Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Lullabye

Where are you going my little one ..little one
Where are you going my baby own
Turn Around and you're two
Turn around and you're four
Turn around and you're a young babe going out the door

Where are you going my little one ..little one
Where are you going my baby own
Turn around and you're six
Turn around and you're eight
Turn around and you're a young lad
going out of the gate

Where are you going my little one ..little one
Where are you going my baby own
Turn around and you're young
Turn around and you're grown
Turn around and you're a young man
With a life of your own

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On his own

Well, I let Tanner go to his chemo appointment today without me. He asked if he could just go by himself and I told him that I worry about him driving after they give him all of the medications.

At first, when they would give him the massive dose of the nausea medicine through his IV, he would get really loopy for a while. The last few times I haven't noticed any side effects from the medications but I told him I would still feel better if we waited and asked the doctor what he thought about Tanner driving himself. We finally came to a compromise, and one of his friends went to the appointment with him this morning.

We actually see Dr. Davis next week (we only see him once a month now days) and I will for sure go with him so we can ask the doctor what he thinks about Tanner driving himself to the chemo appointments every week.

You know how moms are, or at least how I am, I just want to hear that it's officially okay with the doctor.

I've been emailing with a lady from the insurance company this morning trying to determine how much out of pocket we will be responsible for if Tanner has surgery on his leg later this year.

It seems that since UAMS is "out of network" there is a $10,000 deductible and a 50% co-payment with NO out of pocket maximum (meaning we would have to pay 50% of all charges). If he has surgery in Fort Worth, there would be a deductible of $5000 with 80% coverage and $5000 additional maximum out of pocket that would have to be met.

Since we've already been billed well over $10,000 for charges this year, I'm sure we've met his deductible and co-payment maximum for this year so I'm really going to do my best to persuade Dr. Barlogie and Dr. Nicholas that we have no choice except to have the surgery performed here in Texas. Unless, of course, we hear the miraculous news that his bone is healing and surgery won't be required.

I'm not counting on that since we've already gone a year and there's been very little healing to date, so I'm just trying to prepare myself for what is surely coming.

If surgery is going to be necessary, then we need to get it scheduled because I know Cobra coverage is limited and he's already been on the policy for over a year.

Tanner just wants to be treated like everyone else. He doesn't want to talk, read, or hear about multiple myeloma. We were talking this weekend about the possibility of surgery and he told me he thought his leg was fine; that the CAT scan picture was "too good" and that he should have just had the x-rays done and not a CAT Scan.

I explained to him that the reason Dr. Nicholas had the scan done was because he needed to see an accurate picture of how the bone looks and you could clearly see the break all the way through the tibia. The discussion moved on to insurance and deductibles and bill collectors and he ended up in tears and told me his stomach hurt.

No teenager should have to deal with all of this.

You know, you have these children and you love them to the depth of your soul. You raise them to the best of your ability and they touch your heart with this unimaginable love - and they sometimes break your heart with this unimaginable pain - but no matter what, you just want to take care of them. You just want them to be happy and healthy.

You never imagine that cancer will touch their lives. You often think about how grateful you are that your children are healthy and then one day, in an instant, it all changes.

I go to work each day, I go out with my friends, I play with my grandchildren - but never ever is "cancer" far from my mind.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Healthy and Happy

We made some friends while we were in Arkansas by the name of Tom and Shirley Casey.

They rented an apartment across the street from ours and Tom would look out for us while Tanner and Shirley went through their treatment.

We have remained in contact and Shirley emailed me the other day and was telling me how sorry she was to read about our insurance difficulties and about the death of our friend John.

I wrote her back that I sometimes worry that my postings are depressing since I usually write about all the negative things that are happening in mine and Tanner’s life but that I seem to use the blog as a place to vent.

Sometimes, I get so caught up in trying to carry the burdens caused by the cancer that I don’t stop and post about the positive things that are happening in our lives.

I purchased myself a new little Honda and have given Tanner my Lancer for graduation. He’s quite excited and is working to make it “his own”. He and a friend have been putting tint on the windows and have installed a new stereo.

Buying a car was a BIG decision with all the financial difficulties we have right now, but I decided what else could I do? My Lancer is eight years old and we have to make all of these trips to Arkansas. I need something I can depend on. Heaven forbid Tanner and I should break down on that stretch of highway where there are miles and miles of nothing.

Then there's the fact that Tanner is 18 and needs some independence. If he's going to go to school and, hopefully, one day get a job, he's going to need a vehicle. In the end, I felt like getting another car was something I HAD to do.

He came to my office with me yesterday and worked for several hours placing labels on our client newsletters. In payment (part payment – part graduation gift), my employer had a new windshield installed in the car since the old one had a crack that was fast approaching the driver’s side line of vision.

He went camping over the Fourth of July weekend and has been going swimming quite often with friends. He’s working to exercise and is putting some weight (no more than 50%) on his broken leg. He tells me it’s not painful unless he tries to put his full body weight on the leg.

The nurses tell us that actually using the limb and putting some weight on it will, hopefully, stimulate the bone to start healing at a quicker rate.

We are getting everything together so that he can go in the near future and take his placement test at Tarrant County College. We are going to wait and see if the doctors decide if he has to have surgery before he actually signs up for classes but are going to go ahead and try to get everything in place so that once he’s ready, he can start some college courses.

His older brother, Trevor, found a job and has been working steady 11-12 hour days for the last week. He and Tanner spend lots of time together and my house is usually full of young people (I actually stayed at my cousin’s house while they were out of town last night so that I could have a little quiet time to myself).

Tanner texted earlier that he’s cleaning house today so, hopefully, they didn’t have too much fun while their mom was gone last night. LOL!

Yes, I often let the worry about Tanner’s disease and how we are going to come up with the money to pay all of these bills overwhelm me, but for the most part, things are going well for me and my boys.

I’m thankful to the depths of my soul that Tanner remains in remission and truly feel (as I tell Tanner all the time) that everything will work out. The most important thing is that he is healthy and happy.

So, just realize that I might "vent" here about all my worries, but as long as Tanner is in remission and we can continue to come up with ways to keep purchasing the medicines needed to keep him there, everything is good...

Monday, July 5, 2010


Dr. Nicholas says he doesn't know why, but Tanner's broken leg still doesn't seem to be healing. It's been over a year, and in his words Tanner is "a kid" and "should be healing" but he isn't.

They are going to give him until September when we go back to see Dr. Barlogie and are going to do another CAT Scan. If he isn't healing by then, they want to do surgery to put a nail in his bone.

Dr. Barlogie thinks this has to be done in Arkansas by an Oncologist Orthopedic Surgeon (such as Dr. Nicholas) who is familiar with Multiple Myeloma to assure Tanner the best possible outcome. In his words, if an inexperienced physician performs the surgery, then Tanner could end up crippled for life.

On the other hand, Tanner's insurance has dropped UAMS from their in-network facilities and we are now faced with a $10,000 deductible and 50% co-pay.

What does a parent do? On the one hand, the people in Arkansas are telling me to not worry about the money, but on the other hand I am receiving collection letters every day - and now the collectors are calling Tanner on his cell phone (since he has turned 18 years 0ld).

Do you know what it's like to be a mother who can't fix what's wrong with her child?
The people in Dr. B's office have told me not to worry about the money, but it's just reality and I do worry about it. I worry constantly. Tonight I had a complete break down on Kirk (thanks for always being there for me).

I would give anything to be able to just "fix" my children but I can't and sometimes it hurts almost more than I can bear.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A loss

I've had a nice 4th of July.

The boys have gone camping and informed me that they just wanted to spend some time together. Since I like to be alone, that was okay. I just reminded Trevor to watch out for his younger brother, remember that he's 18 and not 21, and that his bones are fragile. They have checked in several times a day to tell me that it is "all good" and as long as I hear from them throughout each day, I am ok.

I went to my friend Donna's house today and spent time with her, her daughter Hillary, and her husband Paul. It was a wonderful day and Paul grilled some delicious hamburgers.

I came home and Kelsey brought Beckett over to play with his MawMaw and we went out for some soup at Mexican Inn.

Now everyone has left and I am alone and I thought I would check my emails. Finally, finally I saw that I had received an email from John and Lauren, our friends that we made while we were in Little Rock.

I have called John's phone several times since we have seen them last and left messages and finally emailed them about a month ago that I was getting worried because I hadn't heard back from anyone.

Now, when I saw their name in my inbox, my heart skipped a beat because by this time I was afraid of what it might say.

It seems my fears were grounded because the news is that John passed away in March after spending five weeks in Intensive Care at UAMS. I guess he went into ICU right after Tanner and I saw him last and Lauren says that he was diagnosed with fungal pneumonia and ecoli sepsis.

Lauren is hearbroken and says she couldn't bring herself to tell Tanner and I what happened. I am so sad. I am in tears.

Do you know what it's like to meet someone that you just almost instantly bond with? I don't experience that often. My personality is rather withdrawn and introspective and I don't make friends easily.

While in Arkansas during those six months of intensive treatment with Tanner, we made just a few really good friends and John and Lauren were in that small group. Tanner and John seemed to be going through treatment at about the same rate so we spent a lot of time together while they went through their chemotherapy treatments.

John would tease Tanner for being a show off and rushing through his recovery quicker than the old people. Tanner would get such a kick when John would see him and call him a "little shit". We loved John and Lauren and this news has hit me harder than I could imagine.

How could you hurt so much when you find out someone you've known less than a year has died? Is it because we were all on this journey together?

I am so grateful that we got a chance to know John and Lauren. That we had a chance to meet their children and John's sisters. I'm so glad that Tanner and John had an opportunity to talk about their illness and that Lauren and I had a chance to talk about being a caretaker and the joys and fears that involves.

I am so grateful that one of the last times we were all together in Little Rock we had a chance to go out to eat, and laugh, and just be together outside of the hospital. For me to make an immediate friend like that; one whom I feel completely comfortable with, is so rare. We are so blessed that they were part of our journey.

I loved John and I love Lauren and i don't know how I'm going to tell Tanner that John is gone.

I'll post soon about what Dr. Nicholas had to say about Tanner's leg but right now I'm just dealing with the loss of a friend.