Last week when Esther was getting her chemo a nurse who will be helping us with Esther's stem cell transplant work up came by bearing a checklist. I like myself a good checklist, but this one caused me to pause and blow out my birthday candles.
Anthony appreciates a sermon by John Piper talking about prayer. He likens it to breathing. Honestly my prayers have been more of blowing out candles with very few words. I just can't really get much out. The Spirit knows my groaning too deep for words. Romans 8:26...
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
I am so thankful God understands the depths of my heart and has given me the Holy Spirit to help. That I can take breaths and say, "I'm scared," and He takes over. I don't need fancy words, or even any words. While anxiety is not totally running away with my heart, it is present. I'm continually giving it over, continually coming to the throne of mercy and laying it down.
Beginning the week of November 26th, Esther will complete a slew of tests and consultations. December 11th she'll be admitted for high doses of chemotherapy, and a few days later she'll receive her stem cell transplant. The actual infusion of stem cells is actually quite simple, it's just that, an infusion over a few hours through her IV. The chemo will kill her present bone marrow and she will have no immune system until her stem cells are grafted in and begin to reproduce white and red blood cells and platelets. We'll be in the hospital for about a month and then will need to stay near the hospital for about another month while she completes two weeks of radiation and because patients receiving a transplant generally need daily blood and platelet transfusions. It is a lot to drive back and forth every day for four hours of transfusions and if her platelets are so low, an accident along the way or a nose bleed could prove to be terribly dangerous. [Insert deep breath].
We've spent a lot of time considering what is the best options for our family during this time of needing to live near the hospital. We had hoped to find a good option for all seven of us to stay together, especially since this was supposed to be kicked off by MIBG therapy in another state. However, after a lot of prayer, we've decided to take advantage of a truly remarkable resource. There is a home just a couple blocks from the hospital called "Brent's Place." It is a home designed to provide a safe and clean environment for patients like Esther, and for their families.
Esther and I had an opportunity to tour the facility and meet several of the staff members yesterday (Monday). I called Anthony as we left and I couldn't even describe the facility to him because tears had taken over. If you could imagine a dream facility to delight children (and their families) enduring such a difficult road, this would be the place you would build. It has a playroom, bikes, crafts, an outside play area, movies, games, an exercise room, a move room, a kitchen and stocked pantry, cleaning supplies and paper goods, a safe garage to park, a coffee bar with lots of pastries free to take, and many kind faces to greet you. All of this is just the first floor. Then they have apartments for the families to reside. The two bedroom apartments are furnished and stocked with the basic supplies of a home. But all of it is easy to manage and keep clean.
These apartments have a four person occupancy restriction (they will allow five sometimes). During the month Esther is in the hospital if we want, either Anthony or I can stay with the other four children and we'll be right by the hospital! When Esther is discharged and needing to stay so close to the hospital, we won't all be able to stay together, but everyone can visit as needed. This facility is pretty incredible. They have regular activities, craft nights, music lessons, meals cooked by professional chefs, and visits from the Denver Broncos. They even took requests for Christmas gifts for the kids. I was stunned when the woman working with us then asked what Anthony and I might want. I didn't even know what to say!
Speaking of Christmas...I found some brochures for the Holiday Card Project. How perfect is this?! They were smart to pick such a cute girl for their marketing materials! www.holidaycardproject.com
November 11th: Te Amo! Anthony's Aunt Margarita has come to help now three times. She brightens all of our spirits and helps us laugh. She is fun and loves our kids. Both she and Uncle Wayne, are quite the cooks! We were loved over the last few days with Taco Tuesday (in cognito on a Saturday), a roasted chicken, and home cooked spagetti sauce. She has been so kind to continually give so much of her time and to go home worn out! Wayne has been extra generous to share his beautiful wife with our family for so many days (although this time he was on a business trip to Italy).
November 13th: Naps and flexiblity in homeschooling. Today the kids were TIRED! This fatigue and general crankiness is consquences of the evil enemy called daylight savings. Today, we took it easy, sat by the warm fire, played a game of Blokus, and classified all of our halloween candy. We've learned about the classifications of living things this year, so we applied that to our halloween candy. Chocolate, subsets of chocolate, fruity candy, fruity and hard, fruity and chewy, salty snacks, drinks, healthy snacks, and toys? It was funny because I didn't know where to put tootsie rolls. I like to call them the hot dogs of candy. The kids decided they were chocolate because they are brown, I dedcided they would go in the ziplock for daddy's cubicle.