Yesterday was a very full day and both me and Ann got pretty wiped out. Here are a few pictures from our last day at MDA.
This is a picture of one of the shuttle buses at MDA. The outside is decorated with art drawn by children in the pediatric cancer wing of the hospital. Of all the ones that we have seen this one was our favorite. Ann was just tickled to bits by the baby lions that are in the second and third windows. They are just unbearably cute and the sight of them would always brighten our day just a little.
We stopped in the leukemia clinic to say goodbye to Dr. Thomas, who we unfortunately didn't get to see. That was a little disappointing, but the visit was not a complete waste as we were surprised to hear "Hey there little lady" from a stranger in a cowboy hat sitting in the waiting room.
As the stranger tipped his hat, just like in the movies, we could see that was Mr. Clark who we had the pleasure of meeting before Ann went in for transplant. The last time we ran into him was months ago when he was roping fake calves in the parking lot of our apartment complex just as he finished his treatment for AML. Mr. Clark was in for his routine check up and he looks a thousand times stronger than he did a couple of months ago.
After saying our goodbyes to the kind and dedicated staff at MDA who helped save Ann's life it was time to us to leave Houston and return to Baton Rouge. Ann made good on her promise to make the drive herself. You may not be able to tell it from the picture, but Ann is super excited to be on the open road and free once again.
While Cake's Fashion Nugget played in the back ground the skyline of our home town gradually crept above the gray concrete and steel ribbon of the Mississippi River Bridge. We have driven I-10 through Baton Rouge almost everyday of our lives, but this time what was an otherwise mundane experience was enchanting. Ann remarked to me that she had almost forgotten that this place even existed.
When we finally arrived at my Mom's house it was turning dark and we had only enough energy to unpack our car, make a quick blog post and turn in for the night. i would have liked it if we had started the next day off full of energy and bounce, but no such luck. We slept until almost noon and I at least felt like I had been hit by a semi truck when I woke.
Shortly after waking up we received a call from the BMT Research Nurse at MDA. Which was a total shock, and we where half expecting to hear her say "Oops, we made a mistake. You need to come back to Houston". As it turns out all she was doing was calling to check in on Ann and see if we had made an appointment with our local Hematologist (we have).
She also had the pathology report from Ann's +90 day Bone Marrow Biopsy. It was clear with no evidence of leukemic cells. That doesn't complete the biopsy results because there is still a FISH test they are waiting on getting the results from California. Those should be in next week about the time we do our first appointment at our local hospital.
So to celebrate the good news, freedom and life in general I decided to to something special. Those of you who have not been "guests" of a large medical establishment for long periods of time may not be aware that the food in general sucks. It is bland lifeless slop, lacking in seasoning, presentation and imagination.
This is hardest on patients who have no alternative, but to eat what is put in front of them. Even more so BMT patients who are on restricted diets because of bacteria and molds that often get on fresh foods. So after almost a year of either eating out of cans or food from MDA's cafeteria I thought the best thing I could do was cook Ann a real meal.
I selected a southern classic, fried chicken with mashed potatoes and buttered peas. The chicken was marinated in butter milk for an hour or so then dry rubbed with spices. Finally it was dredged in flour and corn starch and fired in shortening. The potatoes where instant, but we are going slow getting of the low bacteria diet.
I think you can judge the results from this picture. I have not seen Ann eat with such enthusiasm since before she got sick.
There are a million things to do still: find a house, find a job, figure out insurance, worry about money...but right now it is just good to be home and to see Ann smile.