January 2011 kicked off with a spinal tap. For nearly two years, Atia'd been getting them every three months as part of her cancer treatment protocol. Those were the big appointments. They made us nervous, so nervous that Steve always made a point to be there, just in case.
For the spinal tap, Atia was sedated, spinal fluid was extracted and sent off for testing, and chemo was injected - yes, directly into her spine. Before she "came to" she'd also be given her typical monthly chemo doses through her port. It was intense - she was injected with so many toxins.
I always stayed in the room to observe the procedure. I insisted on being the last thing Atia saw and heard before she drifted off to sleep. I felt a sense of control and inclusion as I watched the medical staff expertly prep her - I truly felt a part of it, and in my mind, if I was part of it nothing could go wrong.
During this particular spinal tap, while stepping back with a watchful eye, I noticed the slightest of movement from Atia - a twitch of her finger, a small shift when the injection site was being sterilized. Something was off. My back straightened, my eyes focused in. I was on high alert. I held my breath as the long needle penetrated her delicate skin. She jumped. She felt it! I was horrified. I panicked.
I shouted at the anesthesia team to give her more anesthesia. Atia was like me in that we always required much higher dosages than our weight suggested. I had prefaced that fact as Atia was going under. I was distressed that, in my opinion, she had received enough.
After almost two years of going through this, I'd become somewhat of an expert about her medical needs. I wasn't a doctor, but I knew the basics of what to expect and avoid . Cancer Parents are often forced to anticipate obstacles and make spontaneous adjustments. Thankfully, the anesthesia team was quick to act and she was given additional anesthesia. Everything progressed as usual from that point forward.
Of course, the spinal tap marked the beginning of steroid week, so once again, we were holding on for dear life - we didn't know how high, nor how low the ups and downs would be this time around. One thing we did know was that she was still battling the nasty virus which had cause our emergency visit to the hospital three days before Christmas.
At the spinal tap appointment, she'd been diagnosed with laryngitis - she'd completely lost her voice.
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