Monday, November 23, 2009

Hope for Anissa

As you give thanks this week, Natalie and I ask that you keep a very special family in mind.

Our good friend Anissa, who has been a source of hope, inspiration, love and soda-coming-back-out-the-nose laughs for Natalie, our kids and me over these last couple of years, suffered a massive stroke on Nov. 17. Anissa has been a shining light for us as we traveled the pediatric cancer road together; her youngest daughter, 5, finished leukemia treatment a year ago.

Anissa, 35, is relatively stable now, but it was very touch-and-go in the first few days. She has not regained consciousness, and a very close eye is being kept on her blood pressure. We’re seeing some very good signs, however; even as I write this, Natalie called to tell me that Anissa made some very deliberate hand movements. Every bit of progress is good progress.

Natalie has been at her side since about seven hours after she got the news; Anissa and her family moved to the Atlanta area in May, and Natalie got there to help as fast as the Georgia State Police would allow.

The kids joined Anissa’s family this weekend, and they’re providing important support for Anissa’s kids (an 11-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, in addition to the aforementioned 5-year-old). Mandy has already organized several tea parties for the large contingent of American Girl dolls who now fill the family’s house; Zachary and Anissa’s son are keeping gigabytes worth of home entertainment very busy; and Alannah is providing her always calm, steady helping hand wherever she is needed.

After our friend Mary Ann and I dropped off the kids Saturday, I had to leave Sunday to follow work obligations in Canada. (They tell me I missed Thanksgiving; up here, it was in October north of the border.) It’s never easy for me to do that, but I know that the folks in Georgia are in very good hands (Natalie’s hands are the best, not only to look at and hold but to handle tough situations.)

Support is pouring in from near and far; Thanksgiving dinner is taken care of, Anissa’s wide social network has pulled together in prayer, and Anissa herself, besides being full of love, is even fuller of fight. She has her husband at her side, and lots of hope around her — all the necessities are in place to help her navigate the road ahead.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Flu-like behavior

It's Ronnie here, guest-posting as Natalie and Mandy are away from home and computer tonight, just in time for me to get home from two weeks in Canada.

Mandy and Natalie are hanging out at All Children's Hospital tonight. Mandy's showing some "flu-like symptoms," three words that have been typed by an awful lot of people over the last several weeks.

Mandy woke up Saturday morning vomiting. No big deal; kids get upset stomachs and stuff all the time, and even Mandy's allowed an upset stomach every once in a while. I got my update on that situation before I took off this morning from Vancouver.

I had a connection in Denver; she had vomited again, but was restful, and most importantly, not feverish. Still no big deal; Zofran and Ativan were doing their jobs to calm her tummy.

By the time I landed in Tampa, well, it was a big deal, because now there was a fever, going up and going up fast. When I made my "Honey, I'm home" call, Mandy and Natalie were already in St. Petersburg.

The fever has apparently peaked at 103. Rapid flu tests are showing negative, but rapid flu tests are notoriously inaccurate. Counts and such are pointing the general direction of something, well, flu-like. Tylenol has joined Zofran and Ativan to keep Mandy comfortable.

We'll find out more in the morning, when the real flu tests come back. Mandy's going to stay overnight, because it's a long ride to the hospital, and we want to make sure that fever stays down before she comes home. Whether it's flu or merely "flu-like," we want it go away.