Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rachel Marching Band

I apologize for the randomness of the order of these pictures and videos.

So, I had my second football game last night. It was really fun!! We did a show called One Hit Wonders. We played "Tainted Love", "Mickey", "Play That Funky Music", and "Thriller".
This is a picture to show you how big the marching band actually is. We have 201 members. It's so cool, becuase when we all march out on to the field, we look like we're migrating because we're all together. (I know this because the band director videoed the last game, and then we watched the video.)

So, this is the band during pregame. We spell out the letters LZHS since those are our school initials. I am in the 'H' right next to the big white things (called Sousaphones).

This is a picture of me and my amazing band geek friends before the band lined up to go onto the field. (I'm in the middle)

This is before we went onto the field for pregame. I am standing on the 40 yard line. We had to stand at parade rest for like 15 minutes before we could start. It's hard to hold a metal instrument with two fingers for that long. Plus, we play with gloves which makes our hands slightly slippery.

This is near the beginning of the song "Thriller", when the trumpets have the melody. We sound just like Michael Jackson.

All throughout half time, I am in the front row, second from the end on the right.

This almost the end of "Thriller". This is us marching one of our nine sets of drill (meaning we are marching to one of the different pictures we make on the field). Seven of the nine are in "Play That Funky Music", but two of them are in "Thriller". This last video is the last move and ending of the song.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Go Cougars!!!

I actually sat and watched the entire BYU game yesterday. I love BYU football, but don't often get the chance to sit and watch it. I love football season - so many great memories of going to games when I was in college. I loved sitting there with the mountains in the background, in my sweatshirt, cheering my team on. Yesterday made me reflect on my fabulous college friends and the good times we had back then. Lauren was sleeping, so my cheering had to be subdued. There is something missing from the whole experience when you are enjoying it alone, but I look forward to the BYU/Utah game when Blair and I will be intense rivals!!

Perfect Weather

You may not ever hear me say this about Chicago weather again, but the past week or so has been beautiful!!! 70 ish by the afternoon, no humidity, a slight breeze, cooling off at night. Perfect pre-fall conditions. These pictures are from a quick outing I took to the Botanic Gardens - always a pleasure.

Lauren had a PET scan downtown at Northwestern hospital. We drove along Lake Shore Drive, which runs beside Lake Michigan. There are lots of beaches and boat docks and pretty sights. We ended up on Michigan avenue for a short few blocks. I must say that the city of Chicago beautification committee does a great job! The flower boxes and decorations are very well done. The drive down here is about an hour on a low-traffic day. I would do more city sight-seeing if I wasn't coming down here so often anyway.

CHEMO 101 - long but perhaps interesting

Here is a quick rundown on Lauren's chemo. Chemo is basically a set of drugs given through IV that are supposed to kill all the bad cells in your body while still trying to keep a few of the good cells in tact. The treatment plan varies depending on the drugs used. In 2006 when she had chemo, the infusions were 2 different meds for a few hours every 10 days. This time there are 5 drugs which are infused over 5 days. She got the first 2 on Friday. (Vincristine and velcade) The third - called methotrexate then began. This has to be followed by continuous fluid infusions to get it through your system. After about 72 hours, the blood test they take indicated that the fluids can stop. Then she gets a 4th drug - cytoxan for 6 doses, 12 hours apart. After each of those she has to get fluids with certain electrolytes in them for 12 hours. The 5th drug is prednisone - oral pills at a high dosage for 5 days. So, that is why each round is a 5 day admission. The 2nd drug she get again on day 4, 8 and 11, but that is about a 15 minute infusion with no need for fluids to follow so that can be given outpatient.

At about day 7, her white count drops really low, she gets a shot in her arm, and then the white count is supposed to go back up gradually. All of these meds have various side effects, the worst of which is nausea and bone pain, so we give her meds to try to lessen those side effects. During all of these infusions of fluids, her electrolytes can get wacky. Potassium and magnesium are particularly important to good heart function, so we watch those closely and adjust meds as needed.
Some have asked me if the chemo hurts. No, she can't really feel it going in - just the side effects are bad. The pain in her abdomen has been gone for several weeks, so she can't really tell if the cancer is disappearing either. These "rounds" of chemo are supposed to be about 21 days apart. Just enough time for the body to be strong enough for the chemo again, but not long enough for the bad cells to have time to start multiplying again.
I have also been asked about radiation vs chemo. Radiation is done by x-ray type machines and targets specific spots in your body. Some cancers respond to this rather than chemo. She isn't using radiation with this cancer. I have also been asked what her "plan" is. With leukemia and some other cancers, there is a long-term, many month protocol in place. Scanning and testing is done every 3-4 treatments to check progress. With Lauren, because of all the variables, it isn't such a cut and dry plan. We did a CT scan, then a PET scan, then round 1. After round 1, another CT showed shrinkage but the oncologist didn't want to continue a few of the drugs because of their side effects, especially on the heart. So, round 2 was a different recipe which we have done this round as well. Lauren did have a PET scan on Wed and the initial read shows some improvement. However, it is a holiday weekend, so official results won't come until at least Tuesday.So, we arrived on Friday to begin this 3rd round. Lauren had looked like this and felt great since Monday, but once these drugs began, she has been sleeping quite a bit. The nausea is worse this time around, so she takes Kytril and Phenergan which both knock her out. As for Blair and I, our system seems to work. I can only last 3 nights here before I need my own bed, a shower that I don't have to wait in line to use, and to interract with my other kids. By that time, Lauren and I have had enough of each other and she needs Blair for comic relief!! I do a few loads of laundry, get some exercise, run to the grocery store (they don't eat vegies in my absence), review the happenings of the kids, organize who is picking up who at what time the next few days I am gone, go through the mail, repack some clothes and leave again.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Week of School

One week down, many more to come.
My 4th Grader - do you remember 4th grade? Nathan is so enthusiastic about his teacher, their activities, the new books they get to use, etc., etc. He and I leave shortly after 8:00. We walk to school when the weather is nice enough and sometimes ride bikes.
Megan made the basketball team and they have their first game next week. She is the first one to leave on the bus at 7:00 am.
Seminary girls and 2 in high school - hard to believe. Lauren drives to seminary at 6:00 am, they get home about 7:15 and leave on the bus at 7:30. Rachel is really busy with marching band and Lauren is busy making up some tests and work she has missed and will miss next week.