During the past month Zack has been leaving his hospital stay behind him, physically, mentally and emotionally. The transition home was a very welcome change but it was also difficult because it reminded Zack of the days just before he was admitted to the hospital...and it brought back the fear of running a fever and knowing he was going to have to go to the emergency room. It's been (and continues to be) a process for him to trust that his body is in a different place now.
In July, the chemotherapy had taken his body beyond its limits and he couldn't fight infection. But things are different now: Zack's done with the hardest phase of chemo and his immune system will not be attacked again like it was this summer.
During the past couple weeks we were confronted with this issue when Zack contracted a cold that started in his head and moved to his lungs. He had a chest x-ray at Doernbecher...and all looks great! The radiology team said his lungs have improved dramatically during the past month! (And at this point, he's nearly over his cold.)
Here are some updates on his progress:
Zack's been doing physical, occupational and respiratory therapy at home every day. His balance is very good, he has lots of stamina and his biggest challenge is muscle strength which he is steadily gaining back.
Zack had a chemo treatment on October 10th including intrathecal and intravenous meds and he takes chemo pills at home every day (and will continue to do so throughout the remainder of his treatments). He had an appointment at the oncology clinic yesterday and a blood sample showed his counts are healthy, which means he's receiving just the right amount of meds.
Despite some initial food cravings while at Legacy, Zack doesn't have much of an appetite and is maintaining his weight in the mid- to upper 70s. (He doesn't even crave tofu much anymore!) I'm seeing a small amount of improvement as the weeks go by - and he isn't experiencing nausea like he was last year - so I'm confident that his appetite will slowly return.
Zack stayed home from school while he had a cold and while strep throat made the rounds through his class. But he's been doing his best to keep up with schoolwork: he's writing a report on Cambodia and recently finished reading a book about Ferdinand Magellan.
The topic of school has become more complicated as we found out that a higher than average number of the kids at his school are not immunized (Zack is). Though Zack's immune system won't be compromised again to the extent it was during the most intense phase of chemo, this is still a risk for him (for example, whooping cough went through his school late last year and it even infected some kids who have that immunization).
Zack loves his class, his teacher, his school...and the school community is so supportive of us. So this is a tough one and I'm weighing our options at this point...
All in all, and in nearly every way, Zack is stronger than he was just before he contracted pneumonia. He was so weak from the chemo then and it's a blessing to have him healthier than he was before his hospital stay. His cheeks have color in them again and he's growing tons of hair on his head!
Life has been more hectic and more complicated these past weeks (5 doctor appointments just this week!)...but I'm aware that it's all a gift and I'm so happy to have Zack home and well. I'm forever grateful to the doctors and nurses who healed him; they worked the best kind of magic. And I'm deeply grateful to everyone who read his blog and offered support and love during his hospital stay. I know that Zack absorbed and gained strength from your prayers and thoughts. And knowing so many people were thinking about Zack and pulling for him made all the difference in the world to me, especially when the big world of hospitals and disease felt overwhelming (which was most of the time)...From our hearts, thank you everyone.
I plan to update this blog every month or so for the duration of Zack's treatments, through March of 2011. We hope you'll party with us when it's all over!