we wouldn’t be inpatient. As has been the case a lot lately we were wrong. So we did the scan registered inpatient. On top of that her blood counts came back with low Hemoglobin so she needed a transfusion. By the time her 4 hour MRI got done and her 3 hour transfusion it was 9PM before Melissa and Audrey got discharged. I was already on my way to Portland thinking I had scheduled around the MRI with plenty of time.
The week went well and they got out patient chemo on Wednesday. This chemo can be given regardless of the counts and they noticed her platelets were low again so scheduled a follow up on Friday. By Friday she had quit eating and drinking because her throat hurt so bad from the mucositis. The nurse practitioner took one look at her and asked me if I was going to be mad at her if we had to stay. I said based on how she was looking I was somewhat expecting it. Her platelets had dropped to dangerous levels and she needed a transfusion. Plus her white cells were completely gone from the 3 day chemo. That coupled with not eating and drinking and the severe throat pain it was time to check in. Since then it has been about controlling pain and getting IV hydration and nutrition. Yesterday after 7 days she finally reached the bottom and today has been the first day in a week we have seen positive gain. Her ANC was up to 400 so she is recovering and you can hear in her voice that her throat is getting better. Tomorrow we are hoping to see her start drinking and maybe eating to start working her off the IV nutrition. So we can go home a couple days before starting our 6 day inpatient chemo early next week.
This week leading up to Christmas has been a very busy one around the hospital. We have had incredible donors and foundations help to make this week special. Audrey was chosen by a foundation to receive a custom made American Girl Doll. The doll was made to match her complexion, eye color and even earrings. She has the same bald head for now but when Audrey gets her hair back we can send “little Audrey” off to the doll hospital to get her matching hair put in. Another foundation came by and filled the lobby of the cancer floor with toys and invited us to all come out and take anything and everything we wanted. It’s called Blake’s Miracle Foundation. They were amazing and Audrey chose a number of very nice toys. Then there was another foundation that a girl named Savannah created a couple of years ago. She is a young teenager that chose a few years ago to start raising money to buy kids at Cardon with cancer presents. This year she raised around $4000 that she split between 4 kids that are stuck at the hospital over Christmas. What an amazing young lady and I can’t wait to see the amazing things she continues to do through life.
As I sit next to Audrey’s bed on the oncology floor of the hospital I can’t help but think of where we were last year. This time last year Melissa and I were sitting on the deck of the house we had rented on the beach in Florida drinking beer and listening to the sound of the waves crash on the beach. Wow what a difference a year can make. It causes me to rethink Christmas and what it means to me. It’s not about the hustle and bustle of scouring the mall looking for the perfect gift and getting run over by all the other people in a rush and completely missing the point of the holiday. It’s not about testing your patients as you put up with family you may or may not want to be spending Christmas with. It’s about Jesus. And it’s about taking a step back and looking at all the amazing things we have had handed to us and placed in our lives. In June we didn’t know if Audrey would see Christmas. Well here we are. Again I am reminded we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, next week, or next Christmas. What we have is now. I plan on making memories that I can put in the memory bank and save away forever. Don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy this Christmas now. Remember to laugh and love and to focus on the awesomeness around you.
Merry Christmas 2015 from Audrey and all of us that get to follow in her shadow.