Monday, February 23, 2004

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single rest room stop.”

Ok, so here’s the deal. We live approximately one mile from the interstate, and the Scottish Rite AFLAC Cancer Center in Atlanta, where Kendrie receives her outpatient chemotherapy, is also approximately one mile from the interstate. There are 110 interstate miles in between. Now, I’m no math genius, but I did take Pre-Algebra in 8th grade. So as best I can figure, with an average highway speed of 72 mph, it should take 92 minutes to get from point A (our house) to point B (the clinic). And the same hour and a half to return home, wouldn’t you think?

So why is it always double that every time we make the trip? Could someone please explain that to me? What law of forward motion isn’t working for us???? I’m guessing there might be a problem with our method of travel, so I thought I would recant our journey today for you, in the hope that someone out there can give me some guidance and suggestions for improvement. Here’s how it went:

12:10 pm -- Make sure everyone uses bathroom before leaving house. Get Kendrie settled in back seat; offer three kinds of crackers, open package she chooses, make sure she can reach her juice, get DVD ready (fast forward through previews and hit play) --- ok? I think we’re ready to go!

12:15pm -- Leave Home, Mile 0

12:20 pm -- Arrive at Bank to withdraw cash so you can get through toll road

12:30 -- Get on Interstate, Mile 1, “Freaky Friday” playing on the DVD

Now let me explain something before I go any further with this story. We drive a mini-van, similar to the millions of others out there on the road. Behind the driver’s seat is a bucket seat where Kendrie normally sits in her car seat. Brayden and Kellen sit on the bench in the very back in booster seats. The bucket seat behind the passenger’s seat has been removed and is in the garage, sitting in a corner. We leave that space open for book-bags, groceries, etc. It’s nice to have extra room with three kids getting in and out of the van all day.

When we drive to and from Atlanta, however, Kendrie prefers to sit in the back seat, so she has more room for her books, toys, snacks, etc. I think that’s a reasonable request. We have a portable DVD player that I attach to the seat kitty-corner in front of her, that she can’t reach to operate herself. And she and I can’t reach each other. Just needed to clear that up, so you have a mental image of my tale of woe.

Mile 15 -- Child wants another package of crackers but can’t open them herself. You instruct her to toss them up to you, which she does successfully.

Mile 16 -- Veer wildly across interstate as you try to open the package of crackers, a task requiring Herculean strength and both hands. What is this package…childproof?

Mile 16 and a half -- Succeed in opening crackers, veer back the other way on the highway as you twist around in the drivers seat and toss the crackers back to the child.

Mile 17 -- Bad aim, miss target, crackers wind up in back end of van near the folding chairs.

Mile 18 -- Repeat with last remaining package of crackers, fortunately successful this time and child begins to eat crackers, offering ten minutes of peace and quiet.

Mile 39 -- Child needs to stop and use restroom. Pull over, go to McDonalds to use bathroom, child declares she is still hungry and wants a Happy Meal. Stand in line, buy Happy meal, discover child is really not hungry, just wanted the Lion King toy inside the Happy Meal. Decide since you are pulled over anyway, might as well top off the gas tank so you don’t have to stop later when it is dark. Finish pumping gas, get the DVD player ready to go again (the only bad thing about DVD players, or at least OUR DVD player, is that every time I turn off the ignition, the movie stops. When I start the car again, it starts over at the beginning. So I have to fast-forward to find the part where we left off.) Finally, everyone settled, hit the highway again.

Mile 40 -- console child who discovers Happy Meal Toy is a cheap piece of crap that doesn’t work the way it is supposed to.

Mile 59 -- pull over so YOU can use the restroom. Curse the 24 ounce bottle of water you drank after walking on the treadmill this morning.

Mile 79 -- pull over to put emla cream on port, approximately 2pm, one hour before appointment time.

Mile 110 -- arrive at clinic at 2:45 pm for 3pm appointment. Whew! You just made it!

3pm scheduled appointment time; sit in waiting room until 3:15 pm, smile politely at the lady sitting next to you who is complaining about her thirty minute drive across town.

3:30 pm -- Have exam, get port accessed, receive chemo, etc. all of which lasts approximately one and a half hours. Entertain yourself and your child by watching “Free Willy” on the vcr in the exam room.

5pm -- chemo finished, ok to leave clinic. Child is upset that Willy might not actually be freed, sit in room another 25 minutes to watch end of movie, assuring everyone that whale poachers are indeed the bad guys.

5:25 pm -- leave clinic, waving goodnight to the cleaning crew.

5:27 -- groan inwardly as child selects “Beethoven’s 5th” for driving-home-movie. Not only will you have to listen to that obnoxious little girl whine “Uncle Freddy! Uncle Freddy!” a million times, but this movie doesn’t allow you to fast forward through the previews. So you sit through the previews, all of which you hate, until you can push play.

5:30 -- pull onto Interstate, Mile 0.

6pm -- you’ve been traveling in Atlanta rush hour traffic for half an hour and have gone nine miles. Decide to cut your losses and pull over for dinner. Endure the slowest service, ever, in the history of the planet, at Red Lobster.

Mile 9 -- 7:30 pm, FINALLY get your check and can pay and leave, taking the leftover yummy cheese biscuits, which child loved, in a small to-go box.

Mile 9 and a half -- child drops sippy cup of apple juice and starts crying. Convince child to wait until Mile 25 before you get onto slower interstate to pull over. Child also upset because she can’t open the to-go box in order to eat the biscuits.

Mile 25 -- pull over. Find sippy cup which has somehow rolled under driver’s seat. Figure since you’re crawling around anyway, locate package of wayward crackers in case child gets hungry later. Double and triple check with child that she doesn’t need to go potty, since you are pulled over anyway. Child assures you she does not need to go. After you get back in the drivers seat, child realizes she can’t find the crappy Happy Meal toy from earlier and you have to get out again and go back there and find it for her.

Mile 30 -- pull over so child can go to restroom. Sit through stupid pre-views again since DVD player went back to the beginning when you turned off the ignition. Find correct place on movie. Get back on the highway.

Mile 38 -- pull over to buy child a pop since she doesn’t want the damn apple juice anyway.

Mile 53 -- realize you should have bought yourself a pop, too, since you need to take some aspirin at this point. Luckily, when you pull over at a gas station, child announces she has to go to the bathroom again. Aha! For once, killing two birds with one stone. Get out of van, admire wild cat in parking lot. Pray wild cat isn’t rabid. Use restroom, buy pop, get back in van, sit through that idiotic “Johnny English” preview for the third time (How I dislike Rowan Atkinson!) get the dvd player ready and the movie in the right place, get back on the highway.

Mile 70 -- wonder why your aspirin isn’t working.

Mile 71 -- realize you forgot to take the aspirin.

Mile 109 -- 9:20 pm, child falls asleep.

So, suggestions anyone?? Besides Depends???

Wish us luck, we’re back on the steroids. Kendrie’s counts were good today, so her doctor is hopeful that she’ll get through this harsh DI phase with little problem. Had her numbers been low today, he said typically that would indicate a probable hospital stay by the end of the week. Since her ANC was 1490, which is still reasonably high, especially considering all the chemo she’s been getting, we’re hoping to avoid going inpatient. Brayden came home from school today with an upset stomach again, this time complete with fever, so we’ll have to keep the two of them apart as best we can for the next few days.

We don’t have to go back to Atlanta for two weeks which is great, because we get out of the drive, (SEE ABOVE) but also a little scary since her bloodwork will be done on base next Monday, for the first time since she was diagnosed. It will be the first blood draw from her arm since she was so traumatized at the beginning. They have been able to use her port every time since it was accessed for meds anyway. Just going to the lab to ask them a question about it the other day, she started crying. Yikes, wish us luck!

Thanks for checking the site and signing the guestbook. I know I sound like a broken record, but we really get a kick out of reading the messages.

Take care, Kristie

WORST THING ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: I wasn't home and didn't get to eat any of the CHEESY lasagna that Ms. Erin brought us! But Dad and the kids say thank you!

BEST THING ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: For once, I was on the "giving" end at the clinic and got to put the new toys we bought in the treasure box, for the other kids who are getting back pokes and leg pokes this week, poor saps. I've been there, and know their pain! Hey, Madie, if you're going to clinic this week, tell Ms. Laura you want in the treasure box --- all those glitter wands are from me!! Grab you one, girlfriend!

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