Friday, December 7, 2012

Radiation..... DONE!!!

Zack had a good night's sleep Wednesday night and Frank was off to an early start Thursday morning. I waited to call and talk with Zack personally until 11 am knowing that he would have the trip to and from radiation until that time. At first he didn't answer the phone, so I thought he was still at radiation, but a mothers intuition is rarely wrong, I called again and within 15 minutes he answered. He was feeling horrible and said that "they" gave him Zofran, which is the one anti-nausea medicine that makes him feel worse. It was my understanding that this had been taken off of his chart, or at least marked as one not to give. I immediately call Brian who was the day nurse and told him to remove that from his chart, he was very apologetic and said he would take care of it. He said he offered Zack Benedryl (which normally makes him sleep), but Zack didn't want any. I told him to go ahead and give it to him this time, he needed something to help with his nausea and sleep was the best thing for him. Once he had that, he was able to sleep and thus felt a little better.

I finished out my day at work and was on the road by 6:30 pm. Rhonda was joining us for dinner in the room, so since Zack wanted KFC spicy chicken (one of his favorites these days) I decided to stop and pick up something for us all. I also needed to get more drinks and breakfast items, so I stop at the local grocery store, which unfortunately decides to pick tonight as the night to wax the entire stores floors, so NOTHING is out in the isles. I leave there and head across the street to KFC and it takes them 10 minutes to cook the meals, then leave and drive a little further down the road to the next grocery store where they had everything I needed. I am finally feeling the home stretch and eager to get into the room and rest. When I was within reach of the Hospital (5 minutes) I am all of a sudden stopped by a train. I am trapped where I can't take the back roads, so I must just sit and be patient, not my best attribute of late. Knowing there is a distinct possibility of me not finding a parking spot, I call Rhonda and ask her to meet me in the lot, locate an empty space and block anyone from taking it. (Okay so I was a bit over demanding at this point, of which we later laugh about) By the time I arrive at the Hospital, it is 8:30 pm. I find Rhonda on her cell phone standing in the middle of a space, guarding it with her life. She is holding an empty carrier, which I had also asked her to bring down from the room for my purchases. She greets me with a tired smile (she has been working every day for the past two weeks) and says "your wish is my command." I hug her and have a hard time letting go.  

Zack looks very tired, he doesn't really even appear to be enjoying his meal much. He just sits there and eats, while Rhonda and I visit. He has already started with his nightly chemo treatment and is hoping for the best. Not long after I arrive, Rhonda heads home and I crawl in bed. Zack is up for awhile as the Benedryl has worn off and he is plenty rested. I awake around midnight and tell Zack he needs to shut everything off and just rest, even if he can't sleep, he must rest. Soon he is sound asleep, it didn't take long for me to follow. 

We wake up this morning celebrating the fact that it's his last day of Radiation. Zack get dressed and when Maria walks in she asks if I would like to ride with them  to the Center. Not having had this opportunity before, I quickly accept, throw some jeans and a shirt on and we are off. Zack is placed on a gurney and we are wheeled up and down the elevators, through the many hallways of the hospital and outside to a waiting ambulance.  On the 10 minute ride over, Zack talks about Ford motors vs. Chevy and how one ambulance compares to another. He all of a sudden starts to become more alive. Last night and early this morning he had a look of pure anger, I try very hard and say "it's not about me, it's not about me", but when your kid looks at you with anger, it's kind of hard not to take it personally.  Of course I go about the business of getting him what he needs and let him feel whatever he wants to feel.  I'm not sure I could handle this with such grace if it were me. 

We arrive at the Cancer Center lower level and are greeted by a nurse, then another nurse, then the office staff and they are all congratulating him on this being his last radiation! He was given a certificate signed by all the staff.  After today, no more radiation! Zack seems unfazed and as always when asked how he is doing, simply gives a thumbs up.  He is in a bad mood and is going to stay there!!! They are not yet ready for him, so we sit in a "holding area" and Maria and her partner tell us they will be back soon to pick us up. I sit there quietly, grab him an orange juice and me a cup of coffee, anything to pass the time. It is an awkward silence for me, as I know he is feeling so many things and yet unable or unwilling to express himself. I decide to tell him that I need a list of  small Christmas ideas for him, Frank has come up with a great "large" present. His expression changes, a little twinkle comes in his eyes. He says "am I going to LIKE what Dad wants to get me?", I smile and say "OH YEA!!!". All of a sudden he starts talking about the "bumble bee".. AKA his truck. He tells me he wants to do this and add that and will have the windows tinted and oh yea, you know the bars that go along the side...... He came back to life, stood up straight and was suddenly my Zack. We spent the rest of the time talking (or he did)  about trucks and the different parts, etc... It's such a blessing to witness when your child has found passion for their future career.  They come to take him for his final treatment and within 10 minutes or so he is done. While he was having his treatment, I went to the front desk and left the staff with a little goodie bag with chocolate covered pretzels, nuts and all sorts of other delicious treats. This is a new business my boss' daughter has started and I was so excited because it was the perfect "Thank You!" gift for taking such good care of Zack. We wait about thirty minutes for our ride back to the hospital and following the same procedure are back to our home away from home.

The rest of the morning was spent resting, watching movies on our respective laptops and napping.  I headed downstairs around lunch to pick up some sushi for us and decide to take one of the goodie bags to show to the manager. I had mentioned to Doc Steve yesterday that I was going to "try" and meet with the manager since I was upstairs anyway and see if they would be interested in selling these in the Hospital cafeteria and shop.  I placed the bag in my purse, headed downstairs and asked to speak with management. A gentleman came out and before I could get the package all the way out of my purse, he says "we need that!". I said "good, 'cause we have what you need!". I explained how the business started and that I would be glad to have my boss contact them to arrange a meeting.  He immediately phoned the senior manager and yes, they were interested. He asked if I could leave the bag so they could see the packaging and sample the food. I was a bit hesitant as I had purchased that bag as a gift ( I had already given one to the night staff, radiology staff and this one was going to be for the day staff). I handed it to him and said "Take this!". We exchanged information and after grabbing the sushi, I headed upstairs. Excited  I called Doc and gave him what we hope will turn into good news.

Around 2 pm or I get a call from Doc and he is ten minutes away with another goodie bag for me to replace the one given to the manager. Oh course my first question was "is Doc Nancy with you?", she has been to NY to see her mother for the week and I have missed her terribly. Though she wanted to surprise me, I pulled the truth out of him. We agreed to meet in the lobby in ten minutes. On my way downstairs, I hear this wonderful  Christmas music in the hall of the pediatric wing just outside Zack's door. I follow the music and there are three musicians, one playing the cello, one guitar and the other the violin. I stood there for a few minutes just absorbing the Christmas spirit. 

As I sit in on of the lobby chairs, Doc calls and is right around the corner from me. It was so great to see them both. This time there were even more treats, banana chips, chocolate coffee coffee beans, a mixed bag of "trail mix" and the gift bag. Zack was thrilled to see the banana chips, always his favorites. The Docs came upstairs and visited for quite a while. Zack wasn't very talkative and Steve was doing his best to get him to laugh, with occasional success. It was so nice having company, with each passing month of treatment the visits are less and less, I guess everyone is... well I am learning, it doesn't matter why, "it is what it is".  I walk Steve and Nancy downstairs to their exit and head back upstairs. Zack and I are chilling again, of course eating the delicious snacks, when an hour or so later Karen, our Social worker from the cancer center comes dancing in. She has a beautiful skirt on, which I immediately covet, of course her size 1 vs my size 18 .... well.. no comment. Karen is always so full of energy and excitement. She came bearing gifts from one of the organizations, several gift cards for Walmart. Perfect!!! That's where we get his medicine, his drinks and snacks.  What a special gift! We visit for awhile, show many pictures of  Zack when he was little, in middle school, the Santas my family used to make (one of which I just won on Ebay.. more on that when it arrives) and my fathers paintings. Karen then sees Zacks artwork and tells us about an organization that comes into the various clinics to help children with art. The only way they supply their art closets is through the art work. She explains that the children draw something, they are scanned and then the copies are sold all over the place. The funds from this artwork is then used to supply the art closets. Karen loves Zack's work and asks if he would consider donating a piece to be scanned and sold.  There is not question he would do this. Just another way to give back! 

As we are wrapping up our visit with Karen, Amy and Bill walk in. How fun it is to have so much company. It wasn't until later that I realized how much talking both Zack and I did. We were two children fighting for attention. Of course Zack comes to life when Bill is in the room. They talk about Drake, (Bills son) and trucks, motorcycles, guys stuff... Amy just had major surgery a little while ago and though she looks great, is still very tired. We visit for a while and kick them out so they can go eat dinner and get Bill to work the night shift at a local nursing home (in Brevard). Just as they are leaving Rhonda calls with dinner orders.

Rhonda arrives with a wonderful dinner. Though still exhausted from the days work, she stays to eat dinner and visits for a short while. We discussed how Mom and Bob were going to get their groceries this week when Zack raises his hand and says "hello???, I can take her, just let me know when." "Monday, after your Neulasta shot, IF everything is okay with labs etc..." "It's a plan, let Meme know."  As soon as Rhonda left I pick up the phone and tell Mom, who is thrilled, she not only gets to see Zack, she gets to ride in the bumble bee!!! 

As Amy (night nurse) arrives with the chemo treatment, Zack and I decide it is time to settle in for the night. Half way through the chemo he starts to feel bad, so he is given Benedryl. Soon thereafter he is sound asleep. I sit here filling in two days of details and think of how nice the day was. Even though we are in the Hospital, we make the best of it and look forward to going home on Sunday. We are grateful the radiation is done and have on less "thing" to deal with. 

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