When Sarah and I walked into the doctor’s office yesterday, I had the kind of niggling concern in the back of my mind that every cancer mom deals with when her child gets sick.
One of Sarah's main symptoms when she was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma was extreme paleness and, the past few mornings, Sarah’s face and lips have been so white it looked as though she could pass out on the spot. Also, she’d had that strange, out-of-the-blue fever last Thursday night which never came back; in fact, instead of going high again, her temp dropped to 94.6 yesterday. (Another symptom at diagnosis was fevers that would come and go.)
So that worried me, too. However, I wanted to be able to express my cancer mom concerns to the doctor without getting into a big long discussion that might worry Sarah.
After he had finished examining her he said, “The paleness and the odd temperature variations do concern me. Does she have any other medical problems?”
I replied, “Well, she is a cancer survivor.” And then I tried to think of how to express my worry without alerting Sarah. I finally added in a casual tone, “One of her original symptoms at diagnosis was extreme paleness.”
That’s all I said.
But thankfully, this doctor's years of wisdom and experience had given him the gift of a sixth sense for moms trying to keep certain information from younger ears. He caught my eye, nodded, and let me know immediately he understood what I was saying.
Then he stood and said nonchalantly, “Let me just go check on something.”
Two minutes later his nurse appeared in the doorway with her blood drawing equipment. Since a blood draw isn’t usually part of a child’s cold/flu check up, I was reassured that the doctor had read my S.O.S. loud and clear.
A few minutes later, he returned and said the preliminary blood work was back and everything looked good. He said that the white blood count and the neutrophil count wouldn’t be back until the next day and then added, “If the neutrophil count is off, well, then we’ll start looking in a different direction.”
Which was diplomatic doctor-speak for, “At that point, cancer would definitely be on our radar.”
Throughout the entire conversation, Sarah (who is usually very tuned in to doctor-speak) never had a clue as to what we were talking about and so thankfully, her little heart was spared any needless worries.
The doctor said he thought her main issue right now is a Type B flu which is not as severe as Type A but can still produce odd symptoms, like the body being unable to regulate its temperature.
Sarah did a little better throughout the evening but then last night she had a bad reaction to some medication. Her heart was racing, she was anxious and emotional, she hallucinated, she was shaky and her body temp dropped way low again.
I called the doctor as soon as his office opened and the first thing he told me was that the rest of her blood work had come back and everything was perfectly and wonderfully normal. (Big sigh of relief.)
As for the other symptoms (it was a 24-hour medication she reacted to) he said she would just have to wait it out; as long as her heart rate didn’t get over 130 (the highest it went was 120) she wouldn’t need to be brought back in.
And so let me just sum up this whole medical missive by saying that Snowy has had a busy morning nursing his girl . . .
. . . and praying for her, too.
There is no Giver of Comfort any better than our resident canine nurse.
And today he’ll have his work cut out for him.
But he’s good with that.