Thursday, January 19, 2017

Where to begin?

It's been almost three years since Mary last posted to this blog and in that time she has undergone and endured so much. But, she has also persevered. I honestly don't know how she has gone through what she's gone through and still worked full time, was a full time mom, put up with me, and still maintained a positivity that was infectious. She is truly the strongest person I have ever known. I have been trying to update this blog so that people that come here from the GoFundMe page have a little more inside to what's going on. But after multiple attempts and hours of thinking about what to say the words simply never came out. I am writing this now as I sit by her bedside, she wanted to fall asleep with me here.

So as the title says where to begin? Mary has been through two chemotherapy treatments two brain radiation treatments multiple drug trials and two immunotherapy treatments. The last treatment she was on was a trial drug that showed amazing progress after her first two months. The tumor in the liver shrank dramatically so they kept her on it. Even though the side effects were pretty bad it was working so it was worth it. The next visit for scans showed that the other areas in the body that had activity were stable but the liver was active and not shrinking any further with the treatments. So they scheduled a surgery to go in and apply chemo beads directly to the spot with activity. It was two surgery in fact, the first to make sure they could reach the spot going in through  the femoral artery and the second was delivering the treatment. The surgery went fine and she came home still on the trial drug during this time. We went about our daily routines and time passed. It was shortly before Thanksgiving that she started getting to where she couldn't stand up from sitting on the floor without help. She would loose her balance occasionally and was always tired. After Thanksgiving and closer to Christmas she started getting swollen lips and the left side of her face started to droop. We thought (hoped)  that it was side effects from the medication but she had a scheduled appointment the first week in January for scans at MD Anderson and she was not about to give up her trip to NYC. We got back from our trip were home for two days and then Mary her mom and the kids started the road trip to Texas. Little did we know our world was about to come crashing down. After her scans and blood work which took all day, she would not see the doctor and get the results of the scans until the next day. That's when everything changed. Not only did the tumor in the liver get bigger (significant growth) I believe were the doctors words but it was also back in the brain and the spine. Her blood counts were at rock bottom and they wanted to admit her to the hospital to get an IV started. There was a glimmer of hope still, there was another trial drug that was in phase one goal they wanted to try and they were going to use the gamma knife on the brain. But then after three days in the hospital they looked at her levels and came to the decision that there was nothing more they could do. Her body was too weak to withstand the trial drug and the gamma knife. They said to take her home and make her comfortable and "IF"  she gets stronger then come back and they would start the trail. Needless to say many tears were shed many phone calls were made and Mary flew home the next day. She is currently staying at her mom's house and has hospice coming in once a week because her mom retired to be with her full time so she tends to all her needs. I come over after work everyday and stay until I have to take the kids home to go to bed. There has been a parade of friends and family coming to visit and help in any way they can and we are just taking it day by day. Making the most of each day.

I'm sure I missed some things and made some grammatical errors but oh well. I will try to update when possible and keep it a little more concise.

Thank you for everyone who has donated so far and thank you in advance for the future donators.

Monday, April 21, 2014

You take the good, you take the bad.....da da da da da da da....the facts of life!

You take the good, you take the bad.....da da da da da da da....the facts of life!

Well the past couple of weeks have brought both the good and the bad. Again, I apologize for the lack of posting! Believe me, I've been yelled at by all of my family members about it! I've gone from having friends and family visiting me and keeping my spirits high to the dreaded "symptoms" the doctors warned  me about visiting and keeping me in bed! These past two weeks have seen it all. Please forgive me!

I, again, got to show off the city of Houston to two new visitors, Anna and Erica. We spent a lot of time reminiscing, laughing, and just being silly! If there are two people that can keep a girl smiling, they are! Unfortunately, they were also there to see the beginning of these symptoms that started rearing their ugly heads. Mainly the fatigue and the difficulty swallowing. I was so hoping I could avoid them!! Not so lucky! The girls were good sports though :) They made me rest when I needed to and Erica even watched a Dave Matthew's Band concert from start to finish on TV with me to cheer me up! What can I say? They love me! And dare I say, Erica loves DMB now? I have a verbal commitment from her & Roby to go see them in Charlotte with us this summer!

So the symptoms. I was warned from the beginning that they would show up but I started to believe that I may out smart them! It was already week 5 and I had only felt a little nausea. I was sure my green juice was working magic on all the junk that was being pumped into my body. The fatigue I could deal with. I like naps anyway  :) The swallowing issue was a little harder to come to terms with. Anytime something messes with my food intake, I'm not happy! I'm a Casella.....I love to eat! I first noticed it with pizza. I felt pain in the center of my chest (my esophagus) when I swallowed the crust. Of course, I ignored it and continued to eat. Hello, it was pizza! In fact, I ignored it for most of the week. I'd pause a little as I swallowed but would keep on going. When I spoke to the doc, he told me it was time for the meds. It was soon apparent to me that he was right! It got to the point where even mashed potatoes were hurting to swallow! Even with the meds the next week was pretty rough in the food department.

Here I am entering my last full week of treatment and I think I have the kinks in the meds figured out. I was able to eat a little bit of Easter dinner comfortably, which made my mom and Aunt Kathy very happy! I'm still focusing on soft foods and even.......ugh....ensure shakes to get in as much nutrition as possible. Only 8 treatments left and then it will begin to heal and I will be able to eat! This to shall pass!

The biggest boost to my spirits has again come from all of you! Last week my family did an amazing job hosting 2 events in my honor that were complete successes! I am floored by the support that my family, friends, and strangers have shown. The bowling alley fundraiser was a blast and Chili's was jam packed! I wish I could have been there with all of you. Thank you to everyone who came out and especially to my dad, erika, aunt mary, aunt kathy, and julia for your planning expertise! You guys are the best!

So here we go with my last full week of treatment. I may not be able to eat much and I may need to take frequent naps.....but I have a support system that others would kill for and I'm still.....Happy. (You have to sing that Happy like Pharrell) :) Let's go!

-The symptoms
-not being able to spend Easter in WPB with Brandt and the usual Casella family  festivities
-not being with my students for FCAT

-Anna and Erica! You guys are amazing :)
-Having Aunt Deb and Aunt Kathy here! You guys are invaluable! Aunt Deb helped with every aspect of care for my mom, the kids and me! I don't think she stopped the whole time she was here! And Aunt Kathy brought the Casella love I was missing and made food that I was able to get down!
-My mom. I can't say enough how much I love her! She has been here every step of the way doing EVERYTHING! I'm so glad she's with me in Houston. Talk about a rock!
-My dad and Erika. Thank you for all of your hard work for that bowling fundraiser! You know how much I wished I could have been there!
-This week brings Brandt, my dad, brother and Jenni!!!! I can't wait!
-Angie and Tod's life group from Tallahassee. They have reached out to me and sent well wishes and prayers everyday last week! Each time I went to the mail there was another uplifting card. Thank you, Thank you!
-Uncle Vinny! Thank you for sending the coffee cake! I doubled up on meds to eat it, but It was so worth it!
-My work family! The cards from the various teams have brightened my days! I can't wait to see you guys to thank you in person! Love you all!
My world!!!! This melts my heart!

Anna, Erica and the kiddos at the park!

Yum! Thanks Uncle Vinny!!!

Happy Easter!

Monday, April 7, 2014

From the trenches!

Kicking off week four with a post from the trenches (a.k.a my chemo room shown above.....for those of you who are wondering what this whole deal looks like!) What better way to spend the 3 hours it takes to pump this junk into my system? Well at least until I fall of those concoctions makes me ridiculously sleepy!
Once I leave here I have to run (literally) down to radiation. They cut things so close around here! Then it's off to pick up Anna from the airport! Anna has been a lot of things to me throughout my life: my cousin,  my best friend, and my roommate for a bit! It only makes sense that she's here now! I'm sure the next week will be jam packed with Casella girls craziness!
With another round of chemo came another jewel for my bracelet via my mom and Mikey. This time the jewel of choice was balance.  I'm loving this bracelet and the little rays of sunshine it's giving throughout this whole ordeal. When I least expect it, I get another reminder of 1. how amazing my family is and 2. that I have everything I need to win this battle! Bring on week 4!

-saying good-bye to my dad. Just having him here felt good. Something about having your parents around during these times of need makes you feel protected and taken care of regardless of the situation. Even if he refused to watch anything except History Channel, Supernatural, and all of those junk picker shows! Luckily, he'll be back in a couple of weeks!

-Another fun weekend in San Antonio thanks to my mom! It's so refreshing to get away on the weekends!
-my mom is here and cooking for me! Woo Hoo!!! But more than that, just having her here makes things feel right. She is not only my mom, but my cheerleader, shoulder to cry on, and best friend! So glad she felt the need to rush back because I was secretly hoping she would!
-Brandt was able to stay for another week! My support system is #1 in this battle!
-Anna's coming today!
River Walk with the fam

My Dad's last day of yoga

Ice Cream!
Alamo family selfie!

Told you it makes me sleepy!

Friday, April 4, 2014

With a little help from my friends!

Thank you Alea! This has been my anthem!
Friday marks the end of week 3! I'm at the half way point and I'm still feeling good overall. Like I said in my last post, I have my ehhhh days but they're tolerable. My blah feelings towards food midweek cause me to lose a few pounds but I make up for it on the weekend when I'm ravenous so I stay in the dietitians good graces! Dr. Wonderful said I was making his job too easy due to my lack of complaints! Ha! Easy for him? No complaints makes it easy for me! They keep warning that the side effects will kick in here any time, but I'm secretly hoping they won't! The way I see it is, I'm already half way finished.....if those side effects can stay at bay another week or two then I'll only have to live with them for a couple of weeks until treatment ends. I can do anything for a couple of weeks. Remind me I said this when I'm in week 5 and 6! Everything else is going well. Surprisingly, my dad is doing well in Yoga! Who would have thought?! He actually said he likes it! Tomorrow will be his last session before he heads back to WPB and I'm pretty sure he's going to miss it! I'm so proud of him :) We'll see if I can talk him into going to a class back home! I on the other hand, am pretty sure I have T-Rex arms because they don't seem long enough to do some of the things they're asking me to do! LOL! Hopefully that improves before the end!
This past week also brought two West Palm Beach V.I.P's to Houston. Shout out to Tiffany and Cheri for making the 17 hour drive to Texas to spend some quality time with their friend :). It's crazy how just having some friends visiting from back home can make everything feel so normal again. They represented my entire work family and amazingly enough, they truly made it feel like I was walking the halls of COT again with everyone there. It felt great! I showed them what I could of Houston and then when we ran out of things to see.....we drove to San Antonio to see what they had to offer! Take that Cancer! We even had a theme song for the weekend...."The stars at night, are big and bright......DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS!" Pee Wee Herman was right.....if you start singing that anywhere in Texas, the locals will finish it! Ask Cheri! Jude and Riley are even starting to finish it when we start singing. Should I be worried? :) Next up on the visitor list, Anna! Let's see what trouble we can get into when she gets here!

-blah days

-having brandt, the kids, my mom, and my dad here with me! Wow! Love it! I need my brother here now!
-having a great weekend with two super star friends!
-the pizza I had in San Antonio.....tasted just like the pizza I ate in lie!!!
-getting mail! I love all the cards and notes :) Brandt brought up the mail I got at home and then some came here to the Texas address too! You guys rock! I heard from college friends, co-worker friends, past co-worker friends, and family members! The simplest thing makes the biggest difference in someones day :) Thank you!
-the lack of side effects so far...fingers crossed!
The famous pizza I had in San Antonio...OMG! 

Cowboys and girls! Hey, we're in Texas......we had to!

My world!

I finally made it to the Container Store!

One of Houston's pretty spots!

My little scientist at the Children's museum!

Orange and Blue flowers all along I-10 between Houston and San Antonio! Beautiful! We may or may not have pulled over and frolicked in them....and picked them.

West Palm VIP's  on the River walk in San Antonio!

Oh my! I love her! Riley the diva!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

1 week down!

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! What a week! First week of treatment + having the kiddos here + settling into the apartment + trying to spend as much time as possible with the visiting fam = exhausted! I had every intention of writing each evening, but after the kids were in bed and I was faced with the choice to write or sleep.......I chose sleep every time! What can I say, my Casella blood runs deep! We like to sleep! But here I am, 1 week in, and I still feel great! There were a few days following chemo that I had a queasy stomach and just felt kinda yuck, but by Thursday evening things were looking up and I started to feel like eating again. I have to admit, even the queasy days weren't terrible though. I just felt ehhhhhhh. I couldn't find anything that really sounded good to eat until I discovered smoothies later in the week! So now for this week, my fridge is stocked with all the veggies and fruit I'll need to stay nourished during those ehhhhhh days: spinach, kale, broccoli, greek yogurt, coconut milk, chia seed, flax, banana, blueberries and strawberries. This is my sister-in-laws specialty smoothie! Thanks Angie!  Don't worry Mikey....I'll juice everyday too! :) As far as treatment goes, the week was relatively painless. Chemo on Monday, radiation everyday. The radiation got better as the week went on. Less discomfort with laying in that mold and the sessions weren't nearly as long as that first day. All of that combined with them streaming the Dave Matthew's Pandora station in made it almost enjoyable! DMB saved my radiation sessions, now I just have to try to stay still on that table while my body says it wants to get up and do some fancy feet! July can't come fast enough!! I'll be ready for my 2 day DMB concert bender....get ready Abbotts!
One new development this week that I'm super excited about is the yoga sessions they offered me 2 times a week to help with relaxation! They're doing a research study to see if it has positive effects for lung cancer patients. They're looking at the effect it has on relaxation for the patient and also at the effect on the lungs themselves. There is a big focus on breathing during the sessions in hopes of keeping the lungs flexible. It didn't take much, relaxation, the caregiver goes too, AND a total of $50 in target gift cards for each person! What?!!!! Score! This study had my name written all over it! My mom will be joining me for most sessions (she's as excited as I am) and my dad will be joining me for the rest (he's less excited, but for anyone who knows wish you could be a fly on the wall in that room, huh! LOL!) I keep teasing him by saying we have to hurry and get him his yoga pants! He doesn't think it's very funny though! My mom and I started last week and it was great! I didn't even realize I could get into deep relaxation like that! Amazing! Like I said, the main focus is the relaxation and breathing. Half of the hour is spent with joint exercises and poses (with proper breathing of course) and the other half with the deep relaxation and meditation. So far my mom and I are sold! My dad starts this week.....I'll let you know how it goes! ;)
The week wasn't all doctor visits though! Uncle Jamie, Sam and Aunt Deb were here visiting and helping along with my mom and Joe. It really was great to be able to spend some time with them. Sometimes life gets in the way and too long goes by without spending time with the people you love. This week made me realize that I need to get to Tampa, Omaha, and Kansas City more often to visit both sides of my family that reside there. Family is everything! Make room on your couches familia! Needless to say, we had a great time. Lots of showing them around Houston, laughter and catching up! The love was defiantly felt! Priceless! Unfortunately, my apartment got really quiet on Saturday as I said goodbye to all of them. Uncle Jamie and Sam drove back to Kansas, Aunt Deb hopped a flight to Tampa and Mom and Joe started the long drive back to WPB. It was a bummer but it wasn't long before the next wave of visitors and helpers made their way in. My dad got in Sunday morning and Brandt Sunday night. Now the house is filled again and it feels good. The kids were adorable with Brandt when he got in! Both fell asleep in his arms trying to talk over each other to tell him about the zoo, and Rain Forest Cafe, and the train! We all fell asleep last night feeling complete! I think I was able to squeeze one of his fingers as we drifted off, the kids hogged him! It makes everything so much better to have him here!
So that catches us up to this week. I had Chemo this morning and it was a super long session! It took forever to get in there and then it took the nurses quite awhile and quite a few tries to get the IV started. I hope it isn't that hard every time! My arms are all beat up, but luckily they have a week to recover since Chemo is only Monday's! I still feel good right now but based on last week's session...Tuesday and Wednesday are my ehhhhh days. Lots of sleep, water, fresh air, smoothies and Jude and Riley hugs are on my agenda for the next 2 days. I'll be fine! Plus who knows, I may be able to get Brandt and my Dad to wait on me hand and foot!
Keep checking back this week! I promise to be better with posting!

-the ehhhhhh days (Tuesday and Wednesday)
-saying goodbye to my visitors (especially my mom!)

-My dad and Brandt made it here safely
-1 week down! Only 6 more to go!
-I feel great 5 out of 7 days of the week!
-radiation sessions are much more tolerable (thanks Dave Matthews Band)
-spending a wonderful week with Uncle Jamie, Aunt Deb and Sam. They were the best cheerleaders, nurses, babysitters, make you feel good-ers a girl could ask for!
-2 new "jewels" for my Pandora bracelet: STRENGTH, embrace your inner force. you are more powerful than you realize and POSITIVITY, the light that you cast will shine warm and bright to all and everything. I just love the symbolism behind this gift, my mom is a true star!
-The continued out pour of support from family, friends, friends of friends, and strangers! You guys are amazing and wonderful. Greenacres Bowl, COT Kirklane, GONZ Auto Collision and Palms Wellington surgical center to name a few. Not to mention the countless individuals who have reached out to try to make my life a littler easier.  So far donations have helped us get to Texas for the 3rd time this month, get an apartment in Houston and everything that goes with it (you take all the little stuff you have in your home for granted until you get to a new place and ask, "Where are the pens? Uh oh, Jude needs a band-aid, where are the? Pass the cutting board. Can you go get the broom? Hey, put those leftovers in a Tupperware.....Target has seen a lot of me this past week!), pay medical bills (OMG! I have to pay how much extra for an over 45 minute doctor's visit that I'm pretty sure wasn't over 45 minutes and for the breathing treatment that I didn't need...both the medicine and the throwaway case they put it in), pay insurance premiums for the kids that had to come out of pocket after I went on leave, fix our van that died as soon as I left for Texas and countless other things like parking in the ridiculously expensive parking garage at MD Anderson! Thank You, Thank You! Your generosity has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated! We are forever in debt to you!

I say week 1 was mine! Hurdles didn't stand a chance!
Can you spot the photo bombers?

The idea was so great, we all ended up with one! Go team!

Oh my god! I love these kids!

The week 1 team!!

Jude really wasn't angry, I think he was trying to be tough...even though he was scared of the animals at the Rain Forest Cafe!

This may or may not be a wig possibility when the time comes. You just have to wait and see!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Luck O' The Irish!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Houston! I felt like it was a pretty good sign that my treatments started on St. Paddy's day! I marched in that hospital proudly wearing my green gear! I wasn't about to get pinched today! I was going to be poked enough as it was! Although nerves were high, everything went smoothly! My chemo was scheduled for 8:00 but started a little later. I was hooked up and ready to go but they had to pump me full of the protection before the show got on the road. Benedryl, a steroid, and anti nausea meds. Finally after about an hour I was primed and ready! I got a combo of two chemo meds and all in all it took about another hour and a half to complete. Luckily it went off without a hitch. I never felt sick or anything. I got pretty tired but had plenty of time laying in a hospital bed to remedy that! The next day or so will include anti nausea meds around the clock to try to prevent it from creeping up on me. I've been great so far, let's keep it going! By Wednesday I should be able to go without the meds, until next Monday when we start again! If every treatment goes like today then......I got this!
After a lunch break with the fam (so excited to see Uncle Jamie and Sam!) and a Target stop (oh come on, you know Mary Hawes would find a way to fit that in, even on Chemo days!) we headed to my first radiation treatment. This one wasn't as smooth as the chemo. You wouldn't expect that, huh? It was all about my positioning on the table. The part of the mold that held my head was all screwed up and bumpy but I didn't realize until treatment was under way. By halfway through my neck was strained so much and it felt like my head was on a bag of rocks! The worst part was that I couldn't move an inch! I had to stay perfectly still in that horrible position, grit my teeth and bear it. Unfortunately, today's treatment ran longer because they had to make sure everything was lined up and take some measurements. They also had to trace the radiation field onto my chest with permanent marker It will need to stay there for the next 7 weeks, ahhhhhh! Wait till you see this massive thing! The whole process ended up being about 40 minutes and a pain in my neck, literally! I couldn't jump off that table fast enough! Tomorrow's will be better though, the ladies assured me that we could put some towels or something in the head piece to make it more comfortable. Plus it will only be about 15- 20 minutes long! It will be fine! On the plus side, there is no pain involved in the radiation process itself. You don't even realize anything is being done! As time goes on there will be side effects because it is cumulative, but I plan to control those as perfectly as the chemo side effects! All in all today still falls far onto the success side! Now that I have the first day under my belt I'm ready to rock and roll!
In other news, we are settled into the apartment nicely! The kids are here with me and loving Texas. Brandt will be here next week and my picture will be complete! I'm so excited that not only will I have them here with me, but there will also be another family member or friend here at all times! It's so exciting to fill in the names of my family-friend nurses on the calendar! It will help make this not so normal situation feel a little more normal! I look forward to making each of them fetch something unnecessary for me on my command! Just kidding guys :)
I can't complete this post without rewinding to the week I spent at home and doing some shout outs for my family and friends that went over and beyond to help prepare me for my journey!
1.Mom and Joe- That Pandora"Jewels" bracelet was a phenomenal idea!! Their amazingly thoughtful plan: as I move through this process, I will receive another jewel for my bracelet that signifies a trait I already possess. My bracelet began with a purple one for faith. I love it and the sentiment behind it!
2. Aunt Kathy- Wheatgrass shots all around! I was brought to tears when you pulled out wheatgrass shots for everyone at Riley's party as a way to show you guys are all on this journey with me. I never doubted it for a minute, but as I looked around at everyone's pained faces as they took it down, I was doubly assured!!! I have the best family and friends around!
3.Julia and Jose: Those sunglasses are perfect! Thanks for sending me to Texas being able to see through clear, non scratched lenses! Every time I wear them I think of you guys...which is a lot because......I wear my sunglasses at night (you have to sing that last line!) :)
4. Aunt Mary and Janet: My Coach "treatment" bag is amazing! I am the most stylish girl in that hospital! Anyone can rock chemo when they're carrying such a puuuuuurdy bag! Love it! (dis you hear that Texas coming out when I said puuuuuuuurdy?!) :)
5. My COT family- I said it before, and I'll say it again, I am truly blessed to work with the most amazing bunch of people! I have been floored by the support that has surrounded me from the halls of COT. From your donations, to your prayers, cards and messages to the jeans & coffee fundraisers. I have no words to show the gratitude I feel in my heart. I love you all and look forward to seeing you guys in May! You are the best!

To Celebrate St. Patrick's Day, I'll leave you with an Irish Blessing I found:
May God give you,
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing for each trial,
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

-the pain in my neck from laying in that stupid position for 40 minutes!!!
-missing Brandt again

-having the kiddos here with me!
-a great 1st day of treatment with 0 side effects!
-being settled in my "Houston" home
-having my mom, joe, aunt deb, uncle jamie and sam here with me for the week!

Gettin' the juice!
My jewels bracelet!

Wheatgrass for EVERYONE!
All marked up for radiation! What the crap! This thing is huge!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stories to tell the grandkids one day!

Well I'm home, and that was no easy feat! We set out Monday morning to hit 2 doctors appointments, finalize the apartment choice and jump on the plane home. I wish it would have been that easy and relaxed! Instead it was a mad dash from one thing to the next without a second to breathe or eat for that matter and then crawling into my own bed at 4:00 am!
It all started with an appointment that ran long! Which in turn, bled over into the next appointment slot. Usually that's ok at MD Anderson, except for this time of course. By the time I got out of the exam room Aunt Deb was cussing at people and my mom was on the verge of tears. I didn't know what I walked out into! Turns out since the appointment ran over, the next one I had scheduled got canceled. Unfortunately that was the MOST important appointment! It was the CT simulation that lays the ground work for the radiation that is set to begin Monday the 17th. No simulation, no radiation. They assured us that they could get us in the next day....too bad we had purchased plane tickets for that afternoon! Not to mention, the we had checked out of the hotel and the rental car was due in at 4:00 pm. We spent the next hour stressing and making calls to try to fix the situation in the comfort of starbucks! By the grace of god, Dr. Wonderful called (I think he was afraid of Aunt Deb) and told us they could squeeze me in at 3:00 that afternoon for the simulation after all. I still wonder how many legs she had to break to get that arranged! Oh well, I still said "Score!" I guess I should also say that yes, we took the appointment but we still weren't fully convinced we'd make it to the airport in time, but we were going to try. This will be important later in my dramatic retell of the events of March 10, 2014!
After that we headed out to tour 2 apartments and I got a call from the hospital asking me to come in for blood work and a chemo training, I looked at the clock and saw that I had 2 hours until the CT simulation so I said sure. The small detail I forgot at the time was that, although we leaped an hour forward with daylight savings.....the clock I was looking at didn't! Welcome back sick feeling in my stomach! Luckily we caught on to the error in my thinking pretty quickly and hightailed it out of the apartment tours and over to the hospital. The stars aligned and they took me right in for chemo training. I listened like a good girl, I held my jokes and questions and kept my eye on the clock. Who would have thought that I could shave 15 minutes off an appointment by just keeping my mouth shut!!! Ha! After the trainer walked out to get paperwork I left my mom and aunt deb there to collect it and I ran down for blood work. Again, the stars aligned and I went straight it. Bing, bang, boom...blood drawn and still 10 minutes to spare to get to the CT simulation! I was on fire. Apparently all departments at MD Anderson move with lightening speed, except the one I was in for that first appointment early in the day!
The simulation was painless! They basically make quick mold of your body so that you will be in the same position for each treatment. Next they do a scan so they can target the areas that they will hit with the treatments. During this time they also mark them on my body so I am currently walking around with these crazy purple marks on my chest that have to stay on for the next seven weeks. Don't ask! I don't know how I'll wash around them in shower either. I guess we'll see! I have a feeling they're going to have to reapply frequently!
After we flew out of the radiation department, we jumped into the car can took off to the airport. We were cutting it dangerously close! We thought we were finally safe when we checked in and got boarding passes right before the window closed. We even contemplated doing a big dramatic high five. Thank goodness we didn't! As we rounded the corner we saw that the security check point line was about 50 deep! It might be worth saying that before my CT simulation I took an ativan so even though my story sounds as though I was breathless and worried......I was cool as a cucumber! There wasn't much that was going to worry me for the next couple of hours! My mom on the other hand was frantic (I'm kinda tapping into her point of view to tell a good story!) She bit her finger nails down to nubs by the time we reached the end of the line, unfortunately that was also when the overhead speaker announced that our flight was on it's final boarding call and they'd be closing the aircraft door in 5 minutes. Me: still cool as a mom: pretty much crying at this point! We finished with security and literally ran to the gate, my mom didn't even take the time to put her shoes back on. When I say we made it by the skin of our teeth.....we made it by the skin of our teeth! They were shutting the gate as we skidded to a stop in front of gate A19. They waved us in and we could finally breathe!
The rest of the flight to Charlotte was pretty uneventful, except some weird noises that, had I not been on ativan I would have been worried about, as a cucumber. We landed and the pilot came on to say that the passengers who were supposed to stay on the plane to continue on to New York after we got off, would also have to gather their belongings and deplane due to an "unscheduled aircraft change". I took that as, "something's going on with this plane, it won't make it to New York, we have to get a new one", but I could have been wrong though. That nervousness I started to feel is the hint that my ativan is wearing off. :)
We grabbed a bite to eat and got on to our connecting flight with plenty of time to spare. We took off on schedule and I even started to drift off to sleep until about 10 minutes into the flight when I heard a continuous "beep, beep, beep" alarm sound. At first I figured it would stop, but when it didn't I started to worry (ativan gone from my system, clearly) Everyone was starting to take notice and you could tell they too were nervous. The pilot came on the speaker to bring us up to speed, "this is the flight deck here, some of you in the front of the plane may have heard the loud bang, we hit a bird and will be turning around and going back to Charlotte to assess the damage to the aircraft." Ummmmmmmmmmmm, what?
When we finally landed back in Charlotte I was able to breathe again. After assessing the plane they decided that it was not safe to fly due to the damage to the windshield and thank goodness we weren't going just a little faster because it would have gone through the windshield completely if we had been! That last part about it going through the glass was only overheard when the pilot was talking to someone else, it wasn't a general announcement!Either way......ahhhhhhhh! They were able to bring a different plane around for us to take instead. After boarding the new plane we sat in there for over an hour while they got it ready to go. After the events of the day that hour was not good for my mind! I tried to convince my mom and aunt deb that we should probably forget the plane and just rent a car for the rest of the trip. After all, how many times during the day did the universe tell us we shouldn't have flown that night....go back and reread the story you'll see how clear it should have been to us!
They wouldn't budge on the whole flying thing so we stayed and finally took off a little after 1 am. I rested with one eye open on that flight! Luckily, we landed safely at around 3 am in West Palm. By the time I walked in my door I could barely keep my eyes open. I hugged my husband and peeked in on my sleeping kids with a smile on my exhausted face. Jude woke a little and gave me the biggest hug ever, wrapping his arms around my neck and saying how much he missed me and loved me. I fell asleep with those little arms around me and the smile still on my face. It was all worth it. The stress, frustration, the breathless rushing, the near death by birding, and the panic....I'm home! I get to go to sleep with my family every night for the next week and wake up to them in the morning. Heaven!

-the constant rushing today
-the flights!

-ativan- kept me calm for some parts of this crazy day
-we picked the apartment (I forgot to mention that in the craziness of the story!)
-I'm home with my family!
-that moment when Jude woke a little to hug me and tell me how much he missed me and loved me and then fell asleep cuddled up to me: priceless!