Friday, November 10, 2006

Mountain of a Week


What a mountain of a week! Last Saturday Erin's soccer team finished off the regular season with a 2-0 win over the second place team, leaving them undefeated with only two goals scored against them for the entire season. Tomorrow is the end of season tournament with 150 minutes of soccer spread over three games--plus a championship game on Sunday if they do well on Saturday. Go Red Hot Chili Peppers!

After a short post-game rest last Saturday, Erin showered and got dolled up in new Aggie duds. We met Chet, Lea Ann, J.T. (10), and Garrison (9) Edwards at the MSC. As part of the festivities, Chet introduced Erin to former President and Mrs. Bush. You may or may not know that the Bushes lost their daughter Robin to leukemia when she was four years old. Perhaps because of that or perhaps because they are genuinely kind people, they both took time to visit with Erin, even to the point of setting their dinners aside briefly. I received pictures of the evening (both at the Presidential buffet and at the game in the President's box), but I had to wait. Becky Gates (married to A&M President and soon-to-be Secretary of Defense Bob Gates) and Lea Ann Edwards served as Erin's photographers, and you may not have noticed, but they both had very busy weeks this week. Luckily, they found my pathetic pleas through email and send me at least one photo before they erased their cameras' memories.

During the Presidential buffet, Chet took Erin and his sons around visiting with various knots of people, mostly receiving best wishes for the upcoming election. Later, when I asked Erin how it felt to be introduced to so many different people, she showed a little bit of pre-teen-a and said, "Well, it was like this," and then she put on her mimicking voice and postured, "Aren't you the cuuutest little thang! Oh, what a cute picture that would be. Smile. Look this way. Smile. Oh your so cuuute. Smile. Look at the camera." I told her we didn't have to do anything like that again if it bothered her and that in all likelihood the photo takers were really only snapping pictures of Chet. She looked at me like I was an idiot and said she didn't mind smiling for a photo. In fact, it was one of her favorite things to do.

We eventually stopped politicking and sat down to eat. Garrison sat between Lea Ann and me, and Chet sat between J.T. and Erin. At some point in the meal, between rapidly flowing conversation and clattering forks, Chet looked over and noticed Erin was eating everything on her plate, except her piece of roast beef. Without missing a beat, he reached over and cut her meat into bite-sized pieces for her and without a word about it, continued his conversation. Now, I don't think cutting other people's meat is necessarily a skill you have to hone to be a good Congressman (in fact, it might bother your colleague if you cut up his meat for him at a Congressional banquet), but it sure told me that Chet was a clued-in dad, and not someone who just gathered his family around him for the photo op.

It was a great experience to get to know the Edwards family. Lea Ann is not only beautiful, but smart as a whip and very down-to-earth. Chet took a large supervisory role over the kids, giving us plenty of time to chat about a whole range of topics. The boys fit Erin's notions of fun friends, and it was really amazing how quickly and completely they took to each other.

The game was splendid, except the outcome. The kids watched the game (on the field, on the big screen in the end zone, and on the tv right above their heads), played cards during the slow parts, and spent a good deal of the time cutting up. Luckily, the really serious fans were sitting pretty far down the way. The man sitting directly next next to them (the rumor passed through the box that he owned a 54,00 square foot house in Beverly Hills. NOTE BENE: that's smaller than a WalMart, but large enough to divvy out 10,000 square feet to each of his five children, including the toddler and the 13 and a half month old) didn't seemed to mind them too much. He even took the time to teach them some card tricks. During the second quarter we took the children down to the decks so they could actually experience the crowd and the feel of the game. We watched half time from the first deck, and Erin has been humming the Aggie War Hymn ever since. She was also particularly amazed at how the band just turned itself into a marching ATM. I think Erin's only real disappointment of the evening was that we rode the elevator down from the box at the end of the game instead of running round and round the ramps to the bottom.

Those of you who know the Buengers personally, know that the magic of the week didn't end on Saturday night. We all stayed up late celebrating on Tuesday night as Chet led the way for incumbent Democrats to hold their seats and for Democratic challengers to win races across the country. I don't think I've seen Walter this happy since he became department chair, and certainly not this happy over an election since 1992. Erin and I figured that Chet was fairly confident in his race or he would have spent the last Saturday before election day campaigning or smoozing or both. The real surpise of the week, though, was that Chet, who had to be in Houston on Thursday for a personal matter, agreed to meet us at Texas Children's Hospital that morning and tour the facility. He was eager to learn what it was like for a child with cancer and what the prospects were for research funding for doctors in the field. I think Erin's doctors impressed him and vice versa.

The medical side of Erin's clinic visit also went well. Her hemoglobin and platelets were solidly normal. The white count and ANC were unimpressive, but better than they had been the last two weeks and just fine for week three of a three-week chemo cycle. Her AST and ALT numbers had crept up a little, probably a signal that she was fighting off a virus (which would be consistent with the nasal sniffles I've been hearing in the mornings and evenings). The only concerning number in the whole set of counts was her BUN. Yes, that is something that doctors actually measure in your blood. It was high, but not dangerously high. Celebrex can raise the BUN, but it is also a indicator for general health and nutrition. I'm guessing that as we have climbed the mountain of a week, we may have depended too heavily on granola bars and jerky, and not brought enough fruits and vegetables along. Now that I think about it, the snack bar in the President's box wasn't overly laden with cumquats and pomegranites.

Anyway, the bottom line was that Erin will start the eleventh cycle of oral etoposide in about a week and continue taking Celebrex every morning and evening. We will have our BUN measured again in two weeks I think I will start tuning into late night television or the Shopping Network to try to find one of those BUN reducing gizmos. It could only help.

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