Thursday, June 11, 2009

Every Day is a Bonus

We keep having big days but I guess they can't help but be big when every day is a bonus.

Yesterday morning as I was getting Charlotte ready for our day, I noticed something odd on her belly and found it was a tick! Rachel and I tried to get it out but it was embedded pretty deep so we resolved to get professional help.

So we went to the vet! I mean, who is better at dealing with ticks than a vet?

Well I actually had a breakfast meeting with Cate Newbanks from FACES of Virginia at the diner formerly known as Pete's and CJ tagged along. The tick wasn't going anywhere, the vet is literally right around the corner, and she wasn't showing any symptoms of anything, so we had a very nice breakfast. Charlotte had pancakes (surprize!)

We went to the vet right after breakfast and although they were sympathetic, they weren't comfortable working on a human. The chemicals they use on animals aren't appropriate for children.

So I called the pediatrician and they fit us in as soon as I got there. They weren't incredibly busy right at that moment so it was convenient for everyone. We saw Dr. Map (not kidding). I don't think I had ever met him before. Charlotte wasn't very interested in cooperating with anyone who had a stethoscope around their neck so I had to pick her up while Dr. Map worked on the tick.

It took a moderately long time and CJ was quite the champ despite her anxiety. We counted to 20, sang the ABC song, and spelled her name. I could tell it hurt a little as she counted/sang/spelled through gritted teeth but she didn't stop. I was very proud of her.

We didn't quite get through "Reynolds" when he announced success. He got the head, hooks, sucker and everything.

For the record, Dr. Map recommended Vaseline or nail polish to get the bad boy out. Unfortunately, we had probably killed it with our attention so it wouldn't have worked for us. It's a very bad year for ticks already so everyone check each other thoroughly after being outdoors. (I have the image of monkeys grooming each other in my head.)

So after that, we ended up at Romp n' Roll to bring lunch to Mommy who had taught the morning preview classes.

That, by the way, has been a tremendous success attendance-wise. Very exciting.

I left CJ at RNR with Rachel and came home to do some work. Aunt Phyllis came in from Florida (Rachel and CJ went to pick her up at the airport) so we have our latest in-house support person. She wasn't here an hour before the reorganizing glint came into her eye. She'S REALLY good at that sort of thing.

Then I headed back to RNR to teach my evening previews. The posters for the concert series came in and man! do they look great!

Today is another big day with a meeting with Drs. Kahn and Chung at MCV to discuss latest protocol options (we had a deep, emotional discussion about that last night), Camp, and the 1st Concert Series concert (which might be moved indoors due to weather. Either way, it'll be a hoot with Clay Mottley and the Taters!)

Rachel and I will be first in line at the blood mobile which opens at 3pm.

As always, we'll update everyone as to what we decide for our next step. Our positive energy need level is back up orange. That indicates a higher level of need for thoughts, energy, prayers, meditations, visualizations, puppies, kittens, balloons, chocolate, ice cream, chocolate ice cream, other words, we're feeling kind of down right now.

Not necessarily important to tell us. Just do it. Please.

One thing CJ is not lacking is cuter-than-all-getout clothes. They just keep appearing. And we keep putting her in them. She keeps being cute.

While I mentioned the amazing things going on throughout the CB community, there are still many sorrows being handed out. Please keep those in your thoughts too.


p.s. For those not connected to us via Facebook, there are several with which we are associated. Rachel and I both have our own, there's Get Well Charlotte, and Romp n' Roll at VA Center. The last two you need to "become a fan" to join. Just in case you didn't already have information overload.

Rompy's Concert Series is currently rockin'! The Taters and Clay Mottley are jamming inside romp n' roll. There was a threat of some summer storms so we moved the concerts inside "just in case". Sun is shining all the same but no matter. We've had a great crowd and lots of fun!!!

In addition, over 25 people have given blood at the bloodmobile today (include Annette, Michael, Babz, and myself). Roger tried to give but his blood kept clotting up...oh well. Final count on the blood drive is 25 came in, 19 gave and 2 of the 19 gave a "double dose" through a special system where they can get double the usable blood without completely disarming the donor.

Thanks again to everyone for coming out for the fun!

So, I'm sure everyone is chomping at the bit to find out the "news". Well....let's just start by saying it was one of the more frustrating trips to the hospital. We were told there was an appointment at 12 PM with Dr. Khan and Dr. Chung but we were supposed to meet up on the 6th floor (neurosurgery). We did as we were told and finally about 1 PM met with a DIFFERENT doctor who didn't really know why we were here.

FINALLY, Dr. Chung arrived but while he claimed to have been following Charlotte's case and be "in the loop" about things, he didn't seem to be able to tell us much about what we would do for Charlotte's specific situation. We asked him about proton beam radiation options and again he was pretty nondescript and didn't seem to have an opinion or much information. Basically I got a "Radiation 101" tutorial but nothing specific with a timeline or other information regarding Charlotte's treatment plan.

Finally, I was pretty abrupt and asked some pointed questions about 1) Where Dr. Khan was in all of this and 2) Why we weren't getting any answers when we had felt this HUGE sense of urgency since the news of tumor regrowth for us to get things DONE. In short, he couldn't really help us and he tried to page Dr. Khan. After about 2:30 (yes, we had been there since NOON), we settled on going down to the clinic to search out Dr. Khan and see if we could reschedule and/or find some answers.

Once we got down to the clinic, I explained why we were there and they got Dr. Khan for us. Apparently there was a wonderful series of miscommunications. Dr. Khan wasn't planning to come to the meeting while we were expecting him and (blah blah blah). I expressed my concerns and he was very understanding. Here is what I HAVE learned:
1. Dr. Khan just received the new protocol from Dr. Wolff at MD Anderson. They have some new ideas and information which he will share thoroughly with us once he reviews it and gets some clarification/follow up questions answered (hopefully by Monday).
2. Charlotte will have a spinal tap sometime next week (probably) to insure that there is no tumor cells in the spinal fluid. She will also probably start some oral chemotherapy next week (based on the protocol).
3. Based on this plan, it looks like MD Anderson is recommending localized radiation which Dr. Khan is thinking towards proton beam radiation, mainly because it offers the best chance at minimizing harmful effects of radiation while allowing higher doses of radiation to be used on the tumor. Of course, now we are going to have to figure out WHERE we will get the radiation done because it is only at certain places in the country. MD Anderson is one option but we know that they are out of network for our insurance. We might be able to find an "in-network" option.
So that's where we are. We don't have a lot more answers and it was a rather frustrating day but at least it's a tiny step in the right direction.

I gotta go clean up the gym and head home so I"ll sign off...


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