Sunday, December 4, 2016

Eight Hundred And Seventeen

Harrington... Uniondale... Welburn... All names of otherwise pretty little settlements along the Maplewood Sideroad between Tavistock and London... And all places I would not miss if they happened to be totally wiped off the map. The countryside is beautiful year round, fresh new pale greens and yellows in spring, rich deeper greens in summer, vibrant with reds and oranges and the golden corn in fall, and stark, crisp, and white in winter. And all this beauty on this particular road brings to me is sadness, fear, melancholy, and despair.

The drive tonight started about 6:30 in the evening, fully dark, the air cool and damp, with cloudy skies. I had a passenger to accompany me on this drive, Alexander, now nine. I let him bring along his Nintendo DS, as drives like this leave me more contemplative than cheerful, and I did not want him bored for a whole hour.

A few minutes out of town I turned right on the Maplewood, and looked to the south. The familiar glow of Woodstock was directly to my left, and even though it was well over sixty kilometers away, ahead and to the left the glow over London was easy to see. The little blue Echo happily spun through the gears, seemingly eager to get us to our destination, and I settled into fifth at about a hundred clicks. All was dark, the moon obscured, the only lights from the occasional farms and houses we passed by.

The previous morning Rudi had been running a fever, so we had gone to the Kitchener Oncology Satellite clinic to have him checked out. Multiple sets of bloodwork from the port in his chest and his arm were taken, and a complete workup by the Pediatrician on staff. His white blood count was extremely low, and he had no neutrophils, so no ability to fight off any infection. He was started on saline, and soon after an IV broad spectrum antibiotic to keep any possible bacterial infection in check.  Other than looking grey and tired, the only other evidence of him being sick was a slight pain in his gut... The doctor was asking Rudi about how much or how little pain there was, and suggested that may be a concern. I replied that he had chosen a perfect time to get appendicitis!  Later that evening, after an ultrasound and  X-ray had revealed only a slightly inflamed appendix, Rudi and Katherine had been transported via ambulance to Emerge at Victoria Hospital in London for further assesment and possible treatment.

Through Harrington the road was wet with a light drizzle falling. I coasted through the chicane leading toward Adam's goat zoo and the microwave tower south of Belwood Lake, and passed a vehicle heading in the opposite direction. There had been virtually no other traffic on the road tonight, an apt parallel to our lives over the past two and half years. No matter what help, support, and love you receive, and we have received lots, as a parent you still drive this road completely and utterly alone.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Six Hundred Ninety Three

At the very front of Rudi's binder is a laminated page clearly marked "Paediatric Oncology Fever Card". It is basically a pass to move him to the front of the line at any hospital emergency department in the event he runs a fever. If that happens, no matter where we might be, we simply walk into an emergency room and present the card.  Absolutely everything going on there is then put on hold, and whatever staff resources are needed to begin Rudi's assessment and treatment are devoted to him... Cut your thumb dicing tomatoes, and you are fourth in line?  Sorry, you are now bumped to fifth!  Broke your arm falling off your bike and you are next to be seen?  That's a shame, you get to wait an extra twenty minutes!

So Rudi was not feeling well after dinner, and Katherine took his temperature, high thirty sevens.  According to protocol, a second reading in that range in a twenty four hour period and we would have to run him into Kitchener.  He went to lie down, so over the next few hours checked him a couple of times, once under, and once over the threshold. He appeared under the weather, and had a headache and the sniffles, more than likely suffering from the common cold.

An hour later, with a temperature in the thirty eights, we phoned London to reach the Oncologist on call, to let them know we would head in to Kitchener.  As Kitchener has an Oncology day clinic and a Paediatric unit, we wanted to know if we should go to Emerg, or bypass it straight to the Paediatric unit. After an hour of phone tag between us, two docs in London, and the Kitchener staff, who had a bed, didn't have one, and had one again, we were sent straight to the inpatient Paediatric unit, where we would be expected.

We were buzzed in after arriving, and met by two nurses, and eventually the Doctor, and over the next hour Rudi had bloodwork taken, and a whole bunch of questions asked about how he was feeling, in addition to vitals done. Because the Paediatric unit in Kitchener is not an Oncology unit, and the Doctor not an Oncologist, his Doctor in Kitchener had to conference with the Oncologist in London to go through all the results and confirm treatment.

About five hours later, with bloodwork showing he was not neutropenic (still had some immune system left) and his fever falling, he was given two Tylenols and we were allowed to go home.  It was two-thirty in the morning, and he slept all the way back to Tavistock.