The fair has come to El Paso. And it’s the real deal, too, just like the ones they have in REAL Texas cities, with rides, a petting zoo, midway type games, ridiculously priced food, and camel and pony rides. So yesterday, while we were cooling our heels in the pedi-onc clinic at our hospital, FOR THE THIRD TIME THIS WEEK, the Sun City Fair was getting ready to open. We were at the clinic, again, because Ryan came home from his Dad’s with a mouthful of blood and a rash on his chin. He had to spend an extra day with him because I was knocked flat with a kidney infection (TOTALLY YOUR OWN FAULT, MOM, BECAUSE YOU DON’T DRINK ENOUGH WATER! Thanks, Shawn, for the support… He didn’t laugh when I said I like Dr. Pepper and coffee flavored water). Anyway, the pain meds made me loopier than usual, so Raul kept Ryan, and returned him to me late yesterday morning. With a mouthful of blood. Which necessitated a call in to the hospital, and not one but TWO oncologists directed us to come in RIGHT NOW. Labs were run, and they came back showing at least a small measure of recovery. Enough that they let us off of house arrest, and put Ryan on the OR schedule for Wednesday. But more on that another time. No idea why his gums were bleeding.
So Ryan and I got up this morning, well, actually closer to noon, and this conversation ensued:
Me: Ryan, would you like to go to the fair today?
Ryan: No. No fair. I can’t do it. Grandma Grandpa’s house only.
Me: But we aren’t going to Grandma and Grandpa’s until 5:30. We could do it before.
Ryan: No go. I can’t do it.
Me: There will be camels and ponies and pigs and goats.
Ryan: I can do it!!! We go to the fair!
So we gathered our stuff, and after a call to my dad to make sure I didn’t get lost, and a call to Raul because he kept texting me about Shawn and I was confused, and a stop at the bank (Because we need money to feed the GOATS, Ryan!), we were off.
Got there, got tickets, got in, and Ryan saw the first ride, the kiddie cars. He was jumping up and down, pointing, excited, so the ride attendant got him settled, and the second the ride started, I dissolved in tears. The people around me probably thought I was some kind of lunatic, and they wouldn’t have been too far off. But you see, we spent 3 out of 5 days this week in the oncology clinic, with Ryan’s blood counts setting record lows, and I wanted, so badly, to do this with him, and THERE WE WERE! So I HAD to blubber all over the place. For a little while, just for a time, Ryan was just a normal kid doing normal kid stuff. So he rode some more rides, and then it came: “Mommy, I want to see the camel”. Well, I had promised one, hadn’t I, so off we went on a camel hunt.
And there it was. The camel. Ryan about trampled everyone around him trying to get to it. I gave him his $5 for the ride, and he handed it to some man walking by, who had the good sense to wonder why some small child was handing him $5, and he gave it back and pointed Ryan in the direction of the camel attendants. So up on the camel he went, and everything was going just fine, until he let go of the camel with one hand. And into the relative silence of the camel riding area, I hollered “HOLD ON TO THAT CAMEL, YOUR PLATELETS AREN’T THAT STABLE YET!!”
Stunned silence while people processed. The camel guy ignored me. Ryan put both hands back on the camel. A few people looked at me questioningly. And the ride was over. And we went to pet and feed the goats. I like goats.
It intrudes. Cancer always intrudes. I am doing OK, and then he lets go of the camel. Or gets whacked in the head with the Longhorn’s horns (yeah, that happened today too). Even when you are at the fair, or at the Easter Egg hunt, or at Peter Piper, you are watching. You are constantly evaluating activities, running the numbers, weighing the Pros and cons. Ryan doesn’t live in a bubble. Other cancer moms lock their children down. And it is a very personal choice. But not me, we decided on day one of the initial diagnosis that we would allow him to live every day to the fullest. Ryan would never tolerate anything less.
HOLD ON, CAMEL, RYAN’S ON BOARD!!