Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 5/Extraction-Part 2

And so begins the final chapter in my peripheral blood stem cell donation saga. I know you all have been dying to hear the rest of the story. Well, actually, maybe you have been, but I just remember where we left off, which is terribly exciting.

As a reminder, it was about 10am, I was just starting a movie, but I desperately had to go to the bathroom. I've got to add a disclaimer before we begin: I'm just trying to describe my whole experience as accurately as possible, so I hope this isn't weird to read. Not that I think it's that bad, other wise I would definitely not be sharing this!

Anyway, I was warned before the whole process that I would likely have to use the bathroom, because who can hold it for 5 plus hours? All the nurses were very sweet and told me not to worry about it, because everyone has to go during the extraction. It really wouldn't have been so awkward, but you can't just get up and go into the handy private bathroom and be hooked to the machine at the same time. For one thing, the tubes aren't long enough, plus I couldn't move very easily on my own. It's amazing how much you use your arms (yes, I know, duh!) but I really take full movement for granted. I couldn't even scoot up in my bed without help. And they didn't want me to anyway, because it could cause too many problems.

So the solution to not being able to go the toilet, is to bring one to me! Yeah, you bet I was excited! It was just a little backless chair with a hole in it. It had a bucket attached to it for obvious reasons. I suppose to make it easier to clean, etc, they put another removable bucket over the other one, just under the seat. I wasn't too stressed about it, because I'd rather use the potty chair than wet the bed, plus, I learned to lighten up after giving birth twice. Of course I prefer modesty, but when it comes to medical situations, you just go with it. I had been reclined in bed for over 2 hours, and without the use of my right arm, it was a slow process to turn and scoot off the left side of the bed. And I had to be careful to keep my right arm straight the whole time too. I felt very clumsy as I tried to pull down my sweat pants, since I could only use my left arm...seriously, try it sometime, not easy. But I finally got it, and was all set.

I think sometimes I just don't worry enough about certain things. I didn't think this would be a big deal at all, in spite of the fact that I have naturally low blood pressure, and some of my blood was currently circulating through a machine, rather than flowing through my body. Perhaps you can see where this is going. Almost as soon as I sat down, I started feeling light-headed. I knew immediately, having vast experience with this feeling, that I was headed for a blackout. So the two nurses came right back over to support me. (They were trying to give me a tiny bit of privacy by moving to the other side of the room.) I had to put my head between my knees, as best I could, but despite my best efforts, I did blackout for a second. If you have never passed out, it's a sensation that's pretty unique. I could tell that I was literally only out for a split-second, but it's exhausting. Well, when you don't have enough blood flow to your head, I guess that's a logical side effect. They put a pillow on my lap, and I just remember trying to keep my head down, but supported with the pillow, without smothering myself. And I was yawning uncontrollably.

At this point the nurses just wanted me to pee and get back in bed! I know it's silly as a grown woman, but I still have a bit of stage-fright when it comes to using the bathroom around other people, and then when you add trying not to fall on my head, it was hard to relax! I had to just force something out of my bladder, anything, to relieve the urge to go so I could get through the rest of the morning without going through that again. The whole experience was pretty frantic, and I had at least 4 nurses in there at one point. The sad thing was that I couldn't even wipe myself since I was so woozy and and flushed and tingly. I get really hot when I pass out, and actually sometimes that's the cause. So they took my socks off, at my request, and ended up taking my sweat pants off when I was getting back into bed to keep me cool. I had to get in bed and be laying down before I could be modest and pull my pants back up, but what are you going to do? The head nurse took off my sweat pants, and told me I could just leave my "uh...shorts on." I would have laughed if there was someone else there to share the joke.

I was told I looked horribly pale, no surprise, and they reclined my head even more in bed. Once I was laying down, I felt much better, but my hands were very tingly. That's a side effect that the calcium alleviates, so I got another push. This time I was either so flushed to begin with that I didn't notice, or I got it a lot slower, because I didn't have any more hot flashes. I got to eat some crushed ice and that was really refreshing. For the rest of the time, I had a blood pressure cuff on my ankle to monitor my condition. It didn't take long for me to feel better, but it took a while for my pressure to go up. My blood pressure is usually around 115 over 90, but it was 93 over something (can't remember!) right after I got back into bed. It eventually went up to 135 over something else...and then normalized by the time I was finished.

I'm happy to report that the rest of day was fairly uneventful. After the delays with pressure in my return line and that whole bathroom incident, my end time was pushed back a bit. I should have been able to walk out of the hospital at 1:30, but that's when the cycle was completely finished. At 10:30, when things settled down, I was able to watch the almost 3 of the 4 hours of the movie I brought. It was a really fun movie and it really helped pass the time.

I have to admit that I was counting the minutes for the last hour or so. Not because I was bored or anything like that, but the fact that I had a short bathroom experience previously made me anxious to relieve myself! Also, my right arm was getting kind of achy. I'm sure some of it had to do with the fact that it was straight for five and a half hours, but obviously a lot had to do with having a large needle in my elbow.

When 1:30pm finally rolled around, and the machine stopped, the first thing to do was remove the needle. Yea! But I still had to wait for the blood to finish it's course through the machine and return in my left arm before I could be all unhooked. Now I know the bone aches are uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but that was nothing to the pain I experienced when I had to bend my right arm to stem the flow of blood when the needle was removed! I know it sounds crazy, but my arm was so stiff that I couldn't move it on my own, and the nurse had to do it for me...ouchy! Once the blood flow had slowed down enough, she wrapped it up, and that arm was done.

But I still had to go to the bathroom too, and worse than before. But there was no way I was trying the chair again...disaster. It took probably 5 or 10 more minutes for all my blood to return to my body and for the nurse to heat seal the return line so it could be cut. While that was wrapping up, they took a few more vials of blood to test again to make sure I was ok to leave. After that was done, the nurse let me go to the bathroom with the return line still dangling from my arm so I wouldn't have to wait any longer than necessary.

The other pain that ranks in the top two worst of the whole experience was when the nurse took the plastic tape off my arm that was right over the return line. It was a really sticky plastic sheet that kept everything in place, not that hardly-sticky medical tape. Because I was able to move my left arm a little bit, the return line had to be completely secure so it wouldn't come out. Pulling that off hurt worse than getting stuck with the needles. I'm actually surprised that those things hurt the most because they were secondary to the actual procedure. I got that arm wrapped up and I was all done!

Even with my stiff arm, I was able to put my pants and shoes and socks all by myself. I felt like such a big girl! I ordered lunch right before I was finished, so it arrived while I was waiting for Jon-Michael to show up to take me home. I also had to wait for the results of my most recent blood tests.

Ok, now for the cool part. Pictures! I actually don't have that many since I couldn't take them myself. The nurse was really sweet to take them, but I didn't want to make her take fifty of them like I would have. So this is a close up of the machine that separated my blood. The red bag on the right contains my stem cells. The next one contains some of my plasma, which the patient also needs. I'm not sure why, but I don't know all the medical details! The clear bag with the blue writing contained a saline drip that was included in my return line. I'm not sure what the other bag is, but I'd be willing to bet it contained the anticoagulant that kept my blood from clotting. You can see from all the tubing that my blood had to travel pretty far to get from one arm to the other. I'm seriously amazed at the medical technology that allows such a crazy thing like this to happen.
And here is another charming picture of me in bed. It was close to 1:30 when all these pictures were taken, and I had some awesome bed head. It didn't help that I had cold washcloths on my forehead and neck for a while to cool me off after I passed out because my hair dried all funny. I guess it's good that how I look doesn't affect the stem cells! The bottom portion of the machine is where the blood spins around and is separated. I think that would have been cool to look at, but it was obviously all closed up.

Patty came back and met me to pick up the stem cells and plasma because she was on a deadline! She ran an ice-filled cooler containing the bags down to a special courier who sent them on their way. She told me that I would go home, take a nap, eat a good dinner, and have a good nights sleep. And I did! And by Tuesday morning, I felt great. I was still a tiny bit tired, but that's how I feel every morning. :) My elbow was, and still is a bit stiff, but much, much better than Monday afternoon. I just can't hyper-extend my right arm, but it's getting better all the time. I have a bit of bruising in my right elbow, and at my two blown veins. You can tell where the needle was inside my arm, because I have a bruise following my vein about an inch and half up my arm. Before I left the hospital, my red cell count was the same as when I was admitted, and my platelet level was a little low, but that was completely normal. So really I'd say I'm completely recovered.

Patty called me yesterday and again today to make sure I was feeling ok, and to give me some updates. The cells arrived at their destination, which is good! She told me that I could get an update on my patient as soon as 30 to 45 days, but more likely 45 days. Sometimes, though, it's hard to get updates on international patients, so I could potentially be waiting for months. It's really out of our control, but hopefully I'll hear sooner rather than later.

At this point, I've done all I can do. And I hope it's enough. But if not, I hope my patient's family can feel the same peace mine has experienced. I feel like this has really come full circle for me, and it's a real blessing. It's so hard when you feel like there is nothing you can do for someone you love, and this is the best thing I think I can do for someone else in that situation. My sister told me that the family is probably so grateful to me, and I know it seems silly, but I didn't even think of that. Honestly, I'm just as grateful that I've been able to serve someone else. I testify that the words of the Savior in Matthew 16:25 are true. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Not that I've given up anything that I will ever miss. My health and life expectancy will not ever be affected by this experience, but my spirit forever will. The opportunity to serve gives us the chance to understand how much love our Savior has for us. My love for this man that I will probably never meet is such that I don't even know how to express it. I can't help but cry as I type this because I don't know how else to express my emotions. I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity, and still wish I could do more. Though the physical experience wasn't necessarily pleasant, the spiritual experience is overwhelming. I would do this again and again and again, purely for selfish reasons! I feel so blessed, and it has been so rewarding to work with such wonderful people in the Colorado Marrow Donor Program and everyone else at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center and Presbyterian/St Luke Hospital. I'm a bit sad that this is over, but still full of gratitude to share this, hopefully, life-saving part of myself with someone else.

Thank you to all of you who have read this. It makes me feel so good to know that you have enjoyed the journey with me. I love reading your comments, and though I don't deserve all your praise, it does make me feel really good! The thing that makes this so much more rewarding is to hear that someone else has joined the registry. Really, besides documenting this experience for myself, I hope that I can inspire another to be willing to possibly save someone else's life. I promise it will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 5/Extraction-Part 1

I'm already anticipating that this will be a forever long post, because the last few days have been nearly novel-length, and they were just about my injections! Wow, it's crazy for me to think that this is really all over. But we'll get to all of that later, let's rewind back to yesterday morning.

I had to be at the hospital at 6:45am to get the whole process started. That meant that the rest of my family had to be ready to leave with me at 6:25am because I was getting dropped off at the hospital. I could have gone all by myself, but I knew this would be a bit tough on my body, so I thought it was best to be driven home. Jon-Michael and I got up and got ready, and got Caleb ready-poor kid was pretty tired, but excited to go to the before school program, so that got him going. Bryce spent the night at my parents house. Built in babysitter, plus he didn't have to get up early.

I met Patty, the CMDP director, in the hospital lobby and we went up to the infusion center of P/SL. It was the same place I had been getting all of my injections, plus, it was just down the hall from where my father-in-law spent his last few months.

The infusion center is basically a bunch of curtained rooms, and two private rooms with beds for stem cell extraction. Apparently, most of the extractions done there are by patients donating to themselves. Obviously, only in certain circumstances is that feasible, but I found that very interesting. Cases like mine are less frequent, maybe once a month. I got settled in my private room, which had a tv and dvd player, a private bathroom, a bed, and a bunch of machines.

I got settled in and things got started right away. I had to sign a few more consent forms, answer more questions about how I was feeling, and get my final set of filgrastim injections. But by then, the effects were last thing on my mind. By the time I started feeling the anticipated irritation in my stomach, my blood was already moving out of my body.

The first thing my nurse did, after the other stuff, was check out my veins to determine where blood would come out and go back in. My best looking vein is in my right arm. I already knew that, but I was hoping they could figure out a way to use my left arm, since I'm right handed. Oh well. So the return line needed to be somewhere in my left arm and they did that first. My nurse started with a vein just above my left wrist. It wasn't meant to be, because my vein immediately blew. I knew that wasn't going to kill me, but the nurse seemed a bit stressed about it, mostly because she had to pull the needle out right away, and stop the bleeding, and she couldn't reach everything she needed. Fortunately another nurse came in and was able to help out. So she tried one in my hand. Same result. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm prone to fainting. It's kind of embarrassing, but I think a lot of it is mental. So I'm sitting here, listening to my nurse be frustrated that she blew two of my veins, after two exceptionally painful sticks, and by some miracle, I'm able to remain calm, and more importantly, conscious. (I don't watch them stick me, because yuck!) But after that, I can look at it. It was actually interesting to see everything that was being done, once the needle parts were over.

I didn't really know what it meant when she said she "blew the vein," so I asked! Beware, if you get queasy...although I'm sure I've already made you sick if that's the case! Apparently, it's when the needle tears the vein instead of just poking in it. The thought makes me shudder, and I've still got small bruises as reminders. Since it was turning out to be difficult to stick me, the supervisor came in and did the return line in my elbow. It was significantly less painful, and she said, "That went in like butter!" Kind of an icky visual as it regards a needle going in my body, but I can see why she said that, being on the receiving end. I had to get a bunch of vials of blood taken from there to check various levels in my blood, and for some other things I don't know about...but there were 7 or 8 of them. Then I had to get the big important extraction needle in my right arm. The first nurse did that one, and it went in just fine, thank goodness. Once everything was placed and taped down, they turned on the machine. 8am on the dot.

I learned that I personally have approximately 4,749 ml of blood in my body. (Calculated based on my height and weight.) Since I'm not an expert in metric, I had to look at it in familiar terms. That's about two and a half two liter bottles, like pop bottles. Does that seem like a lot of blood, or not very much? Can't decide...weird to think about though. The nurses were great about explaining things. They don't get healthy donors in there very often, and the sick ones apparently aren't as interested in the whole process. I told them I have been blogging about it, so I think they were being extra helpful. My nurse told me that my entire supply of blood would have to be cycled through the machine 4 times. Apparently the machine isn't 100% efficient, so it would take more than once through the machine to glean all the peripheral blood stem cells needed from my blood.

Somewhere between all the needles and the explaining, I got to order breakfast. I've heard the breakfast burritos are good...it's true! And I got some fruit and milk. Things were running really smoothly, and my nurse was making various adjustments to the machine as it got going, so I was happy to just watch and answer questions while I waited for my breakfast. Another interesting tid bit is that white blood cells are actually white! After extracting my blood the machine spins it to separate it. The red cells are the heaviest, then the white, then platelets and plasma. I think. Maybe the last two are reversed. (Haha...it was still too early for me when the nurse told me all of this!) Anyway, the stem cells are in with the white cells, so that is what is routed to the collection bag. The rest is routed back into my body. You could see that in the collection bag...it was white (yellowish) liquid! The nurse told me that they take some of the red cells too, just to make sure they are getting the entire level of white and stem cells. So the end product looked all red.

At 8:30 or so, another nurse came in to give me a calcium push (a syringe injected into my return line). They give patients calcium to offset the effects of a drug donors are given during the extraction to prevent clotting. I was watching her and she would push a little into my return line, and then let my blood pressure fill it with blood and then she would push more in, and then let some blood back into the syringe, and so forth. I didn't question what she was doing, because I figured there was some purpose to that, besides, I suddenly felt very hot. It was like a hot flash, and I could feel it all the way down in my feet. It was the most bizarre feeling, because it came on so quickly. As she was injecting the calcium, she said she lets it dilute quite a bit with my blood because if you do it too fast, the patient start getting hot flashes! Well, I knew exactly what she was talking about! It went away after a minute or so, and I was fine. Then she set up a calcium drip in my return line for the remainder of the procedure.

Well, that calcium drip started a whole new round of problems. Besides separating my blood, the machine monitors the pressure and speed that the blood leaves and returns to my body. After the calcium drip was set up, the pressure in my return line was too high. I don't know how or why that happened, and apparently neither did the nurses! Apparently, medicine is as much an art form as it is a science. So removed the calcium drip. While nurses were switching dials and adjusting the return line in my arm and all sorts of other things I didn't really understand, my breakfast arrived. Since we couldn't risk it getting cold and my "usable" left arm was being worked on, I got spoon fed my breakfast. It's really quite funny. The nurse who did that was really sweet and we managed to not spill a single drop on me, in spite of my reclined position.

The only way to stop the high pressure in my return line was to turn down the speed on the machine. That was a potential problem, because if I didn't have a high enough amount of stem cells, it would take too long to get them all out of my body. We were on a deadline to get the stem cells out the door and on airplane to where ever my patient was. One of the tubes of blood that was taken earlier was to check the amount of stem cells in my blood. The nurses decided to wait for that result and see if my levels were high enough. If not, they would have to find another vein to put the return line. You can imagine how thrilled I was. But the nurses were equally concerned because my other two good options were not options anymore. They decided they would try higher up on my wrist vein (which was still tender a couple inches up the vein from the initial stick) if they needed to move the return line. Fortunately, the results came back and I had a good saturation of stem cells in my blood, so they could leave the machine at a slightly lower level and not stick me again!

It was 9:30am or so by the time everything slowed back down. I was left to relax, or watch tv or whatever I wanted at that point. I brought the BBC America version of Emma which was 4 hours long. It was the perfect time to watch it! I had a nurse put it in for me, and then she left to attend to other things. Unfortunately, after the lengthy previews were over, the dvd just stayed at the main menu! And I didn't have a remote for the dvd player! I didn't want to be obnoxious and yell, and I didn't think that warranted pushing the "call nurse" button, so I just laid there and watch the main menu screen. Unfortunately, it wasn't that interesting, but it has charming music. By the time the nurse finally came back in around 10 am, I had to go the bathroom, so we decided to do that first, and then start the movie.

As that experience was an adventure in and of itself, and this is so long that no one has probably read to this point anyway, I'll continue the story tomorrow. But if the bathroom experience doesn't make you want to keep reading, or if I haven't made everyone ill with my descriptions, I'll have a couple more pictures tomorrow! (And I have to save something interesting for tomorrow because most of the rest of the time I was just watching the movie...which is awesome, by the way!) Until then, thanks so much for reading my blog. I'm glad I can share this amazing experience with you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 5/Extraction Preview

I'm pretty tired today, which seems funny because I've literally been in bed all day long. So I'm going to give you all the details tomorrow. But here's a picture so you can get an idea of what it was like for me! I was nearly finished when this picture was taken, so I'm definitely not looking my best. You can see the return line there in my left arm, but my right arm, where the blood was drawn, is covered up. That is the machine I was hooked up to. As I said, I'm feeling tired and my arm where the blood was drawn (which had to remain straight for 5 and a half hours) is a bit stiff, other than that, I feel pretty good! And it was a success!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 4

Today has almost been the best day yet, considering the circumstances. I scheduled my injections for 9:30 am every day. I really could schedule them for any time I wanted, but I chose that time because I could still get to my church meetings, which start at 10:20. Plus, it's not too early or too late. Things went so smoothly at the hospital, I could tell it was a Sunday. Meaning there must have been some divine intervention. I actually got to church 10 minutes early (which never happens!) and Jon-Michael pulled up with the kids at the exact same time! Hmm, it could be that I'm the reason we're barely on-time/late every week...ok, it's just true.

The nurse, a new one yet again, was super nice today. She did a great job with my injections, and she even told me in so many words that my stomach looked good for having two kids. Well that just made my day! (Even though it's not true...I'm not blind to the changes pregnancies force on my body.) It was still nice to hear though. She warmed up my shots and did them slowly enough that it felt just fine. And she was very pleasant to visit with. Actually, three of the four nurses I've seen have complimented me on something! I got a few comments on jewelry, and I got another one on my shoes today. I think the nurses are all just super nice. Although, the nice-but-not nurse from Day 2 didn't compliment me at all....but I'm not bitter about it or anything. Ha!

So I was expecting hard core pain today, especially after yesterday afternoon. From Day 2 to Day 3, the frequency and intensity of achiness (is that word?) was pretty significant, and I expected it to be the same from Day 3 to 4. Yet it was not. Hallelujah! First of all, even though I did have the anticipated stomach pain right after the injections, it felt like nothing compared to the other days. And I was not looking forward to dealing with the discomfort as I sat for 3 hours through church. I figured it was one of those tender mercies that, for the most part, I was completely unaffected during church. I did have a couple of flare-ups, but I could totally handle it.

I did notice aches in more places, like my knee (only one so far) and my one shin, well actually, just my whole left leg. But not all at the same time. My hips and lower back still hurt, but today it was more reminiscent of menstrual cramps. Seriously, if that's the worst of it, bring it on. I mean, I get that every month, and I haven't died yet. The only thing that was worse from last night and today is my hip sockets. Sometimes when I'm about to stand up, it feels like they're out of place, which of course, they're not, but I have to sit back down and brace myself to actually stand up. It's a very strange feeling. But it's fleeting. Honestly, I kept waiting all day for this killer pain to set in, but it wasn't even as bad as yesterday. Or maybe I'm just used to it now. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, my lower back is mildly uncomfortable, and I just felt something in my left femur. I really doubt that the pain is lessening, so it must not have been that bad to begin with because I can mostly ignore it now. How's that for a selling point? It hurts less the longer you do it!

Ok, that's not completely fair to say. I feel really lucky to feel as well as I do. I talked to the director today and I was pleased to report how good I felt. She's been keeping tabs on me since I started receiving the injections, which is really nice. And I've been told countless times that if the pain became unbearable, I could call her or the hospital and get a prescription for something stronger. It must feel worse for some people, because Tylenol, which I generally find ineffective, has worked fine. Part of the daily questions I'm asked for the study are about various, and sometimes rare, symptoms. I have no rashes, no nausea, I'm sleeping great, my appetite is normal, my digestive system is functional, no vomiting, no bruising...I think those are all the weird things they ask me. Like I said, I feel great, considering.

Yesterday a friend of my commented that she wouldn't be able to be a donor because of her health, which made me wonder what sort of health restrictions they have. I mean, I have been taking an anti-depressant for, let's see, 12 years now, and they had zero problems with that. Plus, I'm a bit anemic and have low blood pressure. (Maybe that explains all those fainting spells...and if you haven't heard of any, I'll dedicate a post to those stories in the future!) Anyway, I was going to ask the nurse about that today, and I forgot, being so flattered because I have such a nice looking stomach and all. I figured they would have something on the website, and they do! Here's the link: http://www.marrow.org/JOIN/Med_Guidelines_Join/index.html

I have determined by reading through it that most people are probably eligible. Of course, there are no guarantees that you'll ever get contacted. Some people never get contacted. Recently I watched the movie "Seven Pounds." (If you haven't seen it, and want to, skip to the next paragraph, because I don't want to spoil it with what it made me think of!) Because I was already in the middle of this process, donations were on my mind and I totally figured out the movie not to far into it. Maybe I'm not that clever, but I never figure out movies, so I was impressed with myself. Because of what I know, it also made the movie completely unrealistic in a lot of ways, though I did enjoy the story. I thought a lot about what I'm willing to give. I think it's really easy to forget that people are dying every day because they never get a compatible donor for whatever it is they need. A lot of donations require someone to die, so (with the exception of this movie) getting a match is out of anyone's control. I just remembered I saw the end of "John Q" on tv a while ago, and that had a different, but related story. From what I saw, John Q took some doctors and nurses hostage and wanted them to transplant his heart into his son's body because a suitable match couldn't be found. Of course, that's not how it works, you don't kill yourself to save someone else.

My thoughts are directed to the Savior. He sacrificed himself to save another. You, in fact. It's not at all likely that I will ever be in a position where I have to choose my life or someone else's. But would I do it? For someone I don't know? For someone I do know? For someone I love? For my own child? But, really, would it matter who they are? I think of the scripture in John 15:13. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Please don't misunderstand me. I don't mean to compare myself to the Savior in any way. Really, it's worse to have the stomach flu than what I've experienced thus far. I can think of lots physical pains that are worse than this whole ordeal. Not to mention emotional or mental or spiritual pain. These are just thoughts that come to my mind as I contemplate the significance of sacrifice and what that really means. I don't feel like I'm sacrificing, because 24 hours from now, I'll be almost completely back to normal. My body will be able to recover lost cells with a few weeks, if it even takes that long. I haven't had to change anything over the last few days, except for the time I've spent. (I'm even getting reimbursed for the miles I'm driving!!) I feel like I'm gaining a lot more than I'm giving up. It's almost like it's a bonus that someone could live because of what I'm doing. It's so easy. I'm so glad I've been able to experience this.

And tomorrow is the big day. I have plans to read and watch movies in bed and sweats. I'm positive I could name 10 people right this second who love that! It's a pretty sweet gig. Plus I get to order whatever I want from the hospital cafeteria! (Hey, it's free, and someone else made it...sounds great!) I can't wait!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 3

And so it begins. Actually, last night I had my first "achy bone" pain. It was fairly mild, and it was in my ribs. It initially reminded me of how my chest feels when I've run too hard when I'm out of shape. Probably none of you have experienced that...but anyway, it was different than I expected. I was expecting constant increasing pain and my bones to feel swollen or something. It's not really like that at all.

This morning's injections were better than yesterday. Probably the best day yet. Again, because I was prepared, and the nurse warmed up the filgrastim and dispensed it slowly. (Thank goodness!) And she was really efficient. I was in a hurry today because I had some plans this morning, and I didn't want to be late. She was really nice and very accommodating. Unfortunately, I think she only works on Saturdays, because I would love to have her be my nurse again!

Each nurse deliberately places the injections in a different place each time. So now I've got this fun little collection of tiny red spots and/or bruises around my stomach within a few inches of my belly button. And I've still got a total of four more shots to go! Maybe I'll see if they connect into a cool design when it's all over.

Actually this process of donating peripheral blood stem cells and receiving filgrastim injections is part of an ongoing study to determine the effectiveness and long-term side effects versus a bone marrow transplant. It's been going on for over 10 years and the side effects are well documented, so I'm not concerned about being a "test subject." But as a result, I've been answering a lot of questions about if I'm experiencing pain, where, and its severity. This morning I rated all the pain as mild, when I felt it. It was mostly few and far between. And after my injections today, I would bump up the rating to moderate. Mostly. But it's hard to determine what would be called "severe."

Since I first felt the "achy" feeling last night, I've been trying to figure out a good way to describe it. It's not easy, because it's not like anything I've really felt before. Last night, it was more surprising than anything else, because I wasn't expecting that sort of sensation. It's a kind of dull pulsing feeling, mostly lasting for one or two seconds. Today, it moved down to my lower back and hips and continued in my ribs and sternum. It's starting to last longer, like five seconds or more, and definitely more intense. In spite of my whining here, I'm trying to be tough, but sometimes I can't help but wince because it comes on so suddenly and stronger than before. It feels like something should trigger it, like moving funny hurts when you pull a muscle, but it's not like that. Sometimes it hurts when I sit down, whereas I think it should be more uncomfortable to stand. This morning I walked to the garbage can and threw something away, and that started a major flare-up in my ribs. Perhaps it's not at all related to what I'm doing and just arbitrary, because I can't really figure it out. Even though I'm sure it will get worse tomorrow, I only have one more day to feel it. I've been told that the relief is almost immediate upon starting the extraction, which will be bright and early on Monday morning.

This has actually been a testimony building experience for me. Jon-Michael and I decided to think about having another baby after Bryce turned 2, which was in June. We began talking about it, and prayed about in July. I got an immediate and emphatic no! I was surprised, because I don't usually receive such direct answers to my prayers. After a few weeks I questioned that answer because I felt like it was a righteous desire. But as I reflected back, I knew I received a clear answer. It obviously wasn't the right time.

And not long afterward, I received the phone call that I was a possible match. After I answered the extensive health questionnaire, I received a call to clarify a few of my answers. I knew one in particular could be a problem...it was the one about whether or not we planned to get pregnant in the next 6 months. (It is extremely unsafe to receive filgrastim injections while pregnant, and they did multiple blood tests over the course of my preparation to verify that I was not pregnant before I received them.) We had originally hoped to be pregnant within six months, even if I had to wait a month, since it wasn't meant to be in July. But we discussed it and decided that if I was selected as a donor, then we would wait. But patience has never been my strong suit. After I began the process to find out if I was a good match for the patient, I wasn't confident that I would be a donor. The odds were not that great. So, doubting Heather that I am, prayed about it again. Well, I got my answer, and it was again, no.

Obviously, I was selected. Even without my patience and faith, things worked out as they were supposed to. Even though I'm sure I'm not able to share it as eloquently as I experienced it, I felt very blessed to be a part of this. It is just another testament to me that our Father in Heaven knows us. As individuals. He is as concerned for this man who will be the recipient of my stem cells, as He is for me and my desire to continue my family. Of course it's possible that there would be another person out there who would be a match for this man, but it's possible that there's not. And even if there is, it may be that they are not in a position to donate at this time. I really don't know the likelihood of all of that, but if I was selected as a match for this man, and we don't even live on the same continent, I feel like it's significant that I was in a position to donate. Not because of me. I'm not anyone special. But our Heavenly Father wants this man to be a recipient, and He made sure that someone was able to be a donor. I'm grateful to be part of that, something bigger than myself. I was given an informational video before the process started, and a woman said that she would do it again in a second. I haven't even finished everything, and I know I feel the same way.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 2

Today was better and worse than yesterday. Although the better wasn't that much better and the worse wasn't that much worse, so I can't complain too much. I went to get my injections this morning feeling much more prepared. I actually had to wait a while for them to get to me, and I'm glad I didn't have to do that yesterday. I think it would have just stressed me out.

I had a new nurse helping me today. She was very pleasant, but not nice. Well, that's not fair to say. I guess I just had an exceptional nurse yesterday. They both explained a lot of things to me as they prepared me for my injections. Yesterday, I was told that they heat up the filgrastim, because if not, it has a bit of a kick going in, and I didn't want that. After experiencing it yesterday, I agreed. Also, they inject it very slowly so it doesn't hurt as much. And, like I said yesterday, it wasn't too bad. Actually the worst part of getting the shot itself was how long it took, just because when you breathe or laugh or talk, you can feel the needle because your stomach moves when you do those things. (Or maybe it's just me because of that redundant tissue...) It's hard to hold perfectly still and still make small talk with the nurse. :)

Today the nurse was, as I said, very pleasant, but apparently she didn't heat up the filgrastim, and she injected it fairly quickly...definitely faster than yesterday! The first shot wasn't too bad, similar to yesterday, but I could tell she was doing it more quickly. But the second one hurt, and I knew what the other nurse meant when she referred to it having a "kick." It was nice to have it over quickly, but I think that made it start hurting more quickly that the day before.

Today I was prepared and I took my Tylenol before I got there to try to curb the stomach pain I knew I would have. I believe it helped, but since I knew I wasn't going to die from it, I think I was also a little more mentally prepared for it. I didn't experience any of the anxiety I had yesterday when it started to hurt, and I feel like the pain subsided much more quickly as well.

Both of the nurses, as well as the CMDP director, who came with me yesterday, told me that I would probably start experiencing the bone pain on Day 3. I'm glad it will be the weekend so Jon-Michael will be around if I really start to feel crumby. My nurse today told me that it would start in my long bones, and my flat bones, like my forehead. Apparently flat bones have a lot of marrow. That could explain the headaches, which I had originally chalked up to stress, because I'm not used to having Caleb home all day. (Yea for fall break...mostly!) Actually I'm sure it's a little bit of both.

It's interesting because my fall break was a little different than I originally anticipated. Two weeks ago today my sister Allie had a baby, and 4 days earlier than that, my sister-in-law Danielle had a baby, so we planned to visit both of them during fall break. (It was frustrating to realize I couldn't just up and leave like I could before because of school, but I'm still grateful for Caleb being academically occupied for half of every day!) The plan was to leave last Friday morning and return on the following Wednesday, because my injections started on Thursday. I was really looking forward to meeting two sweet new baby boys and seeing their families. On Friday morning I got up and said my morning prayers, and instantly felt like I shouldn't go to Utah. Long story short, I didn't go. I was very disappointed, but the more I thought about it, the better I felt. I really don't know why I wasn't supposed to go. Maybe it had something to do with me being able to being a donor. That is definitely a worthwhile reason to stay home. Especially because it is literally a matter of life and death.

In the mean time, Tylenol isn't terribly effective on my headaches, but it's the best I can do right now, so I can't wait for the achy bones to start...I'm sure I'll have an even whinier post tomorrow!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 1

Many life changing adventures start with a phone call. Such is the case with me. In late July I got a call from the Colorado Marrow Donor Program because I was tagged as a possible bone marrow match for a patient. I had forgotten that I joined the registry...8 years ago. Although, I remembered it then; I almost passed out when they drew my blood because they totally had to fish around in my arm to find the vein to get the sample...ugh. I donate blood on a regular basis (or as much as I can in between pregnancies and nursing, which means not as much in recent years) so it was not a big deal to me to join the registry when they came to my office at the City of Arvada years ago.

A search specialist with the CMDP called me initially. She asked if I remembered joining and if I was still interested in being on the registry. Well, who says no to the opportunity to save someone's life? Although, sad to say, people do. Using the blood sample I provided when I initially joined the registry, I came up as a possible match. After confirming my continued interest, I had to go through some additional steps. I had to fill out a (very!) complete health history online and answer a lot of questions over the phone. Once that was finished, I had to go into a Bonfils Blood Center to get some blood samples drawn to find out if I was a good match. Apparently only 8%, or 1 in 12, people who are initially contacted are a close enough match to be a donor. It was a little sad for me to find that out, because I was excited at the prospect of being able to participate.

This was not only a unique experience, but one very dear to my heart, and that of my family. My father-in-law, Mike DeShazer, was the recipient of a similar donation about a year ago for his leukemia, a blood cancer. His sister was the donor. In terms of family, there is a 1 in 4 chance that a sibling will be a good enough match. If his brother or sister was not a match, the next step would be to check his parents and children, which had 1 in 8 chance of being a good match. His mother passed away, and his father is old enough for it to be too risky. I said to him that it was good thing he had 8 children! We had a good laugh about that.

Many of you know, he passed away in February. As a family, and personally, we feel a lot of peace about it. In this way, I'm so grateful to have the chance to help someone else.

I had to wait almost 7 weeks to find out whether or not I was good match. On September 23, I got a call from the director of the CMDP and she told me the news. I still had to go through more blood tests and a complete physical and more health history. (Many thanks to all my friends who watched my kids during all these appointments!!)

Not long afterward, I received a call from a doctor at the CMDP and he told me all the details. My patient is a 41 year-old man with acute leukemia. (I later found out that he is also an international patient...I have no idea where, but still!) I would be donating not bone marrow, but peripheral blood stem cells. I was familiar with this procedure as it was exactly what my father-in-law received. It involves removing these cells, which are produced in the bone marrow, from my blood. I must say, it was nice to know I wouldn't have to (though I would have!) go under the knife for a marrow donation, which I have heard is extremely painful.

This procedure is less involved, and, to me, seems similar to dialysis. I will have the blood taken out one arm, then it will be fed through a machine to remove the stem cells, and put back in the other arm. The only problem is that enough of these stems cells do not exist naturally in the blood. I needed to get five days worth of shots to stimulate my body to force stem cells into my blood stream before my extraction. And with that freakishly long preface, today is Day 1 of injections.

As I was reviewing the information I had been given, I began to feel slightly terrified by all of this. (Although, again, I should just be grateful I'm not donating the actual bone marrow!) It's not receiving the shots themselves, which can be given in the arm, leg, or stomach, but the side-effects. The most common, and expected, is bone pain. My aunt-in-law, Krsten, who was the donor for her brother, told me that it felt like having a balloon blown up in your bones, like they were expanding. The CMDP director told me I would feel like I had arthritis in all my bones. There are other possible symptoms, but this bone pain is what I'm not looking forward to.

Of course, this would not keep me from donating. Prior to my Day 1, my patient started a lethal round of chemotherapy. It would essentially kill all his diseased bone marrow. My donation would provide him cells so he could create new bone marrow and new cancer-free blood. If I backed out now, he would almost certainly die.

Jon-Michael gave me a priesthood blessing to help me get past my minor insecurities. I felt good as I went to Presbyterian/St. Lukes Hospital this morning to receive my first set of injections. I got them in my stomach...the thought makes me feel ill...because it would hurt less there because "women tend to have more redundant tissue there." (Meaning fat.) Haha...well, receiving the injections really didn't hurt any more than any other shot. (So I guess my redundant tissue did the trick!) It was a tiny needle, like a flu shot. So I left, still feeling good. It only took 20 minutes to really start hurting. And it wasn't in my bones yet, just at both the injection sites. It was like the filgrastim just sat there in my stomach and then finally decided to spread. It was very uncomfortable, and I started to feel some anxiety because I was driving, and I didn't want it to get worse. Fortunately, the pain subsided within the next half hour, and I have felt fine since then.

Even though this is just the beginning of the procedure, which will happen on Monday (November 1), this has been such a rewarding experience. Every person I've met has been so nice and many have told me how great they think it is that I am doing this. I don't think it's great that I'm doing it, because I know any of you would do the same given the chance. It's also been particularly rewarding because I've met a lot of the hospital staff that knew Mike while he was in the hospital. One nurse today told me how much she liked him and thought it was neat that he played his guitar at the hospital all the time. I almost started crying when we were talking about it today. I hope I can help someone else's husband or father or brother or son. I know what a difference it can make. I've got a link to the National Marrow Registry Program here on my blog. It's called Be the Match. You could be a life-saving match for someone too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Which Ward?

The boys and I are driving to Utah this weekend to visit family and meet a couple new babies! We won't be attending our ward (Heather Ridge Ward) because we'll be gone on Sunday. Caleb and I were talking about where we will be staying.

Me: We're staying at Allie's house. (My sister)

Caleb: Does she have a church there?

Me: Yes.

Caleb: Do you know what her church is called? Actually I think it's called the Allie Ridge Ward.

What a little turkey!

And here are some pictures of my kids, since I haven't posted any in a while!

Caleb being his cute self.

Bryce, who is equally adorable.


Caleb at swimming lessons...he really enjoyed spitting water out of the pool.

Caleb and Brandon, who were in my group on a kindergarten field trip to the Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch!

video

And Caleb racing Lydia...who do you think will win?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Say What?

Mommy: What does a duck say?

Bryce: Wack, wack, wack.

Mommy: Good! What does a dog say?

Bryce: Ruff, ruff.

Mommy: Good job. What does a cow say?

Bryce: Mooooo.

Mommy: Very good! What does a horse say?

Bryce: Gee-yup horsie!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shocking!

Caleb (counting until he gets to my age): "...28, 29, 30."

Me: "That's how old I am. And next month, I'll turn 31."

Caleb (eyes wide with astonishment): "What the heck in the world!?"

I couldn't have put it better myself!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Playing House

Ok, I'll admit, I have spanked Caleb before. I'm not proud of it. I actually try to avoid it because it's not necessarily effective, but I'm not a perfect parent. So I shouldn't be surprised when this translates into Caleb's behavior. Caleb and Bryce were playing trains at my parents' house and Bryce did something Caleb didn't like. So Caleb stood up and smacked him on the bum. My mom went over to talk to him and the conversation went like this.

Grandma: "You're not supposed to spank Bryce. Are you the mom?"
Caleb: "We were playing house!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First Day of School

I know everyone goes through this, so it's not a big deal to anyone but my little family, but we finally have a kid in school! Caleb started kindergarten today and it was very exciting. He was so excited to get up and go to school, and I was excited for him to embark on this new adventure, as well as have 3 Caleb-free hours a day! Caleb could hardly sit still for me to take pictures this morning before we walked to his school. He just wanted to go! He got a haircut last night and chose a new Lego shirt to wear. Everything about the experience was very thrilling to him. This has been an exciting experience for Bryce too, so he needed to be part of the pictures, of course. Caleb couldn't wait to walk to school. He thought it was great when there was another boy walking to the school from our neighborhood. He was in fourth or fifth grade, but that didn't stop Caleb from trying to make friends! Caleb just walked with him and talked his ear off until the boy left to meet a friend at another house. Yesterday, at Caleb's screening, he met a boy who he immediately hit it off with. It turns out they are in the same class and Caleb was so excited. They stuck together the whole time and even came out of the classroom together. It looks like they'll have a lot of fun together. He still wants to go back tomorrow, and I hope he always does.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

At least he's creative....

I decided to hop in the shower while Bryce was taking a nap yesterday, and I left Caleb having a "beach party" downstairs. When I got out, I could see that he didn't use the blankets and other props he got out for said party, so I called out to Caleb to make sure he was ok. He said he was, but that Horsie (stuffed animal friend) hurt his ankle on his way down the stairs and couldn't walk. Well that was fine with me as long as Caleb was ok. I came down a few minutes later to find him drawing on the seat of one of his folding chairs. I have been trying not to get mad about stuff like that, but it really irks me when my kids needlessly ruin stuff. (We have drawing paper everywhere.) And then I saw what he was doing...


Can you figure out what he was doing from the pictures? It's actually pretty darn cute. Horsie broke his legs, as you can see from the very detailed "x-ray" Caleb drew on his chair. Well, a broken leg or two is nothing a little masking tape can't fix.

I've been informed that Horsie is better today and "his legs just put back together themselves." Well, that's a relief. I would hate to think he drew on a chair for nothing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer fun!

I just love this face....it is so totally Bryce!
These 3 have had such fun together. I love that they're all friends! And such cute little bums!
Bryce has discovered the slide this summer, and he loves it!
Caleb has become brave this summer, and loves all variety of water activities. I'm so glad I don't have to get wet with him anymore!
Bryce won't go in by himself yet because he's still not quite sure about getting splashed on...though he'll do it to himself! He loved the Westland Splash Park. Even in his clothes. Not that I'm surprised by that part.

video

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Good Day!

Well, today (almost yesterday, since I'm posting so late!) wasn't a perfect day, but it was a good day. In the most vain, trivial, self-centered sense. Today, I felt like I looked good. You know that feeling? It doesn't happen every day, for sure, but today was one of those days. And I know this sounds braggy, and I don't know why I feel the need to blog about this, but oh well. I felt like my make-up looked good, (thanks to my sister Jocie for the tips, and Costco for the makeup. Yes, Costco!) and my hair looked good, (thanks Jocie again for the haircut!) and my clothes looked good (thanks Kohl's for having a super clearance!) and it just made me feel good. It's not the best I ever looked or whatever, and it's not like anyone else noticed or anything (which doesn't really bother me at all, since I felt good about it) but I just felt put together, and it was nice. And I totally cleaned my house top to bottom yesterday, so maybe it's that sense of accomplishment that really makes me feel good, but it was just an overall pleasant feeling. Even after a rough day with the boys, and a challenge getting them in bed tonight (they usually go down really nicely...) and they screamed like we were murdering them, with the windows open of course, at the end the day, I'll still classify it as good because I looked good. (I know I'm such a nerd.) Thanks for indulging me in this very all-about-me post! I'll get back to blogging about my kids, because I know you all love to read about how talented/adorable/perfect they are! ;)

Friday, July 16, 2010

The perfect bridge...

My kids have a set of wooden trains to play with at my parents' house because they spend a lot of time there, and trains are always a favorite! One Saturday afternoon, I came into the living room to find Caleb busy constructing an elaborate track...right across my sleeping dad's lap! I guess he decided to take a break from working around the house, and didn't notice or mind that Caleb had included him in his set up. It was hilarious. So, of course, I had to take pictures...




My kids always have fun with Grandpa, even if he's not really participating!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grandparents are great!

Especially great-grandparents! In May (yes, I'm just now blogging about it...) I went to Utah and took the boys to see my grandparents in Bountiful. It's always so much fun for everyone because of all the fun things my grandparents have at their house. Not least of which is my grandpa's train room! I enjoyed it as a child (though not nearly as much as my kids) so it's really fun for me to see my kids love visiting too!
I can't tell you how much time my siblings, cousins and I spent drawing on this giant chalkboard in the basement. My grandma has countless pictures, and now she can add a few more!
The swing set was added after I was little kid, but my siblings and kiddos sure loved it. Bryce was just as happy as could be on that swing!
Caleb had a blast on the slide. It's set up right next to a tree, so Grandpa catches kids on the way down to avoid getting accidentally scraped up.
We did several other things I didn't get pictures of, including playing with trucks, coloring, and Play-Doh! After dinner, we had to take pose for pictures for Grandma! (That's why she's not in it!)
Caleb did manage to snag one of her, and it's the only one from the trip, so I'm glad!
On the drive back to Lehi to my sister's house, my kids crashed. It was such a fun day and one I hope to be able to repeat soon!
So cute.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why I'm not a bachelor anymore (as if you needed me to explain)

Heather and the kids have been gone to Utah since Friday and aren't returning until this upcoming Sunday night.  This is the longest I've been home alone in years.  Here are some advantages to being home alone, and some disadvantages


Advantages

  • The ability to come and go when I please.  I forgot how much I loved this kind of flexibility!
  • The ability to watch whatever show or movie whenever I want on TV
  • I don't have to be the least bit quiet late at night
  • I have completed many fix it projects around the house that have sat untouched for months and years, and I did it all in a matter of a couple of days.
  • The kitchen is really easy to clean when all you have to load is a bowl and spoon once a day.
  • I have the entire bed to myself, although this isn't always an advantage (see disadvantages below).
  •  No children's bed-time routine (That gives me at least 30-45 more minutes every night)
Disadvantages
  • No one to talk to outside of work.  
  • Driving to my parents' house can get expensive when driving 30 miles one way on a nightly basis.  Sorry family in Arvada.  It's nothing personal!
  • Cold cereal, scrambled eggs and turkey Sandwiches 3 meals a day can get a little boring.  I may switch to Mac and Cheese in the coming days.  I don't know how I lived off cases of Ramen for weeks at a time when I was 20.
  • Sleeping alone.  I have grown accustomed to falling asleep with someone next to me.  This is probably the toughest part.  I don't sleep as well because I get cold and admittedly I really like my wife.
  • The days draaaaaaaaaaaaaag on!  I was hoping today was Thursday and not Wednesday.
  • I hear weird noises in the house at night that I don't hear when my family is there.  Overly paranoid?  I hope not.
  • I find myself watching A LOT more TV than I used to.  ESPN's Sportcenter or 'Man vs. Food' have been watched a lot more than usual, especially at weird hours of the night.
  • No one is there to wake me up when I fall asleep in front of the TV.  Fortunately, this has only happened a couple of times and for not very long.
Well, there you have it.  The thing I miss most is being close to my wife and children.  Even though there are days when my kids drive me crazy, being away from them reminds me how much I love them and really do care about them.  The same goes for my wife.  Heather is so fun to talk to, she understands me, supports me and treats me like I'm a special guy.  You can't get that in any other relationship.  It's easy to be in love with such a beautiful woman who takes such good care of you.

I have considered going to a movie or eating dinner somewhere by myself, I've never done it before.  What do you all recommend?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Am I in a Commercial?

As I was watching tv with my hubby, I saw a charming commercial that reminded me of a real-life, horribly ridiculous experience I had a few weeks ago.

Jodie and I were making a without-the-kids-because-we-could trip to Wal-Mart on a normal evening. We got some necessary and, of course, unnecessary items, and took our haul to the check out lane. I was actually surprised how many people were there at 9pm, and, apparently so were the cashiers because there were not enough of them. We ended up in a long line and Jodie started making small talk about the wait with a young woman behind us. She was of indeterminate age, but she had braces and an immature wardrobe. To set the stage fully, I really feel the need to include the entire dialogue with said person.

Teeny-Bopper-Dressed-Braces-Girl: "We NEVER let the lines get this long at the store I work at."
Jodie: "Oh, where do you work?"
TBDBG: "Babies R Us"
J: "That's great." (We were both thinking, no kidding the lines never get this long...Babies R Us is never that busy!)
TBDBG: "What kind of sippy cups do you have there?" (One of the necessary items were sippies for Bryn.)
J: "Um, not sure, just whatever brand they had back there."
(And now I won't bore you with the details of this portion of the conversation. Suffice it to say, TBDBG was very knowledgeable about sippies and the best kind, which Jodie most certainly didn't have and, coincidentally, are only carried at Babies R Us.)
J: "Well, ok, I think I'll try this one out though and see how it works."
TBDBG: So, are you two sisters or something?" (This was just funny and we were both flattered! We told her we weren't.)
TBDBG: (Turning to me) "So do you have kids?"
Me: Yeah, I have two little boys. Do you have any kids? (She was just so knowledgeable about necessary items, it made me wonder how she raised her kids.)
TBDBG: "Oh no, I'm waiting until I'm married. I mean, I've got the guy figured out, but I'm still waiting."
J: "Oh, are you engaged?"
TBDBG: "No, but he gave me a promise ring." (She holds up her hand to show us her ring, which was sweet: yellow gold with a blue stone.)
TBDBG: (dead serious) "He went to Jared!"

I just started laughing! I seriously couldn't help it. I have never heard anyone actually say that! Jodie, with much more control over her emotions, just smiled and said, "Oh...that's great!" It was hilarious.

We could not get through the line fast enough then. As soon as we got out the doors, we busted up laughing! We had to run to the car because we were afraid TBDBG would walk out and hear us more than enjoying a joke at her expense.

Now I have one to check off my list: appear in a commercial.

Well, close enough.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Easter Eggs...and more...are Yummy!

We had a lot of fun dyeing Easter eggs this year. The kiddos loved coloring on the eggs and all the other fun elements, like wrapping rubber bands and adding stickers and mixing colors and everything. Bryce just kept trying (unsuccessfully) to drink the dye...doesn't it look like juice or something? Yuck.
Things took a turn for the worst when Caleb spilled the red dye. Fortunately, it was contained on the deliberately placed table cloth. Plus we had 3 egg dyeing kits (I forgot that I bought some last year!) so I just opened one of the little packets that had a red tablet to refill our red dye. Caleb was thrilled to still have red.

All of a sudden, Bryce is bawling his eyes out. Apparently, though it looks like candy, egg dyeing tablets do NOT taste like candy! He managed to grab the blue tablet and chew it up! His entire mouth was dark blue! And like the cruel mom I am, I withheld giving him a drink until we could get a picture!
He gratefully accepted a glass of water, and back-washed blue every time he took a drink...so funny! Grandma gave Bryce an animal cracker to help get rid of the yucky taste. He stopped crying to take a bite and when he took it out of his mouth, he looked at it...it was green...and he said, "Uh-oh!"
In spite of the drama, Caleb's eggs turned out adorable, and he had a blast.
Bryce was eventually happy too, and the blue mostly disappeared out of his mouth by bedtime.
It did take another day and half to get all the dye out of his system...but he seemed none the worse for it! I hope he has now learned his lesson, but I'm not holding my breath. Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I'm Still Here...

Hey everyone, just a quick post to let all of my loyal readers of my deeply entertaining blog (ha!) know that I haven't died, because of course that's what you would assume since I haven't blogged in months. I've actually got some really fun posts coming up, like "Is Easter egg dye edible?" and "Caleb's favorite birthday present was from an infomercial!"

In the mean time, here is a quick update:

Bryce's favorite things right now are bubbles, meticulously copying Caleb's every move, and naming everything in sight. He has a shoe fetish as well...he wears everything from Caleb's flip flops to Jon-Michael's basketball shoes to my high heels.

Caleb just turned 5 and can't wait to start "real" school. (Because joy school doesn't count.) We continue to be pleasantly overwhelmed with the amount of paper he goes through because he draws every day.

Heather is forever on a quest for the perfect book, although some recent favorites include The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. She thinks she can grow green things and has been watering dirt on the back patio for over a week in the hope that the seeds there will grow.

Jon-Michael is deliberately punishing himself by playing basketball at 5:30 am a couple days a week, which is good, because his body is really starting to show his age at the recently attained age of 32. (Ha ha!)

As you can tell, we are just full of fun lately, but stay tuned for actual posts in the near future!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Craig Ferguson...in the flesh!

As an avid reader, I've signed up to get emails about local book signings. It's been great because I've been able to see a couple authors I never would have seen otherwise! Most recently I found out that Craig Ferguson, host of The Late, Late Show, was coming to town for his "memoirs." I haven't read it, and I suspect it will have a bit of language...but how often do you get to see a famous tv star! Jon-Michael and I occasionally watch his show when we're up that late, and he is very funny. We went with Jon-Michael's mother and sister, who, along with their husbands, are fans!
We didn't get very good seats; we sat in the very last row, in fact. I'm just grateful we got seats in the same room...many people couldn't fit and had to sit in an overflow area where they could only hear him. Here's a good idea of how far away we were:
Craig read a bit from the preface of his book and then answered questions. As you can imagine, he was very entertaining. We laughed our heads off! One of the things I like about him is that he's so unpretentious. On the other end of the spectrum, he said not to make him a role model, but he won't promise not to disappoint.
We spent about 3 hours at The Tattered Cover downtown, all in all. We had to wait in line to get tickets to get a book signed. Then we had to wait for another hour for him to come speak. He answered questions for about 45 minutes, and then we had to wait another hour or so to actually get our books signed. We got tickets in the 220's so we had to wait for at least that many people to go before us. We had a good time though, and have officially autographed merchandise!