I have always been honest with my feelings in this blog. I’ve also focused most of the posts on Ashtyn and my observations of what she is going through and my feelings about it. Today I want to share a personal experience of things I am learning about life as I spend hour upon hour in the hospital.
Yesterday I woke up feeling alone. It wasn’t about cancer, it was just about life. I’m a single mom and I just felt alone. Ashtyn was sleeping and the only thing I could think of to try to fill my loneliness was to read the scriptures. Soon into my reading there was a knock on the door and Kim walked into Ashtyn’s hospital room. Kim is a woman I met a little over a year ago when I moved into her neighborhood. I only lived near her for 10 months but we quickly became forever friends. She brought a friend with her that I had never met before. The friend’s 17 year old son passed away seven years ago from a recreational accident. We chit chatted about things spiritual in nature and I was so inspired. As they were leaving there was a knock on the door. It was my bishop and his wife. We talked about my son Chandler who went on Trek a few days ago. (Trek is a three day experience with his youth church group to relive being a pioneer). Chandler loved the experience. Today he kept telling me how much he missed his pioneer “family” and the spirit they brought into his life. My bishop left with a prayer for Ashtyn and me.
After the bishop left I dressed for the day. I still felt alone and weighed down so I went into the shower room, locked the door, and prayed in private. It wasn’t a prayer concerning cancer, it was a prayer for me personally to know what path in my life I should be on. Once I got back to Ashtyn’s room I received a phone call from the main hospital desk telling me that there were four women downstairs wanting to leave Ashtyn flowers. I told them they could come up and visit. It was the Young Women leaders from my stake. We talked about how well Ashtyn is doing and how I know she wouldn’t be doing as well had it not been for all the prayers that have been said on her behalf. I shared with them: “When Ashtyn was first diagnosed with cancer I knew it was going to take an Army of people to get her through it. I always knew it wasn’t about any one person, it was about an orchestra of people doing their part. I had a part to play, just like everyone else. Another way I have visualized it is, Ashtyn has a ton of “rocks” of different varieties in a backpack on her shoulders. With each prayer, thought, support, or service a “rock” is removed from the backpack. Each “rock” is specific to the person who removed it. If that one person doesn’t do their part, then that one rock stays. When someone prays or supports Ashtyn, a specific rock is removed. With this perspective and observing the effect one person can have on others, it gives a greater understanding of the scripture “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” D&C 18:10 Every prayer matters. Everyone makes a difference and contributes to other’s lives in ways that no one else can.”
After the women left, I had one more visitor that stopped by, my dear friend Erin. I met Erin years ago at the gym. Her son was diagnosed with leukemia over a year ago. She has had a tender concern for Ashtyn since day one and has been a great support.
What was Ashtyn doing during all these visits? Sleeping. She slept until Erin was leaving. Ashtyn woke up at 5 pm. Never has Ashtyn slept that late into the day. I know those visitors came for Ashtyn, however they were there for me too. They were there to fill my soul and show me that I am not alone. What makes this experience even more remarkable is that up to this point visitors have been rare. In the 13 days of being in the hospital, Ashtyn has had about five visitors total. In four hours we had four visits with a total of nine people. I really needed that today.
Ashtyn’s dad came up to spend the evening with Ashtyn. I continued to be reminded that I am not alone as I went to dinner with my family for my dad’s 74th birthday. My mom and dad, three sisters, two brothers, two brother in laws, one sister in law, five nieces, one nephew, two sons, and two daughters were there.
Throughout the day I had mortal angels showing me love and support. When we let people into our lives, we aren’t alone. Ashtyn will tell anyone how she often feels heavenly angels in the hospital, as do I. When we open our heart allowing heavenly angels to guide and help us, again we aren’t alone.
“My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face.” Elder Jeffery R. Holland
“In reality we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven.” President Monson
Ashtyn just finished post transplant day 9. Everyone has been very pleased with how well she has done with the bone marrow transplant so far. She may not feel well, but she is doing great. Ashtyn summed up how she is feeling, “My brain feels good. My body doesn’t.”
The past 9 days haven’t been easy for Ashtyn, however everything has been very manageable. She has mucositis. “Some moments are more painful than others.” The morphine is doing a great job keeping the pain at a minimum. She has had terrible foot pain. By day 6 she could hardly stand it. She wrote this, “This bone marrow transplant has been going fairly well. But one thing that is the hardest is my foot pain. It is a side effect to a very important medicine that helps my body accept Chandler’s bone marrow. There is not much I can do to decrease the pain. I do put cold wet rags on my feet and that seems to help the most. It’s very painful and very hard to deal with. It is a very achy feeling. I would appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts that this pain will go away. I know that God answers prayers and that with my Army’s help, this pain can go away. Thank you.” An hour later her Grandpa came to the hospital and gave her a priesthood blessing. He blessed her that the pain would go away for a time. From then on her foot pain has been better and currently doesn’t hurt at all.
Day 7 and 8 she had moments of nausea and would throw up a couple times a day. One evening a nurse brought a list of movies for Ashtyn to look through to see if there was anything she wanted to watch. Sitting in bed with her face in a blue plastic bag, she peered up at the nurse and said, “thank you” in between throwing up. That’s my girl. Never forgetting her manners.
Even with mucositis, foot pain, two platelet transfusions, one red blood cell transfusion, generalized yucky feeling, and some past anxiety, we could not be happier about her health and wellbeing. Ashtyn had very difficult chemotherapy rounds in the past. She surprised everyone with the complications that kept doctors and nurses on their toes. She is now surprising everyone with how smooth things have gone. I know that it is only because of all the support, thoughts, and prayers from her Army that has blessed Ashtyn to do so well. It’s remarkable.
We are not alone.