Ava stood in the doorway, shuffling her feet from side to side, her whitened knuckles grasping the car keys as she rested her hands upon the baby bump. She glared at Oscar who gazed up at her with glassy eyes.
“Yeah. Let’s get it over with.” Ava nodded, placing her hand on Oscar’s back, gently guiding him out of the door.
“Maybe the tests were clear?” Oscar added.
“Oscar, please don’t speak too soon!”
“I’m just trying to be positive.”
Ava slipped into the driver’s seat, patting her stomach. “I swear I’ve grown again, I’ll be stretching the seat belt at this rate!”
“Don’t be daft! That’s great.” Oscar smiled. “It’s as it should be. We want a strong, healthy baby.”
“Yeah, I know. I feel ginormous and I’m miles off full term!”
“Hardly miles! You don’t look big I promise.” Oscar reassured.
They pulled in to the familiar building. “We might as well move into the hospital, it feels like we’ve never left.”
“Let’s just get to reception.” Oscar shut the car door, hastening his step.
“Yes, I’ll waddle as fast as I can!” Ava groaned.
Oscar grasped her hand. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to walk so quickly.”
“Oscar, you seem to pick and choose your energy levels!”
“What? That’s just ridiculous!”
“Well it’s true. One day you can’t physically get off the sofa and the next you’re dragging me across the hospital. Slow down!”
Oscar bit his bottom lip to prevent it from trembling. “Okay.” He whispered. “I’m just nervous that’s all.”
“It looks empty along this corridor. Are we in the right place Oscar?”
“Yeah. Here’s reception, doctors move about a bit you know.”
Oscar gazed at the red plastic chairs and headed towards the reception desk. “Hi I’m Oscar Setterfield, I have an appointment at 10am with Doctor Cassidy.”
The receptionist gazed up and nodded. “Yes, you can go on in. He’s waiting for you.”
‘Really?’ Oscar thought. Normally there was a longer wait. He grasped Ava’s hand. “Oscar, you’re shaking like a leaf. Take deep breaths and don’t be so anxious. You’ll exhaust yourself before we’ve even begun!”
Hand in hand they tiptoed into the doctor’s surgery and were seated by the wooden desk. Doctor Cassidy glanced at them. He exhaled loudly, glancing through a small pile of paper work.
“How have you been since we last spoke Oscar?”
“Tired. I think I’ve lost more weight, my appetite is pretty much non-existent. Please, just tell me it as it is. Don’t try and wrap cotton wool around any information. I have to know.”
“ I can assure you I’d never do that. I’ve had the results back from your blood tests. They show an very high number of abnormal white blood cells. I’d like to refer you to a hematologist, a blood specialist.”
“What does that mean? Why? Then what?”
“They need to take a small sample of your bone marrow.”
“What! My bone marrow? That’s serious! It’s not…do you think it’s Leukemia? Oh shit!”
“We cant be 100% sure, but it’s possible. A lot of your symptoms match. If we catch the disease early enough, it’s very treatable. We’d like to do an aspiration and biopsy of your bone marrow. A sample will be taken from your breastbone, using a special needle.”
“Where and when will the test be done? That sounds horrible, won’t it be really painful?” Ava gasped. Oscar ignored her.
“ Your appointment with the hematologist is in 48 hours, here’s the details informing you where to go and the appointment time.”
Doctor Cassidy held out an A4 piece of typed paper. Oscar failed to take it, staring vacantly at the wall. Ava shook him and grasped the details. “Oscar! Please say something!”
“Okay.” He stated in little more than a whisper. He nervously cleared his throat. “Sorry, it’s come as a little bit of a shock that’s all. What do I do now? I mean I hardly understand what it is, apart from the fact that Leukemia is a blood disease!”
“In a person with leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. The abnormal cells are leukemia cells. Unlike normal blood cells, leukemia cells don’t die when they should. They may crowd out normal blood cells. This makes it hard for normal blood cells to do their work. Despite their vast numbers, these leukemia cells are unable to fight infection the way normal white blood cells do. As they grow, they interfere with vital organ functions, including the production of healthy blood cells. Do you understand so far? “
“I-I think so.”
“Eventually, the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to supply oxygen, enough platelets to ensure proper clotting, or enough normal white blood cells to fight infection. This results in persons with leukemia being anemic as well as increasing their risks of bruising, bleeding, and infection.”
“Can it be treated with chemotherapy?”
“If it’s properly been diagnosed, yes.”
“I don’t even know what to do or say. Shit. I mean I know I’ve felt drained and had vomiting and black outs but I never, ever expected this.”
“Oscar aren’t you going to ask more questions?!”
Oscar shook his head. “They’ve escaped me Ava.”
“I have questions. How sure are you? I mean, Oscar has only displayed a few of the symptoms; tiredness, flu like symptoms and loss of appetite.”
“I’m guessing it’s only early on is that right?”
“Everything we do at the moment is precautionary We don’t have a proper diagnosis, not yet. We need to get that bone marrow sample taken. For the time being, go home and take plenty of rest and we’ll go from there.”
To be continued….