CJ rang in the new year with a fresh dose of chemotherapy on New Years Eve. But he did it with a bang. Literally! As each nurse or doctor came to see him he was ready and waiting with a confetti popper under the sheets. At the opportune time he pulled the string....Bang! Confetti flew everywhere and the nurse about fell over! It was really cute. Thankfully, he was smart enough to make sure there were no needles in sight when he pulled the string. He about gave Lotsy Dotsy the Clown a heart attack.
After he scared the nurses right out of their scrubs, he wasted no time enlisting them in his plot to get the doctors as well right before he was put to sleep for his spinal tap. One of his doctors stands on one side of the bed preparing for the spinal tap while the other doctor, the anesthesiologist who administers the meds that put him to sleep, stands right over him on the other side of the bed. (You will see it in the pictures below).
Once they hook up the "juice", which we call "milk" because it is white, he only has a few seconds before he will start to drift off to sleep. So he was ready and waiting. As soon as the milkman started to push and CJ felt his eyelids getting heavy, he announced, "Before I fall asleep, I want to wish you all a happy new year." He pulled the string. Bang! Confetti flew everywhere. Then he murmured as his eyes were closing, "Seeee yoooouuuuu sooonnnn," and within seconds he was asleep. It was so funny! He got them good.
Unfortunately after all the laughs and silliness it was all down hill. Maybe it was his own fault for getting everyone so flustered with his silly tricks, but for some reason the doctor could not get the needle in the right spot. This has never happened! CJ has five oncology doctors and four of them have routinely given him spinal taps. Each has their own unique technique and all of them are very good. Usually, I amazed at how they can plop him on his side, use his hip bones to help find the 'right spot', and insert the needle to hit the spinal cord with precision, and then drip drip drip.....out comes the clear spinal fluid. They fill up a few tubes of it for testing and then use the same needle to insert Methotrexate (chemotherapy) directly into the spine. One poke for the whole process. Smooth as butter. But not this time! Poke one....mothing. Maneuver the needle and still nothing. Maneuver the needle some more....nothing. More....not a drop. Apparently, they don't want to take the needle out and have to repoke him if they don't have to. Maneuver needleagain......nothing.
At this point they take the needle out try adjusting his position. Poke two.....nothing! Maneuver the needle....nothing! Maneuver some more....nothing! Meanwhile, I am feeling so bad for him and yet very thankful he is asleep. He can feel it to some extent because he will sometimes squirm and grunt when it hurts but is unable to wake up and doesn't usually remember it. As she is still adjusting the needle trying not to have to reinsert it a thrid time she suddenly says, "I have blood." I look at the needle to see blood dripping from the end where clear spinal fluid should be and I begin to get really nervous. I don't know if this is really bad or not so I just gauge my reactions based on the reactions of the nurses and doctors who don't seem too panicked and just continue to keep trying to adjust CJ get it in. One nurse is holding him down while one doctor is making sure he stays asleep so the other doctor can get the procedure done. I know many people would probably be upset at this point but I am the type of person that feels sorry for the doctor as she is struggling to get the needle in. She was so frustrated with it and trying so hard that I felt bad for her.
At this point I pray silently and am so thankful Chris is not there. I think to myself, 'he would have had a really hard time with this' and before I can even finish the thought, I hear tap, tap, tap on the door.
I open the door a find Chris standing there so I inform him a soft tone, "They are having some trouble getting the needle in. Are you SURE you want to come in?" He enters the room as they are still trying to get the needle in the right spot. Now I am worried how he will react when he sees the blood so I glance over to see if they have made any progress and I immediately begin to feel queasy. I decide to sit down because I know the familiar feeling about to overtake me. I can vaguely hear them saying something like they 'just about got it' over the buzzing in my ears and that's when I decide I better go out and 'check on the kids'. Chris asked me if I was okay and I gave him that same blank stare I gave him at our wedding when he asked me that same question right before I was about to pass out.
Not wanting him to worry about me too (or look like a wimp) I answered, "I am fine. I just want to go say hi and check on the kids." So I leave the room completely oblivious to what is happening to CJ at this point and just thinking 'As long as I can make it to our cubicle and sit down for a minute, I will be fine." Unfortunately, our cubicle was all the way at the other end of the ambulatory treatment area we were in. Amazing how it never seemed far before until that day. I started walking. I could feel the flush of my face, hear the buzzing getting louder, and was losing the the feeling of my lower legs. Still, I willed them to keep moving. I remember thinking, 'Just get there Dawn and you will be fine. Don't stop for anything!' So that is exactly what I did! I made it to our cubicle and vaguely noticed my kids were there and mumbled a pitiful 'hello' before I plopped down in the chair. Poor Allie!(my 13 year old daughter) It took her a minute to realize something was wrong.
I sat down and fanned my face for a few minutes, prayed, and recovered. I guess I was out of the room for about 5 or 10 minutes when I suddenly remembered.......CJ! Unsure if they ever got the needle in I decided to brave it and go back. Thankfully, when I went back it was all over and went fine. He was still asleep and dad was standing over him at this point just waiting for him to wake up while the nurse continued to administer some other chemo meds through his port. Chris looked up and me and said, "Hey, are you Okay?" To which I of course replied nobly, "Fine! I just wanted to check on the kids!" (Shhhh! Don't tell him! He thinks I'm brave!)
CJ eventually woke up and was completely oblivious to all that happened. His doctor was so sweet and told him she felt so bad because she had to poke him three times and he may be a little more sore than usual. I give her credit. I wouldn't have told him. It's not like he can see there are two more holes than there should be in his lower back.
We were home by mid afternoon on New Years Eve and he was tired. He dealt with the 'itchy face' side effect for two days and was frustrated with that but overall he did well. We began steroids to rebound him from the chemo and he just finished that regimen. He gets self conscious because it immediately swells his face and belly when he is on them. Now he is off and beginning to get back to normal. We will go back in a week to do counts and another week after that for more chemo.
Although having chemotherapy wasn't the ideal way for us to end the year, it was fitting and kept us right where we belong as we enter into another year....at the Lord's feet; dependent on His mercy and grace in our time of need. We ended our year tired yet very grateful for all God has done in and through us this year. We are grateful for CJ's continued healing. We are grateful for all the blessings He has poured out on our family and for all the blessings He has poured out through our family.
I must admit that gratefulness is a difficult emotion when you have recently dealt with devastating loss, but we are exhorted to, "be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus." It isn't always easy but the right focus helps. CJ has that focus! Last night we were encouraged to give thanks during a time or prayer with our home group from church and after some others prayed his little voice was like sweet music to my ears when he began to thank God for chemotherapy of all things! Thank you CJ for inspiring me to be thankful even for the challenges before me.
This year we are fine tuning our focus even in our thankfulness. We are challenging ourselves to consider if we are we more grateful for the gift or the Giver? Are we more thankful for the healing or the Healer? Are we more thankful we are saved or for the Savior? Jesus healed 10 men from leprosy on the road to Jerusalem. You better believe after living with leprosy for any period of time, every single one of them was thankful for the healing! Of that I have no doubt. But only one was more thankful for the Healer than the healing and came back and threw himself at Jesus feet passionately praising Him. (Luke 17) So this year, I hope that is where you will find me.... at Jesus feet praising Him passionately. Happy New Year!
CJ just after he got the doctors with his new years gag
Asleep and ready for spinal tap
Dad and Corey waiting for CJ to wake up
Thank you for continuing in steadfast prayer for our brave CJ. We remind him continually that he is brave not because he is facing all of this without fear but because he is facing all of this regardless of his fears.
We would also like to request prayer for some other kids that are in this battle.
Sweet Mackenzie (5). who is facing 'minimal treatment options' being available and yet her cancer is progressing. She will be getting scans this Friday. Please pray for miraculous results and for the Lord to lay a treatment plan on the mind and heart of one of her doctors.
Please pray for sweet Ellie (7) who is 'in it to win it' during some very difficult stages in her recent relapse and treatment.
Pray for Andrew(7) who is in the final stages of his battle. Please pray for his peace and comfort as his cancer progresses.
Truman and Sam who are both recovering from recent amputations and still battling through chemo to be completely cancer free!
I could go on and on....the list is long and heartbreaking. The prayers are needed. Pray for all the kids battling this disease.