Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Remembered

Yesterday, I drove Kendrie to Atlanta for one of her follow-up appointments at the cancer clinic. It was her first appointment since we hit the one-year off treatment mark, and it was a good feeling when the doctor made mention of the milestone. Now, she’ll continue to return to the clinic every three months, for bloodwork and an exam, just like we’ve been doing, but the difference is I won’t have to drag her to the lab here on base for bloodwork every month in between. And for a kid who hates to miss school, and hates even more having her arm stuck with a needle, that was like hitting the double-lottery jackpot, indeed.

As we were driving home, I was keeping an eye on her in my mirror. For Christmas, my mom had a DVD player installed in the van, and it’s pretty much the most fabulous thing ever. But when I went out of town for our holiday vacation, I must have left a light on, or something, in the van because we returned to a dead battery and now the FM modulator on the DVD player doesn’t work. The kids can still listen to movies with their headphones, but I wasn’t able to play the audio through the car speakers yesterday. I have an appointment on Friday to get it fixed, although to be honest, I have no idea why I’m sharing these boring details with you. Why, in fact, I’m still talking about it. At all.

The point to my story is that she was sort of in her own world on the way home, and couldn’t hear me with her headphones on, so I pulled down my driver’s vanity mirror to keep an eye on her. She was leaning back, using her big stuffed animal for a recliner-arm-rest, her legs up on the seat, watching Crocodile Hunter, eating her snack of chocolate milk and Oreos. Er, I mean, papaya juice and string cheese. Because I always give my children HEALTHY snacks. Just like I eat. (ahem)

I heard her chortle at some wacky thing Steve Irwin did and looked in my mirror. There she was, completely relaxed, watching her movie, stretched out like a grown man in a Barco-lounger in front of a big screen TV on Super Bowl Sunday, licking the crème filling out of her ……. um, “string cheese.” (nod nod, wink wink)

And I know I’m getting old and crotchety because the first thought that went through my head was, “These kids today don’t know how good they have it! Look at her, watching a movie and eating snacks! Why, back in *my* day, we rode for hours and hours with no air conditioning and the windows rolled down and sun and grit and wind in our faces, and if we were lucky we got a ROCK to play with the entire way!”

My next thought, however, was a little more poignant. I remembered back when I used to drive her home from the clinic after chemo treatment, or a spinal tap, and she’d be so exhausted that she’d sleep the entire way, covered with her Precious Moments fleece blanket, her bald head lolling against the seat belt and the pillow. It made me realize there were actually a lot of changes I noticed yesterday, and so I thought I would share with you:

I watched her roll on her Heelys in the parking garage on the way to the appointment yesterday, and remembered when she couldn’t even walk from the van to the elevator because her legs hurt so bad that I had to start pushing her in a stroller again. We didn't even OWN a stroller; we had to go buy one.

I watched her run into the elevator yesterday so she could be the first one to push the button, and remembered when she was too tired and nauseous to muster up the enthusiasm to care.

As we got out of the van, I grabbed my purse and a small gift, and she grabbed her Gameboy, and we took off. That was all we carried. I remembered when packing for a day-trip to Scottish Rite involved a snack bag, a juice bag, a game/book/activity bag, a DVD player and movies, a book for me, a pillow, a blanket, and numerous stuffed animals. No wonder we needed the stroller -- perhaps we needed a double!

I watched her ask a new lab tech at the clinic what her name was, and remembered when she was so intimidated by the entire process that she wouldn’t make eye contact with a single staff member.

I watched her tell that same lab tech that the “rule” is NO BANDAIDS for her, and I remembered when she would never have had the self-confidence to speak up and state her wishes clearly like that, but instead would just cry and fuss, or be despondent, the entire time.

I watched her lay on the table and giggle and play and respond while Dr. B examined and tickled her, and remembered those awful, horrible, gut-wrenching days at the beginning when I had to physically hold her down, screaming and crying and flailing, so they could access her port and give her chemo.

Then we went over to the hospital to visit our friend Catie who is inpatient, and I watched Kendrie ride through the halls of the oncology ward like a maniac on her Heelys (I’m telling you, those shoes are going to be the death of one of my kids … just ask Kellen, who totally biffed it in the restaurant parking lot the other night.) I remembered when Kendrie was inpatient herself and the only way she had the energy to leave the room is if we pulled her in a wagon, IV pole trailing behind us.

I watched Catie lie in her bed, sick, sick, sick from her transplant preparation, bald again, not eating, not caring about our visit or the game we brought her, and my heart just hurts for her family. I remembered when Kendrie was inpatient and how crummy she felt when her counts and platelets were in the toilet. I remembered how being inpatient is simultaneously mind-numbing-boring, and heart-stopping-terrifying at the same time, the terrifying part usually happening when something goes wrong in the middle of the night, as it is bound to do --- as it has done for Catie. Please stop by her site and wish them well, especially her mom Jenny, who is somehow managing all of this, and sleeping at the hospital, preparing for Catie’s transplant, at eight and a half months pregnant.

Some things, of course, never change.

Kendrie still complained that her butt hurt the entire two-hour ride home.

Kendrie still insisted on sitting in my lap to get her blood drawn. I don’t guess she’ll *ever* get comfortable with that.

Kendrie still loves stopping at the medical building’s deli on the way out and buying snacks for the car ride home. It’s become a tradition for us to stop and get papaya juice and string ch------- oh, who the hell am I kidding? I fed my kid Oreos for lunch yesterday, OREOS, and you people all know it!!

But as I stopped to buy those Oreos, I said three prayers:

1) Of thankfulness, that we were blessed and lucky and still have Kendrie with us.

2) Of request, that she continue to stay healthy.

3) And healing for all the Catie’s in the world, who don’t deserve this.


M said...

Kristie, I am OOoooo, so jealous that you got to see Catie! We check on her often.

XXOO from CA, "M"

Katy said...

I'm always so interested in seeing how your day goes. I have followed Kendrie and your family for well over a year now, and I have been amazed at your family's strength and ability to find humor where there is very little apparent to the rest of us. You have a talent for saying what everyone else in the room is thinking. The point of my long-winded comment is that I'm happy for you and for Kendrie that the negative realities of the past are being replaced by new, happier normals.

Kristie said...

"M" (you know I know who you are, right? And I know you know I know who you are. :)

Believe me when I tell you that Catie and her parents are as wonderful and amazing in person. We've been so fortunate to get to know them, and I often wished we lived closer so we could see them more often. If you ever decide to make a loooooooooooooong drive cross-county and visit us, I'll go the final hundred miles and take you to meet Catie's family, as well! :)

Anonymous said...

You've been blessed in such a HUGE way, and and the great thing is that you don't take it for granted. There's time for papaya juice and string cheese, and there's time to have a good old bag of Oreos for lunch and just celebrate life. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Claire from Indiana with no blog site :-)

kim said...

Kriste--I echo your three prayers, for Kendrie, for Catie, for all the Caringbridge kids and their families. It was such a pleasure to read your description of your rear-view mirror view of Kendrie, as compared to the past. I am honored that you shared this glimpse with us; it made me feel happy!

Sherrill said...

Those prayers are dittoed here...

With Love and Joy,

"M" said...

Yep, funny huh?! Just like Will Ferrel on Saturday Night Live doing Jeopardy! I think last time I signed "M" you deleted me...LOL! But I rock and you know it! Keep writing and I'll keep reading! I sent "A" and "L" to your blog...and I sent "R" to the Dad Gone Mad blog. I will have my own blog as soon as I think of a name....any suggestions?
XXOO, "M"arey, a cancer survivor's mom and damned proud of it!

Rachel said...

I have been following your CB site for a long time (sorry I'm one of those who never, ever leave a message), but your post touched me today. What a long way Kendrie has come to this point - I can't imagine how grateful you must feel. Congratulations to Kendrie and your family on such a great milestone. Prayers are being said for Kendrie and all the Catie's out there.

Lynne said...

Kristie - I loved your post. I pray (and know) that your lap is "always a safe resting place " for Kendrie, Brayden and Kellen. As you already know, Oreos are the absolute most perfect, comforting solution for anyone & anything!!!

I'm also praying for sweet Caity and her family. It's a mixed blessing that when I come to the Internet, so many families are tied together. I'm praying diligently for healing for so many precious children. I pray that God provides comfort, healing and peace to all of you. Much love.

Renee said...

Praise God for Kendrie's great health! Thinking about Catie. Your entry was perfect, Kristie. Right on!

Marci Connell said...

Kriste, HEELYS, oh boy I have some funny stories on them and my girls! I hope you find sometime to head south to Valdosta this year. I would love to meet Catie and her family also. I have alot of regret about ga/jay as I was suppose to meet him last January. Happy things are going so great for Kendrie! How is Blaine?((HUGS)) Love, Marci

Kristin Hicks said...

My prayers are the same as yours. I'm so thankful that Kendrie fought the beast and won! I am also praying incessently for Catie and her family. I've been following their story probably about as long as I've followed yours. My heart aches for them and my prayers will continue until Catie beats the beast as well!

Blessings to you all! (And my kid had a reese cup for lunch yesterday - so nah!)

Amy from St. Pete said...

You sure know how to pull my heartstrings. I do think that we all need to remember every once in a while. I've grown and learned more when things are not easy. When something horrible happens in our life, that's when we know what were made of. I have really blown it so many times in my life, but it has taught me not to take anything for granted. I just can't imagine one of my kids being very sick. I think you and Blaine have really faced cancer with the 'right stuff'. You have shown so many people that life does go on after cancer. I know there are so many people that would do anything to have a family like yours. You guys have fun together, laugh together, cry together and face every challege head on. You are truly amazing Kristie and I'm so blessed to be a small part of your life.
Love, Amy from St. Pete

Briana said...

I'm so glad Kendrie is doing so well. She deserves those oreo's!!! What a difference a year can make.

Denise Tidwell said...

I'm so glad things went well for Kendrie. Haley goes to survivor clinic Feb.6th... at Scottish Rite this time since survivor clinic is now there instead of at Egleston. Can I just say that even though it will be 10 years since diagnosis in May, it makes me SICK to go to the visit. I feel the same way I did the first year off therapy. I'd be lying to say it gets easier with time..for me, it seems like yesterday sometimes. We've been in the "normal" world long enough to never want to return and the meer thought of it returning makes me sick. I too remember the days of holding Haley down for port access..she fought us every step of the way. With that being said, I feel so badly for sweet Catie and her family. We were priviledged to meet them last year when they came through Macon, and I keep in touch with Jenny. She is always in our prayers. Thanks for reminding everyone else to keep her in their's too.

Sue said...

Kristie, it is wonderful to hear how well Kendrie is doing OT! Oreos and chocolate milk sound like the perfect way to celebrate leaving cancer behind! Papaya juice and string cheese? Yuck! Rachel usually opts for chocolate chip teddy grahams or fruit snacks on the way home from the big clinic, when she's not sleeping off the medication. Nutrition can go jump in a lake at that point.

Sue from ALL-Kids

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful entry. Thank you for sharing how far kendrie has come. FYI - my trick is that i feed my kids (and myself I will admit) the mini oreos in the snack bag.... they MUST be less fattening, right? but i think 2 bags should be the limit... we are having a hard time with that one!
Mary Cron Schulman in SD, CA

Liz and Jake said...

Kristie - today is my birthday and I've been trying to ignore it as it is a particular number that I really don't like and can't type or say out load, and for the rest of my life I will now never be able to answer honestly when asked my age and well, having said all that, I needed some perspective and as usual, you gave it to me - thank you! As usual, you said it so well. It's snowing up here in the greater Seattle area and my son's school is closed (for less than 1/2 inch of snow, no less!!) and between that and the "female issues" that I'm having today (God has a bizarre sense of humor!!) it looks like I'll have a snow day today too and not be going in to work - just so it doesn't snow too much so that I can still get out to Starbucks for my caffeine fix...but, I'm thanking God for Kendrie's healing. Please give her a big hug from us. And tell Kellen that Jake wipes out on his heely's, too!!

Patricia said...

Ok, so I must have been an IDOT not to figure this out yesterday, but everytime I'd click on the "comments" button, another screen would come up...REALLY! Anyway, it is SO heartbreaking to read of all your little Kendrie went through, but it is SO encouraging to see how she is now when we read little Caties struggles. I pray one day Catie is eating Oreo's for lunch (yes, we've all done it with our kids, too!) and off in her own world watching movies because her world is SO good and NOT filled with the very unfair things she is having to go through now. Thanks for keeping on giving us HOPE for those still suffering!

Jeri from Hawaii said...


I read your latest posting and all I could say was "Amen!" It is such a blessing that Kendrie has come so far...and so sad that Catie (and many others like her) are still fighting the battle. I'll keep the prayers storming the heavens.

Papaya juice and string cheese?! Trust me, years from now when Kendrie thinks back on these days chocolate milk and oreos will be a clear sign of how much her mother loved her.

Anonymous said...

Oh Kristie, either you have me in tears with laughter == or just in tears... I'll add Catie to my prayer list. Thank God for Kendrie's health!

How's Blaine doing?

Kris Herbst said...

I'm so thankful that Kendrie is where she is today. MMMMMMMM. Oreos.

Keeping Catie in my prayers.

Kris H

Natalie said...

Sigh. I feel a little weepy at your reminiscing (if that's even how you spell it). You don't know how happy I am for you guys that you are to the point you are. Here's hoping we're right behind you! We still check on dear, adorable Catie!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Kristie! Ditto all the others - I'm so glad Kendrie is doing so well, and I'll say a prayer for Catie and her family.

I'm not very music savvy, and you usually have some cool stuff playing in the background. Maybe sometimes you could include the song playing for ignormamuses (ignorami?) like myself? :) Loved the one playing today!

How is Blaine doing?

Warner Robins, GA

Marysienka said...

It's such a great journal entry. I'm happy Kendrie's doing so great and we'll keep Catie in our thoughts for sure.

Renee from Canada

Lisa said...

This is a very touching journal entry Kristie, and you are one (I just wrote 'won'...who says British education is in the toilet?)talented writer. Love to you all.

lucille said...

Live life to the fullest...eat oreos everyday and celebrate. I also pray for little Catie and her family everyday. Can gifts be sent to their hospital room??

Anonymous said...

I am an addict. I admit it. More than being an addict, it makes me smile to read in her mother's words of Kendrie's CURE! I, too, pray for Catie and check on her daily.

Cathy said...

Once again "you got me" with your journal entry!! I had to stop reading at work because I was crying. (Not cool to have the school nurse in tears) You all have come such a long way...and I for one am so honored to have "shared a slice of your life" through your journal entries. Here's to continued good health for Kendrie, healing for Blaine and of course health and happy times for the entire family!! I am totally serious about coming down to Byron. Give me a time and place and I will make it happen! I want to hand that medal to Kendrie (and the case of DDP for you!) If only I could figure out how to gift box rabbit pellet ice we would be set!
Take care and eat more Oreos!!!

Papaya juice???? I have one thing to say to that....Gnarley (said in true Valley Girl fashion of course!!)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations you guys!! I guess I'm one of those lurkers who has followed your journey for at least the last year and has never signed before. I love your blog, Krist
ie, especially todays. The way you can be so happy about your success and yet still thinking of others. You amaze me!!! I have a friend whose son is going in for surgery in the am to have a tumor removed. Please include him in your list of prayers. Thanks.

Tammy said...

Kristie - What a wonderful entry. So often you make me laugh, but today you made me cry. What a gift our health is, and how often we take it for granted. I'll smile next time my kids fight over the elevator buttons. :)
Birmingham, AL

Kristie said...

Thank you all so much for your nice comments and thoughts regarding Kendrie ... she is a hoot, even if those Heelys are making me crazy. :)

Cheryl in WR -- it's called "Bittersweet". I can't remember the artist, but I got it out of iTunes, so you could just do a search and it should show up.

Lucille -- I knew Catie's mom posted information on her site about a mailing address for Catie. I would tell you to send stuff to the hospital (room 310) but the journal update from yesterday states they might be going home next week ... so if you're going to mail something (and I know it would be much appreciated) do it fast! :) Although, she'll be back shortly for her transplant, as well.

Cathy -- yep, at some point we've got to meet. We're too close not to!

Thanks again for the comments. I know its kind of a hassle, taking the time, and verifying, blah blah, but I read them all and it means a lot to me. It *is* "Official De-Lurking Week" on the internet (well, according to most of the websites I visit) so if you've left a message, thank you. And if you haven't, do! :)

Amy Grosso said...

My sister lives in Cummings GA and a neighbor of hers has a little girl named Shelby who was diagnosed with ALL at the beginning of November. I have been in contact with the mom Shawn via telephone and caringbridge and reading your journal made me think how far off where you Kendrie is feels to the newly diagnosed family.
I know they are struggling with the methotrexate and actually Shawn has tried getting onto ALL-kids but for some reason it hasn't happened. Anyhow what my point is I don't know, just that I know they are treated at Scottish Rite and possibly don't live to far from you. I will leave you with her caringbridge site:

Amy Grosso mom to Isabella

Pam said...

This post gives me hope! Right now, my daughter Alex is having an extremely hard time after her (3rd) back surgery. I am glad to hear (okay read) your story, and know that your awful days were eventually followed by great days (and Diet Dr. Pepper, styrofoam cup, complete with rabbit pellet ice). :)
Pam Porter
Cumming, GA

Kim, Ks said...

We, too think about how lucky we are this year. This time last year, our son was held hostage, I mean inpatient for 28 days. His counts were nothing and everything else was very low if not non existant. It was the scarest time of his whole treatment dx'ed 05-05 ALL (finding some wood to knock on fast). He gave himself an e-coli infection and was maxed out on patient controlled morphine (he was 4yrs old, he had no idea how to premedicate before the pain set in). After lots of yelling and hair pulling it was finally changed to a timed drip.
So I got a little off subject, but anyway, everyday we are thankful that was his last inpatient stay and he rounded the corner nicely. We continue to pray for all our caringbridge friends near and far, Kendrie included!!

LD said...

Wow Kristie! I check your blog often...because while you and your family have been through so much, you still manage to take life as it comes and you do it with a smile. You're quite an inspiration to me and I wish I was half as strong as you. (You're also pretty darn funny and many of your posts make me giggle until hubby asks, "What is soooooo funny?") Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I will pray for Kendrie and your entire family (as always), for Catie, and for every family that has endured the pain that none of you have deserved. Oreos for lunch and Spaghettios for breakfast? Ahhhh...she deserves it! ;)