Ashtyn woke up feeling decent and had a rather uneventful day. Uneventful is wonderful. Even though she doesn’t feel as well as she would like, she looks good. Today she spent most of the morning and afternoon sleeping. During the evening she watched movies while her dad rubbed her feet. Twice a day she receives an anti-rejection medication called Cyclosporine. She has had horrible foot pain as a side effect. Her feet feel as if she had just walked several miles in the tightest fitting shoes. Throughout the afternoon and evening she was given Oxycodone and Tylenol to help with the pain. Before going to bed for the night they tried a dose of morphine which really did the job. She fell asleep pain free.
Ashtyn’s mouth is beginning to show signs of mucositis with a greenish/white tongue and reddened throat. Her tongue is also beginning to have ridges on the edge instead of being smooth. Four times a day she swishes different mouthwashes to help control mouth infections and hopefully lessen the mucositis to some degree. Though there are signs that mucositis will soon be rearing its ugly head, she ate fruit loops for breakfast, 1/4 of a cup of noodle soup for lunch, and 1/2 serving of Top Ramen for dinner. She is getting IV nutrition, TPN and lipids, to make up all the nutrients she needs.
Day one is behind us. It was a good day. We will take each day as they come and continue to see our blessings in all things.
One of the most precious blessings during Ashtyn’s battle with cancer has been the interactions we have had with people. We have been able to interact with many inspiring and loving people, through email, messages, and visits. Two of these interactions happened in the last couple of days.
The first was with Julie. She wrote a message on Facebook, “Hi Ashtyn! I just saw your story on KSL. My little boy is here at the hospital waiting for a new heart. We learned about him just a couple of weeks before you learned about your cancer.” Julie and I decided to meet at church on Sunday and then spent over an hour talking in Ashtyn’s room. Monday, Julie and I ate lunch and dinner together in the hospital’s family lounge and talked as if we had known each other forever. Ashtyn was facing her bone marrow transplant the following day and Julie didn’t know if her son Zack would live long enough to receive a heart transplant. On Tuesday morning, as Chandler was getting ready for surgery to donate his marrow, Julie found out they had found a perfectly matched and sized angel heart for her son. Our children were diagnosed the same month with life threatening health problems and were both getting a transplant the same day. Her son will be in the hospital for close to the same amount of time Ashtyn will be in the hospital. Once home they will both experience the same “bubble boy/girl” precautions and will forever share their transplant birthday on June 11th. Tonight I received a text from Julie. “I know it’s late. Hope I don’t wake you! Just wanted to send my love and let you know I’m here if you need me. Sending prayers for a restful night your way. xoxo.” Oh how that warmed my heart.
(Zack’s facebook link https://www.facebook.com/zacksbiglittleheart)
The second interaction I had was last night. I went to dinner with a few of my girlfriends for a girls night out. (“Women thrive both emotionally and physically from close friendships with other women. These bonds are important for female well-being and livelihood.” UCLA study) The night built me up. Not only did we eat yummy food with great conversation, I was able to meet Kathy. Kathy’s 7 year old, Alex, was diagnosed with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a tumor located in the middle of the brain stem) in November. He passed away April 11th. The ladies and I sat at the restaurant table for four hours talking and talking and talking, the way only girls do. I was so impressed and touched by my friends’ love for each other and also by Kathy’s tender faith and strength.
My heart overflows when I think of all the interactions I have had with family, friends, neighbors, staff members, and strangers since Ashtyn has been diagnosed with cancer. A lesson I have learned is that all paths are crossed for a purpose. Interactions and relationships that may seem random are in fact there to bless our lives. I have instantly felt connections with so many who love and support Ashtyn. I can’t possibly think we are strangers. I can’t possibly think those who are and have been in my life, or are a part of Ashtyn’s Army, came about from a random coincidence. I can only assume that the people we interact with on earth are those we interacted with in heaven. What a blessing you have been in my family’s life. That is the way God intended, for His children to take care of each other and be instruments in His hands to bless others. I have learned the importance of sharing my life with others as Julie and Kathy shared their life with me. I know Ashtyn is where she is today because of all those who have come into her life with love and support. Her army. No matter how dark the world may seem, I think there is more good than bad. I see it every day.
“I know that relationships are not just serendipitous happenings or coincidences. All of these events happen for divine purposes. God truly blesses the details of our lives. These interactions and relationships, which might seem random in the moment, are ordained to bless and perfect our lives.” John Pontius