Today marks three months exactly since Poppy was diagnosed with Leukaemia. She returned to preschool this afternoon for a short visit, our first time back since that fateful day when we came home from Forest School with a very tired little girl. When I look back on those three months, they seem all at once far away and yet so vividly near. What a lot we’ve packed in! 18 overnight stays in hospital and an additional 14 day trips. Over a month of days spent in hospital, equating to a third of our lives in that time. Not forgetting the 5 visits from the community nurses or the 2 times the physiotherapy team have visited our home. Two years to go! But three months less than we started with.
Poppy has gone from strength to strength since our holiday. It really was the best medicine for all of us. Each day, I keep thinking she’s better than ever and certainly the most well since late March. Tonight actually marks three months exactly since that 111 call to NHS Direct became an escalating series of events which lead to an admission to hospital and a middle of the night conversation with a doctor about Poppy’s blood results. Leukaemia was mentioned for the first time. At that point, it seemed completely implausible and a very worst case scenario which I thought we would never reach.
The first few weeks of interim maintenance were really hard going and it left me wondering if this journey would ever get easier. The unplanned admissions and culmination of side effects made for an exhausting 24/7 round of care, which left us all feeling drained, most of all Poppy. I felt like I’d had this period in my sights since the beginning, gently working towards it each day but on arrival it was disappointing and seemingly no easier than the two phases of treatment prior to this one.
As Daisy stirred this morning, I reached for my phone to check the time and found the date leaping out at me instead. 13th June. Earmarked for months in my diary as the day we would be taking the girls on a family holiday to France. The first trip on an aeroplane for Poppy and Daisy and perhaps the last for their Great-Grandparents, who are beginning to find travelling a little tiresome. A few wistful moments passed as I pondered what might have been, before my thoughts turned to the more pressing matter of today’s actual plans.
Poppy has been on sparkling form for the past few days, after back to back hospital days tired us both out at the beginning of the week. Her weekly blood count showed her neutrophils (the white blood cells responsible for fighting infection) had dropped below 0.5, meaning that we needed to stop her medication to allow them to build back up again. After administering her a cocktail of drugs for the past 11 weeks, I found it a little unnerving at first. Like that feeling you get when you think you’re forgetting something important you’re supposed to do.
I wrote recently about the heartbreaking side effects of the steroids, and mentioned that I’d come to terms with the hair loss effect of the chemotherapy early on. It’s such a superficial part of this whole adventure and yet when presented with the stark reality of it, I faltered and almost fell.