Well, time got away from me. It has been quite a while since I last wrote and I recently realized I never updated after I asked for prayers regarding the insurance approval.
I hope none of you were holding your breath. If so, you can exhale now…they approved it. They actually approved it the day after I posted about it. It was quite a relief.
So much has happened since then. Buckle Up!
Danny, the kiddos, and Tony (Danny’s brother) headed to Oklahoma after work on Friday, the day I was
supposed hoping to be getting out of the hospital. I ended up having to stay until Saturday because the meds weren’t done. They went to OK to visit their Mimi, who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was so bummed that I wasn’t able to go with them, but planned on going up at some point before the transplant. The kiddos got some quality play time with their cousins, and Danny and Tony got some quality time with the rest of their Oklahoma family. The kids may have ran Danny ragged. Here’s a few pictures from their visit.
Once I was released on Saturday morning, I headed home with my mom and we worked around the house. At this point, I was feeling pretty good, so I was happy to be productive. We ended up going to my favorite place for dinner with some girls from the neighborhood that night.
I started on the Neupogen shots on Monday. I felt pretty good throughout this process. Every day I had to go in for blood work and the injections. They were monitoring my blood counts and were looking for my white count to hit rock bottom and then start going back up. At the same time, they were checking my CD34 level. (I have no idea what that’s for…but it was one thing that had to be above a certain number in order for the collection to happen. I ended up getting shots Monday-Sunday. Sunday night I got a call from one of the nurses to say that I was ready for collection.
So Monday morning, mom picked me up and we headed to the hospital for a 6:00 am check-in. We got started about 6:30. They recommend that you chew on mints during the process in hopes of preventing mouth sores from forming. So, you can bet your sweet bum that I was chewing on Wintergreen mints the whole time. Mouth sores are from the devil. For real. No time for those. #youarenotwelcomehere
Because I had a trifusion line placed, the process was super easy and relatively fast. It took about 5 hours. At that point we were free to go. I knew they would take the next few hours to count what was collected and then they would call me later that afternoon and let me know if I needed to come back the next day to collect again, or if I had collected enough. They were needing to collect 5 million stem cells. I don’t know much about this whole process, but I know that 5 million is A LOT…so I wasn’t getting my hopes up to be done in one day. They said most people take about three days for the entire collection.
The day went on and I waited…and waited. And at about 6, I assumed I was probably going to have to go back in tomorrow since I hadn’t heard from them yet. Then as I was walking through Kroger, I got a call from the nurse manager who had facilitated the collection. Her name is Oerphelia and she is a RIOT. She goes a million miles an hour. all.the.time. I get worn out just watching and listening to her. She was just giddy over the phone and was thrilled to tell me that they had collected just over 8.5 million cells. Let that sink in. Eight and a half million. That’s nuts! So, needless to say, I was done. I didn’t have to go back tomorrow. Okay, I’ll admit it. I was the slightest bit sad that I wasn’t going to spend the next day with Oerphelia…but she said I couldn’t bring her lunch whenever I wanted to. 😉 The bottom right picture was at Target. I realized I was going to be in the hospital for Cinco de Mayo…so I celebrated by myself, at Target.
Later that week, it happened. The time has finally come…I registered Harper for Kindergarten. Oh.my.word. I’m not sure how [almost] 5 years has gone by so fast. Each Spring, the school hosts an event called “Eager Eagles” for the incoming Kinder babies and their parents. They get to meet important people in the school, sing along with the music teacher, hear a story from the librarian, and take a tour of the school. While we were walking through the school for the tour, Harper turned to me and said, “Mommy, I am SO excited to come to my new school. I love Kindergarten!” I hope she’s always that excited about school.
Each kiddo got to choose a story book about Kindergarten that they got to take home. They also got a little goody bag that had an Eagle key chain. They encouraged the kids to put the keychain on their backpack to help make them brave on their first day of Kindergarten. It was precious. I can’t believe she’s about to start Kindergarten. Where has time gone? We’re praying for her teacher already. She can’t wait to find out who her teacher is. I do know one thing…that teacher is going to be so blessed by that little girl. She is one of a kind. Precious. Fiesty. Stubborn…but she has the biggest heart and the most beautiful smile.
The next weekend was jam-packed. Since my collection was done and I didn’t have to get any more injections, Danny, Hudson and I headed up to Oklahoma to spend some more time with Mimi. It worked out nicely because Danny’s dad and stepmom were there as well. We drove up Friday afternoon and then headed back Saturday afternoon. Although it was a short trip, it was so good for my heart. I got to love on Mimi, remind her how much she is loved, and just hold her sweet hand. Unfortunately, we now share a bond that no one ever wants to share…we both have cancer. However, I’ve learned so much from her. She is one of the most special ladies I have ever met. She is the most positive, loving, faithful woman. And more than anything, she is a fighter. You would never know she was hurting. She blesses everyone she meets. Mimi, I hope you know how much you are loved!
On Saturday we headed back to Dallas to see my brother who was in town from Colorado. We went to dinner at Babes Chicken to celebrate his birthday…and it was fabulous. Babes is amazing…every time. Can I get an ‘Amen’? It was SO good to see him. He only gets to come in a few times a year, so it’s always nice to see him and get to spend time with him.
We came home to have a Cookie Cake that Lexi bought from Tom Thumb…and it was completely raw. We’re still trying to figure out how that happened. And we couldn’t cook it because it was in a plastic container. If that was your job, you’re fired. #dontteasemewiththatcookie
And I have to share, my new favorite picture of me and my sweet girl…she is so gorgeous.
On Sunday morning, we headed to church with my mom and Mimi. We haven’t been going to church much recently because I’ve been worried about being around so many people and potentially getting sick. So it was really nice to be back. While we were at church, the Easter bunny made a pit stop at our house. Harper is at such a fun age for holidays. She gets really excited and it’s just so neat experiencing the holidays through her eyes. At this point, Hud is pretty clueless…but he’s also pretty stinkin’ cute, so that helps.
I had a few quick doctor’s appointments this week, mainly just to prepare for the transplant. On Tuesday I had an appointment with my doctor. I wasn’t completely sure what the purpose of the appointment was going into it…but in I went. Dr. Matthews ended up coming in and simply took the time to ask how I was doing with everything. He asked how Danny and the kids were, etc. I know he’s a busy man, but it really meant a lot for him to take the time to check in. I truly feel like he cares…and you don’t always find that in doctors. I have been incredibly blessed by the doctors that I’ve had during this whole ordeal. (Here are a few pictures while waiting for my appointments…you have to pass the time, somehow.)
I also met a sweet, sweet lady who was diagnosed with lymphoma and received a bone marrow transplant 13 years ago. We were washing our hands in the bathroom at the hospital and she said, “You know, I lost my hair 4 times during my battle.” And then we went on to talk for a while before my appointment. She commented on how I seem very positive and have the attitude to beat it. That’s always nice to hear. She then asked if I would email her so she would have my email address so we could keep in touch and she could check on me. She said she hoped that she would see me at the “Survivor Reunion” at the hospital next year. I hope I’ll see her too.
This week I was able to get together with various friends of mine for dinner. It was so nice to be able to catch up, but also to get in some time with people I love before I head into the hospital for a month. I am majorly blessed by the people in my life.
Wednesday I had dinner with two of my best friends, Lindsey and Lynsey. We are very rarely able to all three get together…and I just love my time with them.
Thursday was special. At a silent auction at my school, I “donated” Scooters and Sweets with Mrs. Moore. Each team of teachers was asked to donate something fun that involved spending time with the kiddos who’s parents bid the highest. Our PE coach has these awesome scooters that I just love. They are one of my favorite memories I have from elementary school. I remember they only got to come out on Field Day and those darn scooters were always my favorite station.
So Thursday after school, me and four precious kiddos from my class class this year ate ice cream sandwiches, drank Capri Suns, and we scootered our little hearts out. I’m not sure who had more fun. Since it was a small group, I made each of them a shirt to remember our day together. I LOVED how they turned out.
While we were scootering, I ended up getting a wee bit carried away and my shirt wrapped around one of the back wheels. I unwrapped it and saw that I had torn several holes in my shirt. Fantastic. It was worth it…I love those darn scooters. I kept hearing one of the little girls yell, “This is the best day of my life!” Sweet girl, I loved that time with you too. If only you knew how happy it made me.
Then later that night, I had dinner with some of my work family. It’s always good for my soul to laugh with these ladies. We laugh…a lot. There were tears too. Reminiscing about kiddos we’ve had at Scott, times we’ve spent together, etc. I’ve gone from seeing them 5 days a week to one day every several weeks and I’m tellin’ you, I don’t like it. I miss them terribly. Oh, and I made several new friends at dinner. Apparently I get really friendly after a margarita or
two three. #IblameGlorias
Friday after school, we headed over to the Fitzgerald’s house for a big surprise. The boys had been planning a night of fun all week. Knowing how much work these precious boys put into that night just makes my heart so full. When we got to their house, they were all waiting outside. And Rob (Fitz Dad) was dressed in a full out pirate costume. I had no idea what was to come…but boy were they precious. We all put on eye patches and me, Harper, and Hudson were each given our own basket to collect special eggs. We were going on an treasure hunt! They handed me a clue that was rolled up and tied shut.
Clue #1: Welcome to our treasure hunt, where riches will be found. Be sure you’re very cautious and search all around. The first of the riches will be seen when you roam, to a room in the house with the words “Home Sweet Home”. So we wandered around the house looking for “Home Sweet Home”. I knew I had seen it before, but of course, couldn’t remember where at this point. We ended up finding a pillow in the living room. Behind the pillow were three eggs–one large (for me), one pink (for Harper), and one blue (for Hudson). Harper and Hud’s eggs had little treats for them. My first egg had $500. [This was my kind of treasure hunt!] That one egg represented 50 dozen cookies that sweet Kiptin (and Colleen) had made. Remarkable. Behind the eggs, there was the next clue.
Clue #2: One clue down but there are more, so don’t stop now or quit this tour. The next hidden treasure that we will give, is exactly where Santa lives. So of course, I start getting all excited because I’m thinking we’re heading out of town to the North Pole…not so much. After a little bit of wandering, we found a globe with more eggs and the next clue. This egg had $500 as well. In case math isn’t your thing…that’s 100 dozen (total) of cookies so far. Y’all, I haven’t baked 100 dozen cookies in my life. This was all just within weeks.
Clue #3: Congratulations! You’re almost there. But the clues get harder, so do beware. The next location might lead to cheers. Keep an eye out for Golden Ears. I didn’t really have a clue what this meant. So after Kiptin and Nolan gave me a little help, we ended up in the play room. (See, teachers need help too. I may need a 504. Kidding.) Underneath a gold Mickey Mouse hat, there were eggs…and 500 more dollars. I just couldn’t believe it. This was already more than the amount he raised the first go-round…and there were more clues!
Clue #4: Three clues down and two to go. Where they are, you soon will know. The next prize is in a baby’s reading place. Behind an animal with a long neck and spotted face. I immediately thought Brody’s (the baby’s) room…and Harper was quick to chime in that we were looking for a giraffe. You guessed it. 3 more eggs, $500. Unbelievable.
Clue #5: We must say, you’re pretty smart. We knew you could do it, right from the start. The final riches are the pirate’s best. Where you wonder? Where else? A Treasure Chest. I get all excited because I know they have a huge treasure chest on a landing in the kitchen…I was quickly shot down saying that they wouldn’t put it up that high. 🙂 So we wandered around and looked for another treasure chest. Then, I spotted it on the mantle above the fireplace. In the chest was a gift bag with an envelope that said “A Big Treasure Awaits You…” You mean, there’s more? Before I opened the envelope, Kiptin asked me to guess how much money I thought there was all together. He had two signs. One said “Yes” and the other, “No”. When I said a total, he would hold up the sign telling me if I was right or wrong. So precious. I kept guessing…and guessing…and guessing. And finally, I got there. Well, pretty close. Y’all you won’t even believe it. I still don’t.
That sweet boy raised $5,150 by baking cookies…and that’s just from the second round. Total, from both rounds, he earned $6,200. Y’all, I’m no mathematician…but that’s A LOT of money. All from cookies and donations. Not only did they make over 500 dozen cookies, so many people/strangers/friends donated. Two days later, I’m still just in disbelief. I haven’t quite processed what this family (and a six year old) has done for me. I’m just in shock…and my heart has never been so full. This boy and his heart are going to change the world. He gives me hope. He reminds me that even just a little bit of kindness matters. And the love/morals/values that these two parents have instilled in their 4 boys absolutely just blows my mind. I pray that each of them will be as blessed in their lives as I have by them. If you’re the praying type, please pray that his kindness will spread and more lives will be changed for the better. Kiptin Ryan, you are truly an angel on earth. You will never know how thankful I am for you.
After the treasure hunt, we had pizza and the kiddos played. I can’t forget to mention that they made ice cream sandwiches with cookies that Kiptin made…a cookie on the top and bottom, with Cookies and Cream in the middle. It was heavenly. It took every ounce of self control I had to only have one.
Shortly after dinner, I got a text from a neighbor that a storm was coming and I needed to get my car in the garage. I responded and told him we weren’t home and we had my car, so we should be fine. Big hail and a lot of rain was coming quickly. In attempt to make it home before the storm, we got loaded up pretty quickly and headed home. (Side note: When I drive to work, I go one certain way to work and then a different way home. I’m not sure why, I’m just a creature of habit.) Danny was driving. We ended up going home the same way we came. (This, my friends, is foreshadowing.)
So we’re driving on a street named Rockhill…there are no street lights. Speed limit is 50. Danny was going 50 because, well, he’s a rule follower. I was looking down at my phone because Colleen had just text me and said to come back to their house because it was about to start hailing really badly. As I get her message, Danny yells, “Cow!” and we came to a complete stop instantly. It was as if we had hit a brick wall. Not a whole lot of good comes out of going from 50 miles per hour to 0 in one second. As he yelled that, I looked up and saw what I assumed was a large solid black cow. I saw it like the second before we hit it. It was pitch black outside. I’m not sure why, but once we got out of the car, I fully expected it to be right in front of the car. It was no where.
The car immediately shut off, the two front air bags went off and the one on back passenger side (Hud’s side) came out as well. I’m so grateful we had our seat belts on otherwise, our faces out have been completely smashed. Those airbags are no joke. Smoke started filling the car, so we hurried to get the kids out. Harper was screaming and I didn’t blame her. I was trying to get Hud out, but because the air bag was deployed, I couldn’t really get him out. I grabbed Harper from Danny and he wiggled Hudson out under the airbag. Right at this time, it started raining. Not pouring, but we knew it was coming. There was radiator fluid all over the road, plastic parts from my car flung all over, and the windshield was shattered. Lovely.
We stood off to the side of the road and I called 911. Not even 30 seconds later, a Frisco police car pulls up. I was really impressed with their timing, until he said he wasn’t there in response to our call. He had actually gotten a call from someone saying there was a cow lose in the road, so he and another man in the squad car was driving around to find the darn cow. Well, we found him!
The man who came with the police officer found the cow…about 40 yards away. We hit that darn cow so hard, he flew almost 40 yards. My heart was sad because, well, he clearly wasn’t going to grow up to be an adult cow…but my heart was also so grateful that we were all okay. (Side note: I didn’t get any pictures of the car…the hail/crying babies/monsoon was too distracting.) While we were standing on the side of the road, all of the cow’s friends were standing right behind us, behind the gate (they follow directions, they didn’t get out) “mooing”. They were mad. Mad because their buddy Harold didn’t listen and now he was dead meat. (Too soon? That was supposed to be a joke, but I know this could be a touchy subject for some…)
It soon started pouring and the ambulance hadn’t arrived yet, so he had us hop in his car. Right as I got in the front with Harper (and the other gentleman with the officer), it started hailing. Since the three of us were crammed in the front passenger seat, the door wouldn’t close all the way so hail was coming in…he hopped out of the car and squeezed into the back with Danny and Hudson. A few minutes later, the ambulance and fire truck (we can address my fear of firetrucks later) arrived. We hoped in the back of the ambulance so we could all be looked at. Then the paramedic had to fill out a report for each of us and we had to sign saying that we refused service for the kids and for ourselves. It sounds a lot worse than it is. My hand was swollen and I had marks up and down my arm from the air bag, but it wasn’t anything serious. They said the kids looked good, so there really wasn’t any reason for us to pay to have them transported to a hospital. I mean, it’s not like we have any other medical bills or anything…[insert the emoji with the rolling eyes].
The paramedics and police officer were incredible. They were so sweet with the kids. At one point Harper started crying and said she wanted her pony from the car, and Officer Hawthorn (the cop who showed up first) ran to the car to get it for her. He kept making sure we were okay and kept saying how sorry he was that this happened to us. While we were in the ambulance, we started talking about how I was about to go into the hospital for a bone marrow transplant. He asked if we had a website or anything where he could support us. Wow. He was genuine. And he was on top of everything. We asked if he knew our friend Stephen, who is also a Frisco officer. He did…and he immediately went and called/radioed Stephen to let him know what had happened. He didn’t have to do that. He let us know that Stephen was going to come by and check on us but ended up getting called for something else.
While the paramedic was filling out the reports, I called our neighbor, Jonathan (Ding Ding) and he headed to pick us up without hesitation. We immediately got messages from our neighbors checking on us and asking what we needed. Have I mentioned that we have the most incredible neighbors? Once Jonathan got there and the paramedic was one with the reports, we got carseats and everything out of my car and put it in Jonathan’s car.
Several people had texted in the mean time making sure that we were okay from the hail. We were okay from the hail…just not from the cow. Y’all. We straight up hit a cow. It was like something out of a movie. When my sister called, (She had just left the Fitzgerald’s too, but she wasn’t coming to our house, so Praise the Lord, she went a different way. Otherwise, she would have slammed into the back of us.) I quickly told her what had happened and it sounded like a joke. “You hit a what?” Yah, I didn’t believe it either.
While we were loading up the car, Office Hawthorn said they were working on finding out who owned the cow. We weren’t sure exactly who would be liable in this situation. Selfishly, for financial reasons, we hoped that somehow, they owner would be liable since the cow was out roaming. We still aren’t sure exactly how everything will play out…insurance is in the middle of working on everything and the police are working on finished the accident report.
I can’t say enough about Office Hawthorn. Not all police officers are like that. We are thankful for you, sir. And for your service. Bless you.
As we were leaving, the tow truck got there and started hooking up my car. Hud finally fell asleep while we were waiting for Officer Hawthorn to bring us the accident report number. Once he did, he wished us well, asked again about the bone marrow transplant, and sent us on our way. By the time we got home, the rain had stopped. While we were out cow tipping, our neighborhood was getting nailed with tennis ball sized hail. It sounds like it was crazy. I’m glad we weren’t there…although I suppose I would rather be at home while it was hailing than sitting in an ambulance with Danny and the babies. When we got home, we were greeted by Danny’s car…and a shattered back window. Fan-freaking-tastic. When it rains, it pours, right? Or hails, I suppose.
Our next door neighbors had some friends over, one who happened to be a nurse. She looked at my hand and said she didn’t think anything was broken. I didn’t either, but it sure as heck hurt like a bad word. I went home and iced it and went to bed.
In the morning, the swelling had gone down quite a bit, but it was still really sensitive to the touch and had started bruising. Because of the chemo and medicines I’m on, Danny was paranoid and wanted to have it checked out. So, we headed to Urgent Care for x-rays. Just as we though, there weren’t any breaks…just badly bruised.
I will say, we chuckled a bit when we got there and told them what had happened…the receptionist then told the nurse, “These people need x-rays. They hit a cow. Her hand is hurt.” I wish I could have seen the nurses face. She was so confused. She thought I straight up punched a cow in the face.
While we were at the Urgent Care place, Amy took Harper and Hud to Hayes’ birthday party. They had more fun than we did.
The rest of the day we hung out at home. Harper’s soccer game was rained out…I’ll admit, I was a little relieved. However, as I’m typing this I just realized that that would have been the last game for me to watch this season…so maybe I shouldn’t have been so relieved.
My mom took the kiddos for the night so that we could get in some good quality time with the neighbors before I’m locked up. And let me just tell you…we didn’t do much, but it was one of my very favorite nights we’ve ever had. The temperature had dropped from the storms, so we had the perfect conditions for a fire. We hung out, laughed entirely too much, and even cooked breakfast tacos after midnight. At one point while we were sitting by the fire, I may have gotten a little teary knowing that I wasn’t going to get to see these guys for a month. Some of my very favorite people in the world live on this street. (Just a warning…I got a little picture happy that night.)
On Sunday, we planned a family day and headed to the zoo. The weather was amazing. Allergies were not. My eyes were a mess, Hud’s eyes were watering, Danny’s throat was itchy…but by-golly, we were going to have a good time. My body has been pretty achy since the last round of chemo. And when I say pretty achy, I mean that I feel like my body is 130 years old and hates me. It’s beyond me why I’m still hurting…normally by now I’m feeling good and just preparing for my next stay. These few weeks have been less than favorable…however, it comes with the territory. It will be over soon.
In other news, my eyebrows and eye lashes came back over the last few weeks. My eyebrows came back with a vengeance and I looked kin to Bert and Ernie. It wasn’t a good look, but I was happy to have them back. And then, just like that, they all fell out again. I have like 6 eye brows left…it’s a good look. Just a tease.
Back to the zoo…my hand was still really bothering me, thanks to the darn cow, but overall, we had a great day at the zoo. At one point Harper said, “I love this! I’m having so much fun!” Sweet girl. Hud hung out in the stroller, ate some chicken fingers, and eventually passed out while strolling. Eventually we all decided that we were ready to go. We had such a fun day together. We’ve been trying to explain to Harper that I’m going to be in the hospital for a while, but she doesn’t totally understand. She’s just excited because that means she gets to sleep in mommy and daddy’s bed. 🙂
If you look closely at the snake in the bottom right picture…he has longer eye lashes than me. He was an Eyelash Viper and he seriously had eye lashes. (I don’t do snakes, by the way. In fact, I hate them. However, I was intrigued by his eyelashes. If I was ever forced to own a snake…it would have to have eye lashes.)
Overall, I’m feeling pretty good about everything. Anxiety comes and goes. I seem to get really anxious when I think about not being with my kiddos on Mother’s Day. For some reason it just really bums me out. But, then I remember that I’m missing this Mother’s Day so that I can be there for the next 70. (I totally just threw out a number…I’m not so sure I want to make it to 100.)
I get anxious when I think about everything Danny is having to take care of with my car, the insurance, roof damage from the hail, etc. But then I remember, no matter how much gets added to his plate, he is always smiling…and I am so thankful for that. It also calms me down when I remember what incredible friends and family we have to help him along the way. (Go ahead and say a prayer that the cow owner will be liable and will be the one responsible to get my car fixed/get a new one…we’ll hopefully know this once the police report is done.)
I get anxious when I think about not getting to see my neighbors, family, and friends for a month. Okay, let’s be real, I also have a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out). I think about how much fun they will all be having together while I’m gettin’ new stem cells and what not. And then I remember what an awesome [forever] party we will have when I come home HEALED and in REMISSION!
So what’s the plan, you ask? I to in tomorrow at 4:00 pm. I won’t start chemo until Wednesday. I’ll get the crazy intense chemo for 6 days and then I’ll get one day ‘off’. Then, I’ll get my stem cells that were collected a few weeks ago, put back in…this will be my new “birthday”. Supposedly they make a big deal of it, with birthday cake and everything. I’m hoping there will be party hats and all sorts of fun party things. From then on, it’s all about recovering. There’s a whole laundry list of things that I have to be able to do/my numbers have to come up to certain levels, etc., before I can go home.
Now, for prayer requests. Please pray for my sweet babies and for Danny. Pray that my body reacts well to everything and the process isn’t too terribly painful. Pray that the whole car/insurance craziness comes out in our favor. And finally, please pray for other people going through this…pray that they have a support system like I do. I am so unbelievably blessed…and I don’t ever take that for granted. Thank you all for loving me so well.
Some random pictures from the past several weeks…
Here are a few recent #TeamAshley pictures. One day I was feeling a little down in the dumps and I got some love from my amazing work family. They are one of a kind.
I’ll leave you with this…I may have snorted when I saw this.
*P.S. – I haven’t read through this…there is a good chance there are a lot of typos and many things out of order. I blame the Chemo.
Thanks for the prayers, y’all.