The balance of power

I hoped but did not expect my open letter to reach Gervase Chaney’s desk. I certainly didn’t expect over 1000 Facebook shares in its first 36 hours. As the response grew bigger I was at the hospital with Bede and I started thinking about taking it down and I didn’t expect other parents to ask me not to. I certainly didn’t expect the influx of messages, emails, comments and approaches of so many other mothers thanking me for using my voice. I didn’t expect the regret from people who had been through this and had not used theirs. I didn’t expect the level of emotion behind those responses. I didn’t expect the advances of media. I certainly didn’t realize just how many of you have Bede’s back.

I think the hospital is empowered in a lot of ways and sometimes that is a negative, petty and bureaucratic power. I think Bede’s power is in the mass amounts of love he can generate and mobilise. I think that is a strong, refreshing and positive power that cannot be underestimated. I think that power is testament to his light.

In all the reactions I have had I had negative feedback from about 4 people.

I am all about honesty and accountability and context. My reactions in the letter did happen. I was desperate and I did raise my voice and I know some staff did not like that but there was context to them.  My letter provided that context.

The letter was aimed at a bureaucratic decision that removed reactions from their context. Towards the end of the meeting Dr Chaney told us he would aim to review the decision within 24 hours. Nothing was going to have changed in that time. We sensed he knew the decision was wrong but that he was standing by it anyway. Whether we were right in sensing that or not the decision was petty and bureaucratic and it was unforgiving punishment toward a family who have tolerated and forgiven so much. The letter was context. We are not threatening people.

Now let me give you the context in which some of these incidences have occurred. They occurred in a big picture.

One that also includes the nurse who I thank repeatedly every shift because I feel when she is on I am off duty and know Bede is in the best hands possible.
The nurse who must be the only other person in the world who can sense something is wrong with Bede before I can.
The nurse that sat with Bede after her shift had ended while we were in a meeting because it was an important day for our family.
The doctor who said we could call her anytime over the weekend while she was off duty because I was so scared without her advice I wouldn’t know what to do.
The same doctor who is so giving of her time and energies not just to Bede but also to our family.

The nurse who makes sure she talks to Bede while she is treating him.
The nurses that head into Bede’s room on their way to tea break to squeeze in a quick cuddle.
The nurse who bakes nearly every shift and then SHARES it.
The doctor who in the middle of a Bede emergency made sure I got a juice to help stop my shaking.
The specialist who drove from Fremantle to Subiaco at 7:30 at night because he wanted someone who knew Bede to review him.
The nurse who rubbed my back and encouraged me on when no one would listen.
The doctors who brought him back
The doctor that listens.
The coordinator that understands.
The nurse that empathises.

I think the word ‘mistake’ is too generous for the incidences I detail in my open letter and there are many more of them. There is also a lot of good staff.  I think I acknowledged that in the letter. A lot of those staff are also outraged when these things happen.  I certainly do not want to be the person that “paints them into a box” as one criticism said.
Our voice empowers our family but it is not a petty unfair empowerment. It is an honest, true and positive power.
The letter is true. It was never meant as a criticism of the nurses or individual doctors. It provided context for a petty bureaucratic system and a petty bureaucratic decision that robbed my boys of precious home time together.

Although I am sure Dr Chaney does not need nor desire a disenchanted mother coming to his defence he seems like a nice man. He is a doctor for sick children, a father. He allowed us to say our piece in the meeting even if we did feel as though it fell on deaf ears. I asked Dr Chaney if given the exceptional circumstances and lapses if he could say he would have acted any differently and he admitted that he could not. This is not about a witch hunt. My letter was addressed to him because he represented the system that day and although he seems to lead it he is only one part of it.

The treatment that we required HITH for has finished. We still seek some reassurance that that service will be available to Bede in the future and have none. Despite Dr Chaney assuring us in the meeting that he would attempt to have his grounds for refusing us this service in writing and provided to us within 24 hours and also that he would provide us with details regarding any documented incident within the last 6 weeks, the main period for which he was making his decision, none of this has happened. We have not heard from PMH in regards to this matter. Ultimately Bede is still not availed of HITH.

At the end of the letter I said that was a one off post, that Roy and I felt the need to speak out about Bede’s reality but I am posting this today because I do not want to be the person that uses their power in a negative way. That is not and has never been what Bede or our family are about.

He may be small, but he is mighty.

– Isabella and Roy

bede tree

This is who it is all about.                                                     Bede helped us decorate the tree last night.
A proper Bede update will follow later today or early tomorrow. He is doing well. He is shining, he is developing, he is irrepressible and our love and pride run deep.

Half way through and the triumph is his.

It has been an incredibly difficult few weeks, some of our worst in fact but in this moment Bede is defiant and triumphant. He shines, purposefully and hopefully.

Bede’s happy soul and his inherent light are irrepressible. He bubbles and the delight he is taking in the world is contagious and full. He is cheerful.  His coos are high and happy. He laughs freely now. A breathy chirpy chuckle. His happiness comes with a new found ease and he draws us all in. We are taken and my god we are happy.

I am working on a post to update you on the last few weeks but it is difficult. A lot has happened and it has been taxing. I don’t think it is too dramatic to say we could have lost him and yet here he is now displaying his joy and resilience in all their glory. Bede is triumphant.

I just wanted to make sure I took this moment to mark Bede being halfway through his treatment. To that aim I’m posting the slideshow I referenced in my last post.

Here is Bede, putting one foot in front of the other and quietly, diligently, purposefully, happily, joyfully kicking cancer’s ass. Here is Bede bringing light and love and wonder to all those around him.  Here is Bede facing a rare brain cancer and doing it with grace. Here is Bede, take note he won’t be here long and he is magnificent.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for seeing our beautiful Bede.

Thank you for wrapping him up in your love.

Thank you for empowering him to be known to the world by sharing his story.

My gratitude to you all runs deep.

If you want the music make sure you turn on the sound.
Please don’t forget to follow the blog so next time we need a mini miracle we can call on your positivity to help carry him through. There should be a little grey box at the bottom of your computer screen that says ‘follow’, its that easy,
Is.

It’s clear! It’s clear!

A quick message to let you in on some wonderful news.

Preliminary reports say the brain fluid test has come back clear and Bede has kicked meningitis’ ass. The first look at the fluid under the Microscope shows no bacteria. They will still try and grow some but considering it didn’t grow in the beginning it would be highly unlikely for that to happen now. It looks like we’re in the clear.

To say we are elated is an understatement. G is so proud of his brother as are we. We are absolutely awash with relief. This was one of our biggest challenges yet and Bede has faced it down as usual. We love him so much and are so very very proud of him. We’re excited and happy and thankful. Thank you for your love and prayers and support.

We managed to escape for the weekend down to the farm and it was lovely. It was wonderful to see the boys hang out together like brothers. G insisted on sitting right next to Bede for the drive and Bede spent the weekend reaching out to G. It has been amazing watching him actively enjoy his brother’s company.

Bede was so relaxed and would spend hours flaked out in front of the fire but was also having a lot of awake and engaged time, a lot. He spent much time in the sunshine with the breeze on his face at local wineries and in the garden.  He was blissed out in his first spa.

I think the greatest joy was just enjoying a family dynamic.

We are in awe of our little man and the infectious strength and happiness that wells from deep within him.

I would love to update you more comprehensively on how Bede’s little soul is weathering (robustly, happily, positively, calmly, collectedly) but I am exhausted and chemo starts tomorrow. For now I am going to crawl into bed with Bede and drink in every moment. Here are a few photos of the hundreds we took and just the first I have come across at this late hour.

I hope this post delivers Bede’s supporters a little of his joy and sunshine.

I remain humbled by your love and prayers and truly believe they are carrying Bede through these challenges.

Tonight my heart, naively, dares hope for a miracle.

flaked out by the fire

flaked out by the fire

still flaked out by the fire

still flaked out by the fire

brothers at bunker bay

brothers at bunker bay

worlds best brothers

cider in the sun and teething all over again!

cider in the sun and teething all over again!

“hmmm not too sure about this”

Good night cuddles by the fire

Good night cuddles by the fire

 

Is  xx

Oh Happy Day!

My cup is full. I am brimming with joy and happiness and thankfulness. A smile irrepressibly spreads from one corner of my mouth to the next. Life is grand and beautiful and saturated with colour and light.

Bede turned 6 months old on the 2nd and we celebrated. We celebrated with balloons and colours and cake and love.6 month cake

 6 months with mum 6 month with daddy

Time is a funny, elastic thing. If you asked me if I have had long with G who is 7 years I would say not at all, he is still a baby. But this week when I think of Bede I feel like 6 months is a long time. It feels like a miracle. I have truly loved and fully lived each of those days and fully immersed myself in the experience of Bede’s life. Being Bede’s mum has been all encompassing. I have held him for hours every day and made sure he has felt loved and nurtured and safe. My love for him is embossed on every cell of my being.

6 month old Bede isn’t too much different to the one month old Bede. He is calm, resolute, substantial, joyful, curious and happy. He shines. He seeps beauty and grace and oh so much light. even when he can not phsyically mould his mouth into a smile you can see the light and happiness pouring from his eyes. The main difference is now we know just how much he is capable of. He is capable of more than simply enduring. He is capable of growing and evolving through the most daunting and trying circumstances.

Bede has really taught me a lot about unconditional happiness. I mean it when I say there are times when he can not physically smile but he is happy. His happiness is not pre determined by his conditions, it is not ruled by externalities. He cultivates it from deep within. Like a kaleidoscope his happiness is the reflection of so many things , his family, his toys, a world to explore even if it can not be as vast as yours or mine, his curiosity, his disposition. At times I find myself walking down a corridor on the children’s cancer ward smiling and I feel what Bede feels, unconditional happiness that is not dependant on my environment or material things or anything and I know Bede has taught me a lot.

Bede was so sleepy but so happy to be in the fresh air, tasting ice cream and experiencing his parent's joy at having him outside

Bede was so sleepy but so happy to be in the fresh air, tasting ice cream and experiencing his parent’s joy at having him outside.

Other than Bede’s 6 month celebration there has been a lot of other bits of happiness floating around. Last weekend we got home for about 8 hours. The ward also had a BBQ and Bede wore a party hat. We broke all the rules and snuck some ice cream into his mouth.
He has started mouthing at things a lot and we are so excited to start feeding him food soon. I have never taken food granted and can not wait to share with Bede the adventure of taste, such an essential party of experiencing this world of ours.

Roy is obviously so proud of his little baby boy as he watches Bede commandeer his rusk. He seems excited and hopeful and happy and just really really proud.

The truth of course is there is always a balance. This post sounds boldly happy and things are but at the same time there are still moments, quiet moments, even sad moments. There is always a choice to be had. There are moments where you think that 6 months old means we’re already a quarter of the way through Bede’s life expectancy. We choose to focus on the moments where we just feel blessed to have had him this long.

At the moment he is bold and curious and an explorer. Most of all he is adored and rightly so. Well actually in this moment by the time this blog finally goes to air he will probably be asleep and we MAY have even got home! Fingers crossed. Love to you all.
6month sleep insta

Triumph & Trauma

I have just realised that we have all been so wrapped up in the beautiful moments this last week all our photos are of us sleeping.

I have just realised that we have all been so wrapped up in the beautiful moments this last week all our photos are of us sleeping.

I try to keep this blog about who Bede is and how he is doing rather than just boring everyone with the details or even, sometimes the despair, of what is happening. Sometimes though, I think the details are important at least for the purpose of letting our families know and certainly as a testament to Bede’s strength and the pride we feel for him.

In the last 3 weeks Bede has had

  • Severe pain
  • Respiratory issues
  • Needed oxygen on and off for the whole 3 weeks
  • Heart rate issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Constant Morphine and Ketamine infusions
  • A blood infection
  • 4 kinds of IV antibiotics
  • His permanent line come out
  • The lining of his small bowel breaking down
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea
  • Tumour growth
  • 5 blood transfusions due to the chemo depleting his blood cells.
  • CTs
  • The skin around his bottom breaking down and bleeding
  • Cannulas and collapsed veins from blood tests
  • The hardcore chemo
  • Surgery to insert his new permanent line, this time an infuser port
  • MRI under general anaesthetic
  • And has been weaned off a lot of drugs

In fact the majority of these things unfurled in the first 2 weeks following the new chemo. Each day has been a new challenge and each day we have tried our best as a family to meet it. Day by day. I think rambling off that list is important because it really demonstrates just how remarkable our little Bede is. Through it all Bede remains calmly and firmly himself. I marvel that through all this trauma he has not only managed to continue smiling and shining but he has also managed to grow so much. We are incredibly proud of him.

We had an MRI on Friday which, incredibly, showed the new chemo has stabilised his cancer. Quite a feat really considering the tumour was growing so aggressively, it MAY have even shrunk it marginally.

This week we managed to stretch his IV lines all the way to the big bed and we slept together. Just like old times. Wrapping each other up in our sweet love.

This week we managed to stretch his IV lines all the way to the big bed and we slept together. Just like old times. Wrapping each other up in our sweet love.

We have had some positively wonderful times with bede. Uplifting times. Beautiful affirming days.
One day in particular was incredible, we had an infant massage session, a music therapy session and a guided play session. He was so incredibly enlivened and engaged. He has definitely re earned his nickname smiley.

Bede has grown within his own mind so much.
 He has a favourite page of a touch and feel book and reaches out to stroke the animal. He plays kissing games and smiles asking for more.

He freely gives away his joy by smiling indiscriminately. He smiles at everyone now, those jewels are no longer just for his Mumma and that makes me beam. His smiles are beautiful and luminescent, they of course shine so bright. His smiles make everyone else smile and the Bede effect is clear.

He has even managed to fulfill the secret hope I had for before the next chemo started. He is back to laughing.

I think what has brought Roy and I the most joy has been watching Bede discover, develop and explore his sense of playfulness. That purely childlike quality that is in its essence so far removed from his cancer and all that that entails brings a happy balance to his awe inspiring substance. His gentle determinedness remains resolute. In addition to that determinedness he now pauses and basks in the moment, seemingly bathing in his own light. Strengthened by happiness and curiosity.

We have now started the second round of the hard core chemo. We haven’t been home in four weeks. We are hoping to get home for a couple of days this cycle. I think it would so much good for Bede, it would reenergise Roy and I and would do the world of good for Gus.

I know its been far too long between posts by the state of all my inboxes. This has been such an incredibly intense and equally triumphant and traumatic time it has been difficult to update. Each time I tried I was overwhelmed by where to begin. I worry that I no longer have the emotional wherewithal to do justice to Bede with my words but I will continue to try so long as you all continue to pray for him and care for him and are sending him light and love and positivity.

Thank you.

choices

As you all know this blog started as an SMS just updating Bede’s physical condition. As it has grown I occasionally feel compelled to venture outside the scope. This post does just that.

Bede's first chemo, Bede laughs in the face of cancer.

Bede’s first chemo, Bede laughs in the face of cancer.

A while a go a comment was left on the blog that wasn’t approved.

It spoke of all the torture Roy and I were putting Bede through and the author said she hoped we would do the right thing soon.

Those of you that know us know it would take a bit more than some thoughtless words from a stranger to upset Roy and I or even to disturb our perspective. The comment did get me thinking.

We are at a stage of Bede’s treatment that at any time if Roy and I say it’s time to call it quits the doctors will support that. We have the ‘choice’.

It’s a funny concept that choice. I used to be lucky and naive enough to think people in situations like this had choices. That there would be value judgements, choices, to be made along the way. Most of all I thought there would be a choice to say ok Bede has had enough. That at some point it would be a matter of just gently letting him drift off. What a fairy tale that belief was.

In a treatment sense we have no real choices. It seems to me most of the families on this ward have no real choice. Most are fighting for their children’s life. We have the added responsibility of fighting for the quality of his death.

If 2 weeks ago we had chosen not to proceed with the treatment the tumour would have kept growing at the rate it was.

Bede was in excruciating pain. He would have had a horrifying death.

Because we went ahead it seems we may have thwarted some of the tumors growth and Bede’s pain is subsiding but he has needed blood transfusions, and has had infections and is just generally feeling pretty lousy after chemo but the treatment may buy him some good quality time at home playing with his brother and possibly a much less painful death. Prolonging his life prolongs his illness. There is no perfectly happy choice there.

We fight for him to have a better day but sometimes even those are rough, it is still the lesser of two troubles.

People may hold up this translucent illusion of choice in the hope of alleviating some sense of powerlessness but it is ineffective and unreal, that is not reality. Roy and I have no choices but a deep responsibility to honour Bede and all of his experiences whether that be life or death or the day to day struggles.

Tonight I met a beautiful young and wise Iranian woman. She said in a beautifully soft voice that there’s a saying that roughly translates to “God gives the hardest soldiers the hardest things” and she embraced me and kissed me. People tell you a lot of sayings when your child is diagnosed with cancer but that one really resonated with me. Perhaps it was the coarseness of the words mixed with the tender way she delivered them. We are strong enough to guide him through  and soft enough to embrace every moment with him.

We may not have real treatment choices, we may be powerless in the direction our lives take but we are dealing with a profound little boy. Filled with light and substance. That alone empowers us to make life choices. We choose to face each obstacle with love and joy and thankfulness. We choose to sing to him and smile and cherish him. We choose to make his life loving even when it can not be lovely. We choose the fullness of life for as long as we are gifted with it.

We would both be sorry to think that any of you out there thought we were putting Bede through the trauma of childhood cancer just to satiate our own selfish needs to have him here. There are no real choices except the choice to love him and shower him with as much joy as we can muster. I assure you we do this.

This is Bede’s life and it is actually not torturous. He knows no different, he grieves no loss and is present in every moment. He leaves the horrible moments behind in the blink of an eye and happily loses himself in his Mum’s smile. There is a lot to be learnt there. Perhaps it is Bede who has the real choices. The choice of how he lives his life and there is a lot that can be learnt from the decisions he makes.

Sharing The Win

We have been here at the hospital for two weeks now.

ward

Today Bede had surgery. Last week Bede’s permanent line fell out so today it was replaced with an infuser port. He came through this surgery much better than his last.

coming out of surgery

He is continuing to slowly wake up from the drug induced fog. Perhaps a little slower than I anticipated in my last post but today is our best day yet. That is pretty incredible given he has just had surgery and all that he has been through over the last few weeks.

He is more awake and enjoying playing with his soft bunny.

As I write this Bede’s Dad is whispering to him how proud he is of him. The lights are dimmed. Soothing music is playing. The love that radiates from Bede fortifies us all. Through it all the soft and gentle beauty that is essentially Bede is unmoving. Who he is glimmers through the fog.

Hope for a better day swells within me and I am thankful for all your love. Be reassured that he is doing amazingly well.

How well he has come through this surgery definitely counts as a win.

Bede’s back!

smiles for bede copy jpeg

I have tried hard to write a blog explaining all that has happened but there is no point intellectualizing it. It’s been a very difficult week.

I am awash with exhausted relief. Glorious exhausted relief. Far too awash to do justice to the calm joy that wells deep within me. Most of all I am thankful. His soul is here with his Mumma, entwined for another day. His weight and light and beauty and substance mingle with every fibre of my being.

Let me tell you something about Bede, all superfluities aside he is just plain awe inspiring and incredible.

Bede is here. As has become typical his little body rose up to meet the challenges it was faced with. He some how determinedly and resolutely put one foot in front of the other and got on with the business of living, balancing grit with beauty and light. He was in the deepest pit, one that none of us could see a way out of and he has step by step climbed his way out.

He is tired, as we all are, but he is slowly rousing from the fog that the large amounts of narcotics visited upon him.  I have said it before Bede doesn’t simply bounce back as you so often hear some children do. He is consolidating his position and then slowly and purposefully moving forward.

looking up to mumma.

I’m not sure exactly how or even the exact moment we turned a corner but we did, he did. When we were still in the midst of the fog just after the pain had passed but when Bede was heavily sedated he chose his moments and then shone through. He opened his eyes and was engaged. He could not physically bring his lips to a smile but every other part of his face lit up as he looked up at his family. The little eyebrow that twitches before a grin was insuppressible and his eyes sparkled.

Now slowly, bit-by-bit he wakes. He is not a 100% yet but he is in there. Today when it was just Bede and I snuggled in together the smallest smile skipped across his face…. Bede’s back!

The last week has been overwhelming for a whole number of reasons aside from the acuity of Bede’s illness, most of them distractions, and we are all physically and emotionally exhausted.

All is not solved, we are where we were before this latest scare but that is still so much better than we were last Sunday. We are waiting to see how effective this chemo is to know how much time we are afforded. We are slowly weaning back the oxygen and pain killers. Bede lives to fight  and love and light another day.

Tonight I bathe in sweet relief. I am wrapped in his warmth. His love is all encompassing and more grounded than ever. I remain madly and deeply in love with Roy and lightened and uplifted by Gus’ joyfulness. I am so incredibly deeply thankful. We have faced our darkest moments and once again Bede lit the way.

I am so especially thankful to Bede’s primary doctor for the care and time she has given not only Bede but also Roy and I that helped us find our way through. She did more than treat him physically, she kept hope when ours erred. We are blessed to have her on Team Bede.

Most of all I am thankful to all of you. Make no mistake your love and prayers and care are real and tangible and helpful and solid and amazing. I truly believe they are carrying him through. The miracle Bede needs is all of you. We were there, teetering on the edge of the cliff and I believe you pulled us back.

This blog doesn’t sound as celebratory as it should be, my exhaustion pervades. Feel free to cheer, dance in the streets, grin ear to ear for me. Bede did it again.

The sky is falling

I am to spent to write a whole blog post so instead I will post an SMS that I exhaustedly sent out last night..

This post will not do justice to the beauty and grace with which Bede deals with this cancer. I have said it before but it remains his indelible truth – his light is undimmed.  Hopefully I will have the emotional energy to write a post on how his gentle warm and loving soul is travelling soon. The purpose of this post is just to desperately recruit your positivity, prayers, whatever love you have to throw at us. We ache with love for our little boy.

.

Hi everyone, I’m sorry to say we had some bad news today.
The tumour has doubled in size in the last 4 weeks, it has haemorrhaged in on itself, there are new legions and the bits of spread he had before are bigger.
Without chemo we would have 2-3 weeks left. With only one round of chemo under his belt we haven’t given it much of a chance to work but its not looking good.
.
Because we don’t  know how responsive it is to the chemo (traditionally not very responsive at all) we don’t how how long we’ve got with bede. At this point it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting the miracle we all so badly wanted.
.
I just humbly ask you all to keep him in your thoughts and hearts and prayers. If there was ever a time to hope against hope or  just to pray for Bede generally it would be now with the 2nd round of chemo absorbing into his resilient little body. Please send our precious boy all your love.
.
The white mass  in the attached black and white photo is a picture of the tumour to give you an idea of what we are up against.
The little boy in the other attached photo is the most magnificent person we could have ever hoped to meet. Both photos were taken yesterday.
.
https://teambede.wordpress.com/thesubstantialbede/
Image
Image