January 21, 2010 marked a new day in our journey with Meaghan. The day we came home, reuniting as a family. The days leading up to Meg's discharge were filled with countless highs. Monday was our last dose of Vincristine for four weeks. Tuesday was our very last day of Radiation Treatment and our last regular ambulance transport. Wednesday morning we removed access to her port for the next month.
This past week was filled with countless preparations: duct work cleaning, carpet and furniture cleaning. Wednesday the medical supply company delivered all of her equipment and supplies. That afternoon some of my girlfriends descended on my home for wall washing and vacuuming and general organizing. We ate, cried a little and laughed a lot!
On Discharge Day, Madison and Ethan received a special exemption from the hospital H1N1 restriction policy. They were allowed to come up for one hour to see where Meg has been living for the past two months, meet the Inpatient Therapy team and tour the therapy rooms. Their reactions reminded me of my own sense of trepidation.
This place that I initially hated coming to daily, this place that was foreign, a constant reminder of my daughter's illness has now become filled familiar faces and routines. Our partings with the nurses, PCA's, doctors, therapists, social worker and clinical manager were not as bittersweet as they could have been. Meaghan will be continuing her outpatient rehabilitation at Children's hospital. She will have PT, OT and Speech therapies three times each per week.
I am looking forward to returning to our therapy sessions. We will frequently be able to visit the friends we've made at Inpatient Rehab and show our progress. We will be able to visit with our transport crews. They will continue to be a part of our journey, as will all our Radiation support staff when we return to St. John's for inpatient chemo stays.
We shared so many intimate family moments with our new "family" that I cannot imagine moving forward without their continued support. So with their blessing, love and devotion to our Meaghan makes her homecoming sweeter.
And her homecoming has been sweet. To date, it's been without medical incident. We've had our first visit from our palliative care nurse. Pastor paid a visit and had Meg in stitches as usual. (He's one of her favorite visitors.) Cousin Mary was in town and played with Meg and painted Maddy's nails. Aunt Tracie stopped in for a quick visit, too. All in all, it's been a busy, lovely weekend, with Sunday yet to come!
Meaghan is so reluctant to visit school or church. She's nervous to have friends visit. Interestingly, her speech started to return this week prior to coming home. Each day she speaks a bit more confidently, but as always, only on her terms. Her voice is small, restrained, uncertain. Much like how I feel about facing each day.
I'd like to end by sharing some pictures of Meg taken during the last couple of weeks:
Here's Brian (just one of our beloved Transport crew). On Meg's last day of radiation, he filled the back of the ambulance with balloons. We all wore Dora hats and sunglasses. All of us, but Meg that is.
This is Meg working on her Beads of Courage. It has been a wonderful tool to facilitate conversation about all she's been through. It is truly something to behold.
This is Meg working hard with Joy, one of the Physical Therapists. Despite all the hard work Joy requires of Meg, she always makes sure Meg has time for some fun games too.
This picture represents just a handful of medical personnel that cared for Meg during her radiation treatments. Pictured (starting left front) are Vicki, Cynthia, Kelly, Me and Sue. And these fine ladies are only a fraction of the whole team that has treated Meg over the last six weeks. We all shed some tears, but again, we'll get to see one another soon.
Everyone involved with Meg's care wants nothing more than to have her home with her family, despite their emotional attachments to her. We all shed a few tears, but more importantly, we rejoiced in Meaghan's amazing accomplishments and courage.
Throughout this journey, God has seen to it that we were blessed with caring, loving staff. Praise the Lord for blessing their talents!
And welcome home, Meaghan!!