Alright, folks. Time for some more exciting, chemotherapeutic adventures in the Poucher-Grimes household!
Tammy and I had discussed me going to Shands since the first infusion, but, as you are all aware, Tammy is accustomed to doing things on her own and is a very capable and determined woman. There was no need for me to go to the previous infusions because we had help on most, and because Tammy is fully capable of handling Jacob, Brie, Gavin, nurses, doctors, vehicles, the sun and probably the universe on her own (And I mean that in a very admirable way; She can take on the world and come out in one piece. She’s amazing!). With a full schedule in May, June, July and August, though, we thought it was best to get my feet wet so that if the need arises, I’ll be prepared for a solo infusion trip with Big Money. And off we went.
Everyone is getting used to the I-10 trip at this point, so the drive was uneventful in terms of the kids. Jacob and Gavin slept. It was, however, one of the first times in a long time that Tammy and I sat down and talked about nothing important for hours. It seems that there’s a lot on the plate lately, so it was a welcomed conversation. Time flew. Tammy informed me of step #2 (step #1 was getting out of bed on time…) which was getting Jacob to put the lidocaine on somewhere close to I-75 (30-45 minutes before getting to Shands). Jacob was half-sleeping and was being a complete moron, but it was comical and he got the job done!
We arrived at Shands around 8:00am and proceeded to the 4th floor Peds lab. I had heard about all of the pretty girls that Jacob interacts with during his infusions, and I must say, I was questioning his vision when we walked in the lab! Jacob signed in and was taken for vitals almost immediately. I followed him to a little lab room where they measured and weighed him (sans the dirty boots that he refuses to clean because they give the impression that he’s a die-hard hunter!). He weighed 117 lbs, I think, and he attributed it to the whole medium pizza he ate the night before when his GG and Papa Grimes took him out to eat at The Red Elephant. Tammy was able to chill with Gavin while he woke up and watched some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and then we were taken to the infusion lab (step #3). I was informed that Jacob had a favorite chair already, which he claimed, and we got situated for port access and the day’s festivities. The nurse did bloodwork, accessing his port, and we waited for the results so the chemo could begin.
Not to minimize the horrible nature of the visit for Jacob or for any of the parents and children that have to come to this lab, but the facilities were really nice and the staff was incredibly helpful and cheerful. By now I’m sure it’s been captured in this blog, but Jacob had his own flat screen and PS3 to play and a list of DVDs and games to choose from. Though the facilities weren’t very accommodating for a group of four (Tammy and Gavin hijacked an empty seat for a good portion of the morning while Jacob and I watched some Sportscenter and played games… another story entirely), we were able to make do and it was encouraging to see Jacob looking at least semi-confident in his surroundings. I observed mostly, and it seems like he has the procedure down. That’ll be helpful if and when he and I make the trip without Tammy. Oh, and it was at this point I stopped questioning Jacob’s vision with regards to the nurses!
Step #4 passed (signing paperwork and verifying… everything!), and I watched and pretty much just enjoyed the time with Jacob. Dr. Smith’s nurse came to talk to Jacob several times and an EXTREMELY happy girl came to make sure we were doing ok. I know it’s her job to be cheerful, but damn! I told Tammy later on that her home life had to be demonic! It would take every ounce of my being to be that happy for 8 hours a day. There would be nothing left in the happy tank. It was refreshing to know that there are good people who try every day to make the world easier for these kids. The long wait came next, which took up most of the appointment! The infusion lab has to wait on the results of the bloodwork before administering the chemo. It’s during this time that we played PS3, colored and did stickers with Gavin, and did most of the people-watching. The lab was filling up quickly. Jacob and I played Little Big Planet 2 and NBA Street for a long time, which, at some points, was like pulling teeth! It is my nature to want to beat things. To play to win. Always. Jacob isn’t that way, and that may be a good thing. But watching an hour of a basketball video game in practice mode drove me CRAZY! I guess that’s one of my quirks as much as I think it’s one of his. Tammy was able to have a conversation with another mom that she’s seen in previous appointments… at least in small increments, between chasing Gavin around the floor! As sad of a situation as it is, it wasn’t as somber as I had imagined. Everyone, including the other parents and children, were tackling their situations with smiles and positive attitudes. It was inspiring at times.Finally, at around 11:15, the “Cadillac” came in. I guess each infusion that Jacob receives costs a small fortune, so each time he goes, he’s putting the price of a Cadillac into his port. Wish we could pull it out of the other end! Jacob has tolerated the chemo very well with only mild side effects, so the nurse set him up to receive the Avastin over 30 minutes. The drips, well, dripped, and before I knew it, the nurse was hanging saline. Once a small amount of the saline passed, the nurse came to remove the access and dismiss Jacob. In a stunning display of self-advocation (which, for those of you that know Jacob’s tendencies at his appointments, NEVER HAPPENS!), he told the nurse that she needed to hold his port down while removing the access so as not to hurt him. Tammy was shocked and proud that Jacob finally stood up for SOMETHING! A proud mother is a great thing! Jacob was dismissed and we were ready to pack this show up. Step #5 complete!
Food is one of Jacob’s pleasures (and I guess mine too J ), so we had already discussed lunch prior to coming. Mom and Dad gave us Living Social (Groupon-like) gifts to Schlotzky’s Deli. We were going, and luckily it was located north of Shands, so it was on the way back home. We were able to see a little bit of Gainesville that I had never seen. I never realized that the city is as big as it is. We went from SW 34th to NW 40-something, so it was a little drive. Jacob ordered a turkey-bacon club, I got the turkey smoke cheesy, Tammy decided to try the turkey original and Gavin got a pizza. The food was delicious (for Jacob and I, Tammy and Gavin weren’t as impressed) and the only disappointing thing for Jacob was that we were a long way from his Dairy Queen Blizzard. Next time, Big Money. Next time. We made it home in time to get Brie from school and take her to art, so everything worked out as we had hoped.
It was an eye-opening experience that I was glad to be a part of. It will be a part of Jacob’s life for the next 10 months or so, so I figured it might as well be something that we’re all at least comfortable with, procedure-wise. Jacob and I will be going through my PS3 games and donating some of the games we don’t play to Shands so that other kids can enjoy them (they were passing around a list for children to write down things they would like to have there). As much as I dislike anything blue and orange, Shands is doing great work. Scheduling is a nightmare, wait times are atrocious, but ultimately, things get done. The answers may not be what we hope, but there are answers. And sometimes, that’s all that is needed. So we’ll watch a few Rays games, work on finishing up school and put smiles on for the next appointment, because, quoting Buster Olney, “today will be better than yesterday.”
|I LOVE my boys!!!, tam|