The Perfect Storm

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Dave heads down to South Carolina tomorrow.  His college roommate, Jan, is flying in from Sweden with his family to visit.  They will catch up with other college buddies and take in a concert (another friend will be performing) in Charleston.  The kids and I will head down Monday after our weekend of parties, plays, tennis and SAT prep.  The only hiccup in the plan is the impending storm heading our way.  It is being dubbed “The Storm of the Century” or “The Perfect Storm” or even “Frankenstorm”.  I really hope it is going to fade away or head out to sea.  Better yet, let it be one of those overhyped much ado about nothing weather events.

I am also keeping my fingers crossed that we all remain healthy.  There are some not so fun germs going around.  In fact, half of Parker’s class was absent today.  12 kids.  I’d like to think they are all on holiday or celebrating Eid, but I am afraid that probably isn’t the case.

Looking forward to spending next week hearing people reminisce about all the craziness that happened at USC in the late 80s.  (These people are SO much older than me!)  Also, looking forward to letting my brain take a vacation from stress and worry.  It is going to be great!!

xoxo

Robyn

Stranger Than Fiction

I wasn’t going to write anything tonight because frankly I am tired.  But my mind is spinning with thoughts so I decided that this might be a good way to slow the old thinker down.  I had a GREAT day.  I worked with different groups of first, second and fourth graders on assorted activities.  All of the kids were engaged and excited about what they were doing.  The first graders brainstormed what they are going to teach their peers about recycling and Terracycling based on a lesson I did with them last week.  They are so excited to be the “experts”.  I worked on observation skills with two very different groups of second graders who were equally insightful and amazing.  I taught a lesson on the design cycle to the fourth graders all while holding Sandy, the corn snake.  The kids amazed me with their designs, teamwork, enthusiasm and focus.  I also wrote my first grant application.  Fingers crossed that they will pick my application and give the school some money!  Tonight when I got home, I sat down and reflected on a professional development book that the resource team is reading.  I made a mind map that reminded me of the fun GUIs from the movie Stranger Than Fiction. Professionally and intellectually, I would give today an A+.

Dave had a very different day.  He spent the day getting treatment #12 of his Folfiri and Ramucirumab combo.  When he entered the infusion suite and sat down in his chair, he thought at first that there was a young boy sitting in the chair next to him.  It turned out to be a very tiny, frail woman.  Dave said her hair was very very short, and she had a blanket pulled all the way up to her bruised sunken eyes.  Over the course of the day, he got to talking to her as seems to happen when you are sharing the same pod for many hours.  He found her to be the most positive and uplifting person.  What a stark contrast to the lively, healthy children by whom I was surrounded today.

Dave was exhausted when he got home tonight.  He stayed awake long enough to eat dinner and then headed back to bed.  During that brief time, we shared about our days.  A crazy disparity.

xoxo

Robyn

Anatomy of a Doctor’s Appointment

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We drive separately since Dave has to go to work afterwards.  (why is it always so hard to find parking in this garage?)  He heads to the lab for blood work, and I make myself comfortable in the waiting room.  (hmm…Life With Cancer pamphlet….could be interesting.  FINAL CHECK LIST.  eessh.  i definitely don’t need to read that.)  Dave gets called back – weight check, blood pressure check (that was quick. did she really take it?), pulse, temperature, standard list of questions about appetite and symptoms.  (click, click, click on the computer.  she isn’t even looking at us.  has to get through her checklist of things to do.  SO routine for her.)  We wait.  I remind myself to breathe while at the same time ignoring subtle stress-induced digs from Dave.

Dr. S comes in.  He is a whirlwind of energy.  He is noticeably surprised to see me and comments that I usually am “only here for the big appointments”.  (so want to defend myself.  dave doesn’t want me to come to all of his appointments.  i have to work.  do other spouses come to every appointment?  am i not keeping up?  do you know how supportive i am?!)  Dr. S tells Dave that his blood work looks good.  His numbers are good.  CEA is 3.4.  Dr. S pokes and prods a bit and asks about side effects.  Dave tells him his concerns about “chemo brain”.  That he is getting increasingly forgetful and aggressive.  Conversation moves on to discussion about what we are going to do after the 12th cycle of this chemo.  After some questioning, Dr. S tells us Dave can choose to take a break altogether (alarm bells.  this is a terrible idea.)  or he can do a lesser chemo but we will talk about it after the next scan.  Dave reminds Dr. S that he is going to be out of the office after the next scan.  Chit chat about where he is going to be.  I ask a few questions about going off the trial if Dave takes a break.  Dr. S mentions that we don’t have to decide today.  I ask about taking a break from chemo, and Dr. S says that obviously we know Dave’s tumor is aggressive but that it is up to him if he feels he needs the mental and physical break.  (no, no, no, no, no.  easy for me to say.)  Then it is handshakes all around, a few jokes about the kids, and we are out the door.  As I am driving to meet some friends for lunch, I wonder what we really learned today.

xoxo

Robyn

Because There is More to Life

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Things that I am thankful for this week:

Gross flavored jelly beans from a friend who has been there and gets me.

Hearts of palm and purple peppers in my salad Wednesday night.

A daughter who is going to interview at CNU tomorrow – her first choice school

Funny Quotes from the week:

Samantha was giving me a little attitude about something, and Parker witnessed the exchange.  When Sam left the room, I asked Parker if she was going to talk to me that way when she is 17.  She said, “I don’t want to but sometimes instinct just takes over.”

Grant upon returning from the Homecoming Dance informed us that his “hips hurt from all the thrusting from dancing.”  We are just glad he didn’t get kicked out of the dance.

Things I am thankful for always:

My amazing family

Laughing with friends old and new

A job I love with the added bonus of having Tuesdays and Fridays off

xoxo

Robyn

Half a Breath

We were barreling around the beltway.  It was late, too late to be out, and we were tired.  We were heading to the retreat which I was dreading and tensions were a little high.  The discussion was centered around a variety of topics, most of which would have been better tackled at a different time and place.  I suddenly realized that I was all but holding my breath.  I was aware of my lungs filling but not fully and of my hands gripping the steering wheel in tight J shapes.  I started to wonder how often I walk around like that – taking half a breath.  The great thing about awareness is that you can then do something about it.  And sometimes you literally have to remind yourself to breathe.

xoxo

Robyn

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Life is Like a Bowl of Jellybeans

ImageThrough assorted communications, people have said that they don’t know what to do to help us.  But the thing is you ARE helping.  I imagine our lives as a giant bowl full of jelly beans.  (Bear with me, this will make sense in a minute.) I share what is going on with us through this blog.  And you read.  And you comment, or email, or message.  You call and leave supportive messages.  When you see us, you tell us how you are thinking about us and ask about recent events.  Each time that happens, its like you are taking a few of the jelly beans from our bowl.  You help us bear the weight of our burden.  And our bowl is less full.  Thank you for ALL you are doing to help us.  We love you.

xoxo

Robyn

A Never Ending Cycle

I know I have said it before but it bears repeating – side effects suck.   Today I touched base with two women who are currently undergoing chemo.  Both are suffering from the debilitating side effects.  I can’t even begin to imagine how tough it is.

Dave also had chemo this week.  Round #23.  He is exhausted and his stomach is in knots.   He has random bruises and rashes.   The most troubling side effect for him recently is “chemo brain”.  He is forgetting things.  Names of people.  Where he left something.  He misplaced his brand new jacket from LL Bean.   He bought it for himself recently, pleased with how perfectly it fit.  It’s not at home.  It’s not in his car or at work.  So, he probably left it in a restaurant or at a game.  He beat himself up over its loss.  And then in his distress he even turned on me.  His frustration with his memory issues was so great that in his irrational state he thought I might be hiding his things from him on purpose.  It is a vicious circle in which to live.  The chemo keeps the tumors under control.  The chemo causes barely bearable side effects.  Thank goodness for off weeks.

I think I have convinced him to take it easy this weekend.  That it is not a sign of weakness to lay low or veg out in front of the TV.  That being fatigued does not help with memory.  So, here’s to a weekend of hanging around the house, watching movies, playing games and napping.  (Fingers crossed.)

xoxo

Robyn

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