Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back in Memphis- 1st Scans

It's been almost 11 months.  Here we are. Right back where the journey through treatment began.  Only this time when we got off the plane, our hearts were lighter. Our smiles brighter. Our laughter louder. Our appreciation greater.  It's an incredible feeling to be on this side of the fence for now.  To enter the gates of St. Jude for a check up and not because we have treatments ahead of us is such a joyous feeling. Of course we are not in remission yet, but we just know we will get there. We just know that this journey will not be in vein.

The better part of today was tracking down a rental car. For some reason, I had thought that the car rental place closed after we arrived so we went ahead and scheduled the St. Jude courtesy shuttle to pick us up. Little did we know, Enterprise actually closed 4 hours later. So, this morning was spent trying to figure out how to get back to the airport so we could get a car so we could have a little fun on our one free day here.  Lucky for us, a big tip goes a long way and we were able to hitch a wonderful ride back.  Ahhhh... back behind a wheel. Those who know me know, I love to drive. I have to have this little bit of control. Heck, it's not like I really have much else that I can control right now, right? So, we drove away in a brand new ford focus and hit the road toward Graceland. We thought we would get an early start since Graceland is just around the corner from the airport, but this wasn't the case at all. After spending almost an hour in line, we were told that there is NO entry without viewing Kayla's hospital wristband. SERIOUSLY??? Ok, so back to the hospital we go. We didn't get one since our first apt. is technically tomorrow morning. But now Kayla had Elvis on her mind so off we went. By now the drizzly sky began to get a little heavier and we realized that the one thing this Cali momma forgot to pack was an umbrella. Oh. And I only had flip-flops. I know. I know! Still, onward. The day is slipping away!  Once we got to the hospital, we saw a few friends and it was like heaven seeing their faces again. We found out that our friend, Dakota is going to be able to go home soon! He and his momma lived on the same floor as us at the Target House and have been at St. Jude for way too long. I will say this, St Jude Hospital has these very "comfy" leather couches in their main entrance.  That being said, when you can easily take a nap on the couch in the front lobby of the hospital, you know it's feeling a little too much like home! ;)

Ok, so finally we arrived at Graceland. Again.  This time with a hospital bracelet. Of course, this story can't end that easily. Because we haven't had any appointments yet, the date on the bracelet read July 5th (the day Kayla checked OUT last).  Well, Graceland's rules are that the bracelet has to be from one month prior. (this is so that St. Jude families are allowed to tour the beloved grounds for free) OMG. It's JUST Graceland!!!! I was seriously about to call it quits but we had one last call in for a favor to our favorite girl in registration at St. Jude. After they had to fax our schedule to Graceland, we were allowed to enter. I can say, I am so glad that we got in for free. By this time, Kayla was completely over it. She melted down refusing to have her picture taken. Continued to melt down when my back pack was searched. And she really lost it when she was told she had to wear a head set for a self-guided tour.  I wanted to turn around and just leave but after all we had gone through to get there, we just held our breath and hoped it would be worth it in the end. It was very interesting. I took a lot of pictures so that if you never make it out to Memphis, you can at least see what Elvis's house looked like through me.  I can say without a doubt, that visiting St. Jude and having a tour there is a million times more life altering than touring Graceland.  I love Elvis too, but green shag carpet only goes so far. haha!

 Elvis kept the upstairs private... so it is off limits for the tour too.
 REFUSING to wear that head set. Well, it's probably filthy anyway! ;)

 To think this was in-style! Wow...

 YES! That's green shag on the ceiling as well. Wow.  I know!!!
 This was an odd one to capture. This is me looking up at the ceiling as we walked down the stairs (mirrors everywhere!) Yikes. And this was a "party house". Nice!
 Bright yellow leather counter bumper.
 This is where Elvis had a little too much fun. I can't imagine why.

 Look at this FABRIC wall. Crazy huh? I bet there is a lot of dust in those folds. Eeeek!

 The "jungle room". Priscilla's favorite chair. I bet the green shag was all the rage!

Ok, there ya have it. The big tour of Graceland. If you ever come to Memphis, skip it and head straight for St. Jude. I promise it's not only free, it's life changing. Be sure and look up towards the big research tower. The lights are always burning. Not because they like to waste energy, but because they are working up there. Non stop. Searching for a cure.... never stopping.  Never turning a patient away because they can't pay. Never ever giving up.   Tomorrow, our fun ends and our busy schedule begins. We can't wait to give Nana the tour of the hospital. Now that is a tour worth money!


  1. Michelle MacPhearsonSeptember 30, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    Thinking of you and Kayla on your first trip back!

  2. Praying for great results!!! We agree...skip Graceland!

  3. It's been a tough weekend here in Novato. Thanks for the wonderful update. It's nice to have something positive to think about, and I'm not talking Graceland.

  4. Kayla is looking so healthy and her hair is growing fast! Thanks for the pictures of Graceland! I will probably never go there so I at least got to see what it looks like! I can't believe all that was ever in style either! I will be sending prayers your way the next few days!

  5. Skye was so excited to see Kayla at Sonja's birthday party a couple of weeks ago. So good to hear of her doing well. Skye wants me to have you tell Kayla HI from her. She misses seeing her at recess at school. Hugs from the Tweedie family!!

  6. I don't think 'Elvis' and 'good taste' ever appeared in the same sentence! Kayla looks so beautiful! Glad you guys are having some fun this time around. Thinking of you! --Patty

  7. You gals all look great. Take care of business and get back home. The whole place misses you. We love you guys.

  8. Your words and story are life changing Annie. You are an absolutely incredible writer, mother, wife! What an amazing story of a family's love for their child - a beautiful, strong child of God. Thank you for sharing with us. Thinking of Kayla and continued prayers for good appointments at St. Jude! Hope to see you soon!
    ox Laura

    P.S. loved the Graceland piks. Too cool!