Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Audrey in Ronald McDonald House
Audrey and Nathan at Jacksonville Zoo
Audrey and I arrived in Jacksonville on Sunday, January 10th. We were able to check into the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) without any problems. On Monday we ran errands as we did not have any scheduled appointments. We are situated on the third floor of the RMH - by request. It is much quieter on the 3rd floor and cooler at night (for some reason - thought heat was suppose to rise...). Anyway, the room is nice, I compare it to an economy hotel. There are two queen size beds, a hole where the closet should be (no closet system or doors) and a mini refridgerator in the bathroom. It is simple but clean and very inexpensive for us to stay here. The best part is that we are located across the street from the Nemuers Children's hospital where Audrey receives her chemotherapy and we are only five minutes drive from the Proton Therapy Institute where she receives her radiation.
In the mornings we arrive at the Proton Institute where Audrey receives her treatment. After treatment we go and hang out at the beach, sunbathing in the 80 degree weather while sipping on tropical smoothies and wetting our toes in the surf.
Okay, maybe that part isn't true - especially about the 80 degree weather. It is cold here as it is everywhere in the U.S. right now! After treatments we come back to the house and get something to eat, come to our room. I beg Audrey to let me take a nap and she pesters me until I finally give up, roll out of bed and take her out. She has increased energy from the proton treatments and I am having a hard time keeping up with her.
The hardest part of all of this is meeting the other families, hearing their stories and knowing that what they are going through is so much more difficult than anything we have ever faced. From the time we discovered Audrey's tumor we haven't asked why this has happened to us. We have taken a business standpoint, arranging doctors visits, tests, treatments, etc. Other than the original diagnosis of cancer we have had so many things in our favor. Audrey responds well to the treatment and she seems to be getting an education in the process. I will not be surprised if she chooses the medical field as a profession in the future. All but one child I have met has had a brain tumor. Many of them have not even had surgery to remove the tumor, as it is too dangerous.
We have been getting earlier time slots as the Proton Institute (which is wonderful for Audrey becuase it decreases the amount of time she is forced to fast) which means that the child's slot we are taking is not doing well. In fact, I have met the family whose time slot we are taking. They have a 9 month old daughter who has had brain surgeries from the time she was born. The top of her head has never fully developed and sinks in all along the top. She was hospitalized yesterday due to a high fever and today a chest x-ray was taken they now believe she has pnemonia. It is heart breaking.