Stir Crazy

August 20, 2009 It’s just been three days since we’ve been on these new precautions due to Tanner’s low counts, and already, we’re stir crazy. We like to go, go, go here at the Page house and it’s hard to find someplace to go right now. So, this morning, after our plans to go swimming had been foiled by the impending storms, we were verklempt. What do you do when you can’t really go anywhere?

We decided, after playing all morning at the house, to go out for a bike ride before lunch. Our neighborhood is right next door to Tanner’s Elementary school and you can see the playground from the end of street. Not thinking, I led my little troop on scooters and bikes down to the cul-de-sac which borders the school. Tanner and Jake were ahead of me, as I was on foot pulling a wagon. When I rounded the corner, Tanner was standing with her back to me, off her bike, facing the playground where I could hear schoolchildren shrieking and laughing. I watched her tiny shoulders droop and saw her bike helmet slide to the ground. She sunk to her knees and curled up, crying, but still staring at the playground, where she should have been playing.

I approached her slowly, kissed her head and pulled her into my lap. “I’m so sorry, T,” was all I could think to say. She cried for a little while, then got up, threw her helmet in anger and began running toward the playground. “I can go there if I want. I don’t care if I have leukemia!” she yelled. I just let her go, knowing she wouldn’t get far. She stopped and lay down in the grass, facedown.

Just then, a mother of one of Tanner’s classmates who had seen us from the parking lot approached… a welcome distraction. She chatted with Tanner, telling her how much her classmates missed her and were waiting for her return. Tanner warmed up gradually and was ready to show off her new “two-wheeler” bike riding skills when Jake fell and skinned his knee. Lots more crying. Then, Tanner, waving at our guest, yelled, “Watch me ride!” Right before the chain fell off of her bike. Seriously.

Are you there God, it’s me, Beth Page. I think you’ve forgotten about us down here. A girl could use a break now and then, you know?

Needless to say, we went home. Tanner crammed in the wagon, with her disabled bike resting precariously across the edge. Jake riding his scooter with his bloody knee, crying, “I’m bweeding.”

In the end, though, it turned out to be an okay day, despite a rocky start. We ate lunch, Jake took a nap, Tanner played a new computer game and did some homework. Later, we went back down to the cul-de-sac (yes, we are gluttons for punishment) after having repaired the bike and applying a large band-aid, and ended up flying a kite and playing on the school playground with neighbor kids.

Then, the ducks came back… for the fifth day. We didn’t have any bread this time (we’ve given away all we had to them on previous nights), but the neighbor had ritz crackers and we fed them those. Seems those duck have taken up residence.

The Vincristine continued it’s assault on Tanner’s legs today. She fell in the morning, saying her foot suddenly hurt and she could not walk on it. We rested for 5 minutes and it was okay, but it’s just evidence of the neuropathy that the Vincristine causes. I noticed her running in the field today; she is looking awkward again. And, at bedtime, her right leg failed her on the way up the stairs and she fell. She asked why she was having so much trouble on the stairs. “It’s the Vincristine,” was all I needed to say. She knows what that means, and although it frustrates her, she accepts it.

Even though what happened at the playground was sad this morning, it marked an improvement in her ability to articulate her emotional pain appropriately. Two weeks ago, that would have ended in a giant temper tantrum and I would have been the punching bag. Today, she threw a helmet in anger and let me hold her while she cried. A vast improvement that I think we can attribute to the play therapy. The therapist feels like she is working out some of her fears through play, and that just being able to express it in some way is a relief to her.

So, it’s two steps forward and one step back… or maybe the opposite today. We’re hoping for sunshine tomorrow so we can try swimming again in the morning.

Note to self: do not go to the cul-de-sac during school hours… just too painful.


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