Alberta Children’s Hospital.
Children’s Oncology in-patient rooms is called Q cluster. The patient rooms are situated in a square with the nursing station in the center. You can enter a patient room at the back from an outside hallway or, from the front where the nursing station is. It’s early morning and the nurses have just started their shift. A sweet brunette pokes her head in the door. She sees Nick is sleeping so in a whisper she asks how his night was. I’m sitting up in a cot near his bed. I whisper that he slept well.
Nick is stirring under the covers when Dr. Anderson taps on the door. I really like this doctor. His face reflects he has a heart and treating children with cancer isn’t a business to him. Unfortunately, his expression shows he doesn’t have good news.
“We can’t start the chemo Compound 506U78 because Nicholas’ kidneys are operating at 40% of normal. We’ll start other chemotherapy because he needs it, but we’ll have to watch his kidneys.”
I feel sick to my stomach.
“I’m sorry.” He says.
I can’t believe it. We had such hopes.
We’ve been given a pass to leave the hospital. Nicholas isn’t dwelling on the bad news we just received. FH and I look at each other as our excited boys sit in the back seat of the car. It’s a pretty day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. This is the part when we take a lesson from our children and live in the moment.
We have many relatives and friends in this province. The kids are pumped to visit Auntie Bettyanne and Uncle Stan at a campground they are managing. Gerry, our friend with the backhoe, is staying in Strathmore. He met with us, showed us where he is living and then took us to the campground. We hung out for the day, roasted hot dogs, watched a brilliant sunset paint the sky orange and then drove two sleepy boys back into Calgary.
Saturday, September 4 1999
Nicholas was started on chemo 2-DCA that ran for two hours and then chemo Idarubicin for fifteen minutes. He’s full of cancer cells. Once again there is concern for tumor lysis. It’s the rapid death of millions of cells, also potentially lethal metabolic changes, but it’s the overload of dead and dying cells that Nick’s kidneys have to filter. The nurses measure his pee and his blood is checked for proteins that elevate when kidneys are in distress. He’s nauseous, and unhappy. We hope and pray his little body can keep it together.
Friends that FH and I made back when we were first married and lived in Alberta, Larry and Donna, visited with us. Warm and caring people and just a bit older than us, they feel like family, and we can lean on them.
Monday, September 6
FH’s nephew and his wife have visited a couple times already. They brought two remote controlled boats for the boys. Nicholas’ sits in a corner of the hospital room and it’s killing him that he can’t get out of here to use it.
All day hospital staff is in and out of his room. They ask Nick, “How are you?”
“I’m good. I feel fine. My kidneys feel fine. When can I leave?”
The housekeeper comes in and he asks her, “When can I go?”
It is evening, and I’ve just given Nicholas a bath. He looks up, his eyes are pleading. With desperate passion he begs. “Mom! We’ve got to get out of here!”
He’s so over this hospital and being sick. If I close my eyes I can see him round and healthy again, how he looked nine long months ago.
After the chemo, bags and bags of fluids are hung on the IV pole and for 24 hours his kidneys are flushed and cleansed of dead cells until his pee is the color of lovely pale sunshine. Friends Jody S and her fiancé James, Lori W and her kids Krista and Kyle visit, such awesome support for us.
Tuesday, September 7
Nicholas is awake at 4am, and up wandering around by 6am. His begging has worked and the lovely kind Dr. Anderson has granted a pass. Frankie has been staying with my sister in Airdrie. FH, Nicholas and I drive north to join him.