Before you know it, the next cycle is here.
As we prepare for our son’s wedding, we also prepare for the third chemo cycle literally as soon as we get back. Although we know each infusion, each cycle means more side effects, more exhaustion, more intensity; we have to celebrate getting closer to our goal. This will be the last cycle of RCHOP for us. After this, we begin a new journey into unknown territory. RICE is the new regimen for the fourth cycle and on the 19th we meet with the physician who will guide us through the stem cell transplant preparation and process. She will work with our oncologist to determine the best route to the best outcome. We trust our team implicitly and we expect nothing but success! We look forward to meeting with her and getting our many questions answered. The list grows as we keep track of the answers we need to comfortably traverse this sure to be bumpy terrain. Milestone by milestone we’re getting there!
But first come the celebrations…and with it, the travel.
Travel is now a whole different ballgame with challenges that we need to prepare for. Some preparation is very straightforward. Some take a little more planning and research to ensure smooth sailing. Again, we applaud the internet’s vast information database; it’s an invaluable tool to get us started in the right direction. Through it we find the right people to talk to, to plan with and to discover what worked for other people. From there we can build on our plan of action. Our main goal is to conserve maximum energy and experience minimal pitfalls of side effects so we can enjoy enjoy enjoy!
Generally we drive up to Rochester, taking our time and enjoying some hikes, restaurants and river overlooks along the way. Sometimes we’ll stop for an overnight to enjoy a favorite location or just to break up the long trip. Sometimes our route will take us through central New York where we can watch the eagles and hawks circling overhead, scouting the lakes and wooded mountains for prey. Sometimes we follow the Hudson, take a left at Albany and then pick up the route where the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal join waters. Or perhaps we’ll take the route through Corning where we’re mesmerized by the glassblowers and into the Fingerlakes region where we take in the beauty of Watkins Glen Gorge, walking those 800+ stone steps, following the water’s course to the lake, perhaps circling around to Letchworth and the Genesse’s gorge before reaching our destination. Each drive has its beauty and its allure.
We’ve taken Amtrak and have enjoyed the slow movement of the train as it continues, despite the weather, on its journey. It follows our river routes and there is a pleasure to be had when you relax in the dining car while the boats sail past, each of us reveling in the meandering pace of our own means of travel and the landscapes so rich in diversity.
But this time the train schedule doesn’t suit and the driving is beyond Rich. So we fly. The differences in traveling while well and traveling with needs are significant. It’s an interesting dynamic. Instead of taking the LIRR to the AirTrain to JFK, and getting to the airport with minimal time to spare, we get car service and plan to arrive well in advance. There a wheelchair will meet us so the walking will be at a minimum. The JetBlue agent recommends we also arrange for stair assist since these small flights can got totally Arrested Development and use staircars. Can we avoid the temptation to chicken dance? Only time will tell.
At the security checkpoint, we need to declare the bottles of Ensure that Rich needs for the trip to keep his nutrients in balance. No terrorists here but we do expect added delays for this exception to the rule. We check our bags so we don’t have to deal with the carry-ons in the overhead. Only a small backpack with snacks and meds (and those Café Latte and Butter Pecan Ensures!) will stay with us. When we get to our destination, we’ve pre-arranged for the hotel shuttle to pick us up, keeping our wait time to a minimum. We’ve booked a suite at the hotel so that we can enjoy the company of our friends and family while allowing Rich to quietly slip away when he needs to rest. We have a sofabed and a crib in the suite to enjoy our grandchildren. Since Rich’s immune system will be completely depressed before the transplant, he will not be allowed to be around children, (those little germ carrying darlings!) so this time is precious. We review menus at the hotel and at planned restaurants to look for those ingredients that can be troublesome. And we carry our faithful buttermilk ranch dressing to dip foods into. For some reason, that neutralizes some of the questionable elements and makes it possible to eat some marinated foods without effect. It may seem like overkill, but we don’t want any hitches in celebrating the kids getting hitched!
So, the plan is in place, the suitcases are filling up, our angel friends who are driving to Rochester are coordinating to bring up wedding supplies, food and drink that we can’t bring on a plane… It truly takes a village and again we marvel at how blessed we are with the friends and family that surround us.
And… before we know it… Kermit will be singing Rainbow Connection and we’ll all be dancing!
Who said that every wish
Would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that
And someone believed it
And look what it’s done so far…
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it
It’s something that I’m supposed to be
Someday we’ll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me”