August 6, 2013 Evening
When I get on the computer to write, the biggest, brightest, blue, eyes greet me (Christian’s eyes), also some very unique gray/green eyes (Bailey) and Hazel eyes (Chris).
I think forever this time of year will always be a time of reflection. On the late evening of August 2, 2011, I met Christian’s Cross Country Coach, Jeff Gaither, along with the other 2 seniors on the team, Corbin Cullum and Mary Portera near Maryville, Tennessee. Christian developed a fever and a significant infection hours into Cross Country Camp. Christian first called me saying her toe was very painful and the swelling was going up her let and she thought she might have a fever, she was slightly tearful (she had already experienced a significant event in May 2011). I told her to talk to Jeff and his wife Kay. Jeff immediately called me and said we need to meet. I hit a bit of panic mode, but was logical and calm. I talked to Chris, and immediately got in the car and headed north, I had to get gas and I remember I made these phone calls as I was leaving home and getting gas. I called the on call number for the Oncology clinic. Christian was seen days before leaving for camp. From May 2011 until Aug she was seen almost weekly. That night, a nice person named, Scott answered and told me Dr. Eric Gratias was on call. During the summer, we got to know all the oncologist. Dr. Gratias knew Christian and knew I was a nurse, I explained the situation and he told me to call him immediately when I reached Christian. Becky Cullum, Corbin’s Mom met me and rode with me on the unfamiliar roads I was traveling. We reached Christian, I could tell she was in a lot of pain and was very sad about leaving cross country camp her senior year. I was very thankful that Coach Gaither had Mary and Carol ride with him. In all honesty, I was more of a nurse back then, I was in nurse mode, I knew Dr. Gratias needed a good evaluation of Christian’s foot and leg and physical assessment. Dumb me was still hopeful, he would say meet me in the clinic in the morning. Thankfully, he sent us straight to T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital as a direct admit. I really was not prepared for an admission. Christian was never very emotional and she was tearful when she heard she was headed back to Children’s. I was so thankful to have Becky with me. First of all, I cannot see at night and I was trying to be calm. Becky called Chris and talked to him, I think her presence with me reassured Corbin very slightly and helped keep me and Christian a little distracted.
Christian spent the summer of 2011 going to the Oncology clinic weekly. During this summer, we knew Dr. Bhakta, her primary oncologist at the time was never comfortable with the diagnosis she received in May. But, in June of 2011, Christian had a completely clean, 100% normal bone marrow biopsy. She exercised, ran and lifted weights at least twice a day once her counts recovered. She wanted a great Senior Cross Country year. We were so relieved, but the closer Christian got to camp the uneasier I felt...I truly sensed impending dome. I remember sitting up late one night just sobbing, not really sure why...I soon learned the reason for my anxiety.
Christian entered the hospital very late early morning August 2/3, 2011...Children’s 300 was ready for us, Christian was placed in room 317. That was our first introduction to Dr. Samreen Khan, a senior resident at the time, now a pediatrician in Texas.
Right now, 2 years ago, Jamie Demonia or Gailynn Robinson was Christian’s nurse. Christian felt terrible and had endured multiple testing and would endure more before diagnosis day. I am so thankful for all the quality time I had with Christian. I am thankful for great nurses, a big room with a bed for me to sleep in, a refrigerator in the room, access to clean sheets and especially incredible doctors digging deep for answers. Almost everyday, I have to remind myself...”Everyday is a gift, you never know what will happen.” - Christian Bryant, November 2011......Thank you for sharing Christian’s Journey - Robyn Bryant