Tristan and I are at Family House, this time with Tomas, who is taking a few days off of school to join us on one of our San Francisco adventures. We just returned from a fun dinner at my brother’s apartment, where my parents are staying for a few days. Roast chicken, roast duck, roast potatoes, Agi’s AMAZING homemade pate, a salad with chèvre and pine nuts…delicious! Back in our room, after squabbling for an eternity about their movie choice, the brothers have settled into a bit of pre-bedtime Netflix while I type.
The week at home was full of excitement, some good, some bad. Of the former was Tristan’s most definitive decision to potty train himself, this time for good. (Previous successes had been temporary. He did a bunch of pees in the potty, was rewarded with an M&M for each, and then, having decided he’d had enough M&Ms for a while, requested that his bottom again be secured in a comfy, dependable diaper.) This time he went cold turkey on diapers, just before bedtime five nights ago. My gentle suggestions that potty training right before going to bed wasn’t really the best way to start were ignored. I spent the night ready to leap up and change PJs and sheets…but that wasn’t necessary! Five days, five nights, and not one accident. The drive to the city took over seven hours today, with peepee stops by the side of the road under the redwoods and in chaparral and in a restaurant in Willits. But it was all good, with Tristan proudly sporting a pair of Star Wars underwear.
On the bad side, Tristan woke one morning a few days ago with a nasty headache and developed a low fever that afternoon. Fevers are scary in kids that might be neutropenic, as in, have no immune system with which to fend off an infection. In addition, for the first time ever, he had a painful mouth sore of the sort chemo is infamous for producing. We spent a few hours in a holding pattern with the UCSF pediatric oncology hotline. His temperature was right on the border of that at which we’d be sent to the ER to have his blood counts checked, IV antibiotics started, and, possibly, the gears set in motion for another medevac. I unhappily plodded upstairs to pack our bags. Fortunately the fever didn’t spike any higher, and we were told to get some sleep. It broke about dawn and didn’t come back. To be in the homestretch before Maintenance and have a scare…not fun. The fever has progressed into a head cold, but with no temperature. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Recently Gary and I had the profound realization that our kids are now old enough to be taken on family outings without, we hoped, too much suffering on our part. Nobody needs to nurse every five minutes, they all can walk a few hundred yards without disintegrating from exhaustion, and they’re old enough to appreciate whatever we’re taking them to look at. Dammit. So, this past Saturday, we loaded up everyone in the car and drove to a Subway deli in McKinleyville. That was to sweeten the deal. I feared that might be as far as we’d get on our family outing, but we made it with our sandwiches to our ultimate destination — Agate Beach at Patrick’s Point — and had a fabulous afternoon. Gary obsessively hunted for agates and found a few small white and golden beauties. Tomas kicked a soccer ball and found a dead crab that he pretended, to Tristan’s horror, to eat. Phoebe excavated natural clay at the base of a rock cliff and packed about twenty pounds of it into a ziplock bag, to be taken home for future art projects. Tristan tried to clean all of the rocks off of the beach by tossing them into a stream. He ended up naked, making “snow” angels in the sand. I sat on a rock and watched them all. In the end, Tomas — Tomas who doesn’t much like the outdoors, other than on a soccer field or baseball diamond, and who wants to live in Manhattan in a fancy apartment — Tomas pronounced the day “a 10”. Gary and I couldn’t have been more pleased.
Over the week, I committed myself to running a half marathon at the Avenue of the Giants on May 1st with a group of Kneeland women friends. “Team Kneeland” will do this as a fundraising drive for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You give the LLS money to support efforts to find cures for blood cancers, we run a lotta miles. We’ll give you a run for your money! If you get a chance, please check out our fundraising page:
And now, to close, Tristan’s wise quote of the day: “Whenever you see a poopoo, don’t walk in it.” Seems like a good one to live by, both literally and figuratively.
Tomorrow, Tristan’s blood counts here at UCSF. Wednesday, chemo at the clinic. Last big one before Maintenance!