Monday, November 26, 2012

The highs and lows of our "Stay-cation"

In China, the school year is set up wonderfully for great vacations. There is a week off in October for Mid-Autumn Festival (office is also closed). There are two weeks off around Christmas and two weeks off in Jan/Feb for Chinese New Year (office is also closed for about a week). Then there is a week off for spring break usually the first week in April. We knew we would not be living in Asia forever, and we totally wanted to take advantage of our location, so we travelled on all of these holidays (and truth be told for most long weekends too). It got to the point that if it had been 6 weeks and we had not been anywhere Katherine would come to me and say, "Mom, we need to get out of town. When is our next trip?" We all loved to travel and have new experiences so it was a fantastic schedule for us.

So five days, at home, with just our family has pretty much never happened. We have really never done a stay-cation and if we have stayed in town we have had a house full of guests. Given the girls and I moved back in June, and Chad did not arrive until Sept full time, and then my month in the hospital, we were all ready for some serious hanging out. We played lots of games. (Quirkle was the highlight of the weekend. I'd highly recommend this game. Fun for all ages.) We did lots of puzzles. The one we enjoyed the most was one of a photo of my entire family (~20 of us) in a park in the DC area this past summer. It was so much fun to look for cousins, grandparent and Auntie and Uncles faces and clothes. It brought back good memories.

We loved watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. The one question the girls had that we could not answer was how they chose which singers went on which floats because some did not seem all that well matched up.

We also ate well. Thanksgiving dinner had something for everyone. The rolls had not come with the dinner like we thought so I made my mom's which made the house smell like the holidays. We did have mac-n-cheese so Margaret was happy and she also discovered she likes turkey. Chad and I actually cooked a few meals too and remembered why we liked cooking.

The other "high" of the week was being outside and raking leaves. The girls asked if they could rake leaves and jump in them. Chad also got the leaf blower out. Margaret liked wielding it which was quite a sight since the leaf blower is about as long as she is tall. Chad also treated the girls to rides around our yard in the wheelbarrow which Katherine in particular enjoyed doing with our dog, Lilly, nestled in the wheelbarrow with her. So after one day of raking (which at 8 and almost 10 years old the girls are actually pretty good at both raking and picking up leaves) they begged the next day to do it again. Now we know this will not last. The first day we were back in our house in Cincinnati they fought over who got to clean the toilets. There is definitely a bit of novelty to it that will no doubt wear off but we are going to go with it while we can!!

As for lows, it was definitely Margaret getting sick on Wed with a fever and bad cough. I wore a mask in our house (total chafe) and tried to avoid her, but still got some of what she had (luckily no fever). I spent most of yesterday in bed but am feeling better today. The only other low was a bit too much sibling togetherness which culminated in Margaret stiff arming Katherine and taking her out as they both ran to tell me dinner was ready last night, and other squabbling that followed. We had a great time home but it was good that school started again today!

I went back to the doctor today for my weekly lab work. I am definitely feeling a lot more like the tortoise than the hare, but hopefully like the tortoise I will "win" the race. My platelets were up and are continuing to make slow but steady progress, my hemoglobin and white cells were just up slightly. My white blood cells and neutrophils are what we are really waiting on for me not to be such a high risk for infection. I am still home bound and hoping in the next couple weeks they are up enough that my medication will be adjusted so I can drive (at least to my doctor's appointments). I am finally back up to where I was two weeks ago on white blood cells and neutrophils.. but a long way to go to normal. Below is a chart with my numbers.

 PlateletsHemoglobinWhite Blood CellsNeutrophils
Normal Range 140-40011.7-15.53.8-10.81500-7800
At Diagnosis (10/10/12)116.12.7100
When I left the hospital (11/12/12)3110.51.1668
Last Monday (11/19/12)6610.80.9510
Today (11/26/12)9211.21.1660

The good news is with my hemoglobin stable, even though it is on the low side of normal, I was declared "no longer transfusion dependent" today and they pulled my PICC line. I think my children will be sad to see that I no longer have the PICC line. They had taken on the responsibility of flushing my lines each night. They wash their hands, put on gloves, clean the PICC with alcohol (luckily I have 2 lines so Katherine got the red one and Margaret the purple one), and then screw on the saline syringe and push the saline into the line. We'll see how they take the news of one less responsibility goes over tonight. Unlike feeding the dog or putting their clean clothes away this is one they needed no second reminders to jump to!!

Hope everyone else who celebrated Thanksgiving last week had a good holiday whether you traveled or stayed at home. We are hoping for a healthy first week back at school and work!


  1. Keep up the good work on the numbers.....I think they look great. Going to try and give blood again at your event next week at work - although they may catch me not waiting the allotted time. Its worth a try.

    So glad you are starting family traditions. I make homemade dressing with my Aunt every year. Its something we both look forward too...although it may be the wine we consume that we really like.

    Hang in there. You are on everyones mind....

    1. Patty VanCleve....sorry.

  2. Oh, our family loves Quirkle! Glad to hear your numbers are going up, slowly but surely. We missed you guys at the P&G Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night but it sounds like you had a nice dinner together. It's great that the girls are enjoying the leaves and wheel barrel rides :)

    Think about you often!

    The Pettibone's