Teddy Rodd's Journal
NO LONGER FANCY
Written Jan 15, 2014 8:12pm
“The ring of power, it’s gone!” Teddy holds up a bloody nub, gooeyness drooling down what’s left of his finger.
We’re a captive audience.
Slithering and seething, “They stole it. My…precious.” Orange-yellow flames lick the glass door of our wood stove casting shadow over our very own Gollum.
He’d been sticking his fingers in Laurel’s, fancy-red candles.
They’re no longer fancy.
The wax is warm and mushy from our candle light dinner. Allie and I dance to a mélange of wispy violin and euro-bee-bop techno.
Minutes later, the kid’s side-stepp’in again into our range of vision with an, inmate-like license plate held firmly against his chest. In steely pirate grin, “Umm…I just broke out of some big-city prison…umm somewhere really important. Watch out, peoples. I’m scary…a very scary person. You should be very scared of me. Okay, I’m gonna go now.”
Exit stage left.
As usual, we’re caught up in that hilarious moment. One that only Teddy seems to spontaneously provide.
Of course we burst into stitches of smiles and laughter until it hurts.
That was last night.
They took off this morning for Children’s.
Meet with the radiation therapist.
Make sure the radiation mask still fits.
Another brain scan for the therapy baseline.
One last round of chemo for good measure, and another Neuro exam with our team of oncologists.
Then check out some longer term lodging options…
…and of course all topped off with Fettuccine Alfredo at one of his favorite local, Italian joints.
Hopefully back home on Friday for a week. Then back up for the six-week sprint.
Laurel just texted. They made it fine. Good.
I’m listening to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G; a far cry from the danc’in violin techno.
Soothing, but rather quiet.
Maybe too quiet…
Written Jan 7, 2014 11:05pm
Returned from Denver on Friday evening with robust platelets and a rock bottom white count.
Teddy slept most of the way home.
The rest of us sported yellow masks to protect him.
Enjoyed a Saturday of cutting wood, butchering ranch meat and enjoying good food with our family up the hill.
Then Teddy spiked a high fever late Saturday evening.
No immune system.
At first we almost Flight-for-Life’d him to Denver.
Then we decided to stay local.
Admitted him to our hospital here in Durango.
Finally brought him and Laurel home once again last night exhausted beyond reason.
Pushed us all over the edge.
Like a six-year, all-night, not-much-sleep, chess game. You think there’s lots of moves left on the board, but really there’s just one left.
And you hope your opponent doesn’t see it coming.
We’re scrapping the eighteen month chemotherapy marathon.
Down to Radiation.
Every day for six weeks; with the exception of the weekends.
Apparently radiation doesn’t work on the weekends.
Especially on powder days.
Good thing cuz Teddy plans on hitting the local Denver slopes over the weekends.
We start in about a week.
Still working out the logistics.
Recently met with a dear friend here in Durango. His son was Teddy’s neighbor up on the sixth floor at Children’s back years ago when Teddy was originally diagnosed.
They had played community soccer together.
I’d never wish for any child to end up on the sixth floor at Children’s.
Any floor at Children’s for that matter.
Make no mistake, we dearly love and appreciate our medical team.
No question about their care for our child.
Yet, it’s our story.
A beautiful, searing, burning story.
In the local hospital lobby, he and I talked about a certain beauty present in sorrow and pain; and to be careful not to wish it all away.
For it’s in this journey, that we get to taste God’s goodness, a loving community and seeing through the temporal into the eternal.
Back on the ranch, there’s a herd of shadowy elk bedding down around our home.
Maybe a hundred of ‘em.
Maybe two hundred.
Like that big bass I caught when I was a kid on one of the Great Lakes. It always get’s bigger and bigger as time goes by.
Teddy and I decided to do a round of hand paintball.
Sloshing through the melting snow and barren trees, throw as hard as you can and hope it splatters the other guy.
Couldn’t throw it hard enough though to break the skins.
So we did what any responsible father and son would do; we switched to slingshots.
Figured they’d do the trick.
Oh, and they most certainly did.
He’s got a great aim.
My neon splattered welts still burn.
And Teddy smiles...
BRIMMING TO THE TOP
Written Jan 3, 2014 10:31am
Less than five percent intact.
Basically nothing left.
Though the platelets recovered from the transfusion; his baby white soldiers dispersed.
The glass isn’t half empty or full. The life-giving liquid may even evaporate before it makes its way across the slick side to his parched lips.
The hospital machines apparently won’t even register any lower numbers.
It’s like his body has said, “Enough!”
Can’t take no more chemo.
Stumbled across the breaking point.
Decided to put everything on hold. In complete opposition to my natural instinct to take more action and fight.
If only the cancer would obey, raise the white flag and cease to take over his spinal chord.
In the mean time, we gave him an injection to hopefully encourage bone marrow production.
Three forks ahead in the road.
Monday we’ll prick his finger to see if the injection rallied the troops.
One week later we’ll do the same.
Another week later we’ll scan the entire chord and lower brain.
Each fork will help determine our path forward.
“This is a dangerously poor response to this current chemo therapy,” says Dr. Nick rather emphatically. “Any infection at this point would be life threatening.”
Teddy takes it all in behind lowered, guarded eyes, “So we can still go do a movie and Fettuccine Alfredo, right?”
Always grasping for hope in this new level of normal.
“Sorry, Teddy. No public places or crowds until your body regroups.”
Back to our hotel room in downtown Denver.
Brought the creamy pasta to the kid.
Snuggled deep in his makeshift bed. Portable DVD player squawking intergalactic skirmishes. Light sabers flashing. Yoda pronouncing goodness, hope and the perils of falling to the entrapments of the dark side.
Spent most of the night clinging to his deep, rhythmic breathing; hoping and praying that his glass slowly fills back up.
Brimming to the top.
On our way back home to Durango sometime this morning, will be packed in tight, and wearing yellow, disposable masks for Teddy.
Sitting in a downtown coffee house.
Waiting for Laurel and the kids to wake up and pack their bags.
The man on my left seems to have suffered a stroke. Fingers jammed into his ears to block out the noise as he methodically reads the morning paper.
The woman on my right is smiling and talking cheerfully to a friend or loved one across the table whom is no longer visibly there.
Outside steam pushes up through a metal grate. A young girl sits cross-legged on the ground, clings to her backpack, and soaks in the warmth of the morning sunshine.
Below freezing temperatures last night.
Taking a very serious look now at our remaining option.
The six week sprint…