Friday, September 8, 2006

Handwashing: A Priority

09/08/06 (later)

Thank you for pushing those little neutrophils up! Erin's ANC had moved from 700 on Tuesday to 1900 (almost normal) today. We have thus ducked difficult conversations with doctors, etc. and are primed for a regular weekend. Erin immediately made sleepover plans with Jackson, and who knows what else will grab her attention tomorrow! Whew!


In about three hours, I will take Erin to get her blood counts done for the second time this week. Tuesday, her ANC and WBC (germ fighting numbers) were lower than expected. Not so bad as to keep her home from school, but low enough to make handwashing a top priority for the last several days. I am hoping that the numbers were the result of vigorous play at the local Contamination Factory (a.k.a., McDonald's Playland) on Monday or perhaps because she licked the ice at Arctic Wolf Ice Rink last Saturday. Other than the September Sniffles, shared by many in the Brazos Valley, Erin feels well. BUT, if the ANC is not over 500 this afternoon her doctor will DC (medspeak for discontinue) her chemo until it recovers. Aack! (What a weird world I live in that the possibility of not poisoning my child on schedule distresses me.)

We are stumbling along in the early weeks of school. Erin seems to have mastered her schedule quite easily. Walter and I fall asleep earlier each night than we would prefer, but you know we both need our beauty sleep. Davis appears to have become a True Believer about his Rice education. We get cryptic, but almost entirely positive, e-mails from him a couple of times a week--usually with the date/time stamp of somewhere between midnight and 3:00 a.m. Today I got one that started this way:

I just got back from a 6 mile run with JJ. I went back to the book store and boughta few folders, a model kit, and an ether net cable, and when I was checking outthey put in a five bladed razor, four for broad strokes and one for precision.Also, get this, it had a battery in it to make it vibrate. I know--Wow! Asskeptical as I was, I tried it out and it felt pretty nice. I think I'll use ittill it wears out.

I think he has mastered the college thing: find out where the free stuff is and take advantage.

Erin took another step towards political maturity last week. The evening after she visited with Chet Edwards by phone, she wrote up a letter to the editor on his behalf. You can check it out here in its full glory, or just read the text of it:

To The Editor,

Thank you for running my picture on August 30 and helping me raise awareness for childhood cancer. Chet Edwards is also helping kids like me with cancer by co-sponsoring the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2006. Last June, on my birthday, I went to his office in Washington D.C. to ask for his help with this bill. We were scheduled for a short meeting, but he gave us more time and even made people wait while we finished talking. He listened to me and my mother and took what I had to say seriously.

A couple of months later I saw him again on the A&M campus. He remembered me right off and told me he had been reading about me on my website. When he saw my picture in The Eagle this week, he called to check on me and see how I was doing. I think you should vote for him. He is good to me, and I bet he will be good to you, too.

Erin Buenger, age 9

I hope that Erin's counts are passing this afternoon. The doctor has suggested discussing the possibility of reducing the dose if her counts give her trouble. We are so in love with this particular regimen (so few side effects or quality of life damaging effects) that we would like to ride the wave much, much longer. I'll let you know.

In the meantime, Erin's dance card is filling up. She has signed up for Oral Reading (UIL event) at school, begun children's choir and bells, started fall soccer, and will ride in her first horse show a week from tomorrow. Maybe her ANC just didn't get the word that the pace had picked up and took a slow start to the week. If that's the case, it better get a move on and catch up--preferrably in the next couple of hours.

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