Saturday, 23 July 2011

Today was a day filled with laughter and then tears. The last few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions, and keeping up with life and all it has thrown at us is certainly taking its toll. Chemotherapy on the monday before the birth of our son was thankfully uneventful. We were fortunate enough to be looked after by three of our favorite chemo nurses who sent us on our way after the hours long treatment with hugs, kisses and well wishes. Kev paid strict attention to how he was feeling this time, and headed off nausea with the meds he was given, very motivated to be feeling well by thursday, to hold his son in his arms. There was no issues with him being unhooked from chemo on the wednesday, and we both fell into an exhausted sleep that night, excited about what was to come the very next morning.
The drive to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning was a quiet thoughtful one. I was starting to get nervous of the surgery, nervous that the baby was alright, nervous about the recovery and how it would affect how I care for my family. I was in good hands I kept saying to myself as we walked in. I was. My sister Maryellen was there to see her new nephew just minutes old, she wasn't for the first two, my cousin Karen was there to scrub in, a fantastic nurse who means the world to me, she was to be three for three having helped deliver the first two as well, and Kevin, my love and best friend who I had been so afraid would not be here for this occasion. I really needn't have worried, it was beautiful. It seemed just minutes after going into the operating room that they were telling us we had a beautiful baby boy. He was a miracle to look at, my eyes wide with wonder. They do the skin on skin practice at the hospital, and because I was unable to hold him at that time, they had outfitted Kev with a gown and had placed the baby against his bare chest, in his arms. To see this beautiful child snuggle up close to his father, Kev talking quietly to him, telling him how much he is loved was amazing, and the tears that came then were of pure joy. We were both crying happy tears, the chemo a distant memory, Tadhgan was here and now the focus.
Kev spent as much time at the hospital with us as he could, but having two little boys at home, he really had to split his time. I was however fortunate enough to be able to go home twenty-four hours later, the surgery went that well, and I was up and about and raring to go. Tadhgan Kevin Stem, 8lbs 10oz, born July 7th 2011, came home on the 8th, and has just fit into the family like he has always been a part of us. Quin and Cian are in love with their little brother, always making sure he is alright, never passing by without kissing him on the head.
July 8th not only was the day I brought Tadhgan home, it was also scan day. Kev went with his mom, I wasn't able to go, and that upset both of us. I really wanted to be there for him, and he really needed me there. The scan done, we were left with the waiting game, July 18th would be result day. The next week was spent doing just that, waiting and biding our time. Both of us were pretty hopeful that the results would be as great as the last time, that the idea of surgery would be revisited. That monday we woke up nervous and scared. Kev was so wound up about it he was sick, nerves and fear are a horrible mix. The results we got were not the spectacular results we had hoped for, though to keep things in perspective, there was still reductions in his tumors, including the primary. The disappointment came with the fact that the discussion of surgery was still very premature, and that chemo would start again this coming Tuesday. It was also hard to hear that they would have to reduce the strength of the chemo because the neuropathy Kev was experiencing in his hands and feet was getting worse, and could eventually affect his walking and his grasp. We were quiet and pensive on the way home, trying to digest what we had been told. We have come to the conclusion that the terrible road that we are on is just longer than we had thought, that the nightmare continues to rage on, but we haven`t been beaten. Talking to my belly was one thing, but now Kev has this living breathing beautiful reminder of why the fight will continue with a vengeance, why the war has to be won. Despite all the ups and downs, neither of us will accept any other outcome than growing old together, watching our children grow.....together.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Life goes on, and it is a very busy time for us. It doesn't help that I feel like I am treading water on a river that sometimes moves faster than I can keep up with. The river's rapids keep pushing me under water, but then I seem to pop up and tread again successfully. It's a very unsettling feeling.
Father's day was an amazing gift in our house. The boys had made Kev special gifts and cards that came from their hearts and we spent the whole day with family. Kev seemed to have an abundance of energy, and was more like himself than he has been. As always these days, we took lots of pictures and when I go back and look at them they make me smile. It all looks so normal, so right. The pictures leaving out the worry and strain, only showing the love and the happiness. I will always cherish them.
Chemo week number three came with a lot of trepidation, mostly due to the mistakes made last round. It went off without a hitch though this time, and leaving the hospital Kev felt really good about things, felt almost healthy. Unfortunately it didn't last. We were home only a short time when it hit him, and it hit worse than I had seen yet. He was violently ill for hours upon hours. I had to call the hospital to ask the oncologist what to do. I was frightened. They insisted he would have to come in if it didn't stop, if he couldn't take water. He couldn't become dehydrated, it would compromise his treatment, it could be very serious. Kev didn't want to go, and promised me he would try water. He was finally able to sleep, exhausted from the dry heaves that had racked his body for hours. I woke him intermittently and pretty much forced him to have the water, but he didn't argue, didn't fight. He knew how important it was. We made it through the night, but for the next few days the nausea persisted and he was sick again. We had been told that chemo is accumulative, that the side effects could rear their ugly head at any time. They weren't kidding. I do believe we are lucky that this happened in round seven. Had it been right from the get go I don't know if Kev would have ever gone back. It truly was an eye opener of how blessed we have been.
This past off chemo week has been filled with kid stuff to keep our minds off of what happened. Kev's energy still wanes, and he has developed some sort of infection in his throat caused by the treatment, but again we are treading water and our heads are above the surface. Cian graduated from nursery school, Quin received his yellow belt in judo, Quin turned seven and Cian turned four. Birthday parties and a baby shower have made this week go very quickly, with wonderful memories and a great dose of happiness. These are the things that are bolstering Kev's spirits, and putting the fight back in him even when he breaks down and sobs, which still happens in the quiet of the night.
Here we are again, looking down at the final chemo week. This time the prize at the end is the birth of our little boy. Kev and I will be at Sunnybrook on Monday, and we will get through whatever happens together . His nurse Kay will come and unhook him from the chemo on Wednesday, and Thursday we go together to the hospital to welcome this gift of a child into the world. To me, as it is the end of this round of chemo, it is a sign of new life, new beginnings. One cold day in February, not so long ago, we were told Kev was sick, that there was a good chance he would not be there to see the birth of his child. I want those people to know that he will be the one holding his son with the big smile on his face in case they don't recognise him.