A Father’s Pride

Earlier today I sat beside Catie as she endured yet another long day of treatments here at St. Jude’s. On what St. Jude’s calls their best day for kids – Halloween, Catie woke before the sun. She had her blood drawn at 7am and was in surgery to have a femoral catheter inserted in her groin by 8:30. Once she came out of recovery she was wheeled on a hospital bed down the halls of the hospital through many of the awaiting Halloween displays set up for trick or treating. Catie, Maggie and I entered the blood donor room. At 12:05 pm, Catie began her pheresis, the set-up took quite a while. The pheresis process took five hours. She then was moved to the medicine room where she sat and waited. First, she waited for her own blood to be drawn, again to see if she needed any additional blood products tonight before being released. The second thing that she was waiting for was the results of her harvest. If they were able to collect enough stem cells then she could have her femoral catheter removed. Although Catie was sedated to have the cathedral inserted, it will simply be removed – pulled out. Catie is quite concerned about this but considering all that she has dealt with up to know I am sure she will be fine. We will have her results by 7pm. Thank God there are some folks who work later than five in this hospital.

At the same time that Catie went in to the donor room, Kevin and the rest of the children arrived at the Harrisburg Airport to learn that their flight to Memphis via Newark was canceled. They were rerouted through Cleveland and were delayed an additional hour. They should arrive here at the hospital just after 7pm.

While Catie and I waited in the Medicine Room, we watched some of her favorite music videos. Her first favorite is Randy Travis’ Forever and Ever, Amen. Which I love and each time I hear it I long to see Kevin even more. Catie’s new favorite is Steven Curtis Chapman’s Cinderella. She also watched the YouTube video that discussed how Steven Curtis Chapman came up with the idea for the song. Steven Curtis Chapman, one night, was rushing through so many of the routine aspects of raising children. It is what all parents do and yet then, as parents, we long for those days once the children are raised. Chapman felt as though God placed the name of his grown daughter, Emily, in his head and this thought crystallized for him. I understand this completely. Even here at St. Jude’s, I long for efficiency of a schedule instead of cherishing the moments that Catie curls up in my lap and asks me the read to her. Today I sat quietly beside Catie and held her hand. There was to be no trick or treating – (don’t feel too badly for Catie as Maggie wandered all of the halls of St. Jude’s and collected enough candy for at least 6 children) but it was a very peaceful and relaxing day. I couldn’t be more proud of Catie. I am certain that that is how the good Lord feels whenever we make the choice of giving to another. I am certain that He is filled with a Father’s pride at our decision to give to another of His children.

Halloween ended as Kevin and the others arrived in Memphis and headed toward Catie and I, as we remained in the hospital. The results of Catie’s blood test indicated that she would need additional platelets before the femoral catheter could be removed. As we waited, Catie is in a great mood watching old episodes of the Munsters. She laughed and giggled at the silliness of that unusual TV family and told me how much she missed her family. Just as she mentioned that Kevin and Max, Mia, Molly and M.E. knocked on the door shouting “Trick or Treat”. Catie was thrilled. Everyone hugged and greeted one another. Susanne, our nurse, entered the room and asked about Catie and noticed that Catie had hives. Catie was having an allergic reaction to the platelets. She was given some benadryl and soon went to sleep. Kevin then took the kids and drove them to the Rhea’s home, where they spent the night. One of the rules at Target House is that no more then four people are allowed to spend the night in any one apartment. Kevin returned to Target House at the same time that Catie and I returned from St. Jude’s. It was 10:30.

The removal of the femoral cathedral was not as difficult as the removal of the stitch that held it in place. As the bandage was taken off Catie slept peacefully thanks to the benadryl. As the doctor attempted to cut the stitch Catie woke up. She handled the removal just great. A pressure bandage was put on Catie’s leg. She left the hospital in a wheelchair. She and Molly slept peacefully together in Catie’s room at Target House and Kevin and I were thrilled to see one another.

The next day we took our family’s annual Halloween photo – check out the website. The kids played together and enjoyed the great weather of 80 degrees. The little girls loved the Target House playground. Catie was still a little sore from the day before. She and Max painted outside and were joined by Mia. It was awesome to have everyone together. I know it must have been difficult to fly with four kids under ten – and deal with a connection – I am as always amazed by my husband’s love and devotion to me and to our family. Kevin, I love you. We finished the day sharing Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Kevin cooked his famous mashed potatoes and Max, Mia and I went to get ribs. It was great to share a meal. As Kevin and I packed for the flight home, the kids sat together and watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

God continues to bless us each day with each other. Catie continues to get stronger. Catie continues to have an increased appetite and is able to do more things each day. We said good bye to Kevin, Maggie, Mia, Molly and M.E. this morning. Max is with us this week. Kevin arrives again on Friday at midnight as Catie will begin Round 2.

We thank all of you who have been so generous to make this weekend happen. Thanks to all of you and God, truly working the schedule, we will be able to see the entire family once a month for the next few months. Each of those visits will line up with a holiday – the next two being Thanksgiving and Christmas – and will be two weeks after Catie’s chemo. This means that Catie’s counts should be recovering and she will be able to enjoy seeing everyone. When pheresis was completed they were able to collect all the stem cells that they would need for the remaining rounds of chemo.

God is good – all the time. I especially feel that here at St. Jude’s. I also feel that anytime I look into the loving eyes of my beloved, Kevin.

The traveling 5 (Mia, Molly, M.E., and Max on the way down and Maggie on the way back) were terrific traveling companions for me. I love to sleep and read on planes and yet for some inexplicable reason, I did not get as much rest on these 4 flights. I am amazed at the comfort level and outgoing nature of our kids, specifically Mia and Molly. At various times during the 20 hours of travel, they were seen to be rolling other people’s suitcases around, playing solitaire on another person’s computer, making friends every where they went. Their similarity to their mother is amazing, they go no where without making friends. The kids were terrific, as were the airlines who kept us all together and delivered us and all of our luggage safely to Memphis and home again. The 4 kids here are bathed, fed, asleep and peacefully dreaming. Thank you everyone who covered us in prayers this weekend, it was truly a blessing of unlimited joy to be together as a family.

God Bless to all of you and may your homes be filled with love and peace,

Christine, Catie and Max at St. Jude’s and Kevin, Maggie, Mia, Molly and M.E. safe at home in Mechanicsburg

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