Consider the Blessings

Ashtyn looks so much better than a week ago.  She isn’t nearly as sick, however she still feels crummy.  Of course she does.  I have no idea what it feels like to have no white blood cells, low platelets, and have a body that is recovering from chemo.  Her throat and mouth continue to hurt.  Swallowing is still painful.  She does try to drink a sip or two of water a day.  She has a rash that is affecting most of her body.  Her white blood cell count hasn’t gone up.  The thought is that she’s probably making white blood cells but they are being used to heal her mouth and throat before being counted in her blood tests.  Most of her medications were stopped once she no longer had a temperature.  She continues to be on a couple antibiotics, IV Benadryl for her rash, one medication for nausea, and a narcotic every two hours for pain.  Today she had another platelet transfusion.  IV nutrition is continuously going through her central line since she is still unable to eat or drink.  On the up side, she is no longer being annoyed by thick mucous in her mouth and lungs, and she is walking and talking well.  The last time she left her room was when she visited with her brothers and sister, posted under “Ashtyn’s Siblings Come To Visit.”  After 16 days she left her room and walked in the halls with physical therapy.  You go girl!

Ashtyn Walks Down Hall
Ashtyn Walks Down Hall

We are both on a nocturnal schedule.  Right now it is 3 am and Ashtyn is wide awake watching the Disney channel.  She normally sleeps all day, with occupational or physical therapy waking her to do some sort of activity at 2 pm.  She is never happy being woken up.  After 4 pm Ashtyn’s body finally wakes up and doesn’t really fall back asleep until after 2 am.  The medical staff informed me that this “habit” isn’t abnormal.  Good.  That makes me feel less irresponsible.

Ashtyn does look forward to when she gets to go home.  Whether she goes home in a week or two,  it seems far distant for her.  “It seems like my throat will never feel good to where I can drink without pain.  It’s hard to think that I will actually be able to sit in a restaurant and drink without any effort.  It doesn’t seem like I will ever get to where I feel good.”  Being the talker that I am, I always have something to say, “Ashtyn, remember when you would get sick from time to time throughout your life when you didn’t want to go to school? You didn’t feel up to doing anything except sit around.  Eventually you always would feel better and back to yourself.  I know you aren’t feeling well right now.  Soon you will.  You will then feel up to talking to people on the phone, having visitors, and FaceTiming friends and family.  You will want to look in the mirror and notice how beautiful you are.  You will enjoy coming up with cool fashions you can do with different hats.  You will feel well enough to be happy and have fun.  It will come.”  She agreed.

I decided to start a nightly routine having Ashtyn tell me five things she is grateful for that day.  Tonight was our first night so she came up with ten things.  Ashtyn is grateful…

  1. “for the Broviac and that I didn’t get a port.”  (A lot of leukemia patients get a port that sits underneath the skin.  There are pros and cons to each.  With a port a needle poke is required to access it at least every week.  I’m not an expert on ports.  Ashtyn is just grateful for her Broviac central line because she never has to be poked with a needle.)
  2. for blankets.
  3. hydrocortisone cream that helps my itchy rash.
  4. that one day I will be able to drink.
  5. for beds.
  6. for tissue.
  7. for lotion.
  8. for technology to text, call, and FaceTime.
  9. for Chapstick.
  10. for prayers.

President Thomas S. Monson reminds us, “We live in a unique time in the world’s history. We are blessed with so very much. And yet it is sometimes difficult to view the problems and permissiveness around us and not become discouraged. I have found that, rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness.”

12 responses to “Consider the Blessings”

  1. What a wonderful idea… for her to do a gratitude journal. So powerful to focus on the positive when in the grips of a challenge such as this. Her attitude is such as inspiration to me… be like Dory, just keep swimming. She remains in my prayers.
    With Gospel Love
    Yvonne van Dijk – Alberton Branch, Gauteng, South Africa.

  2. We pray for you daily, Ashtyn, and we won’t stop! The first thing Amber asks to do after school is ask to check your blog; she keeps up with you daily and she always reminds whoever is praying for family prayer to include you in their prayer. We are so happy to see the progress from your being so sick last week, to actually walking down the hall! HOORAY!!! We will continue to pray for an increase in your white blood cell production and anything else you need. (((HUGS))) from the Affleck family!

  3. Hey Ashtyn I pray for you every day and I catch up on your blog every morning and night. I know a 5 yo who was diagnosed with the same form of leukemia as you at age 2 and now is a happy 5 year old and is going to end treatment this year. If he can survive i know you can to. Your immune system may be weak now but as you get healthier it will grow stronger and you will live and will be an amazing young lady. It may take a long time but when the road gets smooth you will look back and say wow i survived and am happy that I am still alive because I had my army and the lord to fall back on. I am happy that you know that you can always fall back on us and the lord because that is the support you need to get through this.

  4. hi ashtyn! today at school we tied green ribbons everywhere, and wore green and light blue. I felt so proud that more than half of the school was wearing green and blue! everyone was so excited to be part of your army! It just goes to show that everyone is supporting you. I am so glad that you have such a large supporting army! We will always back you up girl:). Watch fox 13 tonight at 5 or 9 tonight!!! I keep praying for you. l8r mrs.Bieber! 😛 😀 😛 :L 🙂 ;D ;3

  5. Hey Ashtyn this is the only way i could think of to contact you. I am praying for you every day and i really want to facetime with you. I really don’t care about what you look like, i just want to talk to you. I really hope you are doing better. Our school will be on TV Fox 13 tonight at 9:00pm!!!! i really miss you and i wish i had your phone number. I love you and miss you I really hope you are feeling better email me ok? LOVE YOU!

  6. Love the gratitude idea!! That is something we should all do! It makes life worthwhile and we get to see in sometimes very small ways how we are blessed! Turns the focus and allows positivity to come in. There is so much hope and goodness around if we pause and take a look. Ashtyn you are doing it! Though moments can be very difficult and painful beyond what we can comprehend, look deep inside you and see that strong, beautiful person, and find YOU, Ashtyn that is a fighter and will conquer this! Each day count the victories and soon this battle will be won!

  7. I also want to say that it makes my cry to know that so many people love you and surport you! My friend Shannon used to go to your school and she always hears about what people are doing for you! I cry everytime she tells me something new! So, I cry everyday before school starts!! We love you and care and pray for you everyday!!!! All of my friends want to know the latest news about you! We all care about you and want you to know everything good about all of the people at mine and Chandler’s middle school!! I am now starting to see Chandler everyday at school and church!! You are plain awesome!! And you are the best girl that I have ever met!! Love you like a sister!! Stay strong!!

  8. Suzanne, you are such a fantastic mother. Ashtyn is so lucky to have you as you are such a tremendous strength and support for her. Thank you again for keeping ths blog for all us to follow. It is an inspiration for everyone. And Ashtyn you are a hero to everyone with how bravely you are facing this battle? Keep fighting!

  9. Hey Ashtyn this is alannah from school and I want you to know that I am proud to be a part of Ashtyn’s Army. School isn’t the same without you Ashtyn. I miss your laugh, and the jokes you tell. I miss your constant talk about Justin Beiber, And how you make everyone smile. I miss your smile And how your happiness is contagious. But most of all, I miss YOU Ashtyn, we all miss you. you are a bright, talented, special girl and i will always support you in every battle you have to face. I know I said this already, but I am proud to be a part of Ashtyn’s Army because it’s a cause I am supporting for a friend that made everyone smile even if they were having a bad day. Ashtyn we miss and support you.