Superstorm Sandy came through at the beginning of the week. Frankenstorm. We were lucky. By the next morning about half of Harford County had lost power. For some reason, we didn’t lose power. Bags of water in the freezer which helped take up space and could become drinking water when melted. Bathtubs full of water, flashlights, the whole bit. Couple of windows had minor leaks, put a fan at the patio door, watch for incoming wolf spiders in the basement.
The only real damage is by the door to the deck — the direction the storm was moving. Water flowed in steadily at the corner where hardwood and carpet meet. The hardwood was easily taken care of by constantly replacing towels, but the area under the carpet is still damp and starting to have that smell that means we’ll have to rip it up to see what’s underneath. Still, a small price for the storm of the century passing right over us.
It’s not surviving the event that is so exhausting, though. It’s the next morning. It’s looking at the damage. What survived and what didn’t. The sorting. Pictures of New York and New Jersey. How the heck do you get the water OUT of Manhattan and back in the ocean. ‘Cause the streets are gone. Give up and start calling it New Venice. No. This is New York. They’ll fight back. But it will take a long time. And it won’t be the same. Maybe better, maybe worse, but not the same.
We made sure to have Evelyn’s medicines before the storm. Just in case, you know. But then we noticed hair on the back of her nightgown, falling out in the bathtub, filling her pink brush. She’s been irritable for the past week or so. Exhausted, but not tired. Her mouth started hurting Sunday night. She has sores on the inside of her mouth and across her lower lip. My friend gave me the word “mucositis.”
I took her to clinic yesterday. Going in, it was 90% certain these were symptoms of her chemotherapy. But her hair has fallen out twice and grown back in and it didn’t seem fair, when it’s down to her shoulders, that six weeks before we finish this two and a half year journey that it would come out again. Not now when we’re in this phase of treatment. The first eighteen months were an emergency, the actual storm. Now we’re in the aftermath. Fitting in medical emergencies between soccer games and church.
My schedule for Thursday looked something like this:
Chance had to turn in end-of-quarter project so I would drive to school. But I had to get all four kids in the car and OOPS! quick make lunches for the pre-schoolers. Get in the car.
Arrive at Elem school. five minutes late. Park. Walk everyone in. Carry Sylvia because she can’t get her tennis shoes on without a shoe horn and I would do that after the older kids were dropped off. Get Diana and Chance signed in at school office.
Drive to pre-school and drop off Sylvia. In parking lot remember to put on Evelyn’s numb-y cream for where the needle goes in the port. She’s still in pjs. That’s okay. And we have Patches the stuffed dog. All good.
Parking garage and into Baltimore for clinic. Access port. Labs. Swab her mouth sores. See nurse. See experienced Physician’s Assistant. Wait for Attending. Told that her symptoms are sad, but important to keep taking chemo through the entire course.
Drive back to pre-school to drop Evie off. Sylvia gets upset. Teacher tells me Evelyn’s shoes are unacceptable for playground. I say I’ll be back. There’s just something I have to do.
Drive home to get Evie’s outfit (remember? she’s still in pjs and slip-ons to make easy for her to be weighed and examined). Change into medieval dress.
Drive to elem school just in time for medieval feast. Wave at my son. Offer to help, but plenty of parent volunteers. Kids do super-cute peasant dance.
I realize that I have the outfit, but forgot Evie’s shoes. Drive home to get shoes.
Drive to pre-school. Drop off shoes, but now it’s a different teacher in the classroom and she doesn’t have a problem with Evie’s shoes. I can only imagine what she saw when looking at me standing there in a costume.
Drive back to elem school. Change clothes. Five minutes early for parent-teacher conferences. Sit in the office. Stare at the wall.
Two teacher conferences, drive to pick up twins from pre-school. Drive home. Hot pockets and oatmeal for dinner. Fall asleep putting twins to bed. Wake up and make sure two older kids brushed teeth. Check on hedgehog. Make sure his new kleenex box bed is not going to catch on fire from the heating lamp. Go to bed. Ballet and “Mama Mia” and soccer scrimmage tomorrow.
It’s work. But we’re shoving emergencies and real life together because life doesn’t stop for cancer and it doesn’t stop for freak storms. I’ve heard people bad-mouthing the decision for the New York Marathon to go ahead with plans because so much still has to be put to rights. I understand the criticism, but what they are missing is that the clean-up — the aftermath — is going to take a LONG time. And people need a success. That’s fighting, babe. That’s grabbing on to life and holding on with both hands. It’s the play that comes with the work. And without it…Jacks not just a dull boy. He’s a joyless boy who doesn’t have the energy to re-build.