Week #9 of LTM
Yeah, hands down, if I had to choose between how our family spent Columbus Day Weekend THIS year, and Columbus Day Weekend LAST year, I’d have to say THIS year was much more fun. Oh sure, there were blood draws and count checks involved both times, and mood swings and tears, but last year there was a desperate fear of the unknown, and this year there was cotton candy!!
That’s an easy choice, don’t you think?
Our weekend actually started Friday when we drove up to Atlanta and met friends for lunch --- thank you, Brandon’s mom Kristin, and Mary Grace’s mom D.D. (and Mary Grace’s dad, too, we can’t leave out the guys!) for meeting us for lunch on Friday. I joke about how having a child with cancer has improved our social life, but the truth of the matter is we’ve met some wonderful people along the way and I’m very grateful for that.
After lunch, our whole family went to the clinic where Kendrie had her monthly chemo (vincristine via her port) and was very unpleasantly surprised to discover she would be getting her flu shot. Actually, she figured it out when I put “magic” cream on her thigh in the Fuddruckers parking lot, but I think she was hoping it wasn’t true …. then Nurse Mary showed up with the needle. While it definitely wasn’t the highlight of the day, all’s well that ends well, and it warranted her a trip to the treasure chest, so I think she forgave all of us.
Then we drove over to Stone Mountain, Georgia, where we met our friends the Deatons, who drove down, all the way from Illinois, to take part in the Light the Night Walk. That’s another interesting tidbit about this year vs last year --- last year we were supposed to meet them in Nashville for a fun weekend getaway and we had to cancel. This year they drove twelve hours each way to support us in our walk --- I’d say we’ve been blessed with some pretty good friends! Thank you, Gary, Lisa, Evan, Cara and Anna! (ps Lisa, I still owe you money for the sweatshirt!)
Our families spent the day Saturday at Stone Mountain, which I thought was a lot of fun, but Kendrie was starting to feel a little run down -- a mix of the chemo on Friday, the flu shot, and the steroids she is taking this cycle. She rode in her stroller most of the day (which is extremely unlike her) and even slept through part of the park. The rest of us had a good time, though, hiking up and down the mountain (ok, I admit it, I watched the others hike and thought about what good exercise they were all getting) and admiring all the beautiful autumn decorations; pumpkins, hay bales and scarecrows, which delighted the photo-nut in me!
Then, we headed to downtown Atlanta for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Fundraising Walk, held in Centennial Park. While overall I consider the walk to be a success, I’d have to say that if we decide to take part again next year, there are a few things I would do differently:
1. Familiarize myself a little better with the Atlanta Public Transportation System (MARTA).
2. Get to the park early enough to enjoy all the festivities without stressing that we’re running late because of the damn MARTA system.
3. NOT take a child who just received chemo, the flu shot, and steroids.
And the final thing I would do to insure a fun, family bonding experience next year:
4. Leave my family at home.
I seriously doubt the people around us, our own party included, enjoyed listening to me yell at my kids all night to: Stay with us! Don’t run too far ahead! Don’t lag behind! Stay out of the street! Quit whining! I don’t know how much longer the walk will last! No, there’s no more popcorn! Quit hitting me in the face with your balloon! No, I don’t have anything else to drink! Don’t speak to me in that tone of voice! Yes, I’m sure the park is right up ahead! No, you cannot ride in Kendrie’s stroller with her! No, I don’t know how much farther, for the last time, JUST KEEP WALKING!!!!!
Needless to say, I think we might have over-extended our children just a wee bit on Saturday, ha!
Except for the whiny, tired children near the end, it was a fun evening. Music, free food and drinks, balloons, giveaways, seeing friends we’ve made from Camp Sunshine and the AFLAC cancer clinic, and realizing everyone was there for the common goal of raising money to help beat blood cancers and disorders. It’s easy to get that warm fuzzy when you’re doing your share to be part of the greater good, know what I mean?
We felt really lucky, also, to have friends willing to come and walk with us (even if they regretted that decision about one-tenth of the way through the walk!) The Deatons, all the way from Illinois, our neighbors Susan and Ray and their son Nicholas, who is in Kendrie’s pre-K class, who drove two hours each way just to walk with us, my girlfriend Heidi from right there in Atlanta who braved the downtown traffic with her kids Meagan and Matthew, our online-friend Kaitlin who met us at the park, and of course the other half of our team, Madie and her mom Regina, and Madie’s Aunt Rhonda and Cousin Bobby, who drove up from Florida.
"Team Kendrie and Madie" getting ready to start the walk.
All total, twenty-one people walking, with "Team Kendrie and Madie" yellow t-shirts on, and lots of others who I know were cheering us on in spirit. And, I’m extremely pleased to report, that our team goal, which we set at $1000, was passed. Quickly and easily. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of those of you (some friends, some family, some total strangers!) who mailed checks and made online donations ………….. we raised ……….. a total of ………….. $3,895.00! Maybe we didn’t set any world records, but I thought that was pretty darn impressive!!! A sincere thank you to everyone who helped make that happen for our team. We appreciate the donations, but more than that, we appreciate your support and concern and love for our family.
Blaine and Kendrie, near the end of the walk which they advertised as two miles but I swear felt more like five!
ONE YEAR AGO TODAY, OCT 10, 2003:
Kendrie, still not feeling well, had stayed home with Blaine and Kellen while I took Brayden to a Brownie Scout meeting. Right as the meeting was ending, Blaine called me on my cell phone to tell me something was “wrong” with Kendrie. I remember thinking, “Well, yeah, I know that, but we’re taking her to the specialist on Monday” and he said, “I really think we need to take her somewhere tonight. She seems dizzy and confused, and she even fell down out on the front porch while we were putting up Halloween decorations.” Now, just where are you supposed to take a kid at 8pm on a Friday night? So I called a friend, asked if we could drop Brayden and Kellen off for just a few hours, and headed to the local ER with Blaine and Kendrie.
When we arrived, we briefly explained what had been going on to the triage nurse and said we were worried because her red count was 4.3 on Wednesday. Clear as day, I remember the nurse giving us an incredulous look and saying, “And they let you take her home like that?” and thinking, “Uh-oh, maybe this really is a big deal.”
What I remember most vividly about the ER visit was that they needed to draw more blood and Kendrie was completely freaking out. Thrashing, screaming, pulling her arm away. Normally, she is an extremely complacent child, but there was just no talking her into this. So while I know the staff had no choice, it was very difficult to watch them as they papoose-wrapped her for the blood draw. I realize that compared to what was coming, the inconvenience of a blood draw seems minor. But I remember feeling terrible that Kendrie was frightened and looking to us to make everything ok, and there was nothing we could do but hold her hand while they held her down and she begged us to “make them stop”.
When the results came back at 3.5, it wasn’t even a matter of discussion. She had to be taken, by ambulance, to the Children’s Hospital in Macon for a transfusion. So after asking my girlfriend Laura if she would mind keeping Brayden and Kellen overnight, off we went. We talked to the doctor about the anemia diagnosis, and he was hopeful that a packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusion would “kick start” Kendrie’s marrow into production again. Although we didn’t arrive at Children’s Hospital until around 2am Saturday morning, we were hopeful we’d be headed home by Sunday, or Monday at the latest.
To be continued ………………………..
ps. Hey! Check out the counter on the bottom of this page. As of RIGHT NOW, it's at 98,396. And I bet only 20 or 30 THOUSAND of those are me, checking the site myself!!! To be honest, after a while I figured out that I could make a bookmark link directly to the guestbook --- so maybe only ten or fifteen thousand of those are me, ha! Anyway, keep track over the next week or so and PLEASE LET ME KNOW in the guestbook if you are 99,999 or 100,000 --- how stinkin' exciting is that??? If it wasn't so late, I'd put some thought into some cool sort of prize --- maybe a tribute donation to Caringbridge in your honor, whoever you're going to be!! Be sure to let us know in the guestbook!