Stop the roller coaster, someone’s been sick!

Toy fights and George coming in for the kill with his sword
Toy fights and George coming in for the kill with his sword

It’s been another roller coaster of a week – one minute we’re rolling round laughing, toy fighting and forgetting it all for a moment, the next we’re back to worrying, juggling the kids and rushing to hospital.

The football has been on and I’ve enjoyed watching Daddy struggling to watch a complete match with the kids knocking about.  It’s been a comedy sketch of climbing all over him or digging out the noisiest toys known to man to blast out just when you’ve settled down.

Daddy the climbing frame
Daddy the climbing frame

Thursday was the first day of a different kind of chemo called Cyclophosphamide that George has for four consecutive days.  He had it for four days last week following his 5 and a half hour one.  We’ve felt really relieved this week for him to not really suffer many side effects as I’d really built myself up and was fearing watching him suffer with those ulcers again.

George with his friends at PlaydaysInstead George was so well that he even managed a few stints at Playdays this week.  As you can see by the smile on his face, he had a great time and we’re glad he’s still getting to see his friends during the final weeks of preschool before, dare I say it, big school in September!?  The couple of hours gave me some vital time to do a bit of shopping for his birthday this weekend and a I even managed to get out for lunch with my friend Paula for a much needed de-stress.

Cling filmed up
Cling filmed up

On Thursday I’d starting feeling anxious about the nurse coming to access “Barry” the port with the gripper to administer his chemotherapy.  One of the main problems we have, as I’ve said before, is ripping off the bloody adhesive tape that’s used to hold the numbing cream on for an hour.  I changed it up though, Blue Peter style, with cling film and a very still child, we managed to apply the cream and leave it there under the cling film to take effect.  Ta-dah! no painful peeling of tape an hour later and a much calmer Georgie.  He was sat there “King George” literally being fed grapes watching his favourite programs.

Straight after the gripper going in
Straight after the gripper going in

Our good friend Nic came to my rescue to help distract George and make him laugh while the nurse prepared everything.  Even when the needle missed first time and he had to have it done again he did great, mainly because Nic was there clowning around and getting him back on track when he’d started to get upset.

Later in the day I did have to deal with an exorcist scene where George full on puked 360 degrees.  I still can’t say I enjoyed cleaning the cottage cheese veg combo up even if I was satisfied it was at least on the laminate floor.  He just got himself a wipe, cleaned his face and carried on playing, leaving me with tears streaming from wretching, having to clean it in 2 minute intervals so I could recover.

We also had a visit from Lynda of The Joshua Tree this week who regularly pops by to catch up with us and check I’m not rocking in the corner.  It was good to talk about how we’re all doing emotionally, how George is doing and just having someone who understands exactly what you’re going through listen.  Linda had very kindly brought some well-received gifts for all three children, of course it was Lego for George!

The Joshua Tree has been a great source of support for us so it’s been lovely to hear a few friends have chosen them as their charity to raise money for recently – I know Anthea is definitely one of them!

Linda from The Joshua Tree visiting
Linda from The Joshua Tree visiting
Anyone for a song?
Anyone for a song?

 

Strange how things happen, we’d been trying to persuade George to get cycling for ages and had pretty much given up for now, accepting his little are probably just too sore now.  But I think with a combination of practising on a trike at nursery and pure defiance, here’s a picture of him bike riding to pick Harriet’s friend up the other day…. defiance because i’d said “you’re not going to be able to do it George” (Mother of the year!), so of course he had to prove me wrong.  Yes that’s a man sized helmet for his huge Rooza-cranium.

Cycling George
Cycling George

I had the pleasure of meeting the teacher that George is going to have when he starts in Reception this September.  I briefly popped in to the school office and ended up chatting to her about what to expect… the idea was to reassure her that she’s not going to be responsible for doing anything out of her remit, but just what to look out for.  I told her about his diagnosis and how everything came about, how hard it has been and the kindness of others even right up to this day and and she was in bits bless her.  I’m so glad we had that conversation though, it’s really filled me with confidence that we’re doing the right thing for him… she is such a lovely, caring woman, I don’t think I’d want anyone else!

Andrea and Anthea visiting
Andrea and Anthea visiting

My friends Andrea and Anthea visited last week too, forgot to say!  Here they are listing every item from the Argos that George wants for his birthday… my soul is already destroyed from months of this!  Thank God it’s tomorrow and lets hope he’s been listening when I’ve said “you know you’re not getting everything right?”.

This morning George’s temp had jumped up to 38.4 so I off I went just after 7am to A&E at Alder Hey.  His temperature went up to 39.6 and his blood pressure and heart rate were elevated.  After a load of messing about we managed to get up onto Daycare after 9am and George was kept in for observations and blood tests.  If his neutrophil count is 0.5 or below he’s classes as ‘severely neutropenic’ and so would have to be admitted for 48 hours which obviously with a certain birthday looming we could really do without.  George’s count is 0.7 so is borderline due to the chemotherapy he’s on… throughout the day his temp hasn’t dropped to within a normal range but after thorough assessment and plenty of pleading from George, Kev, his ANP, agreed for us to go home on Calpol until tomorrow at 7am.

Having a little snuggle with his brother
Having a little snuggle with his brother

I wish I could say he’s been back to his usual self but he’s not unfortunately.  He’s complaining of pains in his legs, his eyes hurt, he looks like a beetroot and has a speckled rash.  These are side effects of the chemo too so we’re just staying put at home for now.  I did make a bit of a frantic call to Oncology a little earlier as his temperature is now hitting 40 and we were wondering at what point it’s too high to stay here.  We’ve been told to just follow our instincts pretty much so we’re keeping an eye on his breathing and checking his hands and feet aren’t feeling cold – it’s going to be a long night!

You can bet your money we will be in Alder Hey tomorrow, he’s got through the night to get below 38 degrees!  It’ll be a good story to tell though and more reason to drag out his celebrations.

A present from all George's friends on the Oncology ward
A birthday present from all George’s friends on the Oncology ward

Just a few more thanks for more lovely gestures from our friends – thank you for the box of Lego to the lady who is a friend of Laura Linley, I didn’t catch your name but George was so excited to build a big aeroplane!  and thank you Rachel Groarke, your girls are so thoughtful to think of Georgie even when you’re on your own holiday! he loves his message from Bradley and Rory from Hafan Y Mor.

Tonight, I’ve been holding off writing George’s birthday card because I feel overwhelmed with emotion when trying to find the right words to say.  I want him to know how proud we are of him for keeping strong, how much we love him and how much better his birthday will be each year from now onward.  He’s had dealt with more crap than most adults have had in their entire life, yet he still bounces back smiling, resilient and gives us so much back.  Seriously, I’m welling up just typing it.

Then I realise he won’t give a shiney shite when he realises he hasn’t received every item from page 1475 of Argos onwards…

So for now, good night, hoping for a decent night’s sleep and a boy feeling much better for some 4th birthday celebrations.

Lis xx

 

Unscheduled “sleep overs” at Alder Hey

Do you know one of those morning when you think, have I got time to wash and dry my hair? nah! it’ll be alright until later.  Well that’s the day you can guarantee we’ll be heading to hospital.

George seemed a little sleepier than usual on Wednesday and by the time it got to school-pick-up o’clock he hit 38 degrees which means emergency dash to hospital.  A quick phone call to our friend Nic, and I knew the kids were sorted for someone to collect them while I figured out what was going to happen next.

This time heading down the M62, I was having to make calls (hands free!) to ensure everyone else was sorted.  The builders are mid-job on the garden and needed a bit of directing, I needed to cancel Oliver’s tutor (he’s preparing for an entrance exam…another story) and of course I was trying to get hold of Damo!

George in Oncology Day Care
George in Oncology Day Care

We arrived at Oncology Day Care and George was checked over by Debbie, weighed, blood pressure checked and pulse etc 🙂 he had a temperature and needed Barry the port accessing so that they could take blood for culturing and give him IV antibiotics if need be.  In my haste leaving the house I had completely forgotten to prepare “Barry” with numbing cream, which takes an hour to take effect 🙁

I started stressing about it knowing it what it meant for George having to have the port accessed immediately.  Rach, our Clic Sargeant social worker, came over just the right moment.  She reminded me how well I’d done getting to hospital, remembering everything else,  that we are in the right place now and not to second guess how George was going to react.

Inserting the line to the port didn’t go down too well with George and he screamed and cried while the nurse got on with it.  Debbie stayed with us to help hold him down thank goodness… she’s a bit of a comfort for me too as she will just say it as it is and keeps focused while I’m flapping and trying to reassure George.

Messing about with the bed control
Messing about with the bed control

Luckily George’s mood soon lifted when the bravery box came out and he chose himself a little steam roller toy.  We had to wait then to find out whether he was neutropenic (when you have a low neutrophil count, which is a kind of white blood cell that fights infection).  We know there was a chance he’d be neutropenic as he’s on his intense chemotherapy now which really knocks his counts down.  Normal counts are between 1.5 and 8.0 and George was 0.3 so were admitted for 48 hours.  Due to George having a snotty nose and bad cough too he’s had to be put into isolation too.

Once he had collected his things from home, Daddy arrived to take over for the night shift.  I headed back to collect Oliver and Harriet from their Daddy and take them home.  After a cuddle and once they were tucked up in bed, I grabbed myself some tea which consisted of a bag of salt and vinegar Hula Hoops and a glass of rose.

Our good friend Paula took Oliver and Harriet to school the next morning and heading down the motorway again I started to feel a bit emotional again.  That feeling came back that I had when he was first diagnosed.  When we first found out it was Leukaemia, we were back and to taking over from each other Damien and I and although I know this time it’s nothing sinister, it’s hard to shake off that feeling when he’s staying in.  Or worse, worrying he’s relapsing.

Si popped in to say heloo
Si popped in to say hello

Being in isolation wasn’t as lonely an experience as I first expected once I was back to taking over, yesterday we had a surprise visit from our friend Si 🙂 he happened to be making a delivery to the Oncology department at Alder Hey so came in to see us… he even brought Mummy a cup of tea which was much appreciated.

We’ve had Jo the play-worker come in to bring Georgie some paints and pictures.  We’ve had Neil and Alan the health care assistants bob in for a chat and to see how George is, two of the pharmacist girls saw us and came in saying “George Rooza? what are you doing in here!!?”, the chef came for a chat and knew what George wanted to eat before he even said it.  Pip, another Play Worker who George loves, stopped by to see George and ask if he wanted anything along with a volunteer.  So it was far from quiet with George’s nurse Laura checking on him too.

We were lucky that George’s temperature stayed down.  He was on 4 hourly observations and 6 hourly IV antibiotics plus an hour’s chemotherapy and his steroids started again – the hunger monster already seems to be making an appearance but at the same time his mouth is starting to feel sore from the chemo!

There was no Hula Hoops and wine last night for me as I dashed back home to pick the kids up and got sorted for Harriet’s birthday party – yes, you read correctly.  Thank you to Clare for shopping for half the stuff I needed whilst we were in hospital!

 

Harriet's party
Harriet’s party

Last night was hard.  Harriet’s birthday party was a success and luckily her Daddy took her back to ours while I drove back to swap over with Damo for the night shift and let Oliver give George a cuddle.

George wasn’t in a great place and cried a lot last night.  I had to wake him up to give him his steroids which didnt go well, not only did he spit half of it back at me he wailed that he wanted to go home which broke my heart.  He was unsettled all night and his 6 hourly IV antibiotics weren’t falling in sync with his 4 hourly observations at all.  This meant it was every couple of hours the nurses were back in checking his temperature and blood pressure or rigging “Barry” up to the beeping machine.  Every time he was disturbed he was upset again, asking for Daddy and home and I was up trying to comfort him.

Jo and Georgie
Jo and Georgie

So this morning we were both feeling very tired and grumpy with each other, George had also just been been pumped with chemotherapy so has more of an excuse for a bad mood than me.  It’s just hard coping with the upsets when you’re knackered yourself and now it seems the hair is going and it’s everywhere!  in his mouth, his eyes, food, the lot.  It doesn’t even matter in the scheme of things.

The doctors came in and told us the George has Rhinovirus and Enterovirus which are variants of a common cold, so satisfied they knew what was causing his temperature, allowed us to go home after his next dose of steroids and once some more blood was taken.  George also needed his gripper removed from Barry.

It felt like a lifetime waiting for the discharge papers and for the nurse to return with George constantly crying… luckily Rach, the Clic Sargeant social worker bobbed in again to see if we were ok.  She ran and picked George up a little gift and a book to help cheer him up.

After an embarrassing “where’s the car gone? oh there it is 5 floors below!” moment with Jo, the playworker who’d helped me out, off home we went, feeling relieved and ready for a lie down on our own sofa.  About half way home it dawned on me I had no door key to our house and Damien was at work in Manchester 🙁 🙁 our neighbour who has he spare said she was out but back in half an hour. So I stopped off for some lunch then pulled up on our drive feeling sorry for myself while George slept.

Once in George had predictably slept enough for now and was awake but groggy so any chance of a Nanna nap was out of the question.  He was relentless and nothing seemed to satisfy him and this has pretty much gone on for the rest of the day.  I tried to shut my eyes during an episode of Mr Bean when it dawned on me that I hadn’t come home with any steroids from the hospital and he was meant to take it twice a day for a week!

After our visit from our friend Si yesterday, he’d actually text again to say he was around, unaware that we’d now left.  Luckily I was able to organise with the hospital for him to collect George’s drugs.  What a massive weight lifted and help as I think another trip to Alder Hey would have tipped me over the edge.

The hair had a good innings
The hair had a good innings

Talking of being tipped over the edge, I chose my moment to have a full on cry in the middle of the school playground today.  I’d kept it together all day whilst on my own but I’d pushed myself to pick Oliver and Harriet up, after worrying I haven’t been around for them enough.  As soon as my friends asked if I was ok or offered a hug that was it, I’d gone.

Kath came back to ours whilst I was a bit broken, and I walked round like a zombie trying to make George happy without success whilst the other children just got on with playing.  He wanted to go to the park with the other kids, so we took him, but he cried for his scooter.  So Kath went back for the scooter but then wanted a football instead… we got the ball, he wanted to go on the slide, we let him on the slide, he cried to go home.  It was relentless and exhausting.

A little later Karen arrived and sorted some tea out for the kids while I comforted George.  He was now crying that his mouth hurt and his bottom hurt.  I dosed him up on morphine as he appears to have some mouth ulcers which are a side effect of his treatment…. so is his “stinging bum” as he calls it as the chemo strips away any fast reproducing cells in those places 🙁  So he’s crying about things I can’t do anything about and I’ve got Harriet opening birthday presents and i’ve not even had chance to look at them with her. What do you do?

Damien is since home from work and has been taking over when George allows him, the morphine has kicked in and I’ve had a moment of solitude driving to pick up a take away.  Small things.

I feel another long night ahead but at least there are more hands on deck and we’re in the comfort of home.  Although the hospital offers our baby the protection he needs in these weaker moments, when you’re in, there’s always stark reminder of children suffering so much more…. and parents too, you can see it and you can hear it.  We were only in for 2 nights and I’m a mess, we’ve got friends who’ve been in for weeks and some for months, it feels wrong to complain!

Just want to shout out and thank the stranger in the lift yesterday who hugged me after a 30 second conversation about our children who were staying in Alder Hey.  Also to Leanne, who is another Mummy on oncology whose daughter Leah was diagnosed a few weeks before George, our chats over the past few days have meant a lot.

Also thank you to our friends for popping in to see us or offering to at least, those who’ve helped and text and kept us afloat by just being there for Oliver and Harriet.  We couldn’t get through this without you x

We’ve got more lovely friends raising money for George and for charities that have supported us this weekend.  Good luck Haynesy, one of Damo’s best mates in Norwich who is doing a Biathlon – you can read more about his fundraising here.  Also to my little sister Shannon and my friends Nikki and Andrea who will be all taking part in the Manchester 10k on Sunday – I hope to be able to get there to cheer you on!

Here in Warrington, there’s an ‘Around the World in 80 Traders‘ event going on tomorrow where Jenerics will have stand supporting George’s fight against leukaemia… he is a very lucky boy to have so many people who love him 🙂

 

Meat munchies

George with a box of 100 peperamis

As part of George’s treatment he’s regularly on steroids – don’t expect pictures of a body building a 3 year old!

 

These are the side effects:

  • Increased energy and wakefulness (i.e. lets stay up ALLLLLLLL night!)
  • Mood swings (I love you mummy… GO AWAY!!!!)
  • Increased risk of infections (This is new to me, good old Google)
  • Increased appetite (No shit.. we’re talking “can I have a ham butty?” at 3am!)
  • Indigestion (as there’s no space left in that tum)

 

George giving a thumbs up whilst eating a Peperami
Thumbs up for salami

George became partial to a continental meat platter here and a box of 50 cocktail sausages there during his last run of steroids.  His absolute favourite though, was a Peperami or three!  So imagine his delight now he’s back on steroids when a box of 100 Peperamis arrived in the post!

One of our lovely thoughtful friends contacted Peperami without us knowing and we received a box full plus a freaky Peperami sausage squidgy toy that shouts aggressively.

It was hilarious bless him, though I did have to ‘put them away’ or his dietician will have a heart attack.

Another lovely act of kindness x