Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ringing the Bell

It was a beautiful day today, especially at 2:15 pm as the sound of bells and chimes and alarms and phones and horns rang out all over to help Mom celebrate the end of her radiation journey. We received posts on Facebook, emails, texts and calls of support all day long, and my mother spent most of the day grinning from ear to ear. One of my favorite texts today was this one (thanks, Emily):

Maya woke up early to nurse, but Micah slept until 8:30. We got Micah dressed and ready, and DH took him to preschool while I stayed behind to get organized for the day. I also made arrangements for us to move next week...but I'll panic about that another day.

By 12:30, we had the kids dressed, fed, and ready to go. We let Megan go early today, and the four of us drove up to the hospital to meet the family. We all arrived around the same time...SIL and the girls, my brother, my parents, and us. We went downstairs to the waiting area, and things were running on time. My mom looked lovely in her purple jump suit and her beautiful new hat from Donna (her nurse from the hospital). A few minutes later, we headed to the waiting area in back and took it over. The waiting area sits directly across from the room where my mother receives radiation.

The radiation tech came out to get Mom and bring her into the room right on time at 1:45. All of us went back into the room to watch the set up. My brother snapped a few photos, the kids watched Mom get on the table and have her mask snapped down, and we got to see them position her in place. We went back to the lounge for the next few minutes while they turned on the machines.

During radiation, Micah, Paige and Peyton ran around and played together. They were very sweet together, but Peyton showed Micah how to work the water dispenser...and that is all he wanted to do after that.

Right around 2, Mom's radiation was finished, and we were able to go back into the room as they took her off the table, returned her to the wheelchair, and wheeled her out to us. We brought her over to the bell, and got her ready to stand and ring the bell.

The bell is a long cylindrical tube that hangs from a hook. Instead of a chain, it has a mallet that you use to strike the bell. Mom kept saying it was more like a gong than a fire bell. To the right of the bell was a plaque with a beautiful poem about striking the bell:

"Your day has come to strike the bell!
Your silent heart has much to tell
and much to toll this proud new day
treatment done, you're on your way.

Dad wanted to be the one to stand next to her and support her stand. Mom stood tall holding on to Dad, reached for the mallet, joked with Dad as she pretended to strike him by "mistake" and then she let it rip...she rang the bell again and again and again!
She was cheering, we were cheering...even Micah let out a loud "YAY!" for his Grammy. It was a wonderful moment, and we were all so proud to be there. We had quite the audience...the radiation techs, the entire family, Donna, the transport driver, and even the doctor stopped by to watch! A few of our visitors showed up as Mom had just finished ringing the she grabbed the mallet and did it again. A few minutes later, we wrapped it up and headed out.

Peyton cried and cried because she wanted to go with Grammy. She was inconsolable...she did NOT want to leave Grammy. We promised her they would be together on Friday night to celebrate her birthday. DH, Micah, Maya, Dad and I headed back to the nursing home with Mom for a bit.

When we arrived, we all sat together in the front waiting area before Mom decided to head back to bed. Dad left for home around 4, and we stayed a bit longer. Micah sat in Grammy's room watching his Elmo DVD, and Maya hung out snuggled in bed with her Grammy. I continued reading Mom all of your emails, posts, notes on Facebook and texts. I spent a few minutes cleaning Mom's face with her cleanser and using the cream for her face and head to help the itching, then used a Qtip to help remove some of the dry skin from her ears. While we were wrapping up our routine, the speech therapist arrived for a session with Mom.

Mom was looking a bit tired, so we decided to leave at 4:45. We headed home (and stopped to buy a lottery ticket, too, since it seemed like such a lucky day). Another uneventful night at home, and another difficult night putting Maya to sleep. She crashed at 8, I put her in her crib at 9, she woke up again at 10:15 or so, and it took another hour before DH could get her back in bed. She just wants to be snuggled and hates to be put back down again!

Much to my surprise, my mother has not been calling tonight. I hope that means she has been sleeping soundly. Usually she calls around 8 or 8:30, again at 10 when they wake her for her pills, and then often sometime between 4 and 6 am, and usually again around 8 or 8:30 before she heads to therapy. So far, the phone has been silent...I hope that means she has been sound asleep and having a good night.

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