Thankfully, Paige's body tolerated the first two phases of treatment with no significant side effects--'just' the occasional nausea, loss of appetite, and imminent hair loss. While these things are no doubt difficult for a 13-year-old girl, they really are among the minor effects of chemotherapy--so we'll deal with 'em.
For about two months, the only trips we made to TCH were for weekly clinic visits and chemo. Then another three came to be: Three visits to the emergency room. Over the course of a month, we were initiated into the world of ER visits for oncology patients.
Visit #1: Slight temperature after a particularly long day of chemotherapy. While fever is a side effect of several of the medications, it is also something that is never taken lightly for kiddos with central lines--too much risk for infection. They drew a ton o'blood for cultures and immediately started antibiotics. After a few hours of monitoring, we were cleared to go home.
Visit #2: Nosebleeds that wouldn't ease up. They put a slight damper on her weekend retreat with other teen oncology patients. A visit to the ER led to the discovery her platelets were basically at zero. Platelets allow the blood to clot, which explained the nosebleed issues. Transfusions of platelets and red blood cells made for a long visit, but we made it home about 14 hours later.
Visit #3: Another slight temperature after chemotherapy. This time around, however, there was an added complication. After being slammed with chemo for 12 weeks, Paige's body lacked the ability to fight infection. This trip found us experiencing a new protocol--in the trauma room. Doctors and nurses seemed to descend on Paige in the blink of an eye. Though the procedures were similar to our first visit, simply being in the trauma room caused such anxiety for her that her heart rate stayed elevated until we were moved to a regular ER room.
Paige's infection fighting cells (hereby referred to as ANC) had dropped to zero, which called for automatic hospital admission. She would receive a red blood cell transfusion and stay on two preventive antibiotics until blood cultures were analyzed over a 48-hour period. The doctors were great about updating us on the cultures, which by the way, never grew anything! God gets all the glory on that one!
**We're now on Day 5 of this hospitalization, and the nagging low-grade temperature has finally subsided. Paige's blood counts have risen and held steady, the one exception being the pesky ANC count that is holding up her release. After five days of being in close quarters--just the two of us--we are ready to break out of here. Being separated from her dad and brother is tough, but we all understand the reasoning behind our extended stay. It is crucial to make sure everything is 'normal' before sending her home. We are extremely thankful for the doctors, nurses, and other staff God has placed all around her. They are doing a fabulous job caring for our girl!
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
Over the last three months, we have learned more and more about what it means to place complete trust in God's plan for our lives. Fear and anxiety are replaced with prayer and peace. There are times this journey is both physically and emotionally draining, but it is never spiritually draining. Instead, it is an incredible testament to God's power, mercy, and grace!
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7