Monday, March 1, 2010

Chemo 17, comin' atcha

The house is quiet. The garbage has been taken out. The dinner dishes are done. A load of laundry is running downstairs. The household chores for the evening are complete.

Tonight, The Boy is in the hospital for chemo. Musical Daddy is doing something...musical (singing at chorus rehearsal). Meatball is fast asleep.

Grandma is with The Boy for the evening, and Grandpa is out of town.

What should be happening is that The Boy should be running around the house playing and going from room to room and tackling us at random. "Tackle Mum!!!"

Instead, it is quiet, and it just doesn't feel right.

We had a VERY fortunate February, in which The Boy not only had no hospital stays beyond scheduled admissions but also needed no transfusions except for some blood, tacked on to his previous two chemo stays. Twice--once last week and once last night--we had fever scares, where The Boy's fever was creeping up and up (by the way, their magic number here is higher than the one in NJ) but eventually came back down on its own. He was unsettled and not sleeping well, and snuggling up to Musical Daddy, who thought that he felt warm and, as usual, was correct.

I spent nearly every school day in February, save for a sick day last week, on the same substitute assignment. I thought it might be in my best interest to sub other places ("it's not you, it's me...I need to see other people...") despite the fact that this job is still available and is a music position. I'm not eligible to be hired, at least not yet, so it isn't even as if they'd put me in there should the teacher choose not to return.

Today I took an assignment at the middle school down the street. As in, within easy walking distance. I walked out the door close to 8AM and was in the door at 4PM. The job was art. I'm very much NOT a visual art person although I have a pretty decent knowledge of the concepts that are actually taught in an art class and what the expectations REALLY are. The goal is not that everyone become artists or that kids learn to draw better; art class objectives deal with examining things visually and learning how to depict them regardless of natural ability in the medium. Someone who does well and pays attention in art class may begin to recognize pieces of art as having been created by certain people in certain historical periods and may also be able to pick out certain techniques used that were also studied in art class. Additionally, art classes deal with various cultures and historical periods.

Come on, my artist and art teacher friends...did I get this one? Add to this, please, if I have missed anything, because I find it important to explain to people what is taught in music and art classes, if it isn't how to make people into musicians and artists.

Anyhow, very little of this came into play. I explained one art concept to one student; the rest of the time, the students were doing work on their own. I gave them a lot of leeway in the class, warning them that they were responsible for their work and acting like civilized human beings (I did phone the office once, though). The kids at the school were pretty good and I didn't have many issues.

Grandma said that I'm clear to work tomorrow. There are a few jobs posted. I just took one at another very nearby building, and we'll see how it goes.

I am anxious about this week's chemo. The GFR test being done will show us what the trend really is in The Boy's kidney function. The chemo given will likely be more than he got last time. We will need to see if he will recover promptly enough this time around.

I'm getting to the point where I just want the chemo to be done and I'm rooting for us to discontinue treatment. Many other cancer parents get nervous about the end of treatment. For many families, having their children remain ON treatment provides a sense of security in a way, that because the cancer is being attacked aggressively, it isn't coming back. Some people don't get this--doesn't the end of treatment mean celebration, and relief?

Being on the treatment regimen did not provide us with that security. The Boy regrew tumor while on treatment, even while receiving Doxorubicin/Adriamycin, which is a VERY vicious drug. We had an additional regrowth scare and an additional surgery, all while on treatment (fortunately, that one was a "false alarm"). All the while, we are hitting the lottery with the side effects--kidney damage, hearing damage, and nerve damage from the previous chemo which still has lingering effects (The Boy still can't jump). We don't even know about the late effects yet--loss of fertility, secondary cancers from chemo and radiation, growth issues from radiation, learning problems, digestive problems, and various other lovely things. And each time he gets more chemotherapy, it adds up.

Obviously, it is up to the doctors, but they will be getting a lot of information this week, and they will be getting further information as he goes through the cycle and recovers from this dose. With the information that they get, they'll be able to make those decisions.

The Boy has been such a bright spot. He always is, but particularly recently. He now knows pretty much all of his Hebrew letters and is beginning to recite the Alef-Bet (Hebrew alphabet). We went to the Judaica store yesterday so that he could pick out a few things, including Alef-Bet stickers and placemats. We called it the Alef-Bet store. He was thrilled.

He and Meatball can play together with this toy, the Busy Poppin' Pals toy. The Boy can open all the doors, and Meatball enjoys closing them. I figured out that he was ready for this toy the same way I figured out that The Boy needed to get it--when he started trying to close the laptop.

Meatball is a smart cookie. He likes to "bonk" and will do so when asked. Look right at him, say "bonk" and he leans his forehead in to touch yours.

I guess that since I am, in fact, going to work tomorrow, I should probably get ready.

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