Last week Harrison had is final infusion of Vincristine, as awful drug that has nearly crippled him. The effects on his knees and ankles are horrific, making getting out of bed in the morning a challenge, and running almost impossible. He is glad to be done with that toxin (“glad” here being the understatement of the year!).
Following that infusion he still had to complete a five-day regimen of steroid and Mmercaptopurine (aka 6-MP). He has taken 6-MP every day since December 13, 2011.
He has not missed a single dose. Not one.
The medicine itself is not awful, like methotrexate, vincristine, doxorubicin, or the dozens of other drugs he has taken, but it comes with two big challenges.
First, it only comes in pill form. Prior to December 13, 2011, Harrison had never swallowed a pill in his life. Learning to do so may well have been the worst part of chemotherapy for him. Sometimes swallowing 6-MP would take 4-5 hours. Yep, hours. He would finally get one down then gag on the next pill and throw it up.
Back to the beginning.
We all hated medicine time.
But there was a second challenge for Harrison (and for Ginger). Studies show that 6-MP is less effective (maybe even ineffective) if taken with any food on the stomach. This meant Harrison had to wait two hours after eating to take the pills, and couldn’t eat for an hour afterwards. Additionally, studies show the drug is most effective when taken at night before bed. No one knows why, though it probably has something to do with how ones body adjusts for sleep. He also couldn’t eat ice cream at night: dairy prevents 6-MP from working.
No ice cream? Really?
Do you know how difficult it is to find a three-hour window between eating and bedtime for medicine? Particularly for a kid who is incredibly active with school, sports, church, and other events. He might eat at 5:00, head to a baseball game at 6:00, and not get home until 8:30. After his game he would want a snack. He might have to wait until 10:30 to take his medicine.
Many, many nights he would fall asleep on the couch so we could wake him up at 10:30 or 11:00 to take medicine.
Well, NO MORE.
He can eat when he wants and what he wants.
Yesterday, Harrison said he wasn’t going to eat anything all day today so he would have “room” to eat all night.
For the first time since December 13, 2011, Harrison will be able to share a bowl of ice cream with me at night. It was a tradition before. And will mean more than ever now.
Blue Bell Rocky Road it is!!