We begin our day early at the clinic at 8 am, the nurse inserts the IV into Zack's right arm, takes blood samples and then moves us into another exam room. As we start to get comfortable the nurse re-enters the room and says "Dr S. says to get out of here!" We start to laugh and as we pass the Nurses / Doctors station Julia and Dr. S are sitting there. I stop to say goodby and ask Dr. S if he is kicking us out because of what I said about Nurses knowing what's going on more than "the doctors". He said "absolutely!, I'm still trying to cope with the devastation of it all!", We all start to laugh, he continues to share that he is inconsolable Then he tells me that his wife thought what I said was funny and loved it, because she is a nurse. (in case you missed the story, I was teasing Dr. S when we were in the hospital about how much more the nurses know then the doctors.. with all due respect). I love that this is a place that you can let your guard down, be silly, tease and know that he is getting the best care. We leave the clinic and Zack starts to get in a bad mood.
We drive towards the next stop for Zack's MRI both with and without contrast and also a chest x-ray. All of these are for a comparison for when he starts the radiation. Before we get there we stop and give Rhonda a hug at her work. It's just too hard to drive by without stopping, even if just for five minutes. As always she looks so pretty in her purple sweater, white blouse and black pants, the uniform for Biltmore Estate. She seems preoccupied so I'm hoping everything is going well at work.
We walk into this unique building, It is a childrens medical center. In the lobby is a cute little coffee shop, when I go to get a cup of coffee, she hands me an envelope to make instant, I thank her kindly and ask for a bottle of orange juice instead. You walk down this long hall with arrows and signs pointing in different directions. Big plaques all over the walls thanking this family or that couple for donating "this room, that room, this building, the furniture, etc." the entire building was built through donations. In the main room is a huge contraption with moving parts, wheels that go up and down, the entire structure, making loud metallic sounds is a interactive piece of art. It is also quite entertaining to the children that enter. One of my favorite signs was so colorful and in big bold letters read : I CHOOSE HAPPINESS!!!
We fill out papers and a nurse comes in and takes Zack back for X-rays first. After about fifteen minutes we were taken down the hall to MRI machine. They come out at one point and ask for his port card. They need to know which port he has installed in case it is one that contains metal. Zack and I now carry a card (like a blood donor card) that shows what type of port he has in case of an emergency. They are to do one MRI with contrast and another without. He comes out of the exam room in a short hospital gown, his shortS and boots on as well. He tells me he will "beat me" if I laugh!! Of course I chuckle a bit. His moods today are up and down. I tiptoe around him a bit and finally at one point tell him I'm not the bad guy, there is no bad guy here and he is not permitted to treat me like a punching bag, His eyes start to tear up and my heart just breaks for him. I tell him that I just hate what he has to go through and there isn't a damn thing I can do. (A conversation we have had multiple times and will continue to have, I'm sure, in the future). He is called into the room and I'm shown a waiting room near his location. I sit down in a corner chair near an outlet and decide to go ahead and handle the billing for Franks business. I am actually enjoying my new way of handling the billing and bookkeeping. I am able to keep up with it weekly and once home can clean, re arrange or just plain chill! Within an hour we are finished with this part of the day.
We are now instructed to go to the hospital for his CT scan, both with and without contrast. We arrive an hour ahead of our scheduled appointment and they are able to see him which is awesome! I'm told it would be a little more than an hour, I tell Zack I will be in the emergency room lounge (where there are drinks and snacks, but more importantly tables and outlets). The nurse looks up at Zack, it is a waiting room full of people, he then looks at me and asks what the heck I "feed the boy", the room is filled with laughter. Of course it didn't help the man that he was about 5'5" tall standing next to Zacks 6' 5". I leave and head down the hall to the lounge. As I set up my laptop, mouse and settle in with a drink (no, not that kind of drink!) I sit thinking about how smoothly the day is going. Yes, we are having a day full of unexpected tests, but we are flowing through each appointment. Within an hour he enters the room telling me he was ready to get some food, ( he hadn't eaten or drank anything since midnight) I was finishing up the bookkeeping of balancing both the business and personal checkbooks. I was all excited thinking we were finished for the day, but no, Zack's tells me we must return at 2:30 for the contrast part of the CT. They had completed the non contrast and then injected him with the dye. They then told him to go get lunch and return in a couple of hours.
We go out for lunch and while eating Zack shares a conversation he had with a woman that was sitting next to him while getting the dye in his IV. He said the woman had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and was told she would have to have surgery and chemotherapy. He told me that he explained what he has been going through, what medicines to ask for with regards to nausea how to stay hydrated, he said he pretty much shared all that he has learned during his treatments so far. When they were finished talking, she told him that he eased her mind so much more, she is less afraid of what lies ahead. He looked at me and said "I just told her what I'm going through, no big deal." He has no idea how much he helps people.
Lunch is over too soon, but we decide to head back over for the final scan of the day. We check in and a the technician comes to get us and shows us to a room that is less crowded. Everyone is handling him with care, looking out for him with regards to keeping him safe from germs. We arrive at the room, it is very quiet as there are no people at all, it is right off the scan area, has a small tv, restroom and yes outlets! I start to watch a show on Netflix that Lee had recommended and before I get comfortable, a couple walks in. Sherie and Keith, husband and wife for 25 years and absolutely adorable. They are in their late 40's and in just a few minutes of conversation we have all bonded. Sherie is a Mary Kay consultant, has been diagnosed with MS and had just found out that her husband Keith (who is also there for a scan) has been diagnosed with a cancer in a couple of places. Their child has been diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD. To say they have a full plate is an understatement. Not once did I hear either of them complain! Keith was in the hospital last year for five weeks and she never left his side, family stepped in and helped with their child. She mentioned chiropractic and how amazing it is, of course I mention where I work and totally agree, we talk about neurofeedback for her son and she is excited because we are speaking the same language. While Sherie and I are talking in one area, Keith goes over to Zack and I see that they are discussing Zacks treatment and how he feels, etc... Once again, I see Zack totally opening up and talking, with great detail, about his experience, what helps, doesn't help, how to make sure this or that is done correctly. Sherie and I talked the entire time Zack and Keith were in their scans. Keith finished first and came out, he said he could hear Zack sleeping, we laugh and say if you can sleep during THAT scan you must be tired! As they get ready to head out, I receive a business card with Sheries information and she writes down the blog address and promises to keep up with Zacks progress. They offer help if we ever need it. Here they have a full plate and yet THEY are offering to help us! Amazing people just keep entering our lives. Keith tells me that he now feels so much better about everything after talking with Zack. He says I feel so calm now and am not as anxious as I was before. "You have a very special young man there!" Knowing that he has helped yet another person, I am glowing! Today I have seen a new side to him, the sharing, talking to those who needed to hear from him, confident about what he is sharing, yes, I do have to agree, he is a very special young man! He is teaching us all something and on a daily basis.
I wait about another fifteen minutes and Zack is finished. We say our goodbyes to the technician and head home. He starts to make calls to his friends about when and where to meet . I of course, must stop at the Salvation Army in Asheville ( a very nice one full of nice clothes). I'm still looking for a dress and low and behold I find three and one for Mom. I also find a small mini vacuum for the office, every now and then we have popcorn messes and I like to clean them up without having to pull out the heavy artillery. We make it home and within minutes Zack is pulling out of the driveway, heading to Drakes house. I receive a call just before he leaves, it's from the Cancer Center (clinic). My heart sinks, we have already learned that he needs a double blood transfusion on Monday, before and after the radiation treatment, what could THIS be? The news is good, all of the scan results are back and everything looks good! Of course, we know that the cancer is gone, but you never know if there is going to be a surprise around the corner, so this is very good news and a great way to end the week!
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