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Posts Tagged ‘sucks’

Years ago, a good friend of ours, Jim from New Zealand, used a term when encouraging Chet about running his first 100 miler – R.F.M – which stands for “relentless forward motion.”  Jim was instilling in Chet the mentality that to achieve your goal, to cross the finish line, you had to just continue to put one foot in front of the other. You must continue with relentless forward motion.  It doesn’t have to be fast, it doesn’t have to be steady, it just has to be relentless.  No matter what, you’ll take that next step closer to your goal, the finish line.

It occurred to me this evening that those same words, that same concept is applicable in so many aspects of life.  And for Chet, Gabe and I, we just have to keep it in mind – R.F.M.  Eventually we’ll get there.

This is the race of our lives, it is the battle of our lives.  And, we haven’t won the war until Gabriel is all better.

However, the last couple days I was down, really down.  I was angry at myself that some how we had let something through the defenses.  I was sad watching Gabriel be clearly miserable while dealing with whatever it is attacking his body.  I was worried about whether or not what he was going through was normal.  I was scared about what the bigger implications of fever might mean.  I was anxious about the potential financial burden another air ambulance ride to Oakland might mean.  All of this was truly just breaking me, plucking away at the last threads of strength I felt as though I had left in my soul.

Then, this morning it just felt worse.  We received some concerning news regarding Gabriel’s blood counts from this morning.  What we were being told was mind boggling and beyond comprehension.  We were being told that Gabriel’s platelet counts looked to have plummeted overnight – to the tune of 200,000.  We had no information on his ANC, which we had been told was 88 the day before (keep in mind a “normal ANC is around 2500 to 3000).  His fever had spiked again the night before.  He had been vomiting the day before.  And well, his body was just being beat up.  So all of this just felt extraordinarily overwhelming.

However, even though it felt like there was so much not going the direction we needed it to be, there is always a glimmer of hope through faith.  Although, honestly, I was having a very difficult time seeing that glimmer.  That hope came in the form of one of the treating oncologists from Oakland Children’s Hospital who was in Reno for the Reno clinic,  Dr. Torkildson.  The first round of encouragement was when he was shocked to find out that this was Gabriel’s first fever since his diagnosis in December.  According to the doc, it’s extremely common for children with leukemia to deal with fevers and even more so for kids with t-cell leukemia.  He answered all of Chet’s questions and gave us both the comfort that Gabriel was being given the best possible care here in Reno as he would have received in Oakland.  Yes, we’ve become pretty partial to the Oakland folks.

The next round of encouragement came through Gabe’s temps throughout today.  All day he was hanging in the mid-99 range without any medication to treat the fever.  More encouragement came in the form of final blood test results from today.  The early numbers were just bad, as the blood sample had coagulated on its way to the lab.  So, the second blood draw and testing showed that Gabriel’s ANC counts have come up to 300 even though is platelets have come down a very small amount.  And finally, capping off a trickle of good information was the fact that this evening when Gabe’s temps usually spike to above 101 and into the 102 range, his highest temp today was 100.2 without medication.

Relentless Forward Motion.

Truly, there are days where this journey feels like an extraordinary challenge.  There are moments where I doubt my own ability to hold it together.  Yet, just when I’m pushed so close to what feels to be my breaking point, the pressure is relieved and I’m able to take a deep breath again.

I don’t know what the purpose of this is, but I’m content to never know how much more I can handle.  Sadly, I don’t believe for a second that I’m not going to be challenged again.  Yet, this experience is strengthening me to be prepared to handle the battles that are yet to come in order to win this war.

Right now, Gabriel’s still got a lot of road to cover before he can be discharged from the hospital.  We’re not in the clear as of yet.  But, we’re a couple steps closer to that outcome. Prayers work, positive thoughts and encouragement is so appreciated by Chet and I.  And, for Gabe, well, I know he just is ready to get out of the hospital and start feeling better.  Right now, he just doesn’t feel good and honestly looks utterly miserable.

Thank you for all the love and support.  You, our friends, are appreciated and cherished continually!

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Since Gabriel was diagnosed with leukemia, there really has only been one word that has struck fear in our hearts – FEVER.  A fever means hospitalization, the possibility of an air ambulance trip to Oakland, a lot of unknown.  In our efforts to keep this nasty word out of our vocabulary when dealing with Gabriel, we have been extraordinarily vigilant about protecting Gabriel.  As people close to us know, we have been totally isolated Gabriel and ourselves.

Literally, Gabriel goes to clinic, or the hospital, and our house.  Since his diagnosis, he’s been to my parents house once, in one large store and one small store.  That’s it.

So, imagine our despair when Thursday evening we had to face the dreaded “F” word.  No, not that “F” word …the fever word.  Yes, Thursday, Gabriel got a fever.  Fear, anxiety and uncertainty were flooding over Chet and I as we tried to come to grips with the reality.  So after several calls with Oakland Children’s on-call oncologist, Gabriel and I finally headed off to Saint Mary’s E.R.  The entire drive to the hospital, I was just praying that we wouldn’t end up no an air ambulance and that we were wrong, that there wasn’t a fever.

Unfortunately, we weren’t wrong.  So, after several hours at the E.R., the decision was finally made to transfer Gabriel to Renown Medical Center to be admitted.  The decision to transfer him was based on the fact that Saint Mary’s pediatric ICU wasn’t capable of caring for him since he’s extremely neutropenic.  We finally got out of Saint Mary’s and over to Renown around 3am.  What a l-o-n-g night.

We don’t know what the cause of his fever is.  But we do know a few things.  We know that his ANC is very low, but yesterday’s low point of 144 was the bottom as today we’re moving back up and Gabriel still has a fever.  We will still be here until the fever is gone and his ANC is at an acceptably high enough level, and that will likely be several days, if not a better part of a week.

The difficulty with this isn’t so much the fact Gabriel has a fever.  The fever in a lot of ways is just par for the course in kids with leukemia, so we’re told. In fact, EVERYONE has been very surprised that this is our first time here with a fever.  So, in a lot of ways, I guess that’s just what we should have expected.  The difficulty is US.

We have tried so hard to avoid this.  We are neurotic about sanitation, cleaning, isolation, minimizing any risky contact.  And, yet, I feel like I’ve failed Gabriel in some way since this has happened.  Everyone has said that you can do everything right, and there is just no way to prevent a fever from happening at some point in time.  But, I am frustrated, because I still feel like somehow, we did something wrong.  Somehow something made it through our defenses, and it makes me upset.  I NEVER wanted this to happen, and yet it did.

We will probably never know the cause.  They are doing blood cultures, and as of now, there results are negative.  They keep doing cultures while we’re here to make sure something doesn’t “pop up.”  And, it could be anything causing this.  So, now we just sit and wait it out.

If you will continue to pray for Gabriel.  Please pray that his ANC counts come back up quickly and that this fever breaks soon.  Pray for Chet and I to have continued strength and perseverance as we continue to face new challenges and hurdles in this journey.  Pray for Gabriel to just be comfortable and know that the isolation and loneliness will be over soon and that life again will be normal.

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Alas, I promised everyone that I would continue on with more about Gabriel’s hair loss.  And, I will not disappoint for fear of being chastised.

The radiation eradicated his hair.  It was starting to grow back after he first started loosing it and then WHAM…I guess that is how you would describe massive clumps of hair coming out.

Fortunately, Gabriel was really cool about it.  He pretty much asked that we cut his hair again.  We suggested shaving it close as close as possible and he was good with it.  So, this was the before image –

And, off it came.

And, Chet being the good Dad, he also joined Gabe in his hair adventures.

And Chet after.

And the two boys, with their matching hair cuts.

So, there you have it – the hair loss update.  I offered to shave my head too, but Gabriel wasn’t too keen on the idea.  I’m okay with that given it might be a bit awkward with my job.

I know there is so much more to update on…its just by the time the evening comes I really just am too tired to think to hard about much of anything.  Tonight is no exception.  But, I’ll give it my best.

Tuesday, Chet and Gabriel will head back to Oakland for another hospital admission for the next round of nelarabine.  This trip, Chet and I are splitting the time in the hospital with Gabriel – we will each take two nights.  After Gabriel and I get home on Saturday, Gabe will have two days here and then he and Chet will head back down to Oakland for one more overnight hospital admission for cytoxian.  And, hopefully, that will be the last of our hospital visits for several weeks.

This weekend we did a “soft launch” of our fundraising efforts.  While fortunately, Chet and I have been blessed with tremendous family support as well as insurance, there are certain elements that have not been covered by insurance and the cost of traveling back and forth to California has truly began to take it’s toll.  We have put together a medical trust fund for Gabriel and we’re doing some things to provide opportunities for people to support Gabriel.  Part of Chet and my commitment is that once we’ve been able to address the expenses and bills that we’ve incurred thus far as well providing for the remainder of his treatment, any remaining funds in the medical trust fund will be donated to a qualifying 501(c)(3) organization which provides assistance to families in our area who are faced with the diagnosis of a their child with a life threatening illness.  While Chet and I are committed to supporting leukemia awareness and fighting for a cure for leukemia – we’re well aware that there are many different catastrophic illnesses children can be diagnosed with besides ALL.  Our hope is that we can pay it forward not only with what we can put together, but that our fundraising efforts will provide sustainable contributions to whichever organization we ultimately select.

I hope to finish the details in the next couple days – so stay tuned for a formal “official” launch of Operation Leukemia Elimination – Battle For Gabriel.  Here’s a tiny little teaser for everyone…

Finally, to provide a little update.  Last Tuesday, Chet and I faced one of the certain to be many speed bumps in this journey.  Of course, just as we were feeling more comfortable and normal in all of this, we received a call from one of Gabriel’s treating oncologists.  You see, every time they do a lumbar puncture and intrathecal chemo treatment on Gabriel, they take a sample of the spinal fluid.  When those tests are done here in Reno, the clinic makes a slide here and then sends the slide to Oakland for their pathologists to review.  Apparently on the two slides that were taken here the Pathologist found cells which were not expected.  He notified the oncology doctors who then did a more close examination.  As I understand it – and we’re still waiting for better information, as this was all communicated through a brief telephone call – after further review, only one of the slides appeared to have a “blast” cell, essentially a leukemia cell.

Now, understand that it can be very difficult to discern different types of cells, particularly on a limited sample, as was the case with this review.  And, this is confirmed from Chet’s sister, Katie, who is a microbiologist working with cancer cells.  Moreover, the doctor was very clear about wanting to keep us informed, but not wanting to alarm us.  So, they are going to do another lumbar puncture, this time without a chemotherapy treatment, when Chet and Gabriel head back down to Oakland for his cytoxian treatment.  They will take the sample and immediately send it out to the pathology lab for a full examination.

This kind of stuff just takes the wind out of your sails.  But, we have to keep in perspective that he’s had the radiation treatment, and the purpose is to kill off any errant cells which might be floating around.  However, it still is just a bit unnerving.

I presume there are a lot of questions floating around out there in the readership.  What does it mean?  Why?  Do you expect the cells?  In a lot of ways, we don’t have those answers yet.  Next week we will get more answers.  I can do a little explaining however.

First, when Gabriel was diagnosed, his body was absolutely inundated with leukemia.  His whole blood was effectively 97% leukemia cells.  So, when they did the very first lumbar puncture, with his level of infection, they expect that there will likely be some contamination from the tissue the needles passes through to get to the spinal fluid.  As such, when he was diagnosed, they found a very small number of lymphoblasts in his spinal fluid.  Due to the small number and his infection level at the time of diagnosis, they have to make certain assumptions, and one of those was that the lymphoblasts found in the spinal fluid sample were due to cross-contamination, not necessarily present in his spinal fluid.  Based upon those assumptions, the number of lymphoblasts present at that time, and other factors is how they determine what his risk level is and the associated treatment plan.

Now that they think they may have identified a lymphoblast in his spinal fluid – that may be a game changer, but it is unlikely.  At this point in time, as I can understand, they need to go back and reexamine his spinal fluid.  Its just like going back and reassessing whether the assumptions were accurate or inaccurate.  And, even if those assumption were inaccurate – say the presence of lymphoblasts in his spinal fluid wasn’t solely from cross-contamination – the doctors have to determine that it doesn’t change the treatment plan.

The likely outcome will be no change.  Even if there were some lyphoblasts present in his spinal fluid at the time of diagnosis, the numbers have to be above a certain level to result in a change in his treatment plan.  Basically, the doctors are just affirming that the rules haven’t changed even if the basis the assumptions were made are inaccurate.

At the end of the day, this is all likely a big ‘ol non-issue.  But, it just scrapes at sores in Chet and my heart that aren’t nearly close to healing.  It is so difficult to walk this path at times, and to have the information come at you just when you start to feel comfortable feels a lot like someone pulling the rug from under your feet.  You look at Gabriel, and other than the kid having no hair, you just can’t fathom that he’s sick.  He doesn’t look sick.  He doesn’t act sick.

I can’t express the times where I just sit there and shake my head, unable to process that this is happening.  Unable to comprehend how this could happen to a child.  Why a child should have to face such adversity, such pain, so much when they should be riding their bikes, playing with friends, going to movies, going to school.  I have always known and understood that life isn’t fair – but, really, it is so incredibly unfair that a child would have to endure this, or more as many other kids do.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t recognize that we could have it so much worse.

Yet, despite the heartache, the added stress in our day, Chet and I know that we simply have no control.  We have to trust the doctors.  But, most importantly, we have to trust God to handle this.  And, when you give up feeble attempt at controlling any of this, it affords so much relief.  I’m not going to pretend that all the stress, all the heartache, all the anxiety goes away.  It doesn’t.  But, for us, when we realize that we don’t have a mustard seed of input into whether there are lymphoblasts or not in Gabriel’s spinal fluid – well, it just takes that much pressure off so that you can look ahead and the rest of that day, to tomorrow and the day after.

In short – Gabriel’s doing awesome.  He’s an amazing kid who continues to be just demonstrate an incredible amount of strength and fortitude through all this.  For that we are so blessed.

We are so grateful to all of our friends and family who have given us so much support throughout this process.  Sometimes when I look back and realize we have only been not even three months, I can’t believe it, it feels like a lifetime already.  But, each day gets easier.  We will have speed bumps, but they are just that something that jars you when you’re not paying attention, that’s it.

To all of you who are reading this, please continue to pray for him.  The power of prayer is awesome and immeasurable.  The love and support each of you have given us, thank you.  Even though we are horrible about sending thank you notes, making telephone calls and the like – we are just so blessed to have each of you in our lives, thank you.

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Sorry about the long silence.  This weekend was a bit long and filled with emotions.

Gabriel tolerated his last chemotherapy treatment extremely well.  We are so fortunate to have him do so well and not suffer the nausea and other ill effects of the drugs.

Gabriel was also loosing a lot of hair.  It was all over his head, not really in clumps just yet, but it getting in his eyes and mouth and all over everything, so we finally convinced him to clip his hair very short.

Man, that was difficult, really difficult.  The short hair combined with the round face from the prednisone just really hit me hard.  Gabriel just now really looks sick, and that just hurts my heart.

Gabe’s appearance even hit him hard this weekend.  He came downstairs later that day and was upset saying that he didn’t look like himself.  He’s right, he doesn’t look like himself.  We both had a good cry.  Gabe cried because he just is struggling with how he looks and feels.  I cried because I can’t change what he’s dealing with, I can’t take the pain away, I can’t do a whole heck of a lot.  Rebeka joined us crying because we were crying, until she head butted me in the nose and I pushed her off the chair (I know, I’m a bad mommy who had the knee jerk reaction) and then she was crying because she got pushed off the chair.  In the end, the three of us just had a good cry.

Sunday was a lovely day.  Gabriel and I pretty much just laid around watching moves all day.  Gabriel has had a craving for junk food – potato chips, popcorn, etc.  I lost track of how many bags of popcorn I popped on Sunday.  It was just nice to hang out with him.  I could use many many more days like that – well, sans the copious amounts of snack foods.

Sunday Rebeka cracked me up.  She wanted to wear a dress and was just completely cute.

She was also very proud of herself for climbing up and being a dare devil on the ottoman, despite my admonishments and warnings.  But, really, she’s so stinking cute, what can a mother do but set reasonable limitations.

And, go with the flow.

The other difficulties with this weekend were the reality of the limitations on the things Gabriel loves to do.  It was an awesome weekend, beautiful.  Gabriel and Chet were hanging out in the yard and Gabriel suggested that he and his dad start working on getting the garden ready for spring.  Man, it sucks to have to say “no” to the kid, but we just can’t risk it right now with his immune system being so low.  It totally sucks, who would have imagined a month ago that we would have to tell Gabriel “no” to digging in the yard.

Freak an A.

So, tomorrow Gabriel and Chet head to Oakland for Gabe’s last bone marrow aspiration.  It’s hard for me not to be going down there with them.  I hate that.  My type-A personality hates it.  But, this trip they have to go on their own. It will be a fun time for them to spend together, Dad and Gabriel.

Next week there is an appointment with the Radiation Oncologist and we should be starting Gabriel’s next round of treatment – consolidation.  We don’t know what is in store yet for us with that.  We are hoping to know as soon as possible what treatment plan he’ll be assigned to.  Again, it’s the unknown that is killing me.  Man, definitely NOT the disease to have a control freak type-A personality with as a parent.  But, I’ll be going down with them next week, and that’s a good thing.  I’ll be grilling the oncologist.  Poor doctor will probably be feeling like he’s being deposed, but that’s what they get when they get my kid as a patient.  I will grill them, ask questions until I’m satisfied that the treatment plan they have for him is the best and least invasive manner in which to achieve our goal of a cure.

Despite the difficult emotions we have all been dealing with these past several days, Gabriel is doing well.  He’s doing really well.  His Broviac port has healed well and he just is stinking cute.

I just need to keep looking at the bright sides of things and realize that in the grand scheme of things, this is only a short journey.  God has a plan for us, shortcuts won’t get us to our ultimate destination any faster, as there is a purpose for the experiences, trials and struggles we are dealing with.  There is truly a purpose and plan, a grand and glorious plan.

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I got a C.S. Lewis quote via Twitter the other day,

God speaks into our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world – CSLewis

Well, yesterday I was being shouted at, and in my pain, I didn’t want to listen.  But, I’ve been afforded many opportunities to reflect and regain perspective in the last 24 hours.  When we were first facing this battle, I continually said out loud to family and friends that there is someone else out there having a worse day than us.  I lost that perspective yesterday.

We have it good, so very good.  I am humbled by the out pouring of love and support.  I am reminded, when reading the stories of other kids out there in the world who are facing much more difficult battles, that in the grand scheme of things, this is really a relatively small hill in our journey on this world.

I realize it is easy to become self absorbed and run the risk of a pity party when you’re at home.  At the hospital, we were surrounded by families who were facing much greater challenges.  We made friends with patients and their families who won’t be coming home any time soon, who have uncertain futures, who face months and months of hospital isolation and treatment.  I lost perspective.

Gabriel continues to do well at home.  He’s adjusting to being at home and the routine.

Mornings start out with a flush of his Broviac.

This is an illustration of his Broviac, except he has a single lumen (port) rather than the dual port.

So, Tuesday through Sunday, we flush the port with a saline solution.

This is followed by a dose of heparine.

Monday’s we do blood draws, which is the draw followed by the daily flush.

Then after the morning routine we have our drug administration time, which includes a dose of the Prednisone, Zantac, Calcium and depending on the day either an antibiotic or a dose of vitamin D. The drug routine is repeated at night.

This is repeated daily for the time being.  But, we’re on the countdown for the Prednisone, which is awesome.

Today has been a good day.  Gabriel got out and shot his bow and arrow and his Red Ryder BB gun.  Life is good, no, it is awesome.

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Where the cyclone roams.

We made it home.  Ironically, it’s weirdly bittersweet to be home.  Granted, I’m absolutely thrilled to be home, but also being home is so OVERWHELMING!

So, here’s my effort to bring everyone up to speed.

Friday we finally got discharged from the hospital around 12:30 pm.  We had rounds that morning and we got the report from the bone marrow draw the day before and …

Well, do you want to know …

really?

Well, the results were …

REMISSION!!!!!!

Yes, that was intentional use of not one, but SIX exclamation points!  We made it to remission in two chemotherapy treatments.  This is truly answered prayers, thank you for all the prayers and positive thoughts!  Gabriel went from effectively 100% leukemia cells in his bone marrow on the day we arrived to zero last week!

Gabriel was underwhelmed, but it definitely was a great note to leave the hospital on.  Further, we got news based on his blood draw that Friday that his platelet counts were rebounding on their own.  Such great news in really a short period of time.

We had a great drive home, stopped and picked up a big o’l box of supplies and made it home to witness the best thing ever – a HUGE hug between Rebeka and Gabriel.  Gabriel was simply focused on just going up to his sister and giving her a giant long hug.  Of course, I totally missed this photo opportunity.  But, you can just imagine the two of them holding one another, it was the most beautiful thing ever.

So, Gabriel spent the next hour or so just walking around the house, like it was the first time he’d ever seen it.  You could tell it just didn’t feel quite like home.

We had dinner with my parents – a special request by Gabriel.

Saturday, Katie, Becky and Chet’s brother-in-law, Shannon, made it to our house after picking Shannon up at SFO that morning.  It sure has been nice having family around.

We celebrated Christmas on Sunday, which was completely awesome.  The only possible thing that could have made it better is if Chet’s dad, Chip, had been here too.

It was an awesome Christmas full of our typical traditions – fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast, mimosa’s, gift opening, sensory overloads, and more garbage than you can possibly shake a stick at.

Rebeka LOVED her Kitchen.

She was pushing her way into her kitchen and Lord help anyone or any package that got in her way.

Gabriel got his lasso, and makes a mighty fine cowboy, if I do say so myself.

P.S. Do you see that in the background there?  Look closely?  It’s black, automatic, and it’s not Chet.  Got it?  It’s a NEW DISHWASHER.  Yippee, we decided we needed to get a new dishwasher stat to have the ability to sanitize stuff really well with Gabriel.  The full kitchen remodel will have to wait until Gabriel has made it to maintenance with his chemotherapy treatment, but beside the new floor (which looks good, doesn’t it) he got the cabinet framed and dishwasher installed.  Sweet.

For Christmas dinner, I broke out the fine china as you can see.

Yes, the very exclusive and difficult to acquire rare china – Dixie.

After much food, family, and play, we were exhausted.  It was a wonderful Christmas, even if it was nearly three weeks late.

Gabriel has been doing well.  Poor guy is really suffering from the side effects of the Prednisone.  Fortunately, we’re on the countdown for that medication.  But, it’s really difficult because it’s starting to bother him, and my heart breaks for him.

He’s also starting to lose more hair, and that’s really hard.  He’s in denial about it, which is understandable for a little boy who absolutely loves his hair.  But, as a mom, it’s so difficult.  You want to be able to insulate him from the hard parts of all this, but it’s absolutely impossible.  And that just crushes me.

Today was a really rough day for me emotionally.  I think the past several weeks of positive enthusiastic attitude hit the wall.  I’m just feeling crushed in many ways about the overwhelming responsibility of all this.  At the hospital, it was a controlled environment.  There nurses and doctors were there to help us out.  There was a lot of peace and quiet in a weird hospital sort of peace and quite.  There was a certain calmness to being there.

While being home is wonderful, it’s so overwhelming.  There’s so many other things to be thinking about that we have to attend to.  There are now two kids trying to be the center of our attention.  All the realities of the responsibilities are right here in our faces.  Honestly, there have been many moments today where I would have preferred to find a dark closet to just go hide and cry.

But, this will pass.  The routine will become routine.  And all these feelings will be a memory.  We are so blessed to be surrounded by a loving supportive family and circle of friends near and far.  We are so blessed to have a kid who was diagnosed at a point where he could respond well to the treatment and has responded remarkably well.  We are blessed to have seen the results we have seen in really a short period of time.  We are blessed in ways beyond measure.

And, I think that is part of why this is difficult – things have gone so smoothly in so many ways, that it’s just hard to deal with the emotional toll and reality of it all when I can’t just ignore it.  I respond well to the crisis, but I don’t deal well with the let down.

We’re home, the new way of life is here and we’re beginning to establish a routine.  The emotional roller coaster isn’t about to end, but we’ll have some times of calm here soon.

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Shots that is.  No one likes shots.  Kids are terrified of shots.  And Gabriel got two very painful shots today.  I don’t know what was worse the anticipation of the shots since they applied Lydocaine lotion to the sites ahead of time or if they just hurt.  The doctors said they would be painful, so I’ll just have to assume they hurt, hurt like heck.  I haven’t heard Gabriel cry that hard, ever.

The silver lining on that painful cloud is the fact that God willing, this is the one and only time that he will have to have this medication given.  We sure hope so.

Otherwise, today was a good day.  Gabriel is clearly getting bored of being cooped up in 5 South, and to a degree, even video games are entertaining, but loosing their appeal (can we all give a big Hallelujah).  But, he is such a trooper.  He hasn’t complained, he is being so good and being so stinking strong.  It is amazing to me because he has held it together better than either Chet or I and he’s the one with tubes coming out of his body, being poked, prodded, touched and palpated constantly.  Yet, he is showing some remarkable calm and presence through all this.  The kid is really something.

Other than the one new drug today, it was really unremarkable otherwise.  We just hung out with Grandma and Grandpa.  There was some sculptie crafting, Lego building, video game playing, book reading, and lots of laughing.  Ohh, my favorite part of all of this is just being able to hear Gabriel’s laughter continue.

We even had a visitor – friends from Gabriel’s Cub Scout Den, Dirk and his parents were driving through the area and stopped by to say hi.  It was really lovely to see them and Gabriel was very excited to see them.  Little things like that are so good for his spirits.

My personal favorite part of today was watching Gabriel drive a little play car around.

Granted, he could barely fit into it, it was adorable watching him just “drive” around the halls for a while.  Being able to still be a little kid is so good for him and makes my heart smile.

Chet and I wish to express our extreme gratitude to all of you who are reading this.  Every one of you has offered your support, prayers, positive thoughts, and more to us.  We can’t tell you how much it means to us, how much it really helps just knowing that we have friends and family who care.  Every comment, text, email and Facebook message is enjoyed, even if we don’t always have the opportunity to respond individually.  It’s hard being here, but the outpouring of love and support makes it tolerable.  Thank you.  Please continue to pray for Gabriel, those prayers are felt and clearly working as his progress is even remarkable to the doctors treating him.

Many of you have asked if there is anything you can do to help.  If and when something comes up that we know you can assist us with, know that we will ask.

In the meantime, there is one thing you can do.  Donate blood and blood products.  Gabriel was the recipient of someones selfless act of whole blood donation and plasma donations.  Without the blood plasma he received the night we first got here, he would not have been well enough to undergo the testing to determine the type of leukemia he had and it would have been a longer and much more difficult road for us, and quite frankly, with much more dire outcomes.  Based upon first hand experience, the gift of blood does save lives.

And as we approach the New Year – remember to drive safely.

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