Bone Marrow Transplant: Guatemalan Worry Dolls / by Leslie

This is the fourth installment of the story of Jerry's Bone Marrow Transplant, which details my father-in-law's life saving bone marrow transplant at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center in Baltimore.  Read the previous installment - Part Three: Cold and Chemo

Last week I received a gift in the mail. It was incredible because I had been thinking about these tiny little Worry Dolls, and thinking that they would be a good tool for coping with the stress for the upcoming bone marrow transplant. Before I had even opened the little pouch, I knew what they were. Six little dolls, hand made in Peru, to do all my worrying for me.

The instructions are to tell your worries to these dolls and then place them under your pillow and they will worry for you while you sleep. Besides the fantastic ritual these dolls provide, I also love how they are made. It's just bits of string wrapped around little wires, and little skirts and hats glued on. 

The day that I got these, I feel like I started dreaming more vividly at night, and remembering my dreams too. Maybe I was just suddenly paying attention, but these dolls seem to have sparked something in my brain. Classic anxiety dreams, like a car driving towards us on the highway and swerving out of the way at the last second, my sister recovering from surgery, a wind up mouse and a carnival. Whether or not these little dolls are imbued with some kind of magic, my brain has clearly been working through all the feelings I have about our trip to Baltimore for my father-in-law's bone marrow transplant.

We are feeling good, leaving today for Baltimore, and everyone in our house is healthy. Quinn's rash went away by itself before our Monday morning doctor's appointment and Chris started feeling better, so I decided it was actually riskier to take him to the doctor's office, where every sick kid ends up. We've caught the flu from a doctor's office before, so we didn't want to risk that if everyone appeared to be getting better.

I talked to Jerry and he sounds tired, with five rounds of chemo in him, his whole body is reeling. He is strong though, he's done this before and he can do it again. Tomorrow he is scheduled for radiation. We look forward to seeing both him and Maddy later today. He joked to a family friend that he has been checking in here at my blog to see how he's doing. Very funny Jerry, and so I will say, YOU ARE DOING GREAT!!!

Milo woke up this morning and said, "Mom, it's our lucky day." I asked him why and he said, "Because we are going to Baltimore and we have never been there before." He's excited, this is an adventure for him. He knows that we are going to make Pop better and that Dad is giving Pop his bone marrow. Kids see things so simply. There is not a doubt in his mind that this will work. It's a fantastic way to feel and I know that Milo's simple outlook is how we all should feel. This will work, there is not a doubt in my mind.

Let's tell these worry dolls our fears, face them and let them go. Whatever happens, we are ready, we are strong and we are in this together.

I also just want to say again - thank you - to everyone who has called, sent an email or a card. THANK YOU. Your kind words of love and support have been wonderful.

To my sister Tracy, thank you for these dolls, they have been under my pillow every night. To my sister Jill, thank you for the care package, it's packed and ready to go with us to the hospital. 

Read the next installment - Part Five: THE BIG DAY