The story of how we ended up in the Queen Alexandria Hospital on 12 April 2011 is a testament to my Wife's self-belief. Paige was sick in Trinidad back in March with a bacterial infection and the doctor, puzzled by two items on the blood test, advised that we get a follow-up test done on our return to England. By this time, Paige was back to her normal bouncy, fiesty (in the words of the doctor on call that night) self and the GP (quite reasonably) did not think that a test was necessary. Lisa insisted. The test was done at 1500 and by 1700 the GP called and told her to take Paige to the hospital. By 1915 Dr Walker told us that she was almost certain that Paige had Leukaemia (the formal diagnosis was given the next day). Her white cell count was 120 (normal levels are around 10) and she was dehydrated (they started a drip almost immediately).
How do you react to such news? Dr Walker came in to the room and told us to sit down - both of us declined: we are big, hard-backed adults. Nevertheless, it hit us like a freight train. Leukeamia is one of those illnesses the reputation of which precedes it - and most us know little about it (for example, survival rates are upwards of 85%, on average). And yet...surely this only happens to other people? You know, in the movies?
And then, because we are both control freaks, we started asking all sorts of practical questions about treatment courses, likely hospitalisation periods, etc. Because practical considerations can distract you from all of the (unpalatable) possibilities. Plus, focusing on what you can control helps to take your mind off how actually how helpless we are in this situation. That's not true: we have a huge and important role to play in Paige's fight.
But we sure felt helpless that night.