December 9, 2008
Last night Walter and I sat in the great room visiting and letting the green chili chicken soup simmer, while Erin worked on her Spanish class podcast at the dining room table. I barely know what a podcast is, and the idea of putting one together in a foreign language exceeds my capabilities and perhaps even my imagination. Nevertheless, that's what Erin was doing. The topic: "my family" (which she interpreted loosely to include practically everyone she knew).
To complete the assignment she had to put together a slide show with photographs and use software to record her explanation of the slides (in Spanish). She took photos of Walter and me and the dogs with her computer camera and started searching for more pictures to add to the montage she had in mind.
[Digression: Our preacher, Ted Foote, occasionally stops right before he heads out on a point that seems tangential to his message to encourage the congregation to "hang with me, this will eventually make sense." He then launches down an unexpected path, only to arrive, as promised some minutes later back at a place where the side trip and the main road converge and make sense. I am hoping to do the same, so hang with me.]
Anyway, Erin doesn't read the Home Page often, but she knew that I had some decent photos on it that she could capture for her project. Since her definition of family included all of her buddies, she figured the best place to find material was to browse this site. After a few minutes of scrolling and clicking and sighs and murmurs of "oh that's a good one" and "don't we have a picture of Ayesha somewhere?" the quiet atmosphere that permeated the room shattered into a thousand pieces. I looked over at the table and saw Erin staring at her computer and shaking so hard I thought she might hit her head against the screen. "What's the matter?" I called. She tried to tell me, but her mirth kept her from doing anything but cackle, chortle, chuckle, giggle, and guffaw. She tried to read me the entry she had come across (What Would You Do Next?), but failed in the attempt because she couldn't keep her composure. She scrolled down some more, found Her Tongue, and cracked up again. There were several other outbursts of almost tear- or pee-inducing laughter, and when she reached the end of Plumbing the Depths of a Ten-Year-Old she gained control of herself, and said, "Mom, you have certainly fallen down on your funniness lately."
My response: "Oh yeah? I'm plenty funny!"
She said: "Have you read your entries lately? All of them are either: we're headed to Houston, we're back from Houston, her counts are good, her counts are not so good. I'm surprised that anyone is even reading anymore."
So, here is a feeble attempt to redeem myself.
Erin likes most foods, but especially meat. She could do without oatmeal and favors vegetables over fruits, but otherwise I have always considered her a good eater. After her stomach virus/pemetrexed-induced anorexia, she had lost ten percent of her 66 pound fighting weight and was hovering between 59 and 60 pounds. We didn't want to force her to eat, but food just didn't appeal. I knew that she loved beef stew. I figured if I bought a slightly better cut of meat and cut it into very small bits in a stew, I might entice her to eat. I put the stew together (substituting pearl barley for potatoes on the theory that they would be easier for Erin to swallow and less overwhelming than giant floating chunks of potatoes) and let it simmer for quite some time, so that the smells might wake up Erin's hunger.
It did the trick, she came to the table more enthusiastically than she had in a couple of weeks, then proceeded to not eat. She poked around in her bowl, nibbled at a crust of bread, then excused herself. At bedtime I used my concerned mother voice to ask about her appetite (in my mind, I wondered if her tumor had grown so suddenly large, that she had no longer had room for food). She looked me in the eye and took my hand and patted the back of it, "You didn't really expect me to eat oatmeal stew, did you?"
So, for those couple of you actually interested in Erin's counts (and if you read them out loud after sucking the helium out of a balloon, this could be even funnier):
HGB 9.5 (holding steady)
WBC 5500 (low normal and good enough to protect her from the hand, foot, and mouth sickness floating around her school)
ANC 4200 (normal)
PLT 110,000 (good enough to start chemo on Thursday)
You continue to amaze us by contributing to The Erin Project (I will have new entries up today or tomorrow--Pat Lacey fan's: you won't be disappointed) and by lighting up Erin's Lunch for Life Christmas tree (we are having our positively best year ever. Erin's Giving Tree Code is 24730 and instructions for giving are below). Erin has a plan for the Toys R Us gift cards that are generated every time the tree gets full. It's probably not something Dr. Russell wants to hear about a patient that spends about half of her days with low platelets, but Erin is saving up to buy herself a trampoline.