Sunday, March 15, 2009
It has been a long and interesting week for the George family. It started when we celebrated our daughters 13th birthday on Wednesday. We took her horse back riding, out to dinner and ended the day with a family movie about a little boy who wants to ride in the rodeo. I chose this movie because we took her to her first rodeo last week to celebrate her birthday. (She is our horse fanatic). Not ten minutes into the movie The Ride, there was a scene where the little boy was in the bathroom after a rodeo because he was sick. As he was throwing up, CJ leaned over to me on the couch and said, "Mom, how much you want to bet that boy has a bald head under that cowboy hat?"
I said, "No, I don't think so. I read the cover of the box and it did not mention anything about a boy with cancer." Dad was up off the couch looking it up on the computer within seconds. Sure enough, the little boy was bald as a bat just like CJ and had cancer. I can not tell you how many times this has happened to us since CJ got diagnosed. Let me just say, you watch a movie like that in a whole new way once you go through something like this. I guess our options are to jump up and turn it off, but I can't imagine the message that would send CJ. So you watch it in a surreal sort of way and hope the boy doesn't die in the end so you won't have to have that conversation, again. I don't want to ruin it for anyone who wants to see it because it is a good movie with a great guest appearance by Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, but lets just say we prayed a little harder that night.
Then, for the second time since this began, I found myself standing at a friends house watching my daughter and her friends have a great time after having spent the first part of the day watching my son get chemo at the hospital. Those are the kind of days you feel like the morning was last week and not just a few short hours ago. I sat there and watched the kids have a good time and thought, is this real? Am I the same mom that sat next to one child' s bedside in a hospital while he cried tears of fear when they accessed his port, and now I sit and watch another child giggle with joy at a party with her friends. As a mom, I experience the gauntlet of emotions along with my children. When they suffer, I suffer. When they rejoice, I rejoice. I suffered and shed tears for CJ as he cried while I held him when the nurse accessed his port, yet I rejoiced and giggled as I snapped pictures of my happy daughter with her friends. Needles to say, after a truly roller coaster day like that, I collapsed exhausted not sure of what I feel. One thing I do remember feeling that night is thankful. Thankful that all my children were under one roof, home in their rooms, tucked in their beds, asleep.
With CJ's last scheduled overnight admission for chemo officially behind us, I truly hope and pray that was the last time I have to sleep in my bed knowing my son and husband are sleeping in a hospital across town. That is an extremely difficult and helpless feeling because when he is there I have to convince myself that he is where he needs to be, yet everything in me believes he belongs here and not there. Besides, we will always have a room for him here!
We arrived at 8am on Friday for the admission only to discover they did not have a bed or room available for CJ. What is interesting is I actually thought about this on the way to the hospital. I was praying for CJ to have a nurse he was familiar and comfortable with. We even talked about having his port accessed at the office instead of when we got the room. Then I thought, what if there is no room? But I reasoned to myself, surely they will have a room ready for a scheduled admission. They know he is fasting for a Spinal Tap and would need to be processed quickly. My reasoning failed, when not only was there no rooms available at the hospital, but we were even removed from our room in the doctors office so they could give that to another patient. We made our way to the waiting room that was filled with the smells of freshly popped popcorn that he couldn't eat. They apologized profusely for the inconvenience. However, I did not feel inconvenienced. A little sorry for CJ having to smell the popcorn and not be able to eat, but not inconvenienced.
After scrambling and trying to find him a bed with no luck, they decided to send him over to Pediatric Ambulatory to get started. We made our way there and although usually busy, this time it felt like we were entering a bustling city not a small pediatric unit. It was loud and packed with people with different illnesses, disabilities, languages and cultures. Multiple TVs were blaring, people were in and out, kids were yelling, parents were arguing. We were on sensory overload.
We were told we would have the Spinal Tap there and be sent upstairs as soon as a room was available. After having his port accessed which was quite emotional for him, the Spinal tap didn't actually happen until close to 2pm. When we finally got started and CJ was put to sleep, my heart sank when I realized that in all the chaos we forgot to put the EMLA (numbing creme) on CJ's back. The nurse apologized profusely for her oversight. But I wasn't upset with her. After all, I forgot too. They assured me that although CJ would not remember it, he would certainly squirm more without the creme on. They all held him tightly as the needle entered his back and he certainly 'squirmed' as they said he would. I don't think I will forget to put the creme on again after seeing that.
He woke up shortly after and we made our way back out to our cubicle to await a room. As time passed, they decided to do his chemo there as well since there was no room in sight. Little by little all the patients were cleared and sent home. (This is a unit that closes at night) The place began to empty out and quiet down as we waited and finally rested. Hours ticked by and soon we were the only ones there. I began to wonder where we would end up for the night if they did not have a room. They apologized profusely for the inconvenience and let us know they had not forgotten about us. I did not feel inconvenienced. I think they were surprised I wasn't more agitated by that time. But I knew something they did not know... I knew we were right where we needed to be. No, it wasn't what I expected when we came for an admission, but it was what I asked God for. I was convinced He sent us where He knew CJ would be the most comfortable with familiar nurses and surroundings just like I had prayed. He knew where we were. We were not alone and certainly not forgotten. As I lay there in the quiet and held my son, I began to think about a time when another mother entered a bustling and noisy city full of different languages and cultures. There was no room for her or her son either. I imagined how the hustle and bustle must have slowly turned to a quiet calm when the city slept and she finally held her son in her arms. And although it wasn't where she expected to be when the day began, God knew exactly where they were. And she knew she wasn't forgotten.
Hospital admission behind us, CJ is home now and that's all that counts! Or is it? I have started to catch myself when I use that phrase "all that counts' and at the same time hearing a voice inside me whisper 'is it really'? Is the here and now all that counts? Is realizing the ends of the means all that counts? Is getting to the finish line all that counts? Is getting over the next big hurdle all that counts? I would have to say I know that is not true. It actually counts how I handled the delays and the inconveniences at the hospital. It counts what impression I left on the people and nurses around me that day as the obstacles came. It counts whether or not I trusted God during the trial or just made it through. I am realizing what happens in the valley does not stay in the valley. It counts! I really want to make this time count because it is not just about finishing but finishing well that counts.
Prayer Requests: Please pray that CJ will once again maintain his blood counts at safe levels until we reach the end of this phase. Please pray for him to stay healthy and protected against infection. So many people we have been in contact with have been very sick and we are trying to balance our exposure to others with wisdom and fear. Please pray that the chemo will do it's job and only it's job and that all CJ's organs will remain healthy and unaffected by the medications. Most importantly, pray that CJ will continue to draw near to the Lord through regular reading of the Word and daily quiet time with the Lord. The other day he came to me and said, "Mom, do you remember the other day I cried a lot and was afraid about my port? Well I had skipped my devotions the night before because we were up late for Allie's birthday. But I feel better now that I started again" He related the increase of fear to his time away from listening to the Lord speak to him through the Word.
Posted by Break the Mold at 4:04 PM