In the Beginning

There was a "normal" family of four. There was a happy and sweet little boy nearing 2. That boy had periodic and unexplained fevers of an uncomfortably prolonged period of time. He had some odd swelling and darkening of an eye. Then he had pain in his hip. The family was lucky that they had good pediatricians who didn't hesitate to get him into a specialist. The specialist told us that he likely had an infection deep inside his hip and that later that night after an MRI he would likely have minor surgery to clean the inside of the joint. I was really scared by the thought of my little boy likely having to undergo that surgery. That MRI didn't show any infection but did show "shadows" on his hip and Nathan woke from his MRI sedation in a mix of post-sedation and fever induced hysteria. I stayed with him that night and held him tight in my arms in the hospital bed. He screamed for what seemed like hours. It may have been hours. I think it was. The next day there were tests and waiting for results. The results didn't come quick and I wasn't sure they were coming. I left the hospital to get Julia and spend the night with her. Susan called. She said I needed to get back to the hospital quick. The orthopedist had been in to talk to her about the test results. She wouldn't tell me what the doctor had to say. I knocked on my neighbors door to ask her to come sit with Julia and I rushed to the hospital. That drive was bad. Really bad. Sometimes I have flashbacks of how I felt that night when I pull into the turn lane preparing to turn from Woodmen onto Union. It is always a bit of a shock. You know how sometimes a smell or song can put you back into a mood or experience from your past? Preparing to make that turn can do it to me sometimes. The news was obviously bad. Nathan had a surgery a couple of days later to place a broviak (central line) and biopsy his tumor. Funny how scary things like sedation and orthopedic surgery seemed before diagnosis and the realities of what Nathan has been through since.

In the end, the news is what it was and it probably wouldn't have changed things had I been there in the hospital. It still sits wrong with me though that I wasn't with Susan when she first heard the news. I guess unknowingly that was the first of many burdens of Nathan's care to fall on Susan's shoulders. I was in the shower when Nathan's doctor called to tell us that his scans this past June showed a new mass near his kidney. Susan was upstairs in the bedroom. I was stepping out of the shower as she was finishing up the call. I doubt I'll ever forget these types of details.

Relapse is different than initial diagnosis. There is so much overwhelming fear and confusion when you don't know anything about the cancer. With the relapse news I knew that was really, really bad in terms of long-term prognosis, but I also felt hardened and I think maybe even less fear because I had the knowledge of what it meant. I couldn't even guess what to expect from a subsequent relapse. We are preparing for scans again. It is odd for me approaching these. They are always terribly stressful but you can't help but have a gut feeling about them. This time my gut feeling is that the news will be good. Nathan's scans will be in New York this time. We are struggling with the logistics and whether or not to bring Julia with us. Part of me thinks it is selfish that I'm insisting on going and that I should stay here with Julia. That would be the easiest and most economical thing and we wouldn't be temporarily "abandoning" Jules. I just can't imagine what the "drive" would be like though if the news on the scans were bad. We have done this in the past with scans in New York, but things seem different to me this time. Emotional states change, I suppose. I don't want to be apart from Nathan and Susan in case the scan results are bad. We will decide whether or not to change our plans and take Jules with us, but I don't think I could stay here.

Lots on my mind related to this stuff lately. I guess "Cancer Dad" will be getting put to the test.


matt dick said...

I think a lot about those times. It seems petty to mention that I never experienced symptoms of stress until then, and my relationship with my children changed then as well -- for the better, I hope.

It'll be nice to have you guys visit in March -- looking forward to meeting Lauren.

Josh Gentry said...

I don't have much to say except I'm reading and I'm thinking of you guys.

Cool Hand Luke said...

Thank you for reading along. I personally think I have a few interesting things to say on this topic, or at least things that people may want to try and understand as best they can. More than that though it is good to rant a bit, I think.

Not "petty" at all, Matt. I don't think you are trying to say you are/were as stressed as us, but I know you love us and this has impacted you in a very real way.

Matt Dick said...

I know you understand what I mean, but sometimes people can read this and, not knowing the relationship you and I have, can think the things I say are careless.