Clinic Day #48

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.


Happy on the Outside

April 20, 2010

Tanner at the party

Somehow six days have slipped by again without a post. Let me catch you up: Tanner did get to go to her birthday party at Jump Zone – she had a blast and I wasn’t the only Mom handing out the hand sanitizer. The Dalmatian passed the child-worthy test with flying colors and now we’re trying to work out going to the prison to visit him. If all goes well, we’ll put dibs on him and wait until he finishes training in June! Tanner is feeling well, although she seems a little tired and has had some headaches. John and I got to go on a date on Sunday night for the first time in months. We went to see a movie at the Nashville Film Festival produced by our next-door neighbor. Went to church on Sunday (Jake entertained the church during the children’s sermon by showing another child the inside of his nose…) and then had lunch at the home of some good friends. It was a great day.

Tanner dancing after the party... love the shoes

We got a package from Give Kids the World Village today. That’s the resort for wish kids at Disney where we will be staying. It was so exciting to see all that we will be doing. We get three Disney passes, two Universal theme park passes and one Sea World pass. Not to mention how awesome the Village is itself – putt-putt, horseback riding, a train ride, present fairies, ice cream all day, La Ti Da spa, etc., etc., etc. All the characters from Disney, Universal and Nickelodeon come to the Village to visit with the kids. If Jake sees spider man in real life, he may pass out. If only iCarly would show up… Tanner would need nothing else. I’m hoping this trip will suspend reality for us for a while. We could all use a break from that.

So life is good… why is my child so mad? Tanner is struggling with something that is resulting in massive temper tantrums. Her therapist thinks it is anxiety from the newness of school. That sometimes even really good things can be overwhelming. I think Tanner also tends to push until she is more than exhausted, which doesn’t help. Suffice it to say, I’ve received the brunt of Tanner’s anger and it’s exhausting for all of us. Poor Jake doesn’t understand what he has done wrong to make his sister suddenly turn on him. It’s frustrating to finally be at this good place and see her struggle so mightily with something. It’s like the emotion is too much for her, even though the emotion is happiness. Please pray that I keep my patience and that Tanner finds some peace and is able to fully enjoy this time.

It’s tough to know how to slow Tanner down… how to know when she’s had enough, even if she doesn’t think so. She called today from school with a tummy ache. When I got there with medicine, she was lying down on a bean bag chair while the rest of the class sat at their desks. She looked pretty miserable and I just decided maybe she should come home. She didn’t want to, but I felt the rest might be the best idea. She didn’t stay down long when we got home. After picking up Jake, she wanted to go for a walk. I took the wagon so she didn’t get tired, but on the way home, it looked like we had done too much. Then, the meltdown came over something small and stupid (isn’t that how they always happen?). And, she ended up losing some pretty fun stuff because she couldn’t get hold of herself. It’s just a no-win for everyone and I wish I had a rule book to follow. You know, the rule book for kids who have cancer and who have just returned to school and seem happy, but keep having meltdowns. Anybody seen that one at the book store? Online? Guess I’ll have an extra call with Allison. Sigh.

Thursday is her monthly clinic day. Vincristine through her port and the start of another five-day pulse of steroids (that ought to help the meltdowns, eh?). I’m hoping that if the docs want to raise her chemo they’ll let us wait until after Disney. It would be a huge disappointment to have to postpone the trip due to low counts. I’ve tried not to be specific with the kids about when we’re going just in case.

Hoping for a tantrum-free tomorrow…