Monday, February 4, 2013

Memories and Birthdays

Time can help things a lot.
A lot in terms of coping with the past and the trauma of living through a nightmare called childhood leukemia.
Watching your child change so drastically.
Dealing and struggling with something she doesn't understand.
It's been over two years since Zoe was diagnosed and it's gotten easier to remember the hard truths we lived through. 
It's also her birthday next week.
We can celebrate her being a part of our world yet another year.
And each year things get easier for her. 
Here's another part of her story...our family's story... 

We were living a normal life. 
Then the bruises showed up.
And the lethargy.
Something wasn’t right and my mom gut told me that I needed to call the pediatrician.
The diagnosis came fast and hard.
We were told to go right away to a hospital in the neighboring town.
They had a pediatric oncology doctor and we could only go home to pack a bag.
No time to think.
No time to say “we want a second opinion.”
When your child is diagnosed with leukemia there’s no time to second guess anything and you do as you are told.
Upon arrival at the hospital, we met the man who would be in charge of saving our daughter’s life.
She skipped to the bathroom to change from her school clothes into the traditional hospital gown one is given upon check in.
This one had lots of color and cute pictures of animals, though.
Something cheerful to wear in a hard cold place.
He later told us that her skipping surprised him.
Her blood counts were so high and off the mark that he predicted she would come crawling in, too tired to walk.
I later looked at this as a sign of hope.
She was strong.
She was a fighter.

But at the time, Chad and I were in a numb place.
Why were we here?
Why was this happening to our freckle-faced girl?
Is this all a big mistake?
Are they going to recheck her blood and see that it was a lab error?
Surely it's just a lab error.
We met two nurses and they would become very close to our family very quickly.
I don’t know if they got close with all of their patients.
I’m glad they were there that day.
I remember them asking us lots of questions…"how old is she, what are her symptoms, does she have any allergies?"
But, the thing that I remember the most was when one of the nurses said to me “we will be putting her under anesthetic right away to put the PIC Line into her arm.”
The tears immediately welled up in my eyes, making the room even more of a blur than it already was.
And then the look she gave me, reassuring me that she would be okay under anesthesia.
What stung me the most was knowing my daughter would be poked and have things attached to her little body and there was nothing I could do to help her.
There was nothing I could do anymore to help her.
Her life was out of my hands and I didn’t know if I would ever get it back.

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