Avalon's Army of Angels
|February 5, 2009
Today was a regular follow-up Heme-Onc clinic appointment. At least, that's what I've been
telling myself for two months. The secret truth is, I've been dreading for that long too.
During Avalon's last appointment in December, Diane (Avalon's NP) had made a huge point of
saying that we'd reached yet another milestone in her care. December 28 was the two year
anniversary of her Off Treatment date. As such, it was time for Avalon to transition to only
going to clinic once every 3 months. Diane told Avalon how much she'd miss her, and how
close Avalon would be to her 6th birthday the next time she saw her. It had been a wonderful
visit, and a bit daunting to dear old mom.
On the way out, Avalon had been the one to take the appointment card Diane filled out to the
receptionist. When she brought it back to me, I realized our appointment was in two months,
not three, as anticipated. I left the clinic giggling, fully planning on calling Diane the next day
and teasing her that she was obviously getting as old and confused as I was. She spent the
whole appointment chatting about 3 months, then wrote the card for two. Since I've often
teased Diane that she is singularly the most organized woman I've ever met, with a memory
better than Einstein could have hoped for...I was relishing the idea of funning her a bit.
On the Saturday after the appointment, I happened to look closer at the lab sheet as I was
putting it away. What I saw stopped me in my tracks. Avalon had registered with Atypical
lymphocytes. As the panic began swelling, I suddenly remembered that Diane hadn't written
the appointment card until after she'd seen the lab results. The stone in my chest and lump in
my throat took an exponential leap in size. I "knew" that Diane had seen the Atypicals too -
and wanted to check Avalon sooner than what protocol called for. I was sure she was being
cautious and hadn't wanted to freak me out - which is a very normal Diane thing to do...
Before I climbed completely out of my skin, I headed to the archives of my online group,
ALL-Kids. I remembered previous discussions of Atypicals. Sure enough, it was pretty easy to
find some references. Avalon seemed to fit the non-panic descriptions too. She not only had
the Atypicals, she also had high segs. Added together, the two usually mean someone is
fighting off an illness. Avalon had, indeed, been tussling with the sniffles, but I fired off a
panicked post to the list anyway. Sure enough, a few re-assuring emails later, I convinced
myself - at least the main part of my brain - that Avalon was fine, and the wonky blood stuff was
all from her snoots.
Now convincing your front brain of something, isn't exactly like winning the mental gymnastics
competition. Its merely agreeing with yourself to stem the flow of panic, until such time as
you're forced to face it head on. Today's appointment put me square in the headlights of the
panic express. I didn't sleep two winks last night.
I won't leave you hanging for another second...Avalon's counts were PERFECT!! From head to
toe, my little warrior princess checked out absolutely beautifully. I couldn't have asked for
better results anywhere. (grin, grin....smile, bounce, celebrate...Super Grin!)
Turns out, Diane brought up the appointment issue. She said, "You know you're early, right?
You don't have to be here for another month." I told her I'd seen the Atypicals on the lab
report and had a small coronary. Diane said she'd seen them too - but hadn't given them a
second thought. I then told her I'd realized she hadn't filled the appointment card out until after
the lab report, and I thought she'd been concerned. That's when I fessed up to the mommy
mind games I described above. It appears my original thought of a sound teasing was dead
on. My perfect, infallible Diane had actually SNAFUed that day. She had a good giggle at me
too - and the "things you cancer moms will think of to worry yourselves!"
When Diane asked why on earth I hadn't just called her to ask about the appointment, my
answer sent us both into fits of giggles. The plain truth is, she's too damn honest. Diane has
never lied, not for 1/2 a second about anything to me. She's been known to keep a concern to
herself, rather than worry me needlessly...but she's never fudged a nickel in a our direction.
That's a problem! If she had been worried about the blood work, I knew she'd tell the truth
when asked. I couldn't stand the thought of hearing that she was worried. Trust me, its
happened WAY TOO OFTEN in the past four years. If Diane's worried, mom is near
Diane couldn't help laughing. She completely "got it". She said, "So if you didn't know for sure
if I was concerned...you could fool yourself into thinking everything was OK and not panic for
two months?" Yep...ding ding ding....she gets the prize. She read my nutzo thought bubbles.
I know it sounds certifiable. Believe me, I know. But the fact is, that's life with a cancer kid.
That's life with Avalon. Every time we think we're approaching solid, even ground...someone
has come along and YANKED the terra firma right out from underneath us. I've heard so
many, "I've never seen this before/I'm so sorry to tell you/I'm worried too" from different medical
people, I'm pretty sure my mommydar is on constant "alert status". Like Diane and I said, it
was actually FUN to be utterly, completely off-base for once. Wahoooo for a good
old-fashioned dork up!
Several good giggles, and multitudes of warm, loving hugs later, Diane bid us both a happy
good bye until next time. We had also hugged on several of our favorite nurses and PCA's -
making the entire adventure a life affirming, soul-filling kind of day. Suffice it to say, I've ever
been sooooooo THRILLED to be utterly, totally, laughably WRONG.
I couldn't be happier.