So when the guy who first gave us the news that Dominic had leukemia says everything's going as expected, we breathe easier.
That's in spite of him looking, well, weird and seeing his counts jump up and down like a yo-yo.
We won't get out of the hospital as soon as we'd hoped due to another fever and more precautionary antibiotics but that's no real cause for concern. When we do get out it might be with training to administer feeds via the tube that's up his nose and into his stomach, but there's every confidence his appetite will return.
The past week has seen some familiar ups and downs. The day after I left for Medicine Hat he got off isolation, strolling the hallways like a champ right up until the day before I returned. Then he spiked a fever, threw up and we won't be discharged for at least another week. Nice timing, kid.
Yesterday he ate some real food; today the best he did was some string cheese, ginger ale and a potato chip. You're giving your dad a complex, mister.
As for his counts, his white blood cells and infection-fighting neutrophils are incredible; a neutrophil count of 3,300 is practically what a regular child's would be. And yet his platelets (58) and hemoglobin (88) are falling down and likely to require transfusions again. And it is absolutely not my doing.
His skin has technically improved and isn't as raw as a week ago, but he's officially two-toned. If you could just spread the tan he's got as a byproduct of one of the chemotherapy drugs, he'd be ready to go back to Mexico. Alas, we're still just on Day 22 post-bone marrow transplant. He needs to get to Day 100 with no rejection problems to be traveling anywhere outside of Calgary.
All of this is right in the textbook for what the team here at the Alberta Children's Hospital expects. The counts bounce around before fully recovering, the skin condition is temporary, the lack of appetite and fever are no surprise either.
So we wait, still sort of trapped in our room, but after six months of it we know the drill. The light at the end of the tunnel is real, even though we're quite aware there are other tunnels to be passed and it's just a new normal, not the old pre-cancer one that we're heading towards.