Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Plan one won

Out of the 8 or so plans we came up with, plan 1 won! This is what it looks like: 

We arrived in Nashville just a few hours ago and the apartment we're leasing is really nice! (Is sorta should be for the price but I guess it is pretty cheap compared to what a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, and full kitchen hotel room would cost!) There's a dishwasher and a king - sized bed for Chris and I and (hopefully) no cockroaches! We are going to be living the high life. :) 

We brought books, duplos, and cars for the kids to play with and costumes to go trick or treating in so as far as the kids are concerned I think they'll have a blast for the next couple of days. Chris' mom is flying in as I type this and will be here to help watch the kids during the doctors appointments and the surgery to put in Chris' line during the next few days then she'll stay with Chris for all of next week when my sister-in-law who flies to nashville this weekend, and I drive the kids back to MS. 

It was pretty stressful getting ready to leave and I had a bunch of different lists helping me to organize the things I needed to do before we left, the things I needed to pack, the things to remember to do while we were in Nashville, the things I needed to do to get the kids ready to leave for UT next week, the things I needed to pack for the kids when they're in UT, and the things I needed to pack for Chris while he was in Nashville, and stuff for all the driving between MS, TN, and UT. 

But, now that we're here I'm feeling a little better.  I only forgot 3 things so far: a dirty clothes bag/hamper, some extra blankets, and the bag of coloring supplies I packed for the kids.  I didn't leave the house as clean as I would've liked to, but who cares, it's mostly picked up and there are no dirty dishes so I'm going to be happy about that. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Update...Stem Cell Transplant dates

So early last week our family was in Nashville for Chris' pre-transplant evaluations and tests. We had been contacted earlier by a cousin of a cousin, who lives in Nashville and has children around the ages of our children, who offered to help us whenever we were in Nashville. We took them up on that offer and had them babysit our kids for all the appointments that required me to be with Chris...which ended up being all day Monday. Chris had to fill up TONS of vials with blood for all the necessary labwork, and we met with lots of people who gave us lots of information and tried to answer any questions we could think of including a financial lady, lab technician, nurse, doctor, and social worker.

The financial lady helped us see what our insurance will cover for all the transplant stuff, and what would be our responsibility to pay. The nurse handed us 8 or so packets of material and explained the basics behind the stem cell transplant process and how the scheduling will proceed. This one took the most time, she literally had a 2 and a half page bullet point list of every topic she needed to go over with us. Then we met with the doctor who will be overseeing Chris's treatment during the transplant, and pretty much had nothing to say since the nurse was so thorough, except he gave us a percentage of likelihood that this treatment will render Chris sterile...a 20-30% chance. (That was good news for us! I was expecting a higher likelihood based on how other doctors spoke about it.) Then we met with a social worker who told us more specifics about what kind of housing options are available and went over some requirements of Chris' care-taker (like how the caretaker can't be away from Chris for more than an hour) and explained some available support programs for us.  Then Chris did one of the tests, the pulmonary function test where they gauge how well his lungs are working.  Chris passed with flying colors.  3 or 4 times that day, the people talking to us would comment on our healthy - no alcohol, no smoking, no drugs - lifestyle and comment on how all our clean living is paying off right now.  Pretty cool to see and experience physical evidence of what we've had to mainly take on Faith before.


It was super nice of Chris' cousin's cousin's wife to watch our kids all day and it was awesome that our kids immediately felt comfortable there so much that we left then smiling and laughing and came back to them in the same state.  Another little blessing from Heavenly Father.

We wanted to do something fun as a family that night and give our minds a break from thinking things through so we spent the evening enjoying the hotel's beautiful indoor pool, kiddie pool and hot tub. I think its the first time any of us have gone swimming this summer! (woah, I just now realized that. That's evidence of our crazy and short summer).  Then at 7:00,  I just wanted to order room service and put the kids to bed but Chris found a Rainforest Cafe 2 minutes from our hotel! The kids really enjoyed it and I'm glad we went.


Staying in the nice, fun and beautiful hotel that we did was really made possible by my uncle and his wife who offered us some of their Marriott points! It was such a sweet and thoughtful gesture that came as a total surprise to us. We have such great family!

The next day, we checked out of the hotel early so the kids and I could drop Chris off at Vanderbilt again for some more tests and we drove around looking for something to do.  I ended up taking the kids to Nashville's science adventure center and we spent the morning and afternoon there. While we played with blocks, water, sports games and watched a planetarium movie Chris had an echo cardiogram, EKG, chest x-ray, TB test, and a bone marrow biopsy.  We picked him up in the afternoon, stopped by the bank and a fedex place to print some papers off then headed out for the 5 hour drive home.

We got a lot of information and despite my best attempts to anticipate the longest-possible schedule, what the nurse ended up scheduling for us was a week and a half longer and put Chris in Nashville from Oct 30-December 18. Many of the possible plans I had come up with for child care during that time wouldn't really work with the new schedule especially hearing that the care giver the hospital requires us to provide for Chris can't be away from him for more than an hour.  On the drive home to Mississippi Chris and I racked our brains to come up with some complete options to mull over in the coming week.  We found a breakthrough in that process when we realized we could break up the time in this way: the first 2 weeks of light procedures/prepwork where someone else could be with Chris so I could stay with the kids, then 3 weeks of the heavy, tough stuff where I would be with Chris, followed by the last 2 and a half weeks of hopefully light recovery where someone else can be with Chris.

Balancing Chris' needs, with the kids needs, with my needs -- keeping in mind I'll be 37 weeks pregnant when Dec 18th comes around -- with the unspoken and spoken needs of the many wonderful people who have offered to come help was quite a mental mess.  I used google docs and color coding to try and keep everything straight in my mind. We basically had two plans at this point. Send the kids to Utah for the 3 weeks I am to be with Chris in Nashville or just keep kids here the whole time and fly people in.

We feel like any of the plans will work well and the people involved have all been very kind and flexible and willing to make any of them work. Its just hard to decide on something when it burdens so many people; but, I think Chris and I have picked one that we're both happy with and feel good about, after I convinced Chris to see it my way. :) just kidding... kind of.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Announcement

It looks like I haven't announced it yet on our blog! How did that happened? I think about this precious new baby many many times every day. Including the moment I wake up!  We're are all so happy to welcome a new baby....
Boy!! Those gang signs are displaying the letters 'b' 'o' and 'y' if you couldn't tell. :)  He's scheduled to arrive around January 10th. Lets hope that he comes pretty close to that since the latest schedule we got from the doctors for Chris' stem cell transplant has Chris up in Nashville up until December 18...that's 1 week before Christmas and 3 weeks before the due date.  Although, insurance-wise, since we've already met our out of pocket deductible, and if I understand everything correctly, if the little guy decided to come in 2013, we wouldn't have to pay anything for it? oh...nevermind... I'm not sure what I'm talking about. All this insurance stuff gives me headache.


MSU tailgate and homecoming football game!

We walked around the tailgate parties for the LSU game and then later in the week bought tickets for the next home game: Homecoming! I think someone told me that the population of the town literally DOUBLES for big footballs games (like LSU) and after walking through the masses and masses of people and the seas of tailgating tents, I believe it. Most people set up the their tent and stuff the day before. Its not just a picnic, people bring portable generators and decorte their canapy's with Christmas lights and Mississippi State cowbells, and set up their big flat screen TV and at least a couple folding tables full of food and snacks, there are smokers roasting yummy smelling meat and BBQ grills all over the place.  Its incredible.
 
 People just stay there ALLL DAY watching football on TV. Not everyone has tickets to the game, but they come tailgate anyway and then watch the MSU game on their TV, right next to the stadium. Its the social event of the week and all the college girls that I see wearing exercise shorts, and huge baggy Tshirts to class every day on Campus, now are dressed up in high heels (or cowboy boots), and short, flowy, lowcut or sleeveless dresses. We met a guy nurse up in Edmonton wearing MSU scrubs and when we told him we recognized that logo, he was surprised and proceeded to tell us all about his one visit to MSU, and how it was the BEST tailgating experience he's ever had... and apparently he's gone to lots of famous football school's tailgates. I can see what he means...it is one big party.


And now pictures of when we went to a game. We got the cheap seats way up high on the side and after a funny mishap of walking up the wrong ramp we finally found our seats. We didn't know it was the wrong ramp/side of the stadium until we had walked allllllll the way to the tip top. We must have walked at least a mile going up and then down and then around the entire stadium and then back up to the tip top of the other side. Whew it was a great workout and we were all sweating by the end. 
It was really loud with all the cowbells. Gwen had her ears plugged a lot. 

We left a little bit into the 3rd quarter but didn't miss any more scoring! It was a long walk home but a very fun late night!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pumpkin patch!

Charlie Gwen and I met other LDS moms from the 3 cities (known as the golden triangle - Starkville, West Point and Columbus) nearby at a fun little pumpkin patch. Alec will get to come here with his school the week after next.  They hadpumpkins for sale...even some kinds/types that I had never seen before! They had lots of fun activities and all of them were free except the water barrel train ride. It was $2. Charlie loved the straw maze, and they both loved the corn 'sandbox.'  








This horse statue is made out of cotton plants. Pretty interesting. 






We had such a fun time. I wish we had time to take the whole family back!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cleared

We got some great news yesterday! Chris' PET scan was clear of any 'abnormal uptake.' Which means that they couldn't find any trace of cancer! Which means our prayers have been answered and the previous rounds of chemo were successful. Which means Chris is where he needs to be for the next phase of his treatment plan - the stem cell transplant.


We celebrated with a totally unprecedented Tuesday Night Movie Night with popcorn and candy corns. We watched the first half of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 

Chris' doctor was really cute about telling us the news. Chris was just waiting in the lobby to get called back for bloodwork and Dr. Tan comes out with some papers. (I was 3 minutes away from arriving and still would've been 5 min early for his appointment time). I guess Dr. Tan saw Chris come in and couldn't wait to tell him the news. Good news probably isn't something he often gets to give his patients. He was smiling the throughout our entire appointment and confessed that his mood changes with how his patients are doing. 

So now we wait for the scan results to get faxed from Dr. Tan to Dr. Kassim - the stem cell doctor in Nashville - and then wait some more for them to call us with whatever is next. I am always hoping for our next appointment to provide some type of schedule for the future, with actual dates so I can get in place whatever plan we decide to go with regarding what to do with our kids while Chris and I are in Nashville for 4-6 weeks. Are we sending them to Utah to stay with family or are we flying family out here. Decisions, decisions....