Monday, June 18, 2012

For Calvin (and his Mama)

Several months back I was hunkered down on the couch, reading one of Sarah's hand-me-down Glamour mags like I am known to do. For the second time ever, I found something of real significance. (This was the first thing.)

Hidden among many heaving cleavages, a needle in the voluminous hairdos, was this article, about a woman fighting for her life, desperately in need of a bone marrow match.

I don't know what was in the air that night, but before I trashed the trashy mag, I tore out Krissy's story with big plans to sign up for the national bone marrow registry. Glamour magazine said it was free and easy, and they should know.

Two months later, I found Krissy at the bottom of a pile and finally did something about it. I went here and filled out the form.

After the kit arrived, it took all of five minutes to read the instructions, swab my cheek a few times, seal it all back up, and mail it back in a paid-postage envelope.

Just like that, I'm on the registry.

It felt strangely good.

Two weeks later, we made a pit-stop at Cincinnati Children's Hospital en route to Tennessee.

They nurse took 26 tubes of blood and the doctor looked us right in the eye like he was talking about dinner plans or Snookie and told us Calvin's condition is "escalating". His disease is "progressing". The options that once seemed like a miracle are now losing steam. Treatment options are more limited.

Then the cannonball: He'd like to have Calvin typed for a potential bone marrow transplant.

Do you know much about bone marrow transplants? I didn't use to, so I started reading up. And now I wish I hadn't. It's scary business. Like, cry-in-the-dark scary.

But what's even scarier is that the docs are already pessimistic about finding a donor for Calvin, due to the fact that he has no known biological siblings and he's Asian.

Today I left the house today at 9 a.m. not to return until 9 p.m. (just like I did Friday and will do again tomorrow, though this is beside the point).

I have no photos to commemorate the day, but I'm happy to paint a word picture of yours truly: flat hair, greasy chin, sweaty pits, ho-hum attire, sunglasses.

What can I say? 36 isn't looking too hot from here.

It's my birthday, and it wasn't one for the record books, if I'm being honest.

There were silver linings to be found, like extra time with dear friends, Mediterranean pepper salad, buzz-cuts for all the boys. Some of those who love me best wished me unending happiness and salsa, and I'm happy to report that yes, there was salsa today. Praise God for salsa and I'm not even playing.

What may have tipped the scales from "good birthday" to "what birthday?" is the fact that I spent three hours at the doctor with Mr. Lee. We will go every day for the next five days while they take a closer look at what his bone marrow is doing, how its behaving.

I have a really hard time squaring a sweaty boy who spent his morning at soccer camp with the one who is told hours later that almost all of his neutrophils have come up missing.

I much prefer living in la-la land where I give him medicine twice a day and watch for fevers. I freaking hate being reminded that my kid is sick.

Of course, he was a champ today. He didn't flinch for his blood draw, didn't wince for the shot. He spent the 45 minute drive home telling me in great detail that when he grows up, he plans to be a doctor in the National Guard/missionary. "And when we're all done on the battlefield for the day, I'll go out a build a well for all the soldiers and the poor people." He requested care packages of band-aids, "maybe a little gauze", "lots of jugs of water or other liquids that I can drink", "your special homemade spaghetti" (aka noodles with Prego sauce), batteries, books "for when I need to relax or during break time" and a knife, "if Daddy goes to Cabelas or something".

He's hoping to be stationed in North Korea, but India would suffice.

This child? He's already changing the world, at least from where I sit.

So if you have the urge to wish me a happy birthday, sign up for a kit instead.

We are praying it doesn't come to this, but we want options if it does.

Do it for me and for Krissy and Calvin and this little guy. It's so super easy. It would be the best birthday gift this old girl could hope for.

Officially Pushing Forty,

PS - For those of you who know us live and in the flesh, we are doing our best to not focus on all of these "what ifs" with Calvin. He's loosely aware of the possibility, but he's mostly blissfully ignorant, and we'd like it to stay that way for a while. We beg for your prayers and will keep you updated!