“You would cry too if it happened to you” – Leslie Gore
A week after the kids attended their new Spanish classes, Asher came down with a cold and it was a biggie. He was plagued with all the typical symptoms: congestion, stuffy/runny nose, coughing, exhaustion… You name it, he had it.
I felt horrible for my little guy and showered him with tons of TLC. He needed me and most of my attention was directed his way. As with any siblings when one is getting more attention than the other, Atia found it difficult to cope. For good reason, she was used to my constant attention. She wanted to be close to me, but I needed to be close to Asher.
That’s where the downward spiral began. Juggling all the demands was nearly impossible and I was failing. I tried. I really did. But, tending to my sick baby boy, fulfilling Atia’s 2-year-old-with-cancer needs, and keeping all the germs at bay was hopeless.
Steve and I did everything we could to control the contamination. Clorox wipes were our best friend, with hand sanitizer a close second. But those tricky germs were inexterminable and Atia’s immune system was weak. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict the outcome of that equation.
Atia got sick.
It was the week before her 3rd birthday when the cold symptoms began. I called the doctor’s office and they suggested I give her over-the-counter cold medicine, while stressing the importance of watching her fever. Believe me, we'd been watching. Watching like hawks. We were well aware of the reg flag temperature, 100.5 degrees. No matter day or night, if we saw that number or higher we knew to head to the hospital.
By Friday, her temperature had risen to 99.2. It was getting a little too close for comfort and we feared that Atia wouldn’t be able to attend her Pump It Up birthday party scheduled the next day. The party was a big deal because the year before she’d been too sick to celebrate. She’d turned 2 years old in isolation at home, alone with us.
The morning of her party, she still wasn’t feeling well. We toyed with the idea of canceling the party, but that didn't seem right. Even if Atia couldn't make it, her friends should still have fun; after all, we had already paid for the 2 hour rental. We knew Atia was sick, but we left it up to her, did she want to go?
As we were about to throw in the towel, my niece, Cierstin, showed up. Atia simply adores Cierstin; to Atia, no one is cooler or more spectacular than her cousin Cierstin. A Cierstin sighting brings with it magical powers. Within moments of the girls hugging, Atia made a miraculous recovery – at least for the time being. It was a serious case of mind-over-matter.
And as they say in show business, the show must go on… and so did the party!
At first everything was great. She ran around, jumped and slid down the big slides. She even put on a little dance show for everyone, enjoying all the attention. But then, she became moody, uncomfortable. Steve and I could tell she wasn’t feeling well. While the kids sang Happy Birthday she wanted nothing to do with it. She didn’t even like sitting in her big, special chair. The only family picture from that day is of her in tears – so not like her.
When we returned home, she opened a few presents and then hit a wall. She had no interest in opening the rest. She got cranky, no longer wanted to socialize and became flush. Her temperature was on the rise. We tucked her into our bed and within moments she drifted off into a deep sleep. It was about 6:00pm.
Steve and I agreed that if her temperature was still high in the morning we’d take her into the emergency room. It was, so we did.
The day after her party, and day before her actual 3rd birthday, we rushed Atia to the ER with a 103 degree fever, and found out that she was neutrapenic (no immune system, low white blood cell count). She was immediately admitted to the hospital.
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