Tuesday, Jan 26, 1999
Nicholas has leukemia. At 11:20 a.m. after our appointment at his office, Dr. Walton sent us to the hospital. He met us there and motioned me out of Nick’s room into the hallway. He told me he had seen the results of the blood work, and maybe Nick had some form of mononucleosis, but he felt it was cancer. I sat down as if he had pushed me, and then I smiled, and immediately I felt ridiculous because I was smiling, but I didn’t have any control over my expression.
He said the pediatrician was waiting for us in Nelson. One hour later, after a fast drive on the winding road above the Kootenay River Nick was greeted at the hospital. They had been waiting for us but we were told he needed to be admitted to the big children’s hospital, 650 km away on the west coast. There was a small chance he would be flown out today, but the light was waning, and planes don’t fly out of these rugged mountains at night.
A doctor and two nurses were attempting to get an intravenous line into Nick when two ambulance attendants walked in with a gurney. They said a plane was coming and we needed to go to the little airport on the water front now, or we would miss the opportunity to fly out of the valley. The sun was gone behind the mountains, and dusk had settled when the small plane took off. Nick and I had our first ride in an air ambulance, arriving at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC, at 6:30 pm.
Nick’s blood tests report his white count is 89,000. (I have not a clue what this means, except it is extremely high). With his sore neck, and I’m told an enlarged liver, I’m remembering these same symptoms with his cat Theodore, who died last fall from feline leukemia.
I haven’t seen Nick smile in two days. How could I have known he had cancer? He told me twice yesterday with a sad little face; “I love you, Mom.” Could he have known – felt something?
We are on the ward now (9:30 p.m.) in Rm. 7, bed A. There is a strange, but cute little creature with a bald head in the next bed that looks close to Frankie’s age. The nurse’s name is Kira.
He is having oxygen again. The first time was on the plane. On the flight here Nick kept checking on me. “Are you OK, Mom?” Bless his brave heart, worried about me.
I got the “big talk” from a couple of docs here and understood very little of it. They are concerned with Nick’s breathing because he has fluid in his right lung, and his kidneys are brimming with uric acid. Oh God, I’m scared! The next 48 hours are crucial – what the hell does that mean? Could he die?