Sunday, May 28, 2006

Beautiful is as beautiful does

We made brownies!

What could be more beautiful than two little girls with their faces covered in brownie batter?

Another trip to CHEO this week. I try so hard not to be a psycho mom. I try not to make things difficult for the wonderful people who work with sick children. But next time I’ll speak up.

The visit this week was for a bone scan. For you and me, a bone scan is a simple thing—get an intravenous injection and come back a few hours later, stay still on the little table while the machine whirs around you for about 40 minutes and you’re done. When you’re almost two, it’s not quite that simple. For Georgia, the intravenous injection went fine. It’s the staying still part that’s the deal breaker for her.

So, they sedate her—with chloral hydrate (anyone know how to make that stuff taste better?). The senior nurse and I agreed on a time for sedation—and the younger nurse brought the medication in 30 minutes early, then left the room. She left my little angel and I facing each other over a syringe full of pink syrup that looks like it should taste like strawberries or bubblegum or something. The first swallow went fine—she hadn’t had any breakfast, the little dear. However, after that first taste, she put up a fight worthy of the great white whale and the giant squid. Finally, I had to resort to soother-napping to get her to open her mouth for me. I almost wonder if the nurses weren’t hiding behind the door watching and laughing. We both ended up covered in the sticky stuff, and I think I swallowed almost as much of it as Georgia did (the this-stuff-doesn’t-taste-that-bad ploy didn’t work).

After I calmed her down, she played with the buttons on the television for about 15 minutes and then she had a nap. A lovely, peaceful rest.

The sedation lasted until we reached the nuclear medicine department. Then, she tried to sit up (like a little drunk) and that, as they say, was that. No more sleepies. Not even a top-up dose of medication could give the desired result.

The solution? We hold her still, two minutes at a time, as the machine does the scan. Now, she was very good (still a bit sedated), especially when they were doing the skull scan and she had to stay still with the scanning surface up against her nose.

But next time, I’ll know—don’t let the sedation be rushed. Follow my instincts. Play it cool. Sneak up on her with the syringe, and steal her soother.


(P.S. We’ll have results next week. Help Other People Everyday.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Da Georgi

We have had a little scare with Georgia. She was pointing to her shin and telling me ‘ow’ quite consistently for several days. Of course, she always has bruises on her legs because of her daredevil personality, and it’s likely a combination of that and the fact that when she tells me ‘ow’ she gets a kiss. But, because neuroblastoma can metastasize to the bone and show up as bone pain, we called Dr. Cook. Dr. Cook saw her the next day and couldn’t find anything. The x-rays taken that day were clear. We’re booked on Thursday for a bone scan at CHEO, just to make sure everything is truly okay. All prayers and healing thoughts gratefully accepted.

Sydney and Scott are both going gangbusters on fundraising and spreading the word about life with cancer.

Last Thursday, Sydney was the special guest speaker at a gala reception for the James Fund. She was quite nervous, because she knew she’d be speaking to 400 people. She did great, and I think a few tears were shed in response to her true heart and the love she has for her little sister. FYI—standing up at the front of a theatre looking at 400 people is a daunting task—these theatres are quite high and set up so each seat has a great view of the stage and the rest of the room is darkened—it truly is a sea of faces. We were so proud of our little girl.

After the presentation, there was a wonderful reception with fabulous food and a silent auction. Sydney and others circulated through the crowd and sold bracelets. After about 2 hours, they had raised over $2,000 for the James Fund. In total, the S&G bracelets have raised almost $3,400 in 4 months. If you want bracelets, please let me know.

I had the honour of meeting three other neuroblastoma mothers at this event. Pam Birrell lost her son James in 2001. Two other women, one with a son who is clear of disease and one who lost her daughter 7 years ago, both introduced themselves to me. I was so touched by the courage of these women—to come to an event that must surely bring up all the old pain and fears (they could have chosen to just write a cheque), and to do it solely for the benefit of others. Their grace, their kind words to me and my family, and their support, were the highlights of the evening for me.

Thanks to Miranda and Sean. They graciously agreed to take the girls and entertain them in Peterborough while Scott and I saw the movie. After 2 hours, Miranda looked exhausted, but they both stayed and helped us right to the bitter end—at midnight! We couldn’t have done it without you two. Aunt Jennifer & Uncle Scott gave us a very welcome place to stay and rest after the gala—thanks for the hospitality! Thanks as well to the generous donor who paid for our tickets to the event.

Scott has become active with our local chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society. He has a dream of becoming a motivational speaker and I’m thrilled that he’ll be speaking to a group in Ottawa about our experiences as a cancer family.

As for the bracelets, Paula Huck took up a collection from local business in Gananoque to help with bracelet expenses (I don’t take any money from bracelet sales for that). Between Paul & Paula, their daughters Bobbi & Sasha, Howards Marine, Murchie’s Home Improvements and generous donations of embroidery thread from Lori Miller and Angela Robinson, I was able to make almost 300 bracelets (will translate into $900 for the James Fund). Each bracelet made from now on will have two monogrammed beads, a G and an S, to personalize them for Georgia & Sydney.

The next bracelet event is Sam’s Day to benefit the James Fund on June 10th.

Thanks to each of you for your thoughts and prayers, your kind words and thoughtful acts. We can feel the positive energy that surrounds us every day and it helps so much.

Hug someone today.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Beautiful Mother's Day

I have so many reasons to be savouring this wonderful Mother's Day.

I have two breathtaking daughters, who made me cards and gifts today. I have a husband, with whom I have found a frightening closeness these past few months.

I'm on call and the pager has barely chirped this weekend.

Enjoy the sun and tell someone you love them.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Looking for serenity

The doctor examined G, poked at her legs and, of course, the little darling showed no pain.
They x-rayed the 'ow' leg and saw nothing.
We have a bone scan scheduled for later this month.

And, since then, there have been no more complaints. No pointing to the leg and adopting a mournful expression and bleating out 'owwwwww'.


I saw a story by Erma Bombeck, about the mothers who are destined to have children with cancer.

And I thought -- if I could give away the cancer, but I had to give away the child too and take another in her place, would I do it? And the answer, in less than the beat of a heart, was NO. It doesn't matter what we have to go through. In the end, the light of her life has already more than made up for anything that comes at us.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Not yummy, not soccer, just psycho mummy

This, I think, is one of the hardest times for me. Georgia was pointing to a spot on her leg and telling me 'ouch'. She's been pointing to the same spot and telling me the same thing for about a week now--no visible wound.

Now, in a 'normal' family, the parent would just keep on with life. For me, time hiccups. Is it the start of metastatic cancer?

So, like any hyperparanoid cancer mom, I called the hospital. Left messages with the nurse case manager. Spoke to her. Made an appointment for today. Fretted, spent my day on the edge of tears, sucked at work (actually asked my co-worker to keep an eye on my work), didn't sleep.

Today, before we make our 2.5 hours (each way) visit to the oncology clinic, after I've taken another day off work, she points to a bruise on another part of her leg and tells me 'ow'. The previous spot, the one mid-tibia, that's been worrying me all week, that seems to be forgotten.

I've trained her to show me pain. I've become a psycho mom, I know it, I can see it, I understand it, it's driving me insane. But I can't help myself.