Gaby's Story
August 28 – September 3, 2006

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Monday August 28, 2006

Woke Gaby up @ 7:30 this morning so we would have enough time to eat and get ready for our first day in Loma Linda.
After breakfast, we met with the Ronald McDonald house manager. She told us about a 2 bedroom cabin that will be available for us when we come back later in September. It will be nice to have a more private home while Gaby is going through her treatments. We also found out that there is no problem with us hooking up to the wireless network here at the house. Yeah!
We met with our social worker from the hospital @ 9:30. She picked us up at the house and accompanied us to all our appointments today. Our first stop was to International Patient Services where we met with the two nurses that have/will be taking care of many of Gaby's (our) needs while we are in Loma Linda. They gave us a very nice notebook/calendar to carry with us that will come in quite handy as well as a Loma Linda 'passport' for Gaby that we will carry around in case Gaby has any troubles while we're here. They also discussed the cabin's that we'd heard about earlier along with many other things we may need on our return trip.
From there, we were off to the hospital where we met with the radiation doctors. They explained the procedure and the risks involved with it. It wasn't a lot that we haven't heard before, just a little more detail. We were told that the tumour was rather large in size (7 X 8cm) covering an extensive area of Gaby's head. The doctors are confident that they will be able to save her right eye and avoid a great deal of other problems as well. They did say however that she will more than likely have to have some kind of hormone replacement throughout her life and may need plastic surgery once she has stopped growing as the radiated bones in the right side of her face will not grow at the same rate as the left. We are still very hopeful that Gaby won't sustain any lasting effects from this treatment. We asked when we would be coming back and there seems to be some confusion as to when the radiation treatments will begin (week 12 or week 15) so we will have to sort that out over the next day or two.
After a few administrative and consent forms we had a quick bite to eat and were off to another department to get blood work done and have Gaby checked out to make sure she was good to go for her scans on Thursday. All went well, we don't expect any problems. I believe, Gaby had a pretty good time today. She was given many toys and said later that she was very happy to have the company of our social worker. She is particularly fond of the cabbage patch doll they gave her. She hasn't let it out of her sight. All of the people we've met here have been great. They are very kind to us, it's really been a pleasure to meet each of them.
Once we finished our meetings for the day, we took the hospital shuttle back to the house and Gaby decided that since she was 'Soooo good today' we should go out for nachos. Told her we could go right after we get the computer working on the internet. Got the settings from the house manager and found that my wireless card needed a software update to work with their network. So…since it was already close to dinner time we decided to leave the software update until later and headed for El Torito in San Bernardino. Gaby was very happy to get her nachos and thought the cheese they used here was way better than the yellow stuff we have at home. Dad still prefers Andale's on west 10th in Vancouver
After dinner, we called home and got a chance to talk to everyone. It's only been a day and we are already home sick and missing them all very much. Mom says, Gray misses Gaby terribly and has taken to making pretend phone calls to her throughout the day.
We played outside for a bit in the playground once it cooled down a bit then got the computer updated and working on the internet. Emailed Mom to make sure it was working ok then chatted online with cousin Hope for a few minutes before putting Gaby to bed. She complained that she wasn't very tired at all then fell asleep in about a minute. We'll try and get some new pictures on the web tomorrow.


Tuesday August 29, 2006

Got Gaby up pretty early again this morning so we could be ready to go on a tour of the Proton facility. She was not very happy about this. We received a call a short time later from our social worker. She described the tour as something more for adults than children and felt Gaby wouldn't be very happy going through the tour. She suggested we wait until Mom comes down on our return trip to take the tour. That sounded good to Dad and Gaby. Gaby was more than happy to hang around the house this morning and get some play time in at the playground and some time on the computer visiting with her Webkinz.
Gaby got very excited when she spotted a gecko in the playground and spent quite a while watching it as it made its way around the tree it was in. At 12:30 we met our social worker at the FMO building for our meeting with the oncologist that will be handling Gaby's chemo care while we're in Loma Linda. We are still not sure when Gaby will be returning to Loma Linda so the doctor made several calls to try and track down an answer. Hopefully, we'll know more about our return trip tomorrow. When we finished at the FMO building, Gaby and I walked over to the hospital to have some lunch in the cafeteria then took the shuttle back to the Ronald McDonald house where Gaby finished watching a movie then played outside for a while again. She was given another doll (Crystal is her name) and is very happy to have a 'little sister' for her Sally doll.
It is very hot here again today so we went back inside a short while later and caught up with Mom on MSN. Gaby and Dad were really happy to see everyone at home on the webcam and spent quite some time chatting.
After our chat, we had something to eat then back to our room where Gaby played some more with her new dolls and read a couple stories with Dad before going to bed. She complained that the crickets are very loud and keeping her from falling asleep but she still managed to crash pretty quickly.


Wednesday August 30, 2006

Talked to Mom late last night and we decided that it would be a good idea to get Gaby to an amusement park for a day. We felt she needed a break after all she's been through the last while.
Woke Gaby up early and got her ready for the day then called our social worker to make sure we didn't need to be anywhere today. She said we had no where to be. Yeah!
Called Enterprise to get a car and asked if there was anything fun to do close by. There wasn't anything Gaby was really interested in doing locally, so we asked how long to get to Disneyland. He said, 45-60 minutes if we don't get lost. So off to Disneyland we went. Gaby (and Dad) had a great time. Haven't seen Gaby this happy in a long time. We got her a wheel chair so she would be able to make it through at least 5 hours before getting tired but she was so pumped to be there she lasted until 8:00 pm. (a lot longer than Dad ever expected her too) She loved everything at the park but especially liked the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Alice in Wonderland, the Tea Cups and Peter Pan rides. It was a day she won't soon forget. We hope the memories will help get her through the tough road she has ahead.
When we got back to the car, she got in and started singing 'It's a small world after all'. Thankfully, that lasted for only about 10 minutes before she nodded off. (an hour of that may have put Dad over the edge )
We got back to the Ronald McDonald house, we got Gaby into bed in record time and collected a message telling us Gaby had to be at the hospital for 9:00am tomorrow.


Thursday August 31, 2006

Got up early again today to get Gaby to her CT and MRI scans today. They will get the scans done and start on the mask that she will have to wear for her radiation treatments.
Caught the shuttle to the hospital around 8:15 and arrived there about 20 minutes later. We checked in at 'PATS' (pre admission testing...) about 8:45 and were sent to the Proton level B shortly thereafter for Gaby's CT/MRI planning.
She became a little unsettled just before going into the room for her CT scan but managed ok. We were invited to come to a kids party on the A level @ 12:30 but unfortunately Gaby didn't get into recovery until 1:30 or so and she didn't make it there. Dad was invited in though and had a chance to meet one of the parents who's child was treated here and to make a picture for Gaby.
In recovery, Gaby wasn't a happy camper. She was very hungry and just wanted to get out of there. They released her a short time later and she was happy to get back 'home' and have something to eat.
After a quick snack, we changed her CVC dressing. The change came a couple days early (Gaby was not pleased) but the dressing was compromised when the leads were put on her chest for her scans and we didn't want to leave it that way. Asked her later how she liked her first 'stay' at Loma Linda and she said "the people here are just as nice as the people back home. It's just a different room with better crackers."
We ran a few errands after that then came back to Ronald McDonald and let the manager here know that Gaby's treatments were confirmed to start on October 11th so we would be coming back on October 8th. Asked Gaby what she wanted to do for dinner on her last night in Loma Linda and she wanted to go to her favourite restaurant, El Torito. She really loves their chips and cheese. After dinner, we went back home and talked to Mom for a while before packing up. It took a while to get Gaby to sleep tonight, she's very excited about going home tomorrow. It will be nice to get back home. As good as the experience has been here, it's just not home and we really miss everyone.


Friday September 1, 2006

Got up early today to finish packing and get Gaby a good breakfast as we weren't sure what they had at the airport for Gaby to eat. Of course, she didn't want the breakfast stuff she begged me to buy the night before. She said "girl's are allowed to change their minds".
After breakfast, we took back the rental car but they weren't open yet so we got a juice/coffee and went for a drive. We didn't get far before we came into a bit of a scary neighbourhood and turned back. Now we know why some people told us not to venture out into San Bernardino at night. We went back to the rental place, returned the car and they drove us back home.
Gaby and I said our goodbye's to the people at the Ronald McDonald house and the social worker we'd been out with during our stay then were picked up at 9:30 to go to the airport. We arrived at LAX a little after 11:00, cleared customs…by 11:45 then had to wait until 1:30 for our flight. (Don't know why they always tell people to get to the airport so far ahead of take off time). Grabbed a bite to eat at Burger King (glad we had a sensible breakfast before we left), hit the duty free for Mom and still had an hour to kill before our flight. Dad didn't want to keep Gaby in a crowd for too long so we found a quiet corner to 'hide in until the plane boarded.
Our plane took off as scheduled @ 2:00. Goodbye California, thank you for everything! And Thank You again to Hope Air and WestJet for providing our flights.
It's a long flight to Calgary for a six year old. Thank goodness, WestJet has TV onboard for Gaby. Between that and the Pretzel mix that she loves, it cut the "are we there yets" down to only a few. When we arrived in Calgary, Gaby was "starving" again. We headed to Subway. Gaby wanted a veggie sub just like Mom eats. A nice lady let us in front of her in the line so we would be able to make our connecting flight so once Gaby got through ordering her "Mom sub" (without all the veggies Mom likes on it) we hurried down to our gate and had 5 minutes to spare.
Made it to Vancouver a few minutes early and we were greeted by Mom & Gray. It was nice to see their smiling faces. Gaby was very excited to be home (so was Dad). We waited another 10 minutes for our luggage to arrive then had a bite to eat cause everyone was starving and left for home. Yeah!
Gaby was exhausted by the time we got home and went right to bed after tucking in her new babies from California.


Saturday September 2, 2006

Gaby got up early her first day back home, woke up Gray and headed downstairs to watch cartoons and play on the computer.
She'd been asking to go out for breakfast for a while now so after getting her morning maintenance out of the way we took her to De Dutch. She seems to have an extra jump in her step today, not that she wasn't full of beans in California, but she is a little extra smiley and happy today. Very happy to be home with her family.
When we got home, we (Mom) finished getting all Gaby's stuff put away from our trip while Gaby settled back into her routine of driving Gray nuts and playing on the Webkinz site as well as caring for her new babies. It's amazing how much care is needed to keep these dolls happy.
The remainder of the day was pretty mellow. We played a game or two (why do Mom & Dad always have to play the bad guys) then got Gaby to bed around 10pm. At bedtime, Gaby was complaining about her eye hurting and her leg was cramping, so Mom got her a cold cloth for her eye and a warm magic bag for her leg and she was happy to fall asleep after that. We'll have to keep an eye on this.


Sunday September 3, 2006

Gaby was up at around 8:30am and got herself some cereal. She was still complaining that her head and leg are still a little sore. We'll have to mention this to the doctor on Tuesday. Spent some of the day on the computer and playing video games but mostly just hanging around the house. A pretty mellow day for the kids as Mom and Dad got caught up on some of the things they needed to do around the house.
Grandma and Grandpa arrived with Zack and Phil from their softball trip to Kamloops and spent an hour visiting. Gaby was excited to see her older brothers again after her week away, so she spent some time antagonizing them before going to bed. An uneventful day.

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