Friday, October 12, 2012

Joys and Trials, Tears and Smiles

I know, I know, I know. It's been too long since I gave you an update on this here blog. I had grand plans to try writing some kind of profound and meditative post this week, but after scrapping a few false starts, I gave up and decided that you'd probably prefer to just read a newsy update anyway. So here goes:

Jonah got out of the hospital for a couple of days after his long week of nausea, and his doctor surprised us by saying his ANC was high enough for him to come all the way home again. So we let it be a surprise for everyone at home, too, when he walked in the door. Such a happy moment! Jonah was able to stay with us for Sunday and Monday, and we enjoyed a restful time as a family, although he was still feeling quite weak after so many days of being unable to eat more than a Cheerio or two.

Then Tuesday he was back in the hospital for his weekly spinal tap and the start of his next round of daily chemo. This time, at least, I came prepared with packed bags in case his nausea kept him in the hospital. Accessing his new port went beautifully, and the spinal tap went smoothly as well. Then he went down the hall for his dose of chemo, and seemed to tolerate it well enough afterward to leave the hospital and return to Coeur d'Alene.

Well, within five minutes of reaching the car, Jonah was turning green, and by the time I merged onto the freeway, he was vomiting into his pink standard-issue hospital bucket. Every two minutes. All the way to Coeur d'Alene. Then it continued every two minutes for more than an hour at the house there, after which the doctor told us to return to the hospital. And then it went on every two minutes all the way back to the hospital and for a good half hour after we arrived. Four straight hours of unrelenting misery. Sorry for the unpleasant details, but I have never seen anybody that wretchedly sick in my life. Quite honestly I didn't think the human body was capable of heaving so many times and for so long without a reprieve. Perfectly horrid.

Jonah finally wore himself out and fell asleep in his hospital bed—even before receiving any nausea meds, and managed to sleep straight through the night. (Thank you to all who were praying for that!) To help Jonah's nausea, the doctor decided to try placing a motion sickness patch behind his ear, and he woke up feeling much better. Although Jonah was not able to bring himself to eat more than a few bites for the next four days, he was still significantly more comfortable than he had been the week before without the patch, so we will keep those handy for when he receives this same nasty chemo drug (Ara-C) next time around, two weeks from now.

By Friday afternoon, most of the chemo was working its way out of his system, and  Jonah was feeling well enough to eat again. The best news was that Jonah was released from the hospital just in time for the family to come up for the weekend—the first time that has worked out since Jonah's treatments began. And what made it even more delightful was that Jonah's uncle Brandon and cousin Branson arrived from Arizona the following day.

My mother-in-law commented a couple of times that it almost felt like Christmas being there together. Having all that family around boosted Jonah's morale more than anything that's happened yet, so we let the other boys skip a day of school on Monday in order to be together a little longer. It was definitely worth the extra homework. We had beautiful weather for the weekend, Jonah felt energized and ready to play (and eat!), and we were able to go to church, spend time at the park, hit some wiffle balls, dig in the sand, paddle in the canoe, splash in the hot tub, and eat some terrific homemade meals. Branson and Jonah cooked an outstanding chicken dinner together on Sunday, and then Jayson and Brandon took over the next night, grilling some spectacular hamburgers for all of us.

On Monday night Jayson's mom and I drove back home with the rest of the boys while Jayson, Jonah, Brandon, and Branson stayed in Coeur d'Alene. Jonah had his weekly spinal tap again on Tuesday morning, but this time Branson, who hopes to become a brain surgeon, was able to go with Jonah to watch the procedure. Not many high school students would choose to do something like that on their four-day weekend!

Jonah's nausea threatened to return in the car on the way back from the hospital, so the guys pulled over on the side of the road to pray for him before they reached the house. Once they arrived, Jayson also gave him his new patch and some of his nausea meds, and Jonah's appetite gradually improved as the evening wore on. By Wednesday Jonah had no nausea at all and was able to enjoy an outing in the canoe on his last morning together with Branson and Brandon before their return to Arizona.

That Jonah is feeling so well so soon after Tuesday's chemo and spinal tap is a huge blessing. It means that we can fairly accurately attribute Jonah's severe nausea to that one specific chemo drug, which in turn means that we can expect him to be free from nausea for the next two weeks until he starts receiving that drug again.

Jonah is now home for the weekend. He is tired and anemic, and his ANC is on the low side, so he isn't allowed to go out in public because of his weak immune system. But we are grateful to have him home whenever we can, even if he's just lying in bed reading a book or watching baseball on his iPad. We are also grateful to have a couple of weeks of relief from the extreme queasiness. Jonah does have a cold right now, so please pray that he would get over that and that his body would remain free from any serious infections, and that the rest of us would stay healthy throughout this cold and flu season so that our family can be together without putting Jonah at risk. Please pray as well that Jonah's nausea would be less severe during his upcoming rounds of chemo and that any other side effects would be minimal. Chemo is vicious stuff, so pray with us that it's doing the job it's meant to do, namely to cure Jonah of cancer—for good.

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
    and comfort me again.
I will also praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, O my God.
—Psalm 71:20-22


Uncle Ken etc. said...

Thanks for the update.
Far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you. 1 Sam. 12:23

Uncle Ken

Anonymous said...

Reading every update and praying continually. May the Lord continue to strengthen you, help you and uphold you with His victorious right hand. George and Penny

Anonymous said...

Reading every update and praying continually. May the Lord continue to strengthen you, help you and uphold you with His victorious right hand. George and Penny

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