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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy shoes, ninja courage and dress ups

I waited until this morning to break the news that we were heading in to the hospital for Oscar's check-up. Oscar took the news quietly, then disappeared and, as I was preparing some of my strategies to convince him to get in the car, he suddenly burst out of his room in a ninja costume looking fierce and declaring he was ready to go. Auden was still not convinced so I put on my red happy shoes (or clown shoes) and promised to make it fun. Auden then got dressed up in Daddy's clothes and grabbed three of his books to take with him to read and reluctantly agreed.

In the car I put on happy music and kept the boys laughing as I impersonated a clown with my big red shoes and funny jokes. Oscar fell asleep (he's seen all my strategies and heard all my jokes before) but Auden stayed happy and laughing all the way.

Within two minutes of entering the hospital building we ran into an actual clown, the Clown Dr himself, proving that you attract the energy you bring with you. We've only stumbled across the Clown Dr 3 or 4 times in all the years we have been going to the hospital and in all the many hours, days, weeks we lived there - so this was a treat the boys fell all over themselves enjoying.


At the Oncology Clinic Oscar took his blood test really well. Simply said 'ouch' - a first for not screaming or shedding so much as a tear. His ninja suit protected him well. Auden stood beside us watching every little detail and asking questions. The nurses all fussed over what a good brother Auden was, which made him shy but I could tell he definitely liked it.

The wait was quite long today but the boys were pretty happy - Auden read his book and Oscar went into the play room to colour in. A toddler having treatment took to Auden and kept trying to climb into his lap which he was somewhat nonplussed by (but also secretly delighted). Auden also asked lots of questions about the nasal tubes, central lines and hearing aids that many of the kids had. He remembers Oscar being bald and sick but didn't remember the other details as its been a good long while since he visited. He also asked the question he has asked me many times before, 'Did I have a nasal tube? Did I lose my hair? Why not? Does everyone have to lose their hair and have medicine?" I have answered this so many times but still he wonders why some kids have to experience these things and some don't. We all wonder about that and there isn't any really easy answer except because its the luck of the drawer. You could tell this didn't really satisfy his curiosity and I have no doubt the questions will be asked again next time but he wasn't too worried about it. Just intrigued, wanting to understand.

Oscar on the other hand couldn't be less interested in all that stuff. He made himself at home in the play room with the pink lady volunteer who remembered him and marvelled at how grown up he was. He was completely self contained and on his own program, knowing the drill and navigating the familiarity with ease whilst also delighting in the people fussing over him in his ninja costume.

Finally, Dr M came to get us. It's always great to see her. Auden declared 'Do you know we have waited three hours', because he can count and tell time a whole lot better than last time he was at the clinic. Certainly, being able to count the hours don't make them go quicker although really three hours is pretty good when you see how many kids are there and how many different treatments the nurses and doctors are managing. We've waited a whole lot longer many, many times but Auden was amazed and somewhat confused about how it could possibly take so long to get Oscar's results.

On that topic there is nothing but good news - bloods are all good. YAY!

As we left the hospital I felt that wonderful thrill of exiting those doors and leaving that world behind us, its somewhat like the feeling that you have dodged a bullet, been let out of prison early due to some miraculous event that you don't want to ask too many questions about in case they change their minds. Head down, fly out of there before someone calls you back.

You have escaped but you are also aware of how precarious a situation it is and how you have left behind some other good people, some very human families who are still waiting for someone to give them permission to go home and breath again. Still surviving the minutes as best they can, doing time - and hospital time can be as slow and cruel as time gets. There are moments when it may even appear that time has stopped and you can feel like gravity itself has abandoned you. There are moments when the concept of time itself is outside the reach of your consciousness, let alone a part of your vocabulary.

And yet.

And yet.

One day they let you go home and you find a new 'normal' and you smile and you put your clown shoes on and be grateful for every moment.

Every precious moment.

Drifting around you like snow flakes in the desert. Surreal. Wonderful.

And as random as a cancer diagnosis.

Take care beautiful people and thanks for checking in on us. When you can manage it chose to wear your happy shoes, escape into your imagination or play dress ups. And when you find you can't make these choices, when you are merely 'doing time' or surviving one moment to the next, try not to count the minutes, be kind to yourself as much as you can and let go of everything else. Breathe. Wait in the space of potential for better things and abandon expectations. I love you from your nose to your tippy toes no matter what choices you make. Love Cindy x