Boy. This is Ben’s day. My son lives and breathes video games.
Ben was 2 1/2 when he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, stage IV. He was in treatment from February, 2004 to June, 2005. I’d say that 90% of that time was inpatient at Children’s Hospital. I’d also say that more than 3/4 of that inpatient time was spent in bed. Ben’s oncologist said that Ben was receiving some of the strongest chemo possible for a human, let alone a child. This kid had anything but normal toddler years.
There wereÂ only so many videos that would entertain him. Ben was really into Thomas the Train at that time of his life and I think we had every single Thomas video ever produced. I can still recall many of the stories by heart. Ben knew every single character. But it only went so far. Even Ben got bored with Thomas (yay!).
We had a Nintendo Game Cube that we always brought to the hospital. The Legend of Zelda and Pac Man World were Ben’s favorites. Dad would lay on the bed with him, running wires from the TV to the bed, making the doctors do the limbo every time they came in to check on Ben. They’d spend hours playing games. When Ben wasn’t feeling well enough, he’d watch Matt play games. I know it was something for Ben to hold on to, something to help him forget that he was laying in a hospital bed. He couldn’t get up and play. He couldn’t get out and make friends. It was his only escape.
When Ben was in transplant he would hold his controller for hours. He didn’t play, he just held it. The music from the video game would play on a constant loop. He was on a constant morphine drip during transplant, and trust me, he’d get very cranky if we attempted to turn it off when we thought he was asleep (I liked to call this “Morphine Meltdown”). His sweet little brow would crinkle in disdain as he tried to shout at us because we were messing up his game. His words just came out as gurgles because his mouth was destroyed by sores. We just let the music play over and over, and never tried to take the controller from his hands.
I can’t do this today. My Ben has scans in exactly one hour to see if his cancer has returned or if he has maintained his no evidence of disease status. If all of his scans are clear we’ll move to annual scans. We are incredibly blessed to have our son. He is doing well. I KNOW he’s doing well. And I think that it’s totally appropriate for Ben to have scans today – on his very favorite day – because it’s HIS day.
I love you, Ben. Praying that you’re well, little man. Knowing that you are.