Friday, February 27, 2009

That was fast

More IMPROVEMENT! So said the message on our answering machine this evening from the nurse at Dr. Neel's office. I wasn't even sure we would hear anything and if we did, I figured Monday at the earliest. So I nearly dropped my Target bags on the floor after I pressed play.

All the message said was that the scan shows improvement in the neck and chest and that they would see us next week. One sentence. The relief and joy and gratitude to God were just as strong as the first time we heard good news. In the back of our minds, we were worried that the chemo had perhaps stalled out. Let's face it, we had solid bad news for seven months in a row. And we know it's not over, but we'll take every bit of good news we can.

I just can't stop saying "Thank you, God." Thank you for letting me get to keep my husband a little bit longer. Thank you for letting Julia have her dada a little bit longer. Thank you for letting us get to do something we couldn't even fathom a few months ago -- make plans. That's right, we're thinking a vacation is in order this summer, maybe even for our 5th anniversary. Any suggestions?

Thank you to our friends and family for all of your prayers. We feel blessed to have so many people out there rooting for us. I also think I'm going to send Dr. Greco a note. I just want to thank him for seeing us, for recommending this chemo, for giving us hope. Would that be corrny?

Anyway, we'll get more details on Wednesday. Mike's supposed to have chemo that day, but he's going to ask for a break, just a week off. I would say he deserves it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today's the day

Mike goes in for his CT scan this afternoon. But we don't see Dr. Neel again until Wednesday. I'm really hoping he calls with the results again this time. The waiting is so hard. It consumes every thought. And seven days is a really long time not to be able to focus.

I'm sure I'll be eating a lot of chocolate to get through. And praying, of course. We also have a 2-year-old's birthday party to attend. That should be a distraction for sure.

We're hoping for good news again -- for the obvious reasons, but also because the day after the doctor's appointment, we're heading over to Tampa to meet up with Frank and Lisa for an Elton John/Billy Joel concert. Marina will be stopping by after a conference in Orlando in mid-March and then we've got almost a week with Aunt Soup.

So I'm really hoping we'll have something to celebrate.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tale of two Ellas

Anyone who knows Julia also knows Ella -- the little yellow elephant that accompanies us everywhere. I got Ella as a gift from my great aunt when I was pregnant. I remember weeping (hormones, I guess) when I pulled her tail and she played Brahms lullaby.

For the first few months, she was a decoration I kept in the wicker basket on the changing table along with the diapers and wipes. At about four months, I started putting her in Julia's crib at night. It didn't take long for the two to bond.

For the past two years, Ella has become a major part of our lives. Julia doesn't go anywhere without her. She sleeps with her, takes her shopping, to the babysitter's, to the mailbox. Once I left her home when we went to the kiddie water park, thinking I didn't want her to get wet. Big mistake. Big. Julia sometimes calls her "Baby." And she could say that before she could say mama.

As you can imagine, Ella's got some wear and tear. She's been run over with the grocery cart in the Wal-Mart parking lot, stuffed into the Christmas tree, sent through airport security and dipped into pancake syrup at Bob Evans. She's had noses blown on her, she's been projectile vomitted on and served as a teething toy.

Actually wear and tear is a kind way to put it. No matter how many times she's been in the washing machine, Ella is downright disgusting. Note the giant stain on her ear. Everywhere we go, people make comments like "Wow, that's a well-loved toy" or "Is that a hand-me-down?"

Soon after I realized Ella had become a best friend, I started looking for a backup. The elephant was made by Carter's and I searchd online, in the Carter's outlet, all over the place. No luck. About six months ago, I decided to do another search and found it on Amazon -- the seller had one left. So I nabbed it.

I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but I knew the first Ella probably wouldn't last all that much longer. Other moms told me it would never work. I mean, the new Ella does look a lot different. I had forgotten how soft and furry she was, how bright yellow ...

But tonight I decided to make a swap, just to see what would happen. Julia looked at her suspiciously at first so I told her that Ella had a bath. "Look how clean and soft she is now, so pretty." Julia fell for it hook, line and sinker. She kept looking at the new Ella and laughing and saying "She got a bath. Ella got a bath." So we'll keep our fingers crossed. I've packed up the old Ella and I'm keeping her in my closet. I plan to hang on to her for a long time. Actually, I kind of miss her already.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A wise move

What a good thing the port is. The nurses just pop the IV right in there and Mike didn't even feel a thing. Chemo on Tuesday was a breeze. I can't help but wonder though ... will Mike beep when he goes through airport security?

We saw Dr. Neel before we went to the infusion center and he was looking at Mike's neck and said his gut feeling is that the tumor is still getting smaller. He can't say with certainty because it's been three weeks since he's seen Mike and he's just eyeballing it. But he is certain it's not getting bigger. We'll take that.

So Mike has chemo next week and then will get new scans the week after. Could we possibly get two good scans in a row? I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my prayers flowing.

Mike's feeling pretty good -- seriously, he covered a soccer game hours after chemo. Well, actually, the game was canceled because of a shin guard violation (gasp!) but he worked nonetheless. Check out the story

And a day after chemo he drove back and forth to Tampa for a playoff game. And today's he's driving back and will be there until Saturday. He seriously never stops.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Can't she stay little?

I'm having mommy anxiety. Julia is growing up way too fast and I don't know how to make it stop. Can anyone help me?

There have been so many changes recently. My little girl has become a little person. She can talk and sing and spell her name. She stands on a stool in the bathroom and brushes her own teeth. She can even brush her own hair. Now she doesn't even sit in the high chair anymore. She sits at the big girl table. She reads and listens to music in her room. The other day she lined up some stuffed animals and read them a story.

Soon, she'll be out of her crib and into a big girl bed. I don't think my heart can take it. I love everything about having a tiny little person in my house. I know it's fleeting so I sometimes stand outside her door and listen to her "read." I close my eyes sometimes when she's laughing hyserically to try to soak it in.

I love the sound of her laugh. I love her slobbery wet kisses. I love to sing little songs and do silly little dances with her.
I love to curl up on the couch and read stories with her. I love that she wants me to kiss her boo-boos. I love how she says "you'll never know dear, how much I lub you" when she sings You Are My Sunshine.

I'm not interested in 6-year-olds. I'm certainly not interested in teenagers. I like things the way they are right now. Can't they stay like this forever?

P.S. Everything went well Wednesday with Mike's surgery. The port is in place and should be ready for use at Tuesday's chemo.

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's always something, Part 2

During last week's chemo, the nurses had a hard time finding a vein in Mike's arm. Chemo tends to fry the veins, they tell us. And then to make things worse, toward the end, he had an "infiltration." Basically the needle popped out of the vein, and his arm swelled up like a beach ball.

His doctor said it's time for a port. This is basically a device attached to a blood vessel just below the collar bone. It's implanted under the skin and allows the nurses direct access to a vein. No more poking around. No more chances of infiltration.

So on Wednesday, Mike is having outpatient surgery. He'll be all loopy that day, but it's a pretty quick procedure and he's expected to be fine. And the next chemo should be a breeze...