Last night and this morning Eva was tended to by Grandma Davis. By all accounts it went quite well. As I’ve mentioned previously, Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego is an incredibly caring place. The hematology/oncology unit is about as happy as you could make a place that treats children with blood disorders and cancers. Eva showed off her pill-swallowing skills for Grandma, continued to conquer her distaste for sticky things on her skin, and enjoyed several trips to the fantastic play room here in the unit.
Lily and I arrived at the hospital today at about 12:30pm to give Eva a little playtime with her big sister before Grandma Davis headed back to Fallbrook with Lily. Unfortunately the playtime wasn’t as nice as we had hoped. Eva has been suffering from constipation the last couple days and has been in some discomfort from it. She spent a lot of her time during Lily’s visit on the potty trying to go. There was a little success, followed by some more later in the day. I’m not certain she’s fully regular yet, but she’s getting there. It’s been tiring for her. In fact, she was so tired from trying to go that she asked to just rest in bed. This was actually a good thing since it was time for her pegaspargase dosage.
The pegaspargase dosage takes an hour and requires a nurse to monitor the dosage for the first fifteen minutes. Allergic reaction is the most common side effect, so the nurses keep all the necessary drugs to counteract anaphylaxis in the room just in case. Once 15 minutes have passed it’s almost certain that there will be no allergic reaction. Eva made it through the whole dosage without any signs of allergy, so we are quite thankful for that. She used the hour to gather some strength so that once the dosage was over we could proceed with our day.
I noticed today that the promised mood swings are beginning to appear. Her afternoon shower is usually one of her favorite parts of the day, but this one started out with full-blown, top-of-the-lungs screaming. Yet it ended with her asking for ten more minutes in the nice, warm water. The nurses and doctors have often said that while many expect things like nausea to be the most difficult of the treatment’s side effects, it’s actually the mood swings that cause everyone the most pain. We will need to exercise patience on a level we are not accustomed to. We also have to remember that even though she will say things that break our heart, it is the drug magnifying her frustration to such levels.
We arranged for Audra to drive down here to spend a few hours with Eva tonight. She got here right about 6:30pm when Eva was having her pills. She swallowed them all again, but the mood about the process fluctuated wildly. They say this will get worse in the second week, too. We’ve got to brace ourselves.
In spite of all these mood swings we still enjoyed a nice time together during the evening play room session. The three of us played a few games of Uno (Eva won them all fair and square) and did some painting projects. Playtime works wonders for suffering children, and we enjoyed the first chance for just the three of us to sit and try to be as normal as we could in the circumstances. I hope we get to play many more Uno games together in the future.
We put Eva to bed at about 8:00pm and Audra left at 9:30pm. Now I’m wrapping up for the day. The doctors had suggested that Eva might need a blood transfusion last night, but her hemoglobin levels stayed high enough to avoid needing one just yet. I’m sleeping at the hospital tonight and the night nurse said I should expect that Eva will receive a blood product tonight. Transfusions are inevitable with leukemia, in fact, they are vital. The leukemia cells use up the marrow’s resources to produce healthy blood, and the chemotherapy drugs inhibit the marrow even more. Unlike many other kinds of cancer, blood cancer means many transfusions.
The protocol at Rady Children’s is to handle blood transfusions overnight. While it might seem kind of strange to do it then, it seems to make good sense. The transfusion will probably start at midnight and lasts four hours. Two nurses administer the transfusion—any major process like this requires a cross-check between two sets of eyes. They also stay in the room for the first 15 minutes to watch for any allergic reaction. After that point they will just check vitals every hour during the four hours (as opposed to checking vitals every four to six hours or so). Eva may wake up for this, but she may also sleep through a lot of it. The darkness and grogginess helps obscure the obvious sight of a big bag of blood hanging on the IV pole, which could be upsetting to some children.
The nurse said that we should expect Eva having a lot more energy tomorrow. The body usually reacts quite vigorously to its first reception of donor blood. We’re so thankful for people who give blood to save lives like Eva’s.
With all this talk of blood, I can’t help but think of how blood plays a role in the salvation God planned and accomplished for us. People often wonder why there’s so much blood in the Bible, and rightfully so. The shedding of blood is everywhere in Scripture. Some conclude God must be a bloodthirsty monster or something. Others just chalk it up to the Bible being an old book from an old time. The real reason is relatively straightforward. Blood is life, and If sin costs life, then it costs blood. In the Old Testament it was the shed blood of goats and bulls that reminded the Israelites that their sin cost life, but that blood could not actually take away their sin. That blood covered them until there was better blood—blood that could remove sin for good. The marvel of blood in the Scripture is that God himself took on a human nature like ours so that he could shed his own blood to bring us life. In Jesus all the fullness of deity dwelt. He bled divine blood able to cover every sin and overturn the curse of death. He rose again that his blood now courses through his body forever and ever. His blood was the better blood.
Blood brings life today; Jesus’ blood brings life forever.