This is the third post in a series of three posts written about the day Naomi was discharged from City of Hope on Day +27 after her Bone Marrow Transplant for Very Severe Aplastic Anemia. You can find Part 1 and Part 2 in these archived links.
The last month has been so busy, and I cannot believe how long ago it seems this happened already! I will keep this more brief than I did Day of Freedom, Part 1 & Part 2. These photos and video were recorded on Feb. 11, 2014 when Naomi was discharged from the hospital on Day +27 after her BMT, totalling 33 days as an inpatient for conditioning chemotherapy, the actual transplant, and then her time of inpatient recovery.
A few days before Naomi was discharged, I moved to the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House (RMH). The backyard was a dream for any child. With swings, slides, bikes, playhouses and space to run, a child had everything they needed to be free, imaginative, and happy. There were tables and chairs situated around the yard for relaxation and outdoor mealtimes.
Once we walked out the doors of the hospital, Naomi, Malakye and Lauryn skipped and danced their way to the van. Honestly, it could have been any normal day. We could have been leaving a grocery store, or going into any number of buildings. It had the feel of a day off. But at the same time, I felt like I had to be right beside her and in arm’s reach at all times. I didn’t want her to jump; she might get bruised. I didn’t want her to get too far ahead of me. In so many ways, by watching her skip down the sidewalk, I felt that I had more recovering to do than her! CHILDREN ARE SO RESILIENT. That is the biggest lesson I learned through this one experience of taking her out of the hospital. Just minutes prior, she had been afraid to leave the hospital and now, she was fully living in the freedom she had.
Upon arriving at the RMH, the children wanted to play outside immediately. Naomi ran right to the swings. She had wanted to swing so very badly while in the hospital. It is sometimes difficult to know the emotion shown on her face because of her mask, but her eyes are often a good indicator of how she is feeling. When she is really excited and happy, her eyes sparkle. When she is upset, that sparkle goes away. I have become pretty good at reading her emotions by looking at her eyes, but I still have to ask her if she is OK sometimes. I will assure you that at the time of this following photo, she was very happy and doing what she has done the first moment she gets on a swing for as long as I can remember. Since we lived in Seattle, and Naomi was just a toddler, my children have loved to swing while reciting poetry. So, this is something she has grown up with it. It was one way that I taught them to incorporate schoolwork with playtime. The first poem any child of mine sings when they reach a swing is The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson.
How do you like to go up in a swing,Up in the air so blue?Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thingEver a child can do!Up in the air and over the wall,Till I can see so wide,Rivers and trees and cattle and allOver the countryside—Till I look down on the garden green,Down on the roof so brown—Up in the air I go flying again,Up in the air and down!
Source: A Child’s Garden of Verses (1999)
Looking back at the time this next picture was taken, I have to laugh. Lauryn, being the tomboy she is, ran right into the sandbox without my being able to stop her. Before I could stop it from happening, Naomi was entering the box, too. I really struggled letting her play in there! Sandboxes are notoriously germy spots. You can believe that Naomi’s hands and shoes were scrubbed like crazy when she got out of that sandbox. I also, gently, told them that I did not want them to play in that sandbox anymore while we stayed at RMH. I felt it was just too risky for Naomi.
The lighting in the room was not great. But this will always be a favorite of mine. It was the day that she was mine again. Even though our time at COH was not traumatic, after 33 days, we all felt a lot more free and at peace having the transplant behind us and being able to start enjoying more of our days.