Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pajamas, Part 2

So Gregg is on his way home from Spain now, and that means that I have been wearing fleece pajamas to bed all week. Gregg and I sleep in a double bed, and he is one of those people who is rarely cold. He's my "heater." So when he's gone, I have to wear something really warm to bed.

I'm not going to go into any detail here, but I will say that am not a pajama-type of gal.

When Katie was admitted Children's Hospital without warning on October 10, 2006, we had just the clothes on our backs, and her quilt, with us. Gregg went home to retrieve some of our things in the evening, but if you've ever sent your husband home to get clothes for you, you'll probably know that I needed to do it myself, eventually. Also, I only owned one pair of pjs. So what did I do? I called Nordstrom, and asked for the Personal Shopper department.

If you have wondered what this department is for, I will tell you: it is there to make shopping easy for you. I was directed to the sweetest woman you could imagine, who listened to what I said, and gathered a selection of pajamas, shoes and so on. She had them waiting in a dressing room for me when I got there. I did not want to leave Katie's side, as they initially told us that she could die at any moment, but when she seemed stable enough, I decided I could go for a short time. I really needed some things, since we were going to be staying in the hospital for an unknown length of time, so I left Gregg with Katie and David, & went to get the job done.

This is a photo of us in the ICU on about day 11, still in shock, and not yet accustomed to our "new life," during Round 1 of Katie's chemotherapy
I had no idea what I would need in order to live with my child in a hospital for months, but I learned (I could write a fair amount about what kids should bring, too, but this is about what I needed).
Here is what I learned: it helps to have warm p.j.s, a fleece vest (for use as a bathrobe -- with a pair of earplugs always in the pocket), a tote bag, travel-sized toiletries, liquid soap, flip-flops (to wear to, from and in the showers), Dansko clogs, jeans, a belt and lots of washable tops. I chose turtlenecks from the Gap and Old Navy, along with cute work-out tops, & basics from Talbots. Everything had to be comfortable, packable and washable. Layers are good, because you never know what the temperature will be. If you have a favorite blanket, bring one of those. Our friends gave us beautiful quilts and warm, washable blankets that we used for coziness (and as a mattress pad). If you can get a laptop with wi-fi, it's a lifeline to the outside world. Don't expect to have much of an appetite in the beginning. I could only eat graham crackers and drink chamomile tea for days. I couldn't knit, draw, read much, or concentrate very well on anything. There are interruptions all of the time and very little privacy. Prayer was done "on the run," on your feet, in the moment.
Here I am, during a later round of chemo (probably Round 4), with shorter hair and one of my "uniforms." Katie is hiding behind all of the stuff on her bedside table. Note the omnipresent pink buckets. They have lots of uses besides the obvious one. Something tells me that I will never like that color.
The vest as a bathrobe was necessary, because (as I have mentioned before), parents are not allowed to use the patient's in-room bathrooms. We parents (approx. 20 to 30 of us) shared two bathrooms on the ward, and there are 5 parent shower rooms on another floor. This means that you are walking around in your p.j.s, if you need to use the bathroom in the night, and you are traveling in the public elevator in your p.j.s on your way to the shower, carrying your clean clothes in a tote bag.

The earplugs are necessary at night, to block out the noise of nurses coming and going, IV pumps beeping and roommate's sounds. Katie and I agreed that she could throw a stuffed animal at me to wake me, if I didn't hear her. It worked.

I wore my normal eye-shadow and mascara every single day, because I didn't want Katie to think that things were so bad that I was "losing it." I was growing my hair out, but I had it cut off, the same day as I went to Nordstrom. No time to use the blow-dryer, and the light was terrible in the bathrooms. No time for vanity, either.

Back to the Nordstrom trip: I arrived at the store, went up to the Personal Touch Department, and found a pair of beautiful, feminine, lavender floral (fleece) pajamas and a pair of black patent Dansko clogs that fit me. (Danskos are everywhere in a hospital; you see alot of Crocs, too. You can stand and walk in them all day long, and your feet won't hurt.) The young lady who helped me had experienced cancer in her family. She was very kind, compassionate, efficient and professional. I got into the dressing room, made my selections, purchased them and got out of there in record time. She even validated my parking ticket so that I was able to use their valet parking for free. I will always remember her kindness and professionalism, and I highly recommend this service if you find yourself in a situation like ours.

I still wear the clogs, and I love them. I've been wearing the p.j.s this week, and they remind me of all of these memories. I am looking forward to putting them away tomorrow morning, and having Gregg here to keep me warm.


BusyBeeSuz said...

I am glad that Gregg will be home soon to keep you warm. I think it is so cute and lovely that you share a double bed. We have a king size as I don't care to be touched at night. I know that is horrible of me, but it is me just the same. Although Cocoa is usually having some body part on me at all times.
The nordstrom experience, that is something I have never heard of before. How great that you had the mindset to think of this in such a tragic time. But how wonderful that someone was there to help you with such good care in such a time.
Your advice and pointers about living in the hopsital are all very good. I just hope that no one ever has to use them.
Very cute, about having Katie throw a stuffed animal at you to get your attention...even at the worst of times it is visible the sweet banter you had together.
Take care,

Smileygirl said...

Such a touching story and I'm so glad Gregg is on his way home to warm you. I can visualize Katie throwing a stuffed animal to wake you. You guys were a good team.

Love, hugs and warmth to you!

Karla W. said...

Isotoner slippers, black polar fleece pj bottoms and t-shirs (both short and long sleeve)oh, and my own pillow...pysical comfort in a time filled with emotional turmoil. Working in a hospital, I had a lot of insight as to what we would need and wrote a very detailed list for Mike to fill (again that's the nurse in me). Other things my mother picked up in the days, weeks, and months that followed.

We were very fortunate, with Sam's cancer protocol was for her to always have a private room. We only had to share for one day. Then too, becuase she was too young to use the bathroom we had free use of it, heaven when there was a shower in the room too.

My survival box that I brought with us to every admission still sits in the corner of my room, I can't yet go through it and put things away.

Laurie Keller said...

I finally have time to myself again so it was good to get caught up n your last posts. You are an awesome lady and you always write of things I need reminding of. Have a great weekend with Greg there to keep you toasty. We call that "toast buns" in our life! xoxo.

Stephanie said...

Our computer is down for sometime (the Geek Squad is on my last nerve :0)) and I read this post today and had memories. I had these Adidas yoga flats I would wear to the hospital. Well, I told my husband that everytime I would wear them at home Abby invariably would end up in the hospital the next day with a fever or other complication of chemotherapy. So I stuck them in the closet and still don't wear them and have even tried to give them away with no success :0). I then bought bright red Dansko Professionals to wear at the hospital too and I wore them out and now have black suede Dansko maryjanes. I also remember sending my husband to buy me extra underwear at a store near the hospital and I can't even describe how hilarious they were. Lesson learned indeed. God Bless.