Monday, January 2, 2012

Round 8

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! We just finished round 8 of chemo yesterday and were able to be home to welcome in the new year! This round consisted of the same meds as last round and went much smoother than round 7, which didn't go well at all. We had attempted to do round 7 outpatient and ended up inpatient half way through, so this time we just stayed from the beginning and although it was 5 days, he did great!

Yes that's a gun made out of his new trio blocks. And that's his mean tough guy face as he's shooting it at me.

Always fun building new lego sets!

Drew's protocol for chemo consists of 21 day cycles. This means that he receives chemo over 3 to 5 days every 3rd week for 53 weeks. I have a stack of papers, 17 pages long, that details each chemo and how and when he gets it which is referred to as his roadmap. This protocol has one of the most complicated roadmaps as almost each round consists of a different combination of chemotherapy drugs.

In the beginning, as I studied this roadmap to try to get a handle on how things would flow, whenever I got to the middle it seemed like the numbers wouldn't add up. Each week is listed separate and detailed, so I knew there would be inpatient chemo on weeks 1, 4, 7, 10 and so on counting by threes. But each time I would think ahead past week 19, I would remember seeing a week 23 on the schedule, but I knew that couldn't be right b/c it should be 22. So finally when we started round 7 (week 19), I remembered to ask where week 22 was on the schedule b/c it was missing from the roadmap. What a joyous Christmas surprise to learn that week 22 wasn't listed b/c it was a week that he got off completely!

This round just so happened to be a 28 day cycle and it just so happened to fall right before Christmas. With our normal schedule, we would have started the Wednesday before and been in the hospital right up until Christmas. But instead we were all home for the holidays!

Last round also didn't affect his counts much and he was able to recover all on his own. We went 3 whole entire weeks without going to the hospital once! No blood transfusions, no platelets, no fever or other complications. This was the longest stretch of time gone from the hospital in over 6 months and the first time he didn't require even a single transfusion.

We made good use of our time off as we were busy. Here are some pictures from the last couple of weeks and all of our holiday fun.

Dallin turned 2 on December 9, 2011 and here they are pretty excited that we got to actually leave the house to celebrate!

The Polar Express
We were able to make it to the Polar Express experience, which was awesome! This is the 3rd year the organization Operation North Pole has been able to put on this event. We were one of 28 families invited and it was a magical experience that we are so grateful for and will never forget.

The day started with a pancake breakfast before we were loaded up on luxury shuttle buses and drove (with police escort) to the metra train station where we boarded the Polar Express to the North Pole. At each stop we were greeted by the towns fire department with the firetrucks and ambulances and even a helicopter at one. The fireman all had signs pointing the way to the North Pole. There was music and games on the train and for lunch Happy Meals! The ride ended with some hot chocolate and Santa was there to greet everyone as we arrived at our destination.
Brooke and Mrs. Clause

Polar Express tickets. The conductor came through and punched words and designs in the tickets just like in the movie.
It was a long ride. Kelsey did great! Dallin couldn't quite make it the whole way and needed a nap. I guess Randy did too.

They had tons of activities at the North Pole for the kids. Frosty was there and a Snow Princess who sang Disney songs - Brooke and Drew were both fascinated by her voice.
There was a cookie making station, make your own ice cream sundae, face painting, airbrush tattoos, nail painting, headband making and an old picture taking photo booth, all of which they enjoyed. But they seemed to be fascinated by the magicians and wanted to do magic tricks all night.

Each family had their own separate time with Santa in a separate quiet room which was really nice.

They had sent an email the day before telling us to make sure that we had trunk space in our car, warning that Santa tended to go overboard at times. Brooke was there when I read the email to Randy. When she saw the presents that Santa had for them she said, "Oh yeah Mom! Santa definitely went overboard!"
We barely had room to fit the kids in there! Everyone was finally buckled in and we pulled away and Drew said, "Mom, that was a really good day," and before I could even turn around to look back, he was fast asleep, completely worn out from a magical day.

Gingerbread Houses
We made gingerbread houses. Drew's wonderful home health nurse, MaryAnn, brought these houses over with all of the fixings! The best part (for me) was they were already put together, so all we had to do was decorate them. The best part (for the kids) was eating all the fresh homemade icing and candy!
Dallin used his pretzels to dip in and lick the icing I put on his roof.
Drew just licked the icing right off the roof.

Each with their finished product...

Christmas Eve
We spent Christmas Eve at my brother's house.
The kids acting out the Nativity.
Santa always pays a visit on Christmas Eve before heading out on his busy night.
Kelsey didn't seem to mind, but I don't think she had a chance to see who had her.
Dallin on the other hand could see full well who had him and wanted nothing to do with it!
Brooke was very happy to see Santa and make sure he knew what was on her list.
Drew was a little hesitant, but willing to sit close as long as Mom did too.

Christmas Morning!

Guess the boys got tired fast.
Brooke posing with a cute little animal and Dallin shooting her. Pretty much how things go around here.
Brooke and Kelsey
Papa and Drew
My Christmas story for the year.

Our family usually gets together on Christmas day at my brother's house for dinner and a gift exchange with the cousins. For the last 5 years we have also done a white elephant gift exchange. Each year the "quality" of gifts seems to rise. There are some really good/funny "bad" gifts and then some that are actually good like McDonalds, Chick-fil-a, and movie gift cards. This year Brooke drew the second to last number which meant on her turn almost all of the gifts had been opened and she had her pick of what she wanted. She waited patiently (kind of) as she kept asking, "is it my turn yet?" When it was her turn, all of the adults were coaxing her to go for the money. She looked at me and said, "Is it really my turn now mom?" When I told her yes, she stood up and with pure joy in her face when right over to my cousin and said, "I want the Rudolph nose!" Then she wore it, blinking, the whole ride home.

Thank you so much to our family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, "strangers", and everyone who helped to make our Christmas special.

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