This is an ugly story I don’t want to tell. I wish someone else would tell this story so I would know I’m not the only one. But not everyone will tell the whole truth. Makes you too vulnerable, open for criticism and judgment. To those I say, walk a mile in my shoes or maybe just don’t read on.
This is for my cancer moms.
This morning I drove Justin to physical therapy. He SEEMED okay, so I proceeded to take him to school.
We got as far as the classroom door before absolute chaos ensued. He turned around, said he felt sick, ran away and locked me out of the car.
Oh I don’t think so.
Some hushed threats in the parking lot. Door opens. We talk. He refuses to get out.
Nicky’s class walks by. He sees us and runs over because I’m very noticeably parked in the fire lane for what was supposed to be a quick drop off.
Hi mom! I fake a smile and give him a kiss. I don’t think he understood enough about what was happening to be embarrassed about it. That’s a plus.
I pull into a parking spot and wait until Justin calms down. I tell him if he doesn’t go in, we will go home and he will have to take a nap. Because that’s what you do when you’re sick.
He says okay.
I think he must be really feeling lousy because I point out that it’s just about time for recess. But he still wants to take a nap rather than play with his friends.
I guess therapy and school are too much for him in one day. I must be pushing him too hard.
We go home. I am a little embarrassed, but then I think that anyone who saw us will understand. There’s no handbook for this.
He wants to play mine craft when we get home. Now I am wondering if I just got played.
I say no. You were too tired for school so you need to take a nap. This is a strategy now.
He fights me. He hits me. He throws things. Now the time in his room is a consequence.
Twenty minutes of crying and me not letting him out of his room. Then he is asleep.
I am still sitting on the floor. Too physically tired to get up. Too mentally drained to figure out what to do next.
My point is this.
How to distinguish legitimate chemo-induced sickness from defiant behavior? Legitimate physical problem vs. “I don’t feel like doing that.” Steroid-induced mood swing or normal kid-type misbehavior?
Here’s the thing. Nobody knows for sure how to answer this question. Not the social worker. Not the child psychologist. All they ever say is to be consistent. Yeah, consistently in the dark, I say.
I can talk to him later when things calm down, hoping he tells the truth. But I’m not Houdini. And I can’t read minds.
Am I going to force my kid on high doses of chemo to go to school when he claims he doesn’t feel good? Because Justin is not on a typical low “maintenance” level chemo anymore. No. That didn’t work for him. His white blood count was too high. He was at risk for new blasts to form and leukemia to come back with a vengeance.
Justin is on a high dose. So, again, am I going to force my kid on high doses of chemo to go to school when he just did an hour of therapy and says he feels sick?
No. I’m not.
But I’m going to make sure today isn’t fun for him and hopefully figure it out. I’m going to keep PRAYING for WISDOM.
One. Day. At. A. Time.