The lights at the end of a darker week

I’m sorry I’ve taken a while to do a blog update this time… I’ve actually been struggling a bit with my emotions and how to articulate things into words on paper, to be conveyed to such a broad audience – of parents, non-parents, extended family, close family, close friends, distant acquaintances, and people we don’t even know personally.

The Isham household is travelling along fairly smoothly at the moment… although emotions have been labile and fragile.

Ned started high-risk treatment last week, and it went relatively ok. The time at home was fraught with stress and tears though, since, most days, as well as the in-hospital chemo, Ned’s had to be given subcutaneous injections by Seth (which Seth found traumatic), and take 6 doses of oral medication – all of which are crushed pills, and each of which has to be forced into his screaming, struggling body. It’s horrendous for all of us. Ned used to eat, when on steroids. Last week, whilst on a temporary break from the “hungry” steroids, and having to take a nausea-inducing medication, he refused food most of the time. I could have counted on one hand the number of food items he’d eaten over the course of the whole week… which thus made sneaking crushed pills onto a spoonful of food an impossible task.

                 3 weeks difference

               3 weeks difference

Seth and I are still emotionally drained. We’ve been gradually educated about what exactly high-risk treatment entails, and it sounds fairly intensive, grueling and daunting, so we’re a bit uncertain about how we’re going to cope for a sustained period. I, particularly, am also overwhelmed at the prospect of our baby’s arrival in February, given that we’re already flagging.

Consequently, for all of last week, my tears were prickling at the drop of a hat. My inability to suppress my negative thoughts at every hour of every day (and night) has led to very little reserve to cope with other sad or disappointing news. I used to be the kind of person who would overly invest in the world news; trying to fully immerse and intimate myself with the victim’s suffering – so that, even though my grief could never come close, I could perhaps sympathise with a fraction of their pain. I am under no illusion that I am unique in this, but for me, I do think it’s perhaps remnant from the tremendous guilt I’ve felt since we returned to Australia after leaving our Congolese friends behind to an uncertain future and great potential suffering in such an unstable country.

Now, though, I can’t bear any bad news. I can’t bring myself to watch the news broadcasts or browse the World section of the newspapers. I guiltily block my ears to the suffering or atrocities happening in Iraq or Syria. I refuse to read about the children killed in NSW recently, or the kids dying as a result of parental neglect. This is temporary, I know, and will dissipate as treatment becomes more established and we adjust to the routines (or lack thereof); but at the moment, I just don’t have the energy and emotion to expend in grieving for others.

One must not forget, however, our many abundant blessings and reasons to be thankful - such as the ongoing wonderful support from family, friends, neighbours, acquaintances and colleagues, Ned's first few independent steps, returning cheerful nature and mischievous, cheeky grin, Lucy's very maternal, gentle, and loving character, the occasional moments of family fun, laughter and sheer delight with each other... And lastly, our weekend was considerably brightened by my visiting sister and brother-in-law from Melbourne, as well as our involvement in our first Light the Night event (run by the Leukaemia Foundation) on Saturday night at an animal sanctuary – an event where sufferers and supporters gather together to have a BBQ, catch-up, and walk with lanterns in the dark in order to raise money for the Foundation’s research efforts. Our team ('Team Isham') has managed to raise over half of the Tasmanian total (at this stage!) – thanks to so many of supporters and well-wishers. There’s also a 'Team Isham' branch walking at the Melbourne Zoo next week, which is similarly raising money for the Foundation. Even though this event wasn’t about us, as such, it was so encouraging and uplifting to have so many of our friends make the effort and bring their families in our support – we felt very loved. 

So, in this vein, let me reiterate that the MOST valuable of gifts are your prayers and messages of encouragement. Knowing that so many people have us on their hearts or in their thoughts is really reassuring. And, when my prayers are weak and faltering, or sometimes non-existent, knowing that others are interceding for us is incredibly powerful and uplifting.

Many of you have asked what else you can do, help with, give and send. Often we don’t have answers for this, because at the moment, I’m pretty sure the kids both would prefer quality time with Seth or me, and Seth and I would often just prefer time for to-do lists or sleep! The delicious “train” of meal deliveries, that is ongoing, is enormously helpful; and whilst the toys, DVDs and books that have been sent have been very excitedly received, if you still want to give in some way, please consider donating to the Leukaemia Foundation. If this is too impersonal or general, and if (and by no means is this a request!) you still would like to help in some way, we are most graciously appreciative of Coles/Myer/K-Mart vouchers (or the like) to put towards grocery and clothing purchases when needed.

If you'd like to contact us for any reason, Seth can be reached at seth.isham@gmail.com, and I use the address isham.emily@gmail.com.