As the Delayed Intensification phase continued, timing became critical. Being the obsessive planner that I am, I had mapped out exactly when Atia's fourth treatment phase would end - October 16th - 42 days after it had begun.
I was in my last six weeks of pregnancy (due November 1st) and I was beginning to get nervous. I couldn't seem to reconcile how I was going to manage Atia's treatment while giving birth, recovering AND handling the demands of a newborn.
I was honestly scared to death. Every conversation I had with family and friends seemed to revolve around my anxiety. I felt that the only way I could get through it was if Atia could withstand the phase without complication. I simply couldn't afford any delays.
Famous last words...
Two weeks after Atia's 2nd birthday, she was back in the emergency room with a high temperature, high heart rate, low white and red blood cell counts and mouth ulcers. This time the sores were so bad that the doctors speculated they were throughout her ENTIRE digestive tract. It was awful; chemo patients who've experienced this side-effect have likened the pain to that of chewing and swallowing glass.
Atia was admitted to the hospital.
She received morphine for the pain, a red blood cell transfusion and an antibiotic cocktail. There wasn't much more to do except wait... and wait we did.
If you've ever been in the hospital for any extended period of time you know exactly how boring it can be. Of course, we all understand that it's a place for recovering and healing, but the moment the patient starts feeling better the solitude, slow pace and numbing silence becomes almost deafening.
As you can imagine, it's not exactly a great environment for a two year old. Atia didn't want to stay in bed, she didn't want to remain hooked up to all the IVs, she didn't want to have the doctors come in and do physical examinations each day. My job quickly turned from consoler to entertainment director.
Hmm... What to do? What to do? There are honestly only so many ways to amuse a bedridden child. Coloring, drawing, reading and puzzles - combined, those activities kept her occupied for 30 to 45 minutes before she got bored. NEXT! Umm...TV and educational DVDs? Yep, another 45 minutes to an hour chipped away. Now what?
Luckily, Steve's family had purchased the "Your Baby Can Read" learning system for Atia as a reward for completing her 1st treatment phase (back a few months before this hospital stay). She really took to it and enjoyed reviewing the flashcards. We practiced at home a lot and it was the one thing she could do for hours on end. In the hospital, it was my lifesaver.
So, that's what we did hour after hour after hour. We reviewed words. It was a win-win!
Here she is at 22 months old:
And here she is just three months later. We started building upon the flashcards by teaching her some sign language and how to spell: