The last update we were preparing to leave Houston. We had been getting the room packed up and arranging plans to get Melissa and Audrey home when they landed. We were saying goodbye to all our new friends and just getting ready mentally and physically to head home. As with all things in our journey things would not go as planned. Audrey had been very sleepy that day and everyone just dismissed it as being run down from radiation. At about 9 PM on the evening before we are supposed to fly out I checked her temperature and it’s on the rise. By 9:30 she hit 101F. Anything over 100.4 requires an ER visit as we know all too well. I called the doctor and he tells me to head in to get checked out. Audrey and I get dropped off at the hospital. They check her temp and it’s only 99 now but they still want to see her. So we get checked in and they check her blood counts and find that her white counts have dropped and her ANC is below where they can release us. They tell us that we aren’t leaving for 48 hours until her blood has time to see if it grows anything in the culture. Party is on Saturday and that puts us at leaving on Friday. I spend the next 48 hours pushing the staff to get us out as soon as possible. Everything goes well and her fever stays down and nothing grows. So at 9 they tell me we should be going home and at 11 I get the official we just have to run one last antibiotic and we are good to go. That starts us into a furry of preparing. I find the next available flight out and book Melissa, Cole and Audrey on the 6 PM flight to guarantee they will make the party the next day. We get discharge at about noon then grab some lunch and head back to get backed up. Melissa has been packing and getting things ready since she got up in the morning so we are looking pretty good for packing and getting out on time. Our friend Randy has come into town and has been helping as well, which helped a ton. Somehow we have a lot more stuff than we left with but we got it in. We loaded up and headed to the airport and got them through security.
Now it’s time for Randy and I to dig in and head west. We left the airport at about 5:30 PM with 17 hours to go until the party starts and 1,174 miles to go. Randy drove to San Antonio where we stopped to get gas. I slammed a concentrated energy drink and started going. Randy slept between gas fill ups and I got us to Las Cruces, NM before I had to give up and Randy was able to take us home. I got about 45 minutes of sleep and hung out with Randy the last 5 hours. We were both a bit sleep deprived crazy which led to some good conversation and music choices. We completed our trip pulling into the church parking lot at 9:30 AM to join in the fun. I was so tired but happy to be there. I remember bits and pieces of the party as I was there physically but mostly checked out mentally.
Audrey and Melissa arrived to the party shortly after us and had a great time. It was great to see all the people that turned out to support us and just be part of an amazing day. Words cannot explain how touched we were to see all the people that had come out to support Audrey and our family. They had setup a bounce house, cotton candy machine, root beer float station and of course the pancake area. It was truly a very special day. Thank you to everyone that helped out and attended the event!
The rest of the weekend we spent just trying to get rested and ready for another week. Monday we were right back at it with an appointment with oncology to review what happened in Houston and what the plan looks like going forward. We got scheduled for a blood transfusion the next day and scheduled to start our 6 day inpatient the next Monday. After the blood transfusion the rest of the week was spent at home just getting rested and leaving like a normal family. By the end of the week we had almost forgotten all the junk in our lives and just enjoyed being home and being together.
Inpatient Monday finally came and we are back to hospital life. The first day back was full of catching up with all the doctors, nurses and staff that make our stay so amazing. Everyone wanted to hear about our trip and how everything had gone. The Child Life team had a little celebration surprise planned for us when we got back. When we walked into our room they had it decorated for her birthday and they sang us a radiation is over song and happy birthday. It was a great way to start off our stay. We are getting settled in and back to our routine.
As I sit here next to Audrey on the eve of Thanksgiving I think of all the people that have posted everyday what they are thankful for. I think for our family it’s pretty simple. We are thankful every day that we get to spend another Thanksgiving together as a family of 4. As we start into the holiday season knowing that it will be spent with our Cardon family we realize that the way we look at the season will be much different this year and every year after. Don’t worry about the perfect meal or the perfect party. Don’t worry about getting the perfect gift or decorating the perfect tree. Just make perfect joyful memories because that is what truly matters. Only God knows the beginning and the end and the rest of us just have to enjoy the time we are given in every moment.
Happy Thanksgiving! Eat, drink and have fun!