The weekend came and went without incident. As instructed, further bloods were taken on Saturday morning, Felix took his tablets and his temperature was observed twice a day, with the understanding that if it went above 38 degrees we would bring him straight back to hospital. As expected, Felix was taking it all in his stride and bellowed with pride as he perfectly complied with everything that was asked of him. Little did we know how hard and tough it was all going to get over the coming days and weeks.
On Monday 1st February, we arrived with Felix at the Piam Brown ward in Southampton Hospital at 2pm as pre-arranged. The rest of Team Brown had been left in the capable hands of my parents so that we could fully focus on this new world we were entering. Looking around the ward we felt like we shouldn’t really be there. The beeping machines, drip stands, signs warning of infection. We looked at Felix; he was a figure of fitness and health. It just did not make sense.
Anyway, we were welcomed, settled in and made to feel at home. Many conversations took place on that first day about what was going to happen, when, where and how. Basically, we understood that Felix would have a lumbar puncture the next day and a bone marrow aspirate to ascertain for sure the type of leukaemia he had and to get a genetic footprint. He needed to have a line surgically inserted the following Thursday, either a Hickman line or Portacath, it was up to us to choose. Until then we would also have to decide whether or not Felix would take part in the UKALL 2011 trial. As I type these words now, I type them with ease as they are part of our Brave New World and I know and understand them. At that time it was like a foreign language. How we made those decisions I do not know. We must have been guided by intuition as our ability to reason was obliterated with emotion and fear.
That first night Mr Brown slept in the ward on a pull down bed with Felix and I returned home to huddle, support and love the rest of Team Brown. This was the first night of many that we would spend apart. Team Brown suddenly became more important, and meaningful, than ever before.