Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Someone in Mexico knew my name (Part I)

(...besides this big mouth....)

Hailee came down the stairs directing me to look at her laptop screen and declared she had found it. "It" referred to a stem cell clinic in Cancun, Mexico with the prominent testimonial being that of a scleroderma patient. I hadn't really realized she had been searching for "it," and so I was surprised and maybe even a little humbled that she had taken it upon herself to research in my behalf. Motivated by my frustration that this disease that had so rudely invaded my body over 6 years ago was still progressing and that my doctors could give me no real hope for improvement or cessation, I decided to follow up. I sent two separate emails but got no response. Disappointed but not surprised, I told Hailee it appeared to be another dead end. A day later I received a response email from the World Stem Cell clinic with the reply,

Dear Hailee,

I would be happy to call and speak to you today. Please let me know what times are optimal for you and or your mom.

Where did you find the e-mail address, for news ? We have never used that e-mail to the best of my knowledge and I apologize as I never received your request.

Thanks for your perseverance and look forward to our conversation.

In Health,"

Apparently my daughter was not willing to accept my "dead end" response and had done some emailing of her own. Bless her heart.

That was in August. At the end of October we found ourselves traveling to Cancun so I could receive stem cell therapy targeted at treating scleroderma. Everything had just seemed to fall into place. It all felt so divinely orchestrated that I was filled with hope for the outcome. (The result for the other scleroderma patient had been nothing short of miraculous). The night before we left, Jordan came across a link for a new scleroderma study being conducted in the US. He wondered if we were maybe approaching this from the wrong direction. Suddenly, I was filled with doubts and fears. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that we had promised the boys a little prelim vacation before I started treatment. There was no way we were not going. We got on the plane at midnight with so many thoughts gripping my brain. I recorded some of them in my journal....

It was 1:30 in the morning, I was on my way to Cancun, Mexico for controversial medical treatment for scleroderma-a disease I 'd battled for almost 6 years, and my only fear now was that there was no stem cell clinic in Mexico and we were victims of some cruel scheme. Jordan had had an interesting experience earlier that day trying to transfer the money to the clinic. A seed of doubt had been planted. The more excited and comfortable I became about the actual treatment, the more nervous I was that it wasn't real. I began to go over every conversation and email I'd shared with the doctor affiliated with the clinic, questioning some things and feeling assured by others. I was told that all I had to do was to go on line, create my own account with the clinic's web page, enter my flight and hotel information, and somebody would be at the airport to pick us up. I told myself that if we got to Cancun and there was no one there, we would know that we had been scammed. I prayed a good portion of that night that somebody would be waiting for us.
After a miserable,sleepless, painful night, and a long lay-over in Atlanta, we arrived at our destination. The boys had been troopers but I knew that the night had been rough for them as well. Jordan is a seasoned traveler and was the only one that looked somewhat rested, but each of us was anxious to get to our hotel. After passing through customs and then immigration we moved through a set of doors to an area filled with people holding signs with names of their appointed passengers. None held my name. We moved through another set of doors to an area filled with time-share salesmen and saleswomen and-gratefully-none there held my name either. Now outside, we were met with another group of drivers with signs. I scanned the crowd but even before seeing a sign, I heard someone shout, "Lori!" Do you remember the end of the movie, "The Testaments" when the Savior searches Helam out of the crowd and acknowledges him with his name? How sweet it was to hear the sound of my name and to see two men, one holding a clipboard with "Lori Radman," printed in big block letters. In the van, we were offered juices and water and Rudy welcomed us to Cancun. Assuring me that the hardest part of our stay here-the flight-was now over. He waited until we were checked in to the hotel, translating when he felt it was necessary, and then left us with a folder full of brochures and pamphlets on the clinic, and tourist attractions, and a cell phone with his number, and the clinic's doctors entered into speed dial.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the mall across from our hotel, eating tacos, trying to find me a swimsuit (who forgets to pack a swimsuit for the beach in Mexico?), visiting the aquarium to see the dolphin show. The weather was overcast and chilly, but we were in Cancun, my boys were with me and giddy with enthusiasm, I had an opportunity for healing on the horizon. Friends and family had offered prayers and love in my behalf, and someone in Mexico knew my name.

I captured the trip with my trusty iphone..

K-nex at the shopping center across from the hotel.

Jordan signed them all up to "swim with the dolphins." I'm pretty sure he was able to run home after and cross that off his bucket list.

We visited Chichen Itza with Helaman from Helaman tours. Honestly the highlight of the whole trip.
Gabe is a history buff. He kept following our guide around asking him questions. He recited a lot of Mayan history the rest of the trip.

Christian grew a tree out of his head. You can also make out the head of a snake- Kukulkan -at the base of the stairs. The body runs alongside.

This is another natural wonder: a floral arrangement made from fruits.
The tour ended with a trip to a cenote-a natural well. It was unbelievably beautiful.

Actually the tour ended with this...
Another day, another quesadilla and mexican coke. Can't beat it.
As the boys prepared to leave, the weather prepared to surprise us.
The day before I started treatment, I put my boys on a plane back home-by themselves. With a layover. I was questioning my sanity and mothering instincts. Jordan assured me they would be "fine." And they were.

I prepared for the unknown the following day. Jordan assured me everything would be "fine..." And it was.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Andy fell down and broke his crown

I know this may come as a surprise to some of you, but nobody has ever asked me for my autograph. I can go anywhere and rarely (ok, never) has anyone asked if they could have their picture taken with me. There have been very few occasions where I felt like people (other than my immediate family) really wanted a piece of me. So...I am sensitive to the fact that I can't really appreciate the public demands on the private life of a celebrity. But still, I am sensitive.

So when we saw Andy Roddick, a celebrity tennis player, in Chipotle the day after we had cheered him on to victory at the tennis tournament, I tried to keep a lid on it. I turned to point him out to my kids, but there was apparently no need as they had all suddenly turned into the presiding officers of the Andy Roddick Fan Club. Gabe had been carrying around a tennis ball and a sharpie marker ready to capture autographs from any of the great tennis players we had the privilege to see play. He hadn't really expected to need them in Chipotle while we ate our lunch and now here was a perfect opportunity. Whispering in my ear, he asked if he could run out to the car to get them. At the same time, Christian leaned over and asked if I thought it would be okay to ask Mr. Roddick if he could get a photo with him. He had his phone camera ready. I wanted to say,"no." 'Cause that's how I roll. Don't draw attention to yourself or others. Don't ask of others-especially a celebrity. But...I have missed opportunities with that line of thinking. And I had previously denied my children opportunities with that line of thinking, so I sucked up my insecurities and told him to "go for it." Which he did. Respectfully, he waited until Mr. Roddick had ordered and paid for his food before asking (also telling him that he had seen him play the day before and been so impressed with his performance) and then shoved his phone in my hands to snap the photo. There was no friendly banter. In fact, there was no friendly anything from our celebrity. Just a grunt and an obligatory pose. I tried to comment. To give basic, friendly affirmation, but I got nothing. It was awkward, people. And all the while, I can see Gabe, sitting just to my right, with a tennis ball and a sharpie marker. I tried for my boy's sake to say, "Mr. Roddick, would you be so kind as to take 2 more seconds to autograph a tennis ball for a 13 year old fan?" but I was already sweating and he seemed so miserable that I just couldn't do it.

Brittney's cooties are showing

Our 20 seconds of celebrity gawking had cost us our place in line, so I returned to the back of the line-again. Gabe didn't budge. He continued to sit at the empty table looking forlornly at the unsigned ball in his hands. I felt terrible. Why hadn't I made more of an effort regardless of Mr. Roddick's apparent distate I motioned for Gabe to come talk to me. ( I felt bad, but not bad enough to lose my place in line a second time)

"Bud," I said, "I'm so sorry I didn't stop him from leaving before he had signed your tennis ball."

"It's okay, Mom. I saw how he acted."

And it hit me. Gabe wasn't upset because he hadn't gotten an autograph from the Andy Roddick- a great tennis player that he had looked up to and admired and followed for years.
He was upset because he didn't want the autograph.

In one fell swoop, humanity had rushed in and swept a hero off of his pedestal, bringing him to his knees and exposing him as nothing more than a mere mortal.

And so...Gabe is currently in the market for a replacement of that empty spot on his pedestal. I told him to choose carefully as falling off is an occupational hazard. To not chose anyone he didn't want to get hurt.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I know Love means nothing in the game of tennis...

...but there was so much I loved about our trip to Palm Springs to watch the BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament.
I loved seeing the "Over 60 Couples Bike Club" out for a morning bike ride. The weather was clear and sunny and headed to 80 degrees. In March! There is no question why this is retirement heaven.
I loved being with these people. They are goofballs and gracious and easy going. Which makes everything enjoyable.

Our loved our agenda every day. Bake. And watch tennis/people.
I loved Brittney's hair at the end of the day. And her brother snuggling up to her. (We may have baked during the day but the weather turns ice cold when the sun goes down).

I loved watching all the greats. We also saw some not so greats. But I'll tell you about that in another post. This is the love post.
I loved wearing sandals and watching the "ball kids" and the smell of fresh cut grass and frozen lemonades and sunsets.
Gabe's parting shot on my phone.
It was such a fun trip. I loved being warm. And not having to think.
But I do think I'd like to come back next year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First stop: Ruby's Diner

We grabbed the boys (and the daughter who happened to be on spring break) and headed out of town for a quick getaway. Of course it was no fun without Hailee (the very responsible daughter at home studying for college exams) but we tried to make the most of it.
Our first stop on our way to the hotel was Ruby's. Worth mentioning: the pepperjack cheese sticks with dipping sauces. A zillion very tasty calories.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The view from here

Dad loved the mountains. I don't know that his original plan would have ever involved leaving them. Being drafted to serve during the Vietnam War changed the course of all of our lives forever. One very obvious way was leaving Utah never to live again until his retirement. Living all across the United States and Europe was an adventure to be sure and there was beauty specific to every place we lived, but dad always lamented about missing "his" mountains. Upon retirement, he nestled himself and mom in the foothills of one of Utah's beautiful mountain ranges and I cozied up to another. Apparently, one of the genetic gifts I received from dad was a large dose of the "mountain needing" gene. It probably sounds a little corny, but I feel strength from these mountains. Their beauty lifts me and inspires me. Each season the mountain transforms into a new kaleidoscope of colors, shapes and textures that is breathtakingly beautiful. Sometimes when life seems to be pressing harder than I think I can tolerate, I have looked to the mountain and asked for a small portion of it's strength.

One of the many little gifts from our remodel was being able to capture this view from a new master bedroom window. My first thought when I walked up to this new window opening?

Dad would love this view.

And so it is...a new when I look at "my" mountains I see not only beauty and strength but I can feel dad there too.

Pat can finally "fit." I tell him all the time, that his 6'5" giantness is the reason for the remodel. Until his marriage to my "little" sister, the average hight around here was about 5'4".
Anne-Marie and Jeff-the-builder discuss options for that little hole in the wall. I guess her mom never told her not to draw on the walls. I love, love these two people.
The "roof solution." Is is called a shed roof? I think the window are so dang cute.
The basement stairs. The risers are far from even. There is a combination of 6", 7" and 8" risers. Do we fix them? Make them all even? Or set up a hidden video camera to entertain ourselves with video of all of the people that seem to trip coming up the stairs?

Friday, March 2, 2012


There is a lot I could say about this trip down south for the boy's (Gabe and Nick) President's Day soccer tournament. We had learned mere hours before we left that dad had passed away. We were ragged and heartbroken and exhausted and working so hard to put one foot in front of the other. It was a trip where much more was felt than spoken.

So I am going to leave it at that.

And although in a very different way, it was still a good trip.