You would think that by now I'd be used to the ups-and-downs of this roller coaster, but alas I'm not! Today started off beautifully. Nina woke up in a fantastic mood. To be honest, I didn't sleep much because I was worried about how things would go without having anyone to help us. My in-laws left Saturday and today was the first time Nina and I would be on our own. Yvonne had offered to come up but I had insisted that I wanted an opportunity to just do it on my own.
For the majority of my life, actually all of adulthood, I had been independent. When this all happened I had to quickly adapt to the fact that my days of independence were gone, that now I was wholeheartedly dependent on others, doctors, friends, family members, even the generosity of strangers. To say that this transformation was humbling doesn't even begin to describe it.
|Watching some Tinkerbell before radiation|
Our morning was a complete delight. Not only did Nina wake up in a great mood but she didn't complain much about starving. For the first time ever, she entered the Cancer Center without crying. Each of these little things were such blessings, such little miracles. The anesthesiologist was already there when we arrived so the morning routine of weighing-in and collecting vitals proceeded with even more efficiency than usual. To top everything off, Nina recovered quicker than ever!!! She recovered with little crying and immediately proceeded to demand her morning feast.
Nina gobbled each morsel of her breakfast smorgasbord and then turned to me and said, "I want Panda Express!" with the greatest grin of all. Cindy and I immediately started cracking up. Nina had turned into the biggest foodie ever :) She had always loved food.
|The Queen's Breakfast Cart|
At my friend Grace's wedding, her father had said that when Grace was small one of her teachers had noted that she didn't eat...she dined!! I vividly remember Grace's dad sharing this story during his toast as I watched Nina. The same was true of Miss Nina. From the moment she was born, Nina had dined:) Even with nursing Nina had shined. Where Teddy had struggled tremendously with nursing, Nina had popped out and after looking at me, latched on! I remember being shocked at how easily she had done that. Todd and I laughed at our powerful and confident 1-minute old daughter. This would not be the last time she amazed us, only the first of a million different instances.
Nina had always loved food, especially anything buttery and creamy. I'll never forget when Nina was 2 1/2 years old hearing her drag a chair to the refrigerator; I was upstairs getting dressed. I called out to her but she ignored me. I went downstairs and what did I find?? I found honey-girl standing on a chair, facing an open refrigerator and munching on a stick of butter!!! She was so pleased with herself!!! She stood there in nothing but her diaper and face covered with butter. She was literally delicious!
With the addition of steroids, Nina's love of food had been taken to new levels. All the poor thing could think of was food. It took us a while to figure out that we couldn't trust her own judgement about being full. In fact, it seemed like she didn't have a satiation response at all. Consequently, we needed to monitor exactly what she was taking in and make sure it didn't upset her belly too much. Chronic belly pain and constipation were our arch enemies now. We hated seeing her in pain so we tried to control as much as possible.
Once Cindy gave us our walking papers we left for Panda Express. I was just ecstatic that Nina wanted to eat out. For the past two weeks, she hadn't wanted to do much of anything. We went to Panda and took our food to the La Cumbre outdoor mall to eat. She was so happy!!! After a particularly gratifying bite of noddles and orange chicken, she turned to me and said, "This is soooo yummy!!! You are a good mama!" My heart melted!
|Enjoying Panda Express|
As if going out to eat wasn't great enough, Nina actually requested to go shopping. I might as well have won a million dollars I was so stoked! Prior to getting sick, Nina and I often went shopping, even if it was just window shopping. I had done this as a child with my own mother and have some of my fondest memories from those trips. Now with my own daughter, we'd roam from store to store. Clerks always got a kick out of Nina because she wasn't like your conventional kid that walks into a store and within 30 seconds starting running around because she wants to leave. Nina would actually shop...and had done so since she was 3. She would go from rack to rack and look through each item, periodically holding up a dress or shirt in front of a mirror to see if she liked it. If she did she'd ask those famous words, "Mama, is this my size?" The store staff would inevitably laugh and note how they'd never seen such an avid little shopper. Nina would never say a word, just smirk with her left eye brow raised up :)
Sooo...Nina and I shopped and shopped and we ended up buying a tiny green and white polk-a-dot bikini for a baby girl cousin and a hysterical woodsman cap for a baby boy cousin. Nina loved picking out the baby clothes and she loved hearing stories about the fabulous baby she had been!
After baby shopping we went to Macys for some more entertainment. We had a hilarious time with me trying out ridiculous clothes! When Nina was 4 she had started to give me "thumbs-up" and "thumbs-down" indicating her judgement on my clothing choices. From the earliest of ages, Nina had always been a fashionista! She didn't get her style from me...it was all her own and some of my favorite items were ones she had chosen!
After shopping we picked up brother from school. Teddy's teacher pulled me aside and told me that he was doing incredibly well. Her reassurance made my heart smile. My anxious boy was growing up to be a confident young student. All of our hard work and prayers were paying off....just wished it wouldn't be tested in such a severe way!
|It's a bird, it's a plane...it's Super Teddy!|
Despite having probably the most wonderful day in about a month, my triumphant and independent day came plummeting by the evening! Everything around me seemed to be crashing down and I could do nothing about it. It was as if I were a bystander in my own life....standing on the sidelines watching it go down in flames and not being able to do a single thing about it!!