Friday, December 23, 2011

prayers please

quick update:

chloe went into the clinic (12/23) at DeVos
for a quick (?) count check.
her white blood cell count and ANC
are quite low.
we can still go to church
and gather with family
but we need to practice
very good hand-washing skills
and stay away from germs.

we ask that you
cover her with your prayers.
specifically that she stays well
and begins to fight back.

we'll return to DeVos
next week Wednesday
for more counts.
her last chemo appointment
is on january 4.

on a positive note,
the whole family went into GR today.
while chloe and i waited at the clinic,
martha, henri and kip explored downtown
and even ice-skated a little.
we met my parents
for dinner.
we tried to make it a fun outing,
and it was just that.

Christmas Blessings

two worlds

as i mentioned in an earlier post,
tuesday morning found us at DeVos,
bright and early,
checking in for a set of routine scans.

often when we go to the front desk
to get our parking ticket validated
and get our ID badges,
there is a line of
other parents and visitors
checking in as well.

on that day there was an amish couple,
waiting with their baby.
maybe it is because they stood out
in their traditional amish clothing,
the woman wearing a bonnet,
the man with a long beard,
seeing them stuck me
and i can't get that image out of my head.

on one level, it brought
strong memories back.
as they were given a room number,
i remembered that fateful day,
july 7,
as kip, chloe and i waited.

we had so little information.
all we had were ultrasound results
and the knowledge that we would meet with a
pediatric oncologist,
scary words to us at that time.

it was a shock to be given a room,
to have chloe admitted.
it meant so much more than
meeting with a doctor.
we were in for something big,
something that would change our very lives.
we were setting foot into an unknown world.

seeing this couple with their baby
struck me on another level.
how much more significant was their entrance
into this unknown world?
the receptionist asked for a driver's license,
a photo ID,
this was not part of their world.
they were about to climb aboard an elevator.
their baby was likely to be hooked up to machines.
computers, bright lights, all sorts of medical technology.

when we checked in that day in july,
we had our cell phones, laptop and ipad.
we had instant means of communication.
we had instant messages of prayer and support.
we had a virtual community surrounding us instantly.

what was it like for this couple?
it is likely that they were far from home,
far from their community,
far from the simple comforts of their lives.
confronting a culture so very different from their own.

i know that different groups of amish have different rules,
it may not have been as great of a shock as i imagine.
i know that the simplicity of their lives allows their faith to flourish.
i take comfort knowing that they can find peace.

and yet,
i still cannot get them out of my mind.
please join me in saying a prayer for them,
wherever they are at this moment,
whatever journey they will follow.
thank you, as always, for your constant prayer.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the week before christmas

4 calling birds,
3 french hens,
2 turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tree.

4 dr. visits,
3 antibiotics,
2 canine meds
and a cancelled cabin get-away

it has been quite a week
for the holland-andersons,
and it was all in a span of 2 days!

it started on sunday night
tobi, our dog, woke us up,
coughing loudly.
he was coughing and sick
all through the night.
kip and i took turns,
knowing that one of us
would be driving chloe to DeVos
for her routine appointment
the next morning.

martha also awoke in the night.
she had a fever and just
felt yucky.

the next morning,
chloe awoke with a fever.
i watched the numbers
on the thermometer climb too quickly.
her temperature was over 101.
the hospital agreed that she could
keep her appointment
and they would take stock of the situation.

kip was on for taking chloe in.
the drive was not the most pleasant,
chloe's tummy would not cooperate.
at the clinic, they isolated her,
checked counts and took some cultures.
they started her on an IV antibiotic
and gave her some anti-nausea medicine.
chloe crashed on kip's lap.

on the home front,
martha continued to
battle a fever
and i was headed off to the vet.
tobi was fine, he, too,
had some IV fluids and an antibiotic.

fortunately for henri,
he was staying at my parents' house
oblivious of the chaos at home,
enjoying some cousin time.

after lots of waiting time,
it was decided that chloe could go home.
her counts were good enough
that the doctors felt confident
in letting her go.

kip and i regrouped at home,
watching our girls and dog.

and then the phone rang.
an oncologist from DeVos
had gone over chloe's charts
and realized that she should have another antibiotic,
a full spectrum antibiotic
that would protect her just in case.
there is no way of knowing
if she had a bacterial infection,
cultures take 18-24 hours to come back.

the oncologist asked us to go to Holland Hospital.
we were sent to the ED where they would
access her port and administer the medicine.

we packed it up and hung out
in the ER until 9:30 pm.

and that was only monday!

on tuesday we had to get out the door by 7:30 am
to get chloe back to DeVos for some scans,
a routine chest x-ray and ultrasound.
kip and i decided to go together,
driving alone with a sick kid is tricky at best.
even though chloe wasn't at 100%,
the drive was much better.

we came home wiped out.
we decided that we just didn't have it in us
to pack everyone up and head off to a cabin.
we also wanted to be home
in case chloe's fever spiked again.

it was a harrowing few days
but believe it or not
our wednesday was quite uneventful.
we took martha to the doctor
to make sure she was on the mend,
chloe had her spunk back,
henri played with a friend,
we cooked dinner.

it felt peaceful, relaxing.
i guess we didn't have to get away
find a little peace.

christmas vacation lies ahead of us,
open, inviting.
there will certainly be another trip
to DeVos (Friday, to be exact),
but it feels okay,
it feels like we'll have a moment
to take in the season,
the childlike wonder and excitement,
the welcoming of a baby,
a baby who came to save us all.

Monday, December 12, 2011

back to chloe

the last few posts
haven't really been
about chloe.

the last few posts
have been
a way
for kip and i
to process
the impact of
all of this
in our own souls.

now, it's back
to chloe.
it has been
3 weeks
since chloe's
last treatment.

this past week was
a great week
for her.
her energy and spunk
were evident.

chloe played more,
enjoyed preschool
and daycare,
had a playdate,
and went to see martha
in the wizard of oz.

she danced to music,
used her imagination,
cuddled her guinea pigs,
baked brownies,
played in the snow
and just seemed to
feel better.

it amazes me how
chloe feels totally comfortable
wearing hats
and going hatless.
at this point,
hair loss
seems more of a worry
to the parents and siblings
than it does to the patient.

the mind of a four year old
also astounds me.
she takes life at face value.
she doesn't ask why.
she doesn't compare herself
to other 4 year olds
or her siblings.
cancer and chemo
are her reality.
when she feels well
she bounces,
when she doesn't
feel well
she snuggles in
without complaint.

today chloe will
return to DeVos
for her next treatment.
we anticipate
a little bump in the road
in terms of her energy
and high spirits.
we hope that this week's
chemo cocktail
is not as harsh as the last,
that she can bounce back faster.
we hope that she'll get
the rest and attention
that she needs
amidst this busy
last week of school.

before the next treatment
we look forward to
anticipating the
hope and joy of Christ's birth
through church activities,
celebrations with family,
and a little get-away
to a cabin in the woods.