March 9, 2011
We were due at clinic this morning for a counts check, since Tanner’s chemo was raised two weeks ago. But, frankly, I think we would have gone in anyway; Tanner’s cold has gotten worse over the past few days. She’s been congested and coughing with no relief from allergy meds.
I hate expecting the worst, but I did. I packed some necessities quietly in my purse, just in case we ended up staying. I figured if Tanner’s counts were really bad, they might keep her, considering the cough and congestion.
Thankfully, I was worried for no reason. Her counts were perfect – 1320 – and they decided she has a sinus infection and gave us oral antibiotics to take. No IV antibiotics, no hospital stay… amen.
On the way home, Tanner was really stressed that we weren’t going to make it back in time for recess at school. She had also been really mad that morning because John and I told her she might not be able to go to school at all today. They were rollerskating in gym class and she did NOT want to miss that important educational opportunity! When we pulled up to our house to run in and get her backpack for school, I told her she had missed recess. She got really mad at me and it suddenly occurred to me… she blames me for lots of this. She BLAMES me.
Because I’m the one who delivers most of the bad news… “You can’t go to Spirit Night at Chuck E. Cheese because you might get sick.” “We need to go to the hospital this morning.” “You have to take this nasty medicine.” “I’m going to have to pull you out of school early… again.” As you can see, I’m a pretty easy target.
After I got back in the car with her backpack, we drove to school and I reminded her that I would be back in a couple of hours to take her to see Allison, the play therapist. Tanner has NOT been happy about seeing Allison lately. When she got out the car at school, she would not talk to me or say goodbye to me.
I got out the car and grabbed her shoulder to turn her to me. She resisted and I squatted down and held both of her arms so she had to face me.
“Do you know how much I love you?” I said. She shook her head. “I love you so much that I would 100 times rather have leukemia myself than to watch you have leukemia.”
Tanner’s eyes widened. I had her attention now. “I would do anything to take this away from you… but I can’t. There is nothing I can do to change the fact that you have leukemia. But you know what I can do?”
Tanner shook her head again.
“I can take the very best care of you that I can. I can take you to the hospital when you need to go, and I can keep you from doing something or going somewhere that might make you sick. I can make sure you take all of your medicine and that we go to see Allison so we get rid of all the bad feelings. This is all I can do; and I do it the best I can. I don’t make us have to go to the hospital or have to take medicine… leukemia does that. Does that make sense?”
“Yes,” she said with some little tears in the corners of her eyes.
“Tanner it hurts my feelings when you are mad at me for these things. I know they stink, but I’m just trying to take care of you. Can you try not to be so mad at me?”
My daughter put her arms around my neck and hugged me hard. She sniffed and said, “Hold my hand while we walk in, okay?”
By the time we got into the school office, she was bright eyed again and eager to get to P.E. for skating. And, when I picked her up just two hours later to go to Allison’s, she did not get mad at me… for the first time in months.
I’m learning that antidepressants don’t keep her from getting mad or frustrated or sad. But, they do make it easier to reason with her and for there to be a better outcome to the conversation. Three weeks ago, that conversation would not have been possible at all. Three weeks ago, Allison said that she saw a miserable little girl who had lost the ability to pull herself out of her unhappiness.
On the way home from Allison’s we saw the biggest and most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen. I told Tanner I thought it meant good luck to see such a huge rainbow. She thought maybe it meant she would stay healthy for Sleeping Beauty. I think maybe it meant there are brighter days ahead… we just have to hang on.