Short intro about the blog

This blog is about our journey to healing with Grade 3 Anaplastic Oligoastrocytoma

Monday, June 18, 2012

Oceans of Gratitude

I’m beginning to notice that my life is resembling what could happen if Mr. Bean married Little Miss Calamity.  I wonder if we need to set up a foundation, not to help people like us who need help, but just to help us.  This family requires teams of hardworking people just to get through each week.  I’m staggered by the crosses that continue to be piled on top of this house.  And continually amazed by the never-ending dedication and generosity of the people around us.

Thursday two lovely moms showed up in the afternoon to pick up my boys and take them to playgroup.  I can’t go until after 4:00pm, because of Adam’s infusions, but these moms have been picking up the boys and taking them right after lunch so they get to have a proper run-around.  It also gives me a little break.  I arrived at Barbara’s about 4:30pm, and the kids were having a ball.  I caught up with a couple of moms for a few minutes, when Calum came into the kitchen screaming.  I still have to force back the nausea when I remember what his left arm looked like.  The top half of his arm was bulging out over the top of his elbow.  And he was clearly in a LOT of pain.  I froze.  Simply froze.  I had no idea what to do.  Thank God one of the moms used to be an EMT, and she got down to work.  Someone got Calum a chair, and Kelly had a look at the arm.  Then she started instructing Barbara and Sam, telling them exactly what she needed.  They rushed around getting a makeshift board, ace bandage, ice pack and towel so Kelly could stabilize the arm.  I stayed by Calum’s side, talking to him and trying to comfort him the best I could.  Someone brought in some Arnica, and Sam got him a lollipop to try and distract him a bit from the pain.  At one point, Finlay came upstairs crying, and I saw out of the corner of my eye Sam scooping him up and taking him into the other room to sort him out.  Ali also came in very upset because the Wii had frozen, and Barbara ushered him back downstairs to fix it.  We discussed where to bring Calum, and Barbara got on the phone to find out if the Care Center was still open.  It wasn’t, so Kelly offered to call the ambulance.  After a moment’s deliberation we decided it was the best thing to do.  Melanie went out to move some cars to make way for the ambulance, and Luellen offered to follow the ambulance in my car so I would have it with me at the hospital.  We waited what seemed like forever, but was actually about 20 minutes.  When they arrived, the EMTs were truly impressed with Kelly’s work, and we had already taken a photo of the arm before it was wrapped, which was forwarded to the EMT’s phone.  Isn’t technology amazing?  He could then forward it onto the Emergency Room in advance of our arrival.  They carried Calum out to the ambulance, and Barbara filled up my water bottle (which is a small gesture, but so considerate I almost cried) and got a bag for Calum’s Pokemon binders.  We were off. 

At the hospital they were able to give Calum some morphine to help with the pain, but it didn’t help for very long.  The pain kept returning, and they needed to keep increasing the dose.  Finally, some evidence that he’s actually related to me.  Anyway, they rolled him into x-ray and we didn’t wait long for the result.  His arm was fractured above the elbow.  It was bad.  So bad in fact, that they couldn’t do anything for him at Winchester hospital.  The doctor informed me that we were going to Charlottesville.  I started at him blankly for several seconds.  My mind reeled.  I spluttered out, “I can’t go to Charlottesville!!  My husband… he has a brain tumor, and he needs his infusions!!  I can’t go, I just can’t!”  The doctor asked me if there was anyone that could do Adam’s meds instead of me, and I informed him that there wasn’t anyone else.  Then the doctor said something Calum will never forget as long as he lives… “If he doesn’t go to Charlottesville now he will lose his arm.”  Don’t get me wrong, the doctor was absolutely lovely, but his choice of words and in front of an 8 year-old were a big mistake.  Calum freaked out.  He was petrified that if Daddy didn’t get his medicines tonight that he would die, but he was terrified of losing his left arm.  “I don’t want Daddy to die, but what about my arm??”  He was crying and I desperately tried to figure out what to say.  I told him, “Don’t worry about Daddy, okay?  If he misses his medicines tonight he won’t die.  He will be fine.  The most important thing right now is fixing your arm, okay?  We are going to fix it.”  He calmed down and I tried to make sense of what was happening.  I suggested to Calum that we pray, so we did.  We asked God to make everything all right, to help with the pain, and fix Calum’s arm.  We both felt better afterwards, and Dr. Lovely came back in with a suggestion.  Can someone bring Adam and his medicines to me so he can come to Charlottesville with us?  We’ll be in a hospital, so if we need anything we’ll be in the right place for it.  I agreed with him, that it would definitely work, and the nurse went to get me a phone.  There wasn’t a cell phone signal to be had in the ER, so I needed the patient advocacy phone.  I called Barbara’s house and Sam answered.  I explained what was happening.  “I need someone to bring Adam here so we can go to Charlottesville, and I also need someone to watch the younger boys.  Can we make this happen?”  With an enthusiastic yes, Sam went off to discuss with Barbara what needed to be done.  It was decided that Barbara would keep Finlay and Ali overnight, but would need to go to the house to get some supplies.  Sam would come with her to help Adam pack.  Kelly’s husband was going to pick up Adam and drive him to Winchester hospital.  Done and done.  I called Adam and talked him through packing the bag for the trip.  “Go upstairs to the supplies box… no not the one in front of the linen closet, but the one blocking the top of the staircase… you need two sets of tubing and a Y-connector…  get an inch of alcohol wipes, and a big fistful of syringes… we need 4 big medicine bags and 1 small one… we’ll forget about blood work for the moment, we just need to focus on making sure you get your meds.”  I was so worried that we would forget something important, but there just wasn’t much time.  The transport people arrived to take Calum down, but I wanted to wait for Adam.  The man who was to accompany Calum knew about Pokemon and they started chatting away about who evolves into who and who does the most damage.  Calum was in heaven.  Finally, they couldn’t wait any longer, and we decided they would go on ahead and I would stay back and wait for Adam.  As luck would have it, Adam pulled up right as they were loading Calum into the ambulance, and he was able to give him a kiss goodbye.  Plim helped Adam unload all the bags into the car (it looked like we were going away for a week), and he handed me a ziplock bag full of cash.  One of the amazing moms started a collection for us, to make sure we had cash for gas, food, and a possible hotel stay.  I was so moved I started to cry, but I gathered myself together because we had a two-hour drive ahead of us, and it was already nearly dark.

The details at University of Virginia hospital are a bit fuzzy, but everything went very well.  Calum arrived safely, as did we, and he went into surgery about 1:00am.  He was out by 3:00am, and slept soundly until the doctors started their rounds around 6:30am.  Most amazingly, Adam didn’t miss a single infusion throughout the entire ordeal.  We changed his bags when we arrived in Charlottesville around 11:00pm, with me trying to prep bags on a flimsy folding table in a tiny ER room.  And we changed him again in the morning between Calum’s doctors visits.  The orthopedist was pleased with the surgery, and released Calum to go home a few hours later.  By 11:00am, we were on the road back home!

I let my friend Celeste know what had happened as we were driving home.  She offered to bring us dinner, and I gratefully accepted.  I had spoken to Barbara before we left the hospital, and the boys were doing great.  When we finally got home, I was so tired I could have died, and I collapsed into bed for an hour’s nap.  When I woke up, we changed Adam’s bags, and the three of us laid on the sofa watching movies waiting for dinner and for the little boys to arrive home.  Barbara arrived first with Ali and Finlay, and brought bags of grocery items and diapers.  She does this wonderful amazing thing for me, where she cuts up loads of different vegetables and puts them in plastic containers and jars for me.  It has got to be the coolest thing ever, and I thank God for her!  As Barbara was walking out, Celeste was coming in (we really need to consider a revolving door for this place).  She brought rotisserie chicken and tons of salad veggies and cut up fruit.  We ate like kings.  Between the two women, they provided nearly a week’s worth of groceries, which is a gift in and of itself.  I am still shattered from the hectic weekend, and it’s an absolute God-send that my fridge is still packed and I didn’t have to go grocery shopping today.  Tonight’s dinner is courtesy of another lovely friend who came over today to help prevent me from running off and finding a new family.  Or jumping off the roof.  Depending on the hour, I oscillate back and forth between the two options.

As I sit here writing this post, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all the people involved with Thursday’s adventure.  And this only shows the tip of the iceberg.  Since Adam’s hospitalization in December, countless numbers of people have brought meals, donated money, sent cards, offered to pray, watched the boys, transported Adam to appointments, delivered blood samples to the lab, and taken the time to read my updates on Facebook and respond to my posts.   We created a Wall of Gratitude, which consists of a poster board mounted in the hallway.  Anytime anyone has done anything we have added their name to the board.  Chances are you reading this are already on there.  It serves as a reminder of just how massive the Body of Christ is, but it is also my way of saying “thanks”.  I have a confession:  I am absolutely abysmal at writing Thank-You cards.  I just don’t do them.  Ever.  But, please know that every form of help that has been offered during this trial has been very gratefully received.  And I pray for all of your intentions every time I pass that poster board. 

1 comment:

  1. I seriously cried when I got to the point they handed you a bag of cash. I know you are going through hell and back now and I am praying for you. You are truly blessed to have such wonderful friends, and I wish I could help more then just sending a little donation. Don't stop praying!

    Sending many hugs,
    fellow Cathmom