Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Making a list and checking it twice"

Friday was to be a day with my brother and Mom. It was to be our Christmas together since he wasn't able to make it to my house. I started out waking with a list in my head, so I determined it was time to get it out of my head and complete it already. Heading out about 9 am, Zack and I got to the office to remove all of the Christmas lights, ornaments, bells and snowflakes that are way above my height. It is so wonderful having a son who is 6' 5" and can reach up to the ceiling, even the gutters without a ladder. Because of the blood transfusion is energy level is good. He is excited today because he and several of his friends are heading to "the farm" a 30 acre track of land with a hunting cabin. The kids all go with their ATV (All terrain vehicle) and ride around on the property. When not riding, they are hunting (well trying to anyway).  This is something that Zack has been looking forward to for a long time. His friends started going up this summer, but he has only been able to make it once due to his treatment schedule. Now, he has the ATV he received as a gift from his Papaw a couple of months ago so that makes it even more fun. 

Within thirty minutes everything is taken down and we are on our way to the bank, post office and then to get my car inspected. (remember the list?) Zack was meeting one of his friends at a local tire store to help move some tires for a little extra cash and they were then headed out together to get ready for the trip. A part of me is anxious. I so want to protect him, every minute of the day, but I know that I need to let him go and trust that he is going to be okay. Hanging on doesn't help anyone. I make him promise that he will not do anything stupid, like stunts or going too fast, wear his helmet and KNOW that accidents can happen on these vehicles and we have been through enough, he doesn't need to add one more thing to HIS list. He tells me "Mom, I'm the one that is conservative on these things, remember when I flipped over Darrick's bike a couple of years ago?, well that scared the hell out of me!" Okay, Okay, I get it! Later in the day he calls me angry, the ATV is leaking fuel, to him this immediately means defeat. To me it means I must be a cheerleader and tell him one more time that stuff happens and he needs to figure out how to solve the problem, not get angry. A little while later, Frank calls and tells me they figured out what the problem was and he was on his way. Whew!!! I can breathe AGAIN!!!! Anxiety level can be toned down just a little more.

 After I  drop Zack off , I head up to Moms booth at Eclectic Cottage on Main. She had given me a box full of jewelry to put out,. When I arrived, her booth was such a mess that I took the extra time to take down the Christmas decorations, clean up and put out the new items. Within an hour I am back on the road and headed to Mom's house. Bob is resting, so Mom and I head out to get groceries and lunch. I had planned on 
spending the day with Bob, but he was not feeling well, so Mom and I spent the day together, something we haven't been able to do in quite awhile. While in the store in Hendersonville a woman approaches me asking if I was Zack's mother. Not really knowing that many people in Hendersonville anymore, I was surprised. She introduces herself as one of Zack's former teachers at Pisgah Forest Elementary. It had been so long I didn't recognize her. She tells me she read about him in the letter to the editor and was getting ready to send a card. She pulls out some money from her pocket and hands the bill to me saying she was going to put it in the card. I stand there in disbelief!! Here is someone we haven't seen in year and yet she is sharing how special Zack is to her and how she has him on her prayer list at Church. (something a lot of people have shared with us). I find Mom and share my experience. She just looks at me and says "Zack has touched many lives". It was so nice to just have a relaxing day with Mom, I'm so blessed that she is still around and every time I can spend with her is another blessing. Before I arrive home, I receive a call from Zack saying they had arrived at the farm safely. For now, at least, I can breathe easier knowing he is safe. 

Saturday, Rhonda and I agree to meet at the office at 10 am. Whenever the office is closed for the week during the Holidays, I take advantage of the time and "clean house" so to speak. I had Rhonda handle the back filing while I packed up the Christmas and loaded it in the car to take to storage. Rhonda and I took a "break" and brought several boxes to the storage area and grabbed a quick lunch. When we returned, she continued with the filing and I with finishing up the cleaning of the office. Zack calls me out of the blue and is having problems with his right eye. He tells me that it feels like someone punched him. He starts to cry and says that he can barely see out of it and the one time he has fun scheduled and now his eye is hurting so bad. It tears me apart hearing him cry and not being able to run and care for him. Though they are a couple of hours away I offer for Dad and I to come down there and see what we can do. He tells me no and he agrees to wash out his eye (he already took out his contacts) and if someone has eye wash, use that. Then I tell him to cover up his eye to force it to rest. He sounded better when we said goodbye, my heart is sad for him.  All we ask is for a couple of days when he doesn't have a problem. Rhonda and I finally wrapped up around 8 pm with a major sense of accomplishment. She called me on her way home and was so excited as it was snowing in Mills River (about 20 minutes away). Our town never did see the snow, but she said it was beautiful at home (Asheville, where we go for treatments). I am home and feeling every muscle in my body so I crawl in bed. Frank tells me that he had spoken to Zack just an hour earlier and his eye is doing better. He told Frank that he had laid down and slept for a couple of hours with his eyes covered and was now feeling better.

Sunday was my day to take down the Christmas decorations at home. Frank, his brother and friend have gone fishing for the day. He is taking advantage of his time off for the Holidays and catching up on his fishing since he had been so sick last month. I love when the house is empty and I have so much to do, I can run around and know that everything will be finished by the time he and Zack return. As usual, I clean out my closet and get a back of donations together, take down all the Christmas decorations and rearrange the living room (my form of entertainment). By late afternoon Frank returns, with sad stories of his failed attempts at fishing. Usually the joke is that the fish jump out of the water because he is in their presence, but today neither he nor the other guys fared well. Zack calls and is back in town. He wants to go and hang out with Drake for a little while. I ask him to first stop by the house so we can say hi and check out his eye. He comes by and we are so excited to see him back safe and sound. He goes up to Frank and picks up his 5' 9" frame while hugging him. He tells us of his riding around, how one of the parents had eye drops and helped take care of his eye (which looks a little red, but not swollen). He was able to hunt a little, but didn't shoot anything. The owners are getting ready to sell the property, but he has been invited down one more time. Zack heads out (the life of a teenager) and goes up to Drake's. He knows that he will have to stay home most of tomorrow and Tuesday to finish up his schoolwork, Wednesday and Thursday are his strong chemotherapy days followed by a shot on Friday. 

I personally am looking forward to the next two days. My list is complete and I will take this time to rest, something that anyone that knows me, knows is very hard for me to do. Knowing that we have a busy week ahead, I will take advantage of this time to rest. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Saying goodbye to Papaw

Today was a somber day. I awoke at 6:30 am ready to tackle the business bookkeeping. I have been stalling long enough and it's time to get it done. Zack wakes with more energy, a direct result of the double blood transfusion yesterday. He is excited about going to "the farm"-  four wheeling with his friends this weekend and we did everything in our power to ensure that could happen.

 Frank was planning on going fishing this morning with his new gear, but flooding has made that impossible. He takes his time waking up and is pretty quiet most of the morning. A father and son have a different relationship that a father - daughter. I can't even pretend to know what he is feeling with his Dad's passing. I know he was devastated with his Moms. We were scheduled to gather at the small chapel at the local funeral home to say goodbye to"Big John" Fisher. Everyone is to meet at 1:30 with the service at 2 pm.

I finish up the bookkeeping feeling a major sense of accomplishment. Though I am off from work until next Wednesday, being the OCD personality that I am, I have a list and a schedule and nothing is going to stand in my way of finishing everything on my list. Zack has been running around from one parts store to another trying to locate the right part to fix his truck before the weekend. Frank and he made the necessary repairs and then we all start to get ready for the service.

On the way back home from the Cancer Center yesterday, we had purchased a couple of pairs of new pants and dress shirt for Zack. I am so tired of seeing him in those t-shirts with the arms cut out, but that is the only shirt that works when the nurses need to access his port for treatments. I tease and call them the "Port shirts". Zack comes out of his room all dressed up looking rather dapper! (He wouldn't let me take his picture) . He heads out before us so that he isn't in the middle of all the people. Frank and I head out and as we pull into the parking lot, cars are parking all around us and people are walking up the steep hill to the chapel. We walk past the line of quests signing the book, hugging a few as we walk past. My mission right now is to get inside and make sure that Zack is somewhere safe and protected from all the handshakes and hugs. I find that he in fact is, surrounded by family and it seems that they are protecting him.

As we all find our seats, John's wife, Linda, her son Billy, Frank, Jamie, Mitch and Shawn all sat in the front row.  I had been told when we arrived that the children were going to sit in the front, of course we all had to laugh later, when I shared that I had told the "children... AKA grandchildren" to sit up front. I just never think of Frank and his siblings as the "children". The "in-laws" sat in the next seat and grand kids in next...etc.. A local Baptist Minister officiated, he did a wonder job, though my personal belief is different than what was preached , having had the pleasure to know the minister, he is a kind man and has always been there for the members of our community. The minister had also been asked by John, before his passing, to sing a song called "Lord, build me a cabin in glory" which was originally sung by Charlie Pride years ago (a Country singer). He sang it acapella and did a fantastic job considering he never heard it before.  Mitch stood and spoke on how his father raised them and shared a couple of stories and then Shawn read a poem that their father had written, sealed in an envelope and put in his safe marked "To be read at my funeral". (I will share it when I obtain a copy) It was a beautiful poem and spoke of where he hopes he will be when he passes, (actually a cabin overlooking the hills, I'm sensing a theme here). I do hope that he is in that place of peace, he had suffered for way too many years and he made it impossible for anyone to take care of him. The family had requested a color guard, as John had served (during peace times) in the Marines. The younger serviceman and servicewoman unfolded and refolded the flag, it was then presented to Linda along with documents and a Thank you for John's years of service. This was followed by a three gun salute (caught me off guard... pardon the pun) and the trumpet playing "Taps". When they presented Linda with the flag is when I teared up, it was beautiful and I couldn't help but think how special it is that Mom worked so hard to ensure we were born in the US. When the service was over, in honor of Johns love of hunting, all us "children" put on camouflage hats. Those that knew him well fully understood our meaning.

We lined up to accept the guests and thank them for coming. Zack had spotted two people in particular, our old neighbors Garfield and Frances. He wanted to stay long enough to say hello to them and standing behind me, didn't shake or hug anyone until they came. They assured us they were not sick and right after saying hello to them, he left to return home. The turnout would have made John proud, the chapel was full , with friends, acquaintances from Dupont (where he worked for 33+ years) and family members. Everything had wrapped up in about two hours.  Floyd  (brother in law) and I went across to the offices to pick up the photos we had dropped off, Frank then went and was given his fathers remains. We will keep his remains with us until a decision is made as to where his final resting place will be.

As we were all leaving the chapel, we were invited to Shawn and Floyd's house for dinner. Their church had offered to bring us all dinner and though we were ready to go home, it was a nice way to end the "ceremony".  Zack handled everything so well. He came home and is now preparing for his big weekend. The fun part is, the four wheeler was a gift from Papaw, so he will in fact, be honoring him, which is exactly what John would have wanted him to do.

Of course this was years ago, but the memories are still there!
Zack and Darrick having fun with Papaw

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas....and then some

Sunday was a day to relax, well okay so we didn't relax. We prepared the house for Christmas Eve Dinner when Rhonda and her boys will come over and do all the cooking. My brother Bob is not in any condition yet to be able to come over, (He is agoraphobic and has been for several years) we try and get together at Mom's house every year, but for the past few it is just too hard for him to have so many people and all the commotion. This is his story to tell, but not being able to spend Christmas with him is hard. I can handle if someone lives in another State far away, but when they live so close, it's hard. We honor his wishes as we know it wouldn't be fun, maybe even be torture for him  and that's not what it's all about. Frank and I asked if we could it at our house this year so that Zack can go in his room should he get tired. Everyone is in agreement. Rhonda's only request... "let me have your kitchen for the day and stay out of it!!".  I remind her of my motto "I have a kitchen, because it came with the house." Cooking is not one of my favorite things to do, I would rather have kitchen patrol than to cook.

Meme (Mom) and Zack
Monday is Christmas Eve. Since the office is going to be closed for a week after the Holiday's we decided to open from 7:30 am - Noon. The house is in order, so I know "my" preparations are complete. I work until noon, we exchange gifts, (I receive a Christmas bonus from my bosses, which is such a blessing) and Nancy and I grab a quick lunch before heading our separate ways.I had contacted the Cancer Center and told them of our plans for the rest of the week. Melanie advised that Zack go ahead and come in for them to check his levels, this way if he needs blood they can arrange to have it ready for Wednesday's appointment. Zack is angry, he didn't want to have to go in, but he also understands.  He and Frank headed out and by lunch I got a call from Melanie who advises that he does need blood and though they wanted to give it to him today, he refused saying it would be hours and he didn't want to miss Christmas Eve dinner with family.We have taught him even though you must have treatments there are some times that the schedule can be altered and if you truly want to do something, you have a right to speak up. So we have this all scheduled for Wednesday.

I had collected several pictures of Big John and after lunch brought them to the funeral home for the Thursday's service. As usual communication was mixed up and they were already closed, not being one to give up I call and ask where to leave them. We work out a location and I'm on the road again. Not realizing the banks closed early, I went shopping for a couple of last minute items and received change for my nephews "Joke" present. I had prepared two packages, one with change, small bills, and a couple of large bills and put each item in a coin roll, Frank found a stone that weighed the exact same as a snow globe that I placed in the other bag with larger bills. He had two bags in front of him and could only choose one as his gift. He choose the one that required the more work. Of course, later he found out the amount was the same in each bag, one just required work and the other not. This was "pay back" for a time when he placed money in small denominations in a plastic bag, filled it with water and froze it. He then presented my husband with the gift of "COLD HARD CASH!!" We love gags like this, it makes for fun.

Frank and Rhonda
Nick (nephew) and Havley
Rhonda and her sons Peter, Nick and Jim


Sidi (Tibetan for Peace)
"It's past my bedtime"
Rhonda's special marzipan
The Christmas Eve spread was magnificent. Hors d'oeuvres of Brie cheese, pigs in a blanket, a cheese ball and Rhonda's special fruit shaped marzipan. The meal consisted of mac and cheese, ham, pot roast, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, two breads, cranberry sauce. I'm sure I missed something. There was enough food to feed an army, but the best part is all the leftovers. We had a great meal and a even better time together. Laughter is something that has been missing from this family for awhile, especially at the holidays. Mom misses the hell out of Dad, understandably, so the Holidays are especially hard for her. My "mission" this particular time of year was to ensure that Zack had the best possible memories. He has just lost his Grandfather and the limitation he currently has due to his therapy make it hard to keep things "normal", but we do the best we can,. 

Darrick, Zack, Curtis &  Jamie

Zack's new ramps
On Christmas morning, we woke fairly early and exchanged gifts. I used to think the days that Zack stopped believing in Santa, opening gifts wouldn't be the same, but we had a ton of fun. Frank had wrapped my gift in a large box, taped with duct tape and a set of drill bits (hey I asked for it, don't laugh) also taped inside the box. Zack will excited with his gifts, mostly for the truck and Frank's involved fishing gear.
Zack whispering

We all  (Franks family) had agreed to meet at his Sister and Brother in laws house for the Fisher get together. We usually go in the afternoon, today we will meet at 11:30 am. so that my younger sister in laws children could have equal time with us and their father (their parents are separated . It was actually perfect. We opened gifts, the children were picked up by their father and the adults had quiet time to visit and catch up on everything. 

Plans are ready for Big Johns service and if everything goes as planned, the service should be light and short. Zack will go to the service, which will be first, sit up front with us (Big John was cremated) and when it is over head home while the rest of us stay and visit with the guests. Frank and I were firm and told everyone we didn't want Zack to be subject to a large crowd. Of course everyone was in agreement, so no arguments.

We wrapped up the day around 4 pm which allowed us "down time" at home. Zack had already headed our earlier to go see Drake and his family and rest. We love the fact that he is honest enough, no matter what the situation to tell us when he is tired and needs to rest. That is the only way all of these get together's are working. We don't want to have to "guess" what he is feeling, if he tells us, we can better understand how to help.

It is now Wednesday and life as we know it is back to normal. Zack and I head out to the Cancer Center for a double blood transfusion and his next round of chemo. This time it is Vincristine, which, thankfully, doesn't make him as sick. He is tired, which is one of the side effects of low hemoglobin so we are already glad for the transfusion. We arrive at 11:30 am and are done by 3:30 pm, an early day for us. This can usually last until 6 pm. We head out and stop at a local store to pick up some new pants for tomorrow's service. Some family members state we must wear a suit, but anyone that knows us, knows we will not and do not conform. We are there to pay our respects to Big John,and I know he wouldn't care what the heck we wear. The reality is, he is long gone and much happier and hopefully not hanging around to see what we are up to. He served his time and now it's his time to rest in peace.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Feelings... nothing more than feelings....

Shock: the day we found out that our 16 year old has Ewings Sarcoma and our life as we knew it would never be the same!

Anger: realizing the new journey our son would be going through and there wasn't a damn thing we could do about it.  Realizing the surgeon cut open our son without further tests that would have determined it was cancer so we could be at St Judes Hospital.

Fear: Is our son really going to be cancer free, able to have a normal healthy life after a year of treatments? Able to father children, will he go through this again as have some of our new friends, will he be strong enough emotionally to cope should that happen.

Relief   We know what must be done, The odds are in our favor, That we are better off in our hometown where he would still receive the same treatment, care and would be surrounded by his friends and family instead of in a location where we knew no one. That we are all going to make it through this better people.

Love: The outpouring of Love from all our friends and family members was and is overwhelming to say the least. The incredible Love I feel for others, now more on a spiritual level.

Coping:  Learning to cope with the new schedule, the emotions, changes in lifestyle, changes in how we can and can't be there for everyone as we were able to do in the past, learning how to be a couple in the midst of everything, Coping with being parents and staying firm in spite of the new life.

Exhaustion: From lack of sleep, worry, fear, anger, crying, trip to treatments, stays in hospital, being emotionally supportive 100% of the time

Frustration:  Not always having the answers for a child with questions, not always being able to say yes, not being able to be with my best friend and Mom as often as I would like to, having to deal with stupid comments from ignorant people, having everyone tell us what we should and shouldn't do.

Energy:   Receiving and giving of energy. The love from everyone gives us renewed energy, the hugs, phone calls, uplifting emails and Face Book messages are all re-energizing!

Strength:  The new strength we are discovering each day in how to survive, be alive and learn to live with each new change. Learning to ignore the negative energy and let it go.

Loss:  The loss of life as we knew it, the loss of our sons innocence, the loss of friends who didn't know how to cope with our new journey,  the loss of time we can never regain.

Gain: The new respect for life, new friends and amazing connections with people from around the globe, stronger relationships with new purpose and new meaning, better outlook on life, new respect for our son, my husband and even myself.

Joy: When we found out the cancer was all removed! When we were told the radiation was completed!  In the moments we share laughing, teasing and even crying. Watching a movie and enjoying the simple things. Dancing in the kitchen as our son stares at us as if we are aliens. Sitting by the campfire telling jokes and sharing stories.

Gratefulness:  For the outpouring of Love and Kindness. For a team of Doctors and Nurses that treat Zack as if he were their only concern, For the generous gifts we have received, For two amazing bosses that allow me to take time off when needed and continue to pay me, amazing friends that tolerate my mood swings, emotions and anger and still tell me they love me.

Compassion  Feeling more compassion for others, learning to put myself in "their" place and understanding that someone will always have it better and someone will always have it worse, but we all go through the cycle.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The rest of this week has been full of changes and yet.. it is "business" as usual. Wednesday Zack went by himself for his Neulasta shot. Knowing he wouldn't be getting transfusion or chemo, he was fine driving there and returning within a couple of hours. His leg is still in pretty bad shape, but it's not hurting too much to drive. Since I have a couple of full days of work before the Holidays it's nice when he can go on his own. He much prefers a break too, from Mom and Dad's "hovering". We continue to wrap his leg with the special gauze they gave us, which is allowing it to heal in a more normal  pace.

Thursday, he stayed home and continued working on his schoolwork. His extension is limited to the time school is out, so he needs to finish up. He is frustrated and tired, but works on it nonetheless while complaining the entire time. His mood swings are pretty much up and down, but every now and then he sits down and vents. 

Friday morning around 7:30  Zack goes with Drake for labs. If they determine that he needs blood, they will have him stay for transfusions. I was scheduled to go shopping for the morning with Nancy, but offered to take Zack. He tells me "no offense Mom, but I would rather go with Drake." "It's more fun with my friends." How can I argue with that? I have to agree, they have more to talk about and maybe it's less stressful when his friends are there. I am still in bed when Frank comes in and says "Dads gone!" I look at him with disbelief and repeat what he said in question format. He tells me that his Dad was having a hard time breathing the night before and Linda (his wife) had checked on him a couple of times. At one point she had to put the oxygen tube back in his nose and went back to sleep. She was restless, this all seemed too familiar to her. When she awoke a couple of hours later, she found he had passed. We have been waiting for this moment for many years. This man had escaped death many times, his will to live was so strong, even with his quality of life becoming very poor. 

I was in such disbelief, I started to cry and Frank came and consoled me reminding me that he is better off.  Somehow, even though we know this to be true, it doesn't make it easier. Immediately I am ready to cancel my day with Nancy. Frank won't hear of it. He reminds me that every now and then I need to have some fun. He tells me that it is up to the kids, "there are four of us" to step up and handle whatever needs to be done. It doesn't take me long to be convinced. Being selfish, I knew I needed to have a day out with my dear friend. I called my sisters and brother in -laws and offered my condolences. I then realize that it is possible that someone would post something on Face Book (the worlds new form of immediate communication). so I call and ask my nephew Darrick to tell his parents to let everyone know not to post anything until we have had time to tell Zack. (Frank and I decided it was best to tell him when he returned home). Frank, heading up to Linda's house, tells me to just call him when we are done shopping and he will let me know where they are and what's going on. 

Nancy and I meet and once I shake off the guilt of going out, we both agree to "try" and make the best of the day. We arrive at the store and I receive a text from my nephew who says he saw that Tammy posted on FB about Johns passing. Possibly over reacting, I call Tammy (my sister in law, married to John's other son, Mitch) and tell her to IMMEDIATELY take the notice off of Face Book, Zack hasn't been told and I would hate for him to find out while getting his labs. I don't even give her a chance to respond, she says she can't take it off, she put in on through her phone, I tell her to do whatever she must, just take care of it!! It takes about an hour for me to find out from Frank that she removed it and though her feelings were hurt, she understood where I was coming from. Trying to apologize in my own way, I send her an "I love you text", to which she responded the same. It all of a sudden occurred to me that Zack would be driving by the store on his way home. I call Frank, who agrees, it is better to go ahead and tell Zack sooner than later. He is going to find out in the "wrong" way and it is better for us to tell him. I heard from Zack that he is not going to need a blood transfusion so he is on his way back home. I, feeling weird, as him to drop by Target which he does. We meet in the entrance, he is with Drake, who being my "other" son also has grown close to Papaw John. feeling really awkward, Zack says Mom "just tell me, I'm freezing my arse off out here." I tell him that Papaw passed away early in the morning and we didn't find out until he was on his way to the cancer center. He didn't seem shocked and said "I knew it was going to happen sooner than later." Somehow I knew he was being tough, I knew that he would "deal" with his emotions later. He said he was going to go up to see everyone and gave me a hug goodbye. 

Finally Nancy and I were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the day. The guilt slowly subsided and I could feel my shoulders relaxing as the tension of the morning left. We spend the rest of the morning finding wonderful Christmas gifts from our lists and after checking in with Frank, we head out to lunch. Zack made it up to Linda's house with Drake and was catching everyone up with his treatments as the kids were helping Linda figure out the funeral arrangements and reviewing all of John's legal documents. 

Once we are back I call Frank, who is at the funeral home with Mitch, Shawn and Linda. They are wrapping up the arrangements. They decided to have a memorial service with friends and family and later the spreading of the ashes with family. We pay our last respect to John and within twenty minutes we are back home. Zack had spent most of the day up at Linda's house and now was hanging out at Drakes. 

Now, Saturday morning, we all wake up slowly. The condolences are coming in by the droves from so many friends and family. Zack wakes up and immediately takes Frank to pick up his truck at Floyd's, who repaired it. When he returns he is in a bad mood. I ask him if there is anything I can do to help him out. He snaps and says "You know what it is." I tell him that I don't know what it is, there is so much going on I need him to talk to me! He starts to cry and says "it's Papaw." He tells me that even if we all expected him to pass, he is so sad and will miss him very much. Frank comes in and talks about how special Zack was to Papaw. "He loved all of his grand kids equally, but you son are the only one that is going to carry on the Fisher name and he was so proud of that and who you have become." I started to tear up, I hadn't even thought of that! Zack sits up straight and wipes the tears, he is all of a sudden proud.

The rest of the day he spent with Drake. It's so much easier to deal with things when you are with friends, especially at that age. Linda called and told me that she and Zack were teasing about how he found out, "in the middle of Target parking lot" Zack told her, she said I looked at him and reminded him of just whom is mother is. She said they both "agreed" and got a good laugh. I spent the day wrapping the presents purchased yesterday as Frank worked further on his indoor project. His leg is looking better by tonight, he is still walking with a limp, but each day the healing is better, 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"It's the little things"...

"Sunday is a day of rest". Well I finally took the advise and rested. Zack was to go with Frank and work for a couple of hours on the indoor water feature, but his leg is still in bad shape, so he stayed home and rested along with me. 

We sat on the couch and love seat and picked one movie after another. We went from old black and white movies, to action, to comedy back to action. It was so nice just to sit and relax and enjoy one on one time with my son. It was raining outside so I never once felt guilty about taking the time to sit and do absolutely nothing.

Monday, was an exciting day at work. I put out a spread of goodies and apple cider as a Holiday treat for our clients. I love setting up little treats, it's fun to see peoples faces and their appreciation for thinking of them. It's all about the little things, that's one thing I have known for years and continue to believe.

Zack's leg was not in any better shape. I wanted to bring him to the clinic today, but he asked me to please just wait until Tuesday, since we were going to be there anyway. He continued to work on his schoolwork. We were so proud when we received an email from his English teacher telling us he made an 89 on his Senior paper. She said considering the criteria he did an excellent job and we should all be proud of him. Of course under the circumstances the fact that he finished it is what I'm thrilled with. He doesn't know it yet, but the teachers have given him an extension on his schoolwork until they return in January, so.... will keep everyone posted. I personally want a piece of paper in front of me stating that he has completed all courses and will graduate!!!

I had an emotional evening. I find that there are changes in some friendships. I seem to get on people nerves more.I'm not sure if I'm talking too much about what we are going through or not enough. I am very confused and try and fix the relationships, but I am reminded by my very intelligent son "If someone doesn't want to be your friend anymore, show them the door, you don't need added stress right now." Well I can't exactly show the door, I am a type of person that becomes very attached to my friends and when I invest in relationships it is 100%. Of course, we all have "off" days and are not able to be there as much as we would like to be, but I try and make up for those days.  What I must learn is that some things are out of my control and it takes two people to have a relationship.

Zack and I  had a nice relaxing evening once I returned home from work. Frank is still working on the indoor garden feature so he doesn't make it home until 9 pm. I  had purchased monogrammed small key chain coin purses and photo albums attached to key chains for all the staff at the Cancer Center as Christmas gifts. It is just a small token of our appreciation for how they have taken such good care of Zack. I acquired a list with all the names of each staff member, so each item had their initial for that personal touch.  I purchased small bright colored foil bags, bows and silver tissue paper to wrap all their gifts.  Zack and Frank thought it was pretty neat looking, so if they liked it I know the staff will be pleased. I put them in a box for transport, loaded up my laptop and bills and had everything ready on the table for Tuesday's trip to the Cancer Center.

It is now Tuesday morning. We are expected at the center for week one of chemo. When I say week one, it is always the first treatment of the month, followed by the second week of chemo and the third is usually the hospital week. Well, that's what we "thought". Since Zack is close to reaching the lifetime max of the doxorubicin (the red chemo that makes him the most sick), he is not getting that for a couple of weeks. They want to spread out the treatments more now, which should provide some relief for Zack. Today was the "mild" chemo treatment. "Mild", but he still get nauseous ,usually not as long lasting as with the other medicine. He was given three units of IV fluids before beginning the treatment. 

Rhonda came early and stayed the entire day with us. At first I wasn't sure if "we" wanted company. On days like this, I come fully prepared to do bookkeeping, make calls and rest. Zack and I were in such bad moods when we first arrived, I wasn't sure she was going to feel welcome. Zack was just pissed about being there again and I was just pissed at the world. I find that I'm still trying to get into everybody's head and it just doesn't work , not to mention it's driving me crazy in the process. By the time Rhonda arrives, we start to loosen and have a better attitude. Zack is watching "Ink Master", a show where several tattoo artist compete for the $100,000 prize and title of feature article in "Inked Magazine". Today they are showing the entire series and tonight will be the Finale. He got Rhonda totally hooked on the show to the point where we had to rush back after lunch to see the next episode. It was kind of funny actually. She and I grabbed lunch at Neo, a local Mexican restaurant (which has delicious food) near Biltmore Estate, just down from the Center. We picked something up for him and luckily by the time we returned he was hungry.

While they were watching the show, I took a short nap, in between calling the billing departments at the Hospital, Radiation, Cancer Center and Anesthesiologist and then credit agencies that have all either sent collection letters or phone calls. Luckily I keep very tight records (which is a must when you get five - ten bills daily). Most were supposed to file with insurance and then send us new balances, There were still several that had not submitted to the insurance company, so we arranged to get that current. Those that have most EOB's ( Explanation of Benefits) back with balances are willing to work with us, I was able to talk with them all and ask them for a payment plan.  There is also something called "Charity" where they charge based on your income. I interviewed over the phone as they filled out the same documents that I had filled out with the local hospital where Zack first had his surgery. At least I felt that "they" heard me and are willing to work with us. I'm not sure any hospital expects payment in full from anyone and God bless anyone that could pay in full. Once finished with all the calls, I at least felt like I was back in control.

The rest of the day was spent watching the shows, and getting the scheduling filled in for the next few weeks. Zack had gone to the restroom and came back showing me the back of his leg. His burn had leaked through his clothes and stained them. I went out to get the nurse and asked her to take a look at it. She did, then she got the doctor, who asked the Radiation nurse to come upstairs and offer her input into how to treat the burn. They all concur that it is healing very well, but must be covered to allow it to continue to heal. He is also put on antibiotics. At first I protest, but then the Doctor explains how with chemo and the radiation, his immune system is low and the possibility of infection is high. After explaining this, we agree to go ahead with the antibiotics. This is not normal circumstances we are dealing with, but I will always question why. We are given various types of gauze including petroleum covered gauze that will not stick to the sore. Because we have not been successful at having the gauze stay on the sore, (trying paper tape and cloth tape didn't work either) we were given a special leg gauze that Zack can slip up on his thigh and will hold it in place. Everything they gave us can not be found in the local pharmacy so I'm glad I asked for additional help. 

It is 6:30 pm and we have been there for 9 1/2 hours. We walk with Rhonda out to our cars, hug each other goodbye and can't wait to get home. I have set up the TV to record the shows that we are not able to see while traveling. Once we arrive home, we immediately turn on the TV and continue watching the shows. Frank is home after having worked on the indoor feature a couple of hours before our arrival, so we share the days events. He is excited that we don't have to spend New Years Eve in the Hospital, we don't have the "heavy" chemo for a couple of weeks and that we finally have what is needed to treat his wound properly.  We are just celebrating the little things!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"I fall asleep counting my blessings..."

Zack went to school on Friday to drop off and pick up his next scheduled set of schoolwork. He is feeling "okay" but even with the double blood transfusion I can tell his energy is still low. He is in a lot of pain on his leg as a result of the radiation treatment. Even though these treatments are done, the healing is slow. He walks slowly and almost as if he just stepped off of a horse. He calls me from the school to tell me he has decided to stay and have lunch with some of his friends.  He came home just as I was leaving, tells me he was given his new schoolwork and is going to spend the rest of the day resting and reading. 

I am on my way out the door to pick up Mom. Since I have to go to Hendersonville to buy treats for our Annual Christmas party, she and I decided we would make it a fun day. I am excited about being able to spend some time with her. It's been a while since we have had a full day together with no Doctors appointments or "scheduled" appointments anywhere. We decide to have a relaxing day, window shopping, lunch ,grabbing the food for the party and later dinner. Mom has been having problems with her Hiatal Hernia, so we take our time eating lunch. It hasn't acted up in years, but she is learning that the more stressed she gets the worse it acts up. Mom started to share more stories about her first job in the US. I love hearing her stories, her life has been so eventful I still tell her she needs to be published. The day went by so fast, but it was so great. By the time we finish it is 8 pm.  Zack was working  a little tonight with Frank on this special indoor water feature, but he was already finished and hanging out with Drake when I arrived home at 9 pm. Frank worked another two hours before he made it home. I unload the groceries, crawl in bed and prepare mentally for tomorrow's party.

I wake up early. With a full night's sleep behind me I am ready for a day of party preparations. We are expecting about 25 people and not having heard what anyone is bringing, I am fully prepared to cover all the food. (Everyone usually brings something, which is so nice, as we have a wonderful assortment of food). Since I haven't been home long enough to clean house, this is the first thing I tackle. It's not that hard, as Frank has been very good about keeping up with things. As I carry a heavy candle holder through the house, one of the iron birds on it falls to the ground, waking up Zack. He comes out of his room and asks if I'm okay. We laugh at the fact I was trying to be so quiet and then BOOM, I drop the heaviest, loudest item I could possibly drop. He fixes his breakfast, gives himself his shot (which is amazing, he now is doing that on his own since he is down to one a day) and then starts to clean up his room. At lunch he offers to run to the store for a couple of items I forgot. As he gets ready I notice he is again walking slowly. He says he needs to bandage his leg before getting dressed. Knowing it is in an awkward location on the inner back of the thigh, I offer to bandage it for him. He warns me that it looks pretty bad. Understatement of the year!! I feel squeamish as I am attaching gauze to the area. This is a result of a large blister that ruptured , it is raw exposed skin. (sorry to be so graphic, but it's not always pretty) I was able to get it covered and wrapped. As he goes into his room to finish getting dressed, he comes out again and the bandage is at the bottom of his leg. We laugh and Zack says "Fail!".  So.. we try again, this time he says it's okay for me to tape it at the top of the bandage, "just make sure you don't tape on the sore area." I redo it all and this time it works. I try and tell him not to go, but he insists saying that it doesn't matter what he does, sitting, walking, laying down, it still hurts. He returns within 30 minutes and says the bandage is still staying on. 

As I finish the final preparations for the party,  Frank returns from work and gets the outside cleaned up (leaf blowing and firewood cut for the fire pit).  I receive a couple of emails and texts with news from people that are not going to be able to make it. Some are sick, I feel bad for Nancy, who has developed a terrible toothache and another friend whose glands were swollen, she was worried about being sick around Zack. This time of year there is so much for everyone to do, I am grateful to those that were able to make it on such short notice.  Rhonda was able to pick up Mom, so we had even more time together and Mom seemed to enjoy herself. We had friends bring their dogs and Leah (Drakes sister) brought her four month old baby boy. Zack had mentioned earlier that he hoped a lot of people wouldn't ask about his treatment. He said he is so tired of being the "kid with cancer." As it turned out, everyone respected his privacy and would just ask how he was, if they had questions they would get me on the side and ask me. A bunch of Zacks friends came and though he was tired, he was glad to have them all here. For the entire evening I would hear "Mom" as all of his friends call me, I felt so blessed to have so many kids around. He has such amazing supportive friends, as do we. You never know how people will react during times like this. It's hard for some to know what to do and say. I can't help but smile, Zack is still outside at the fire pit with his friends and Frank. As the song goes in my favorite Holiday Movie ,White Christmas, "I fall asleep counting my blessings".... 

Lots of good food
Leah, "Striking a pose"
Even more delicious desserts

Zack and Mom (Me)
"Meme" my Mom
Leah , Chris and Sidi

Drake and Kar

Jeff & Kelly
Rhonda, Mom and Bijou
Amy & Bill (they were on time!)

Zack and Leah "sis"
Frank, Chris, Honey and Sidi
Zack, Amy and Landon (Leah's son)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The past is the past....

The past two days have been filled with every emotion in the universe. Zack has been working feverishly to complete his schoolwork in order to be an early graduate. What this means is, he will still cross the stage with his friends in the summer, but will be finished with all of his classes by early next month. He has not put 100% effort out up until now. I can't imagine what it would be like to find motivation all the while going through all this crap he has to go through. I am proud and yet have also been very frustrated at this whole process. The "home bound" schooling, having to fuss at him for not doing his work, while also "coddling" him as he goes through chemo, radiation, shots... There is emotion one!! frustration

He didn't have to go to the clinic yesterday, so that gave Zack the entire day off. I went to work and was able to focus better, since he was not having a procedure.  I am getting more in the Holiday spirit, so that is contributing to my "better" mood.  We play the classic Christmas music at the office, Bing Crosby, Pearl Baley, Wayne Newton, etc.. I know.. lame.. but I totally love this kind of music and it brings me back to happier times. Times that were not so stressful, fearful and downright depressing. I had decided to throw a Christmas Party and forgot to mention it to Frank. When he talked with a couple of his fishing buddies I ask if they were coming to the party. "What party" he asked. "OOPS!". Oh well, so this Saturday in order to bring more cheer and "normalcy" to the Kensinger - Fisher house, we are having our annual Christmas Party. It has been brought to my attention that this is a lot more work, but to me, it's really just a wonderful way to share the spirit of Christmas with friends and family. Add to all this,  the old Father Christmas that I won on Ebay that my father made back in 1987, which just arrived today! Never mind the fact that I already own about 12, this one is signed by my father and is one of the first ( #47) that he made.  Zack is even excited about it's arrival. I am finding that I am missing my father a lot this year. I think about how many times he would remind me that we are all "Gods perfect children" and would pray with me, with his hand on mine and his eyes closed, smiling with his kind smile, you could see the light around him just full of pure love. Today, this is the father I remember. I know he is here, watching over us all and laying his hand on mine to tell me everything is just fine.

I find that many people tell me they are thinking about me and Zack. I guess I don't talk about Frank a lot and how he is coping with all of this. Truth be told, I'm not sure. He has never been a talker, especially when it comes to emotions. Growing up he was "told" how "real men feel", so he was never given a chance to show his emotions. There are moments when he looks at Zack and you can tell he just wants to grab him and hug him, but then, as if his father is standing beside him dictating his behavior, he stands tall and says something like "you're doing great son", " it's going to be okay."  A couple of weeks ago, before the Hospital stay, Zack couldn't walk through the house, he was in so much pain from the blisters caused by the radiation. Frank stood up and at 5' 9" stood on his toes, grabbed his son by the neck and pulled his 6" 5" frame down to him so he could really hold him. He started to cry and tell Zack how sorry he was for what he is going through.  Zack mentioned to me last night how good a mood "dad" seemed to be in lately. I told him, it's because the radiation is done and he sees that "you" are okay. "Cool" was the response. Frank is the "silent" partner. He holds everything in, does not share with everyone he meets, does not write or share his emotions on Face Book or a blog, he does not confide in many people at all. He is a loner and at times I worry that he is not getting the extra support from others as I do. His mother passed on several years ago and that forever changed him. I wonder what she would say to him at this time when having our mother is so important. I don't know where I would be without mine. She is my strength!

Yesterday was a big day for Zack! Frank took him down to get his permanent drivers License. He had to drive with a restricted one for six months and yesterday was the day for him to get the restrictions of being a new driver, removed. He was worried they would make him take his hat off. He didn't want a picture of him without his hair (or hat). They were very gracious and said he could keep it on for the picture. I will post it when he gets his license in the mail in a couple of days.

Zack's counts were very low today, he usually is a 10 or on a really good count day an 11.  Today it was 7.1. Drake took off from school, I'm not sure I was happy with that arrangement, but Bill, his Dad said it was fine. He went with Zack to get his transfusion. It turned out to be a double. I know he will feel so much better once that kicks in. He called me from the cancer center and said they are trying to get his count back up before Chemo starts again next week. With radiation completed I'm sure his counts will continue to rise. Though I am still worried about it taking so long for his leg to heal. Another blister (large one) ruptured again today soaking his pant leg. They are now too large to put a bandage on so we coat them in the special cream they provided. He does have good news! I had made a request of the doctor for Zack to be down to one shot of Lovenox a day. The blood clot in his arm is now gone. Frank and I are 95%  sure it was a direct result of the surgery when they installed the port. Zack told us that he only has to have one shot in the mornings now. This will continue as long as he has the port. We are fine with that, better not to take chances. Zack is very pleased!!

As I finish up the day, I see a note from my friend that the Christmas concert is tonight. Zack was in chorus and band, playing the saxophone a couple of years ago. Melanie's son (my other son and one of Zack's best friends) and daughter are playing tonight and Chris even has a solo! I ask if I could ride with them to the High School. Frank has to work late tonight on the indoor water feature at a local business and Zack is going to a meeting with friends at the school. I know neither of them are interested in going and I want to continue with my Holiday spirit.  I finish up at work and Mel and Brian arrive at 6:45 pm to pick me up. As I enter the school I am wondering why I came. All of a sudden I am sad, people are asking how Zack is, what are the details and saying, "I didn't know how bad it was." I put on my "happy face" and tell them "everything is fine!" ,"he is doing really well!", "it could be worse" go me the most unusual looks, I know most are being polite, some sincere. A couple of people mention having seen him and how different he looks. "He does?", Oh yea, no hair, eyebrows or eyelashes. "Yes, he does." As we sit down, the concert begins. I am filled with every kind of emotion. I am so proud of Chris and Katie. They are,  like Zack, all grown up and yet here we are at the High School, with such innocence too.  It is then that it hits me, Zack's innocence is gone. At least when it comes to knowing pain, real fear and having to face what I hope will be the biggest challenge of his life. These kids on stage in front of me are so young, At 52, I suddenly feel so old and tired.  There is a piano player, I swear I am looking at myself. I can't tell if it's a man or woman. Melanie just then texts me and says "Brian says the piano player is your long lost brother." "I know!" I freaked out, staring at this person, it could be me!! I have never seen anyone that I thought was me! Okay, now I'm really loosing it! No, wait , they saw it too! Okay, this night is just getting too weird. 

The concert is over, I get to hug a few people on our way out the door. We laugh about the piano player, secretly, I'm still freaked out inside. I congratulate Chris and Katie on a great job! I am glad I went, it was something different to do and more memories. On my way home I call Mom. It's about 9 pm, so I am hoping I didn't wake her. I tell her about the concert, she asks if I'm okay, I realize, it really was hard to go. "Was I wrong to go?" Mom asks, "I don't think so, I'm not sure." I start to cry and need to hang up. I don't want to upset Mom, though I know she can tell. 

I agree to meet her tomorrow for "party" shopping. It will be good to be able to give her a hug. I miss our normal routine of Tuesday shopping trips. I enter the house, Frank is sound asleep on the couch, but carrying on a full conversation with me. It's always hilarious when he does that. Zack is in his room, playing on his computer and getting ready for bed. I offer for him to go with me to Hendersonville, but he says he is going to get his school work done. He also has a meeting tomorrow to turn some of it in to his teacher. He had a good time with the guys tonight, is tired and ready to go to bed. I share about the concert with him, but he has "been there done that too!" We say good night. 

 I guess down deep a part of me wanted to bring back the innocence of the past. But we already know, we can't go back.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Mom, it's just me. the bumble bee and Meme"

Yesterday started out as a normal day. I went to work, opened the office, that has become such a routine I don't even pay attention to the steps. I start out at one end of the building and end at the other. I could do it in my sleep and not miss a step. I am anxious, it's raining and Zack is driving his truck (the bumble bee) to Asheville for labs and then to Hendersonville to take Mom grocery shopping. Maybe I'm anxious because of the weather, maybe I just want to keep Zack in my small world and protect him every minute of every day. I know I have to trust him, that he will drive safely, that he knows what to do. He has already proven himself wise beyond his years and yet I can't forget he is still young and going through so much. 

The office is open, again I go through the motions. Checking patients in, greeting them with the usual smile, answering how Zack is with "he's great, just got out of the hospital and done with radiation." It has almost become a "script". At 8 am, just in time for the Cancer Center to open, I call and schedule a time for Zack to go in for his Neulasta shot and lab results. They set it up for 1:00 pm as their morning is full. I call Zack and let him know what time to go, he is already up and ready to go and pick up his Meme. He and she are both excited about spending time together. Their bond is so special, there are no words to express. Knowing he is set for the day, I get back to work. My head feels like I have two bowling balls resting behind my eyes. When we close for reports I ask Doc Nancy if she would mind adjusting me. We go to the back of the office and as I sit on one of the tables I open the flood gates. I just sit there with both Docs (and Bff's) and cry non stop. I am tired, I don't feel well, my weight has reached its highest ever and I feel every ounce. Physically I am exhausted, mentally and emotionally. They sit and listen and offer all their love and support. Somehow, just pouring out my heart and soul allows me to clear my mind. Both do their magic and within twenty minutes or so I feel so much better. Nancy and I come up with an "easy" plan for me to loose and get healthier. If I can just lay off the sodas and sugar I am going to start to feel better. Instead of overwhelming myself even more, just cut out a couple of things and see how that helps. 

The weather is off and on rain, but Nancy calms me even more by reminding me of just how special Zack really is. "He is so responsible, makes the right choices and has grown so much in the past few months." "How special for him and Meme to have one of one time together." Once I start to visualize their day together, I am calmer and feeling, actually a bit silly. Not about being overwhelmed, but about my fears. I am able to really focus for the next shift. Both Docs offered for me to take some time off, but this is my sanctuary, positive energy is all around and I don't want to miss a minute of it. I jump back into work and feel clearer. Zack lets me know he arrived at Mom's safe. Before I know it, I'm at lunch and already making the right choices as to eating healthier. THIS I can control!! I may not have control over anything else in my life, but THIS I GOT!!!  I realize when I order that the server is ready to bring my usual soda until I tell her tea and once finished with lunch she offers dessert, No thank you!! Off of sweets!! How empowering it felt. 

I head back to the office and receive a call from the Cancer Center. Zacks labs are back and he is in good shape until Thursday, when they are sure he will need a transfusion. He has surprised them in the past though, so we will just wait and see. It is so wonderful that he doesn't have radiation anymore. Him not having to run out the door first thing in the morning and head to Asheville every day is HUGE!!! Zack returns home after meeting his friends in Asheville for lunch and starts on his new English project. On my way home from work I call Mom and ask how their day went. She couldn't stop bragging about how well he did. From his driving, to his manners, to how well he is handling everything. A proud Meme indeed!! Since we don't have to go to the Center tomorrow I tell Mom that I have decided to stay home and rest. Though this means we can't see each other until our Christmas party on Saturday, she is glad I am showing signs of taking care of myself. Of course, knowing my mother the way I do, she will believe it when she sees it. 

It is Tuesday morning. Frank heads out to work and the house is so quiet. Zack is still sleeping, of course I can't sleep past 7 am, but I lay in bed watching a couple of shows. I'm not anxious about having to jump up and do anything, which for me is quite unusual. Around 11 am Zack wakes to me reminding him to give himself his morning shot. We hope that Thursday they will cut his shots down to once a day. He has been giving these to himself twice a day for over three months and the Docs said he would be cut down after that. It is becoming harder for him to administer the shots, but he still won't ask for our help. he insists on doing everything himself.

The day was spent resting, while watching TV. A couple of small loads of laundry, fill and empty the dishwasher and just a little bit of bookkeeping. For the most part I rested. I didn't even pull out the vacuum!! Zack worked on his schoolwork all day with about an hours break for lunch.  Later in the afternoon he and Drake went to the post office for me and picked up a part for a neighbors truck he is helping repair. 

Frank returns from work and we all have a nice dinner.  Zack is feeling well, but says he can tell he is going to need a transfusion on Thursday at least his legs are healing from the burns as a result of the radiation.  Tomorrow Frank takes him to get his permanent drivers license. Zack is so excited, he tells us "now I don't have to be back at 9 pm because of restrictions, I just have to be back at 9 because of my curfew." I must say, at least he understands the rules!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Mama, I'm coming home"

Zack and I wake up around 8:30 pm. Amber was very quiet through the night. I never woke up and yet I am exhausted. Zack only woke up once, when she was taking blood for labs. Zack said he was sound asleep and all of a sudden felt something pull on his port, when he is startled like,that ,for some reason, he has the urge to punch. I told him that is something that someone with PTSD would have. He can't figure out why he would do that, but said the nurse jumped back and he stopped just in time. Something to look into for sure. Is this all a result of the years of bullying in school? Quite possible, he had to watch his back for many years, until his freshman year when he finally fought one of the bullies and ended their reign of terror. We have told the nursing staff to make sure and wake him up before putting on cuffs, taking blood, etc.. but Amber was "new" to us and so eager not to wake him.

AM View from the Hospital window
Brian (day staff) came in around the time we woke up. He was waiting for the doctor to come in and give us our walking papers. Once he checked Zacks fluid levels, which caused the machine to "beep" uncontrollably, this morning it was air in the line.  Breakfast was brought in, even though we tell them every day, NO FOOD, (we bring our own). The young man was apologetic and we teased that it was all his fault (he is one of the regulars that we see there and is a sweetheart).  Brian heads out to locate the Doctor and I jump in the shower and start to pack. As I step out of the bathroom, Zack says "we got our papers, we're outta here!" Brian comes in and tells us that his count is 8 (usually with the radiation, they want to keep it at 10), nut since we are done with radiation it is safe. We are told that we could get a transfusion there, but we know that would mean 8 more hours. Zack is feeling fine and just wants to get home. The Doctor said since he wasn't having any more radiation he could wait until Monday or Tuesday. 

All of a sudden I am anxious. I look around the room as if this is my first time packing up. I am disoriented and confused. Zack looks at me and offers to help pack, he is still connected to everything, so I just tell him it is better if he sits and relaxes while I pack. He sees I'm anxious and reminds me that we've done this many times before. I look at him and smile, "I don't know what the heck is wrong with me", he says "Mom, you're tired and this place is getting  to you too."  Well, he was right!  My head feels clearer and I start to pack up one step at a time. By the time we get our paperwork we are packed and ready to go. For some reason we have two more bags than usual. I realize that I packed enough clothes for the two of us for two weeks! We wheel everything downstairs and I walk through the Emergency entrance to the only place I could find to park my car. I pull up to Zack who is waiting at another entrance, we load up and are on the way home. 

On our way, Zacks friends start to call. "Can he come up here?" "Nope", is the immediate answer, "You can come to the house though." We were given strict instruction to keep him well hydrated. This is the way he flushes out the chemo and the "bad" cells. Stopping at the store on the way home I stock up on drinks. He loves these flavored seltzer waters, no sugar, no caffeine and pretty tasty. While at the store (Zack stayed in the car) I run into a couple of friends, apologizing for my outfit, I explain we just are on our way home from Hospital. She starts to cry, I'm not sure what to say. It touches me so, to see someone care that much. I have become numb, I spend so much of my time making it through each day,  I don't allow myself to REALLY think about any of it. We hug and she tells me she will see us soon. I see an acquaintance from downtown, this woman is a well known artist and is the first one to tell me a couple of years ago that Zack should go to SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). She found out about Zack and was asking how he is doing. She had a similar experience with her sister years ago and can remember the toll it took on her father. She asked me to promise to take care of myself. While in the Hospital, Karen brought us several gift certificates from an organization that helps families with children having treatment, so I was able to use that to pay for today's goodies. Every little bit helps for sure! 

We arrive home and the place looks perfect. Dishes done, everything in the house spotless. Frank is still at work so Zack and I unload the car and I quickly get everything unpacked. Our laundry fro the hospital goes straight into the washer, the "hospital bag" goes up along with the wheeled carrier into our closet, the food in the refrigerator. I turn on all the Christmas lights in the house, the tree and settle in with some chips and salsa on the love seat, turn on the TV and just sit there and smile. Drake has come down to see Zack as well as a couple of other friends. Austin has brought back Zack's ATV ( Zack let him borrow it over the week) and they take a ride down to our neighbors house. Anyway he can get out for a little while. I can't blame him. I want to keep him home and resting, but he has been stuck in the hospital for a week without going anywhere, he is entitled. 

As I sit watching TV, Frank returns home. It's so good to have us all under one roof again. We catch up on a few things and as he unpacks from the days work, I continue to rest. I discover after an hour that I had fallen into a deep sleep and wake up to Frank's shouting that he has ordered Pizza. He came in and said he ordered pizza for him and Zack and ordered wings for me. It wasn't until dinner arrived that I realized he ordered HOT wings for me. Together for 30 years and he still doesn't remember I don't Do HOT / Spicy foods. Oh well, Zack LOVES hot wings, so he devoured "my" dinner and his portion of the pizza.  I had a delicious bowl of cereal and was perfectly content.

Zack settled into his bed for the night, Frank and I are catching up on some of our shows and relieved that another session is down.  Tomorrow is work for Frank and I. Zack will go for his Neulasta shot and will take Mom grocery shopping. Both he and she are excited about spending the day together.