Happy Birthday, Maddy!

When Maddy turned seven, our family celebrated by beginning a new chapter that was be life changing, helped to raise awareness for those suffering from food allergy, and helped educate people about OIT. Now, as Maddy turns 8, and will begin the 3rd grade, so many possibilities are open to her as a child that doesn't have food allergies standing in her way!

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Check out my other blog, The Best Medicine, about my husband's battle against cancer.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What's More Important?

Halloween 2009 - Annie theme

Ever been asked the question “what’s more important?” when making a decision? In most cases it’s a pretty simple answer, right? Heck, in almost all cases, when it boils down to it, it’s damn easy. Your children. Family. Friends. The people in your life.  The people make the difference, the memories, the miracles; they are the pieces and parts that matter. 

So, when the question is raised, “what is more important?” it’s a no-brainer. Except the mere fact that we are adults. With responsibilities. And nothing could be more complicated. There are bills to pay, jobs to report to, meals to plan, and child-care to attend to. As grown-ups, we must pay attention to the economy of today and make plans for tomorrow. We dutifully shoulder the burden of our elders, while caring for our young. Responsibly, we watch the news, ads, & listen to NPR in hopes the best candidate will present themselves to run the country so laden with complications and distress it sometimes seems irreparable, hopeless, and beyond a shadow of hope for even the best man to fix, let alone the lesser of the two running evils. A wise friend of mine once said, “life is hard,” and we certainly know the answer to the question above just ain’t easy. Certainly not as easy as we’d like it to be. So, what is more important couldn’t possibly be easy to answer in every situation of our lives and we certainly cannot do it all.

Thus, when the question reared its ugly head in my brain days before Maddy’s next dosage increase, I had to consider it. Not only did I contemplate, in fact, what is more important, but also why I continue to beat myself up over the response. The real one. The way I needed to respond anyway. 

Days before returning to work – heading back to the classroom after my amazing summer off with my family & friends, I considered my options and it weighed heavy on my mind. I went into my classroom to get a head start organizing, moving & rearranging. I met with other teachers for curriculum planning and in an attempt to really jump the gun did some scheduling and other prep work from home. My head swarmed, as the days approached. Like most teachers, most people, really, I was under pressure - I had a considerable amount to do, little time to do it, and our big debut, was nearing – the first day of school! Professional development day one & Maddy’s appointment day merged this time and it was approaching, even though I knew what I needed to do, I wavered - how I could manage it all? 

The dose.
The fact was, however, I knew what had to be done -  I had to be at work. I didn’t have a choice. My emotional state went right out the window when my professional obligations trumped personal preferences. In this case, in particular - this day - Maddy didn’t need me there, even if my Mommy Drive tugged at my heart strings until my insides ached with hurt and regret. Aside from a tummy upset the last visit, she had been doing well with the increases. At this visit, Maddy would actually increase her dose to one with a more concentrated solution. In reality, it was a simple double of her dose as she’d done a number of times, but on the dosing sheet, it looked like a large jump – making my heart jump with anticipation & expectancy all evening I was away from that office and her. We had prepared better this time around - planned a better lunch, snacks and even extra applesauce. Jason could do this without me and had the added support of part of her “entourage,” Grandma and Nanny (his mom and his godmother, our child-care God-sends!). 

The bellyache & applesauce.
When preparing for work that morning, my eyes filled with tears as I thought about the fact that I wouldn’t be at Dr. Mayer’s office  to see Maddy increase her dose, there if she reacted, to be the one she tells, “Mommy, my tummy hurts.” To be her go-to person that day. I considered my good friend who would be making arrangements to get to her son’s Kindergarten Open House the next day, running from work, to the Open House, and back to work. I empathized with another friend who would be going to her daughter’s second day of school in order to be at our first day of school instead. My heart went out to a friend just returning to work from maternity leave, pumping on lunch breaks, running from one meeting to the next, answering e-mails while eating – doing everything maternally possible to make it out the door in time to get the baby home in time for dinner, bath and a little quality giggle time before bed. All women, parents, in the same boat, thinking the same question, agreeing to disagree in their minds, but living the lie anyway… what’s more important?  

Friends make life easier!
The question has come up time and time again for me in recent years. When cancer touches your life, though, people give you a free “you need to be with your family right now” pass. But For some reason when we aren’t going through hardships, or when you haven’t gone through them yet life gets harried, in the way and we tend to forget to prioritize. We become over scheduled, over booked, and lose ourselves. Sometimes, we allow other people to demand our time and energy. We forget where it is more important to spend our time or sometimes just can't find a balance between work and home. We don’t forget what is more important, we KNOW. It’s not that black and white. It is a question that can’t be answered simply.

 If the choice were mine, if I could be involved 100% in the most important aspects of my  family’s lives, I’d never miss one of my husband’s oncology appointments – including PET scans  or Avastin infusion treatments. If “what’s more important?” were the true determining factor in our days’ choice, I’d call in sick for myself once in a while or simply take a break. If the importance factor played a role every day, I would be able to attend every one of Maddy’s school party’s without keeping my phone on my hip for fear of the dreaded call with news of anaphylaxis, need for the epi-pen, or that the ambulance is on its way to the school. The truth of the matter is the choice isn’t always mine no matter how important it is – work, money, obligation. Requirement. So, why beat ourselves up, why push ourselves to do it all? 

Dosing hour is u
Jason and Co. were great to me that evening, sending me pictures, and texts, step by step throughout the evening. If I hadn’t been hosting my Middle School Open House, I probably would have been Face - Timing Dr. Mayer and watching it live! She did have a bit of a belly ache so snagged another applesauce from Nurse Amy by flashing her sweet smile  - more plans were made to avoid those stomach pains in the future and to prep for school, earaches and impending illness, but really, “what’s more important?”… continuing as scheduled with Maddy’s next dose and moving forward toward freedom from peanuts, or me having to be there for every second in her life? I survived, and thanks to all who are helping us, she will, too!


  1. I absoultely love this quote from your blog "“what’s more important?”… continuing as scheduled with Maddy’s next dose and moving forward toward freedom from peanuts, or me having to be there for every second in her life?" -- So true! You are a great mom!

  2. Great post...it is such a hard question. Maddy is blessed to have such a loving mom.