I am always amazed by the speed of life.
I don’t know why at this point I’m not used to it yet. But, as I sit here with my leg elevated recovering from a vein stripping on Thursday, I find it hard to imagine it hasn’t been quite a week since “Jeans for Rare Genes” took place.
Acknowledgements have been sent by Email. Some are waiting for the mail, and others will be delivered to the local businesses that supported us in the next few days. We wanted everyone to know that what we considered a lofty goal of $10,000 to be donated to the PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome Foundation, and The Global Genes Project has been surpassed. The checks are still being counted, and the final payment from eventbrite is due any moment. But it looks like the total will clear $12,000 before we are through. Not too shabby for the vision of a feisty 11-year-old who has already begun to make tentative plans for what we will do even better “next year.”
And as I’ve digested the success, and have processed the overwhelming pride of a mother, and expressed our gratitude to family and friends near and far, (like the Yokleys from Colorado!) I’ve taken some time to reflect. Standing before a room filled with 150 of our friends and family on a bitter cold February morning left my insides warm and toasty from the love surrounding us.
Life moves quickly. For all of us for different reasons. But, with this syndrome x2 life seems to be literally swallowed by doctors, and tests and surgeries, with every spare moment trying to shove “normal” into the cracks. We miss stuff. A lot. We miss friends, and gatherings and social events, and celebrations, and ordinary get-togethers. We are absent more than we are present. Our friends and extended family are often neglected as immediate family has to occupy any moment that isn’t already full. I don’t actually remember the last time we had friends for pizza, or a casual summer gathering on the deck by the pool.
And I think about the pure innocence and wisdom of Meghan and Connor, as they finally met. Two friends from miles apart, with a life altering syndrome in common. Two bright, funny kids who have seen more than their fair share. Two kids who get compassion, and understanding, and life. Two sets of parents, immediately at ease with each other because we understand. And sometimes that’s all you need. And if you missed the two articulate, wise beyond their years, kids talking to the local news – click here.
I think about Georgia, a world away in Australia, and how she and Meghan have hit it off in a way only girls who share such a bond ever could. I think how wonderful it will be one day to get them together too.
And I think about Ashton, older than Meghan, but a girl on a mission all the same. And I think of all she has to offer the world, as she endures her 14th procedure on a stubborn AV fistula in her brain this week. I think about all the prayers we say, and all the questions Meghan asks. And her Mom. My peer. A Cowden’s patient too. A school teacher turned full-time mother later in life. Because it was meant to be. I think about the hours spent texting and messaging. And how I already feel so comfortable…
And I know that the room was full for them too.
I am grateful beyond measure for the ones who understand. Who don’t give up on us. Who stand with us, beside us, behind us, or just about wherever we need them to be.
I will resolve to try to reach out more. I just don’t know how many more hours I can squeeze out of a week. But I will try. Because the speed of life is astounding.
Sunday some of my college friends were delayed to the fundraiser. They were in the hospital with one, as her father was very ill. Yet, they found the balance. They stayed with her, and then came to us.
Thursday as I came out of I think my 7th vascular procedure I got the texts on my phone that things weren’t good. Her Dad passed away Thursday morning. My heart hurt. It was ironic really, as I had felt my own Dad ever-present as I got checked in and prepped. I got to thinking that out of 5 of us from college that I really stay in touch with, three had already lost a father, and one a mother and a brother. How did we get to this stage? How did life move so fast? And although my own recovery will keep me from making it to her side tomorrow, – I know she will feel the love in my heart.
We have to try to slow things down. Sometimes.
But, I’m not sure when. Or how. Because yesterday I sat in the back seat with my heavily bandaged leg, and we made the trek to Cohen’s Children’s Hospital on Long Island. And we saw an orthopedist about Meghan’s knee. Her vascular surgeon suggested we go – before the next embolization procedure in her knee.
Her MRI shows some damage to the knee structure. “Blood is a terrible irritant, even in small quantities…” And I would imagine that this AVM, probably active since birth, has been slowly eroding the knee. So there is swelling in the bone marrow, and issues with the patella, and all sorts of explanations as to why it keeps hurting. There is no real solution, but a synnovectomy will get him in the knee. He can “clean out” some of the scar tissue, and we can pray that gives relief and doesn’t provoke a “hyper healing” Cowden’s type response. But we have to try. They have to see. It’s time to get a real baseline.
So they will present her case next week. And we will hope that the recommendation is for the vascular surgeon to do his work on the AVM at the same time the orthopedist does his work. Because the recovery from the embolizations is tough. This one promises to be outright nasty. “At least a week on crutches. Minimum 4-6 week recovery. PT to build back the strength in the thigh muscle.” They will fill the knee with saline to get a clear view…
So he asked about her activities, and approved of swimming. Almost relieved when she told him she had given up soccer and dance because they hurt too much. He asked what strokes in swimming, almost tentatively, as if he was hoping for the answer he got.
“Butterfly is my favorite!”
And he looked relieved as he explained to Felix and I that butterfly kick was best on the knees. Meghan chimed in, “because you kick from your hips!”
We were once again impressed by her instincts and her depth of knowledge of her own body. She gravitated to a stroke most hate because it probably hurt her the least. We got the nod to let her continue freestyle and backstroke. But breaststroke is off-limits. Probably forever. Ironically – she never like that one much anyway…
We asked about the timing of the procedure. He thought before he spoke and told us he wanted to hear what his colleagues had to say.
We pressed him for early May. The tail end of the CYO season. The week after her first play, “Hairspray” at school. He told us to take it very easy. And if she doesn’t have another bleed before then, that’s probably a reasonable time frame.
We should be used to all this by now. But, I think you never get used to watching your child get beat up over and over again. That’s why we pushed to try to plan… to try to squeeze in all the normal we can. Because she can’t keep having the fun taken away for the medical. It’s not ok. But, we plan very tentatively.
The speed of life can be overwhelming.
Thankfully we have so many of you along for the ride.
Next Saturday, February 28th is World Rare Disease Day.
Next Sunday, March 1st is Meghan’s first championship swim meet. Silvers. For the 100 butterfly – naturally.
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