The biggest reason I don’t sleep is because of the nightmares. Awful, horrible, no good nightmares. It’s like the thoughts that I don’t allow myself to have during the day, haunt me at night.
I can fall asleep. It’s just that after having a nightmare, I can’t go back to sleep. I’ll wake up at 2, 3, or 4a.m. and am up for the rest of the day. The nightmares have included my daughter also having cancer, losing our home and belongings because of cancer, and the unthinkable happening to Parker. After my grandma was diagnosed with cancer after Parker’s diagnosis, I had a dream that I was running through a hospital and every door I opened had a loved one behind it dying from cancer. I woke up sweating and crying, a ball of soaking wet mess.
The night before we went to the hospital to check on Parker’s leg, I had another nightmare. I dreamt that they took off the cast and underneath was black, rotting skin. That’s not even the bad part. There were creepy , crawly critters under it too. I woke up and vomited. My stomach was a mess all day. I had to buy medicine to stop the bile in my stomach from rising into my throat. I know, not a pretty picture of me or of what was under Parker’s cast. Sorry!
I tried to convince myself that though Parker’s leg didn’t look the best at the last visit, somehow it rebounded and was able to heal. They took off the cast, and very quickly I realized that was not the case. I didn’t look at it for more than a glance. I couldn’t. It wasn’t near as bad as my dream, but it wasn’t good. I couldn’t even take a picture this time. Before the surgeon even told us, I knew he was going to be getting a skin graft the next day.
Tears puddled in my eyes. I tried so hard to conceal them so Parker would not see. My throat felt like I had swallowed concrete. I tried my best to pull myself together. Parker looked at me and smiled. He told me not to worry and then said, “Come here. You need a hug.” I gladly accepted. Part of me felt guilty for letting him see me that way. Part of me felt weak. There Parker was sitting, so strong, smiling. How?
He said the last surgery was a major surgery, and he got through it. He feels like he can get through anything now. I explained that skin grafts were like burns or like when he wrecked his bike and scraped up his knee…only worse. I didn’t want to scare him, but I wanted to be prepared. He just said, “Mom, I got this.”
To show his cheerful mood, he picked a bright pink cast and for a little while, I couldn’t help but to smile too.
We went back home. Parker went to his room and played video games with his friends, seemingly not having a care in the world. I sat on the couch, sick to my stomach. In fact, my stomach hadn’t settled since the last nightmare. I knew he would come out of surgery just fine. I surprisingly didn’t have any doubts, but the last surgery was so traumatizing.
I didn’t sleep much the night before surgery. Not even enough to allow a nightmare to make its way in to my head. We got to the hospital, met the surgery staff, and within no time, he was off to surgery again. My grandparents, mom and I waited. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait nearly as long as we did for the last surgery. Before we knew it, Dr. Miller was telling us that the surgery went well. He explained that because of the blood clot and sacrificing of Parker’s vein during the last surgery, he was concerned about blood flow to the area of the skin graft though. He told us that if it didn’t heal well, we were out of options. Parker is again looking at the possibility of amputation.
My heart sank.
Blindsided. I didn’t see that coming.
That’s how cancer works though. Always messing with you. Always throwing in a curve ball when you least expect it. I knew we would face more challenges when he got back on chemo. But not this. This was supposed to be behind us.
I was already anxious to start chemo. I want to make sure every little, tiny, itty bitty bit of cancer was gone. Another delay in chemo means more time for that one little cell that might be left behind to multiply and spread. It’s enough to make me sick all over again.
Parker woke up, fell asleep, woke up again, fell asleep again. We talked a little bit. I asked if he was in pain, thirsty, needed anything. He just wanted to rest. He woke up again, sat up, looked at me and said, “Where am I?” I looked at him, confused, figuring he would be coherent by now. I said, “In the hospital.” He started giggling, “Got you!” a huge smile engulfing his face. I chuckled in response, shaking my head. Oh, Parker.
The next day I told Parker what Dr. Miller had told us. I also told him that Dr. Miller was optimistic and that we just wanted to prepare him if it were to happen, but there’s still a good chance that everything will heal properly and be okay. Parker didn’t cry like I expected. He told me that he wasn’t worried. Pain was temporary. His main concern was that it would be “weird” when he woke up and his leg was not there.
Tomorrow the splint comes off. If it’s healing well, they’ll put a cast on and send us home. We’ll come back 2 weeks from the surgery date to check it again. If it’s not healing well, we change the plan. Either way, we will take it one day at a time.
I made it through yet another surgery. Most importantly, Parker made it through another surgery. And together we will make it through the next surgery if it’s what needs to be done.
Parker is a warrior, and I’m going to strive to be as strong as him. I’ve been teaching him what I’ve learned in life for 13 years, but now I find he’s teaching me some of the most important lessons. Strength being just one of them.
We also know we have an incredible amount of support, so thank you to those of you who are following, praying, and sending well wishes our way.