Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Ripple Effect

There are bubbles in the bath and we're talking about the rainbows that can be seen in them.  How light can be reflected, refracted, how when it shines through a raindrop, a prism of colour can create a rainbow in the sky.  I'm no physicist, but together we lean in and can see the wonder and the beauty.  Then it's gone and we're back to blowing bubbles, trying to catch them and hold them.  They're fragile and they pop if you touch them.
And life feels that way.  Fragile.  Intangible, and it will pop and be gone like that bubble in a nanosecond.

I'm drying my hands and the silver band on my wrist glistens, reminding me of the journey, reminding me to keep breathing, reminding me to keep going.  It's the eve of another visit to Children's Hospital.  Not the dreaded MRI this time, endocrinology.  We got this - it's a breeze.  But I find myself fending away haphazard memories and thoughts that are preying on my hard fought for confidence and tranquility.  The fear is never too far away.

I think again of all that light, and how I described radiation to Jasmine.  And then I think about how her treatment is responsible for this follow up appointment at Children's, not the cancer, but the route to recovery.  The medicine given to bring cure can often feel as hazardous as the initial diagnosis.  And I wonder when a child's body is overcome by the effects of chemo, and goes in to organ failure, does that child die from cancer or from complications of chemo - did the cure take their life or the disease?  They blend together and I'm not sure and it stops the breath in my body.  I choke and turn away, keep breathing.

I look at a 7 year old girl and wonder what the doctor will say.  Is she growing?  Last time we saw Dr. Dan - all first name terms at Children's Hospital - he thought we might be starting treatment by the next visit.  Artificial growth hormone.  The radiation could have damaged the pituitary gland, it controls and is responsible for  a whole range of things that the body needs.  If she's not growing, or it's slowing, it's a marker that "she might need some help with this."

Which reads we ready ourselves for the next step of the journey, the side effects on the side effects, and the drugs and the side effects that they produce and the other side effects and this is how we roll post cancer diagnosis and treatment with our baby girl.

I think about how Jasmine is always throwing off her sweater, wants to wear shorts in the middle of March when there's snow outside and will merrily run round in a pair of teva's over rain boots when it's damp and the windchill is - 20.  She may no longer be able to regulate her body temperature.  She may have convulsions, may develop epilepsy, may go in to premature puberty any day…. or not at all…. she may, she may, she may….. and I can't reconcile myself to all this, so I counter with the battle cry of she may not.

And yet, there's something so remarkable about her recovery that I can't dwell on the what if's for too long.  She sits in the middle of the bath tub and the ripples spread out, reaching the edges and the further out they get, the gentler they become.  Two years on the ripple effect is lessening it's death grip on me.  It's there, but the waves that come don't always rip me to shreds and drown me.  They're gentler the further out we get,  I'm learning to ride the wave.  The mascara Monday's come and go, but the miracle keeps on going.

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