As a result of Atia’s high fever and low blood counts, we wound up in the hospital for four days. Her fever finally broke around midnight, the second day, and her blood counts increased – slow and steady. In addition to the possible viral infection, Atia’s ankle pain was cause for concern. She’d been limping for several days, but the x-rays had shown nothing. A special blood test was performed to see if there was a bone infection. If soft markers were revealed, an MRI would be necessary. Because of her young age, the scan would require sedation, which added a layer of anxiety. And thus, our frantic prayers began. Please no bone infection. Please no bone infection.
As Atia began feeling better, her appetite increased. For breakfast one morning she ordered grilled cheese, french fries, pears and lime sherbet from Comer’s “room service.” She loved picking out her favorites items from the big menu. If there’s one thing I loved seeing it was her eating. I didn’t care what it was. There were times we even encouraged her to drink Coke (gasp!). She needed the calories and liked the flavor. If she had wanted ice cream every day for every meal, I probably would have let her have it - definitely a perk of cancer treatment and hospitalization.
Atia and I spent so much one-on-one time together reading, playing puzzles, dominoes, blocks, board games, practicing math and watching TV. While I love Comer Children’s Hospital for its many, many outstanding offerings and excellence in medical care, no matter how you slice it, we felt trapped. We were isolated in a room (private, thank goodness! All of their rooms are private suites) 24 hours a day for four days straight.
The highlight was Steve and Asher’s visits. Atia looked forward to hugging her daddy and sharing her bed with her brother. She was so desperate for additional interaction that she willingly shared her toys and everything! And when daddy was around, she was so peaceful. She missed him terribly and was comforted by his mere presence.
The lowlight was when we had to change the dressing on her port. I’d noticed an accumulation of moisture beneath the tape holding her port needle in place. As we all know, warm, damp places are a breeding ground for bacteria, and the last thing we needed was a port infection. That would be horrible and downright dangerous. Removing the tape from Atia’s chest was excruciating. The nurse was forced to tug and tug, as it’d gotten wrapped around the IV line. Her poor skin was left red and raw.
Because of the gallons of fluids Atia was receiving, she ended up with excessive night sweats. Her body was trying desperately to excrete everything it didn’t need. The frequency of her trips to the potty increased considerably, too. With the IVs connected directly to her port, getting to the bathroom was a big production – she had to be unhooked from all the pulse monitors, then we had to unwind her IV chords that were wrapped around her arms/legs and finally we had to push the IV pump into the bathroom. No easy task.
During one of those potty trips, Atia reached out towards me giving me a quick hug. Looking at me with a shy smile she said, “Friends help friends. And mommy, you’re the BEST friend.”
And with that, my heart melted.
The day we were released
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