Yasmin’s cheek has swollen to the size of a melon and we are living back in hospital once more. After three blissful weeks where we almost believed we were a normal family, leukaemia has slapped us in the face to give us a reminder that it is still very much here.Yasmin woke on Thursday complaining of severe pain in her ear and when I looked at her face, her cheek had swollen to the size of a tennis ball. Just as we arrived at the car park at the local hospital, Yasmin threw up all over the car. I transferred her to the buggy and she vomited all over that too. But although Yasmin was in obvious agony, she was excited to see all the nurses she knows and immediately cheered up.
Ensconced in a familiar room, Yasmin was given painkillers and I took her down for an ultrasound on her face and neck which didn’t reveal anything too concerning. Throughout the day, Yasmin veered between happy at hanging out with the nurses and playing in the playroom, to miserable when the pain started back. We had a fitful night’s sleep as Yasmin woke in torment in the night and by Friday she was prescribed methadone to try and stop the pain.
It is times like this that I am amazed at Yasmin’s spirit. She doesn’t like to give into pain or get fed up with all the horrible hospital procedures. She is always fighting against it and looking for ways to find joy in everything she goes through. Despite one side of her face growing to the size of a small melon, she spent Friday buzzing around, painting in the playroom, drawing with her beloved nurse Pat and dancing to Snow White.
She is an inspiration in how she deals with everything thrown at her and a lesson to us all.
Andrew and I are sharing the awful night shifts – I did the first two and he is doing night three and four. In between, I have come home to lovely Isaac – and it must be noted here: he took his first solo steps last week so there will be no stopping him very soon! As always, Isaac provides unadulterated joy amidst the stress of Yasmin’s illness.
At present, we don’t know what is wrong with Yasmin. Her neutrophils have dropped to 0.2, which means she is neutropenic with a low immune system. Her daily oral chemo has been cut but she is on strong antibiotics in case it is a bacterial infection. There are concerns an abscess is causing the swelling and she will be rescanned on Monday to see if this is the case. But doctors seem to believe it is most likely a paramyxovirus, one of which is mumps. She has been tested for mumps but we will not know the results of that test until next week.
So just as we were getting our lives back together, everything has been put on hold again and we have been told Yasmin will be in hospital for at least seven days and possibly ten.
We are old hands now at the ‘mad hospital dash for unexplained serious and life-threatening illnesses’. The adrenaline high that kicks in immediately is a familiar friend. And when the adrenaline eases off, the body gives way to exhaustion.
It is frustrating and disappointing that our happy summer has been interrupted. On Thursday, Andrew and I had planned a night away in a hotel, and we were going to take the kids to the beach this weekend. But far worse, has been watching Yasmin in distress – bringing back all the awful memories of last summer.
Although Yasmin’s face got bigger by the second day in hospital, it does appear to be going down slightly. She was sent home on afternoon release today but went happily back to hospital with her daddy, singing: “I’m going to hospital. Bye Isaac!”