B”H Benny is doing well for the most part. He has been pretty clingy, but we’ve been down this road before. It usually takes about a week after we’re home from the hospital, that Benny will let me out of his sight. Today, I was able to drop him off at Bubbie & Zaida’s house for a few hours and sneak out the back door. Unfortunately, he did cry a bit, but got distracted and was fine.
I wanted to back track a few days. I’ve been wanting to share with you the final days in the hospital. The last week in the hospital, primarily the last two days,Thursday & Friday, were filled with many good-bye’s and congratulation wishes. We saw 90% of the people that were involved in Benny’s healing process and gave them Team Benny in support of their effort.
After we gave the men at valet, Juan is Benny’s favorite attendant, there was a visitor passing by at the time. She asked if we were selling the caps. After I told her we weren’t, she asked if she could have one. After I gave her one, I told her she has to pray for Benny if she’s joining the team and she agreed.
We gave caps to the security guards, nurses, doctors, technicians, the woman that cleaned Benny’s room everyday and the child life specialists. It was a “Team Benny” week at CHLA.
On Thursday, I made sure to visit the BMT (bone marrow transplant) ward with Benny, to thank the nurses that helped get us through that very difficult period. They were thrilled to see Benny, his new beautiful hairdo and how well he is doing B”H. These nurses see so much, not all of it easy, so to see success, it gives them hope and reassures them the reason, why they are in this career in the first place.
Thursday evening, Benny decided to socialize with the nurses at their station. It’s a good thing it was a quiet night, because Benny had a lot of questions.
That night, I was reminded of my Zaida Ben O”H (Benny’s namesake). Benny decided he wanted to have relay races. He started off by counting 1..2..3..4 and ran. My Zaida O”H, used to do the same thing, even at the age of 80. He used to visit children in the hospital and offer to race them down the halls, in order to get them out of bed and moving. Of course he always let the children win (although, it was a close race). When I looked at Benny in action (on the final night we were in the hospital), it was magical. I looked at it as a s’mon (sign), that IY”H he too at the age of 80 will be cheering up other’s and counting 1.2.3. 4 go!
Friday morning, was challenging. Benny was NPO (nothing by mouth) prior to his dental procedure. Benny was given a time slot of 12:30 in the OR. He couldn’t eat or drink. I tried taking him on a walk outside, but when we passed the store on the first floor, filled with treats, he went straight in and grabbed a candy bar. I told him that I didn’t have my wallet and that we will buy it after his procedure. That didn’t fair to well with him and he persisted on buying the candy. A security guard (who got a Team Benny cap) overheard me telling Benny I didn’t have money and proceeded to take out her wallet and hand Benny a dollar. I stopped her in middle to tell her he’s NPO, and said after his procedure she can buy it for him. Benny didn’t budge and about 3 minutes later Brian walked by. Brian is the kind fellow who was in charge of Benny’s stem cell harvest. He saw Benny holding the candy and took out a $5 bill and told Benny to buy as much as he wanted. I finally caved and agreed to let Benny buy the candy bar. He agreed not to eat it until after his procedure. Brian went on to say how he loves Benny and our family and our community. It felt great.
During the 3 long hours that Benny was in the OR, we met a few more members of CHLA that treated Benny at some point during the year. Youssuf was one individual who was in charge of Benny’s EKG’s. Benny stood out in his mind as the patient with the most original positions for this test, one included, a ride on my shoulders. He really wanted to see Benny and even went to find us in the recovery room bearing a large Sponge Bob stuffed pillow.
Once the dental work was complete, we went back to our room #4352, to be discharged. The nurses on 4 West prepared a farewell song, “Hit the road Jack..no more no more, no more, no more… and gave Benny some departing gifts. We brought a cake (made out of cupcakes) to share with all the patients of 4 West. We wanted them to be a part of the graduation to give them hope that one day soon, they will graduate from 4 west too.
We were fortunate to see our incredible doctor, Dr. Marachelian and her team and thank her/them for all they have done for Benny. They are more than just doctors/nurses, they are family. We feel so blessed having Dr. Marachelian as the Sheliach (messenger in Benny’s Refuah) from the start.
There was an ongoing joke, that I was “Chai maintenance.” I didn’t mind, it got me the room I wanted almost every time. On the way out (for good IY”H), I turned to Dr. Finely (who used to make fun of me, and doesn’t even treat Benny’s illness) and said, “it pays to be high maintenance, it cures cancer!” We all had a good laugh.
Once we were on the road, after 6 pm, it was getting close to Shabbos. B”H my friends were kind enough to take care of everything we needed for Shabbos. The decorations on the door was only a glimpse as to what awaited us inside. There were balloons, Elmo and graduation themes, so many flowers, candy platters, home made graduation cakes, cupcakes and very creative graduation pops, each personalized with every member of the family. There was meat. chicken, soup, kugels, salads and dessert to feed an army. It brought forth the feeling of genuine Simcha shared by so many.