It’s been another up and down week. We went in to the doctor on Wednesday for Kevin and I to learn how to give him his interferon shots. He will be taking these shots three times a week for the next eleven months. We didn’t have a sitter lined up, so we just brought the kids along, and amazingly, they were good as gold. After a check in with Dr. Lawson, the nurse showed us how to prepare the shots and perform the injection. For whatever reason, I don’t think Kevin or I had really thought about the fact that he was going to actually be giving himself the injection that day. Which of course meant that he was going to be getting sick a few hours later. Which of course would mean that he would have to come home early from work, and I would need to figure out how to tend to him and the kids at the same time. I had also volunteered to watch a friend’s son that evening, so I had inadvertently added even a little more chaos into the mix. The house was a mess and I didn’t have a meal planned for that night.
In the moment at the doctor’s office right before Kevin gave himself the injection, we both looked at each other and thought, “Oh, crap.” And oh crap we were right. That day was a mess. We were unprepared and every little thing that could go wrong pretty much did. On the way home from picking up my friend’s son from school, Jude peed in his pants, in his car seat, less than five minutes from our house. I pulled up to the house and sent K inside with Evie, stripped Jude’s car seat off, and carried him in to strip him down and get him cleaned up. I got a text from Kevin saying he was upstairs and to please bring water and a bin. That meant he was throwing up. Luckily I had managed to prepare the meal before I had gone out, so it was waiting for us in the oven, but still, I was overwhelmed with how I was going to tend to Kevin and the three kids, two of whom should really not be left unattended, all at the same time. I called my friend Becky. She didn’t answer her phone, and it just might have been because she had other things to do. I called her again, and then again. Then I called her husband Tim. I pretty much begged them to drop everything and come over and tend to the kids so I could tend to Kevin. It was just like that first day of his high dose phase of interferon all over again, except I was totally unprepared this time. But I was going to make sure that Kevin was cared for, and not puking his guts out all by himself upstairs. Like I said, I didn’t exactly give my friends a choice, I kinda just said, I really need you, like now. Can you please please please come over? The amazing friends that they are, coupled with the fact that they live three streets down, got me help in about five minutes. As soon as they arrived, I threw the food at them and darted back upstairs with nausea and gas medications for Kevin. After about 30 minutes, we had his side effects basically under control, and now he only felt like he had the flu, not the stomach flu. Small improvements, but we’ll take what we can get.
I went back and forth between Kevin upstairs and the kids and Tim and Becky downstairs. They had everything under control, and Becky said just stay upstairs with Kevin and be there for him. I was grateful beyond belief. I lay down and rested a little with Kevin, listening to the summer sounds below our window. Tim was playing on the porch with Jude and K, while Evie and Becky watched. They flew this beat up old styrofoam airplane over and over until it was in such shreds it couldn’t take another flight. I heard laughing and giggling and little feet pounding against a background of our neighborhood’s ice cream truck (which coincidentally also sells cigarettes and condoms… this is the ‘hood, yo.)
That ice cream truck song and those sounds of childish laughter are sounds that are etching themselves inside Kevin’s and my hearts. They remind us that through all of this, we are surviving. Kevin is going to make it. I am going to make it. And our children are still healthy and happy, not neglected. They are giggling and playing in the summer breeze like they should, because we have the help and support of so many dear friends and neighbors.
I want you all to know how much all of your support has meant to us, for the last six months and for the next eleven months. I know we have not gotten thank you cards out yet, and the list continues to grow, but please do know that we will get to them eventually. Each one of you who has brought us a meal, sent us a check, mailed us a bible verse, said a prayer for us, or babysat our children, know that you are all giving us the beautiful gift of ice cream truck music and giggling children on a summer day. You are giving us a normalcy and a beauty to our life that is carrying us through. We appreciate each and every one of you more than you know.
We are going to spend the next week or two trying to figure out a rhythm and routine that will work for Kevin. His primary goal is to be able to feel well enough to keep working full time, and his secondary goal is to have enough energy to be able to participate in family life. Please pray that we can find that balance. We will experiment with him taking his shot at different times and logging when he starts feeling side effects, when they wear off (mostly) etc. Please pray that we will have patience to figure out how to make the best of a challenging situation here. Please pray that Kevin’s side effects will be able to be remediated completely enough for him to continue to have some decent quality of life, because eleven months is a loooong time to be sick, ya’ll. Please also pray that we continue to be able to have these moments where we can enjoy our kids and they can enjoy us, and that they are not too affected by this cancer.
As we get a basic schedule figured out, we will probably be asking for some more help in specific ways, though we are not yet sure what that help will look like. For now, my sister has set up a new way for folks to sign up to help with meals or to chip in for help with housekeeping services. Click on the “How You Can Help” link at the top of the page for more info.