Monday, February 6, 2012
There’s something special about a homecoming. In high school we marked the event by voting for a king and queen (I’ve always been amused at the irony of monarchical elections). We distinctly remember the first time crossing the threshold of our homes after getting married, which usually involves the husband making some sort of gallant attempt at romantically carrying his new bride, something that really only works well in the movies. I can distinctly remember bringing home my daughter and son from the hospital a couple days after they were born, worn out but so excited to introduce the newest member of the family to their freshly decorated room and surroundings soon to become familiar. Yesterday, around 1pm, we had a different kind of homecoming - one that I will never forget; that was the time that I pulled into the garage with Levi in the backseat of the van, just waking up from a nap – a little groggy but anxiously looking out the window.
Backing up just a little… Friday, as you know, was a little disappointing for us. I had driven down to Indy on Thursday night to help Steph get things rounded up for Levi’s departure, fully expecting that we’d be heading home in the morning. But, the next morning’s blood draws brought a letdown, as his ANC calculated at zero. The doctor told us that he wouldn’t be going home that day, but on Saturday, if Levi showed any positive numbers, he’d let him go home. It was a long day in the hospital. A day may not seem that long in most situations, but when you have your heart set on something like bringing your son and wife home, any amount of unexpected time can feel like an eternity.
We had Levi's little congratulations party, complete with a sign on his door, donuts, and a little sentimental red wagon full of rice krispie treats. Steph had a shopping trip with her mom and sister planned for early Saturday morning, so she headed home on Friday night, leaving bubby and I to have a guy’s night at the hospital. We had a good time together, until around midnight, when Levi woke up and decided he wasn’t happy with the plan to go back to sleep. We had a pretty rough stretch from midnight to about 3am. I talked the nurses into delaying his blood draw in the morning until 6:30 so we could at least get a couple of hours of sleep.
The next morning, Marty, Levi’s favorite nurse, came in to check on us and told me with a smile – “Levi has counts!” His ANC had come back up to 140, which meant that we could head home! Levi and I wolfed down some breakfast, then heard the knock on the door followed by the doctor asking us if there was any reason we could think of why we shouldn’t go home. We, of course, didn’t think about it too long before starting to pack. It was interesting trying to pack up the room by myself with Levi doing more unpacking than packing, but he did manage to empty his clothes drawer into the tote by himself. Marty came back in to watch him as I took a couple wagon trips down to the van, then we were off! Everyone wished us good luck, and I am pretty sure there may have been a few sniffles, then we were headed north in the van. It was really pretty low-key, just the way I preferred it.
Levi passed out on the way home – we were both pretty tired from the night before. When we got home, Steph, her mom, and her sister had just got back from their shopping trip. My dad was here as well, along with Cyrus and his girlfriend, Katie. Levi and Caylee shared a lot of hugs, a couple kisses, and then started chasing each other around the house. It felt great to be home.
The day went by quickly. Everyone tried to snag a nap, or at least a piece of a nap, in the afternoon. My dad, Cyrus, Katie, Caylee, and I headed into Ft. Wayne in the evening for a Komets game with the Bennett’s. We had a great time hanging out. Today was pretty relaxing – slept in a little, had a big brunch, then watched the Giants beat the Pats with the Bennett’s this evening as the kids wore themselves out playing together. Levi kept right up with the pack, and thankfully he and Caylee both went to sleep pretty easily tonight. Things feel complete tonight, having both of our little ones sound asleep under the same roof.
Things really haven’t sunk in yet, that Levi is finished with his treatments and is home with no central line, no IV’s, and no prescriptions other than his weekend doses of antibiotics. There’ve been a few emotional moments as I allow my mind to reflect over where we’ve been and where we are right now, but there will be plenty of time for reflection in the coming weeks. We’re keeping ourselves busy right now with all the activities that come with reentry: unpacking, cleaning, planning, and catching up on all the “to do” items that have taken a back seat since last summer. Levi has an appointment here in town next week to check his counts, and we’ll take him back down to the hospital on the 15th for a checkup.
Thank you for your prayers. Thank you to those who have followed his story so closely. When his battle first started, back when he was only six weeks old, we had to make a choice. We could bottle things up inside, keep things quiet and out of the spotlight, and build up walls in our own private emotional shelter to weather the storm. But the walls would have been constructed out of that which would fail when the wind really picked up; pride, denial, anger, and fear. So instead, we decided to open up, ask for help, and invite you alongside; not just as passive observers, but fellow fighters in Levi’s battle. It’s not over, but we’ve just accomplished a major victory, and are home thanking God for bringing us through this.
1 Corinthians 15:55
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
We’ll keep you posted on how things are going…
Love you all,
Michael, Stephanie, Caylee, and Little Levi