Well, after another long day at CHONY, Ana’s been mapped, tattooed and molded in preparation for her radiation therapy. It was a mostly uneventful and fairly seamless day. We took the new car to the city and it felt truly luxurious – the only hitch to the morning was that Emily woke up with a very stiff neck which she claimed was from stretching at karate. It was so bad that she couldn’t turn her head. So instead of taking her to school, she stayed with Amy and Stefan (my brother and sister in law). I should’ve known something was up, but more on that later…
I am extremely proud of Ana. She coasted through everything today with the only glitch being that she was terrified of getting the tattoos. First she had a mold of her body (her back) taken which involved filling a plastic bag with some kind of liquid plastic solution that magically inflated beneath her. She’ll lay on this mold for each treatment so that she is in the exact same position every time.
Then she got a CT scan which didn’t require that she drink any foul contrast or get an I.V. – they were using the CT to map the tumor while she breathed so they could identify its exact location at all times. Dr. Connolly (the radiation oncologist) said that the tumor doesn’t look like it changed at all since Ana’s last scan (if anything, it might be a little smaller) – so good news there.
Then it was time for the tattoos. Ana needed four of them placed on various spots on her torso and one above the tumor on her chest. She was absolutely terrified and broke down at this point, but I had what I thought was a brilliant idea – I suggested that I get a tattoo on my hand. That way she could see that it was no big deal, plus I felt like it was a way I could share one tiny experience with her. This calmed her down UNTIL the moment came when the nurse broke out the VERY LARGE needle and proceeded to inject me with ink. It puddled on my hand. I bled. I tried very hard not to flinch, but I’m pretty sure I did. Ana watched this all with horror and said, “So, did it hurt?”
I should’ve lied but I know she saw me flinch. I said it felt like getting stuck with a thumb tack or a felting needle, which is exactly what it felt like because I stupidly had them put the dot on the heel of my hand (where there are lots of nerve endings). In short, I made it worse! It took another ten minutes to calm her down. They were going to try giving her some kind of anti-anxiety medication but she could tell I wasn’t thrilled about this (it would’ve required a long wait for clearance and then she’d very sleepy for the rest of the day. Well, she knew right away I didn’t want her to have the medicine. I think it was my expression – impatience? Concern? Disappointment? I tried not to show it, but she knows me so well and she saw that I wasn’t happy, so she agreed to give it a try.
It didn’t hurt her…much. She barely felt it and then it was done, but I still feel bad for that moment of impatience (I mean, I got a tattoo!). But then again, I knew she’d be able to get through it. I knew she’d be strong. And she was! She was also very sweet about the fact that I got a tattoo with her (even though it made things worse in the moment). She was grateful I made the effort.
So now she’s ready. The first radiation treatment is scheduled for 2/24. We’ll get the other dates after that. So , now we can focus on our trip to L.A.
To that end…we stopped at the Palisades Mall on the way home (naturally) and got a few things for the trip, then picked up Emily at Amy’s house. Emily still had lots of neck pain, and we still thought it was from overdoing it at karate. But then she kept saying how horrible she felt all the way home, and how her WHOLE neck hurt, and how maybe her throat even hurt, and she was tired, and…I took her temperature when she got home and it was 100.9. Then I took it 30 minutes later at it was 101. Oh. No.
It is hard to underestimate the guilt I felt when I realized that I’d left one sick child to be with another sick child. Emily’s likely got a flu bug, or a cold – something that will quickly pass. But the fact is that I left her…all day…when she felt horrible. She needed tea. She needed snuggles. She needed mom. Sometimes my heart feels so heavy, that it threatens to pull me down, down, down until I can’t stand up anymore. But Emily was as sweet as she always is. I made her tea, gave her Motrin, tucked her into bed with an extra pillow so her neck wouldn’t hurt as much and told her to wake me if she needed me.
And now I have my fingers and toes crossed that she’ll get better by Sunday, and that we won’t get too much snow, and that we can all get on that plane and depart as planned – headed towards Ana’s wish…and sunshine. Please cross your fingers and toes with me. The universe needs a little push.