Nicholas has been moved back onto the oncology (cancer) unit 3B of BC Children’s Hospital. He’s been an inpatient more than an outpatient since our arrival January 26. I’m not sure why he is moved around the hospital, but when he ends up back here it seems he is the most sick.
Daily blood work follows a sharp incline in “creatinine” which shows his kidneys are struggling with the tsunami of dead and dying cells from the last round of chemo. This high volume in his blood stream has pushed his blood pressure through the roof, but I’m looking at one of five units of platelets running through his IV line. To get rid of the excess fluid they force open the pipe lines with a “water pill” – proper term is “diuretic” – “Mom, I have to pee AGAIN!” The diuretic is potassium friendly yet the potassium is flying out with the urine making levels “dangerously” low. He needs to eat crushed potassium pills with Jell-O but there is this ongoing problem with the fierce expulsion of any food that passes his lips.
The “chemo lurch” has been joined by the “chemo slide.” The infusion of noxious chemicals has ended, but as they cycle through his body and permeate his cells, the destruction is just beginning. This is what the doctor meant when he said to Nick, “You’re going to get a lot sicker before you get better.”
I have a new medical term in my growing vocabulary. “Nutripenia” means there is a decreased amount of good cells to fight infection. I love what chemotherapy is doing to Nick’s leukemia and hate what it is doing to Nicholas.
“Mom, can Richard come for a visit?” Nick sits up in bed, his eyes are bright.
“Awww Nick, Richard is a cat and I don’t think that he would be allowed in the hospital”
My son chews on this for a minute. “But, he’s a clean cat. He washes himself every day.” I want this sick kid to have anything he wants, he sees it in my face, so he quickly adds, “Well, then can we sneak him in?”
God, please bless the furry little creature that brings such a huge smile to my child’s face.
“What would Richard think of all this? Maybe he would be scared and run away down the hall.” Hopefully Nick will think it through.
“I could keep him in my bed under the covers. Nobody would know he was here.”
“Hmmm, Richard under the covers.” I’m going to dream along with him. “Yeah, he does love to cuddle.”
“He sure does.” Nicholas lies down again, a little less happy, kind of sad now. “I really miss him Mom.”
“Can you see the face of whoever pulled back the covers of your bed and saw Richard in there?” C’mon Nick, imagine your happiness!
He laughs. “Oh wow! That would be so funny!”
Sunday April 4/1999