The shock of this unthinkable season had begun to wear off so I headed to work today for the first time in over two weeks. Izzy was still having virtually no side effects from last week and I longed for some sense of normal. It was nice to do some of our same morning routines and walk out the door to the sound of the kids laughing with our sitter.
As I pulled out of the driveway today a sense of peace began to overwhelm me. Days like this were not to be taken for granted. I knew that Izzy wouldn’t always feel like playing with her big brother all day in the comfort of our own home. There would be hard days but there would be normal days too. We could do this.
When I got to work I put a pretty sign on my office door that read “thanks for caring but no cancer talk in here”. It had a smiley face on it too, just so people knew that I loved them but I just needed some space. There were a couple hundred people at the church for Vacation Bible School, but friends politely stopped by to welcome me back and went on their way. I sat quietly at my desk most of the day and checked email and worked on reports. I began to feel in control of my life again. We could definitely do this.
If you’ve ever played Jenga you know how quickly your seemingly stable tower can collapse with only the removal of a block or two. Sometimes you can’t even remember which block caused the tower to begin to shake, but once it lost stability there was no going back.
That’s how I would sum up the time between when I left work and when we arrived at the Emergency Room tonight. There was abdominal pain. Phone calls. And then what no one dealing with cancer ever wants to hear: a fever.
Once here her labs revealed that her white blood cell count was virtually zero. It’s not what anyone anticipated from this first round of chemo. This is the mild dose. Our primary team requested she be transported to Cincinnati but we chose to stay here at least overnight.
We’ve been admitted now and she’s on her second dose of antibiotics. They’ve given her Tylenol but the fever is still rising.
I woke up this morning and thought I was going to have a normal day. And you know what? I did. This is my new normal. I can put signs on my office door everyday but that won’t keep the cancer out of my life. I can do all the same things in the same order I used to do them before but it will never make things like they were before. Before is a thing of the past. This is today.
Today my daughter has cancer. And today I’m in a hospital room with her defenseless body. And it sucks and I’m angry and I’m sad. And sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes I just get to be all of those things and grieve because I want the old normal back.