A few weeks after Atia’s spinal tap in January 2011, she was finally starting to recover from her lingering laryngitis. Healing from a virus or ailment was always a hard earned victory. Her immune system was like the Little Engine That Could – "I think I can, I think I can" - it took its time, but never giving up.
Of course as things go with cancer treatment, the victory was short-lived. The morning of Friday, January 21st Atia went to school just like any other day, but by the time she got home she was unusually tired and had no appetite. Within hours, her temperature spiked to a frightening 102.8! We panicked. After calling Auntie Sonia to come over and watch Asher and packing up a small overnight bag, we rushed off to the emergency room.
It seemed that no matter how many years we’d been doing this, we never got used to it. Anxiety always got the best of us and the “what ifs” crowded our thoughts.
Upon arrival, we were ushered straight into an isolation room - That’s one advantage of having cancer, you get right in no matter how busy they are. These kids are separated from all the others in an effort to protect them from dangerous, life-threatening germs.
Atia’s port was accessed, blood was drawn and IV antibiotics were started. She was also given a dose of Tylenol to reduce her fever.
Because Atia had been fighting something since December, chest X-rays were ordered. They also ordered X-rays on her ankle because she’d been limping and complained of pain when she walked.
It’d been ages since she’d been x-rayed, so she was scared. The truth is, we were nervous too, but for completely different reasons – what if they found something?
As a distraction, Daddy enthusiastically modeled his lovely leaded gown – the latest in X-ray fashion. It even sported an extra piece of material to strap around his neck. Clearly, there’s nothing fun or funny about being in the ER, but as they say, if you don’t laugh, you cry and that was not an option in front of Atia. She deserved calm, happy parents helping to soothe her anxiety, even when deep down inside we were trembling.
Atia sat in a pint-sized chair that was raised into the air. The technician aimed a target at her chest (freaky) and then asked Daddy to hold her arms up helping to provide best possible image.
Once we were done in the torture chambers – just kidding! It honestly didn’t hurt a bit; the contraptions are just so medieval looking - we returned to our ER isolation room. We passed the time resting and watching DVDs on Atia’s pretty pink player (thank you, Irene!).
Atia’s blood tests showed that her white blood cell count was incredible low – terrifyingly low – and she only had an ANC of 30 , making her neutrapenic (highly susceptible). There was no question about it; Atia would be admitted into the hospital for a minimum of 48 hours.
Her blood cultures would be closely monitored, as would her fever and blood counts. To be released, she’d have to be fever free for 48 hrs, meet a minimum requirement of 100 ANC and show an upward trend with her overall blood counts. We were in for a long few days.
Six hours from our initial arrival – thank God we didn’t bring Asher – we were escorted to our hospital room, which became my and Atia’s home for the next few days…
Enjoying the large flat screen TV
in every hospital room at Comer
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