It’s “Lost Sock Memorial” Day

Poor lost socks. They were once twins created in a factory, hoping to be mated for life. But more often than not, one gets lost in the laundry. Or behind a dresser. Or stuffed down the toilet by a toddler. And it leaves the mate wondering if they’ll ever see their twin again. If they happen to be a plain white sock, the chances are high that they’ll be paired with another like sock that also lost their mate.

Sibling-less sock #1: “Wow. Not seeing much action these days. Just floating around this drawer and missing Bill now more than ever. Can’t say that I’m missing those tennis shoes, though. They are way past their prime. Even my soft cotton fabric can’t absorb all of that smell. But I have to admit I’m missing the sunshine and that seventh period gym class. And just when our owner finally trimmed his toenails, Bill went missing. Was it the stress? Was it the odor? Where did he go? And why didn’t he take me with him?”

Sibling-less sock #2: “Wait! No! This is not my mate! George! Where are you? Nooooo!”

Sibling-less sock #1 is paired with sibling-less sock #2 and rolled into a ball. Thrown into pile with socks of similar size.

“Sibling-less sock #1: “Hey there. I’m Steve.”

“Sibling-less sock #2: (weeping quietly) “Tom. Nice to meet you.”

Sibling-less sock #1: “Guess we’ll be in this together. Sorry for your loss.”

Sibling-less sock #2: “I’m really not ready to move on. It’s not you. I’m just really missing George.”

Sibling-less sock #1: “No worries, Tom. It’s tough to move on. But it’s even tougher being stuck in the drawer for months on end. Never seeing any action. Just waiting for someone else to lose their sib. Take your time to grieve, Tom. But know I’m here. I’m right here. And I’ll do my best to never let you go.”

Steve clings to a trembling Tom, wishing that their owner would reconsider using Downy with Febreze instead of the Target brand dryer sheets, knowing that letting go would only result in severe static shock. And who needs that when you’re both in mourning?

Yes. I know. My mental illness has reached an all-time high. But I bet when you put your next pair of socks on, you’ll wonder about what conversation they’re having.

Speaking of socks, I have laundry to do. Ben and I are getting ready to go to NYC on Wednesday for scans, tests, and a bone marrow biopsy. We’ll be there from Wednesday to Saturday, so it’s just a quick visit this time. Probably won’t do a lot of sight seeing, especially since that bone marrow biopsy will leave the Bean feeling a bit sore. I’m sure we’ll make it to the Nintendo store once or twice. 🙂

Ben is feeling so much better. His mouth is healing nicely and he’s starting to eat on his own. He’s still a skinny little man despite his being on the high-calorie TPN but at least he’s trying. We have a clinic appointment Tuesday afternoon to see if he’ll need to continue on the IV nutrition. I’m hoping that we don’t have to mess with it in NYC (it requires a lot of supplies) but if Ben needs it, of course I’ll deal with it. That’s my job. I’m sure Homeland Security will question my need for loads of hypodermic needles and the various other supplies required to nourish my son. Oh well. We’ll get to the airport early.

I woke up this morning with my kiddos on either side of me. Since it’s Mother’s Day, I couldn’t ask for anything better. They each made me a special craft – always the best gift – and since I’m not a big fan of breakfast, I got a bagel and Mtn. Dew in bed. It’s 12:40 pm and I’m STILL in bed. I’m feeling a bit guilty about that, but seeing how it’s Mother’s Day, I get to do what I want, right? Oh well.

I nearly always write while I’m still in bed, I guess that’s where my brain works best, so I’m making up stories about mismatched socks to lengthen my time snuggled beneath the covers with my kiddos. Wasting the day away. Feeling guilty that Matt is cleaning up the bathroom despite recently having sinus surgery. But I’m writing! I’m pursuing my creative outlet! I shouldn’t feel guilty, right? But I do. Hmmmm. What other stories can I make up to lengthen my time snuggled in bed?

Seriously, though. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there. It’s a beast of a job but no way would I ever give that up. My children are my world. My light. My loves. I’m a better me because of them.

That’s worth a few extra hours snuggled up with them, right?

It’s Too Many Things Day

Today, May 8, has a variety of holidays to choose from. While you may take your pick from the following list: Birth Mother’s Day, International Migratory Bird Day, Iris Day, No Socks Day, V-E Day, and World Red Cross Day, I’m going to play “eeny-meeny-miney-mo” to figure out what I’m going to write about.

I choose Wildflower Week. The second week of May is always Wildflower Week. Wait. What? It’s the second week of May already? When did that happen? I am absolutely overwhelmed by this thought. Honestly, though, what doesn’t overwhelm me these days?

I’ve been spending a lot of my “free time” sleeping. Yesterday I took a nap before bedtime. I woke up long enough to eat, watch “The Blind Side” (which was okay), and hook Ben up to his IV nutrition. That event was an exercise in comedy… I’ll come back to that.

That last round of chemo for Ben really knocked him out and made him extremely sick. He ended up back in the hospital just three days after discharge with horrendous mucousitis. He wouldn’t eat or drink because of the pain involved with swallowing. He wouldn’t even swallow his saliva so, of course, food was completely out of the question. His tongue looked like someone took a cheese grater to it. I know, that’s a terrible image, but just think how my poor son felt.

Ben was discharged after eight long days of being inpatient. He lost four pounds, which for those of you who know him understand that he doesn’t have four pounds to give, so the docs decided to put him back on TPN. TPN is a bag of liquid nutrition that goes through his port. It’s very high in calories, which will hopefully boost Ben past the 41 pounds he’s currently carrying. Mind you, he’ll be nine years old next month. The “charts” say he should weigh an average of 61.6 pounds. That’s a 20 pound difference.  This breaks my heart.

So, anyway, Ben was on IV nutrition for nearly all 15 months of his first round of therapy since he was constantly plagued with mouth sores. I became a pro at administering his nightly nutrition. I had to do a lot of his care at home during his initial diagnosis: shots, medication, TPN – I was as close to being a nurse as I’ll ever be. So when they told us that Ben would be sent home on IV nutrition I figured all I would need is a quick refresher course on how to hook him up. Our home care supplier sent us a huge box of tubing and syringes and batteries and saline and medications… enough to fill the Jersey shoreline. The box weighed more than Ben, which I found slightly amusing. A nurse came by a couple of hours later to give me a refresher on how to hook Ben up. I followed her instructions as the memories came flooding back from 2004. She told me that I was a “rockstar” and felt confident in my abilities to connect him. I was – in a strange way – proud of myself for remembering how to do it.

The first two nights went without incident. Then, last night, I whizzed through the set up process and attached the tubing to Ben. He put on the heavy backpack containing his pump and the bag of nutrition and went downstairs to eat some ice cream. Then I heard Matt call my name. I was cleaning up the carnage left by the many components of Ben’s TPN, so I said “Just a minute”, to which Matt responded “No, NOW!”. I ran downstairs to see a slightly freaking out Ben and an exasperated Matt holding up the tubing that was filling with blood. My mind started racing “oh no, oh no, oh no… what do I do?” So I clamped his line, pulled off the tubing, and tried to retrace my steps. Matt helped me push the blood out of the line. I reconnected the tubing to the pump exactly the same way as I did before. And, for whatever reason, it was fine. Who knows why it didn’t want to work before? I guess I just needed a dose of adrenaline? All it did was exhaust me more.

I listened out for Ben’s pump all night long. I was so paranoid that I wouldn’t hear it and had nightmares of blood backing up in his tubing. It was a long night.

Currently, Ben and his sister are hanging out together, starting in on their daily ritual of annoying the hooey out of each other. Ben’s mouth is much better. His ANC was over 2,500 at yesterday’s clinic appointment, so his mouth should finish healing in the next couple of days. Just in time for us to go to New York for scans and procedures. This visit will only be a couple of days. Then we’ll come back to Denver to do a cycle of shots in preparation for antibody therapy. Then we’ll be starting the last phase of this ridiculous journey. And hopefully getting on with our lives.

I’m finally seeing a light at the end of this horrific tunnel. I’m finding comfort in the hope that the doctors are giving us. I’m beginning to believe that Ben is going to be a long-term-on-this-earth kiddo. Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time convincing Ben of this fact. He is still so afraid that he is going to die. I’m searching for ways to parent this – it’s really not in any handbook out there – so I’m just muddling through the best I can. Reassuring him that there’s hope. That he might feel small and weak but he is so incredibly strong.

When I truly think about it, he’s like a fairy slipper orchid. When I lived in Summit County, I would pull out my hiking boots as soon as the weather permitted. One of my favorite trails was to Lily Pad Lake. There were sections of the trail that would remain snow clogged for a long time because it was shrouded by dense forest. And despite the fact that this trail was normally very busy (it was a fairly easy hike and culminated in a view of a large lake with a giant beaver dam = great reward with minimal effort) I loved it because it afforded me a look at the elusive fairy slipper orchid. This tiny beauty was capable of bursting through the lingering crust of last winter’s snow. I have no idea how it found the strength to overcome such insurmountable odds, but it always did. I knew that spring was truly coming whenever I caught that first glimpse of the fairy slipper’s purple crown, defiantly defeating its frozen captor. My body would tingle in delight as I marveled at the beauty of it. And as I dared my eyes to take in a little bit more of the frozen landscape, I would see many more tiny purple heads sprouting through the encrusted surface. Amazing. Life breaking free. Growing despite the less than ideal conditions. Enduring against all odds. Unstoppable. Supported only by its fragile base, crowned in its amazing glory.

I always wondered what made me stop to see that first fairy slipper orchid? When most people are trudging up the trail, precariously teetering between the snow pack and the pools of mud, eyes only on the end result of getting to the lake. What made me stop and see those miniature flowers on the ground? And what made me come back year after year in search of this tiny miracle of nature?

Now I know.

It’s “May Day”

May Day! It’s a holiday, right? Actually, it represents different things all over the world. It’s known as Pagan holiday, a celebration of  leis in Hawaii, and some sort of uprising surrounding long working hours back in the late 1800’s… if you really want to know more, you can start your research here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Day.

Whenever I think of May Day, I always think of the movie Midway, the 1976 war film depicting the turning point of WWII, which was the Battle of Midway. This blockbuster featured a star-studded cast including the talents of Edward Albert, James Coburn, Henry Fonda, Charlton Heston, Robert Wagner, Pat Morita, Tom Selleck, and… Erik Estrada (this was after his big breakthrough role in Airport ’75 but before his stardom catapulting turn on CHiPs).

Anyway, the one and only thing I remember from this movie – other than soaring airplane sounds and bombs scoring direct hits – was one of the characters yelling “MAYDAY” from his cockpit. I recall being annoyed by it at the tender age of eight, thinking why would anyone scream out “MAYDAY” as their plane took a nose dive toward the planet instead of screaming out something like “I love you, Janet!” or “I’ll always regret not finishing college” or a quick shout-out to the Man Upstairs to save your weary soul. But no. It was MAYDAY. It wasn’t until I was in high school in Mrs. Ratchford’s French I class that I learned about the verb aider, which means to help, and is conjugated as follows:

I help – j’aide; You help – tu aides; we help – nous aidons; you (plural) help – vous aidez… a-HA! “Aidez” sounds like “AYDAY”. And the way the French implore you to help them is by saying “m’aidez”, translating to “help me”, which if you Americanize it turns into MAYDAY. Honestly, though, I simply cannot imagine any person of French descent asking for help in this way. They are probably still peeved with us for bastardizing their language and refuse to use the phrase, even if one of their limbs gets blown off.

Limbless and Profusely Bleeding French Man: “Forget eeet. I refuze to ask for zee help from you, you Americain Pig. You slaughtered our beautiful “m’aidez” and I would rather bleed to death than to ask for you to aide moi. Away with you.”

American Pig: (shoving hands in front pockets of his jeans and casually shrugging his shoulders), “Cool”.

American Pig steps over Limbless and Profusely Bleeding French Man and saunters down the street into a swirling mist of rain, whistling a French tune. A lone accordion fades in and joins in with the song, eventually overtaking the American Pig’s whistling. Camera pans to closeup of Limbless and Profusely Bleeding French Man as he silently mouths “MAYDAY”, expels his last breath and closes eyes.

Music swells. Fade to Black.

Ben is still in the hospital. I have a bit of a scratchy throat so Madeline and I are steering clear of the hospital today. I did phone in and talked to the Bean for a couple of minutes. He’s not saying much because he still is in quite a lot of pain, but at least he didn’t refuse to take my call like he did yesterday. He groaned a bit when I explained that I wasn’t feeling 100% and wouldn’t be coming to see him today. I hate that I can’t go, but I simply cannot risk getting him – or any other kiddos on the oncology unit – sick. So, Madeline and I are working on crafts. I may or may not do some laundry. I might sort through clothes and make a Goodwill run. Or, I just might lay in bed all day and watch “Edward Scissorhands” for the gazillionth time. Madeline just LOVES her some Tim Burton. I just LOVES me some Johnny Depp.

And if Johnny Depp can’t MAYDAY me through this day then I’m not sure who can.