24 crazy hospital nights! Somebody bust us out of here!

 

I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster of happy and sad today. Happiness came in the form of our dear friend and Tricia’s sister, Sarah, getting a nursing job at Mayo. Soooo proud of you Sar! It also came in the form of my beautiful cousin, Shannon, getting a full ride to USD. She is about to embark on the greatest journey of her young life. Happiness came in my Ronan and his beautiful spirits and smiles. Not even being cooped up in a hospital for over 3 weeks now can keep him down. Sadness came in many forms as well. Hearing about somebody from my home town having his sister murdered last night. I don’t know them well, but my heart still aches for them. Sadness is undeniable in the hospital. I gave my biggest smile to a teenaged girl who was walking the halls with her bald head and her newly amputated leg. She told me how cute Ronan was as she passed us on her crutches. I told her she was beautiful. Sadness also came in seeing my friend, Ellen today and the look on her face after her visit to Sloan this morning. Phoebe is still in a lot of pain and is going to have to have surgery on her leg again this Thursday. I’m sick to my stomach for them. It’s nothing too major, but my heart breaks for Phoebe who just wants to be a normal girl. My heart breaks for Ellen as a mama because I know what it’s like to see your child in pain and to feel so helpless. I am praying that this surgery will help to lessen Phoebe’s pain and she can just get on living her life already. She deserves a break.

I spent the entire day playing with Ronan. He has a lot of energy and this leaves me thinking that somebody is messing with us. How can his ANC still possibly be 0?? Ronan ran circles around me the entire day and was so happy. He is not the picture of a little boy who has 0 immunity. It’s beyond frustrating. Every morning at 4 a.m. they draw his CBC’s…. his blood counts. Every morning I wait for them to come in and tell me today is the day, his ANC is rising. No such luck yet. Every time they tell me they are at 0, my heart sinks. I will just keep hoping and praying that they come up this week. I want Ronan to be out of the hospital and to spend some time with Liam and Quinn. I want my baby to be able to go outside and breathe in the fresh air. I want him to have some kind of normal….. you know how I really feel???? I want to take him home. Home seems so far away. So far away that I cannot even picture getting to go back there anytime soon. I know we are in for the long haul here and I am fully capable of handling that. But when you have been stuck in the hospital for over 3 weeks now…. it makes the homesickness kick in extra hard. I don’t tell Ronan this though. I just keep putting on my bravest face for him and telling him we are working extra hard to get him better. He asks a lot of questions, like why we have to be at a hospital in New York. He wants to know why he can’t have his old doctors back and be in Phoenix. I just tell him because this New York is a magical city that is going to get him better. He usually just smiles and says he just wants Liam and Quinn here with him. It takes everything I have keep the smile on my face for him and to keep his mind occupied so we can focus on the happy things. I may be sad and sometimes I can’t hide it from Ro. But I try my hardest to control it if I can.

Ronan fell asleep not too long ago. I don’t think he’ll stay asleep for the entire night. If I know my little guy, he’ll wake up soon and be ready to play. Last night we didn’t fall asleep until 2 a.m. He kept telling me he wasn’t’ going to sleep because it was party time and he was too busy shaking his booty. He cracks me up like no other. Every morning we are bombarded by “The Team,” of doctors. It’s one doctor and about 10 residents. It is a little weird. It makes me feel like we are zoo animals on display. Ronan gets so pissed and overwhelmed by all the people staring at him, that he usually ends up screaming and hiding under his blanket. The doctor usually goes over what the plan is for the day and asks if I have any questions or concerns. Ronan won’t let the floor doctor (the one I wanted to kick in the balls) exam him. Good instincts, kid. He has become very fond of a girl resident though. After ” The Team,” leaves, she stays behind to exam him and talk to him. He actually answers her questions. She is young, pretty, and very gentle with Ronan. Today, when she was listening to his heart I looked at her and I said, “He really likes you.” I saw her eyes tear up and she goes, “I feel the same way.” She is going to be a very good doctor someday. Ronan already knows this too. It’s the reason that he is so receptive to her as she treats him like a normal little boy.

Ronan only slept for about an hour. He woke up and we were off for our next adventure. We spent a lot of time out of our room. We walked the halls for hours, played in the playroom and avoided the hot lava that was underneath our feet. As soon as we returned back to our room, a nurse came in to tell me that they wanted us to switch rooms. Our roommate had left earlier in the day and 2 girl patients were begin admitted and they needed the girls in the same room. I hesitated as we have already moved once and it was a total pain in the ass. I had to move all our stuff by myself while Ronan waited on the floor in the hall for me. I asked if I could see the room we were moving into first. The lady told me the number and I went to check it out. Good thing I did, because there was no way in hell I was moving into that room. It was the size of a shoebox, the boy and his parents had the heat turned up to about 90 degrees. FUCK THAT SHIT. I came back to our room, which is huge by the way, and told our nurse, Alex, that I didn’t mean to be a pain…. but there is no way I could move into that room without going crazy. I pleaded with her and told her we have been here for 24 days now… could she please she what she could do so we didn’t have to switch rooms. Alex came back a few minutes later and just said they would move the boy that was in that room, into our bigger room. Thank the lord. A tiny 90 degree room is something that would have totally thrown me over the edge. So no moving for us. We are staying put where we are.

It is 1 a.m. here and Ro is just now laying down to watch a movie. We are so excited for Woody and the boys’ to arrive tomorrow night. Cannot wait to see them and wrap my arms around them all. Being here alone is fine… it’s just hard because I am stuck in a hospital and cannot leave to go anywhere. Ronan wanted pizza from a place down the street today and thankfully, they delivered. He refuses to eat the hospital food so he has been living off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that I make him. The hospital food is actually pretty good… for hospital food. But there is something about the smell of it that ruins the appeal. Hospital food smells makes me gag. Ronan too. No clue where he gets that from 🙂

Time to get some shut eye. Maybe. Depending on if my little man says it’s time to go to sleep. He runs the roost around here for the most part. I’m o.k. with that. The more time I get to spend with him, the better. He is more mature than most grown adults and I’m happy to follow his lead. He’s going to be a great boyfriend to some lucky girl someday. A man that knows exactly what he wants. Kind of like his Daddy:)

I love you all so very much. G’nite to all of you lovely souls out there. Miss all of you back home so much. Kiss your babies and hug them extra tight for me tonight. Thank you for checking in with us. Sweet dreams.

xoxo

Sometimes it takes a really good fall to know where you stand

Where have I been the past 24 hours? Dead. Or the closest I’ve ever felt like dying. Yesterday, Dr. Kushner came to see us and we got the news that Ronan’s bone marrow is now longer clear of Neuroblastoma. All 4 sights from his scans a couple of weeks ago here are positive which explains all of the activity on his MIBG scan. The scans at PCH came back as clear… but that was 6 weeks ago. The most recent scans here show that his bone marrow is positive again which means that his cancer is spreading and we have to get it under control. So, I spent all of yesterday in a thick fog with my head spinning. I made it though the day while Woody worked but by the time he returned to the hospital, I was a complete mess. I spent much of the evening sneaking out of the room while Ronan slept…, throwing up. At one point, I found myself huddled up on the floor rocking back and fourth with my head spinning so quickly I felt like I was going to pass out. It was the first time in my life that I could not get myself back under control. I was sweating, crying, and could not even form a thought. My sense of smell was so heightened, that I couldn’t deal with any of the smells in the hospital. The smell of food and cleaning products combined were enough to make me want to check myself into the loony bin. When Woody returned for the night I told him I had to leave, that I needed some air. I somehow managed to get myself back to the RMH and passed out on the spot. I woke up around 11 p.m. with my raging headache that refused to go away. I got in the shower, dressed and walked down the street to the store to get some Coconut Water to try to rehydrate myself and take my Advil. I returned to the RMH still a wreck but forced myself to take my Ambien(which is the only way I sleep now) and fell asleep with my head still pounding and the thoughts consuming me that I cannot do this anymore, I cannot survive this, I cannot go on.

I woke up this morning, eyes bloodshot and red, still feeling defeated and as if I wanted to die. I cannot pick up my phone at this point to talk to anyone… but this morning when my friend, Ed called, I instantly knew I had to answer it. I was crying, I was still a mess and I didn’t hide it. I was on the floor of my bathroom as I listened to him tell me how he had pulled some strings and that the New York Knicks would like to host us at a basketball game. Did I forget to mention that my in-laws are flying out here on a whim with Liam and Quinn today? They are. We need them. Through my tears, I told Ed how excited the boys’ would be, how happy that was going to make them. My life now is all about squeezing every ounce of happiness for Liam, Quinn and Ronan, that we can from it. After I listened to Ed tell me how everything was going to be o.k., how I was a tough bad ass chick and I could do this it suddenly became very clear to me. I can do this and I will do this… this is not the end. Not even close. I can’t give up no matter how badly cancer is trying to win. I will keep fighting for my family, for my friends, and most importantly, for Ronan.

I picked myself up off the bathroom floor, showered, and headed to Starbucks before I returned to Sloan. On my walk there, I found myself getting stronger again. I texted my Mr. Sparkly eyes who is so amazingly helping me through all of this, even through all of his worry and pain for us. I told him about my breakdown, and how I took all of this morning to think about things as clearly as I can. How I have decided that I can do this because if I don’t, everybody loses and I am too strong to let that happen. How I won’t let cancer take my baby, my family, my friends or me. I refuse to give in but sometimes I have to breakdown in order to get my strength back. He texted me back something about my unbelievable insight, bravery and compassion. I thanked him for loving me and never giving up on me. I have so many people that believe in me and who know I can get Ronan through this. Last night, I got a taste of cancer winning and it was the most awful thing I have ever tasted in my life. I almost let it win. Today is a different story. Today, I walked the streets of New York throwing fists in the air and refusing to give up. I have too many people counting on me to let that happen. I am a mother and that makes me the toughest person in the world; next to Ronan.

We will be discharged from the hospital this evening and Ronan seems to be feeling better. We have taken him off the morphine drip and he is now wearing a little pain patch on his skin. I know the radiation is working just like this round of chemo is. I know we will get his bone marrow clear again. We will scan Ronan in 2 weeks to see how this chemo has worked. Depending on the results, we will either do another round of the same thing or go on to the NK-Cell trial like we had originally planned. I have come to learn that plans cannot be made when your child has cancer. All I can do is pray to God that Ronan remains pain free, he is happy, and we will take everything day by day. As much as I love a plan and how hard it is for me to let everything go, I have no choice. Every second of the day I have with Ronan is a gift and I have to make every second count. He has no idea his brothers are coming tonight and he is going to be so happy. We have decided that Liam will stay until Tuesday and then fly back to Phoenix with Mimi and Papa. We will keep Quinn here with us until April 3rd, and he will fly back to Phoenix with Woody. Ronan needs his brothers and if it means we have to pull them out of school for a bit, so be it. Our as a time as a family together, getting Ronan healthy is the most important thing in the world. Everything else can wait.

To all of my family and friends calling and texting. I’m sorry if I don’t respond. I listen to your every word but the one thing I cannot handle right now is talking, listening, and reading your words as you all cry and fall apart. It scares me to see you all so scared. I need you all to be strong for me right now and I can’t handle your tears. It hurts me to see you all hurting which is why I promise to be stronger for you. I need your words of encouragement… I cannot hear how your hearts are breaking and I know it is unfair of me to ask that all of you hide your pain, but that is what I need right now. There will come a time when I will be able to cry with you and you’d better believe that it will be because of tears of joy. I refuse to think any other way.

Thank you so much for all of your love that surrounds us and please continue to pray for us, for Ronan. We need all the positive love, light, and strength that we can get.

xoxo

One foot in front of the other

Another day done. Ronan slept in for NYC time… 10:00 a.m. which was nice as we were all tired. He woke up a little grumpy, still complaining of pain. I tried my best to entertain him while Woody got some work done around here and he soon left to go back to RMH to get some quiet work done. For being stuck in a hospital, the days sure do fly by and I can’t even keep track of what we have done. We don’t really watch movies or T.V…..so I’m not sure where the time goes. We listen to music a lot and do a lot of playing. I do my best to make sure Ronan is as happy as can be; even though he asks for Liam and Quinn a dozen times a day. We did Ronan’s 4th day of chemo, and 5th day of radiation. So far, he’s done really well with the chemo. No more vomiting. We went down to RT (Radiation) tonight around our usual time, 5:00. I had Ronan waiting in his little wheelchair when one of the RT guys walked by and did a double take of Ronan. He came over and went on and on about how he is the most beautiful boy he has ever seen, how he has movie star looks and the most unbelievable eyes. I just nodded my head and told him I knew. He asked what Ronan’s name was and introduced himself as Kerry. He was really sweet and wouldn’t stop talking about Ronan’s piercing “Husky dog eyes”. It was very cute… you don’t usually hear a twenty something guy go on and on about how beautiful a boy is. Ronan can melt anyone’s heart and it was blatantly obvious from today.

Ronan knows the drill now. He knows he is to be perfectly still as he down still as gets his radiation. Our friends down in radiation had “The Killers,” playing on the stereo system for Ronan as they know he loves that band. I covered him up with GiGi,(his blanket) and he clutched his pistol gun in the other hand and I left the room. It only took a few minutes again and I watched my brave boy from the screen and talked to him over the speaker system. We were soon done and Ronan was very tired. He sat in my lap and our escort wheeled us back up to our room. I somehow talked him into a sponge bath, but only if I would put his Star Wars guys in the water too. He stood up and I got a tub, filled it with warm water and bathed him and brushed his teeth. I also scrubbed his Star Wars guys for him to make him happy. He is sleeping now and I am waiting for Woody to return so I can go on my run. It’s going to be a dark one tonight…. sorry Little M. I’ve got to go run tonight… my mind needs it.

Woody returned to Sloan around 8:00 NYC time. Ronan was asleep so I quickly snuck out. I went to the RMH, changed my clothes, and headed out. I was on the phone with my sweet Niki right before I was getting ready for my run. I got the usual, ” You be careful… I won’t even run in Central Park at night.” I gave her my nobody is going to mess with me answer and she laughed and said she it would probably actually be really good for me to fight off someone, so I could blow off some steam. I told her would just pretend like my slayers (as Marisa likes to call them) were cancer, and kick their asses. We had a good laugh about that one together. My new loop from the RMH and back ended up begin almost 9 miles. Perfection. The perfect run, perfect mileage, perfect night with no Slayers in sight, Marisa. It was refreshing, grueling, and just what I needed. I love running in this city and I love that I now have a set path and I know the distance. Gotta love GPS on the iPhone. I ran a fast 8 and a half-minute mile…. got back to the RMH, showered, packed a bag and grabbed some soup at Delizia’s, my one meal of the day. I have decided that I can seriously live off of my coconut water, coffee, Delizia’s minestrone soup, coke and chocolate. So ridiculous but whatever….. it works for me and I can actually keep that down without throwing up…. knock on wood.

I almost made it through the day without crying. Almost. I was sitting on the ground, rubbing Ronan who is now complaining of his legs hurting…. so I sit and massage him most of the day. Our senior in high school roommate started vomiting and we could of course hear her; which is awful. That threw me over the edge and I started bawling. Ronan watched me and asked why I was sad. I told him because the girl next door was sick to her stomach and it makes me sad. I quickly pulled it together and helped get new linens for her. Stupid cancer.

O.k. my dears… it is 12:30 at night here. My body is aching and my mind is officially done for the day. Sweetest dreams to you all.

Magic Medicine…. Day 3, Round 7

Ronan and I started off the morning bright and early. He was up around 7 and was asking to go to breakfast. I needed an excuse to go and get him his Slurpee anyway to mix his chemo in, so we left the house and went over to one of my favorite breakfast spots, Taylor’s, for some grub. I ordered oatmeal, and Ronan asked for pancakes and scrambled eggs. He ate almost all of his breakfast, along with half of my oatmeal. He was so happy to be out and about and was loving how windy and stormy it was today. After breakfast we stopped at 7-11 and then went home. Woody and the big boys’ had already left for baseball and I spent the next hour getting us ready for our hospital stay. Sharon called around 10 and said they were ready for Ronan so to bring him in. Ronan was not happy about having to pack up and leave and kept saying how much he was going to miss his brothers. I told him it was only for a couple of nights and we would be back home before he knew it. Once we arrived to PCH he was in a much better mood and was so excited to hear Sharon was in the hospital working today. We only really ever get to see her at the clinic so having her on the 2nd floor today was a treat. As soon as he got off the elevator, Sharon was walking down the hall and saw us coming. Ronan ran up to her and she scooped him up in his arms and gave lots of kisses to her “boyfriend” as she calls him. He was tickled to death. Arica was also working today so it was a double surprise for Ro! He was in heaven and was in an extra happy and silly mood.

Woody came by to bring us lunch and soon after that we finally got the chemo started. It only took a few hours and then our nurse was able to unhook Ronan from his tubes so he could run free for the rest of the evening. With this chemo they only give him 2 hours of hydration afterwords so he doesn’t have to be attached to the pole 24/7. It really makes such a difference in his spirits if he is “hooked up” as he calls it, or not. We had lots of visitors today. My friend, Lisa, whom I have not seen in forever came by for about an hour. Ronan fell asleep while she was here and we sat and talked quietly. She tried to get me to take a nap with him but my mind wouldn’t let me relax even though I am mentally beat. Niki came by to give me a much-needed hug and Ronan let her stay for about 20 minutes before he kicked her out. Hey, it was better than nothing. Jen and Olivia came by late this evening and Ronan was still wide awake. He cracked them up with his little voice and bossy words. “Gilllllyyy….” “Sorry.” LOL. So funny. He was totally showing off for them with his sassiness. The girls stayed for about 45 minutes and then Mr. Boss man said it was time for them to go. He wanted me all to himself and I think his exact words were something like, “Just you and me, mom.” He was being adorably funny tonight. After the girls left, he insisted that we go down to the cafeteria because he was hungry. Off he went running out the door to our room and out to the elevator. He kept saying he was going to beat me because he is so fast. Geez! That kid had a ton of energy tonight and ran all the way to the new cafeteria. We were laughing the entire way. The hospital was really empty and quiet, but I’m pretty sure everyone could hear our giggles. Ronan has such a way of making the worst situations, beautiful and fun. As long as he is happy, and as long as we are together, you could put us anywhere and we would have a good time. I loved watching my child running around and being care free. This has been one of the best hospital nights that we have ever had.

The doctor on call said that we can go home tomorrow after Ro finishes his chemo and then just do the last day in the clinic on Monday. Yay for that! Only one night in the hospital!! Ronan is going to be so excited to be able to see Liam and Quinn tomorrow. The amount of love he has for those boys’ amazes me everyday.

Today, I had so many people send me pictures of all the amazing rainbows we had in Phoenix. It meant so much to me as Ronan and I watched the rain from the inside of our hospital room. Thank you all for the beautiful pics and for thinking of us. And Bethany, I too have such a peaceful feeling; glad you are feeling the same. I love you.

G’night all of you. Sweetest dreams and we hope you are having a lovely weekend.

xoxo

There’s beauty in the breakdown

Ronan and I headed to PCH this morning for his clinic visit and audiology test. Once we got to the clinic, I could tell Ronan had been put through enough this week, so I ended up calling audiology and rescheduling the rest of his test for next week. Enough is enough. It was a good thing because Ronan ended up needing a platelet transfusion and it took forever today. We were at the clinic all day long. I am so over this week. Next week is going to be just as busy. We are at PCH everyday except Friday. If I think I’ve had enough, imagine how my 3 year old is feeling. He’s such a good little guy though. He has been going with the flow with everything; except the audiology test. We’ll deal with that next week. We are going to spend this weekend letting him be a kid and enjoying being at home.

Our weekend plans are busy but low key. I am going to hot yoga with my friend Stacy in the morning. So looking forward to that. I need to get some of this toxic energy out of my body. Liam and Quinn have 2 basketball games tomorrow and their cousin Luke is going to come over and stay the night. All 3 boys’ are so excited, they beyond idolize their older cousin. We love having him here, and he is especially great with Ronan. I would love to sneak in a hike up Camelback but we shall see. I mainly just want to enjoy being at home with all of my boys. Our time together is so precious.

I just got some exciting news tonight. My dad, whom I have a very “special” relationship with, as it is not a normal daughter/father relationship. It’s complicated, it’s sometimes strained, but always honest to a fault. My dad, after being divorced for 16 years, got remarried. I never thought I’d see the day but I couldn’t be happier for him. I always pictured him growing old alone and the thought of this always made me very sad. He has been with the same woman for about 10 years now and I adore her. They finally tied the knot:) So happy for them both and I told my dad tonight that he’d better not screw it up again and he’d better take good care of her. I hope he listens. I have a feeling he will. She knows him better than anyone and knows just what to expect. My dad rarely reads this, but if you are tonight…. Congrats again to both of you. You have no idea how happy it makes me to know that someone will be by your side to take care of you, and in turn you will have someone to take care of as well. Everything is as it should be for just his minute in time and I am very thankful.

So, are you ready for “The List?” My friend, Fernanda, sent it to me today. It is something that she found while researching isolation for us. It’s a little overwhelming, but I have such a good army of people who are willing to do anything and everything for us, that I know it will be o.k. Thank you so much to all of you who are offering your help; you have no idea what this means to me. I can do this, Ronan can do this, we can do this. It is a glitch in time and I am going to make this positive in every way I possibly can. Nothing but the best for my baby; we are going to take this the crummy situation and make it as fun as possible for him.

I am going to make this list my bitch!!!!!!!! Let’s do this!!!!!!

Home away from home

Probably one of the most difficult emotional aspects of the transplant process is all of the time you will spend away from home if you don’t live near the hospital. Your transplant social worker or other hospital coordinator will help you arrange for housing if you live far away. During the weeks of outpatient transplant recovery most hospitals will require your child to be within a 30 minute drive (with traffic) from the hospital in case of fever or other medical issues. Although it’s comforting to be close to your hospital, chances are you’ll end up staying in a facility provided by your team, such as a Ronald McDonald House, local hotel, or temporary apartment. Some families are lucky enough to have friends or family near their hospital and able to accommodate them. Check with your child’s transplant team before making any arrangements, as individual hospitals have various guidelines and preferences for where a child may stay during the transplant process. Such guidelines relate to disease-control issues and are imposed with your child’s safety in mind.

Wherever you are, it isn’t home of course. That said, there are many ways to make your surroundings feel more comfortable and familiar.

Although lots of little knick-knacks can get dusty and are usually discouraged, bring a few favorite items from your child’s room or your home.

Consider laminating posters of your child’s favorite characters or movies to put up in the transplant room. Laminate family photos (easier with a copy printed from your computer if you have digital photos). Laminated items are easy to clean and make a better choice than framed items (usually not allowed on the walls because of nail holes).

If it is not provided, consider bringing a small lamp with a soft light. This can make any room more comfortable.

Invest in a portable DVD player or CD player if the transplant room will not contain a TV. If you’re staying for a couple of months, consider bringing a small TV if it is allowed (it may not be because of noise control).

Bring your child’s favorite towels, sheets, pillows, and blankets.

Bring washable stuffed toys for your child’s bed.

Consider bringing an area rug or play mat for the floor to soften up the room. Make sure it is easily washable.

If it isn’t provided, bring a shower squeegee. You can get one of these at Target, Wal-Mart, or the like. It will help control mildew in the shower.

Since food for caregivers is usually not allowed in individual rooms (to avoid germs), bring plenty of familiar snacks and foods to keep in the communal kitchen. Check with the medical team about any food since some are prohibited during transplant.

Preparing for isolation

Although your stem cell team will help you prepare, getting your child and yourself ready for inpatient isolation can be stressful and intimidating. Guidelines and rules for isolation stay can vary greatly from hospital to hospital; however, some suggestions and general information are provided below to help you get ready.

Insist that you be allowed to inspect your child’s isolation room before he/she is closed in. Check that every surface has been properly cleaned, sanitized, and repaired. Look in the corners, closets, etc. (Some hospitals go so far as to clean these rooms with toothbrushes and re-paint the walls and re-wax the floors between each patient.) Don’t be afraid to point out any dirty or damaged areas of the room. Check that your child’s bed is comfortable, safe, and clean. You don’t want to have to break isolation to get your child a new bed or have something repaired later.

All your child’s clothing will need to be freshly washed and completely dried in a dryer (no air drying) and placed in plastic sealable bags. This is for germ control. Hefty and Glad make oversized bags that make the transport a little easier. Once you get to your child’s room, these clothes will probably need to be removed from bags before entering the room.

You will also need to be freshly showered and dressed in freshly laundered clothes when you arrive at the hospital. Some hospitals will require you to shower again before entering your child’s room. Some will allow you to shower at home but ask that you not make any stops (gas station, grocery, etc) before arriving. If you do, you may be asked to shower again. Leaving the hospital may mean another shower (even if it is to just get a Starbucks). Remember, it’s all for your child’s safety.

Your child’s toys will probably need to be new or sanitized. Toys that can be completely submersed in water by either washing them in a sink or a washing machine can usually come in the room. Some hospitals will purchase new toys for children undergoing transplant, so check with your transplant coordinator before you run out to buy all new stuff.

Remember to sanitize and wipe down anything you plan to bring into the room. If it can go in the washer, put it in the washer. If it can go in the dishwasher, put it in the dishwasher. If not, seriously consider whether you need it or not. Check with your team about electronics, as anything electronic or with batteries will probably need to be cleaned by the environmental department of your hospital or otherwise may not be allowed. (Think laptops, DVD players, portable game devices, etc.) Notebooks, books, and other paper materials will probably need to be new or cleared by your transplant team.

Your child’s meals will need to be specially prepared, and the hospital will have a special menu for your child. Make sure your child’s meal comes wrapped in plastic. Check to see whether or not you can have a meal delivered for yourself as well, since you probably won’t want to leave your child to get a bite. Also check before you order any takeout. Some foods may be prohibited altogether in your child’s room.

As noted above, try to surround yourselves with familiar things — photos, posters, pillows, blankets, towels, etc. It may mean a little extra laundry for you, but it will help your child feel more comfortable. Rugs will probably not be allowed.

Make sure you purchase new toiletry items for your child- and COMPLETELY discard the old ones — don’t save them at home for use after transplant, because your child’s immune system will not be normal for a long time. These items include toothpaste, hand soap, toothbrush, nail clippers, lotion, deodorant, etc. Anything that has touched your child’s skin, hair, mouth, nails, etc. should be replaced, unless it can be washed or totally submersed in water (like a comb).

Bring a lot of straws and disposable cutlery for yourself, and don’t share with your child from your plate!!! This is not a time to be environmentally conscious or conservative. Don’t keep leftovers or leave food out for more than an hour. Don’t save a napkin from your takeout bag that wasn’t used. Germs are a totally different thing for your family now.

Consider bringing your own Swiffer and pads. Bring lots of anti-bacterial wipes and go over the computer keyboard, phone, door handles, counter tops, bed trays, buttons, blood pressure cuff, bed frame, and thermometer handle several times a day. Although the room should still be cleaned daily by the custodial staff, you may want to go over it yourself. The room CANNOT be too clean!

As convenient as it may have been during your child’s initial rounds of chemo, DO NOT share bathroom facilities with your child. Use the parent restroom outside your child’s room when possible. If your child does not use the toilet, make sure you wipe the toilet/sink after every use.

Be extremely selective about visitors, especially children. Your hospital will have special visiting policies during transplant, but be extra vigilant yourself. NO ONE (including you) should be in your child’s room if not feeling well. Young children (even siblings) should not be in the room at all (as they are less likely to report not feeling well). The smaller number of people you allow in, the better. Your child can get sick very easily during this time.

Insist that cleaning staff, food service staff, nursing assistants and any visitors entering your child’s room wear gowns and/or masks. Anyone entering your child’s room should ALWAYS wash their hands with soap and dry with a paper towel. If ANYONE coughs, sneezes, or sniffles in your child’s room, insist that they leave immediately. Small germs can cause big problems during transplant.

Some medical issues during transplant

Drugs. Your child will probably be taking several different drugs before, during, and after his/her transplant. These drugs are primarily administered to prevent viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, which can of course be very dangerous to your child during this time. Some of them don’t taste very good, so experiment if possible with your pharmacy’s flavoring system. Choose something that generally tastes good to your child, or whatever is most likely to go in and not come right back out. Get into a routine for administering these drugs — keep a schedule, checklist, calendar, or timer set, as each one is probably going to be administered at different times. Eventually you will be able to wean your child slowly off of each of these drugs as his or her counts begin to recover.

Nausea and fatigue. Not surprisingly, nausea and fatigue will be common for your child during transplant, as his or her body will be severely immune-suppressed. Expect lots of naps, easy fatigue even in low-activity situations, and overall crankiness while your child’s counts are recovering.

Food. Make sure you are fully-informed by your child’s medical team about food restrictions. The avoidance of fresh fruits or vegetables, deli meats, some breads, buffets, fast foods (unless freshly prepared), yogurt and some other dairy products, and tap water will be among the many restrictions for your child. Food also must be prepared in accordance with certain precautions, so make certain you understand all the requirements. Know what is safe and what is not. These restrictions are for your child’s safety, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some teams will refer to the rule “packaged, processed, frozen” as a guideline for foods for your child. As disgusting as it sounds, most of these foods are safe and should be the basis of your child’s transplant diet. If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid an NG tube or TPN before now, you’ll probably become familiar with one during transplant. Since most children don’t eat or drink for several days or even weeks during this time, the provision of nutrition by IV infusion is likely. Both options have their pros and cons, so discuss both with your team so you can make the best decision for your child.

Skin. Shortly before your child’s isolation, he/she will receive the final round of chemo. These high- dose chemos come with some added precautions to protect your child’s skin and internal tissues that you probably have had to experience during induction chemo rounds. Again, discuss the requirements and side effects of these drugs with your team. Some of the protective precautions taken may include: use of a Foley catheter during the duration of the Cytoxan dose; 4-6 hour bathing

intervals (round the clock) during and a couple of days after a Thiotepa dose; frequent mouth care with lidocaine or similar mouthwash to counteract mouth and GI sores that accompany several drugs (ACT or lidocaine-free mouthwash helps for a young child that cannot spit yet, and offering frequent popsicles before onset of mouth sores help to reduce the incidence and pain); protective creams (also for the skin burns that can accompany Thiotepa- ask for the Remedy line if your hospital provides, otherwise ask other parents what they used). One cancer family concocted their own recipe — equal parts Kaopectate, A&D ointment, and Aquaphor cream. Mix it all together in a big bowl, put it in a squeeze bottle (like a shampoo bottle), and rub on diaper area and any skin fold areas where irritation occurs. Keep away from the eyes, of course! Even if your child is out of diapers, his/her diaper area will be very irritated for some time. There are several creams that parents have found to work well during transplant. Dr. Smith’s Diaper Cream, Flander’s Diaper Ointment, or the homemade version mentioned are all standard choices. Be prepared to try lots of things until you find what works for your child.

Pain. Your child will most likely be on morphine or other pain control (either PC or continuous) at some point during the isolation period. This may seem extreme to us, but it really does help control the continuous irritation from mouth and GI sores, as well as the sometimes severe skin irritations. If your child is old enough, he or she may be able to control the dose, and the pump may be put on a continuous flow for some children. The doctors will slowly wean your child from the pump, and most children must clear the pump before leaving the hospital.

Keeping your family together during transplant

It’s hard to keep your family together during this difficult time, especially if you are traveling to a distant cancer center, if there are other children in the home, or if one or both parents still need to work. Having a support system is very important. Many times neighbors, relatives, and friends will take turns with your other children. As much as you would like to help them with their every day activities, it may not be the best solution at the time. Because there are so many disease-control issues with your transplant child, you want to try to minimize the number of people who come into contact with him or her during this time. As much as possible, your child’s only contact other than the medical team should be you and your spouse. Many hospitals will also not allow young visitors when your child is in isolation. Keep this in mind, and be sure to talk with your team before bringing siblings to visit in the hospital.

While your child is staying at a facility, hotel, or friend’s house near the hospital (either before or after isolation) consider bringing siblings to these places to visit and/or stay the night. Most of the time accommodations can be made, although not usually every day, when siblings want to visit.

Also think about trying a web-cam service to keep your child in touch with siblings, other family members, or friends. Someone at the hospital may be able to help you hook up this service, either on your own laptop or on one loaned by the hospital. This way your child can chat live with his or her family and friends. It works out great for Grandma, too!

Older siblings might enjoy keeping a journal or tape-recording themselves for your child to read or hear. If your child is old enough, he/she may want to journal back or tape-record a message back. Hearing familiar voices is also good for little ones, as they are very responsive to familiar voices.

Keeping yourself busy in the hospital

There are many things that you can do to keep your sanity while you’re inpatient with your child. Although not always the case, some children sleep A LOT during transplant and may even be unconscious for periods of time. Although this may be scary for you and your child, it is generally normal and will pass. In the meantime, you’ll have to find something to keep your mind busy. Since you probably won’t want to come and go from the room very often (minimizing contact with germs), you should bring along lots of stuff to keep you occupied. Some suggestions are:

Magazines, books, crossword puzzles

Laptop computer with internet access (sometimes hospitals will loan one to you)

Movies

Sketch pad or journal

Crochet, knitting, or scrapbooking

Hand held game system (may sometimes be loaned by the hospital)

Healthy munchie snacks (nuts, popcorn, etc.)

A new address book to fill out

Remember that your child’s toys can also be therapeutic for you- coloring and crafting have actually been shown to reduce blood pressure and quiet the mind!

Keeping your child busy in the hospital

You will need to bring some things from home to keep your child busy and happy while in the hospital. Many hospitals that offer transplant procedures do a great job of making your child’s room comfortable and homey, and provide toys and other items to help entertain the child. Ask to speak with a child life specialist or social worker BEFORE isolation to see what can be done to help your child’s stay more enjoyable. Remember that he or she will be very tired and may not feel well enough to play or do any activities. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Each day, encourage your child to get out of bed if possible, read, interact with you, watch favorite videos, bathe and change clothes, eat or drink, and walk. There will be some days that your child will not be able to do any of these things, but daily encouragement and motivation will help your child recover. Here are some suggestions:

Bring new board games or puzzles.

Buy or rent new movies or movies your child has been wanting to see.

Encourage play that gets your child moving and out of bed — bubbles, window markers, floor activities, tents, ball pits, video games like Wii, anything that might encourage your child to move! Most hospitals are supportive about bringing whatever you think might help your child. Just make sure it is either new or properly sanitized first.

Many hospitals will stock your child’s room with age appropriate activities, new toys or games, and other favorites based on information you provide about your child. New things are always a nice distraction!

Talk about the view with your child and encourage him or her to get up and look out the window. Even if you can only see a wall, sunlight and a busy alley can even be exciting.

Keep a calendar of your child’s activities and status each day. Display a large classroom calendar (you can get one at a teacher supply store, make one yourself from a poster board, or even ask the hospital for one) and keep track of your child’s days inpatient. Encourage him/her to decorate it too.

Remember to be happy and upbeat as much as possible around your child. Even on the toughest days, being positive can help your child feel better.

Preparing your home for your child’s return

Preparing your home for transplant is a big job. Once again, check with your child’s team as every hospital’s guidelines are different, but here are some suggestions:

At the very least, have all carpets in your home shampooed, steam-cleaned and sanitized. If you are financially able and your carpets are more than a few years old, you may want to consider replacing them. If you do this, don’t forget to vacuum the floorboards before new carpet is laid. Usually the carpet-layers won’t do that.

Have your duct-work professionally cleaned if possible and change the filter in your furnace. Buy enough filters to change them every month for the next year, and if you’re financially able, buy the really good ones.

Have your home cleaned top to bottom. Whether this is done professionally or by you, family, and friends, be very picky about how your home is cleaned.

Wash all draperies, throw rugs, throw blankets, pillows, sheets, and towels

Wash any stuffed animals

Vacuum or dust behind and under all furniture, including appliances. 4. Clean out your refrigerator and freezer.

If you have a door-front water dispenser, change the filter.

Discard or give away any house plants. Ask your team if you’re really attached. Some plants can just be moved to other rooms of the house.

Put away or discard your portable humidifiers. You probably won’t be able to use them in your home for at least 6 months.

Wash out all cabinets (inside and outside) in the kitchen and bathrooms. Clean all blinds

Scour all bathrooms.

Clean all light fixtures and fans.

Vacuum or dust all ceiling corners and vent covers.

Wash all windows and windowsills

Scrub floors and grout.

Clean your child’s toys with an alcohol/water solution. Add essential oil or lemon juice for a better smell!

Dust, sweep, mop, clean, vacuum and scrub everything in sight! Again, your home CANNOT be too clean

Have your chimney swept.

Don’t forget to insist that everyone who enters your home be healthy. Anyone with a sore throat, cough, sneeze, or sniffle should not be near your child until it is okayed by your stem cell team. This includes grandma, siblings, and even you!

Ask your transplant team about pets. Even the cleanest of pets carry germs, shed hair, and create bacteria in your home. Your team will be able to help you make the decision that is right for your family regarding your pets. At the very least, your pets should be regularly bathed and up to date on all immunizations.

If you haven’t yet established this rule, insist that anyone who enters your home remove their shoes at the door or in the garage. They should also immediately wash their hands with anti- bacterial soap. This includes service professionals, nurses, family members, friends. This should become the new normal for your home. Shoes and hands carry way too many germs.

Do not put hand towels in your bathrooms for about six months. Although it may seem wasteful to use paper towels, this is again an easy way to stop the spread of germs in your home for your child. Bath towels should be washed after every use for at least a few months. Same with bath mats and washcloths.

For at least six months, wash everything your child wears, even if it doesn’t “appear” dirty. Don’t “re-hang” anything your child has worn. Wash or clean favorite toys as often as possible.

Replace your child’s toothbrush every week or two for about six months.

Buy anti-viral tissues (Kleenex makes them)

Wipe down all kitchen and bathroom surfaces daily with anti-bacterial wipes for about three months.

Never leave a snack or cup (especially milk) sitting out for more than an hour. Again, what is normal bacteria for us can harm your child after transplant. Also, don’t save an uneaten portion from your child’s plate or cup. Be wasteful!

Finally, as cruel as it may sound, be careful about how you and others touch, kiss and hug your child for a while. Kisses on the mouth should be limited, and make sure that anyone who touches your child is healthy and has washed their hands. If your child touches someone or something that you’re not sure about, break out the anti-bacterial wipes. Again, it is difficult to think about limiting something as essential as human contact, but unnecessary contact with germs will definitely affect your child’s recovery.

Take a deep breath! This is a lot to digest! Yes, transplant is a challenging process, but it is also an important step in your child’s full recovery and remission. Although you may be feeling overwhelmed by the idea of your child’s transplant in the future, know that you can do it! Become fully informed about the necessary safety precautions, make a plan, and stick to it! Also, don’t try to go it alone – now is the time to rely on your Neuroblastoma community and your family and friends to support you during a trying time.

www.nbhope.org

Did you get all that? I am still trying to digest it all. I will be having a little pow wow session on Sunday with a few girlfriends to hash all of this out. I was born a fighter, I can handle this, it was what I was meant to do in life. I will take on the entire world to get Ronan better. Cancer has no idea who they are messing with. Nothing can come between Ro baby and his Mama Bear. We are an unstoppable team.
Cheers to you all tonight. May your weekend be filled with love, light, and laughter. I hope everyday is filled with adventure and smiles. LOVE TO YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!

P.S. Today was World Cancer Day. You know what I have to say to that????????????????? Earmuffs if you must.

A big FUCK YOU, CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is also my oldest and dearest friend, Sandy’s birthday. Happy Birthday my sweet, hobag, of a friend. LMAO!!!!!!!

The faces all around me they don’t smile they just crack
Waiting for our ship to come but our ships not coming back
We do our time like pennies in a jar
What are we saving for [x2]

There’s a smell of stale fear that’s reeking from our skins.
The drinking never stops because the drinks absolve our sins
We sit and grow our roots into the floor
But what are we waiting for? [x2]

[chorus:]
So give me something to believe
Cause I am living just to breathe
And I need something more
To keep on breathing for
So give me something to believe

Something’s always coming you can hear it in the ground
It swells into the air
With the rising
Rising sound
And never comes but shakes the boards and rattles all the doors
What are we waiting for [x2]

[chorus]

I am hiding from some beast
But the beast was always here
Watching without eyes
Because the beast is just my fear
That I am just nothing
Now its just what I’ve become
What am I waiting for
Its already done

Oh

Bone scans results…. kind of.

We started off this morning with Ronan’s Audiology test. It went alright… but we were not able to complete the test due to Ronan’s lack of cooperation. He was able to get through some of it in which the Doctor played high frequency sounds and Ronan would put a dinosaur into a bucket when he heard the sound. He did pretty well, but the Doctor is suspecting Ronan has a bit of high-pitched hearing loss. He is not confirming anything as of now. We are supposed to go back Friday to see if we can finish up the test. I refuse to believe Ronan has hearing loss… I don’t know why because it is very common side effect after going through so much chemo. Actually, I do know why. It’s because Ronan is different and is going to overcome any obstacle that comes his way. So what if he didn’t put the dinosaur in the bucket the second the high-pitched sound came on. He’s tired, mad, and sick of people testing, poking, and prodding at him. I wouldn’t corporate either.

After the Audiology test, we headed over to check in for Ronan’s scans. While waiting, I noticed a little girl who looked familiar to me in the waiting room. I have heard about her since Ronan was diagnosed, but have never met her. I’ve been on her website though so I knew the little girl was Ava. I went up to her mom, Chrisie, and asked if she was Ava’s mom and she said she was. I introduced myself and she knew who I was because I had emailed her awhile back. I thanked her for helping me out with my questions and we were able to update each other on both of our kids. I met Ava’s Grandmother and her Dad as well. They look like the nicest family in the world. What Ava is going through is beyond heartbreaking but she seems like a very strong little girl. All of Ava’s treatments are done at Sloan Kettering, even though they live here. Ava was here for scans today so please keep her in your prayers as well. Here is her website if you would like to visit it: www.caringbridge.org/visit/avaholder. Ava’s Neuroblastoma has relapsed twice, but she is still here and still fighting hard. I will scream and very loud, “FUCK YOU CANCER!!!!!!” for Ava. Makes me so angry. I just wanted to wrap my arms around her entire family while they were waiting for Ava to come out of Anesthesia. I am so happy I had the pleasure of meeting them today. What are the odds really? They are never at PCH and just happened to be on the same day I was there with Ro. It was meant to be. I feel so blessed to have finally met them and sweet little Ava. She is a little spitfire just like Ro 🙂

As we waited for Dr. Maze to come and get us for Ronan’s Anesthesia, he fell asleep in my arms. I sat and watched him sleep so peacefully. I took that time to think about what a long way he has come since first being diagnosed. I found myself in a comfortable state of mind full of peace and quiet. I sat with him in the dark and prayed for his scans to come back with the results we are hoping to see. I felt a wave of warmth in my heart wash over me because I felt, once again, that Ronan is going to be o.k. He is going to beat this and go on to live a normal, happy, long life.

Dr. Maze arrived and we were taken back to the room where they were getting ready to do the bone marrow procedure. He let me hold Ronan as he always does while he gave him the Propofol to go to sleep. I held him and watched him get sleepy and listened to him cry out, “Mama, mama, mama,” for me. He doesn’t like the way the sleepy medicine makes him feel. I told him I loved him and would see him soon and set him down on the bed. I gathered up my things, took one look back at my baby, and Dr. Maze yelled at me to go and eat something. I had to laugh to myself because at the beginning of all of this, Dr. Maze was so proper and reassuring. Now he knows me so well and knows that  I am so used to all of this that he is comfortable barking orders at me to eat something. Gave me just the chuckle I needed to get out of there without even tearing up like I normally do.  Woody met me at the cafeteria and I managed to eat a little salad, but pretty much just sucked down a giant Coke instead. An appetite is something that I am still having a hard time with, especially on scan days.

After Woody left, I sat in the waiting room and waited for Dr. Maze to come and get me. I tore through the piles of bills that I needed to get paid and the next thing I knew, it was time to get Ro. He woke up groggy and grumpy like he always does. Dr. Maze went back and looked at the scans for me and came back telling me as much as he could. Our Doctor, Dr. Eshun, is in New York City and will not be back to read the results for us until next week. Dr. Wood, who has followed Ronan since the beginning is here and I sent Dr. Maze a text asking him to please have Dr. Wood call us to go over the scans because next week is way too long to wait. I got a phone call from “A” tonight instead. It was hard for me to talk to her, as I had Ronan screaming in the background and had to run outside to even hear her talk. She said she could go over the results from the bone marrow and bone scan for me in a very limited way. As she put it, in her medical terms…. she told me that there was “No focal discreet abnormalities in the bones anymore.” Um… what?? She may as well have been speaking another language. I couldn’t think of what questions to ask, as I was distracted by Ronan and my nerves were a wreck. I said to her, “I have no idea what that means, but is that a good thing?” She said indeed it was a very good thing and that is just what they would want to see. She told me Dr. Wood would call us tomorrow or Friday to go over what exactly this means and to discuss things further in detail after they do the MRI, CT, Pet Scan tomorrow. Those scans will tell us in more detail what is going on now. All I know is “A” was not alarmed about anything and that alone will help me to sleep a little bit better tonight. I will let you all know the “formal” results when we get them, but as of now, there is nothing to be alarmed about. The treatment we are doing is working and that in itself is a huge victory in its own right.

We are all exhausted tonight and Ronan has another big day of scans tomorrow so I am going to try to get some sleep. Please continue to send your strength and love his way. His diagnoses has been beyond devastating to us, but the way he continues to beat all of the odds is beyond inspiring. He fills me with such hope and love every second of the day and it is the love that I have for him that will get all of us through this.

G’nite and sweetest dreams to all of you.

xoxo

Serenity now

Deep breaths and an amazing friends have gotten me through this past 24 hours. We were admitted into the ER last night around 9:00 due to Ronan’s low grade fever. I didn’t have to wait in the waiting room of the ER; THANK GOD. It was beyond packed even at 9:00 at night. The doctor on call, called ahead to let them know I was bringing Ronan in. As soon as we arrived, I told them our name and we were taken back into a room in the ER. Ronan was really not feeling well and was so tired. He passed out pretty quickly as the nurses checked all his vital signs and drew his labs. My friend, Fernanda, sent me a text to say she was on her way to sit with me because she did not want me sitting alone. She came armed with Starbucks and a big hug. We sat for the next 5 hours, trying to get Ronan into a room on one of the floors. Fernanda was on a war path…. but in the sweetest way so. There was nothing the nurses/doctors could do as they kept telling us all of the rooms were full on the floors 2 and 3, which is where we were supposed to be going. We used every trick in the book and Fernanda even tried to bribe one of the nurses with some Oreos that she bought in the vending machine. Didn’t work, but we got a chuckle out of it anyway. Finally around 3:15 a.m., the nurse said we would just have to spend the night in the tiny, freezing cold ER room. I was not a happy camper, have been saying some not so nice words, but have now relaxed due to Ronan looking and feeling 100 times better than when I brought him in here. Dr. Maze came and helped me out around 8 a.m. by using his very charming/stern words to explain that we needed a room asap. An hour later we were whisked off to the 3rd floor. Thank god for that man.

I got about 3 hours of sleep last night and I’m sure Fernanda didn’t get much more, but guess who was here at 9:30 a.m. to bring me coffee and keep me company? She was. Did I mention that my darling Fernanda has 5 gorgeous children of her own all under the age of 7?? Talk about an amazing woman and friend. Ronan didn’t even mind her being here and that is unheard of with him! I ran home to shower while Fernanda stayed with him. Made my day! He always throws a fit when I leave him, but was completely fine with this friend of mine whom he hardly knows. After I returned back here, Fernanda left and I thanked Ronan for letting me go home to shower. He said to me, “Your welcome, I like your friend.” So sweet!!!! He also was sure to tell me how much he missed and and how he loves me to the moon and back. Ahhhhh, little man!!! That more than made up for the recliner chair I had to sleep in last night and my seriously jacked up back today:) He seems to be feeling much better but just as I suspected, his ANC is at 0 and he needs blood. We will be here for most of the week I suspect. Fernanda…. I’m never going to stop telling you thank you for being such an amazing friend to me. And stop with saying it’s nothing…. because it is, and it means everything to me! I am so blessed to call you my friend. I love you.

Sarah came over this morning to help get the boys ready for school and to take them as well. Thank you so much, Sarah the Saint. Auntie Karen picked the monkeys up from school with her daughter Olivia and took them home to do homework and then to get some dinner until Woody got home from work. Thank you both so much; I am so thankful that Liam and Quinn are in such good hands.

I am running on empty and have downed 2 giant cokes, 2 coffees, and a ton of water. My typical hospital meals. Ronan is sleeping now and they are getting ready to pre medicate him for his blood transfusion. I am trying my best to channel all of the inner peace and strength I have for this weeks hospital stay. I am calmer than normal and it has everything to do with the fact that Ronan seems pretty happy to be here. I found myself thinking selfish things today like, I so need a massage, a pedicure, a spa day, a bath and 12 hours of sleep to feel better. It turns out I needed none of those things because just having Ronan acting somewhat like his normal self and being so loving and sweet to me, made all of the whining and complaining I was doing in my head, disappear. I think he was feeling really crummy at home and now that he is starting to feel better I can see him coming back to me. He is comprehending so much these days for only being 3 1/2. He is confused as to why we are on the 3rd floor and keeps asking for his normal nurses like Sara, Arica, Danny, Kathy, and Amy. I tried to explain to him that it is because he has a little cough that we have to be on the third floor for the time being. With it being RSV season, any little sign of a cough and you are banned from the 2nd floor. Tonight, he was telling me about all the people that take care of him and who love him. He named Dr. Wood, Dr. Maze, Sharon, “A,” and then he goes and Dr. La Quaglia took the big Death Star (he calls his tumor the death star from Star Wars) out of my tummy. He even pronounced his name right which was so dang cute. Ronan is so smart and doesn’t miss a beat. I’ve got to start watching what I say around that kid:) We have had a great night together but are so beyond tired. I’m hoping to get a little sleep as I am exhausted from the happenings of last night and the 3 hours of sleep I am running on.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow will be even better as he starts to get his strength and health back. We’ve got to get him well before transplant and I would like to be able to enjoy our time at home before we go in for the long haul. Thanks for checking in and keeping Ro baby in your prayers and thoughts. We are so lucky to have all of you thinking of him. G’nite sweet friends. G’nite Daddy Woo. Hope you are enjoying our big bed all to yourself:) Miss you.

xoxo

Open Your Eyes

All this feels strange and untrue
And I won’t waste a minute without you
My bones ache, my skin feels cold
And I’m getting so tired and so old

The anger swells in my guts
And I won’t feel these slices and cuts
I want so much to open your eyes
‘Cause I need you to look into mine

Tell me that you’ll open your eyes [x4]

Get up, get out, get away from these liars
‘Cause they don’t get your soul or your fire
Take my hand, knot your fingers through mine
And we’ll walk from this dark room for the last time

Every minute from this minute now
We can do what we like anywhere
I want so much to open your eyes
‘Cause I need you to look into mine

Tell me that you’ll open your eyes [x8]

All this feels strange and untrue
And I won’t waste a minute without you

There is nothing sweeter than kissing the bald head of a cancer child

You
know how some things in life were just so meant to be? Things like
this seem to be happening to me often these days, but today it is
truer than ever. I’ve mentioned before my new friend, Macy, who did
not know me, but my blog was passed along to her through a friend.
She lives in NYC and sent me a message saying if there was anything
I needed, to please contact her. I went on Facebook, friend
requested her, and we hit it off immediately. She went to ASU as
well and graduated a year ahead of me. She is nothing short of
amazing. She came to the hospital this morning with her big bright
green eyes, coffee and bagels. She did not leave the hospital until
10:00 tonight. She stayed the entire day today, we had so much fun
getting to know each other and Ronan is in L.O.V.E. The two of us
have so much in common it is scary. I had the best day today. We
played with R, laughed, got to know each other, and Ronan
absolutely loves having her here. My little guy normally kicks
everyone out. He has loved Macy since the moment he laid eyes on
her. She helped me so much today, watched as Ronan had his broviac
dressing changed, helped me talk him though it, read him books, and
just loved on our little guy. It was a very special day to say the
least. How did I get so lucky to come across this amazing soul?? I
am amazed everyday by the blessings in my life. Love you, Macy….
can’t wait for you to move to San Fran so we can be closer to each
other!!

Ronan got his chest tube out today and everyday I am more
and more impressed by my little guy. It looked freaking painful,
and he didn’t even flinch. He just laid there and let them pull
this big tube out of the side of his abdomen. He is such an angel
with all of the poking and prodding, it is amazing to witness. Macy
was dying when he was getting his Broviac dressing changed. Our
nurse, Julia, was so good at doing it and was so gentle, but it
still hurts. He sat as still as he could and in his little voice
was saying things like, “I need a break,” “Please don’t rip my
skin!” and “Please I need a band-aid!” UGH. It kills me every time.
I about died when he was telling her not to rip his skin, but he
made sure to say please before. I mean, are you kidding me with
this kid?? All the nurses and doctors here are in love with Ronan
and cannot get over his big blue eyes and how well behaved he is.
I’m telling you, he is a brand new boy, his whole attitude is
different. He is showing cancer who is boss.

So, today we got word that the study we are on, COG, emailed Dr. Kusher to say that we needed to come home for Round 6 of chemo, otherwise we are going to be kicked off of the study we are on. I am beyond pissed. All of our doctors said it was o.k. to stay here, the doctors here are fine with it, but we are just now being told that it is not o.k., even thought he would be getting the same dose of chemo here than he would be getting a PCH. Does not make sense to me at all. I told
Dr. La Quaglia to please see if we could stay, but I have a feeling
it is out of his hands. I’m pissed. I am a girl who likes a plan
and we had a great plan in place. I wanted to get Ronan as healed
as possible and just get his chemo started pronto here and get it
done and over with. Now, I have to pack up everything, put my baby
on a germ infested flight because we didn’t have time to contact
anyone who could fly us home, risk his immune system, and
everything feels so rushed. I am beyond annoyed and I don’t know
why stupid COG is just now letting us know this. I feel very
unprepared and honestly, I am not ready to go back to Phoenix. I
was in such a funk there and the proof is in the pudding. Tricia
told me tonight that she was talking to Marisa and they have both
been saying how great I sound, how I sound like the old Maya. It’s
this city I tell ya. It has healed me a bit because everything here
has been so positive. The energy, the buzz, the doctors, the
hospital….. everything is top notch. Our doctors come by at least
twice a day, stay around forever, and the care here is amazing.
Even the lady who takes out our garbage comes walking in with a
smile and saying, “There’s my Ro baby! How you doing today,
gorgeous?” The freaking garbage lady knows Ronan’s name and is
always happy and smiling. New York has been a rebirth not only for
Ronan, but for myself as well. What if that all goes away when I
get back to Phoenix?? I know I can’t stay here forever, but I had
already prepared myself for another couple of weeks. The bottom
line is, I don’t want to rush anything with Ronan… the baby just
had a major surgery and I feel like letting him heal here is the
best thing for him. I’m letting it go… I don’t have a choice. I
can’t fight the COG people…. so whatever happens, happens and we
will make the best of it. I’ll admit, I’ve gotten spoiled here. The
care is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and they make you
feel like you actually do matter, like you’re not just another
statistic.

Today was full of exciting things. Ronan felt great, we played a lot. I made him some homemade slime which he loved, but
did not want to touch. My hands are still purple from the food
coloring. So funny. Guess who else made it a great day?!?! My
Tricia Boo! She is here, safe and sound. I almost fell to the floor
when she walked in the room. Instead, I cried and held her for a
very long time. I’ve missed my BFF way too much. It is going to be
so great to have her here. Macy got to meet her and they totally
hit it off. Ronan was in HEAVEN. He was so adorable, just sitting
in his bed, watching us girls gossip and laugh. Tricia and I
somehow got on the subject of the movie, “The House Bunny” and we
were doing funny lines from the movie since Macy has never seen it.
I have not heard Ronan laugh in days, but tonight as we were doing
our funny lines, he was watching us and laughing so hard from his
belly. Oh, it was the sweetest sound to hear. He must think we are
nuts, but he was loving every second of it. We had so much fun
tonight. I am so thankful to have TT here. Talk about a true
friend.

My last bit of exciting news for the night is insane! A
reporter from US Weekly contacted me because they heard about Jake
Gyllenhaal’s visit to Sloan Kettering though my blog! They want to
talk to me more about it and the girl was so touched by Ronan’s
story, she said to please let her know if there is anything they
can do. I emailed her back and told her I would be happy to talk to
her, but I was requesting two things. 1) For her to please get
Ronan’s website in US Weekly… anywhere. I told her how important
it is to raise awareness for what so many children are going
through. And 2) I asked her to please get my Liz a date with Jake!
I was half joking on the second request but thought I’d put it out
there. She sent me an email saying, Of course she would (not sure
if she was talking about the website thing or the date for Liz) but
regardless, she is calling me tomorrow. I’m going to try my best to
get her to help me spread the word on Ronan. And I only have the
nicest things to say about meeting Jake. He was a gem. I’m so going
to try to get him to take on childhood cancer as his charity. I
know he does a lot of things for animals, which is so amazing….
but these kids need a voice and I feel like he has the heart to do
it. Overload tonight. I had so much to share and could keep going
but my eyes are drifting off. Tonight, I am so thankful and so
blessed to be surrounded by such beauty. Ronan shows me everyday
what it truly means to be brave and strong. He is such an old soul.
My very own Master Yoda:) Sweetest dreams, friends. xoxo Ronan and
Macy!!

Here’s to you, Wooddawg. 9 years later, baby.

Today, 9 years ago, I was married to my best friend, the
love of my life, my Woody. The only person who has ever truly had
my heart. It was the happiest day of my life; until today. Today is
the happiest day of my life in a different way; a bittersweet way.
Never in a million years did I think that 9 years after I married
my husband, that I would be crying tears of joy because my baby’s
bone marrow scan came back as clean. Yes, that’s right, you heard
me, CLEAN! When Ronan was diagnosed, his bone marrow was filled
with 5-7 percent of Neuroblastoma. Now, it has come back as gone.
What does this mean you ask? It means a lot of things. It means
that the chemo is working, it means that the Neuroblastoma is going
to be easier to get rid of, it means that Ronan truly is kicking
cancer’s ass, and it means that we are once again, filled with so
much hope for our baby of ours. He truly is a force to be reckoned
with. Nothing can stop this baby, not even something as evil as
cancer. This is the best news we could have received today; the
best anniversary gift I could have ever asked for. It is truly a
miracle and proof that all of our prayers, love, energy, and
whatever else is out there, is working in our favor. We met with
Dr. La Quaglia today. He was serious and to the point, but also as
soon as he walked into the room, I knew. I knew that we were in the
right place and I knew that there is nobody in the world that I
would trust with the life of my child. It was like he had a circle
of angels surrounding him. I took one look in his eyes and the
trust was formed instantly. He of course told us how serious the
surgery was; he had to make sure we were aware of the risks. This
was hard for me to hear; but I know legally, he has to tell us
these things. He said on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst,
Ronan’s Neuroblastoma surgery was about a 3. I asked him how long
he anticipated the surgery taking and he looked at me and said, “As
long as it takes to do a perfect job.” Done and done. I know this
man is a gift from god and the only person that should be operating
on my child. With that said…. PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE…. spend all
day Monday thinking and praying for Ronan. He will need it and we
will need it. I have never been more scared in my entire life. This
is a huge deal… he has to get through this. Just imagining my
baby going through this makes me sick to my stomach. But he is a
fighter and has proven that he can handle anything. He loves us all
too much to leave us.

Tonight, I am asking that you keep a little
girl in your prayers named Ashley. Her mom got in touch with me a
few months ago and her daughter, who is 7, was diagnosed about a
week after Ronan. Today, as Ro and I were trecking through the snow
to Sloan Kettering, I heard her mom yell out my name. I turned
around and there she was, Nicole, on her way to Sloan as well. She
introduced herself and said she has been following my blog for
quite some time now. Ashley, will have her surgery tomorrow, by Dr.
La Qualia. I know she is going to be fine, but as always, extra
prayers help. I will keep you posted and I will be thinking of her
all day. I saw Ashley today. She has the exact same sparkle and
strength in her eyes that Ronan has. She is going to be fine;
another beautiful survivor.

So, New York has completey healed my
love for running. It truly has become my therapy again. Last night,
I was crawling out of my skin, dying to run since it had been a day
since I had gotten to. I headed up to Central Park and ran about 6
miles on complete ice. It was dangerous, crazy, and completely
cathartic. Tonight, I did the same thing as well. Right now,
running is the only thing that is saving me. I don’t have my
therapist here…. and I so need to do a phone conference with her.
Running is my saving grace for the time being. I am going to come
back here and make the NYC marathon my bitch. Mark my words.
Today, I got to meet the new love of my life, Miss Macy:) She is somebody
that emailed me awhile back on my blog to say that she lived here
and if I needed anything to please call her. She is around my age,
and we have been keeping in touch for awhile now. Finally, I was
able to meet this little angel of ours. And what an angel she is.
She came through the RMH, all bundled up in her fur, toting gifts,
and as gorgeous as can be. Ronan and Quinn instantly fell in love
with her and I did too. She stayed for a couple of hours and we
entertained the boys the entire time. Ronan was flirting away, up
to all of his usual tricks. Macy could not have been more fun and
just what we needed to brighten our day. Thanks, Macy… as I said
before, I feel like I’ve known you forever. I can’t wait to
celebrate my birthday with you.

So, tonight, I sit alone at some
amazing pub by the RMH, paying bills and blogging away on my
anniversary. Sad but true. I would of course, rather have Woody
with me but he so sweetly understood that I needed to get out.
INDEPENDENCE…. ugh. it is so important to me. I need this time to
do my thing…. blog, pay bills, be out in the real world
surrounded by people laughing and who have no idea what the fuck
cancer really means in life. Everyone here is laughing, drinking,
playing trivia, and living life to the fullest. Just as they should
be. Hey, it wasn’t so long ago that I lived this carefree life. I
will never take it for granted again. I used to be exactly like
these people in this bar. And I will be someday again. Someday, I
will be back here, with my husband, just enjoying each other and
not obsessing about Ronan’s cancer. Love you all. Sweetest dreams.
xoxox

This is dedicated to Ronan… thanks Linds. Because baby, he
is our firework. Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting
through the wind wanting to start again? Do you ever feel, feel so
paper thin like a house of cards, one blow from caving in? Do you
ever feel already buried deep? 6 feet under screams but no one
seems to hear a thing Do you know that there’s still a chance for
you ‘Cause there’s a spark in you You just gotta ignite, the light,
and let it shine Just own the night like the 4th of July ‘Cause
baby you’re a firework Come on, show ’em what you’re worth Make ’em
go “Oh, oh, oh” As you shoot across the sky-y-y Baby, you’re a
firework Come on, let your colors burst Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh”
You’re gonna leave ’em falling down-own-own You don’t have to feel
like a waste of space You’re original, cannot be replaced If you
only knew what the future holds After a hurricane comes a rainbow
Maybe you’re reason why all the doors are closed So you could open
one that leads you to the perfect road Like a lightning bolt, your
heart will blow And when it’s time, you’ll know You just gotta
ignite, the light, and let it shine Just own the night like the 4th
of July ‘Cause baby you’re a firework Come on, show ’em what you’re
worth Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh” As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby, you’re a firework Come on, let your colors burst Make ’em go
“Oh, Oh, Oh” You’re gonna leave ’em falling down-own-own Boom,
boom, boom Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon It’s always been
inside of you, you, you And now it’s time to let it
through-ough-ough ‘Cause baby you’re a firework Come on, show ’em
what you’re worth Make ’em go “Oh, Oh, Oh” As you shoot across the
sky-y-y Baby, you’re a firework Come on, let your colors burst Make
’em go “Oh, Oh, Oh” You’re gonna leave ’em falling down-own-own
Boom, boom, boom Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon Boom,
boom, boom Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

Sushi, Sake, and Cancer

I’m having a ton of anxiety again. Not sure why, it just seems to come and go in waves. I have not been able to run in 2 days… maybe that is why. Running seems to help me get rid of some of this nervous energy. May take a trip to the gym later…  I am really missing my Central Park but it is covered in about 10 inches of snow. Woody has been working today, I have been taking care of Quinn and Ronan while Liam has been hanging out with Woody and then met us down in the playroom. I took Quinn and Ro to eat at the pizza place nearby. Have I mentioned how much Ronan has been eating?? It is insane. I think he eats more than our family, put together. Here is an example of the lunch we just had. Me: Bowl of Tortellini soup. Quinn: 1 slice of pizza and some Fetuccine pasta. Ronan: 3 slices of pizza (they are huge) bread knots, and half of Quinn’s Fettuccine. Not to mention he had just eaten an hour before. I swear he is eating every hour on the hour. It is so great for him; he dropped a little weight during our last round of chemo. I bet you he has put it all back on and then some. Pizza seems to be his favorite as he is eating it at least 3 times a day.

I am trying to let Liam, Quinn, and Ronan soak up as much time together as possible before the twins have to leave. I know Ronan is going to be devastated when they go back to Arizona. Just the thought of it makes me tear up. I hate that they have to be a part, but I also know it is going to be easier on me. It takes a lot to entertain 3 little boys’ who are away from home. Liam and Quinn have been such troopers though; we have been dealing with a little bit of behavioral issues which has thrown me for a loop. It’s mainly my Quinn. I know where it is coming from. He is nervous, scared, and is trying to adapt to our new life but having me gone a lot of the time is hard on him. He is becoming more independent though. I notice little things that I see him doing on his own that he used to not be able to do. I sit back and watch him and wonder, when did he learn how to do that?? Wasn’t I supposed to be there to see it??  I’m trying to do my best to address the things going on with Quinn; we have been doing a lot of talking.

I’ve been emotional the past few days. Being away from our own home is hard…. we are basically in a little studio apartment. Lots of “stuff” in here which is about to throw me over the edge. This whole blizzard thing has left us pretty much inside the RMH all day. About to lose it. It’s a funny thing how whenever I seem to be at my breaking point, my friend Charisma calls me. It’s like she can sense it. She called today and we had a good chat for about a half an hour. She does that type of thing often…. when I am feeling overwhelmed or sad, ring ring, and it is always her. It was good to hear her voice today and I always feel better after our talks. Love you, CC.

That was from earlier today. Guess what time it is?!?! 2:30 a.m. which is what I call the witching hour around here. I wake up at this time every night like clockwork. I just woke up from a very vivid dream which involved Ronan and his cancer. Cancer never fucking sleeps around here; I swear I never get a break from it. Tonight, I was able to get out a bit. I took all 3 boys’ over to Kay and Charlie’s place and then I went and walked the city for a bit. It was a mess but I really needed the walk and alone time. Woody was on the phone with clients and ended up meeting me for some sushi and sake. We sat, I tried to eat a little bit, and we talked. I was in a funk today and he knew it. We talked a lot about Ronan…. at one point I looked over at him and said, “Did you ever think in a million years we would be here?” He of course said no. I told him how I always pictured our life and it was either something happening to me or him that I imagined dealing with. Never was it one of our kids. We had a nice time together but no matter what we do, it’s like a big black cancer cloud is hanging over our heads. Fun times I tell ya. We then walked back and picked up Quinn and Ronan. Liam stayed the night with Mimi and Papa. On our walk back, Quinn was telling me how much he loves New York and wants to go to Columbia University to be a doctor. It was something so little, but it made my night. He told me that this is his favorite city ever…. he is such his mama’s boy:) Ronan would not sit in his stroller and was running through the snowy city, and was laughing and laughing. It was such a perfect moment. We got back to the RMH and everyone was pretty tired since it was so late. The boys’ and I crashed out and Woody stayed up dealing with some airline issues. He needs to get back to Phoenix and we are trying to figure out his travel dates for everything now that it all got screwed up due to the snow. He was supposed to go back on Sunday; but obviously that didn’t happen.

On Wednesday, we should have all of Ronan’s scan results back. We also meet with Dr. La Qualia which I am super excited about. I talked to my friend, Pam White tonight and I think she is more excited than I am for me to meet La Qualia. He saved her daughter’s life. She gave me a picture to give to him of her daughter; she keeps him updated on her by sending him pictures of her beautiful little girl. I can’t wait to give it to him.

That is all for now. 3:30 a.m…. have to try to get back to sleep so I’m not a zombie tomorrow. Love you all. Hope you are having the sweetest dreams.

xoxo