Nick’s blood counts have bottomed. Nothing is showing in his blood work. The hated double edged sword, the chemo that ended a few days ago did its job annihilating cells, performing a deep clean, but Nicholas pays dearly for the service. Death of the lovely and innocent bystanders of his platelets and red blood cells means he needs regular infusions of them. They hang on the IV pole above him as he heaves his empty tortured stomach into a puke tray.
Hi Ho, Hi Ho. Into the chemo slide we go.
Thursday, Aug. 5
Admitted back into British Columbia Children’s Hospital.
Antibiotics. WBC (White Blood Count) 0.12.
I find it strange his blood counts are already on the rise.
Thirteen hours later he has no fever.
Saturday, Aug. 7
Nick is struggling, not feeling very brave or happy. The docs want to see an ANC (Absolute Neutrophil Count) of 0.2 before they discharge him. Nick got out of bed to visit friends from home. Cousin Charlotte and Gerry brought my Auntie Helen and Uncle Carl to visit. Frankie stays with his little brother while FH and I go out to my cousin’s Bernie O’C’s wedding reception.
Monday Aug. 9
He squirms and cries clutching his skinny right butt cheek. He says a fire cracker is shooting up and down inside his leg. I’ve pushed the buzzer to call the nurses and then go into the hall. “Please come quickly!” I yell to someone at the end of the hall. His body stiffens, rising off the bed then falling back as a white hot flame licks the flesh inside his leg.
Shingles! It took some agonizing time before it was realized what was happening to the poor kid. He’s sleeping now, and I’m so damn grateful to see peace on his little face. We’ve been kicked off the ward, isolating him from the other kids with cancer. I don’t mind because the rooms are bigger, and it’s quieter.
Tuesday, Aug 10
Dentistry visited Nick’s mouth today. These last few days have been hard on him and he’s been down, but I won’t let him feel sorry for himself. I’m afraid too but I won’t let him see my fear, so I push him to keep his chin up. Today, the dentist tells me Nicholas has two baby teeth left and I almost burst into tears, because for Christ’s sake, he is still just a kid.
A molar is through on the top and one is through on the bottom. Just before Nicholas was diagnosed his braces were taken off his teeth after wearing them for a year. He’d had a space between his two front teeth you could drive a truck through. The braces had done their job beautifully. Nick’s proud smile showed two front teeth sitting neatly next to each other.
Before the braces went on the orthodontist removed both cuspids (canines). A tool like a barrel with a sharp end was put around the tooth and twisted back and forth to slice into the gum and cut the tooth free. Neither tooth came out easily. Pliers were used to wrench and work the teeth from his mouth. “I don’t think I’ve ever had this much trouble getting these teeth out.” The orthodontist exclaimed.
Nick braced himself during each onslaught and was given rests during the struggle. At the end, he had blood soaked cotton stuffed inside his cheeks and swollen lips.
Nicholas worked so hard to keep his teeth clean while wearing the braces, and he put up with being teased for wearing “railroad tracks” inside his mouth. He should be wearing his retainer to keep his growing teeth straight but he is not allowed to wear anything in his mouth to avoid infection. If he had been diagnosed wearing the braces they would have been removed.