10 July 2009

Friday: Day -8

We had a little bit of a change today. My caretakers did a swap. DD#2 is going to Duke this weekend for the TIP program. She has to check-in Sunday morning, so Mike will be taking her over on Saturday. ETD between 7:00 & 8:00 in the morning. Therefore, Mike went home this afternoon after Sally arrived here to take care of me.

Also, now that I know I don't have to be NPO, I got to have my morning coffee. It just makes the morning start out better. But when we got to the clinic, Mike got us coffee from Starbucks again, too. Only a grande today. Explanation in next paragraph.

The medical part of the day started out pretty much the same as yesterday. Go to OTU clinic, get vitals, have blood drawn, etc. My potassium was low so I got a "horse pill", as my Mom would say, to take care of that. I was also retaining fluid, so they cut down the amount I'm getting through IV and told me not to drink so much. Another weird thing. Ever since I was pregnant with Abbey (22 yrs now) I have drunk lots of water during the day. More than the recommended 8 glasses. Not reaching for a glass all day was strange! And I had to have a smaller coffee. Got the Zofran (anti-nausea), Decadron (the steroid) and Fludarabine (the chemo) and some fluids, but not as much as the day before. Also had my daily visit with CRNP (new one as Donna was off today) and Dr. Kassim.

Because Vanderbilt is a teaching and research facility, there are all sorts of studies going on all the time. The study nurse had talked with me a while back to see if I would be interested in participating. There are three current research projects to which I could contribute. If there is anything that I can do that might help future patients, I am more than glad to do it, if possible. Mainly it requires giving blood samples and they will not do anything that is detrimental to me. So I signed up for all three. WELL. Talk about a surprise. They had to draw one vial of blood that holds 12 Tbsp. It was humongous. I wasn't sure I had that much! One of the nurses said, "It's not really that much." I laughed and said, "I'm a cook. 12 Tbsp is 3/4 of a cup. That's a LOT!" They use that large vial to extract white cells. It will only be drawn once a month, so I'm still happy to participate. (And the good thing is a patient can always change their mind about being in a study.)

As I wasn't getting as much fluid I got done more quickly than the day before. We were out of the clinic before 11:00. My physical therapy appointment wasn't until 1:00, so Mike and I went back to our home away from home for lunch. One of my new diet rules is that I cannot eat leftovers that are more than 24 hours old. I decided to just have some cheese toast and and a glass of milk. If I had to, I don't think I could tell you the last time I drank a glass of whole milk. I always buy 2%. But attempting to get in as much animal protein as possible, and remembering the dietician particularly mentioned full fat cheese and milk, I poured myself a glass of milk to go with my toast. My system was just not used to that. After lunch I felt slightly nauseous, but a Compazine tablet quickly fixed that.

At 1:00 I was back for my Physical Therapy assessment. Mainly they wanted to do some testing to see what I am currently capable of doing. In yoga I have always been told that if you have done the postures when you are young, your muscles always remember. Unfortunately I have not been able to go to yoga classes for nearly two years and have not been very good about doing the routines on my own at home. I had to do a stretch test: stand next to a wall where a long tape measure was attached. Do not touch the wall. Bend at waist with arm next to wall extended. No bending knees. Arm has to remain parallel to floor and back has to stay flat. Oh I did good with this one. I could reach past the end of the measuring tape! Yea for Yoga! I also had to stand balanced on one foot (both feet separately) and be timed. Yoga to the rescue again! I just assumed Mountain Pose and finally she had to tell me to put my foot down. Then I had to walk laps in couple of different tests. One of them was to see how far I could go in six minutes. Got 13 laps for that one. No idea if that is considered good or bad. Maybe neither. It just gives them a starting point for me should I need therapy during the time after the transplant when the drugs will be doing some of their worst.

Sally got here about 1:30ish and by 2:30ish Mike was on his way home to get packed for the trip to Duke. It's not like he could just throw a few clothes in a bag, grab his computer and go. Keep in mind this includes packing the car with all the things a teenager needs for a month away from home. Including a box fan as the dorms at Duke are not air-conditioned. I think they got done about 10:30 or 11:00p.

In the wee hour of the morning I had e-mailed Abbey about a computer program. She and Donnie were talking about it and he suggested they come up after he got off work and bring it to me. Oh how fun! I get to see my babies. Abbey also went over to the house and picked up a few things for me that I had forgotten to mention to Sally. This included some Fiesta mosaic pieces for decoration. (I will try to make some photos of those making my home away from home more normal when I get back to the apartment.)

After I finished at OTU for the day, Sally and I went to Harris Teeter to pick up a few necessities. This included ingredients to make Donnie a pineapple upside down cake. I had promised to make him one over a month ago and had not gotten a chance to do it yet. I also picked up a nice Pyrex dish with red handles to bake it in and send home with Abbey to keep. After we got things up from the car and unloaded we started on the cake and it got done just before the kids arrived.

I had asked if I could go to a restaurant last night, since I was having company. The answer was sure with a few caveats: Go at an off peak time. Wear my mask when going in and out of the building, or to the restroom, or anytime I would have to be around a lot of people. Abbey and Donnie got here around 6:30. Donnie got my programs loaded and helped me get a bunch of stuff out of the start menu of my new little red notebook so it will run better. Not knowing when peak time ends in the West End on Friday night, we left the apartment about 8:30. The Tin Angel was our choice as Abbey & Donnie had not yet been there. Those people are beginning to consider Mike and me regulars. It was still quite croweded with a wait list, but they tried to get us in more quickly so I didn't have to sit amongst lots of people. I thought that was very nice of them.

We had fun with the menu. First they have an extensive wine list. Alcohol is no longer something I can consume, but Sally and Abbey had a great time with the waitress getting recommendations and tasting several different wines before choosing a bottle Greuner (sp?) from Austria. They really liked it. Fruity, but not sweet. Donnie ordered a shiraz by the glass - one of their popular ones called Shoo Fly. One of these days I will get to play with such things again.

We ordered a trio of appetizers to share: Smoked Duck Breast & Manchego Quesadilla with Mole & Pico de Gallo, Fried Green Tomatoes with Horseradish Sauce, and Bruschetta Duo topped with Sun Dried Tomato Tapenade and Olive Tapenade. We enjoyed all of them, but all of us agreed the Duck Quesadilla was the best. I made pics, but haven't processed them yet.

Entrées were all different, too. Abbey had Cha Cha Chicken (grilled breast halves accompanied by baked sweet potato and sesame haricots verts), Sally had Steak Frites (some kind of dead cow cut in strips, grilled and topped with a brown sauce and each sliced piece topped with a piece of grilled asparagus, accompanied by a huge pile of homemade shoestring French fries), Donnie had Chicken Schnitzel (two flattened breast halves accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes and fresh steamed broccoli) and I chose Inside Out Eggplant Parmegiano with fresh Marinara and grilled onion, bell pepper and tomato. Abbey thought her chicken had a little too much pepper, but Donnie liked it a lot. Abbey liked his better so they traded. I loved my eggplant! I knew I would though, because I had tasted a bite when DD#2 ordered it last weekend. Sally thought her steak was good, too. (I'm sure the asparagus had to help it! LOL) I did try one of her fries and they were very good. The garlic mashed potatoes are one of the best sides. Just delicious. They also do a wonderful job with all their preparations of fresh veggies. It's no wonder we continue to love this restaurant! By the time all the entrées were consumed, the kitchen had closed. We could still get all the desserts except crème brûlée. Since that is what our table had planned on ordering, we decided to come back and get coffee and dessert one afternoon.

It was around 10:30 when we got home. Abbey and Donnie decided to spend the night and leave when Sally & I left for my treatment Saturday morning. Their weekend plans include going to Birmingham to the zoo and checking out Smith and Hawken and Williams Sonoma over at the Summit on Saturday. Smith and Hawken announced this week that they are going out of business and the catalogue operation ceased immediately a couple of days ago. Abbey is going to see if they have a couple of items a friend and I wanted.

After some hilarity trying to figure out the sofa bed and making it up with flat twin sheets (they left us no doubles) we all hit the sack after a most fun evening.
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