Saturday, March 8, 2014

New to Childhood cancer tips: giving choices

The first time Grace had anesthesia for her spinal tap, she came out bitting and kicking and screaming like a maniac even though she was mostly still asleep. It was legitimate fight or flight, and she is a fighter! Which is great...also very hard to experience that first time. She is an old pro at it now, she knows where she is and why she's there when she wakes up and she waits patiently to go get food.

When she's at the hospital it's mostly smiles and when we get home the next day all h-e-l-l breaks loose, being the fighter that she is. I realized that the hospital is just too scary to throw tantrums in, but home is very safe. So I now anticipate one to two days of full fledge boundary testing and tantrums at home until she feels stable enough to be herself again...right in time to go back the hospital.

It's been really hard to see Grace so angry, and it's so hard to know how to help a four-year old cope. I'm currently reading and researching and trying to learn how to help her. In the meantime, we have discovered a few tricks. Giving Grace choices seems to really help.

The other day in clinic, the doctor wanted to feel Grace's tummy.
Doctor: "Please lay down"
Grace: "I will NEVER lie down"
Me: "Grace, will you choose to put your head on this side of the table or this side?"
Grace: "This side," and lays down

Grace didn't want the nurse to take off her adhesive bandage, which granted pulls out any small hairs on her chest ares
Grace: "I will NEVER let the nurse take off my bandage!"
Me: "Will you choose to help the nurse with an alcohol pad or will you choose to let her do the whole thing?
Grace: "I'll help," and she helped the nurse and I rubbed off her bandage with minimal resistance

It was time to take her nightly regimen of medicines.
Grace: "I'm NEVER going to take that medicine. It tastes like garbage," (which it probably does even though it's flavored. She likes the other flavored meds but this one consistently gets resistance.)
Me: "Will you drink water after your garbage medicine or will you take your bubble gum medicine after?"
Grace: "Bubble gum after."
Granted, this one still gets a lot of push back but now that she knows she can "chase" the bad with bubble gum medicine it's helped.

I can understand where she's coming from. Most all of her choices are being made for her, like not going to school, not playing at the park, going to the doctor and having to get shots. So even when we're at home I'm trying as much as possible to give her two choices for everything, and even saying the word "choice" a lot to try to compensate. I'll be reporting more on other things I learn to help her get through all the emotions that come with cancer.


  1. You are certainly amazing Melissa. God bless you as you tend to Grace.

  2. Choices. Such a wise and loving mommy! Empowerment whenever and however you can will go such a long, long way. If G'ma Judi hasn't mentioned her idea about children and therapeutic photography you may want to discuss it with her. :D Love you all!

  3. This is good advice for all kinds of tantrums. Kids have so little control over their lives that they fight to keep what little bit they have, so some kind of choice/control is good. She's a brave little bunny. Came here from the Barbie petition. Yes to Chemo Barbie!

  4. I can see God is carrying you through this trial and giving you wisdom to know how to care for your beautiful daughter. May you always seek Him first and trust in Him fully.