Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Consolidation - Day 15

THANKS, THE SWEATER EPISODE, AND A DEFINING MOMENT (no, not one of those “Hallmark” ones, either)

Thanks from the bottom of my heart to all of you for the outpouring of support for my online-mini-nervous-breakdown last week. (see previous journal entry) It was especially great for me to hear that I hit the nail on the head for so many other cancer-parents, as well. Trust me when I say I had no idea how big the “crap sandwich seating section” really was. Too big. While our family was certainly not happy to be shown to our booth, the other patrons in this restaurant have made it bearable, educational, enlightening, and at times, even pleasant. I promise next time I feel the need to vent (out loud) I will put another disclaimer at the beginning!

Kendrie had her day 14 clinic visit yesterday in Atlanta. We drove up Monday night to stay in the hotel, which she loves (I have no idea why, the pillows are too fluffy and they don’t get Toon Disney on the tv, but anyway…..) and last week’s appointment went so well I had very little hesitation about this one. But, the morning started off badly when I realized the sweater I brought her to wear no longer fit. Here is an exerpt from my Christmas letter two years ago, pertaining to Kendrie:

`````` “” At just over two years old, she is very verbal, and we are quite sure she is a genius, at least if brain size has anything to do with it. After all, she needed a 5-yr old sized bike helmet to fit her this year. (Looks like my fat-head gene also landed on my children!) If we are wrong and she’s not a little Einstein, that’s ok, she will still win the Jr. Miss America pageant on talent – she has learned to snort and finds it hysterical to do as often as possible. Above all, she is still my “baby” and I’m enjoying her greatly.””``````

So my point is, don’t ever try to fit “last year’s clothes” over a kid who has been on steroids, especially a kid who has a fat head to begin with.

We were a hundred miles from home and it was the only clothing item she had besides her pajamas, so I stretched, I strained, I pulled, I pushed---I simply could not get that sweater over her head. Finally, after much sweat (on my part) and tears (on her part) it was on, but by then she was already mad at me. Add to the trauma a new pair of shoes that she swore hurt her feet too bad to walk in (never mind she hadn’t even gotten off the bed yet) and it was not our best beginning.

She started crying while they were taking her vitals and it was going downhill rapidly. When it came time to get her port accessed, the nurse said I was going to have to take her sweater back off, and quite frankly, it just wasn’t worth it to me. I asked for scissors, and when the nurse hesitantly handed them to me, I went after the neck of that sweater like a maniacal seamstress. The child-life specialist, after getting over her shock of seeing me hack up a sweater like that, gave Kendrie a Children’s Healthcare t-shirt, which she loved, so all in all I say cutting up the sweater was the best part of the day.

Once again, her anxiety level was so high they had to give her lots of extra “sleepy” meds during her spinal tap. Half way through, she cried out to me, “but I don’t like it here!” Thank goodness for understanding doctors and nurses who don’t take it personally. Our only complaint this week (well, besides the fact she has cancer and all) is a persistent cough. Her oncologist said he heard “a twinge of a hint of a possibility of some crackling in her lungs” so we’ve added another antibiotic to our buffet of medicines here at the house, to make sure it doesn’t turn into walking pneumonia. Ah, remember the good ole’ days when your kid coughed, you threw him a throat lozenge and told him to go outside and play??? Not so simple anymore. Other than that, though, an uneventful visit.

We did have sort of a defining episode today, when I had to remind myself I am not only the parent of a child with cancer, but a parent, period. Perhaps it’s the fact we gave Kendrie anything she wanted, whenever she wanted it, for the past month or so in an attempt to thwart any steroid rages (plus there’s that whole “making it up to a sick child” thing – I’m sure we all need therapy) but I’ve noticed a few things that lead me to believe it’s time we reined it in a bit. First of all, twice yesterday when she thought no –one was looking, she hit her brother and sister, then was VERY upset when she got into trouble. Then she told Blaine last night, “I just got back from the doctor’s today and you have to be nice to me”. Hmmmmm. The final clue was when Martha Stewart, Hillary Clinton, and Madonna all called her for private instruction on “How to throw enough of a fit you always get your way.”

Anyway, she and I went to Target this morning and I was carrying her. From one end of the store to the other, then yet another corner, then back to the photo department to wait for our pictures. So when we were ready to leave I told her she was too heavy and would have to walk. Let’s be honest, Target is a big store and I’m an old, fat, out-of-shape lady who was lugging around 39 pounds of dead weight! Her response was simply to stand in the middle of the aisle with her arms held up. “Fine”, I said, “I’ll carry you, but you have to promise to take your medicine when you get home with no trouble.” I said this in a teasing manner with a smile on my face and she simply looked at me and refused to speak. It really rubbed me the wrong way and I said, “ok, Kendrie? You have to say, ‘ok, mom’ and then I’ll pick you up and carry you out” and the little turd refused to say it. Two simple words and she wouldn’t move her lips. Can you spell p-o-w-e-r-s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e?

I had one of those, “oh, I WILL win this one!” thoughts and sat my big fat butt right down on the floor in the middle of the electronics department at Target. She just looked at me and I said, “we are not leaving until you say ‘ok, mom’ to me” And we sat there. She cried (just a little, she was having trouble working up real tears) she pouted, she tried to sit in my lap and I told her no. Finally, after fourteen minutes (hey, fourteen minutes might not sound like a long time, but when you’re on the floor at Target, with Christmas shoppers pushing their buggies around you and your little bald kid, it’s a long time!) she said it and I picked her up and carried her out to the van. As soon as we got home she glared at me and went to bed and is now sleeping. I swear, some days I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

On a side note, we had a great family moment yesterday when Blaine (aka breadwinner and Chief Thinks He’s The Boss But Everyone Knows Mom Really Is) was promoted to Lt. Colonel in the USAF. I’m so glad Kendrie’s counts were good and high and we could all attend his promotion ceremony as a family. Honor, prestige, blah blah, we just need the raise so we can buy our own Pizza Hut. I’ve put up a photo from this event, plus one from Thanksgiving, in the guest book section of the web site.

Special thanks to Kelly E. and Maureen I. for donating blood! Everyone please give the "gift of life" this holiday season by donating blood!


WORST THING ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: I don’t care how much they try to soften the blow by letting me pick something out of the treasure box (although the Matchbox cars I got yesterday WERE pretty cool) those spinal taps stink!

BEST THING ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: When I got too tired riding my bike around the block yesterday, my dad got off his bike, and pushed me the rest of the way. How’s that for service?!? Now I just need someone to wave me with palm fronds and feed me grapes, er, breadsticks!

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