7:38 PM Two-point-four. That's Sophie's Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) from today. For those of you who have been keeping track, the ANC is how we monitor Sophie's immune system. Since the chemotherapy destroys all rapidly-dividing cells, the immune system is a necessary but unfortunate victim of "collateral damage" from the treatment. Sophie's recent hospital stay was due to a very weakened immune system, and we were sent home under orders to stop all chemotherapy. After a week of no drugs, other than her antibiotics, Sophie's ANC has gone from 0.4 to 2.4. That's a rocket increase, and is reflected in all her other blood counts (platelets, hemoglobin, hematocrit, etc.). It's hard to believe that those itty-bitty pills that we give Sophie on a regular basis can so dramatically weaken her immune system, but, apparently, they do. We've been wondering lately what our life post-treatment would be like, I guess we caught a glimpse today--strong, healthy, "normal" immune system.
Granted, getting to the point where we found out how well her blood counts are doing was no picnic. All four of us went to UNC today for Sophie's blood draw. Sophie was fine with everything until we got to the clinic, then she was very distraught as I dropped Susan and Sophie off--she thought Elisabeth was not going to the clinic with her and she really, really wanted Elisabeth with her. After we assured her that we were just going to park the car and would all be together in the clinic, all seemed well with her world. When the time came for the "poke," Elisabeth stood with me in the doorway as Susan held Sophie in her lap. Elisabeth was very, very curious, but really, really did not want to see or hear Sophie getting stuck. We sat together in a chair just outside the treatment room as Sophie SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER for several long, agonizing minutes. Sophie kept screaming that she wanted it "fast," but was absolutely refusing to hold her hand down (logic seems to not work when you're scared and screaming your head off).
In the end, there was only one stick (hooray), and Sophie recovered. She was not the only child in the clinic screaming--there seemed to be several today. One of the parents was asking if there was torture going on, and I imagine that's exactly what the old torture chambers sounded like--horrifying, and even more so when it's your own child screaming, "NO, WAIT, I'M NOT READY YET!" I reminded Elisabeth (and myself) that we get to do this many, many times over the next several months and even beyond Sophie's treatment, so I hope and pray that this, too, will become something that she finds a way to deal with and "normalize."