Saturday we really expected Ashtyn to be able to go home. She had met most of the discharge requirements. She was awake and alert, walked well, ate and drank enough, didn’t have significant pain, her temperatures were normal, and overall she looked really good. Thursday and Friday her white blood cell count (WBC) went up. Though the increase was slight, it was still a sign that she was no longer declining. In my mind, she was fully ready to go home.
At this point in Ashtyn’s recovery, the doctors were not worried about how many WBC’S Ashtyn had, they just wanted to see the counts trending up. In order to go home Saturday, her blood work had to show some sign, any sign, that she was still improving. Ashtyn knew how close she was to going home. She was hopeful as was I. To prepare, I packed up a lot of her things Friday night to be sent home.
Since I always stay up until around 4 am, I decided to not go to sleep until 5 am Saturday morning so I could see her lab results. The results came back at 6 am. My heart dropped when I saw the numbers. Not only did they not go up, but the monocytes went from 3 back down to zero. Bummer. I went to sleep thinking about how Ashtyn was going to take the news. When she woke up I told her that she would not be able to go home that day. She cried. I laid by her and rubbed her back in silence. I wanted her to be able to express her emotions and get it all out. She cried for about 7 minutes and then was done. Instead of sitting in sorrow, she ordered breakfast, ate Frosted Flakes and peaches, and watched The Cosby Show. For lunch she texted her dad for him to bring her a bean and cheese burrito, crazy bread, gummy worms, a cherry Slurpie, and seasons 5 and 6 of The Cosby Show.
Jason arrived at the hospital an hour later with all she asked for. Chandler had never before visited Ashtyn in her hospital room and came up with Jason. Ashtyn’s cousin Hailey and Aunt Wendy came to visit as well. After eating crazy bread we walked the halls and showed them around the unit. The rest of the night Ashtyn spent with her dad watching The Cosby Show while I went to Chandler’s hockey game. Throughout the entire day Ashtyn tried to stay upbeat. Though there were a couple times during the night when she cried, I could tell she was trying not to dwell on it. I received this text while I was at my house putting my other kids to bed: “So, I have a sudden craving for chili. Should we get some tonight so I can have some for lunch tomorrow? Cause we can’t go to the store cause it will be Sunday. Also, if I don’t go home tomorrow I will tell Grandma Hosenfeld to bring some salmon from the party they are going to have. I just had an entire hot chocolate and so I have a lot of energy to watch Cosby with you when you get here!”
Sunday morning Ashtyn had blood taken again for labs and again I saw the results at 6 am. Her WBC’s had not gone up or down. The doctors had always informed me that she needed to have two days in a row of improvement in her labs to go home. I laid back down in bed with Ashtyn and started formulating the fight I was going to present to the doctors later that morning. “Why can’t she just recover at home and continue getting blood work done with a home health nurse? She is just as safe in her home as she is in the hospital as far as infections are concerned. I will keep her away from crowds, anyone sick, and use a lot of hand sanitizer at my house. She has to come back Tuesday anyway for a bone marrow aspirate so can’t we just see how she does at home for two days? She ate so much yesterday and is feeling good.” I was fired up and ready to present my argument. I was almost too fired up so I was glad it was only 6 am so I could sleep a couple of hours and mellow out a little bit before talking to the doctors. At 10 am two doctors woke me up. “We saw the labs. They weren’t really good but we think she can go home today and recover further there.” Did I hear right? “She can go home today?” Yes was their reply. I didn’t have to petition or plead Ashtyn’s case. Sweet. “Ashtyn, did you hear what the doctors said?” Irritated she said, “Mom! I am sleeping! Don’t wake me up.” Ashtyn had become good at using a coping mechanism of sleeping while doctors talk because she never wanted to know what they had to say. In her perspective, it’s always scary stuff they talk about. After the doctors left I asked the sleeping tween, “Do you want me to tell you the news now or later?” Without opening her eyes and still irritated she said, “If I can’t go home today, tell me the news later.” I replied, “You can go home today.” She was suddenly awake, smiling, and in a good mood.
It took a few hours to pack up her things and get discharge orders. Four hours later we walked out the door where her siblings were there to greet her. She was relieved to go home. The night seemed to be a calm and relaxing reunion.
At 9:30 p.m. all the kids were in bed for the night except Ashtyn. She wasn’t sleepy, so what did she do? She sat on the couch with a comfortable blanket, a Slurpie and treats, and watched The Cosby Show. At 1 am she climbed into my bed. She didn’t want to sleep in her own bed but rather with me. I gave her several pills to swallow and an IV antibiotic. By 2 am she was asleep next to me. Obviously it takes time to transition into hospital life and it takes time to adjust back to home life. I’m up at 4 am again. In a few hours I’ll be taking my kids to school. Hopefully Ashtyn and I can get back on schedule.
As Ashtyn was falling asleep in my bed she said, “I like that the hospital room was small. You were always right there and we could spend more time together. It’s different than a house that is big and you don’t have to be in the same room.”
Ashtyn: “Today I am grateful that I got to go home today. I am grateful I went to my Grandma’s house. I am grateful that I got to eat dinner with my mouth not sore. I am grateful for movies. I am grateful for a medical tech that was nice to me the whole time at the hospital.”
It is good to be home. We are going to soak in the vacation of being home and enjoy every moment.