|Isaac eats his presents|
Grandmother Sandra, Andrew’s brother and his girlfriend, and my brother arrived later with yet more gifts while Andrew and I cooked up dinner for ten (including the kids) helped by my dad on roast potato and gravy duty. As Isaac started on solids a few weeks ago he was also able to join us with mushy vegetables, although most went onto his Christmas clothes. Yasmin loved having lots of relatives to boss around, and to test drive her new toys, while Isaac rewarded everyone with smiles.
On Boxing Day, Andrew and I managed to get away for a night while my parents babysat. It was fantastic to have a break together but we had to be back early the next day for the start of the next phase of Yasmin’s treatment: the ominously sounding Delayed Intensification.
This is the final stage of the first six months before Yasmin enters maintenance for 18 months. It is good to be at this stage as it means that we don't have long to go until maintenance, which will mean only monthly scheduled hospital appointments.
However, we have both been dreading it due to the horrendous cocktail of chemotherapies that Yasmin has to take over the next seven weeks. We have been told that this is the time when children are most likely to suffer from sickness and hair loss due to the strength of the chemotherapies. Of course, Yasmin has lost most of her hair already but we now expect the rest to drop out too.
The community nurse visited on Boxing Day to reaccess Yasmin’s port so my parents witnessed the weekly trauma Yasmin endures and will continue to endure for the next two years when she has a needle inserted into her chest so that she can have her central line, or 'wiggly', deliver medicine and take blood. Although anaesthetic cream numbs the pain, she still shakes with fear when being accessed. She does recover almost immediately, however.
After the nurse had been, Yasmin was playing with her ‘wiggly’ when she looked at my mother and said, sadly: “I’ve got leukaemia.” My mother said it almost broke her heart.
As Yasmin has not had any treatment for a couple of weeks other than oral chemotherapy, she had got used to living without her wiggly. Perhaps, she had imagined that she was well now and hospital visits were finished with. Having it suddenly back in again must have made her realise that this is not over yet. And it is impossible to explain to a two-year-old with no proper concept of time when this will end. Certainly, we are consoled by the knowledge that Yasmin will barely remember any of this in a couple of years.
On the 27th, Andrew took Yasmin into our local hospital for vincristine chemotherapy to be administered into her wiggly. Although the procedure takes just ten minutes and he had returned from our hotel stay especially early, the medicine had not been prepared and they ended up spending four hours just waiting around.
The next day, I plucked Yasmin out of bed still half asleep to put her in the car for her trip to GOSH for more chemo in her spine and an hour-long infusion of a chemo that she had not had before. She also started back on a seven day course of steroids at much larger doses than she had had before. We are prepared for the storm.