Stop the ride I want to get off...

Sunday, March 20, 2005

walking into hell...

Well that last little piece about Daughter’s Lump covered a week, but some of the events are missing. On the Thursday before I had taken Daughter to see our Doctor. She had a sticky out tummy, Daughter not the Doc, and was moaning it hurt to hold it in. I figured we just needed to cut back on the snacks but it seemed odd as she wasn’t in anyway fat. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back at pictures you can see a definite drop in her bodymass, but seeing her all the time we weren’t seeing it then.

Doc felt her tum and nodded and smiled to her, then said to me in quiet voice “I can feel a definite mass, we need to get her seen now.” Two hours later she had an appointment for the following morning at the local hospital. Hubby agreed to take Daughter as we knew with my phobia I tended to turn into snarling tiger just stepping inside hospital. That would be just for a basic need a check up type visit, I think hubby feared for lives if I went in worried about my daughter.

So I spent the next day, Friday, at a friend’s house, so glad I did. When the call came at lunchtime “Hi, it’s not good.” I’d guessed that from the hi. “She’s got a large growth on her kidney… blah blah flobalob.” At this point I handed phone to friend and dissolved into tears. An hour later she was driving me into hospital to hear the news from some Doctor.

This was where I learnt to really, really hate active listening. You know that technique counsellors use. They stare into your eyes and nod and look concerned. Trouble is I always felt like they wanted me to cry, they just wouldn’t give up till you dribbled a tear. But I prefer to do my crying at home, away from strangers at least. Well it was settled that Daughter had to now stay in hospital because the cancer was also giving her very high blood pressure. Hindsight again, so that’s why she’d been getting migraines, d’oh.

On the Sunday they moved her to the Children’s Hospital, or rather they gave us directions, a big pile of notes, well they seemed big then and sent us off. Great directions, we wandered around for a while, finally finding the place. Found the Oncology Ward and went in. ULP!

First impressions, everything you fear and more, kids of all shapes, sizes, ages and colours with bald heads. Too many drip stands and machines you’ve never seen or imagined with tubes running into kids. At first that is all you see, and running through your head are these whispers this will be your kid soon. You sit and wait in a small room, and then are led to your child’s bed. In our hospital they are all in bays of four, and ours was full, we’d had to wait till Sunday for a bed to become free. In the bed, or cot, next to Daughter’s was a gorgeous little boy. About two years old, bald as a coot and very friendly. He also loved to tell everyone they were stupid, which had Daughter giggling.

Opposite was a teenage lad, throwing up in a sick bowl held by his mum and eating crisps (chips) in between throwing up. Yeah, we did a double take too, but it’s something you get used to. I eventually could carry on eating my dinner while passing the sick bowl. This lad was having a rough time, but what we didn’t know was that this was his first chemo.

Finally in the far bed was a beautiful little girl, who immediately came over to say hello to Daughter, invited her to come meet her dolls. She was younger than Daughter but obviously a dab hand. Later that afternoon her mum returned form a short trip out to shops and presented Daughter with a “Little Princess” plastic glass. This was a taste of how life was really going to be, if only we’d known.

I sat on a chair by Daughter’s bed and froze, I couldn’t look around, I didn’t dare cry and scare Daughter. What I wanted to do was run… far and fast, I didn’t, well not right away. First we met a few hundred people, well ok a few, all would be looking after Daughter. Then some Doctor who looked younger than my daughter took a full history. Oh boy do they get thorough and it goes on for pages even down to pets.

It was just after this that I decided I should go phone a few people on my mobile and let them know what was what. I popped out, not taking my coat, as I wasn’t going to be long, outside the cold air hit me and I began to cry. I found a little place to hide and sat on the ground and sobbed. I didn’t know how I was going to be strong for Daughter when I couldn’t face going back in there. An hour later I was still sat there sobbing, it was freezing, it had snowed a little and I was frozen but I couldn’t make myself go back in.

I managed to phone my sister, burst into more tears and she shouted at me and told me off. Let me tell you, this is not the right thing to do. When someone is falling to pieces and you can only speak to them by phone yelling at them and telling them they have to get on with it for daughter is not helpful. Hung up on sister, cried some more, then phoned my friend who listened, was understanding and told me to hang in there she was getting on a train and would be there in half an hour tops.

Why was I in pieces? Reality hitting, suddenly all that the Doctors had been saying was making too much sense. Our beautiful girl, who looked so well was going to be ill. That is what is so crappy about cancer, you go in feeling fine, it’s the cure that makes you feel ill. I think mostly I was scared that if I went back in I would burst into tears again.

Friend was still talking on phone, letting me know where she was, how long I had to wait. I was shivering and she could hear it so she suggested even if I couldn’t go in the ward I should at least go in the building. Stepping into the warm corridors I did feel better, I slowly walked back and before she arrived I was back in the ward.

Walking back in that time was so strange, I didn’t see the illness or the machines, I suddenly noticed the children. They were happy and having fun, my daughter wasn’t in her bed so I went looking for her and found her making hats out of cardboard bedpans. So I joined and by the time friend arrived I was wearing a very fetching design of my own making.

Over the months we were in hospital on and off various people would come visit and go through the same thing. Some would never visit because they feared what they would see. I always felt sorry for those people; they missed seeing how strong our children are and how resilient they can be.

Hmm two pages, better not overdo it… more to come….

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