Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Wealth of Friends: T Minus Four

September 7, 2008

Oops. I'm a little late posting this morning, but I slept in until 6:20, and by the time I dressed, made coffee, checked e-mail, and did my daily visit to other NB warriors around the I'net, this was the best I could do.

Erin and I spent a good part of the morning readying the room for visitors yesterday. Erin made signs for the door that said "The Party's Here" and "In Crowd" in really groovy letters. We made sure we invited the attending, fellow, resident, and the nurse manager (and of course, our room nurse had a standing invitation) to the party so they wouldn't feel compelled to shut us down once the the party started. I spent the better part of the morning trying to get Rhapsody to work on Walter's new laptop, but apparently I was a technological cripple yesterday because we had to settle for playing CDs.

The occasion for a party: Erin's great friends Nico, Jesse, Jackson, and Toni and their equally great parents had chosen a TCH visit over whatever else kids might pick for their Saturday activity. We started the party around noon with Erin unhitched from her "escort" for lunch in the deserted food court area over in the clinic building (closed on the weekends, so we had the space and airy view all to ourselves), and for the next several hours we moved the party from place to place around the hospital. Why a progressive party, you might ask? With twelve less-than-quiet, less-than-still folks, we didn't fit in Erin's room all that well and we tended to wear out our welcome fairly rapidly.

Most of you familiar with relapsed NB probably don't realize that although Erin has been relapsed for almost three and a half years, we have somehow escaped significant in-patient time at Texas Children's (we did come in once or twice, checking in and out on the same day for chemo). Since she was in remission for two years before relapsing, it means that we have not had a hospital stay even remotely similar to this one in a really long time. Let me tell you, it is significantly different to have an eleven year old in the hospital than a five year old. For instance, at one point yesterday, having already played games in the play room, eaten pumpkin pie in the Ronald McDonald hospitality room, and explored the library on the 16th floor (accompanied by dads Joel and David), the kids were looking for something a little more adventurous. I did something I fully well expected to regret later. I said, "Why don't you just take whatever games you want to play, go over to the Clinic Building, and find a place to play over there." I didn't have to ask twice. Boom, they gathered up, and taking turns pushing Erin's IV pole, they were out the door, down the elevator and gone. I braced for a subsequent visit from security for aloowing patients to run loose and parentless all around the campus, but apparently whatever mischief they found was private, and I will not have to fill out paperwork for Child Protective Services.

They did get called down by the nurses when they got back to the floor for their equivalent of pod racing. Erin brought her plasma car to the hospital. It may not look like much, but it is billed by the manufacturer as vivid, sleek, and aerodynamic (and as a personal observation smooth tiles are its natural terrain). In timed races in the 200 yard circuit that makes up the ninth floor, Nico posted the record time of 56 seconds. Given the number of toddlers, preschoolers, and IV poles strolling the halls, it was probably okay that the nurses intervened and put a stop to the plasma car time trials.

The party broke up around 7:00, shortly after Erin finished her chemo drip and flush. We spent a little while exploring all the new entertainment stuff hauled in by the various families (Not only did they bring really great stuff on their own accord, but they came laden with numerous and varied items sent by various other friends like the Guerrieris, Villalobos, and Kamphafner/Schwalens!) . I think we have enough games, movies, and books for a transplant-length stay, but we will do our best to use them all in the next four days.

Lest you are feeling sad having missed the glam party of the season, let me reveal that some of you were there in spirit, if not in person. One of the highlights of the afternoon was when the twelve of us sat in a circle in Erin's room (no, we didn't clasp hands and sing Kum Ba Ya), and took turns reading the funniest and most heartfelt greetings you have sent. We were alternately roaring with laughter and wiping our eyes because of the beauty of your words. The children invariably picked the one's that involved topics most interesting to them: vomit, bathroom accidents, and mischief. I just kept thinking how I was glad no one has figured out how to tax friendship, because we'd be in the upper tax bracket thanks to our wealth of friends


  1. I was never so stunned until I stepped out into the hallway and saw Tonie shoot down the hall like a rocket. Thank goodness no one got plowed down!
    It was a great day! We ate at Pappadeaux's and got home about 11pm.

    Love and XXX,

  2. Erin:

    I kept getting an error when I tried to send my patient greeting card, so I have opted to send my junior high memory to you this way. My favorite memory from junior high is walking into Alvin Junior High School for the first time (I had recently moved to Alvin from California)and meeting upon my entry a young girl who would become a friend for life--your mom. She worked in the school office (actually, I think she may have run it) and took me under her wing from that point, introducing me to the girls that would be my closest friends for the next few years. I have always counted her being the student office worker on the day of my arrival one of those life-changing strokes of good luck. Erin, I know you have many close and good friends and can imagine what I mean. Love to you from Christine, Steve, and Ana Sofia.

  3. sounds like i am kind of glad my message was too long and didn't get sent though :)

  4. Okay, I must confess I have never heard of a plasma car, but I followed the link. That is one cool car. I think I want a ride!
    May I say how very proud I am of you and all your Branch friends. You all truly demonstrate for others what friendship is all about.
    Love and prayers,
    Ginger Freeze