The nurse only came in to wake her twice during the night. The first time Stephanie woke too, but Emmy barely stirred. She had taken another dose of anti-nausea medication and was out. They took her temperature, and checked urine output again. Then left. The second time Stephanie just rolled over to face the wall. Emmy woke this time and looked over and smiled seeing that Coach really had stayed. She didn’t really need anything at this point, but it was nice to know there was someone there.
The sun began to stream through the blinds by about 7 and activity out in the halls made it hard to sleep much longer. Coach sat up when she heard the bathroom door close. Emmy was coming back out. “Sorry I woke you.”
“Oh no it wasn’t you it was all that out there.” She pointed at the door. “How did you get any sleep with all that?’
“Drugs. They knock me out.”
The door opened slowly and Holly came in. “Well good news. The blood work was awesome and your kidney is doing better. As soon as Dr. Hatcher comes through I’d say he’ll let you go home.”
Emmy looked at Stephanie and smiled. “Sounds good.”
“Breakfast will be here soon. Try to eat some OK. Coach there is coffee out at the nurses’ station if you’d like some. I made it so it’s safe. The night crew makes it so strong that it will knock you down.” Then she took Emmy’s blood pressure, temperature and checked the bathroom again. After recording everything on the iPad she turned and smiled hugging Emmy. “I am so excited for you.”
“Me too.” Emmy hugged her back.
After Holly left Stephanie went into the little bathroom to clean up. Sitting on the bed Emmy couldn’t contain the smile. She was going to go home to a real house. To a real house with people who knew her and who chose her. This time she hadn’t been assigned, no one had begged them to take her and she wasn’t being shipped off to a family that just wanted the money. She got up and changed her clothes too. Mr. Case had brought a small bag for her when he came to check on the girl that had the breakdown. When Stephanie came out Emmy was combing her hair and pulling it back into her signature ponytail.
Dr. Hatcher knocked and entered slowly. “How are we doing today?”
He shook hands with Coach. “Well you’re numbers are sure looking better. Lets look you over and then get you out of here.” He pulled the curtain and Stephanie began to step outside. “Emmy is it OK if she stays? I’d like to show her some things to keep an eye on.” Emmy nodded and Coach took a seat. “These needle marks look good. The chemo tends to affect the way blood clots and sot Emmy had started to bleed a lot more easily and sometimes these will start up again after they appear to have clotted. Just keep an eye on it. She tends to downplay everything.” He lifted her shirt on her right side. “Here is the scar from her initial surgery. Everything healed perfectly. But she now only has one kidney. I’ve asked her to start wearing a protective pad over the left side to give that kidney a little added protection but she’s resisted. Given the bruises from last week I will reiterate my desire that she start doing this.”
“She’ll have one on tomorrow at practice. Where do we get it?” She looked at Emmy and gave her a look.
Dr. Hatcher smiled. He was glad someone was finally there to push Emmy to take her health seriously. “We’ll have one ordered and brought up to you. The supply place down the road has them and will deliver one before you go.” He typed something in his tablet.
“Since the surgery we’ve done three rounds of chemo. Her cancer was stage 1, still contained in the kidney itself. So her prognosis is great, if she takes care of herself. She gets two chemo drugs. She’ll get five doses over the course of a week then three weeks off. She’ll have 6 rounds total. So we are halfway there.
“The worst side effect she’s had is the nausea. Some lose their hair and some don’t. So far Emmy has been one of the lucky ones, if anyone going through this can be lucky. She’s here for about an hour when she gets the treatment and a half hour or so on each Monday for blood work.
“Emmy chose not to have a central line so she could continue to play basketball. This means that each week we have to start a line before we can administer the drugs or take blood. As chemo continues the veins tend to get more brittle. A central line may still have to be added, but for now we’ve been able to continue like this. And she gets to keep playing.”
“Now for day to day she’s got to keep eating. Even when food tastes different or bad it’s got to keep going in. Water is a must. We have to keep that one kidney healthy. On days when she plays she should be drinking constantly. No grapefruit juice or anything with aspirin they both interact with the chemo. She will bruise and bleed more than normal. She will get sick easier and a simple cold will feel like the flu. Any temperature more than 100.5 and she needs to be brought in. If you’re unsure feel free to call.”
He looked at Stephanie “Overwhelmed yet?”
“No we’ve got this, right?” She looked at Emmy.
“Absolutely.” She’d been doing it by herself all this time, surely two adults could keep track of it.
“Well, Miss Emmy I’d say you’re good to go. I’m going to go let Holly know and she’ll be back in with all the papers to sign.” He gave her knuckles to bump. “Take care OK?”
After he left Emmy turned to Stephanie “So are you really sure about this?”
“We sure are. Together you’re going to get through this and be stronger than ever.”
Two hours later all the paperwork was ready, the kidney pad had been delivered and Holly showed Emmy how to wear it and they were walking out the door. Stephanie had offered to go get the car but Emmy said she needed to walk.
The ride home was quiet each mind was running with how everything would go and how this was going to work.