Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Controlled Chaos

This summer has been a blur! It seems like the girls just got out of school and now they are heading back next week! This year has been more tumultuous than most though. I'll just give y'all the Clif notes version. :) After school let out the girls were just thrilled that the dishwasher broke! haha...they are still super upset ;) Red Two can't believe we still don't have one...I told her that when she had a spare $400 lying around she was more than welcome to buy one...haha!

I couldn't believe the town pools didn't open for a week after school let out...craziness! and then, they are all shut down now, and school hasn't even started. Makes no sense. Oh least it's free for the kids! We spent a lot of free afternoons there this year. 

Random summer fun!
Silly monkey boy 
Buddy kept putting his tie on

For 4th of July, Papa got an RV site at a nearby camp...the kids had a blast! They had a pool, a pond, mini golf, playgrounds, basketball courts and more. They even had a fireworks show! It was a pretty cool campground.

David had an appointment with his neurosurgeon, Dr Schwartz, to see if he had any ideas about his body pain. The way the pain presents is very odd...doesn't fit normal chemotherapy neuropathy. Dr Schwartz ordered a spinal MRI just to rule out any spread there. Brain cancer is one of the few that doesn't metastize to other parts of the body, with the exception of the spinal cord, as it's all part of the same system. He really didn't think that it was likely, especially since all his brain scans have been coming out so good...but he wanted to definitely rule it out. So David got a spinal MRI a week or two later, but before he could go back to see Dr Schwartz...we had a lovely ER trip for crazy abdominal pain. Yay.

So David has had an unbilical hernia for about 4 years...we actually think it's kind of a weird side effect of the brain cancer. Right before we discovered he had a tumor, David gained a lot of weight very quickly, probably because the tumor was pushing on something that effected that...and got a tiny hernia. It never caused any trouble, so it was way down on the priority list. Anyways, one evening it really started hurting, and by the middle of the next day, he had to leave work to get it checked out. It was incredibly painful...his general practitioner sent him to the ER to be evaluated. We wound up spending most of the day there. Every time a doctor came to check on him, they kept poking the hernia, trying to push whatever was trapped in there back in. I seriously thought he might swing at somebody, it hurt so bad! The end result after a CT scan, was that it wasn't intestines trapped (which is bad...that would be emergency surgery), but just fat...not so serious, but still extremely painful. They sent him home with pain meds, and then we were to meet with surgeon to set up outpatient surgery. It actually wound up taking quite a while...we went to ER on 7/17 and surgery was scheduled for 8/6. Thankfully, all the pushing and prodding had actually helped, so he wasn't in much pain. I couldn't believe it though...when I went to pick up his prescription at Walgreens, the pharmacist saw me walking up, said "Hey! Just the one?" and pulled out David's prescription without me ever saying the name. And that is how you know that you have to go to the pharmacy way too much! sigh

My mom came to visit in the midst of all the craziness. She was able to be here for both Red Three and my birthdays. My baby girl turned 8! She was actually supposed to have a friend birthday this year...and it was scheduled for the day after we were at the ER. I went ahead and cancelled it, because I wasn't sure if we would be having surgery right then or what...don't worry, she had her friend celebration...just late ;) Anyways, like I said, Mumsie was here to celebrate the actual birthday. Rachel had to work that night, so she and Papa gave Red Three her present before she had to leave. A brand new bike! She had totally outgrown her old one, so this was perfect!

She was super nervous at was much bigger than her last one and she was afraid she would fall over...but she got it down in no time!
let's play Where's Buddy!
I love this pic of the girls!

After it started raining, it was party time!

One of the items on her list was a pony...Mumsie took care of that one...hahaha!
My little princess! I'm so glad at least one of my girls is still into girly things! :)
 Even though she's not a big fan of chocolate, she picked this red velvet truffle 
I can't believe it...these balloons are STILL floating! 
Apparently, one of the few ways to get a picture of Papa is to let the kids use the camera ;)

Two days later it was my turn! If y'all didn't know this about me, I absolutely LOVE birthdays!!! I don't care that I'm getting older (at least so far...hahaha)...34 this year and don't care who knows. It's not even the presents...although, who doesn't love presents?!?!?! I just love celebrations and good food and being with family and friends. This year was just about perfect! I didn't do a thing all day long! It was awesome! I haven't had one of those days in quite some time.

Thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes! I had a lovely, relaxing day. Thanks to Papa making grocery runs, manning the grill, and doing some yardwork! Thanks Mom (Cathy) for cleaning up the house, corralling kids, making it all run smoothly. Special shoutout to Laela for taking over cooking and baking duties...She made a chocolate hazelnut cake (which came out amazing!), whiskey glazed carrots, chili lime corn, and baked potatoes to go with the steaks Papa grilled. Super proud of her! The other kiddos helped with food prep and cleaning. They were so sweet with the presents they picked out! Not to mention Papa (Frank) and Rachel got me some sweet Doctor Who presents! Pictures will be posted later! 

Doesn't that just sound blissful?? 

Here's Red One cooking those whiskey glazed carrots
Me and Mom
Dad cooking some steaks...mmmmm!
and Freckles hoping something falls on the ground :)
My sweet kiddos
Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake...divine!
My awesome TARDIS cookie makes sounds and lights up!
Disappearing TARDIS mug 
Super cute TARDIS and Dalek salt and pepper shakers
The kids upgraded the decorations from Red Three's birthday for me ;)

The celebrations didn't end there. Mom took me out to dinner at Bonefish that place! My most favorite thing is the Bang Bang Shrimp! I ordered the salmon and mom got the tuna...but it was too rare for her so we traded. I normally don't care for tuna, but it was actually super delicious! And I had some sort of pineapple martini that was seriously good!

My besties Sarah and Kim took me out too! It was so great to snack and sip and spend time's one of my most favorite things in the world! I don't know what I'd do without them!

Then David and I got to have our date...we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy! I had been dying to see it for months!!! So as soon as it was out, that's where we were! haha! He was so sick of me talking about even he admitted that it was an awesome movie. I think he hoped I'd be wrong after hurting his ears about it all summer...but it was just too good! Afterwards we went out to eat at this Italian restaurant in Hartford, Salute. We've been before and it's always been fantastic...David thought it wasn't as good this time...I liked it though. The tiramisu was delicious!

My reflexes are too good!

Seriously, if you're living under a rock and haven't seen this yet, you NEED to!!! It's hilarious and action packed and totally awesome! I mean, come on, it RottenTomatoed 92%...for a comic book know it's good! I'm hooked on the soundtrack as pretty much made the movie!

The next week was David's surgery. Everything went just snags.

Pre-op pic in the waiting room.

I decided to share words of wisdom with the world while I was waiting for David. :)

So, after extensive experience, I have decided to share my hard won wisdom. 
mc's rules for a successful hospital waiting room experience:
- wear comfy clothes!
-always bring a sweater...hospitals are freezing!
-ear phones (which I totally forgot)
-magazines.... I find it easier to concentrate on magazines with their short articles rather than a book...maybe it's just me though.
-snack...I'm enjoying my mini m&ms at these moment 
-cash is helpful for vending machines...but most places will take a credit card.
-and lastly, it's always nice to have a friendly face sitting next to you
And there you have it, how to have a better waiting room experience. You're welcome. ;)

Unfortunately, recovery was not so great. David was in immense pain...way more than was normal. We had been told that it was pretty quick was on a Wed and they thought he'd be back to work by Monday. Basically, the body pain that he's been suffering for a year was exponentially increased from the hernia surgery and was just a nightmare. He went back to work on Tues, but could only work a half day. What really sucked was that none of his doctors was really helpful about it...they didn't want to give him anymore pain meds...but they weren't working. Doesn't help that he's gotten a bit tolerant to them, as he's been on them for the body pain for quite a while. It was a mess. He finally started to improve...but still not back to normal. :/

We did go back to see Dr Schwartz...found out his spine looks great! Yay! I mean, we were all pretty sure nothing was going on there, but it's nice to have it confirmed. Dr Schwartz finds his pain very weird and unusual...has no idea why it's where it is...he restated that we really need to get the oncologist to do something about it. We have an appointment at Sloan in a couple weeks, so we are not going to leave the office until we get some answers or at least something done.

But guess what, the insanity doesn't stop there! That night, Buddy was playing out in the yard with the dog...they were running around chasing each other. So, they both turn at the exact same time and start sprinting...and crash! She's the perfect height to cut him at the knees...he goes flipping over her! I saw the whole thing happen, it was like an epic NFL level hit/flip! As soon as he gets up crying I knew it was bad! He was complaining about the inside of his elbow...couldn't calm him down. Every time he moved his arm it hurt. Then his wrist started swelling up. I knew I was in for an ER trip. Mumsie and Papa came along with me...we went to CCMC, the children's hospital nearby. At first they X-rayed his wrist, because that was swollen. Nothing. Then when the doctor was examining him, she could tell something wasn't right with his elbow...he was such a trooper though. He didn't cry at all there...he wasn't sure what he thought about the weird place, lol. They X-rayed the elbow next and sure enough, it was broken. By this time it was after 9:30, and Buddy was so tired he just passed out. He didn't even wake up while they were splinting his arm. When he woke up in the morning he was like "what is this thing?"

poor pitiful boy
The little squiggle on the left of the curve of the top bone is the break...thankfully it wasn't displaced at all so he didn't need it reset or a pin put in.

My mom had talked to the church about getting meals for us for David's surgery, but they didn't have the right number at they called me a week later...but it was right when Caden had broken his elbow, so it worked out perfectly! They actually set it up that we'll get meals MWF for 4 weeks...which is so incredibly awesome, and really helpful!

Remember that friend birthday celebration Red Three was supposed to have? Yeah, it had been rescheduled to Friday, 8/15...which was when Buddy needed to go get his cast put on. Ugh! Thankfully we were able to work it out to do both! My mom hung out with the girls at the pond while I took Buddy to get his cast...then I picked them all up and we went back home for cake and presents and dinner.

Being splinted up didn't affect his gaming ability ;)
Buddy picked green :)

For her friend celebration, Red Three picked a Brown Butter Pink Ombre Daisy Cake with Strawberry was pretty tasty...and pretty! It came out really well, I was pleased!

 Red Three had a great time with her friend...I was so relieved it finally worked out!


So that was Friday...Saturday was when my niece arrived. Oh, wait, did I forget to mention that yet? Yes, my brother is in the army, stationed overseas for another couple of going through some tough family times and needed a place for his 13 year old daughter to stay until he gets stateside again. So for the next few months, I will have 5 kiddos around! :) Unfortunately, my niece and I don't know each other very well...we've lived to far apart, so we've only seen them like twice in the last 5 years I'd say. But it will be good for her, and we are excited to have her! I hope the kids all get along and don't get on each other's nerves too much ;) I'm super thankful that she'll be at the same school as Red One, so at least I'll only have kids in 3 schools, not 4! It was nice that my mom was still here, I think that helped my niece feel more at home, as she's seen her grandparents way more than she's seen ;)

Here she is with her dad a couple months ago

Then, the very next day, I drove my girls to camp for the week! It's their first time at sleepaway camp...and the only way we were able to let them all go was because it was free!!! There is an organization, Camp Kesem, that provides free camp staffed by college student volunteers for children with a parent that had or has cancer. This particular chapter is Camp Kesem at Yale...the students aren't just the counselors, they are also heavily involved in fundraising for the cool! Not only was I able to get my kids in, but Sarah sent her two boys as well! Red Three was super nervous about staying overnight, but by the time I left her, she was so excited! I can't wait to pick them up on Friday and hear all about it! I just know that they are having the best time!

The cabins were super nice...the grounds were beautiful!

I'm so grateful for an organization like Camp Kesem that would make an opportunity like that available to my kids. Not only would I not be able to send them to camp normally, as the cost would be prohibitive, but they get to be around other kids in similar situations...someone who understands. And that is huge!

And finally, the next day I dropped Mumsie off at the airport to head home. So this week has just been Buddy, my niece and I while David is at work. I think it's been good for her to ease into this new living situation without quite as much chaos. I'm working on all the school registration hopefully we can get everything squared away in time for school starting next Thursday...and seriously, who starts school on Thursday? That's just weird!

So that's pretty much my summer. "But how are you?" you ask. Well...honestly, it's been tough. I've had so many stressors pulling me every which way, not all of which I've felt compelled to share here. A lot of family and friends going through horrible situations. I've had a lot of ups and downs, and lot of tears and sighs and laughter. A lot of "why me, God?" and "I really hate being Job!" But everyday, I get up again, I try to read my Bible and pray...and praise. Even in my worst times, I'm singing His praise, and I know that He is sustaining me...the only way I haven't gone completely insane is because of His grace. So, I cling to hope, I cling to his promise that he will never leave me, and I am constantly grateful to the people he's placed in my life who are there for me always, no matter what. I pray that each of you may be blessed with such people as well.