Sunday, August 5, 2012
Leukemia - Readjusting to Family
After the kids returned last week and the family was together again it took a few days to get readjusted. The older kids were not sure what to expect and were actually a bit jealous of Jemma. She received many gifts while in the hospital and it was not her birthday. My 11 year old had several discussions with different adults that went something like this. "Don't you think Jemma would trade all those gifts if she could have gone on vacation and not had cancer?" Those conversations made some sense to her but really weren't satisfying. Finally I found something that she understood a little better. I asked her why she received gifts on birthdays and Christmas. Her answer was "That's what people do." So I explained that when people get sick for an extended period of time, giving gifts is what people do. Jemma didn't ask for all those gifts and certainly could get by without them. That explanation made much more sense to her.
Since Jemma and I had spent lots of quality time together in the hospital, she wondered if that would continue while at home. The first few days the kids were back they were adjusting to the time zone. Since they both slept until 12:00 it was easy for me to find some alone time with Jemma.
Some of our normal routines changed a bit. Now everyone entering the house must use hand sanitizer. The kids don't like this too much because it is a hassle and it stings if there are cuts on the hands, but they have adjusted. Before we didn't always make sure they washed their hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom at home, but now we do. We have tried to have a family cleaning day one day per week in the past. Now it is very important that I make sure this happens. Our after meal clean-up routine is more consistant than ever before. Everyone has a job, even Jemma. There are some jobs, such as taking out the compost, which are dangerous to her. So her job is drying dishes. That way she helps, but only has to touch things that are already clean. Most of these changes were pretty minor, so the kids adjusted after the first few days.
Being at home with the family introduces an new set of challenges for Jemma as well. The other day when we returned from an appointment she asked where her siblings were. When I told her a friend took them to the swimming pool she just cried. I hugged her while she cried. (Something she almost never lets me do.) She wasn't angry and didn't throw a fit. She was just sad. I didn't have to say anything. She already knew that even if she had been home she wouldn't have been able to go. She doesn't have the energy, the risks of falling are too great and her catheter cannot be submerged in water.
Now that I have to drive to and from the hospital so frequently I need my husband's help more than ever. He has always been very helpful and done a lot around the house, but now I need even more. Cooking is currently the area I am struggling with and I am so happy that he is helping. This week he searched through cookbooks and made a meal plan for several days. He has agreed to cook lunch every day and that is such a relief. All the food he has made is providing me with the extra time needed to do more laundry, clean more and make all those doctor appointments.
All in all, the adjustment is going pretty well. Everyone is learning how to fit into our new life and making appropriate accomodations.