Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Introducing Francine McDougall *And* Chemo Number Threemo

Francine McDougall, our friend, our sista, our Pablomentarian, pictured here with Knit Knot and Warehouse Mouse, from her soon-to-launch Disney TV show Imagination Movers.

Paging Dr. Pablo: Who says getting Chemo isn't fun? The doc's diagnosis? "Mommy, I see your brain!"

Today went smoothly. We were in the afternoon line up–much slower than last week's top o' the morning appointment. We had a great, long talk with the oncology fellow who was filling in for Dr. Mascarenhas (he is at a conference in Chicago). That was cool.

Our friend Francine McDougall has been with us at both chemo sessions, and will be at every one in the future. She has volunteered to be our official note taker, documenting every medicine, direction and procedure Pablo gets or is scheduled to have. A mom in Grady's class who's been through chemo treatment with one of her children recommended having a neutral person take notes when doctors are around, because that person will hear things differently, and remember different details, etc.
First of all, it's just great to have her with us in the treatment room. She is one of our best friends, and is with us probably more than anyone we know. Jo Ann and I, our heads are swimming constantly. There's no way to even TRY and remember everything. And Francine is the perfect compadre to have in the room with us. Nothing gets past her, and she ain't afraid to ask the doc to clarify and reiterate a point. It's awesome.

When Pablo's diagnosis came down, Francine was just wrapping up directing several episodes of a new TV show. She'd been shooting for weeks in New Orleans. Before the plane wheels even his the ground at LAX, and without a single moment of hestitation, she'd offered to be our note person. This is interesting, cos she has photographically documented much of Grady's and Pablo's lives (click the KIDS section on the link to see G with P in mommy's belly, and Pablo's weeks-old baby pic) and even took photos of Jo Ann when she was pregnant with P.

Francine's note taking is invaluable to me and Jo Ann. And an incredible dedication of time and love by her. Today she spent nearly four hours at the hospital with us. And that's just today. We loved Francine with all our hearts before May 17. I don't have words to describe how much MORE we love her now. And I'm not sure I even need words. Seriously. When someone suits up and shows up, words don't matter. It's the action that counts.

This afternoon, Francine had written down our list of questions, and was ready to get down to biz when the doctor stepped into the exam room. Questions ranging from how long can Pablo be in the sun to what foods should we avoid to what foods are good with the chemo to how big will the incision be when they operate were all fired off and the answers documented.

Pablo is totally bright and bouncy as always. The Chemo (is it meant to have an initial cap, I dunno?) went in quickly and quietly. One thing we noticed at the hospital is that his hair is starting to fall out. Today was the first day we've noticed it. Single strands on his shirt, on the exam table, stuck on the tape around his port. As we noticed that, our attention was drawn to the loss of curl in his hair–it's getting stringy, has less body. This is how it goes. And this is how when the honeymoon starts to fade. Polly's noticed it too. Jo Ann doesn't see it as much as we do. Whatever. If it falls out, it will grow back. It may grow back with different character. Jo Ann and I have always loved his Pre-Raphaelite locks. It's factory installed, and just kind of does what it does and always looks "perfectly Pablo." He has never complained that it's in his eyes (and it always is), and has only ever wanted a haircut as a novelty. So, maybe we'll be the first to coin the term Post-Pre-Raphaelite. Anything's possible.

Whatever. We're going to keep an eye on his hair. Our friend Michael at Rudy's Barbershop is on call to shave Pablo's head when and if the time comes. And if Pablo's goin bald, so am I. No way my little boy's showing his dome alone. Not sure where Grady sits on this. I wouldn't be bummed if he wasn't into shaving his head. He's 14. That could make him feel a bit too weird. We know he loves his little bro more than anything, so it's not a thing. Our friends Allison Amon and Paul Francesci's son Bruno said he'd shave down his hair with Pablo, as a show of solidarity. Anyone else out there want in? Let us know. We'll have a haircut hoe-down over here at the house.

Feelings check-in time: I've been really sad today, and yesterday. Seeing Pablo's hospital file today–with CONFIDENTIAL emblazoned across the front–brought tears to my eyes. Crying has felt good. In fact, I had not idea how much I needed to cry until I was up in it. Seeing PABLO CASTELAZ on the Chemo vials and the blood sample tubes–I mean, seeing that stuff doesn't make him have cancer more, or worse. It just makes it more official, I guess. And that made me sad.

OK, nuff said. Bed time.

P.S.: We're off to Pasadena Waldorf in the A.M. to see Grady's penultimate junior high presentation. The whole 10 year game comes to a close at 8:45 a.m. Once he's done with that baby, he's OUTTA there, and on his way to Costa Rica with his class, and then on to St. Francis High School in La Canada! Grady is covering the history of MTV and music videos. He also made a video for his classmates' band, the Conscripts. We'll premiere the vid here, tomorrow. Pablog TV–You Hear It First.


Treed said...

OK I think it's time for some of Reed's reality. Every time I or a friend of mine goes through something of large proportion like you guys are all facing right now, I begin to think of how tough life is. Someone once asked if I became more and more afraid of death as I got older. I said no absolutely not!!!! I become more and more afraid of life.

I have to say; you guys, Jeff,
Jo Ann and family are an inspiration to me. Watching you cut through the muck and emotional storms you've been facing with such dignity, strength and affection for life is truly overwhelming.


Anonymous said...

Everyone I've known of who's gone through chemo hair loss has had their hair come back cuuuuurly, even if it used to be straight. Go crazy curls! (Then again, I'm biased.)