After the first week of Poppy’s treatment there were two factors which would allow us to leave hospital. Firstly she needed to be well enough to go home. And secondly we needed a teaching session with a nurse, to prepare us for what looking after Poppy would now entail. Our roles of parents were now changing and it was up to us to be her main carers, in a very different sense to what it had been before.
It has been a long time since either of us had had to learn anything new but we were keen to pay attention in this instance. Determined to get it right and leave hospital armed with information and potentially lifesaving facts.
When she was initially diagnosed I’d wrongly assumed she’d be in hospital for significant periods of time. I pictured her treatment as a dramatic scene where she lay forlornly in bed whilst everyone sat around feeling sad. There’s a bit of a theme developing here, I was incorrect yet again… After her initial and intense stay as an inpatient the remainder of her medicine will be given at home or in Daycare. And rather surprisingly providing she doesn’t develop an infection there’s no reason for her to be admitted again.
Unfortunately infections are a huge part of life for anyone undergoing treatment for Cancer. They pose a significant risk to patients and in some cases can mean the worst.
This is due to the chemotherapy she will be receiving. So whilst chemo destroys bad cells, it can’t distinguish which cells are healthy and which are bad, and as a result cells which fight infection are destroyed.
As Poppy now has low immunity one of our main responsibilities is to check her temperature regularly. And by regularly we find ourselves doing it constantly. Temperature is the first sign of an infection and if hers goes to 38 degrees or over we’re under strict instructions to ring Oncology immediately.
A lot of the information we were given comes down to basic common sense, such as being hygienic and cooking food well. Chicken Pox and Measles are incredibly dangerous for Poppy so we’re to avoid any prolonged contact with possible carriers.
But with the risk of an infection looming over us at all times, finding the balance between being sensible and living in a bubble for the next few years is going to be hard.
As such we have decided to apply some basic ground rules to our house which means shoes off and hand sanitizer when you come in, and a strict ban on visitors with germs of any kind.
We can control what comes into our house to a certain extent, but when we’re out and about it’s another matter. The hospital were keen to impress on us that life should carry on as normal, but it’s sensible to avoid places when they’re really busy.
We were given a whole host of precautions to take a symptoms to look out for, which all sound very scary but were assured that help and advice is only ever a phone call away should we have any concerns or questions.
So we left hospital a bit wiser and on the road to becoming experts in something I’d never wished to be adept in knowing. It’s all for the greater good of helping Poppy but none the less it feels like another indication that we’re facing something so scary and it all started to feel heartbreakingly real.