Happy New Year! Today is our 34th day at the Ronald McDonald House. We have made significant progress, but we still have quite a bit to go. At this point, we’re hoping we will only be here for another couple of weeks.
This experience has been the most challenging I’ve ever had, but it has also been one of the most meaningful learning opportunities I’ve experienced. While there have been a lot of emotional and stressful times, there have also been moments on the lighter side. I’ve learned that it is much easier to survive difficult times when you take time to find the positive moments. I thought I’d share some of ours with you.
1. I got a mullet. There was an announcement over the loud speaker that there were hairdressers from a local salon offering haircuts. Ironically, I had “tried” to cut Evan’s hair earlier that day. It was now time to get it fixed. When they offered to trim my hair, I said, “Sure! Please keep the length and style, just trim the dead ends.” Clearly, I didn’t communicate well because when I left the chair, I had a mullet. After my husband’s draw dropped, and I cried (only a little), I found a little salon that fixed it. They had to make it pretty short. On the positive side, I got spoiled at the salon, and got to try some extensions for fun.
Lessons Learned: 1. When it comes to haircuts, you get what you pay for. 2. Just like everything else, it won’t be awful forever. 3. People are incredibly kind. While I wasn’t thrilled with the results, these stylists volunteer their time each week to help others.
2. I got cowgirl boots..or is it cowboy? In order to be “politically correct” we’ll call them cowperson boots! While Evan was in the inpatient unit, we had to put him to bed at 8:30pm and leave, so we were able to have dinner out a few nights. On one of the nights, we wandered into Wild Bill’s Western Store. I have never had cowperson boots but have always wanted them. Jay surprised me, and as an early Christmas present, I got the coolest boots ever. It was also an amazing customer service experience, but that’s a whole other post. I went to Dallas and came back with boots and extensions!
Lessons Learned: 1. Customer service is a state of mind, not just a skill. 2. One small act of kindness can set an entire chain of events in motion. 3. The great moments are always around; we just don’t always stop to appreciate them.
3. Focus is powerful. I swear, the pole jumped out and hit me! I was parking at the hospital and the spaces were really tight. I hit a concrete column. Some might say I have scratched and dented my car. I say I’ve created car art.
Lessons Learned: 1. Don’t drive when you’re tired and emotional. 2. When you are focused on something 110%, other things become less important because you become clear about your objectives and priorities. In any other situation, I’m sure I would have gotten upset about the car. I had to be so focused on Evan and his care, the car dent just wasn’t that big of a deal.
4. We got fat. The Dallas Ronald McDonald House is the only one in the country that provides three free hot meals each day. These are meals donated by hotels, fancy restaurants, charity groups, and families, and the food is amazing. With buffet style meals and deserts after every meal, it looks like I’ll be eating a lot of salads in the near future.
Lessons Learned: 1. You have to take it easy on yourself. It’s ok to indulge a little. 2. There are so many people who volunteer their time to help others. It blew our minds. We will be cooking a meal at the Ronald McDonald House in Austin.
5. We became quite the interior designers. We have lived in a hotel size room for a month. It is hilarious to try to find new ways to move furniture to make the space more livable. Because of his love for electronics, my husband became obsessed with creating a multi-media center. We are at the RMH and have two monitors, a full work station, speakers, and it looks like we’ve moved in for the long haul. They were very gracious, but when we tried to install a fireplace, they put their foot down.
Lesson Learned: We don’t need so much “stuff”. We lived very comfortably in a small space without all the stuff that accumulates in the house. When we get home, we are going to simplify!
6. So many “Evanisms”. Evan has stayed in amazingly good spirits throughout this ordeal, and he is so happy to be feeling better. On his Christmas list, he asked for a “mote control dinosaur and mote control car”. Santa knew what he meant. He also made sure we put on “oderant” before we left the room each morning. Then there were the car rides back and forth. He stayed wide awake and asked questions the whole time. “How big is that building? How many offices does it have? Have you ever worked there? What kind of car is that? How fast can it go? Have you ever petted a deer? Can we get a deer as a pet? Do you like to eat fish? What kind do you like? I don’t like fish. I want to catch them and stuff them. How big is an elephant? Have you ever had an elephant? I want to ride an elephant…” And they went on and on and on.
Lesson Learned: Kids are resilient. So many people tried to comfort me by telling me this, but I didn’t really get it until I experienced it. This has been way harder on the rest of our family than it has for Evan. He gets to make new friends, hang out with Ronald McDonald, and feel better.
As we near the end of Evan’s treatment (hopefully), it’s fun to look back on the lighter side of the experience. Evan got to come home for Christmas weekend. While we had a few bumps, he did amazingly well. He is working hard and making progress. We’ve never been able to see this side of him, and it has been the biggest gift we could have ever asked for. I believe all of your thoughts and prayers were a huge contribution, and we thank you from the bottom of our heart.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, wonderful and peaceful 2011.