I never really appreciated Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' until this week.
After a couple of troubling chest infections, a deathly palour and a biblical nosebleed the doctor had suggested some blood tests for our daughter Nicoletta - to 'set our mind at rest'. But I knew, I must have known, I googled leukemia for the first time a few weeks ago, which must be why I cried the night before, telling Andrea, my husband, how afraid I was. So When the results came and the doctor ordered immediate removal to Ancona. (Did I mention we live in Italy?) It was Andrea who was really chopped down at the knees.
The first night after returning home 70kms away, Andrea vomited and virtually collapsed. It was easier for me, I was with Nico I had something to do to keep the bad thoughts at bay. The next day tests were carried out and the news of acute myeloid leukaemia, apparently the least curable of the leukemias, arrived. It seemed one punch after another. But somehow a kind of massive 'kindness machine' swung into action. We were given a parking permit, not just for the hospital but for the whole quarter, meaning I could pop into shops to pick up stupid stuff we didn't have, computer cables, plastic slippers - just really stupid stuff that had to be done. A hotel was booked for the parent not with Nico. Nico was the happy owner of a new computer and a wii and was visited by clowns and teachers. Meanwhile the news had travelled in our home town and offers of help were flooding in from people we barely knew.
The parent not with the child turned out to be me, as I had my own physical reaction and came down with flu on day 3 Obviously this is the worst possible thing for Nico so I was justifyably banished to the hotel room.
I barely remember the minutae of the week, telling my Mum in Devon, friends. I think my lowest point must have been on the Wednesday - it was pouring with rain, I couldn't get into the hotel till 2, I couldn't be with my child because of the flu and I was sitting in the car, crying my eyes out. Everyone kept telling us to be positive but it took a while for it to get through. The statistics were, still are 50/50 but there is no point focusing on the bad 50 - it can't be helped all we can do is just think about the good 50. By Friday it occured to me that both Andrea and I were living on occasional pizzas and little else. I found a fish restaurant that did take out, bought us a decent, protein packed meal and took it to the hospital.
Here we are a week later - Andrea is with Nico and being brilliant, entertaining her, holding her - looking after my littlest baby - whilst I can just wave in a fatuous way over skype. But slowly we are both learning to live with this new thing in our lives. We will get through this no matter what. Meanwhile the medical team had quietly been getting on with it's work and Nico started her chemo on the Wednesday - we are all a team now and Andrea and I can actively contribute towards Nico's cure.
We find ourselves in a very different space, we have another daughter who also needs our care, we have a business which needs to continue. We will get through this.
Today, Monday, I returned home to really chase this cold away. I am not a church goer but I did stop off at Loreto on the way home.