Friday, January 20, 2012

Dream On, Kid

   Today is a blog-worthy day, simply because Caleb is celebrating another birthday!
   He woke up this morning with a tremor in his voice and dragging his feet because I had scheduled  a doctor's appointment for him and the only slot they could fit him into was today.
   In my big deal. Nothing invasive or scary in the line-up. No shots. No finger stick. No need  to even wear the dreaded green gown.
   Lately, instead of biting his nails, he has been literally chewing his hands, enough to leave big, red, open sores on his knuckles and around his fingertips. After a quick exam and a few questions, his doctor seems to think it's a behavioral issue instead of an actual skin problem. Her question to me was, "Is he under any stress? Anything going on in his life to cause anxiety?" really.

    But the hand chewing did start several weeks before his appointment in DC in December. The one he lost sleep over and worried about until we finally got through the IV placement and CT.    
    And he does seem to be concerned for his little buddy, Drew, who relapsed with brain cancer in the spring and is undergoing more surgeries, chemo and radiation as we speak. I don't tell Caleb much about Drew because I don't want to scare him. But he still seems to know his friend is fighting for his life.
   Caleb had a dream a few nights ago, and in the dream, he and Drew were in heaven.......together........and he knew it was heaven because there were "multiple angels flying around.....and God was there".
   Last Sunday Jeff found a prayer card in the offering plate. Written on it, in Caleb's big block, second grade scrawl, was D-R-E-W. Nothing more. Just a simple plea for prayer for someone he cares about. Someone he shares a common bond with.
   I was thinking, as Caleb's 8th birthday was upon us, that we are getting further and further away from his cancer diagnosis every time we blow out those candles on his cake. Maybe this will be the year that he will stop introducing himself to strangers as a "cancer survivor." And maybe he will stop seeing every visit to the doctor's as a need to push the panic button. The smell of rubbing alcohol still makes him gag, and watermelon reminds him of getting sick on the sidewalk at the Ronald McDonald House during radiation.
   But I suppose I should stop waiting for the year when it will all be erased from his memory. It is, after all, part of Caleb's story now. And he does have quite a vault full of good memories associated with his disease. Meeting Goofy on the Disney Wonder, riding in a mile long limo, Camp Fantastic with all of it's magic, and a long list of incredible, new friends, not to mention playing the Wii in D.C. while waiting for the contrast drink to light up his insides.

   I can't hope to erase the dark side of cancer without erasing all of the happy files that go right along with it.
   And speaking of HAPPY......once we had the doctor's visit out of the way, the birthday boy was bouncing in the back seat of the van, urging us to please hurry and get this party started!
   We headed for the Golden Corral with one of his good friends buckled in beside him. After multiple trips to the buffet for fried chicken, cantaloupe and chocolate covered everything, we made our way over to Monkey Joe's for several hours of inflatable fun!
    Soon we will head for home to open his presents and dish up his favorite dessert....chocolate fudge cake layered with peanut butter frosting and some Moose Tracks ice cream!                            
   As a newly minted eight-year-old he's not looking too far ahead. He did say that he hopes to grow up, have a family of his own and then take them all to an amusement park.
   Dream on, kid. I do believe that one just might happen.