That was the command from the automated CT Scan voice the other day. As Emma lay there, wrapped tightly in her own pink striped blanket from home, then a funny smelling highly sanitized hospital issued blanket, then a large 2 foot wide velcro strap to keep her from rolling off the narrow sliding table while she held her arms above her head, this is the voice that spoke instructions to her while the machine whirred and hummed.
Breathe In.....Hold Your Breath.....Breathe.
The machine changed settings a bit, then a large clear syringe filled with another radioactive "contrast" was slowly injected into her IV through a coiled clear tube that stretched out as the table moved into position. Again, the booming, authoritative yet calm voice commanded...
Breathe In....Hold Your Breath....Breathe
I am a rule follower. I guess it's due to being a first born child. What I'm told to do, I do. So even though I'm the helpless mom who is standing in the corner of the darkened basement CT suite, weighed down by the lead apron the tech strapped onto me, to protect me from the exact radiation levels that my child is being exposed to, my child who is still growing, my child who has yet to fully mature, my child who needs to be protected from all of this....but please by all means, shield the mother from the dangerous radiation, I breathe when the man says breathe. If I could, I would rip off that cursed lead apron and flop my own body down on that machine and do this for her......but I can't. All I can do is silently stand in the corner, with that apron weighing down on my shoulders, and hold her glasses and pink Danskin sweatshirt......and follow the invisible man's instructions.........
Breathe In.....Hold Your Breath......Breathe
I realized, in my following his instructions, I was acting like the mother, who feeds her baby from a spoon and opens her mouth unknowingly each time to encourage her baby to take a bite, that I was trying to help the process, or at least help Emma get through yet another scan.
These last few weeks, we have been on edge, stressed out, worried sick and worse. It feels out of control, and just when we think we are getting the hang of this situation, something changes and we are upended again waiting for the next hard part.
We are breathing in, and holding our breath. Waiting.
Ten minutes after this CT scan last Thursday, we had our regular clinic appointment, but this time we were to find out the results of her latest PET scan (scan to find cancer cells). We breathed in as the door opened and we were to see one of the three pediatric oncologists. The youngest of the three came in and nervously sat down. We held our breath. "The results of the scan show no new sites and the affected lymph nodes show positive signs of responding to the chemotherapy". Good news. Praise Jesus! WE BREATHED.
Based on her current blood counts and test results, she will begin her first of 15 maintenance cycles of chemotherapy drug treatment this week on Thursday, including a spinal tap. It will be a long day. She is beginning to show signs of fatigue, both physically and emotionally. I don't blame her. I would be far more "grumpy" than she has been. Jon calls it "chemo funk". I guess it's just all part of the process of slowly poisoning your body, and then asking it to heal itself again and again. I am so thankful, it's not up to us to heal her. She is in the most caring and capable hands....the doctors and nurses, but more importantly, our Father God, the Great Physician.
Thank you for following her story. You are an amazing cloud of witnesses to her journey.