Friday, November 2, 2012

Roller coaster rides

Growing up I always loved roller coasters. The place to go in Virginia was Kings Dominion. I loved the Rebel Yell (old wooden roller coaster), the Grizzly (bigger drops) and the King Cobra (took you upside down forward and backward).  When I was in eighth grade I flew to Los Angeles by myself to visit an elementary school friend who had moved out there. Her family took me to Disneyland and I loved Space Mountain. A few years later my family made the trip to Florida to go to Disneyworld.

Our trip was definitely like something out of National Lampoon's Family Vacation. Picture a wood paneled station wagon with lots of luggage strapped on top, parents in the front seat, 3 children in the middle seats and 2 children laying in the back (pre seatbelt laws) along with pillows, a box of games, the box of snacks and the too frequently needed barf bucket (generous sized bucket with a snap on lid). We'd hit rest stops and literally my sisters and I would roll out of the car. We did not drive directly from DC to Florida either, we went via all the southern relatives homes. So the big stops were my grandparents in Knoxville, Tennessee, and then my mom's cousin in Georgia (who had worked at Disney and hooked us up with free tickets). This is an aside, but after we did Disney we spent a couple days on the beach most of which my dad spent looking at vans that I think he wanted to buy before the return trip home.

I had great memories of Space Mountain in California and convinced my younger sister, Margaret, who was about 9 years old at the tim,e to go on this ride with me. We waited extra time to get in the first car. We were rewarded by being plunged into the darkness and whipped around for the ride. I came off loving it. Poor Margaret was white as a ghost and was scared to death by the end of it. She did not go on another roller coaster for about a decade. I could not believe she did not like it.

At P&G, I have always looked forward to Dividend Day at Kings Island. Pre-children Chad and I would go and ride the rides over and over. We had a bit of a hiatus from roller coasters with our time abroad followed by young children years. Turns out we have adrenaline junkies for kids and they love roller coasters, too. This September we started Dividend Day with two of the smaller rides in the little kids area. The girls quickly dismissed those rides and set their sights on the "real" roller coasters. We did a few and then they wanted do what I think is called the Slingshot. It is a ball that 2 people sit in that basically shoots you in the air like a slingshot up something like 250 ft then you bounce back, spin around and they lower you to the ground. We watched it half a dozen times. Katherine really wanted to go, Margaret really did not. Turned out Kath did not weigh enough to go by herself. Chad who has a well known fear of heights passed to me to go with her.

By the time it was our turn, Margaret had changed her mind and I gladly gave her my spot. I was feeling good about the trade until other parents turned to us as our children were being shot into the air and asked if those were our "only children". Then we both felt like we were going straight to the bottom of the list for parents of the year. They were shot up, bounced, spun around, but then they did not come down. We watched for a minute, and waited. Then I went over to talk to the operator to see what was going on. It was stuck. Margaret screamed  "get us down", I start screaming up "they will have you down soon, hold your sister's hand". My panic level starts to ratchet up as we wait for the mechanic to come. The area manager came over and agreed to refund our $20 (small consolation as your children are stuck high above the ground). Finally he got the ride working and they started to descend. They bounded off saying they loved the ride and wanted to go to the Racer (old wooden coaster) and then the Vortex (bigger sideways, upside down coaster) .... Seriously!?!

So we headed to the Racer, which was an old favorite of ours. It felt older and shakier than Chad, or I. remembered.  Chad passed on the Vortex. I came off  feeling like my sister post Space Mountain years ago, queasy and done with coasters. Luckily after the Vortex the girls decided they just wanted to do the water rides and head home. By the end of this day, Chad and I both agreed we were totally done with roller coasters.

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago we were put on a real life roller coaster with no clear end point.  I feel like our family and friends have been tested and proven wonderful restraints to keep us together as we get whipped around unseen turns. Yesterday I was miserably depressed as my counts in the morning had dropped yet again, and Chad and the girls boarded a plane for Vegas for his birthday trip while I sat in the hospital.

My counts dropped so much yesterday the doctors decided to start some different meds and do blood draws for labs twice a day. Last night my nurse told me my counts were up and I hardly believed they had the right blood. This morning they were up again!! My white blood count went from 0.3 yesterday am, to 0.4 last night and 0.5 this morning (versus a normal range of 4.5-11).  So still incredibly low, and the doctors have said not statistically different they'd call my counts flat, but I will take what I can get these days and I am ecstatic they are finally moving in the right direction.

I still have an incredibly long way to go, and am feeling very physically and emotionally exhausted, but really excited to hopefully be on the upswing of this ride.  I need to string 2-3 days of positive counts together to be able to go home. I have a start with Day 1. Fingers crossed the trend will continue through the weekend and I can finally go home next week!!

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