Things turn on a penny around here and our week’s been on the up since being released from hospital on Monday. Of course, we were back in on Tuesday for a planned dose of chemo, but all went well and we were discharged again in time for lunch. We spent a delightful afternoon soaking up the sunshine (in the shade!) and the atmosphere at The Village Pub, Barnsley. The food was delicious, but it was the staff who made the difference to our day by being friendly and attentive, going beyond the usual courteous enquiry to show genuine interest in making conversation. They brought cushions for Poppy’s chair to make her more comfortable, and upon learning where she had spent the morning, produced two scoops of strawberry ice cream on the house.
Of course we could take a packed lunch to hospital and eat it in our room before returning home, but it’s these meals out which we remember from our day, and most importantly the part that Poppy remembers too. The uncomfortable journey to hospital, the endless waiting around and palpable hunger are long forgotten. Looking at her smile on that sunny afternoon, I think you’d be hard pushed to guess she had spent the morning having chemotherapy drugs injected in to her spine under general anaesthetic. These meals have become a real treat, something to look forward to and another well-earned badge of Poppy’s bravery.
That was yesterday and today, we finally made it to the Cotswold Wildlife Park, after missing out at the weekend. It was well worth the wait and the perfect place for the grand unveiling of our new double buggy. Our first purchase from the proceeds of the GoFundMe campaign we’ve set up for Poppy, it’s a way to make getting the girls out and about easier and more comfortable. It worked perfectly and knowing it was bought with the love and kindness of those around us made the whole experience even more pleasant. It will bring our family so many more days out like the one we had today and we’re very grateful to everyone who is helping make this possible. Thank you for every donation, each one astounds us.
We were invited to the Wildlife Park late last night by a good friend who was visiting today with a group of other toddlers and parents. Poppy delighted in watching the other children running around, gathering sticks and playing hide and seek. It was touching to see them take Daisy under their wing too. Far from feeling like we were on the outside looking in, it felt inclusive and welcoming with just the right tone to be interested but not over the top. It’s nice to be asked how we’re doing and have Poppy’s Leukaemia acknowledged, but too much sympathy can end up feeling like we’re comforting the person we’re speaking to or attempting to protect them from the truth. We’re not always looking for special treatment (although yesterday’s complimentary ice cream was very welcome!) and today we relished just being part of the group.
Despite not walking or even standing for longer than around 30 seconds at a time, as we passed by the park, Poppy asked if she could go on the slide. As I went to lift her up to the top, she shook her head and demanded we follow the accepted rules and go up the steps. Placing Poppy carefully at the bottom with her arms wrapped around me to steady her, I was willing her to shuffle forwards and attempt a step, but realising the task was too much for today, she politely asked for a carry instead. She did however joyfully slip down that slide, which was wholly unexpected and a huge achievement given her current mobility. I celebrated with a lump in my throat and a few happy tears, which swam in my eyes before being quickly wiped away.
I cancelled an Opticians appointment to be there today and I am so glad I did. The appointment wasn’t urgent and can easily be rescheduled. It’s not so easy to reschedule the days when Poppy is well enough to go out for the day, so we’ve made a promise to ourselves to make the most of those moments when they present themselves. Poppy completely forgot herself in that park today. A different visit from the last time we went, when she walked the whole way round for hours on end, but her successes were celebrated today just as much as we’ve always delighted in both her and Daisy learning new skills. Physio starts next week and I’m looking forward to celebrating each new step she takes all over again.
On another note, one of my closest friends gave blood for the first time today. I cried when she told me. Even though I already knew she was going to do it, having discussed it from my hospital bed on the day after Poppy’s first blood transfusion. Something about that promise becoming a reality really touched me. Knowing how much that blood has meant to Poppy and the difference it has made to her health. During both transfusions, I’ve sat by Poppy’s side in the hospital, watching that blood slowly drip in to her and wondering where it came from and who donated it. Someone somewhere someday will be receiving that donation from my amazing friend and marvelling at her generosity too.
11 heroes and counting… x