Quote of the day: Charlie wrote to me, "This quote sounded so much like Thursday's blog I had to send it. Sometimes I read the blog and wonder at the strength of your resolve and I thank God for his wisdom in making you Mattie's mother."
When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot, and hang on.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt
Mattie woke up at 4am today in pain. He took his oral pain medication, and fell back asleep. Mattie is sleeping in a hospital bed in our living room. So in essence our living room as been converted into Mattie's new room. Peter slept on an aeromattress last night, on the living room rug. Peter wanted last night to be special for Mattie, and planned a boy's night 'camp out' in the living room. I think Mattie loved this excitement!
We all slept until 10am this morning. That is how exhausted we are. I haven't slept through the night in the last 10 days, so it felt great! Mattie ate well this morning, and then he had a visit from JP, JJ's (our resident Jack Russell Terrier) owner. JJ dropped off some vanilla frosted donuts to welcome Mattie back home! Mattie then got washed up a bit and dressed. I was worried about the dressing process. But Mattie can now move his hips and back quite well. So he was very helpful in the dressing process. Mattie is adjusting to being home, but he continues to need my attention, or Peter's 100% of the time. My parents wanted to give us a break today, but Mattie did not want us to leave. Now to the outside observer, I am sure you could be saying to yourself, well this isn't realistic. You have to say NO to Mattie and convince him to stay with others. Or better yet, you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of Mattie. I know this line very well, I have said it to enough people in my lifetime. However, like other caregivers used to say to me, it is easier said than done. I feel Peter and I are really between a rock and a hard place. Mattie is in a fragile place, having to deal with cancer, hospitals, medications, chemo, lab testing, and a total lack of freedom. I realize being around Peter and I gives him great comfort. Yet I also know that Peter and I are worn out. So the question is how do you meet Mattie's needs and our needs at the same time? It is a question I struggle with each day. It is my hope as Mattie settles into being back home and a more normal routine that he begins to open up to others in his life again. It saddens me to see Mattie transform in front of my eyes. Despite his changes, I try to remain consistent, and no matter what he throws at me, I accept it, love him, and try to help him through it.
This afternoon, Peter went to pick up Patches, our calico cat at the vet. Patches has been boarded at the vet for the past 50 days! When she went into the vet for boarding, she was very sickly, was off of her thyroid medication (since Peter and I could bearly handle Mattie, much less handle her medical needs), and was about 8 pounds (very small!). Today when Peter picked her up, they did not want to give her back to us. They grew SO fond of her. She has become the Grand Dame of Dupont Animal Clinic. We thought Patches deserved to spend Thanksgiving with us. She returns back to the clinic next saturday, but we figured a week at home is better than no week at all. Patches came home today weighing 13 pounds and her coat looks beautiful and she is happy! Though locking up your pet isn't an easy thing to do, in the end, we can't be worried about her and her medical issues. I tell you this story because cancer affects the whole family, the family pet included. At the moment while I write this blog, Mattie is lying in his bed and Patches is right by his feet. It is a very sweet sight!
Mattie and Peter went for a stroll outside today in the cold. We felt Mattie needed some fresh air and a change of scenery. While they went out, my parents and I went out to lunch. It was nice to get out, but I always feel bad leaving Peter behind. Peter tells me to go since I am on point all week long, but I feel for Peter. He isn't only working full time, but he is a caregiver and a devoted dad.
Mattie and Peter spent the afternoon building with legos and doing puzzles. Mattie continues to amaze me. Tonight I transferred him back to bed by myself. Peter was next to me, but Mattie did most of the work, and I held him by the rump and ribs. I now feel more confident in the fact that I can do this alone. As we head into next week, I want to make sure Mattie does get outpatient physical therapy and we keep up with his progress. Meanwhile, Dr. Synder (our oncologist) and I have been trading e-mails today. She has asked me to take a picture of Mattie's red spot on his tail bone each day and e-mail it to her. I can only imagine what GW's system administrator would say if he/she opened up the pictures I am sending through the virtual airways. None the less, Dr. Synder is doing me a favor. She is tracking the sore on Mattie's back, without me having to bring him in for a visit. Another example of how technology is helping our lives! Because moving Mattie into a car, is a production now.
We want to thank the Cooper family for a wonderful homecooked meal. The apple turnovers are appreciated too. Mattie was thrilled to see the Scooby Doo mac and cheese, and thank you for sending along a little gift for Mattie. I can't thank all of you for providing us meals every day of the week. It is so wonderful not to have to worry about food on top of everything else. I know how busy life is on a daily basis even when you are not contending with illness, yet you all find the time to bring us food and support us in any way possible. A mere thank you, seems so inadequate. Ann also called today to check in to find out how we were doing and what we needed. Thank you Ann and Team Mattie for the daily support.
I would like to share three e-mails I received. One is from Carolyn (a friend and RCC mom). Carolyn wrote, "As I read your posting from last night I continue to be in complete awe of Mattie and his strength, determination – and, of course, sense of humor (I love the names for his arms & legs). Yet another example of the miracles that faith, love and prayer can create. And I hope that “Super Mattie” and “Super Mom & Dad” had a restful evening. Just so you know – the Queen of Apostles community continues to spread the word – and your “prayer circle” continues to grow. I had asked a few parents/teachers to say some extra prayers prior to Mattie’s surgery – and was amazed when I attended the school auction last weekend – so many people were coming up to me asking how Mattie was doing or commenting that they had been checking on Mattie on the blog – people that I have never mentioned your situation to and did not include in my e-mail request for prayers (so the word got around). I was told that many of them passed it along to their families and friends and have added Mattie to prayer lists and masses all across the country. Based on how well Mattie is doing now, God was certainly listening – I think he was probably a bit overwhelmed. You all are amazing – and you have no idea how many lives you have touched and improved by sharing your story. You all are an inspiration to us all – and we continue to pray that your journey forward has few “bumps in the road” as possible."
The second e-mail is from my friend, Lisa. Lisa wrote, "Vicki, I so appreciate the son you and Peter have raised, and no doubt you have it right that Mattie is a wonderment. But don't lose sight of the "whole is greater then the sum of its parts." And the strength and incredibleness that he exudes is clearly a result of your family system; i.e., you and Peter."
The third e-mail is from a SSSAS upper school mom. We have never met, but Mattie and her share something in common. They both have cancer in their lives. Kathryn wrote, "You are doing so well, even though it may not feel like that. You are running a marathon and that is so hard and enervating on you and Mattie. I am awed by your strength and courage, not to mention your honesty in your blogs. I think a big source of strength is the ability to admit when you are stressed and tapped out. I want to bring you some restorative items that helped me during cancer when I get back from being away on Thanksgiving. They may help or may not. At least you will have them. We are away visiting our older son who is studying in Perugia, but I just wanted to let you know that I got a rosary for Mattie at St. Peter's in the Vatican. I wanted Mattie to have one from a sacred place." Kathryn has also arranged for an intentions mass at Holy Trinity in Georgetown for Mattie on tuesday, November 25 at 7am. Thank you Kathryn for arranging this, we will be there in spirit.
We want to thank Brian Boru (our feline friend) for the lovely gold snowflake he sent Mattie in the mail. We also want to thank GW's Columbian Women's Association for the lovely card and McDonalds gift cards for Mattie. He will love them! Mattie's grandparents in Boston also sent us a lovely card today with a very generous contribution to the Mattie fund. Thank you for supporting us and Mattie's treatment.
On the electronic front, we want to thank Karen, Grammie, Barbsie, JJ, Ms. Pollak, and Brian Boru for the wonderful e-mails and e-cards. Mattie is now settling down for the evening, and watching Scooby Doo. We sign off and hope for another good night of sleep.