by Christie Perkins
First off I must tell you that feel fine. I lack energy, but I always lack energy so it’s fine. I went to the doctor last week and got my results back from my cat scan. I’ve been feeling really good about it and rightfully so. I have found that for the most part it looks good. Nothing additional-tumorous to worry about. Yay!
I love emotional paydays.
Yet, my neutrophils are misbehaving. They’ve taken a plunk. So a little factoid here: normal range of neutrophils are between 2.5 and 6.0. Mine are a whopping 0.3 (yeah that’s zero point three). They call that neutropenia. (Puts your doctor in shock.)
It’s a bit lame as you get to evaluate your 4 walls while you wait for the neutrophils to get in order. Instead of me running amuck I’m stuck. I go lazy so they can go crazy. Meh. I avoid crowds, and germ infested guests, anyone with vaccinations (and carrying a live virus), and broccoli, cauliflower, and raspberries (because it’s difficult to wash thouroughly). So random right? And of course, I’ve been craving broccoli lately.
La-ti-dah. It’s a low key life when you are neutropenic.
So my doctor takes me off my chemo pill for a bit and thinks a good week will bring my numbers back up. So we wait 2 weeks to check my blood. I am just instructed to be very careful until then. And I am not to get around sick people. For low blood counts for cancer patents can be the bigger battle. It’s always the secondary things in cancer that cause concern.
So out the door I go. One day later my little guy starts into a fever.
Of course this happens now. The kiddos have been healthy all year but the minute a restriction is issued it’s challenged right away. (It’s true have you ever restricted yourself from sugar- the universe just knows it and gravitates to you).
Graciously my mom takes him to the doctor and keeps him for the day. But there’s good news: its a viral infection. Much better, but we still have to be extra careful. We still have to put me in bubble wrap until his virus is capped. I’m grateful its not bacterial. If it was bacterial I would have to play the quarantine game.
And that doesn’t work very well when my little buddy is static cling.
He’s 5 years old and we do everything together. We eat right next to each other (can I borrow my arm please? I need to eat). We read stories, we jump on the trampoline, he helps me with my chores, he checks in with me hourly or more. He petitions me every night to lay by him always begging for a sleepover. We daily play the “I love you more game.” He always tries to one up me but I tell him we are tied in our love. He never accepts that because in some way he thinks he loves me more.
His little blinked-back-tears and sunshine eyes can’t hide that. I’m not just in his heart: I am his heart. We don’t part.
Unless there’s a virus, and he’s coughing, and I’m neutropenic.
I just want to snuggle him and make him feel better. I want to do the motherly thing. But, I can’t. My health depends on it. Over the course of this last week he sits exactly one chair away from me at the dinner table. He understands his limits. He sits down then promptly assigns me my chair and doesn’t let me out of his sight. Though a small thing, this new situation is tough for him.
But we make it work.
We do a lot of coloring across the table from each other. Yes, we share more germs in marker passing but I wash regularly and don’t touch my face. We read stories one cushion apart and tangle our toes because we can’t snuggle quite yet. And we still play the “I love you more game.” I listen in on his tender heart prayers and we blow lots of kisses. It works but it’s not quite the same.
Though most of the time we hold our distance, he manages to steal a few quick hugs and then runs away.
It’s strange we can be a couple feet apart and miss each other so much. We talk about how much we miss each other. I just want to snuggle him, and he wants the same.
“I love you so much Mom,” he says. His eyes are glistening but I catch a little pain that he can’t be nearer to me.
“I love you too.” Wow my heart is aching because we can’t be closer. I miss him too.
Then one day while reading stories he coughs and we tell him to turn his head (he’s been so good to wash his hands and be so careful). He has been trying so hard to obey these new rules of keeping Mom safe and a little slip up has him concerned about me.
I know how much he loves me. It was the last thing he wanted to do- put me in harms way. It breaks his heart and melts his eyes. He is trying not to cry. He is trying to be brave and strong and helpful. He didn’t mean to cause concern.
I can see the pain. Big drops of tears stream heavily down his face. These are tears of love and heartbreak.
“I just love you so much,” he says.
My own heart swells when I see his pain, “Hey, hey. Mamma’s fine. Look at me. Mamma is going to be just fine. See?” I put on a smile. He needs to see my smile. Then I realize I need to make the the necessary step to show him I’m going to be okay. “Watch. I’ll go wash my hands really good. It’s all okay.” He needs my comfort more than anything.
And somehow my state of calmness and trust heals him a little too. “I love you,” I tell him.
I just want to hug him and make all the pain go away. But I can’t because of neutropenic laws, so we tangle our toes. I violate the rules a little and pat him on the head and quickly head off to wash my hands. “I’m going to be just fine,” I assure him.
Blessings To Come
So we work this thing out together. Me doing my part and he doing his. He reminds me that our chairs are too close together. Though we both know they are not close enough. But one great thing comes from all of this. A deeper love for one another. If that is even possible. But somehow it is.
And somehow that’s what makes this whole experience worth it: the bonding from breaking.
I look forward to better white blood cell counts (it’s coming) and a full on snuggle squish hug. For now you get a snuggle substitute from your brother… which is a tender snapshot in my heart. I can’t erase the image of you asleep in his arms. This experience is growing a deeper love with your brothers too.
One more week. We’ve got this babe. The separation is only for a moment. I love you (and the family) to forever and back… beat that!