Back Again

When I don’t write, it is usually a sign that things are going well, or that I’m traveling too much. Both circumstances explain the long gap between these entries. Quite frankly, I hoped my blogging days were behind me, or that I could start a new blog that covered more upbeat topics. But, here I am, back again, providing you with news on Jordan’s condition. She is back in the hospital as a result of new symptoms related to her battle with cancer.

Yesterday was her birthday. She is now seven years old. At about eight in the morning she bounced into our bedroom bubbling with excitement about turning older, eager to be pampered far more than she is on any other day. Her wide smile beamed as she jumped on our bed and asked to see her present. Seconds later, the paper was off and the brand new computer games were running on her computer. She sang happily while waiting for the content to load up.

She wanted to go to Green Street for breakfast, so the three of us (Lucas is on a camping trip) showered and headed to our favorite breakfast spot. She ate well and positively gushed when the waitress delivered a sunday after her meal. “I can have ice cream for breakfast!” she lilted.

From there we went shopping, she eager to use the Barnes & Noble gift card her aunt and uncle gave her. We lounged in the bookstore for about an hour and Jordan bought a fashionable Princess diary to record her many thoughts. We took the slow route home, stopping in a few shops to browse. Jordan decided she needed sunglasses, so we headed across the street to check Gap Kids. I was two steps into the intersection when I heard her crying. I turned around to see her lying face down in the street. She had tripped and her knees were scraped. A small goose-egg was forming on her forehead. We rushed her across the street to a restaurant to get some ice. Within a few minutes she was plotting on how to take candy from the hostess desk and we figured she was feeling better. We headed home, iced the wound some more and put band-aids on the other scratches. Her mood had changed. She was happy again. After watching some TV, she decided to take a nap.

Two hours later, she woke disoriented. She barely made it to the bathroom when she got sick. That alone was sign to us that something wasn’t right, but there was more. She was favoring one side of her body. Her left seemed limp, unresponsive, paralyzed. Her speech was slurred and she looked troubled. I hadn’t seen her like this since the last surgery, and I wasn’t prepared to see it today. I couldn’t move. Normally, I know what to do right away, but today I was stuck. This couldn’t be happening. Although only a minute or so, it seemed like I stood there with a dumb look on my face for an hour. Finally, I got on the phone with Children’s Hospital and was told to bring her in immediately.

The ride to the hospital was gut-wrenching. Jordan moved in and out of consciousness in the back seat. When she tried to speak, her words were indecipherable. How could this be happening? Only hours before, she was celebrating her birthday, charming sales clerks and imagining what to do with the rest of her day. Why this? Why now?

Things got worse at the emergency room. She became conscious again and the realization of where she was set in. This triggered fear. She screamed and begged us to take her home. There was no way to console her. Then, just as we were beginning to talk with her, she would get disoriented again. She thrashed and writhed away from us, repeating slurred phrases that were just articulated enough for us to understand: “Daddy, take me to the car.”

It took us nearly an hour to calm her enough to lie still for the CT scan. They had to strap her down to keep her from getting out. Seeing her held against her will, sobbing and looking so afraid crushed me. I tried to cheer her and congratulate her for doing such a good job, but I wept as I fixed on her agonized face. Her eyes were bloodshot and puffy from crying.

On the way back to the ER holding room, Jordan’s left side went limp again. Her speech fell apart and she became more agitated. The doctors and nurses were able to see it this time, and even though her CT scans showed no sign of concussion, shunt malfunction or internal bleeding, they knew something was very wrong. Unfortunately, because they had to consider the possibility of seizures, they refused to give Jordan a sedative. So for the next two hours, Jeanette, my mom and I tried to restrain her thrashing anger behind the closed doors of her ER patient room. She screamed. When her words were available to her, she pleaded with each of us. “Take me home.” “Let’s go to the car.” “Don’t let them hurt me.”

I couldn’t watch this anymore. I went to the nurses station and demanded to see the attending doctor. She was very kind. A team of doctors had been on the phone since Jordan’s arrival, including her neurosurgeon and her oncologist. They all suspected that the decline in Jordan’s health was due to new tumor growth. The accident in the morning was just a trigger, they hypothesized. Unfortunately, none of the experts were in the building and they had no idea how much trauma Jordan was experiencing at the moment. I was finally successful in persuading them to give her a mild sedative. And within 20 minutes, her sobs subsided and she fell asleep. Jeanette, my mom and I stood silent in the room. We watched over her – my beautiful girl. Seven years earlier she entered our lives and we knew how blessed we were when we first saw her. How cruel it seemed that she should spend this night here, like this.

Jordan will be at the hospital through the weekend. Her core team of physicians will be back on Monday. We don’t know how long Jordan will remain at CHLA. She is being given steroids intravenously to reduce any swelling in her head. We hope the medication will cause the trauma to subside. Her neurosurgeon and neuro-oncologist will have to decide whether to attempt another surgery (to remove the new tumor) or to change her chemotherapy. My guess is that they will opt for the latter, as the new tumor is very small. But there are many unanswered questions, and they may remain unanswered for some time.