Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When cancer does the schooling

Lindsay sailed through the first 2 1/2 months of her AML chemo. They told us she would need a feeding tube 3-4 days into the process, but she just ate right through. They told us she would have nasty infections, end up in the PICU. She had two day-long fevers. They said she would be tired, lethargic, develop sores and need morphine. She played, danced, sang, and begged to go home.

Perhaps we became a bit overconfident. On the surface nothing changed. We continued to Purell at every turn. Lindsay wore her mask on the few occasions she was allowed to leave her positive pressure room. We posted signs and reminded volunteers and staff to wash their hands. We discouraged visitors. Most importantly, we avoided confidence in our writing and speech. We never said, "Lindsay is doing great!" Instead, we wrote, "Lindsay has done well so far."

But, after 2 and 1/2 months, I decided to start this blog. And I really wanted to name it unschooling cancer. A play on "schooling" something. Since we're unschoolers, I thought it would be appropriate. But even as I started the blog, I worried that the title was a bit cocky. Something of a jinx itself. And just a few days later, cancer started schooling us. Or, perhaps, unschooling. But I don't think so. It doesn't feel like unschooling. It feels rigid, inflexible, but there is also a wild uncertainty to it all. So perhaps a touch of unschooling.

Nonetheless, cancer has reared it's true and very ugly head. We ended up in the pediatric intermediate care unit yesterday with a case of pneumonia. We have slept intermittently, but mostly spent our nights watching Lindsay's respiration, taking her to pee after lasix, and changing her bed sheets after diarrhea. It's been a rough road. We've been schooled.

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