Back to School…Yeah!

5 Jan

Lenox – All Things Lenox Including, but not Mildly Limited to, the Leukemiasaurus:

What a breathtakingly brilliant day for the Boston Family! I will warn you ahead of time – this post is a bit of a love-fest.  Today was Lenox’s first day back at school. I know I have said this before, but it definitely warrants saying again – I LOVE St. Georges School! Prior to today I had met with the Head of the School  to chat about Lenox’s return. She was so supportive but also balanced and reasonable. She, and Father Kevin separately, said what we needed to hear but may have been hesitant to hear, which is that we want to minimize the extent to which Lenox is treated differently. She will feel less singled out for her illness when she knows the rules all apply to her and that expectations of her are the same as others. Her being treated differently will not help her, us or the classmates in the long-run. I knew that intellectually but after 6 months of totally unique special treatment it was good to have someone remind me of how much “normality” will help her.  That meeting allayed most of my return to school jitters. Then yesterday Lenox’s wonderful teacher Ms. Cindy also came by the house to visit us and help get Lenox prepared. She brought pictures of the class doing different activities and of them with their families to help refamiliarize Lenox. (Love Ms. Laura and Ms. Cindy!)

So, today, Lenox’s clinic sent a Child Life Specialist to speak to the class. It bears repeating that the children’s oncology clinic that Lenox goes to is just so absolutely supportive and comprehensive in their care of their patients (Yes, I love them too!)  So at 9 am, Lenox, Liz and I show up in her new class room. She had been in a previous class with a different teacher when she had to stop attending school so this was a new room.  Her classmates (most of whom were in her prior class with her) were already seated on the floor for the presentation, but quite a few of them jumped up and swarmed around Lenox – saying hi, patting and touching her. They were soooo excited she was back.

The clinic’s Specialist, Ms. Cynthia, did a superlative job in presenting to the class of 3-4 year olds. She spoke in very basic terms about leukemia and cancer. She then spoke to them about Lenox having a port. She had a big doll that has a port so held it up for them to see. She then asked Lenox if she would like to come up and talk about her port. Lenox, as though no time had passed at all, leapt up to the seat at the front of the group and showed them her port (her coat was on so they didn’t see it well, but she was so comfortable at wanting to show it to them). Ms. Cynthia also spoke to them about how to be gentle with Lenox’s port and then covered all about the importance of hand-washing to help make sure Lenox doesn’t get sick. They listened raptly and when Ms. Cynthia asked them questions, they really engaged in the discussion and raised their arms so high to get called on. Throughout the session, Lenox stayed at the front of the room and when Ms. Cynthia would say something Lenox would then provide her “personal account” of that issue:

  • Ms Cynthia: Lenox has a port and when she goes to the clinic they put on cream and then use a needle to attach a tube so Lenox can get medicine and have her blood drawn. (paraphrased)
  • Further Topic Coverage by Lenox to her Class: “ They poke me with a butterfly and it hurts – sometimes I cry. They give me medicine that makes the leu-kee-nia go away. I had a bad needle one time but then we didn’t have to go back to that room again.”  Also: “Sometimes I get white medicine that makes me sleepy and then I wake up with a boo-boo on my back.”
  •  Ms. Cynthia: The medicine Lenox takes is very strong. It can sometimes make their hair…
  • Further Topic Coverage by Lenox to her Class: Interjecting Ms. Cynthia, “I cut my hair like a boy hair cut, but now I am going back to school and my hair will grow like a girl.”  And: “The medicine sometimes has saline and it tastes really bad.”
  • Ms. Cynthia: We always need to wash our hands. Why is that?
  • Further Topic Coverage by Lenox to her Class:  “Germs! If I sneeze in my hand and we touch hands then you get sneezy germs. We are supposed to sneeze in our arm.”

One other fabulous part of the end of the session was that Ms. Cynthia asked the class how they could be good friends to Lenox. Arms were waving in the air to be called on and so many very intently talked about how they would help take care of her. It really made me so appreciative of the  St. George’s extended family. The kids in the class are such truly good human beings and genuinely want to help  take care of Lenox. I feel so very blessed to have had many of the St. George’s parents help take care of us the last six months with meals and other help and to now have Lenox directly in the doting care of St. George’s students and teachers.

Liz and I were totally blown away by Lenox and we both were a bit weepy.  One of the first things Lenox said in front of her class was “I have leu-kee-nia” – it was so bittersweet to hear Lenox so clearly just state that to her class. So bitter that she has to even say those words at all, but so sweet that she has accepted it, understands it and can talk about it.  Liz said that hearing Lenox say that took her back to the day we really confirmed for the first time that Lenox had leukemia.  What she said to her classmates today was her synthesis and perspective of what the last 6 months have been about FOR HER – she said them so matter-of-factly and with a smile (mostly) as Liz and I just sat in awe of our little girl. Lenox was just amazing speaking before her class – she was so confident and brave. Probably no other time has so fully driven home for us how much she understood and processed, and remembered, of what has gone on.  The whole session was emotional for us to watch.  Our little girl is just so totally fabulous!

As the session winded down,  Ms. Cindy asked the class to get back together for circle time on the floor. Lenox got down off of her chair and sat on the floor; she immediately was surrounded by some of her closest class-mates. We stood at the edge of the room, waiting to take our cues from her. Would she want a lap to sit in? Say she was ready to go home now? Cry? But she just looked up momentarily from her circle of friends, smiled at us and waved goodbye. Wow.  Just Wow!

We picked Lenox up around lunch time. We had her first clinic visit of the New Year. It was one of the smoothest appointments ever. Lots of good energy in the room from the various nurses/staff.  We just love her regular nurse Karen, and “Dr. Christina” who really has taken care of us and seems to take authentic pleasure in seeing Lenox. (Love them too!)  Her getting accessed went about as smoothly as it ever has, although still with a few tears. But for de-access she helped Nurse Karen, counted to 3 and it was out – No Tears! Also, Lenox had been on steroids all this last week with her last dose just this morning so her counts were HIGH (ANC more than 12,000) which was great. And best news of all we don’t have to go back for a visit at all for 3 weeks! (Knock on wood :)) That will be by far our longest stretch of no medical visits since July! Lenox was giggly and happy as we left the clinic. Just what a great day!

In other Lenox news, she starts a dance class (ballet/jazz) this Saturday with one of her favorite friends, Josephine. I am curious to see how it goes as she found both pairs of shoes “very funny bad feeling” and refused to wear them at the store. I am hoping that the fun of the class will overshadow her shoe aversion.

The Moms (in the Margins): Liz has now officially been running for more than 8 weeks and is feeling great (and looking great too, if I might add).  We are both officially back at work full-time starting tomorrow. Our schedule is each working 4 ½ days a week – which allows Lenox to go to school just 4 days a week. On those 4 days, I will be going in at 7 and leaving around 3:30 for an early pickup, and Liz will not go in until close to 9 so Lenox doesn’t have to get to school too early.  We are both excited to be getting back to work – it looks like I will be taking on a new area / project and am very energized and  eager to get that moving and successful.

Kudos and Shout-Outs: 

  • See Love Fest Above 🙂
  • Thanks Gigi for your visit and all your help with my household projects!
  • Thanks to Grace for coming to spent a week of her holiday  vacation with us – we had a great time!
  • Thanks to each and every one of you who has prayed for Lenox, and included her in prayer groups. The prayers have clearly been working!
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One Response to “Back to School…Yeah!”

  1. Carolyn Moreau January 6, 2012 at 6:19 AM #

    Wow, what a story, what a girl, what great moms, what a great school, and medical care! Thanks for sharing.

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