I spent the night at the hospital on Thursday night into Friday morning. As I wrote yesterday, we expected that a blood transfusion would be likely overnight. I kept waking up throughout the night and checking the clock to see if the transfusion time had come, but I never saw them working on it. Turns out she didn’t need the transfusion just yet. The nurses told me that the doctors love it when the first transfusion is as late as possible, mainly because it makes the blood boost come closer to the date of discharge.
Speaking of going home, the physician on rounds the last two days has spoken quite optimistically about the possibility of Eva going home on Monday already. Monday is Day 8 of induction and the first day that patients are generally eligible to return home. Since Eva’s labs continue to look good and her side effects are not devastating, going home next week is real possibility. We’d love to have her home before Thanksgiving, and we’d especially love to have her home before her birthday on the 27th. We’re cautious with our optimism, but at this rate we may be home early next week.
I talked with Eva about going home today and explained what it takes to go home. She doesn’t groan, “I want to go home,” anymore, but that’s because she seems to have accepted that she is sick enough to require all the care they can give to her in the hospital. She knows she needs to stay as long as it takes, but is happy to think of going home now in terms of counting down the days.
Audra came down in the morning very early to spend time with Eva. Once again Eva loved heading over to the play room and working on art projects. This girl loves to paint! She also had a craving for our favorite Italian sandwich shop in Fallbrook, Dominick’s Delicatessen. She started asking about it first thing in the morning. Instead I got her a sandwich at an Italian deli in San Diego. It wasn’t the same, but it was nice to see her smile at the nice change of pace from the hospital food.
Her spirits remain good overall, in spite of the occasional mood swings. The moods usually come around tasks that she doesn’t want to do—like swallowing her pills. She can swallow them fine, she just doesn’t want to be bothered with it. We just calmly coach her through the process and wait for her grin after the pills are popped.
The biggest challenge Eva is facing right now in terms of side effects is constipation, which is a common side effect of the vincristine drug that she received on Day 1. (She will receive more vincristine each Monday of induction for a total of four doses.) She’s quite frustrated by it, and there’s some level of discomfort involved.
In spite of this, the doctors do not seem all too concerned about any one area of her reaction to the treatment. We’re staying the course and glad that side effects have been manageable overall. If Eva can get a little relief from the constipation soon then we’d have to admit she’s handling the chemotherapy as well as we could have reasonably hoped at this point.
Grandma Davis is spending the night with Eva again this evening and into tomorrow morning. We scheduled a babysitter for the afternoon so that she could have some overlap time with Audra and me at the hospital. I used the time to study up for my “test.” One of the prerequisites for taking Eva home is that the parents be able to pass a test on the basic care instructions and protocols. Ask me sometime what the common indicators of infection are and I’ll tell you.
After Audra and I left the hospital we stopped at one of our favorite places in San Diego to relax for an hour or so. We got a bite to eat and used the time alone to talk, decompress, and think through the coming days. I felt guilty about it at first. How could we take any time to enjoy a few moments when Eva and so many others need our attention? But I also know (and have been encouraged by friends and family) that we need to find a bit of time to ourselves to process everything. And that’s what we did. We explored the emotional impact of the last week. We remembered how we felt when we first started hearing bad words like “biopsy.” We took stock of how far we’ve come already. We marveled at the number of blessings we have received.
We’ve been dealing with fear of death this week—the kind you think of when you hear the phrase, “fear of death.” We’re literally afraid at the thought of losing a loved one. But we also recognize that the fear of death has been with us every day of our life, even before Eva was diagnosed with leukemia. We have often been afraid that we’re “behind on life” because we don’t have a certain amount of money, a certain standard of living, a certain measure of success. We have often been afraid that our children aren’t “on the right track” because they aren’t talking yet or they don’t read well enough or they don’t enjoy everything kids could possibly enjoy. We have often been afraid that we’re missing out on memorable trips, important memories, and other “quality time.”
What is that except the fear of death? How is that anything but the fear that our time is short? The fear we fear today is the same fear we’ve always feared, only magnified and intensified to the point where we finally realize we’ve been carrying that burden all along.
Time to lighten the load. The Lord Jesus has already conquered death forever by bearing our sin in his divine body and swallowing death’s power forever in the yawning depths of his suffering. Eva is baptized into Christ’s resurrection, which means death cannot hold Eva—or any Christian—any more than it could hold Jesus. Therefore we do not fear that our time is short, in fact, we’re quite certain that we will miss nothing. We will enjoy to an infinite degree the good our Father wants us to enjoy together, in fact, we will enjoy more than we could ever scrounge up in a single lifetime. We don’t pray that God give us more time, because the Father has given us all time by the saving ministry of Jesus Christ.
The concept of “forever” used to scare me. I found the thought of something that never ended to be a little unnerving. I think that changed for the first time in my life only five days ago. Now I can’t wait, because if these precious days are just a foretaste of the wedding supper of the Lamb, I’ll never want the real banquet to end.