Saturday, June 11, 2005


186 Days to Go

Well, I went out of town for a few days this week to visit friends. I’ve flown a few times since 9/11, but not many times since Kendrie was diagnosed. Still, the upgraded security procedures weren’t entirely new to me as I prepared to go through security at the Atlanta airport on Tuesday morning. I made sure all my tweezers, scissors, fingernail files, pencils, q-tips, tubes of chapstick, or anything else that could possibly be construed as a weapon was safely packed in the luggage I had checked. I had one purse and one carry-on small enough to fit in the overhead compartment. Boarding pass and photo ID at the ready. I turned off my cell phone, took off my jacket, removed my keys from my pocket, and placed all my items in the little plastic bin to put through the security camera machine. I waited my turn in line and did all of this without grumbling --- enhanced security measures are an unfortunate but necessary evil in this day and time and I certainly don’t begrudge airport security for trying to ensure my travels are safe ones.

As I was preparing to step through the metal detector, the following conversation took place:

Security Guard: (in an extremely bored and uninterested tone) “Ma’am, your shoes need to be placed in the bin.”

Me, sounding extremely intelligent: “Huh?”

Security Guard: “Shoes in the bin, please”

Me: “Oh, there’s no metal in them.”

Security Guard: “Shoes in the bin, please”

OK, let me explain two things right now.

Part One, I have a thing about feet. Mainly, that I hate them. They are ugly, disgusting appendages and if it weren’t for the fact they are necessary to stand upright and walk, I would prefer never thinking about them at all. I don’t like the way they look. Especially other peoples. Unless I am in the pool or the shower, or wearing sandals, I ALWAYS have socks on. I don’t get pedicures or foot massages. I hate feet. The only feet I have ever loved were my childrens’ when they were babies and they looked like little pork chops. I would get them out of the bathtub, wrap their clean, sweet-smelling bodies in a towel and kiss those adorable little feet, which is proof of how much I love my children. Everyone else’s feet gross me out.

Part Two, the floor of the security area at Atlanta Airport is a bunch of dirty, filthy, icky, “who knows when it was mopped last-linoleum”. A place where God only knows how many people have sneezed on, coughed on, and done who knows what else on???

Security Guard: “Shoes in the bin, please”

Me, realizing that if I take off my sandals and put them in the bin, and the bin goes through the conveyer-belt-camera-thing, that means I have to walk through the metal detector BAREFOOT …. on that nasty floor where a million other peoples dirty nasty feet have been walking. Oh my God, I almost had an anxiety attack.

Me, getting a little panicky now: “No, really, they’re just plastic sandals. They won’t set off the alarm.”

Security Guard: “Shoes in the bin, please”

Me: “Can’t you let me wear my shoes and then use that little wand to check them? I’ll happily submit to the little searchy-wand thing, but I prefer to keep my shoes on.”

Security Guard: “Shoes in the bin, please”

Me, trying to sound stern: “Listen Mister, having every one of my body cavities strip-searched by a fat lady with a mustache is preferable to walking on this grimy, disgusting, germ-laden floor barefoot, and I SERIOUSLY would like to keep my shoes on!”

{crickets chirping}

So, after I walked through the metal detector barefoot, mentally slapping myself for every sock-and-sandal wearing tourist I’ve ever made fun of, it was all I could do not to stop right there and soak my feet in Purell. For the parent of a cancer child who has spent the past twenty months avoiding germs at all cost, do you have any idea how difficult that was for me? I was sweating like a hooker in church, and practically hyperventilated right there, just imagining all the bacteria and dirt and SHIT that was attaching itself to the bottom of my feet. Feet, let me remind you, that I’m not particularly crazy about in the first place. It was, hands down, more discomforting and stressful than my last cavity filling or pap smear.

I’m amazed and impressed that terrorists did nothing in their attempt to stop American travelers through fear and intimidation. We fly anyway and snub our noses at them. But the linoleum floor at Atlanta airport might be my undoing. Not that carpet would be any better. All I could think was ….. “Would Kendrie’s oncologist give me some of those shoe-booties to wear on my feet the next time I travel? Or, how silly would I look if I pulled a pair of socks out of my purse next time …. socks that I could burn when I reached my destination?”

So, on my return flight home, I braced myself. I knew what was coming. I squared my shoulders, hiked up my fortitude, and said to the security guard at the Baltimore airport, “Do I need to put my sandals in the bin?” to which he replied, “No. Why would you?”

Obviously I need to move to Baltimore and never fly out of Atlanta again.

Anyway, foot-and-germ phobia aside, I returned home Thursday night to the sight of my oldest human-pet retching in the toilet, and then the middle human-pet started in last night with the upset tummy. Earlier, when I thought Kendrie’s antibiotic had upset her tummy and the cough was making her throw-up, it appears I was wrong (imagine that). Must be some three-or-four day virus going around.

We (meaning the three of them) have done nothing the last two days but lie around, take naps, and moan. I’m not sure if the moaning is because they feel crummy, or if it’s because they are so bored.

Yes, let me beat this dead horse a little longer and gripe about the fact that the rain is continuing to come down here in middle Georgia. It's raining as I type this. It’s no longer non-stop, but it is daily. And when it’s not raining, it is overcast and depressing. But again, I’m glad we’re not wasting upset-tummy days on good weather. We still have eight weeks of summer. Statistically speaking, the odds are in our favor that the sun will shine at least a day or two before school starts again in August, right?.

Thanks also to all of you for the nice notes in the guestbook about Kendrie’s hair thinning. It makes me feel better to hear about the other kids who have lost hair during maintenance. Not, of course, because I’m glad *anyone’s* hair is falling out, but there is a definite sense of security in knowing your child is not the only one. Ashley’s mom mentioned in the guestbook that when Ashley lost her hair during maintenance, she had been fighting a chronic sinus infection. That makes sense to me, that the immune system is low and the hair would go. Kendrie has had this cough/bronchitis(?)/diarrhea thing for almost two weeks now, so that could very well be the answer. It’s still coming out, but not drastically. We’ll wait and see what happens.

Oh, speaking of warped perspective, Blaine came in the kitchen this morning holding the thermometer and said to me, “One hundred point eight” (as in, 100.8) I look at him, wild eyed, and said, “Oh my gosh, I better go pack a bag and get ready to call the oncologist!” and he said, “No, it’s Kellen, not Kendrie” Immediately, relief flooded through me and I said to him, “Oh, good. Don’t ever scare me like that again.” Now, how sick is that??? My poor son has a fever, can’t stop running to the bathroom, and I’m *happy* about it??? Truly, the mind of a cancer-parent will never be the same again! Or at least MY mind, anyway!!

Well, I’m off to soak my feet.

Hope you are all having a great weekend.

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER: I’m still just not feeling real perky. I just woke up from my second nap today, and it’s not even 3 o’clock in the afternoon. And I don’t *take* naps! Oh well, at least Brayden and Kellen both feel like dog poop, too, so it’s not like I’m missing anything.

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER: Convincing my mom or dad to lay down with me for these naps is proving easier than I anticipated. Either they are suckers, or they’re lazy. Or both!

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