On Thursday, I went to Dana-Farber to be with Brendan on his last lumbar puncture appointment*. He greeted me with his always pleasant smile, excited to see me. He looked a lot better than the last time I saw him over the summer. Brendan was a bit taller and had a few more needed pounds. His wheelchair was at home.
Brendan was excited to show me the new artwork across the street. His mother, Alexis took me into one of the empty rooms to look out the window. Across the street, a new addition to the Children’s Hospital was under construction. On the fourth floor, the corner steel girder had the name BRENDAN in bright yellow along with other children’s names on various beams. I told him that it was awesome!
The nurse came to get Brendan ready for his procedure, and I was quickly reminded how much he goes through on a daily basis. To Brendan, this was just another day in the life of a child with Leukemia. He and his nurse fly through the prep. His doctor comes in to say hello. Brendan and mom pass out some Christmas gifts to the nurses that have been caring for him at Dana-Farber.
We had about twenty minutes before the lumbar puncture and bone marrow biopsy. We talked about school and video games. Brendan showed me the new Lego Imperial Star Destroyer, which he has been saving up for that has over 3,000 pieces. He tells me he is feeling ok, eating well and tired of the steroids. I also find out the good news that if everything keeps going well, he should be finished with his chemo treatments by the end of February. Yea!!
We all go with Brendan in the room where they will perform the lumbar. Brendan tells me he can almost count to 100 before the anesthesia puts him to sleep. The general anesthesia is a gas which Brendan gets to pick its scented flavor. He said they have any scent you can think of, so I ask them if they had Fried Chicken. He laughed and thought that sounded like a great idea but unfortunately was not a choice. Brendan went with orange and proudly began to make his way toward 100.
Alexis and I left so the procedure can begin, and I tagged along as she went to the Dana-Farber pharmacy to get this month’s drugs. It is obvious this was not your typical neighborhood CVS pharmacy and do not service your typical customers. She asks the pharmacist for a 3ml syringe because the markings on a 5ml make it hard for an accurate ½ dose. They did not have any.
As we walked back into the clinic, people were unpacking stuffed animals and placing them under the Christmas tree near the front desk. Alexis ran into a friend. She was getting two animals for her kids, her son is a patient at Dana-Farber.
We were able to go back into the room when Brendan woke up. He was cold and still a little groggy. Everything went well. Brendan cannot wait to eat because he had to fast the night before. I give him a hug and told him I had to leave to get back to work but I would talk him before Christmas.
On the elevator ride down, I replay the morning in my head. I focus on how “normal” today was for Brendan, his mom, the doctors and nurses. I think to myself, no one should have to have this normal of a day.
It is all of our responsibly to find a cure.