Monday, July 24, 2006


Kendrie -- Day 221 OT

Blaine -- meh.

When your child is diagnosed with cancer, it goes without saying, your entire world is rocked. Families make unbelievable changes to accommodate the necessary treatment schedule; parents change jobs, quit jobs, move in with family, have family move in with them, move to another city, or state, or as in the case of our online friend Dani, another country with a whole ‘nother language. Truly, some of these lifestyle changes can be huge.

Some are not as big, but important in their own right. Even something as simple as a cold can be a big deal to a kid on chemo. Chicken pox? Huge deal. So you become (or at least *I* became) much more aware of the germs and viruses just floating around out there, waiting to pounce on these immuno-suppressed kids and wreak havoc. And so you make changes, some big and some small, to do anything in your power to keep your child healthy.

Like anything that you do for a long time, these lifestyle changes can become habit. And then permanent. Even now that Kendrie is off treatment, I am still on Purell Overdrive and will douse anyone and anything that comes within arms reach. I have no doubt my Purell fixation is a bona-fide, permanent lifestyle change. As is our swearing off hot-tubs for all eternity. According to our oncologist, they are forbidden for kids with ports, due to the high levels of bacteria in the water. Think about it …. warm, wet, moist …….. Ick! I get skeeved out just imagining it. And hey, if our oncologist, who said Kendrie could swim in any body of water she wanted during treatment, to include rivers and lakes and pools; the same oncologist who is so laid-back he makes Tommy Chong look like an ADHD patient, if THAT GUY says no hot tubs, then I say no hot tubs, either. Ever. Gross. Don’t even splash me with hot tub water or I hose myself down like that radioactive lady in Silkwood.

But a few of our lifestyle changes, those that we embraced at the beginning, have been relaxed now that she’s off-treatment. I no longer fanatically use anti-bacterial wipes to clean off shopping carts and restaurant tables and chairs (although I probably should). I no longer wipe down a hotel room upon first entering (again, probably should.) Used to, I wouldn’t let the kids eat chocolate chip cookie dough since it has raw eggs in it (Notice I say *the kids*? You better believe *I* still ate it, I just waited until they went to bed to do it!) Now, it’s ok for her to eat it …. Just like the salmonella risk posed by reptiles is ok, so she now chases frogs and turtles and tadpoles and lizards (and anything else she thinks she can catch) with glee. We outlawed public drinking fountains (why not just lick every kid in your school on the mouth?) and I’d prefer they STAY outlawed, but I have a sneaking suspicion the kids drink out of them when they know I’m not around.

So, by relaxing a few of these restrictions, I feel like we’re taking baby steps away from the world of childhood cancer. And here’s photographic evidence of my most recent baby step:

I bought dishtowels again!! Excitement, thy name is Kristie!!

Immediately after diagnosis, I threw out every dish towel we owned and we became an Official Paper Towel Family. Need to dry your hands? Grab a paper towel. Need to dry a dish? Or a cup? Or some fruit? Or a spill? An entire gallon of milk? Grab a paper towel. Or half a roll.

By my estimation, we have gone through approximately 990 rolls of paper towels since Kendrie was diagnosed. Enough to pay for a family weekend getaway, or perhaps put in that underground sprinkler system Blaine’s been wanting.

But you know what? Worth every penny, if it meant we weren’t spreading germs and bacteria all over the kitchen by using the same dish towel over and over. And sponges. Oh, gag, don’t even get me started on sponges.

So why go back to dish towels now? Well, we haven’t gone all the way back; we still use tons of paper towels. It just feels great to wash a clamshell of strawberries and only use one towel. Or cut up a veggie tray without going through eighty paper towels as I wash off the cutting board and knife between each item. Of course, now I’m obsessive about only using the dishtowel one time and then washing it, so any paper towel savings I expected to bank, I’ll now spend in detergent and water costs.

But that’s ok. It’s all about the baby steps, right? Just don’t ask me to go hot-tubbing.

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