Theresa was shocked, and her heart sank. Now two of her children were sick, both of which had a chance of death. She had also noticed the amount of deaths that had occurred with children with brain tumors. She could only hope Jodi could somehow make it through this. Both Cody and Jodi were now left to hopelessly fight for their lives.
"How is this possible?" Ryan kept asking. "How can both of them be so close to dying?"
"They won't necessarily die," Theresa assured, fighting tears.
"How many families have you heard of with two of their kids stuck fighting for their lives in a Children's Hospital?" Ryan questioned.
"Well, there have been a few."
"Now it'll just be me and Shirley starting school here this year," Ryan said, disappointed.
"I can't help that," said Theresa. "Anyway, we gotta get back to that room. Cody and Jodi are now sharing that room. When Cody comes out of the intensive care, they will be together."
Cody had to be put in the intensive care because he had caught the flu. Whenever someone got even a cold when they had cancer, it could easily become deadly. Their immune systems didn't work so well, so it was difficult to fight off the virus. Cody hadn't drank or eaten anything in the past two days, since they had to do this for tests. He was starving, and all he wanted was food. Ryan felt terrible just reflecting back on how much Cody had suffered so far. Hopefully, he'd be in remission soon. Even if he was in remission, he still had to come back for chemotherapy, but it wouldn't be as bad.
Most of his hair was already gone. He hated looking in the mirror. He'd wake up with hair covering his pillow, and every time he brushed his hair, huge clumps would fall out. Theresa bought him a hat to wear, to cover his head. He missed looking in the mirror and seeing his beautiful, almost-blonde coloured hair. He was beginning to look and feel differently. He had also lost about ten pounds, which made him weigh about forty pounds, which was way below average. It would be a while before he gained it all back.
As for Jodi, she had no clue as to why they were bringing her to room 1204 on a stretcher and paying so much attention to her. She didn't even know she had developed a brain tumor. They had all decided to wait until they arrived at the room so they could break the news to her. She wouldn't quite understand the meaning of the term "brain tumor", but she would easily be able to indicate that it signaled trouble, and even worse, death.
Noticing the stretcher being wheeled into room 1204, everyone turned their gaze at Theresa, with looks of concern. The doctors had made the decision to go into immediate surgery to see if they could do anything. They had come back to room 1204 so they could break the news to the rest of the family, and then bring her to the operating room. This was going to be tough.
Theresa drew in a deep, slow breath. "Well," she began. "I bet you are all wondering why this situation is beginning to get a little odd."
Everyone nodded. Only Theresa and Ryan knew what was going on. "Well... the doctors ran their tests on her, and..." she stammered. "...they found a tumor in her brain..."
Loud gasps escaped everyone in the room. Jodi listened in on the conversation, but she was too young to understand. "What's that?" she asked curiously.
"Tumors are deadly," Theresa explained. "They want you to have surgery right now in attempt to remove it. It has to be cleared soon, before the worst happens." And at that moment, Jodi began to cry hysterically.
"It's okay, baby," Theresa cooed, and took her in her arms. "You have to go for your surgery now."
"No!" Jodi screamed, and began to cry even harder. She was terrified of surgeries. Though she had never had any personal experiences of her own, they seemed like pretty scary procedures. Cody had been through his first experience about two weeks ago. He weakly explained to her how it is scary at first, but they put you asleep so you can't see or feel what's going on.
"They wrap a mask around your face," he told her. "I don't know why, though."
"There is something they have in it where, as soon as you breath it in, it makes you drift off to sleep," Theresa explained.
"Really?" Jodi asked, a little bit shocked. "How does it make you go to sleep?"
"There is something in that air that will just knock you right out."
"It's so cool!" Cody exclaimed. "They ask you to count down from ten, and by the time you hit seven, you can't continue because you're already asleep!"
Jodi was the least bit comforted, but she could tell that she was going to be alright. She would do this for her family. The doctors began to wheel the stretcher off down the hallway toward the operating room. She tensed up a little, and Theresa clasped her hand tightly. Theresa thought back to when Cody had mentioned the mask. Since they were going to do surgery on her head, they might not even use the mask on her. They would most likely give her a needle or something and leave it in her arm to keep her asleep. Now Theresa would have to change up the story a little bit.
The stretcher was rolled into the operating room. Theresa quickly said, "Good luck," and exited the room. Jodi now didn't seem at all that scared. Maybe Cody had somehow comforted her. She probably looked up to him and decided not to be scared, to do this for her family. But, what she didn't yet know, was that the doctors would most likely need to shave off a portion of her hair to do the surgery. Not her whole head, but just one part. She would freak out and not want the surgery if they told her that. She would find out later.
Cody also had to head off for his procedure. The family headed off down the long, narrow hallway. They now had to be patient and wait on both Cody and Jodi to have their procedures done. Cody was just at the edge of his life, balancing between life and death. The chemotherapy didn't seem like it was doing its job too well, and was putting his life in danger. With Jodi, if her treatment was somewhat like this, she'd probably never survive. For the family, their opinion for all of this was that Cody and Jodi were far too young to be suffering like this. It was so hard to get through this, and they might have even been fighting just to die in the end.
As they wheeled Cody into the room, he began to panic a little. "It'll be okay," Theresa assured. "Just remember what you told Jodi. You made her feel comfortable. Just think of what you told her, okay?"
Cody nodded. The stretcher was rolled into the room, and the door closed behind them. Jodi was having her operation just down the hallway, so they would see her being brought to the recovery room. They hoped it wouldn't take much longer. And Theresa remembered how Jodi might have had to get a part of her head shaved for the surgery. She wouldn't want to see that at all. She wouldn't like it.
Theresa had already called her parents to let them know that it was only Ryan and Shirley staying there that night. And about an hour later, the door to one of the operating rooms swished open. Jodi was being wheeled into the recovery room.
Theresa rose to her feet. "Come on," she ordered. "We're gonna go see Jodi."
"But what about Cody?" Shirley questioned.
"We'll come and see him when he's done," said Theresa. "We'll get to switch back and forth from the two rooms."
"Oh," Shirley grinned.
As they entered the room, a doctor warned them, "She looks like she is in bad shape. She is very fragile. If you are to hug her or anything, be extra careful, so you don't injure her." The family all agreed and stepped through the door.
What they saw before their eyes shocked them. She just lay there, appearing so helpless. This was definitely going to be a long journey to go through, one she may not even survive. A section of her long, beautiful brunette hair was shaved off for the surgery, like Theresa had predicted. Her eyes became watery, as she had always feared she would see this one day. Her thoughts had unfortunately come true. She was hoping for a miracle. It seemed the only way to get through this.
Jodi lay back in the stretcher, refusing to move. She had no clue that part of her hair had been shaved off. Theresa knew Jodi would not want to see that. She loved her hair, and she would actually freak out whenever Theresa took her for a haircut. It didn't matter if it was just a trim, she wanted to keep her hair long. Now, only part of her hair was long, while another part was all gone.
Theresa ran her hand along Jodi's cheek. "How are you doing, baby?" she asked soothingly.
Jodi grunted. She inhaled slowly, attempting to roll over a little, which was close to impossible. "My head hurts," she mumbled.
"I know," said Theresa, sounding more calm than she really was. "But it'll eventually get better."
Jodi turned her gaze up at Theresa, her face ghostly pale, and her unique blue eyes sparkling. "I feel a breeze on my head," she almost whispered.
Theresa didn't know how she was going to explain this to her. "Well," she began. "They kind of... had to shave off a part of your head so they could..." Before she could continue, tears began to stream down Jodi's face. "No!" she kept saying. "I don't want to be bald!"
"You're not bald," Theresa told her, grasping her shoulder and wanting her to understand. "It's only one part, not your entire head. You still have some hair left."
A doctor brought over a tiny mirror, small enough to fit in a purse. Jodi wasn't going to refuse this. As they held it close to her, she took a good look at her reflection, and almost screamed. She gasped, but then began a coughing spasm, struggling for her breath. She cried harder, now knowing what she looked like instead of just hearing about it. She, of course, dispised what she saw.
"I look ugly," she sobbed.
"Jodi, you know that's not true," Theresa said breathlessly. She had become stressed out, and felt like running into the middle of nowhere, away from everyone and anything. "It will all grow back eventually," she continued. "They just have to keep it like that so they can do the surgery. They can't do it when there is a bunch of hair in the way."
"Are they going to do that to me?" Shirley asked innocently.
"No, they won't," said Theresa. "You don't need surgery in your head. There's nothing wrong with you."
"Okay, well that's good." Shirley certainly feared what she saw. She was attached to her hair, which was slightly longer than Jodi's. She felt lucky that none of this had yet happened to her. She was kind of glad that a brain tumor hadn't developed in her brain.
"I just wanna go home," Jodi muttered, feeling stressed.
With Jodi back in room 1204 a few hours later, everyone had calmed down just a tad. Cody and Jodi were sleeping peacefully and somewhat comfortably. The sky had just turned a shade darker. The stars were twinkling in the night sky, which signaled it was time for Ryan and Shirley to head over to their grandparents' house. Their cousins would be spending the night there as well.
"Well, I hope you all have a good night," Aunt Mimi said to them all as they headed out the door. She kept four-month-old Jacob with her, since she was not going to send a small baby to her parents' house for the night. The youngest that were going were Skye and Jackson, aged four and three. She told Derek to keep an eye on them.
"I can't believe I'm gonna say this, but it's cold," Rebekah said loudly, and began to shiver violently.
"That's because when it gets darker, there is no sun to warm us up," said Derek, trying to sound professional. "Therefore, it is kind of cold."
"My legs are freezing," Shirley muttered.
They could see the house from the hospital. It was on the opposite side of the road, located just about less than ten houses down. Something all of a sudden clicked in Ryan's mind. "Oh yeah," he remembered. "We're supposed to get all of Jodi's stuff from the house and bring it back to the hospital tomorrow."
"She's gonna need that stuff," Derek commented.
They had been walking for less than five minutes when they reached the house. Every night, Ryan, Jodi, and Shirley had to face the fear of crossing a road that was sometimes busy. It wasn't all that busy mostly, but whenever cars drove on that road, they drove fast. The cars would reach speeds of over one hundred kilometers per hour. Theresa had always feared letting her kids walking alone on a road like that at night, especially at their ages. She was always afraid she'd recieve a phone call, being told that one of her kids had been hit by a speeding car.
Derek, being the oldest, spoke up first. "Well," he said thoughtfully. "Why don't the oldest ones take the younger ones across?"
"You're the oldest one here," said Ryan. "Why don't you go first? You can take Skye and Jackson across, then Rebekah can take Maggie across."
"And you have to take Shirley across," Derek added. He took Skye and Jackson by their hands. After they quickly looked both ways, the three of them darted across the road. Ryan felt sad remembering how much fun Jodi thought this was. She always loved testing her running skills by seeing how fast she could run across the road. They all knew this was quite dangerous, since someone could trip and fall. Then the cars wouldn't even see them on the ground. But Ryan was smart enough to help them to their feet if they had ever fallen. He'd never just leave them there.
"Alright, it's your turn now," Rebekah said to Ryan, after the other three made it safely to the driveway.
"But you're younger," Ryan insisted. "You should go across first. That way, there's someone older than you on both sides of the road."
Rebekah chose not to give any attitude, and did not hesitate to run as fast as she could possibly run across the road, Maggie running next to her. Together, they made a mad dash to the other side of the road.
A car sped by Ryan and Shirley as they waited patiently for their turn to cross. "Imagine what would have happened to us if we crossed at that time," Ryan said fearfully.
"That would be bad," Shirley mumbled softly. "Really bad."
"We can cross now," Ryan whispered.
Making sure to look both ways, the two sprinted across the road. Shirley almost tripped, but Ryan caught her arm. They made it safely to the other side, where their cousins waited for them.
As they stepped through the door, their grandfather was standing just about a meter away. "You're an hour early!" he said somewhat excitedly.
"Don't worry about that." Their grandmother stepped into the room. "There's plenty of activities for you to do outside."
After an hour long game of Monkey in the middle with the soccer ball that broke into a huge fight, they all came back inside. It didn't seem like almost an hour had passed since they had arrived at the house. Their usual time was right at bedtime, and then leave about half an hour after waking up. It was their daily routine. Tomorrow, their cousins would unfortunately be joining them if they wished to go to the Children's Hospital early. Ryan wished they'd all just stay behind at the house so that it would be much easier to arrive there, without waiting on those five slow pokes.
Ryan tried to speed up the time to brush his teeth. He wasted about twenty minutes in total a day brushing his teeth, all because of his braces. He took about five minutes each time he brushed, which had to happen after eating something. For the last week of school, he had to bring his toothbrush with him, which he despised very much. It was like having a kid you didn't like at all following you everywhere. The only difference was that it was supposed to be important.
He found it slightly painful at times. Especially if something had gotten caught in it, which was often to happen. He was forced to work hard to get it out, and the worst part about having braces was that there were limits to what you could and couldn't eat. He wasn't really allowed to have gum, but he really thought he could never live without it, and plus, everyone else that had braces had chewed it. They apparently had to be sugar-free in order for you to have it. There was lots of candy that he wasn't allowed to have either, such as caramel, lollipops, and many others. And the worst part was, he had to wear them for just a little over a year.
He didn't even know that he needed braces. Up until about a week before he unfortunately recieved them, he didn't have a clue. His teeth seemed pretty straight, but apparently not straight enough. Theresa approached him one day after school and said, "I know you were completely unaware of this, but you're getting braces next week." Ever since then, he disliked braces a lot.
It took a while, but he finally got used to them. They didn't hurt whatsoever when they were first put in, but they began to give him cuts in his mouth from the wires. That was when there were signs of pain and discomfort. He hadn't even had them tightened yet, which was said to be really painful. He didn't feel he was prepared for that quite yet. His appointment was coming up soon, in less than two weeks. He hoped that day would never come, since he had no clue as to what they were going to do. He wasn't looking forward to it.
This time, in the spare bedroom located in the basement, several extra mattresses were laid out on the floor for the extra guests. Their grandparents had stored away countless spare mattresses in case one or more guests were staying overnight. They were usually stored in another bedroom in the basement. There was about ten or more, which had been collected in previous years. Some were old, a lot were almost brand new. Seven of those had been placed on the floor for Ryan, Shirley, and their five cousins.
It was almost nine-thirty when the lights finally went out. Everyone tucked themselves in that night. Ryan and Shirley had grown used to it from the past three weeks of spending the nights by themselves in the basement, which was something Shirley clearly disliked. She felt a sense of enjoyment when it was her mother that was tucking her in every night. She was now forced to do this all by herself, since Ryan couldn't really do it. Plus, she wouldn't even feel close to as happy as she would when Theresa tucked her in. It would just feel different.
Once the lights were completely out for the night, Shirley piped up and whispered, "You forgot to plug in the nightlight."
"Oh." Ryan, who had already found a comfortable sleeping position, was forced to throw off the blankets and feel around for the nightlight, which was located somewhere on the floor near the wall where it was usually plugged in. He felt around on the floor, crawling around mattresses to avoid colliding with someone. His hands smoothed across the carpet, and as he thought he had hold of it, the palm of his small hand hit something sharp.
He yelped the slightest bit, and couldn't really see what had happened, or what he had hit. "I need the light," he announced, and flipped the switch. Everyone squinted, as if about to become blind. That was when he saw what he had hit. A tack lay on the floor, and right beside it sat the much-wanted nightlight. His hand was thankfully not bleeding, for it was only a small pinch, and he could now plug in the nightlight. After double-checking that it was still working, Ryan shut off the light, looking forward to a good night's rest, something he hadn't recieved too often.
The phone rang loudly, disturbing everyone's rest. Ryan slowly rose out of bed, checking the alarm clock. It was only three o'clock in the morning. He wondered, Why would someone be calling so early in the morning? He could hear movements coming from most of the mattresses in the room. There was a phone in the bedroom, which was why almost everyone had become startled by the loud, disturbing noise. Ryan left the room to head upstairs to investigate.
He was suddenly stopped by his grandfather, who was standing in the stairway. Ryan attempted to get past, but his arm was repeatedly squeezed tightly by his grandfather as he was firmly held back. "Why can't I get by?" he asked curiously.
"Your grandmother needs to be left alone on the phone right at the moment," he croaked. "There's something wrong."