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.