One of my favorite things about Carter having Leukemia (if there is such a thing as "favorite things") is the Beads of Courage program. For every little mile stone Carter overcomes he gets a bead. I know it doesn't sound like much but it's actually pretty cool. Each specific color/shape of a bead means something. For example, for each time they draw blood he gets a black bead. For each day he spends in the hospital he gets a yellow one. Surgery they get a cool star shaped one (of which Carter will have THREE by the time he's one month into this thing). Chemo is a white bead. When the Child Life Specialist comes he gets one with a smiley face. He also has beads that spell his name and one that has the hospital's name on it with "Beads of Courage" on the other side. As of right now Carter has over 70 beads- yep, he's been through a lot in the last week and a half. He will continue to get beads over the next three years from the clinic each time he has chemo or anything like that. I really like the program and love their explanation as to WHY they chose beads for this program. Carter looks forward to receiving beads as well. Yesterday he earned 9 beads for the following things: surgery, getting his port removed, being neutropenic, spending a day at the hospital, being in isolation, getting a spinal tap, chemo, having blood drawn, and receiving platelets.
As for how Carter's doing, he's doing great. Aside from the whole bacteria infection (which they caught immediately and they kicked that within days) and his yeast flare up, we can't complain. Because of the yeast, the surgeon had to remove his port. Bummer. Once yeast are in a port there's no getting them out so the port had to be removed and he had to get a normal IV. This also means that any time he needs blood drawn for the remainder of the time we are at the hospital (until hopefully only Friday afternoon) they will need to poke him (he earns a bead!)... not Carter's favorite past time. Once we have three yeast-free blood cultures (which SHOULD be on Friday, they will take out the IV, put in a PICC line (another bead!), and send us on our way. After a few weeks once Carter's body has had time to heal up a little, we'll come back to the hospital and he'll get another port in (more beads!).... a nice, clean, yeast-free port that should be in there for the remainder of his treatment.
This has been a tough little journey so far and I've been encouraged to talk to others who have been through this. At this point, I just need to deal with what's in front of me. Every case of A.L.L. is different and every child that has it reacts differently to the meds, chemo, steroids, etc. I know I should reach out for answers from other moms... but I know it will just scare me. Right now, ignorance is truly bliss for me. I don't google Leukemia. I don't call those mom's people have told me about. I haven't talked to the other mothers in the hospital with children with cancer. I just want to be. You know? I want to go through this with Bryan, Carter, and my cute healthy little girls. I have always loved my family but I would be a liar if I said I wasn't a little more patient these days.... if I didn't let Addi stay up a little late and watch Ariel with me while snuggling on the couch... if I didn't drive through places to get the girls a shake a little more often. I have a new appreciation for my sweet family, and I feel like I'm a mommy who has always appreciated them; one who truly loves to be a stay-at-home mom; one who tries to remember "these days will be gone before you know it" when they are driving me batty and throwing tantrums for no apparent reason. I love my family and I am the luckiest girl in the world to have them with me forever and ever.