Saturday, November 24, 2012

Eli and Me

Eli and I took a walk Thanksgiving evening around the neighborhood, just him and me. The girls were involved with a game between themselves in the yard, and Caleb was napping. Caleb had thrown up about an hour after we arrived at our first Thanksgiving stop earlier in the day, and threw up again in the car on the way home, so he had been asleep all afternoon with Vic standing (napping) watch over him. Vic had been sitting with him both times he vomited, so he decided to fall on the sword since he had likely already been infected and stay with him. Eli was, of course, playing with his Hot Wheels on the road rug inside the TV room. Knowing that if a stomach virus was in the house, we would all soon have it and be closed up inside, I had made them all go outside. The girls quickly became involved in something pretend and wild around the yard, but Eli came in pining for his cars and the road rug. It was beautiful outside in North Alabama on Thanksgiving Day so after a few minutes of road rug time I invited him for a walk and he surprisingly accepted. It reminded me so much of our nightly walks around the Target House campus during his treatment at St. Jude. Though he often protested those many months, he almost always was rejuvenated and energetic when we made time to walk. Just as he did then, on this night he chattered the entire time about our usual subjects of cars and Transformers and Legos. Often he would be distracted and briefly divert his conversation to question the subtle sound of rustling leaves in a vacant lot, or point out the distant noise of children playing in a yard somewhere, and then he would go back to his musings of the vehicular flavor. He loves to talk about what he will drive when he grows up, and what he will be when he grows up.
Eli on our walk to the creek at our s/d.
He always asks me if I would rather him drive a mustang or an F150 when he grows up, and what I would like more for him to be - a police officer or a truck driver. Admittedly, I only hear half of what he says during our walks, somewhat because my brain can only focus on one episode plot of Transformers Prime at one time, or one guess at what I think the biggest thing an F350 can pull, but, also, especially on this night, because I am distracted by my amazement of him. Pure joy with a hint of apprehension behind it fills me up and overtakes my thoughts walking there beside him. So, on Thanksgiving evening, as we walked and he talked, he didn’t ask, he told me “I think I know what I will be when I grow up.” I said robotically, “oh, okay then, what’s that?” expecting the usual reasonable occupations. He said “I think I want to be a doctor like Dr. Klimo (his neurosurgeon) and help get rid of these cancer tumors.” He has never said anything like that before, nothing ever related to anything he has been going through, not even an ambulance driver if I’m remembering right. I was taken aback a bit, trying to push out the negative knowledge that for several reasons it is not likely with positive thoughts and encouraging words for him, of course. It’s a tough walk with him, figuratively and literally as I have packed on tens of pounds since giving up several months ago. But, no matter the conversation, that simple walk has always been such a rejuvenating exercise for both of us.  When we got back the girls had since gone inside and Caleb was up and playing yet still quarantine in our room. He since then has seemed completely normal, eating and playing, and no one else has shown any sign of a virus. He only threw up a small amount those two times and did not ever run a fever. In the words of Miss Hattie of Miss Hattie’s Home for Girls in the movie Despicable Me, “You say that like it’s a good thing.”
Caleb and Eli in my bed in the mornings.
Well, I am uneasy about it because last weekend at Eli’s party, Caleb left early because he was crying saying he was going to throw up (he did not). It was at mid-day last weekend, it was about mid-day this weekend, and today at around that same time he said his belly hurt and he lay down for about three minutes then was fine. The last time I had a boy doing this and nobody else getting sick, it was a brain tumor, not a virus. The chances are slim, I know, but I am leaning more and more toward believing this is all somehow connected with the toxicity of my own body while I was pregnant from years (since childhood) of eating processed foods, chemically-treated foods, and genetically altered foods. I don’t know how it all comes together, but there is a common thread somewhere, somehow in it, and I think that common thread leads to me.
Caleb working diligently on his trains.
And, though it is not genetic, just the fact that he is a boy nearing the age where it is most common and the number of cases has grown so much in the last decade plus (in my opinion when the majority of my fast-food generation would be having kids), and the vomiting was one of the first (unknowingly at the time) manifestations of Eli’s disease, we are going to see about having his eyes checked if maybe hydrocephalus can be detected that way, or if not, we are just going to have to sedate him and have him imaged. We’ll see what the pediatrician says, and I have written Eli’s doctor at St. Jude as well.

Caleb loving on a disagreeable Eli as he finishes lunch.

So, needless to say I am almost numb writing tonight, losing strength to control the raging thoughts that are pounding my head. But, I will stop myself there because nothing will be done tonight or even this weekend, so it would be a waste of energy to assign words to my flailing emotions. I will save that energy for working with something concrete. I will add, though, as an observer, notice the extreme swing of emotions that can happen in a day, within minutes, really. One minute, I’m quietly cranking out a positive blog post to share and make everybody feel all turkey toasty, and then the next minute Vic comes in to share his thought that Caleb was sick last weekend, too, which sends me into a tailspin while writing that same post. How much can a soul take before it breaks? It’s like a sick game show hosted by Satan. And, my body is buckling under the weight of the sky pressing down, too. I have aged so much as a result of the physical lashing that emotional stress inflicts. But, all of that is not so much important as it is just interesting to watch. But, please, with deepest anxiety I beg you to remember Caleb in your prayers as we question and pursue answers to abnormalities that would in other families go unnoticed. I rely so much, too much on your prayers knowing that if for some reason I fall short in the sight of God and am not heard, that you are. Please, remember him.
Me and my highest paid employee
So, now, on to other, more fun things that I originally wanted to share. I have been having so much fun avoiding housework. The parts of the house that have been touched since we moved back from Memphis (yes, since September) have only been touched because Melissa came over to help. It’s like Hg doing her math. If I would work just as hard at the housework as I do at avoiding it, I would be done and have time to do Melissa’s, too. But, I have noticed (observing again) that I get overwhelmed easily now, and even more so choose to deal with details rather than affect the larger picture (i.e., organize and clean out a closet that nobody sees or uses, but step on and over weeks of clean laundry in the floor). I have always been that way somewhat, but the extreme is true now. I’m going to guess that it is an early sign of dementia, which surely would put me in the bonus round of Satan’s game show.
Caleb watching the playset going up
So, not long after we came home, some men and their sons from church decided to get done what Santa couldn’t and put together a playfort that was given to the kids two Christmases ago. The yard was not level, so we had some work done in the back to prepare the landscape for a playground area. It was completed, and the guys were able to finish the playset. It would still be in the box if they had not, so a special thank you to Timothy Mayfield and his crew for getting that done. It is a big hit.
A confederate soilder reinactor talks to Abbey's troop.
Abbey at the dog shelter
I spent the majority of time with Eli when he was at Memphis, missing out on many things with the other kids as my friends substituted for me. So, I have enjoyed these last two months going up to the school to visit, going on field trips and spending time doing something other than housework. I was able to participate in a Girl Scout trip with Abbey where we spent the night in a cabin on a mountain at the site of LaGrange College, in Leighton, Alabama. It was a confederate military academy prior to being razed by the union, and a confederate cemetery is nearby. After that, we hosted Abbey’s 10th birthday. For her birthday, she chose to volunteer at an animal shelter. So she and some friends made dog treats to take and then the girls learned a little about the work and reward of operating a shelter. 

Hg and her long legged rappeling
My next field trip was an overnight team building trip to Bear Creek education center. There were four phases: Spelunking, canoeing, rappelling, and high-rope obstacles. I didn’t do canoeing because I’ve done that many times. I did not spelunk because I am extremely claustrophobic, choosing to avoid even tucking in my sheets on my bed. Plus, speaking as one blessed in girth, there is nothing appealing about squeezing through or crawling through anything. I did, however, enjoy the rappelling, although I was not convinced the 90-pound youngling expert was honest about the weight limit or the strength of the tree to which she was tied while holding me. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop me. That was really fun, and I would love to pursue that as a hobby if I can substantiate the weight limit.
me on the high ropes, attached to a tree
I also attempted the high-ropes course, which was by far the most challenging endeavor I have ever attempted or experienced in my current physical stature. If I get to go with Abbey and my stature has not been significantly reduced, I will not attempt it again. But, I did it, and like the rappelling, it wasn’t pretty. But I wanted Hg to see that I would do it. She wanted me to participate, but I couldn’t tell if she wanted me to so that she and I could enjoy a bond of sharing and completing a challenge, or if she was hoping that I would fail so she could make fun of me. It’s really not much of a toss-up, the latter being the most likely scenario based on her history with me. I was also able to take Eli on a field trip with his second grade class from school. He is not attending school right now, but is seeing a tutor three times a week who is keeping up with actual school work from his class.
They visited a local Veteran’s Museum and it was so much fun getting to see his little buddies, and for me to see my friends, too. All my kids have such great parents in their classes, and I always enjoy my time spent getting to know the new parents, as well as spending time with old friends who happen to be parents in the class as well. It is so good to be home for so many reasons. 
After that, we had Hg’s 12th birthday party. I pulled off a mall scavenger hunt for her, which was a lot of fun. Again, I had great parents to help us, and it turned out really fun, just really a big bang for the buck. They had to gather samples, ask strangers for pictures, find employees, solve riddles, count kiosks, pretend to be mannequins, etc. The kids were great sports to participate, and were well-behaved. It turned out great. But the whopper of them all was Eli’s 8th birthday! Its significance needs no explanation. Eli had such a great time, and I want to make sure I thank those of you that were able to come out and share such a special day with us. Eli was really just thrilled with it, and I am always eager for an opportunity to help St. Jude.

Eli leading Soldiers Arise
 Another thing the kids are participating in is Lads to Leaders at church.
Last year, we had signed up long before knowing of Eli’s disease, but the convention fell during his break between radiation and chemo, so we were able to go. He had to use a wheelchair to get around, but was able to at least participate in one activity, Bible reading. So, we signed up again, and I was so proud for Eli to be able to participate in song leading class these last couple of Sundays. The convention is Easter, so I pray that we are fully able to participate this year without any special treatment or preparation. So, we have made it to Thanksgiving, and have made the most of our holiday save Caleb’s puking. Though we did not spend it with extended family, I was so happy that my aunt let me have a to-go box for everyone filled with all the good stuff that we only get once a year from her house. And, it was a great day with the kids after Caleb felt better.
Earlier in the week, we spent an afternoon with friends taking Christmas pictures, then a morning with friends bowling which we love to do but don’t do enough.  Also, this weekend, we have completed one of two science projects, one Bible project, one 4-H project, put together two trundle beds, done some Christmas shopping and watched three new movies on DVD. The laundry? Still there, in the floor.


  1. Saw the address to this blog on the back of a car tonight at Chik-fil-A and was curious to what the "21 days" was counting down to, so I checked it out. I am praying for Eli, Caleb, and your family.

    1. Yay! It worked, more prayers! That is wonderful, and thank you for checking it out and adding Eli and us to your praye list. I think we are actually at 19 days until Eli has his first post-treatment scan, so my count is off, nevertheless, thank you for your prayers for him.


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