As usual, the anxiety began around bedtime last night. Knowing he had an appointment today, CJ started to get nervous and express his reluctance to go. We did the usual tap dance of encouragement and pep talks to remind him of how far he has come and how close he is to maintenance. But this time I added, "Why don't you come sleep with mommy," thinking that would help. Now don't get me wrong, CJ sleeps with us many nights but usually it is after an appointment when we want to keep a closer eye on him or as a weekend treat. This was the night before an appointment and boy was it an eye opener to me as to the level of his emotional turmoil in regards to these appointments. He slept so fitfully and had a constant audible whimper that sounded like a wounded animal. We continued to reassure him until at some point, like 4 am, he finally slept quietly.
Regardless of the restless night, CJ and I headed out to his appointment in good spirits in the morning. He had high hopes that I was certain were going to be crushed. You see, this afternoon was the annual strawberry picking field trip with our church and he really wanted to go. On top of that, his sister is celebrating her 13th birthday by attending the rodeo this weekend with some friends. He was crushed when we told him he could not go. To alleviate his frustration, and admittedly, to buy some time, we told him we would ask the doctor if he could go to either of these events. Chris and I were sure his blood counts would be down and the answer would be a resounding no. But at least we could let the doctor be the "bad guy" and let him break his heart instead of us! Just kidding. (Well, sort of.)
We got blood counts and met with the doctor and to our surprise, he said yes! Since both events were outdoors, the doctor felt it would be okay. CJ could not only go to the farm to pick strawberries with his friends but attend the rodeo with his sister for her birthday as well. This was great news! We rejoiced that his blood counts held well enough to allow for this, and then received a firm warning from the doctor that they would soon drop due to his level of chemo intake. Warning noted, I looked forward to the afternoon far far away from the hospital and out in the open picking fresh strawberries with the family.
With something to look forward to, we settled in and seemed to be doing great until it was time to access his port. He immediately began to get tense and his anxiety soared. I reassured him repeatedly and reminded him how smooth it always goes. And sure enough, it went smoothly. Typically, once it is accessed he bounces back to his usual self. But today he decided to feel sorry for himself for a while. I tried to cheer him up and encourage him but he told me I just do not understand what it feels like. I gave him a bunch of pathetic excuses of what I do understand and tried to shake him out of it. He continued to feel sorry for himself! I tried to cheer him up with the wonderful art of distraction. He continued to feel sorry for himself! I tried to cheer him up with the wonderful art of humor. He continued to feel sorry for himself! I tried to cheer him up by reminding him of what great news he just received. He continued to feel sorry for himself! I admittedly tried bullying him into cheering up, but he continued to feel sorry for himself. So I gave up! I basically told him if he wanted to feel sorry for himself that was fine, but I was going to celebrate the good news and enjoy my book. So I stopped talking and went back to reading.
Apparently, shutting up was all God was waiting for me to do so that He could minister to CJ's heart. I read in quiet for about 10 or 15 minutes and suddenly CJ said to me, "Mommy, can you shut the door and pray with me to thank God for the good news?" Humbled, I shut the door and listened to my sweet son thank God for the good report he received. While he prayed, I silently confessed my inability to know when to just shut up and let God do His thing.
With the doctor on our side now, we convinced him to speed it up so we could get out and actually make it to the field trip he was allowing us to go to. We left excited and picked up the rest of the family to head to the farm. I enjoyed watching CJ and his siblings pick the strawberries and visit with his friends. I admit that as I saw him surrounded by people I began to cringe at the thought of what we were exposing him to and wonder if we made in mistake in even asking the doctor. I am already worried about all the possibilities of exposure at the Rodeo and wondering how I will keep him protected in such a large crowd. But to witness him receive a good report and be able to turn that into thanks and prayer to God, makes it all worth it.
Once again, we can not thank all of you enough who have persisted in prayer with us. We are so grateful and truly believe it is making all the difference in his blood counts and immunities. We ask for continued prayer for his body to tolerate the level of chemo he is receiving. We pray for the chemo to 'do its job and only its job'. He is also having some joint pain in his legs and we are praying for this to discontinue and correct itself now that he is off the steroid. The steroid has caused swelling and his hair is beginning to fall out again. Although expected, all these changes are hard for him to watch. Please pray he will remain strong both physically and spiritually. Thank you for your continued prayers.