Chemo III was yesterday. I felt great, checked out great by the lab and the doc, and reported to Spa Chemo with my friend Maria and settled in.  Fifteen minutes into the Taxol drip I started to go into shock. The team had things under control in seconds and after all was calm, resumed the drip at a lower rate, gave me a mild sedative, and I zonked for the rest of the day. We left the clinic at about 4:30 and I am none the worse for wear.

Meanwhile, my poor daughter Kelly has been going through her own very rough patch, and Mom has been very limited in her ability to help.  Still, it appears Mom's help may be causing more problems than solving them.

Several weeks ago, before Christmas, Kelly developed a mouth ulcer in her right cheek area. We treated it topically and assured her it would go away, but those things are painful and hang around a long time so it was very hard for her.

“When will I be back to normal,” she would wail ten times a day and I could only offer vague assurances that it would go away in time.

As the ulcer faded she began to complain about “another one” somewhere in her left cheek area. Nobody could see a thing. We peered with flashlights and probed with fingers. We vainly kept up with salt water rinses and topical pain relievers, though we only guessed at where to swab them.

Kelly's complaints varied between crying, “It hurts,” and “It feels different.”
I figured out finally that “hurts” meant what acute pain, but different meant “ache.” The more I peered into her mouth, the more I began to feel that the pain had something to do with an old crowned tooth that has caused problems before.

Off to the dentist, who said he thought she had pain from clenching her teeth. He did an x-ray and it looked all right. Still, the pain continued, and worsened, and anyway Kelly does not grind her teeth nor clench her jaw that I have seen.

Last Friday I had Nurse Debbie check her out and she said she believed the cheek was swollen, and pointed out that it was flushed and red. She probed the area around the crown and got a big reaction. She thought it might be an abcess. So off we went, along with Sterling for comfort and distraction, to the ER.

The young doctor there concurred with Nurse Debbie after examination, and prescribed an antibiotic and a pain reliever, along with a recommendation to visit the dentist again.

Kelly has now been living with serious pain for weeks. If she could describe the symptoms better we might have caught it early. The mouth ulcer preceding the current problem proved a false trail to follow–for Kelly pain is pain. The pain of a tooth abcess is pain and the pain of a mouth ulcer is pain.

We tried in vain to describe “throb” to her in the hospital. After listening a while she said “yes” but I could tell she had no idea what we were talking about. I don't know how I came to associate “throbbing pain” with the sensation it is. I have no idea how to describe it to my daughter who is in pain and only recognizes the word “hurt.”

Another dental appointment this afternoon and then hopefully a referral to the oral surgeon. Kelly's big goal is to be “normal” by cruise time. I hope and pray it is long before that.

There's an old saying that a mother can only be as happy as her unhappiest child, and there's truth in that.

I can and do resolve to find at least one point of joy in every day, regardless of how I feel. I encourage Kelly to do the same, though I think the concept is lost on her. I hope she does find that joy.

I think my presence at the Ranch, weakened though it be, creates confusion in caring for my daughter, at a time when I am less able to fill that roll. After all, I, too, am peering into her mouth and making pronouncements as to what I do or don't see. And I'm the Mom. And I'm a Founder.

Could that make Ranch staff feel complacent that the problem is being addressed? Do they defer to me rather than using their own judgement about when a Rancher needs attention? I know that Jerry's and my presence is a complicating factor, but I don't know exactly why or in what ways.  It's a puzzle.

But lately, I know that my daughter is not a happy girl, and I am not a happy mom.

We'll use this experience to learn.