The Good Thorn


August 17, 2015

I have been meaning to write and tell you about Theo’s last appointment. Honestly it’s been nice to take a break from blogging about ‘my son with cancer’, if you know what I mean. Also truth be told I was discouraged after the last appointment, maybe even crushed. It turns out Theo lost weight over the month of July. The doctors decided to give him two more weeks of grace, so we came home determined to help him add more calories to his diet.

In addition to counting calories we have been busy enjoying our summer. In a matter of three weeks we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary, Tai’s birthday, Kiana’s birthday, my birthday and Scott’s Angel Day. We also left town for the first time since Theo’s diagnosis and had an incredibly memorable family vacation.

This past weekend was our next unexpected twist. Friday we spent the day cleaning out the garage and by bedtime Theo came to show me a thorn stuck in the palm of his left hand. I tried to get it out with tweezers but I just couldn’t get it. I knew better than to stick him with a pin, we have strick guidelines to avoid infection at any cost, so I applied a topical cream and a band aide and tucked him in for the night.

We woke up Saturday morning at 7am and Theo’s hand was a purple bubble with a red circle around it. Scott and I knew even before we called that it would mean a trip to the hospital for IV antibiotics.  What we didn’t realize then was the more serious problems this thorn would help to expose.

By the time I got to CHOP Theo had a red streak moving past his wrist and up his arm. The ER staff was great and knew to be very careful with an “onco patient”. After starting the IV and antibiotics the doctor asked me to step into the hall. Theo hates that so I stood at the door and this is how it went…

Dr. : I’m sorry Mrs. Pollock but Theo’s counts are very low. His hemoglobin is 6.7 so he’ll need to be transfused right away. His platelets are only 26 which might make removing the splinter a little tricky.

Me: Aw, poor guy, that stinks. I’m sorry, I forget, did you tell me his ANC?

Dr. : He doesn’t have an ANC. Or, his ANC is zero. They can’t find any white cells.

Me: Oh…Well…Huh…Ok…Thank you…Huh…Hmm…Darn

The Oncology Department knew we were coming and they had tasked the Emergency Department with starting antibiotics and removing the splinter. Theo did awesome and even watched the scalpel and tweezers. By the time the doctor was done Theo’s room was ready so we went upstairs and got settled in.

The staff on 3 South are amazing, I can’t say it enough. The resident met with me almost right away. I said to her, “He’s a zero,” still in shock. She assured me that many of the kids on the floor were low just like Theo and I was really comforted by her comparison (does that make me an awful person?). Theo and I snuggled in bed and we felt strangely safe and at home. Over time Theo and I have talked about the “old hospital” and have made a list of things we like to do there, just in case a surprise like this popped up. And so, it was time to look at our list…

Less than twenty-four hours had passed and the resident returned to our room. She literally said Theo looks too good to be in the hospital. They were happy with the retraction of his red streak, his ANC had re-appeared at a 78, he didn’t have a fever, his hemoglobin was up to an 8 thanks to the boost and we were cleared to go home.

They have suspended all home chemo for this week and we won’t be leaving the house any time soon, but it’s good to be home. Theo will remain on antibiotics for 10 days and we have an appointment this Friday to follow up. Our goal is to find the right balance of meds for Theo that kills the cancer cells but gives him a little fight left to work with. As a mom I’m wondering if we’re pounding him a little too hard. That’s my first question for Friday…

You know I can’t end this without referencing Jesus’ crown of thorns. To Him be all glory for taking away our sins and giving us new life in Him.

Happy Monday

Excerpts from the book of Matthew

28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.

31Then they led him away to crucify him.

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed,
“Surely he was the Son of God!”