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As I alluded to in my last post, Chris, Kai, and I took a little trip at the end of December. We set off to Spain with a very loose itinerary in mind and filled in the gaps with our standard “winging it” mode of travel.

Our trip started off with a bit more excitement than we hoped for as I checked the flight status on our way to the airport. Our flight from Indy to Newark was delayed and it was almost guaranteed that we would miss our connection to Barcelona. Within seconds we had called up the United 1K line asking about our options. They were able to get us onto another flight to Newark, which, fortunately, was also delayed. It is ironic how a delay that probably caused problems for many people’s travel schedules was just what was needed to save our trip.

A few hours later we rolled up to the gate of our Barcelona-bound flight just in time for the boarding announcement. Perfect timing.

Barcelona 1Within minutes after take-off, Kai was comfortably asleep on the floor under Chris’ legs. It was quite possibly her most awesome flight ever. We flew overnight, and when the breakfast cart came around and I asked for a carton of milk for the baby on the floor, the flight attendant looked stunned. “You have a baby?” Kai had slept nearly the whole way from Newark to Barcelona.

Upon landing, we quickly made it out of the airport, through the rental car line, and off into the city to begin sight seeing. In Barcelona, we saw sights such as the Gothic Quarter, La Sagrada Familia, and Las Ramblas, but my very favorite thing was La Boqueria market which was situated ajacent to Las Ramblas. I am a sucker for markets, especially food markets, and this was among my favorites of all time. It was alive with the sound of merchants and their customers completing their transactions, full of brightly colored fruit, sickeningly anatomical meat stalls, and a new aroma around each corner.

Barcelona 2Our hotel in Barcelona was actually a two bedroom apartment. When I booked it, I thought that we would want two rooms, plus a living space so that we would have enough room to get over our jeg lag without disturbing each other. Naturally, Kai had other plans. Her jet lag did not even approximate a US or a Spanish schedule. Early on the morning that we planned to drive to Madrid, Kai woke up just after midnight, ready to go for the day. Chris headed out into the street to get us a midnight snack at a Turkish food stall outside of our hotel while I tried to get Kai back to sleep. By the time Chris came back, I was quite sure that Kai would be awake for the remainder of the morning and suggested that we make the most of it and go have breakfast in Andorra.

“In where?”

A side trip to Andorra would add about three hours to our drive to Madrid, but when else would we have the opportunity to go? Plus, having a midnight wakeup call is almost equivalent to gaining an extra six hours of “day”, right? Before I knew it, we were cramming suitcases back into our tiny A3 hatchback and making our best effort to head northwest out of the city.

Barcelona 3Within hours, we were winding through the Pyrenees to the Andorra border crossing, which, as far as I can tell, is entrusted to the EU Border Control in France and Spain. The border guard did not so much as slide his window open before waving us through to Andorra. Since it was still pretty early, we elected to drive completely through the tiny municipality and on into France before turning around, proceeding through another uninterested border crossing, and backtracking to Andorra la Vella for breakfast. After a “tipico” breakfast, our standard order when we can’t speak the local language, we needed to jam to Madrid to catch a flight to Morocco.

As we wound our way towards the border, we heard a wretching noise coming from the back seat. When we pulled over to see what was going on, Kai was covered in milk and yogurt vomit, which looked essentially like she dumped a huge tub of yogurt all over herself, her car seat, and the whole backseat and smelled like it was curdled, months old yogurt that might have been aging in my college-era refrigerator. I was not convinced that our 90-pack of baby wipes would be nearly enough to tackle this mess, but, without another choice, Chris got to work stripping and cleaning Kai while I began scooping giant handfuls of vomit onto the side of the road.

In a bold maneuver, we decided not to dress Kai again until we got to the airport. We did not have a ton of extra changes of clothes for her and we were not sure if the wretching would continue. After strapping her back into the car seat naked and cranking up the heat, we were once again enroute to the Andorra/Spain border. This time, the border agents did care about the crossing, but their interest quickly waned after we opened the hatch back for them to poke around and they got a whiff of our car; they quickly sent us on our way again.

Minutes later, the wretching resumed. Once more, everything was covered in a foul yogurt-esque slime. This time we were patting ourselves on the back for the genius decision not to get Kai dressed again. Finally, we were on the road to Madrid again.

Next up: A trip to Marrakech

Saturday morning we decided to head up to Purdue for the football game against Eastern Michigan. On the way up to West Lafayette, I got on the Internet and bought us some front row tickets to the game which were delivered to my email while we were on the road. When we got into town, we made a quick stop at Kinkos to print the tickets, then we headed to the bookstore for a few new Purdue t-shirts. We were hoping for a pink one for Kai, but there wasn’t a huge selection in her size, so we settled on white.

When we arrived at out seats, we were delighted to find out that, not only were they in the front row, but they were padded and had seat backs. Awesome!

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Kai started the game wearing her ear muffs, I bought them for her a few weeks ago with the idea of going to a football game in mind. I wasn’t sure how loud it would seem or if she would be scared by the noise. Fortunately, Purdue’s stadium does not get crazy loud like Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, so she didn’t seem to need hearing protection. In fact, she slept through most of the game, including a Purdue Pete sighting, without it.

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During one of her wakeful moments, Kai made a Jumbotron appearance. Way to go Kai! I sat in the front row of the student section for a whole season at Purdue and still never managed to make the big screen.

I was surprised by how easy it was to take Kai to the game. Going into the event, I expected that it would be a huge ordeal, but it wasn’t bad at all. Her epic nap probably had something to do with that.

Hopefully Kai didn’t get spoiled into thinking that she will always sit in the front row for games! This was the exception, not the rule at our house, but I have to say that the front row seat provided much more entertainment for her than any other seat in the house would have.

Kai is super busy lately. Sit, crawl, stand, rinse, repeat. She barely has time to give me a second thought. I’m kidding, kind of. Kai seems to be a bit like Chris in that once she has her heart set on doing something she is extremely focused on achieving it. Kai’s latest goal is learning to walk and I bet she will achieve it well before the one year mark.

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Another thing Kai enjoys is mealtime, especially throwing food on the ground. Kai and I have many of the same favorite foods, including avocado, sweet potato, butternut squash, bananas, apples, yogurt, and of course oatmeal. I have been spending at least part of each weekend making food for her and, so far, it has been pretty easy. Pretty soon we will need to start giving her chunkier foods, which I am absolutely terrified of because of the choking hazard. I’m sure that I’m way over thinking that, we all learned to eat, right?

In the past few weeks we have become card carrying members of the Indianapolis Zoo and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, to my surprise, the largest in the world. I don’t think Kai is getting much more out of these places than she would a trip to the mall, but Chris will take any excuse he can get to go to the zoo. We both enjoyed the Children’s Museum much more than I expected that we would, and, while I don’t think that I will vote for renewing the zoo membership until Kai is old enough to ask for it, I could handle spending a bit more time at ICM.

Kai has also been going running with us quite a bit. Unfortunately, we haven’t been running far enough to make it a good napping event. If we can work our way up to 90 minute runs and time them right, this could be perfect for tricking Kai into a reasonable length nap on the weekend. That would be awesome because, big surprise, she is so focused on standing that we have trouble getting her to nap during the day. Another big surprise, she turns into a cranky beast by 5 PM if she doesn’t nap. Go figure.

Next week Kai will turn nine months old, it amazes me how fast the past nine months went and also how different my life was nine months ago. On a macro level, I guess things are the same as they have always been, but when I consider that at this time last year I was still in India and jet setting all around Asia, my life seems markedly different. Maybe Chris will get another cool job in some far away land sometime soon. I would love for Kai to experience those adventures as well. For now, we will make the best of Southern Indiana.

Going into this week, I had very low expectations running wise some delusions that I would keep running as if nothing happened. After all, I managed to trudge through three miles last Saturday, the day after chemo, without a notable effort.

Come Sunday, things had changed. We planned to walk the same three miles with Kai and Bob and I didn’t even make it a quarter of the way around the loop walking before asking to turn back. I was wiped out. Wow.

Monday morning I thought that I should make an attempt to go to work. After struggling to make it through the getting ready process, I dragged myself to the car and went in. My ‘work day’ lasted about an hour, at which point I concluded that it was too much effort to sit in the chair and headed home.

I was exhausted and just all around crummy feeling. I felt an awful lot like I imagine that I would if I had stayed out drinking all weekend without any sleep. My brother, who once pledged a fraternity, can probably understand what I’m talking about. I gather from his stories that freshman year at Penn State was not as kind to him as it was to me.

By the time I made it home, I was freezing to death. No exaggeration. Anyway, my not even close to warm enough bed awaited me. I crawled in, with that chilled to the bone feeling that I can usually only achieve by night skiing in the bitter cold temperatures and unrelenting winds of Upstate New York while wearing clothing that is still damp with sweat from a day of riding. This was not a fulfilling experience at all.

I determined that I was far too cold and exhausted even to lay in bed. Unfortunately, I could not come up with a less energy intense alternative. Ugh. To be honest, I might have cried about it if that would not have required me to expend additional effort.

Somehow, I finally got to sleep. Six or seven hours later, I awoke from a deep sleep feeling kind of normal. I tested the waters by doing some chores, then decided to attempt a run.

I use that term very loosely. My ‘run’ was probably 60% run, 40% walk, but somehow, afterwards, I felt more normal than I had in days. In fact, it led to two subsequent, more legitimate, running attempts on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday I planned to run also, but when I discovered that we could do this instead, all plans went out the window.
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I think the thing that I am most impressed with myself about is that I got up an hour early on Friday morning to squeeze a run in. It made me remember why I like to run in the morning. Going to work on Friday is so much nicer when you know that you are off the hook and free to do as you please on Friday night. It was such a relief not to have a run looming over me all day. In fact, I just might try the same thing on Monday morning as well!

I’m still struggling with daycare. The longer that Kai attends, the more forthcoming they are about how things are going. I appreciate their honesty, but I’m being too sensitive and finding them to be abrasive. Chris is able to be more objective about the situation than I am, so he understands that they are just trying to help when we get notes like this one on her daily report card.
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They were correct, Kai definitely needed her nails trimmed. I feel horrible that daycare had to remind me to trim my child’s nails. The worst part is that I did not even read their note until five days after it was written. Fortunately, her nails had already been trimmed by the time I read it; she came home from daycare one day last week, presumably the day that the note was written, with scratches all over her face. It was at that point that I realized she was due for a trim. Still, I feel like a jerk that it got to the point where they felt that they had to remind me.

Kai, I promise that I will monitor your nails better in the future.

On a probably unrelated note, she has not been all that fond of daycare lately; another thing that I feel guilty about.
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I may have mentioned this before, I’ll risk relaying this story again; I was not a fan of daycare when I was a child either.

When I first left Kai at daycare, I felt horrible about it. Kai and I both cried the first time I dropped her off. As I drove off, I called my mother and asked her what it was like leaving me at daycare. Of course she said that she felt bad about it, but this was the kicker: “I was upset about it at first, but what was most upsetting was when you learned to talk well enough to tell me that you didn’t like going to daycare.”

I’m pretty sure that is in the cards for us as well. Not cool. Luckily (?) Kai has been averaging only three days per week at daycare lately and only attended something like seven days in March. Hopefully her daycare-related trauma is being minimized.

Are all daycares quite this candid?

We were slightly majorly delayed heading back to Newark last night for a round of doctor appointments and tests in New York today and tomorrow. As usual [knock on wood] Kai flew well, even after an aborted takeoff, hanging out in the airport for a few more hours while the plane was fixed, and reboarding the plane hours after her normal bedtime. I was amazed and relieved that she made it all that time without any cranky episodes. Remember, this is the loudest baby that our daycare has ever encountered.

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So what’s on the agenda in New York this week? Any new information?

No new information. A pretty packed agenda though.

This morning I will get loaded up with radioactive glucose to have a PET scan done. Between nerves and fasting since midnight, I’m sure that I am delightful to be around right now. The fasting is so that any cancer cells, who have faster metabolism than normal cells, can go to town on that radioactive glucose and show up extra bright on the scan.

I’m irrationally scared of being PET scanned because, over and over again, I have played out the scenario in my mind where they scan me and the whole thing lights up. Not likely, but terrifying nonetheless. It is silly to let me get to myself that way. Fortunately, going back to work this week has been a very good thing. I’m one of those people who is lucky enough to like my job and like my co-workers, so going to work was a welcome distraction from my nonstop Googling.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of the day’s events is being slightly radioactive for the rest of the day. I am supposed to avoid contact with children and pregnant women, so holding Kai, or even getting close to her, is a no-no right now. Fortunately, I have plenty of people to help with Kai. Unfortunately, I am convinced that I am like the Supreme Master of Kaicare. Obviously there is nobody else as capable.

Um, right. So she survives daycare day in and day out. Even perfect strangers seem to do it just fine.

Today I will also meet with another surgeon. Not surprisingly, it is pretty sketchy to open up someone’s upper chest. It turns out that there is a lot of important and easily damaged stuff in there. I don’t know for sure at this point (I should have asked) but I think I am being shuffled between different types of surgeons so that they can compare approaches and decide who can access this mass in my chest in the safest way possible.

Finally, tomorrow I will have another, hopefully conclusive, biopsy done. Unfortunately, there are two things working against me on this one. First, the tumor is difficult to access well enough to get lots of cells to analyze. Second, if we are talking Hodgkin’s lymphoma here, the cells needed to type it are very large cells called Reed-Sternberg cells. It sounds like they are not all that likely to be picked up with a fine needle aspiration which is what I am having done.

What does all of this mean?

Well, the PET scan should give us an idea of how much of this we are dealing with and where it is located, the biopsy may or may not tell us what the ‘this‘ is, and the surgeon may or may not feel good about opening me up. I have a feeling that the surgeon is the only one who will yield any meaningful immediate feedback.

It sounds strange to say this, but I am really looking forward to finding out the what and the how much. I will be able to reallocate my Google time to more productive searches and can hopefully focus on a real scenario, not multiple worst case ones.

Hopefully my mom is having as good of luck with Kai today as I did on her twelfth flight last night!

After countless people told me that we were crazy, I won’t necessarily dispute them, but I will be sure to tell them that they were wrong about taking Kai to Australia.
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As I alluded to in my last two posts, Kai flew quietly from Indy, on through Chicago, and to Los Angeles. We were quite impressed, but a bit nervous that a solid day of sleep would bite us when it really counted on the flight from LA to Sydney. We got even more nervous when we boarded our flight and found out that we would not have the bassinet that had been promised to us again and again over the past few weeks. [Huge customer service fail.] That little change of plans made me seriously question my judgement. Um, wait, I’m going to hold the loudest baby daycare has ever seen for the next fourteen hours?

Indeed, I was, well, with a few breaks provided by Chris anyway. Surprisingly, it went pretty well. Naturally, we were on the plane long enough for Kai to get fussy to let me know that her diaper was dirty and, admittedly, we had two screaming outbursts lasting more than a minute or so.

The first was when we had to do a diaper/clothes/diaper change when Kai decided that she needed to go more halfway through a diaper change. To her credit, she did calm down right away after she was clean and fully dressed again. This baby does not like to be naked!

The second was when we had to wait for nearly ten minutes for the bathroom with the changing table. Some dude was in there treating it like his home throne. He was in there long enough that I knocked and asked him if he was ok. He did not answer me, but he did promptly emerge from the bathroom.

I might have tried changing the diaper at my seat, but I could feel her little rear end rumbling in my hand, so I was sure that it was going to be a serious diaper. I was right and, after the double diaper change earlier, I was glad that I hung out and waited for a proper changing table.

Other than those two incidents, things went amazingly well. In fact, she cried significantly less in this twenty four hour period than in a typical one at home. Kai seems to be a sucker for white noise, so an airplane might be the perfect soothing device for her.

All in all, things went well. In fact, it may have been the least traumatic 12+ hour flight* I have ever been on. Normally I face unprecedented levels of boredom by say, hour two, but Kai did a good job of keeping me busy and entertained the whole way.

*economy

Watch out world! Here comes Kai!
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One more successful flight behind us. We managed not to get booted off the plane between Chicago and LA. Keeping my fingers crossed for the really long one!

How do you react when your day care provider tells you that your nine week old baby has more attitude than any baby they have ever seen?
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Tell them it’s impossible. How could this baby possibly cause any trouble?

Right. No. Actually, somewhere, deep inside, I felt somewhat validated. Kai screams like a banshee for nearly all of the hours that we are together and, after six weeks of that while I was on maternity leave, I seriously began to wonder if I was doing something wrong. Although I did not want to hear that she had attitude, [I understood this as: “Your baby screams all day.”] that declaration somehow made me feel as if it was her, not me that was the problem.

Until Miss Sharon’s follow-up line: “You know that you are probably causing it by holding her all the time.”

Excuse me? First of all, she has spent more waking hours at day care in the past three weeks than she has with me. [Not proud of that, but it is true.] Secondly, can you really hold a baby too much? Yes, we do hold her for nearly all of the two hours between when we get home from work and her bedtime, but I definitely don’t think that is too much. In fact, I feel guilty for not holding her more than I do.

After this conversation set in, my initial reaction began to dissolve into a panicked “oh no, I think they hate my baby” feeling. Not good. I don’t know how comfortable I am with leaving her, day in and day out, with someone who obviously finds her to be annoying.

For the record, I don’t really blame the lady for being annoyed. Kai is a super loud, extremely demanding baby. Even I was exhausted after six weeks of solo Kai-care.

To further build on my excitement about daycare, I just got this note about auditing my milk each morning.
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Sweet. Obviously I:

  1. Have plenty of spare milk to bring them if they throw mine away.
  2. Will not have any trouble making extra time in the morning for milk audits. Promise I’m not struggling to get to work on time as it is.
  3. Will test my milk temperature before leaving the house and, based on the R-rating of my cooler bag and my typical commute time, do some scratch pad math to decide if I should bother going to work that day.
  4. Totally understand that it is in the name of food safety. After all, if I won’t protect Kai from potentially harmful milk, who will?

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