On the way home in the car, her stomach is killing her. We stop at CVS to see if they will rush the prescription for prevacid (she also takes prilosec and zofran) so maybe it will help her. They are kind and take mercy on a sick little girl and we give her the prevacid, along with oxycontin (painkiller) and neurontin (to help with nerve pain) as soon as we get home. She feels better within 15 minutes and is laughing and talking while laying on the sofa.
Her blood counts were down this week, which they expected, but it makes her so weak and tired. By noon, she is almost asleep on the couch after gorging herself on a buffet of food items. I carry her upstairs where she naps for 3 hours and I have to wake her up so she won’t be awake all night.
I shouldn’t have worried… the chemo has gotten her. She is, effectively, waylaid.
I take Jake out for a scooter ride around the neighborhood and when we return, she is as sick as I have seen her. Limp… lying on her back with her arms over her head in surrender, her beautiful face swollen from the steroids, the palms of her hands covered in a rash that will eventually cause her hands to peel the way her feet did last week, face pale, lips cracked… waylaid. The only sign of life is a frantic pulse point at the base of her throat that looks as if it’s trying to say, “I’m still here… working hard, but still here.”
My eyes well up and I have to turn to gather myself in case she wakes up and sees me standing over her crying at the horror of this. I want to hate this chemo… I want to curse it and beat it with my fists, but I can’t. The irony is that these drugs that look like they’re killing my child are actually saving her.
While I take Jake up to bed, John scoops Tanner up and puts her in her bed. I leave Jake’s room and stop to check on Tanner. She is awake. I creep in and feel her head. She seems warm and I check her temperature to be sure (a temperature over 100.4 sends us back to the hospital). It is normal. I put chapstick on her cracked lips and ask if there is anything I can do for her. She asks me to pat her and I do. Then, I temporarily lose my composure and say, “I hate leukemia… I really, really hate it.” She nods slightly. Remembering to try to be positive, I add, “But we’re gonna get it, you can do this.” Unbelievably, she nods again. Humbled, I kiss her on the forehead.
She’s still under there.