Treatment Update: First Lumbar Puncture at DHMC

This is Dad, back for an update.  So, our journey through the world of cancer treatment continued this week with our first lumbar puncture (LP) at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH, which Maddie affectionately calls “my new hospital.”  This was the first prodedure with anesthesia since we had to say goodbye to the fine folks at the day surgery unit at Maine Medical Center (where we used to get her LP’s).  As a result, we all began the morning with some degree of trepidation.  I had a solid knot in my stomach, filling the void where breakfast would normally have been.  For these procedures Maddie cannot eat after midnight the day previous, so Emily and I try to wait and eat with her after leaving the hospital.  For me, the lack of food was not the issue, rather it was the 1 in 125,000 chance that death (or the like) would occur with the anesthesia.  I am a hopeless worrier and despite the fact that the numbers are on our side and we have been through many of these before with no trouble at all, I always manage to experience a palpable sense of dread.  Maddie, on the other hand, seems to take it all in stride, concerned only with the pictures of the fish on the procedure room walls and whether or not the playroom floor cleaning would be finished in time for her to head in there.   And then there is always the planning for what she will eat when she can.

Emily, her mother, Maddie and myself received kind and professional treatment from the folks at DHMC.  In addition, they were very efficient, which is a good thing when you have a child and parents ready to attack the very first food product they encounter! The procedure went without a hitch and she awoke from the propofol-induced sleep a bit unsteady but ready for the rest of her day.  Teddy, who you may remember was accessed several weeks back and has remained so all this time, was forced to keep his port accessed, following strick instructions from Maddie.  Maddie was pleased to wake and find her “Tubey” out.  Emily had drawn her blood the day before at home and we all decided together to leave her port accessed so that we would not have to re-access the site for her LP.  That meant going to school with the “Tubey” visible to other kids in her class.  Nana (her grandmother) asked if any other kids came to school with a “Tubey” and Maddie replied that no others in her class had cancer.  “It was no big deal,” she said.

School today did not go as well, and Maddie came home at noon feeling a bit sick to her stomach and tired as well.  I am reminded at moments such as this that although she is lively and vivacious much of the time, Maddie is still in the midst of a rigorous challenge, physically and mentally.  Overall she is fairing quite well with this Maintenance phase of the treament.  She has a lot of gumption, as she deals with questions from classmates, comments about her short hair, constant medications, bouts of sickness and lack of energy, a father who worries much too much, and more.  Despite these challenges, she remains full of beans and quite the little miss full-in-charge.  Her blood numbers look good, and we are all beginning to look forward to January of 2010 when we hope to put this behind us.

Life in Vermont has been very good for us all thus far.  Emily remains very busy with work at the emergency rooms of two local hospitals and Maddie and I spend time at home trying to do a thousand projects to get the our little farm up and running.  Tune in next time for a treatment update and the annual chicken slaughter!

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