t's odd to think that the last time we were at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, it was for Dominic's birth. But there we were Monday morning, at the Margaret E. Yuill Cancer Centre to get his blood work done and the results sent off to Calgary.
On one hand we expected the numbers to be good. He had a fantastic week at home, literally making great strides (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SApdV2qILa4&feature=c4-overview&list=UUKUPTf3vfBAsmeXv9Pl16jw). He slept well, played lots and took his medications like a champ. High enough neutrophils would mean a return to the Alberta Children's Hospital to start round four of chemotherapy.
On the other hand, the week was so good it felt like it flew by. It sure would be nice to have a bit more normal time.
We needed directions from our Medicine Hat kids cancer parents network to find the centre, and when we got there the lady at the desk was confused.
"You need blood work? Have you not been to the lab?
"Oh, we can do it here? You have an appointment?"
Suffice to say, not many one-year-old kids with broviac lines come to the centre. But the attending nurse was fantastic, joking that we could probably draw the blood ourselves – and honestly, we really could at this point. OK, maybe not me. But I'd know what to do in theory.
We were in and out in a half hour, and three hours later we got the news. A few more days of relaxation wasn't to be. Dom's counts were sky-high, and an hour after that he and Trish were on the road back to their second home.
Today in Calgary he got the usual procedures, including lumbar puncture, cardiology testing and bone marrow biopsy. The last heart test had shown a minor sign for concern but it didn't show up this time, while the other test results won't be available until later in the week.
His neutrophils, meanwhile, doubled from the day before. We've never seen them so high. They're literally at the level of a normal child.
Unlike the last couple times returning to the children's hospital, this time he went straight from the clinic (where patients who don't stay in the hospital full-time come for treatment and testing) to the cancer ward to begin round four of his chemotherapy. It'll go for six days, during which he'll be hooked up to an IV 24/7. But perhaps straight there isn't the best way to describe it.
When you're in clinic you're at the mercy of a hundred different factors. Staffing levels. Other patients. Equipment. Timing. Trish and Dominic got there at 9 a.m. They didn't get into the ward until 5 p.m. We chatted over FaceTime mid-way through the ordeal but it got pretty exasperating by the end.
"I guess they don't have a lot of nurses on," she texted me at 5 p.m.
In the end, they got through it just fine. They're both old pros at this now, which is sad but also comforting.
Support update: We have a spreadsheet that itemizes every bit of fundraising that's been done for us since Dom's diagnosis in September. It's got 123 items on it, quite a few of which are labeled anonymous. A couple of the more recent ones are from Image Hair Studio (which raised money for us through the month of November) and the Medicine Hat Tennis Club (which did the same during its indoor tournament last weekend). It really is remarkable that people are still thinking of us and we fully realize how lucky we are to be receiving so much support. And honestly, whether it's a comment on the blog, a knowing nod on the street or a gift certificate to a gas station, it's all uplifting. Thank you for helping us help Dominic.