Friday, September 14, 2012

Dixie Chemo

 Today was our first visit to Dixie Regional Medical Center's Pediatrics floor for Austin's chemotherapy.  It's a comfortable place for Mom and Dad because we work there, but Austin was nervous about what they would do to him, especially about accessing his port for the first time since it was placed.  Right away we met Mike, the Child Life Specialist.  That's a fancy title for someone that plays with kids and makes them more comfortable with whatever is going on with them.  Mike is amazing at his job and immediately had Austin laughing and forgetting about what was coming.  He sat down and talked to Austin for awhile about Leukemia and what it is and what we are doing to get rid of it.  He also talked about how important it is to express his feelings about what is going on and to ask any questions.  

Mike talking to Austin about Leukemia

The time came to access Austin's port and unfortunately it didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped.  The first attempt was not in the right place.  Austin still has swelling from the placement and he has gained some weight in his belly since starting the steroids so the port required a longer needle than at first anticipated.  The needle placement wasn't as painless as I had hoped.  I wanted it to go smoothly this first time because I know he will be even more anxious about it next week.  
Accessing his port--ouch!  

Trying to get the port to work--sometimes raising the hands helps to
 get blood to flow better.  Sadly, it didn't work this time.

Mike is getting Austin to laugh while his nurse, Jason attempts to get his port to work.

The second time around trying to access the port was even more painful.  If he holds my hand and looks at me instead of what his nurse is doing it helps to get through it.  My heart breaks every time I see the tears roll down his cheeks from pain.  I wish I could take it all away from him.  I know there will be many many pokes over the next 3 years and I am dreading it.  I hope it becomes easier but I hate that he has to get used to pain.  His chest was beat up after all this and has an impressive bruise.  At least Austin was impressed with it, he said he thought it was the biggest bruise he ever had.  Way to put a positive spin on things Austin!

Accessing Austin's port the second time

Bruised from accessing his port--because his platelet count is low he bruises easily

Austin had his labs drawn and got his chemotherapy, an infusion that only takes 15 minutes and was pretty anticlimactic after all the fuss to get it started.   The needle was pulled out and we were good to go.  Before we left, the peds crew and some of my co-workers from the NICU came and sang "happy birthday" to Austin and gave him this banner that they had signed.  That brought the smile back to Austin's face.  Thanks guys!  

So our first visit was over.  The best news of the day was that Austin's blood work looked good.  His ANC was 900 which is the best it's been since we started all this.  900 means he is "moderately" immunocompromised instead of severely immunocompromised like he was a couple weeks ago when his ANC was 300.  This means his body is better at fighting off infection.  We know it will go down with the chemo, but today it is good so we are excited.  This means we get to plan a birthday!

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