After 12 days in hospital, we are home

This morning at 07:00 I arrived at hospital, woke Wouter up (he had to be at work at 08:00) and brought him coffee in bed like a good wife should.  Before he managed to finish his coffee Cristina did her rounds.  She is satisfied with Boeta’s condition and discharged us!

We had a long chat with her about the rest of Boeta’s treatment.  She is of the opinion that more anaesthetic is going to do more harm than more radiation is going to do good.  If Woutertjie was able to lie still on his own for the treatment she would’ve considered more radiation but for now at least it is off.  Done.  Finished.  We are continuing with the chemo as originally planned.

Tomorrow afternoon I am taking Boeta for a pre-weekend check-up by Gerrit and then we should be home until Monday when Boeta gets Vincristine.  For the non-chemo people, Vincristine administration is fast and we should be out of there within an hour.  Then we are off for the rest of next week.

It is amazing what a bit of home life does for the appetite.  We had to beg and cheat Boeta to have nibbles in hospital.  Since we walked into my parents’ home he has been eating like a caterpillar.  I tried to restrict him to small portions so that his stomach doesn’t rebel but that ship has sailed.  He ate a slice of bread with cheese, drank a bottle of milk, insisted on more bread and cheese and then polished the lot with more milk.  He ate more in 2 hours than he did in the last 2 weeks.  Go figure.

At the moment Boeta, Carien and Phillip (a 7-year old) are chasing each other through my parents’ house on those noisy plastic scooters and having a ball.  I can’t get my head around his transformation since we left the hospital a mere 3 hours ago.  Earlier this week Cristina said that Boeta is a bit too young, otherwise she would’ve started him on anti-depressants already as he is obviously depressed.  Looking back I can see how right she was. 

Comparing that picture of Boeta that I took a week ago with the Boeta of today, I struggle to deal with the change in him.  That photo was taken when he weighed 15.4kg.  His weight stabilised 2 days after the TPN (IV feeding) was connected and since Saturday he is gaining weight.  He is now about 16.4kg.  A miracle. 

Looking back at the last 2 weeks I can see the Hands of God around us.  Thank you Lord.

Blessings by numbers

I feel like a broken record.  We are so blessed!

This morning I phoned the oncologist to find out if Woutertjie should go for full blood counts today already.  The idea is that, if his levels aren’t on par, a blood transfusion can be arranged before his chemo starts.

For various reasons (most of it involving me being very lazy today and some involving Woutertjie being in isolation) I only got round to taking him at 16:00.  The whole way to the hospital I had to prepare him to go home again.  He was adamant:  he wanted to visit the “tannies” at the hospital and he wanted to sleep there tonight.  Trust my son to turn the typical response to hospitals upside down!

Dr De Villiers (paed) sent Boeta’s results to us:  Hb 9.0 (was 7.8 ) ie OK, platelets 834 (was 71) ie very good, white cell count total 4.1 (was 0.8 ) of which 1.07 (was 0.02) are neutrophyls, ie wonderful!  We are so grateful.  This means that chemo can start again tomorrow.  Thank you God!

I spent many many hours fighting my way through immunology at university.  Let’s say it wasn’t my strongest subject and leave it at that…  It must be one of the most challenging fields of study because everything you think you know can change at any time as research progresses.  As previously dwelled on, I’m not good with change in the fundamentals.  Minor things I don’t care about.  But don’t change my morning routine, my bank account number, my cell phone number or the taste of Coke.  You will be messing with the wrong woman.  My female ancestors went barefoot over the Drakensberg, after all!  And immunology is all about change. 

So imagine my surprise when I realised this weekend that I am grateful for the bits of immunology info that actually stuck around.  For one thing, I know the bare basics about white cells, where they come from and what they do.  At least according to the knowledge available at the time of study.  God has a strange way of arming one for what lies ahead.  In this time of constant change I feel anchored in my basic knowledge of immunology.  Who would’ve thought?

Tomorrow morning at 07:30 Boeta and I will report to the paediatrics ward for his 5th round of chemo.  The previous time that he received this particular drugs it caused mouth ulcers, nausea and eventual dehydration.   If he doesn’t have side-effects we could be out of hospital by Wednesday but we are fully prepared to stay longer until he is ready to go home.  Please pray with us for our son.

Boeta is in isolation for the first time

The oncologist, Dr Cristina Stefan, came by.  Boeta’s white blood count is low enough to be considered zero.  Based on the results he should’ve picked up an infection by now but he is healthy as a horse at the moment.  Just another miracle.

We expected that his counts would drop as it is one of the effects of the chemo.  The low-point is usually between 10 and 14 days post-treatment.   Today is the 10th day.  So in 4 days time his counts should start to increase again.  The oncologist is quite pleased that his white cell count dropped so much.  It is an indication that the chemo is working well.  Now we just have to keep him healthy for the next round on Tuesday.  Please pray with us!

I mentioned to Dr Stefan that Boeta’s abdomen seems to be a lot flatter.  She looked at me, looked away, looked at me again and said that she doesn’t want to say too much based on purely feeling his stomach but that the tumour feels smaller.  This is purely based on how his abdomen feels.  Lots of things could be going on inside and we will only know during the week of 17 March when the re-assessment scans are done.  I believe that God is good and great and will heal our child completely.  Praise our mighty God for carrying us this far and for sending amazing doctors, nurses, supporters and friends our way.