Monday, August 13, 2012

Empowerment .....

                                              First try......
Aug. 11, 2012 Saturday and Aug. 12, 2012 Sunday

While my sister Rhonda and I were in Zack's room painting, Zack came to me and asked if I would follow him. We walked into my bathroom and he showed me a clump of hair that came from his sideburns. He said "well it's happening!" He was getting ready to take a shower and noticed a patch missing from his sideburns, but nothing was coming from his scalp. I advised him to shower and shave his sideburns and face. "Don't worry about the hair yet" "We can take care of that when it starts to happen". He closed the door and I heard the razor. I decided to give him some space and continued with the painting. He came to the room and showed us his clean shaven face. He looked so sad and said "Mom, I want to do it!, I want to shave my head".  "I want to have some control, and want to be the one to decide WHEN my hair is going to be gone". The three of us marched into the bathroom and sitting down, Zack handed me the brand new electric trimmer Frank had purchased just the day before ( I'm sure in anticipation that it might be needed soon). I said "you want me to do it?" He said "Yup", "let's do this!" I asked if we could video it and take still shots for the blog (I always make sure he is alright with what is posted, it is after all, HIS journey). At this point he is used to me asking that question, so he rapidly said it was fine. I hand Rhonda my phone and she starts taking pictures and videos. I see that she too is sad for him and trying to hold it together, she did a great job as cheerleader.

I decided to start with leaving a little "length" and when I finished, he looked and said "you know what?, I'm ready to take it all off!" He takes the trimmer and put the shortest attachment on it. I tell him to use the attachment as I don't want him to cut it so short that he cuts himself.  He grabs the trimmer as if he has done this his whole life. He mutters "EMPOWERMENT!!, just like Forrest said.  I was so impressed with his strength, I half wanted to grab the trimmer and shave my own head (I wouldn't want to scare the world though).

Once he completed, he said "okay, I'm going to play my X-box now." a decision had been made, executed and the once dreaded experience was over.  Zack has always been that way, when he was done nursing, he grabbed a cup, when he was done with diapers he took them off and said "NO". He makes up his mind and sticks to it, deals with the situation at hand, no muss, no fuss.

Rhonda and I are preparing his room for painting and new laminate (snap together) flooring. Zack and I had worked Friday night and Saturday morning to get his room empty with the exception of a night stand and TV.

Having been in the restoration business, Rhonda was a great asset to have this weekend. Back a couple of years ago, Zack had punched a couple of walls (don't tell me you have never done this or at least wanted to). Rhonda is the Queen of repairs when it comes to that. She can make it look like nothing ever happened (and she DID!!) While she was making the repairs, I decided to remove the carpet so the floor would be ready for Frank. As I remove the carpet, I find a small section of black mold (not the deadly kind), so I hit it several times with bleach. Within two days it was all gone. I am so glad we decided to do this. When this is all done, his room will be totally sterilized.

OK to paint!!
Zack and I load up his old desk, a huge armoire style desk which was perfect back in the day. Slowly through the years it was falling apart, so I told Zack to have a blast taking it apart however he saw fit. He kicked it, punched it and when we went to remove it from the room, it fell into pieces. I must say after watching several demolition shows on HGTV, it was fun to watch him let off some steam. I lucked out and found the perfect "Souder" desk for him at Habitat (I Love thrift stores!) and put a couple of coats of polyurethane on it to protect it from drinks and spills.

Between the old desk and the carpet we had a full load for the dump. There is something empowering about filling a truck with "junk" and hauling it off never to be seen again. Zack is still well enough to be a huge help and is actually enjoying participating in the renovation, but I see that he is tired and have him lay on the couch and rest.

The house is a little quiet this weekend with Frank on his fishing trip and most of Zacks friends out of town. As they start to return home on Sunday, we start to see a bit more activity. First Trenton comes over and plays on the x-box for a couple of hours, then Drake comes to drag Zack over to see a car he is interested in. One by one they enter the house and Zack removes his hat to show his new buzz cut. They all think it looks cool and move right along with the conversation about the current game on TV.  He has such supportive friends that when they see the holes patched, they laugh and tell me how Zack made them promise not to tell me when he punched the walls. They are relieved that I now know and Zack didn't get in trouble.

The boys discuss tomorrow, which is the first day of school. Zack has decided to go and pick up his books and computer. He will then return to have lunch outside with his friends, He decided he really doesn't want to spend the entire day there, he doesn't have a class to go to and also doesn't want to be around that many people. We am relieved. Why takes chances on him catching something. I find that I ask him repeatedly  "are you drinking your water, drink the berry juice, did you eat lunch?." At one point I am teasing him "you need to get your numbers up, so you can have chemo".. we laugh,... what else can we do? These are the facts. He HAS to have chemo and in order to have the treatment his "numbers" need to be at a certain level or risk lower immune system.

As the day progresses Rhonda decides to head out and take Mom for her medicine and grocery shopping. It is 3PM and she still wants to return to "fine tune" the painting. I try and convince her I can finish the trim work on my own, but she is the master of this and says "I'm so glad you are not arguing with me", that was my cue to say "yes, I look forward to seeing you when you return". We both laugh. She heads out and I continue with the painting when I get a call from Mom. She is crying. She is in pain from her fall a couple of weeks ago. I can tell it is more than that. She misses me and I miss her. We are connected and have been apart far too long. It pains me to hear her this way, I want to run and take care of her, but know I can't right now. I know she understands and would be upset if I pushed myself too hard. She agrees to have Rhonda take her to Urgent Care for X-rays to make sure nothing is broken or cracked. A couple of hours later, the report is good, Nothing is broken, she is severely bruised so they prescribe pain medicine. After a quick dinner and trip to the all night pharmacy, Rhonda brings Mom back home and returns to our house to "inspect" my work. It is now 10 PM and Zack has just decided to shave his head even closer. Now he is laughing and saying he could get a job as an army barber. Rhonda walks in, sees his hair cut and screams with excitement. She compliments him on how handsome he looks (he really does) and gives him a big hug. Rhonda heads into Zack's room and  "of course" sees a couple of places , with my assurance that I will take care of it she gives the room a thumbs up. As Zack helps load up her belongings and some "treasures" we no longer wanted, we Thank her for all her hard work and send her on her way home.

It was an emotional weekend. Watching my son accept his fate of loosing his hair, painting over stenciling created by Zack, taking down posters that hung for years, the room is now going to be for a young man, who is now forced to grow up faster. But a young man deserving of this renovation and so much more.

Note to my Sister: I would not have even attempted to start this project without your help. Words can't express how appreciative I am for everything you did this weekend. Now, Thanks to you, Zack's new sanctuary is beautiful!!! Mom is going to be OK!! and I can go to sleep knowing that this next week, no matter what, is going to be OK.  I Love you!!!

 My silly gift to Rhonda, for all her hard work. She fell in love with this little creature and couldn't stop laughing. It sings, gives kisses and moves around, Hey we all need something to laugh at!

Oh.. you want the "after" pictures... well we aren't done yet, there is still the floor and then the furniture... "Patience my young grasshopper"....

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