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Monday, January 19, 2015

Escapism

Quick update: T had his fourth chemo treatment this past Wednesday.  Thankfully, things are continuing to go well.  The nausea is very mild compared to what it was after the first treatment, and other than fatigue, he has been feeling okay.  We honestly don't know if he is going to have eight or nine treatments.  We're both going with nine so we can be pleasantly surprised if it turns out to be eight.


That in and of itself is enough to be happy about.  You might remember that I promised myself to find something boss about every day this year.  So far, so good.  I decided that you all probably didn't want to read about every single boss thing I discovered, so I'll pick out the bossest (bosstastic? bossaroni?) tidbits for the blog.

T and I don't get a lot of quality time alone together .  All parents of young kids know how that goes, but we also add chemo fatigue into that equation.  There are many times T goes to bed when the kids do, and I'm the only one awake in the 9's.  However, we're lucky because T works from home (BOSS) and we can spend some time together during the day.  Earlier this week, we had lunch together and settled in to watch a TV show while we ate.  When T was doing his first round of chemoradiation in the summer, he discovered that he could occasionally find Fantasy Island on one of the squadzillion cable channels we seem to get.  Talk about boss.  Fantasy Island reminds me of being a kid and watching the Love Boat/Fantasy Island combo every week.  It's deliciously cheesy and requires absolutely no rational thought.  I mean, who doesn't need an escape from reality every now and again?  And one word: Montalb├ín.

Credit: www.geni.com

So we started watching an episode where two kids wanted to get their parents back together after a divorce.  The two scamps lock their parents in a barn together all night in the rain to give them time to be alone and realize they still love one another.  If it sounds suspiciously like Parent Trap, it was, and it also starred Juliet Mills.  Ah, the Seventies.  The other part of the episode involved a woman, amnesia, a dead dog's grave, and voodoo.  The amnesiac was played by Lauren Tewes, Julie from Love Boat.  SO boss!  The rest of that storyline was pretty weird but brilliant in a Fantasy Island sort of way.  Two very different stories in one episode, and the two stories had very different weather in each.  On one side of the island, the voodoo practitioners lived in a sultry, tropical environment.  On the other side of the island, the kids sat beside a campfire with their parents, all shivering from the cold.

T: "That doesn't even make any sense.  How can it be tropical on the island at the same time the kids and their parents are freezing?"
Me:"It's a TV show."
T: "I know that, but wouldn't the weather be the same throughout the island?"
Me: "Babe, it's FANTASY Island.  Roarke can make anything happen."

This may seem like a ridiculous exchange to you, or if you're in a particularly harsh mood, simply stupid.  To me, the whole thing was boss because it was so completely normal for us.  Different people want different things out of life.  Some want action and excitement; some want romance and passion; some want travel and adventure.  Me?  I want normal.  For us, normal is doing very mundane things and laughing the entire time.  Having a silly conversation about the weather patterns on a television island is our normal.  It's my safe haven.  It's proof to me that we're still boss, cancer be damned.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2,920 days

The sweetest pea,

Today you are eight years old.  It feels like this is the age when you're not a big kid yet but you're not little anymore, either.  You're trying so hard to become independent, and I'm wishing you were still the little toddler with the cheeser smile. 


We have had quite a year, and you have handled everything so well.  I know that it's really hard on you to see Dad sick because all you want to do is take care of everyone.  I'm proud that you have talked to me and asked questions instead of holding everything inside.  What a difference a year has made with your level of understanding and maturity.  You still continue to mother everyone around you, especially Dallas.  It makes my heart so happy when you two protect each other.  Please watch out for him forever; he'll always need his big sister.




Dad and I couldn't be any prouder of how hard you have worked in school.  We both know that you would much rather be playing outside or doing something physical with your time.  Sitting down to do anything, let alone schoolwork, has never been your bag, baby.  This year, something clicked, though, and you are doing your best with your homework and with your work at school.  I still don't envision you ever having an office job, but I feel reassured to know that you will try your best at whatever you choose to do in the future.



One thing that hasn't changed over the past year is your beautiful heart.  You are truly the kindest person I know.  You hate to see anyone in any kind of pain, physical or emotional, and you always step in to make people feel better.  You would give away anything you had to comfort someone in need.  Never ever lose that sweet soul: we need more people like you in the world.



One thing I know for sure is that I never know what you're going to do next.  There is no pigeonholing my girl.   I love that you're a "girly" girl with pierced ears and tulle dresses who also loves to go crazy on the zipline in our backyard and literally roll around in the mud. You love summer and winter, playing with dolls and playing Star Wars, jumping into leaves and getting dressed up, listening to Katy Perry and listening for Santa, going to your first sleepover and cuddling at home with Daddy.  Our lives would be awfully quiet and boring without you.  




My wish for you is that you always have the spirit and spark that make you who you are.  There are going to be times you'll need to tame yourself a bit, but I hope that you never fully lose your zest and passion for life.  I want you to experience as much as you can because I know you're happiest when you are out doing and living.  




I see a hopeful future every time I look into your stunning blue eyes, and I thank you every day for reminding me about the wonderful and simple moments I might otherwise be missing.  I don't know what you'll be doing or where you'll end up as you grow; however, I have seen who you are in your soul.  You're going to shine, babe.  You will always shine.  

Oh, how I love you,
Mom 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gonna live this year like a BOSS

I hate the news.  The news is depressing.  I understand that horrible and heartbreaking things happen every day all over the world, and I wish they didn't.  I wish everyone could be safe and fed and clothed and housed and loved.  And I know that the media has to report the news, all the news, but I feel like there are so many good things that are missed.

In an effort to find some peace or create some peace in my own world, I'm going to call 2015 the Year of the Boss.  I'm not referring to a work superior, but rather BOSS as in rad, sweet, fantastic, worthy, admirable...you get my drift.  (If you watch New Girl, you know that Schmidt orders sushi like a boss.) Every day, I'm going to find something boss.   It may be something in my own life or just something good I read about or observed in the world at large.  I know that some days it will be ridiculously easy to find lots of boss things, but some days will be a challenge.  Luckily, I'm pretty awesome and ready to show the bad stuff who's boss.  (See what I did there?  Clever!  Right?  Right!)

Bad things happen in life, but that doesn't mean that good things don't happen, too.  Beautiful things can rise from the ashes of despair if we're ready to accept them.

Join me in finding your something boss every day this year!

Here's what I have so far:

January 1
I enjoyed a traditional southern New Year's lunch with my family.  T cooked everything, and it was delicious!  We also had our traditional New Year's book exchange, and I'm looking forward to reading my new book.

January 2
A very sweet and dear friend took the kids out for an adventure.  They saw a movie, went to Zao Island, then back to my friend's house to play.  My awesome dad had taken T to chemo, so I had the entire house to myself.   I honestly missed everyone, but it was nice to get some time to myself, too.  Grateful doesn't even begin to describe it.

January 3
We spent time with more friends at a birthday party at Bellaboo's.  The kids had a ball and played hard.  It's fantastic to have a play place where the kids can run free and have a good time without having to be watched every second.  Score!

January 4
It FINALLY snowed.  That in and of itself would be enough for me.  The sound of the neighborhood kids all playing outside bundled up in their snowsuits was music to my ears.

January 5
Check out this beautiful story about a young woman in England who found a way to repay some kindness shown to her.




Monday, December 22, 2014

Miracle on the street of Wells

I love Christmastime.  I love the cold weather, bundling up in sweaters, hot cocoa by the fire, giving gifts, and snuggling up with my family.  I was a little worried that things would be off this year, and although it's not our normal Christmas, it seems as though things will be better than I thought.


T had his second chemotherapy infusion last week.  The first one was not exactly carefree: he ended up in the ER due to dehydration.  He was a zombie for at least four days, and I was terrified.  I know he was dreading the second infusion as soon as the first one was over.  After all, going into something that he knew would make him sick wasn't something to look forward to.  Luckily, the staff at NMH was, as always, on its A game and did some futzing around with the chemo dosage and anti-nausea meds.   Apparently there is a good twenty percent of leeway when it comes to the dosage, and T's doc lowered his a bit to see if it would help.

Help it did.  He has had very little nausea compared to the first time, and he has been able to eat and drink normally.  He also figured out that although it is encouraged for chemo patients to eat before a treatment, it's not such a good idea for him.  Hindsight.  My amazing dad took T in for his treatment, and I spent the whole day trying to stay as busy as possible so I didn't think about what the effects might be.  Imagine my surprise and delight when they arrived home and T wasn't clutching an emesis bag.

The sense of relief for me was immediate: I felt like an enormous weight had been lifted off my heart.  I didn't realize how tense I had been, and then all I wanted to do was sleep for about twenty hours.  T was obviously happy as well, and I think he slept well that night knowing that not every infusion would result in days and days of sickness and misery.

 T is still fatigued, but he'll be able to fully participate in our family's holiday happenings.  Even though there are still three days until Christmas Day, my Christmas wish has come true.  I can't think of anything else that could make me as happy as this did.  Well, unless someone got me a unicorn because that would be pretty cool.

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas, and may all of your Christmas wishes come true.

Credit: pwsa.co.uk

Monday, December 8, 2014

The twelve days of cancer

On the first day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T a bad dose of chemotherapy.

On the second day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.

On the third day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T three anti-nausea meds, two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.

On the fourth day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T four pharmacy receipts, three anti-nausea meds, two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.

On the fifth day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T five emesis bags, four pharmacy receipts, three anti-nausea meds, two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.

On the sixth day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T six rounds of vomiting, five emesis bags, four pharmacy receipts, three anti-nausea meds, two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.

On the seventh day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T seven lost pounds, six rounds of vomiting, five emesis bags, four pharmacy receipts, three anti-nausea meds, two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.

On the eighth day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T eight dry heaves, seven lost pounds, six rounds of vomiting, five emesis bags, four pharmacy receipts, three anti-nausea meds, two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.

On the ninth day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T nine missed meals, eight dry heaves, seven lost pounds, six rounds of vomiting, five emesis bags, four pharmacy receipts, three anti-nausea meds, two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.

On the tenth day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T ten medical professionals, nine missed meals, eight dry heaves, seven lost pounds, six rounds of vomiting, five emesis bags, four pharmacy receipts, three anti-nausea meds, two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T eleven oyster crackers, ten medical professionals, nine missed meals, eight dry heaves, seven lost pounds, six rounds of vomiting, five emesis bags, four pharmacy receipts, three anti-nausea meds, two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.


On the twelfth day of Christmas, the cancer gave to T twelve days until it starts again, eleven oyster crackers, ten medical professionals, nine missed meals, eight dry heaves, seven lost pounds, six rounds of vomiting, five emesis bags, four pharmacy receipts, three anti-nausea meds, two days of chemo in a fanny pack, and a bad dose of chemotherapy.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

'Tis the season

Dear Santa,

Ah, the holidays.  Spending time with family, decorating the house, crackling fires, hot cocoa, warm cookies, and chemo. 


On Friday, T will begin round two of chemo.  Chemo: the sequel.  Last time, he did an oral form of chemo along with radiation.  That's when he had to go into Chicago every week day for twenty-eight days.  Talk about exhausting.  This time, it's a bit of a different routine.  He'll go to Northwestern for an afternoon where he'll have labs taken and chemo through the port he had implanted last week.  The chemo will last about three hours that day, and then he'll get to come home with a very fashionable fanny pack.  The pack will be attached to his port, and it will continue to dispense chemo for two to three days.  (I hope T will let me bedazzle the fanny pack.  Glitter and sparkles for the holidays!  It's all the rage in chemo chic.)  After those few days, hopefully a home health aide will come to the house to unhook the chemo from his port just so we don't have to make another trip into the city.  If not, we'll deal. 

He'll have two weeks between his chemo treatments.  We hope this rest period will lessen the fatigue that tends to go hand in hand with chemo.   The holiday season is not exactly the best time for T to be sick and tired.  Then again, I guess no season is really great for that kind of nonsense.  But T's birthday is coming soon, then Christmas, then New Year's.  The kids will be out of school for two weeks, and if it's anything like last time, I'll be frantically trying to keep them quiet so T can rest or sleep.  Maybe it won't be so bad, though.  T isn't exactly a cold weather kind of guy, so it's not like he would be out enjoying the snow in his free time.  If the weather is as bitterly cold as the random, nameless Internet sources are saying, we'll all just want to hunker down and stay warm together.  


We know how everything went down last time, and so there is a bit of trepidation going into this round.  T knows what to expect, and although this time may be completely different from the last time, it's hard to ignore past experience.  There is also the addition of the stoma and the ostomy bag this time around, and that's a wild card.  But that's life, isn't it? 


My Christmas wish is that our family can get through this next step with our sanity intact, with our love for one another still strong, with the ability to find joy in the little things, to keep making each other laugh even when we want to cry, and the holiday magic still sparkling throughout the house.  It's a tall order, but there are four believers chez Wells who would appreciate anything you can spare.  I promise we'll leave some good treats by the fireplace for you, and I hope you're able to get a good, long rest after the holidays. 



Give my best to Mrs. Claus and the elves!
Love,
K. C.
PS-It wouldn't be terrible if you wanted to leave me an elf to do the laundry. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2004


The day before Thanksgiving.
Crazy snowstorm, huge flakes, treacherous roads.
I watch it all from the computer lab where we are having teacher in-service.
After school, my dad braves the insanity to get me to the airport.
Thanksgiving in Vegas with Trevor, our first major trip together.
All flights delayed.
I wait for T's flight to arrive. I sit on the floor at O'Hare.  I grade papers.  I watch CNN roll a ticker across the bottom of the screen detailing the machete attack that morning at Valparaiso High School.
I'm tense.  I'm tired.
When my flight is called, I slowly, reluctantly make my way to the gate.
At last, I spot T hustling down the corridor toward me.
We are seated nowhere near each other on the plane.
It's so late when we get to the hotel.
The San Remo.  It's questionable at best.
We gamble, we laugh, we sleep.
We get dressed for Thanksgiving dinner.
I'm nervous to meet his friends.  Will they like me?
I wonder why T is sweaty in his sport coat. I ask if I look okay.
I'm not facing him when he answers because I'm looking in the mirror and futzing with my hair.
Something's missing, he says.  You're almost perfect.
Is he nuts?  ALMOST perfect?  I turn around to give him The Look.
He's on one knee in front of me.
My first thought is how did he get down there?  Then, WHY is he down there?
And I understand.
Love.  A diamond.
(Finally.)
No wonder he's sweaty.
I hear every word he is saying but all I can do is say Ohmygod over and over in my head.
His face is slightly terrified but determined.
He's it.
I say yes.  Yes, yes, Ohmygod, yes.
And ten years later, I would say yes again.
Even at the San Remo.