Adventures in BMT: Day -3

“It’s rude to count people as you pass them. Out loud.”
– Adidas Ad

Every day in the Winship BMT Unit, we’re expected to walk a minimum of two miles. This translates into 42 laps around the unit – 21 laps per mile. The exercise is meant to keep our muscles and stamina strong as we prepare for the transplant and, then again, on the long road to recovery.

It can get pretty congested, specially when a few of us get out there with our IV poles. I did good time and felt strong until the final lap.

Within minutes I felt like I’d been overcome by the flu. I was cold, shivering and had unbearable body aches. A quick assessment by my nurse showed that I was running a low-grade fever and that my blood pressure had crashed to unusually low levels. This is a result of doubling the ATG dosage to keep my body from rejecting the new bone marrow. I’m expecting a recurrence tomorrow as the dose will remain high and new drugs will be added to the mix. Rough as it is, the alternative is worse.

I spent the rest of the day in bed lifted by visits from dear family and friends.

My Flirt, My Heart

 “Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”
― Dean Koontz


On Monday, we said goodbye and released you from the pain and suffering that degenerated your strong body in the last six months.

Now that you’re gone, there’s an unbearable emptiness in our home and in our hearts that no other being will be able to fill. You were the most loyal, loving and intuitive companion. I still wonder what we did to deserve your dignity, intelligence and patience.

You were by my side and gave me comfort during some of the most difficult times of my life. You embodied all the wonderful memories of the years when we had a house full of kids, chaos and laughter.

Fifteen years with you just weren’t enough. I will carry you in my heart always, dearest Flirt.

Flirt1 copy

So Long 2012

The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year.
It is that we should have a new soul.”
– G.K. Chesterton

Enough said.

Dear Autumn,

There ought to be a way to combine “autumn” and “morning” into one word,
the combination of the two is special enough to be its own entity. ~Terri Guillemets

Dear Autumn,

Today I had the first sense of you. The temperature is a crisp 59 degrees and our front lawn is tentatively speckled with fallen leaves. I saw Flirt mightily sniffing at the fresh new air this morning. He knows you’re on your way, too.

Oh Fall, how I have missed you! I love the promise that you hold of a more colorful, reflective and rewarding time of year. You are my favorite, and I can’t wait to see you again.

Love, me.

I Want A Tub Like That

On Sunday, the boys and I were watching “Dream House” starring Daniel Craig. In the movie, there’s a scene where he’s in a bathtub which I’ve been coveting in my latest House Beautiful issue.

So I said: “That’s the kind of tub I want.” And Gabriel answered, “The kind with Daniel Craig in it?”

Very funny.


Hello, 2012!

I started the new year surrounded by my wonderful family, full of high hopes and aspirations and battling the flu.

Nevertheless, I have plans to accomplish great things this year – to beat my pesky medical issues, to run several 5 and 10Ks as well as a half marathon, and to grow a bit more as a human being. I want to continue on my health and wellness journey until it becomes second nature and engrained in me. I want to chill more, stress less, travel often and learn something new.

I would love to finish 2012 on the same high that ended 2011 and to proclaim again: “THIS was the best year!”

God willing.

2011: A Year of Blessings

2011 was a blessed year for the Velez family, replete with milestones and accomplishments. At a time when so many are struggling, we are humbled and grateful for being stronger, more united and better established. We are thankful for the gifts of love, health and abundance in our lives this year, and also for:

  • Katrina’s marriage to our wonderful new son, Christopher Hofius
  • Gabriel’s graduation from Johnson and Wales University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Foodservice Management and subsequent employment as Pastry Chef at Buckhead Life Group’s Nava Restaurant
  • Ramon gaining ground toward attaining his career goal of Director in the healthcare industry and solidifying his athletic self
  • surpassing my goal weight of 130 lb., becoming a bonafide trail and race runner, and ticking off another year at my beloved Happiness Factory.

We look forward to 2012 and to all the opportunities for happiness and growth that will come along with it.

God Bless everyone.

She Weds This Weekend


Wedding week is officially in full swing. I worked through Tuesday and am now able to fully focus on Katrina and Christopher’s wedding.

The Hofiuses flew into Atlanta yesterday and we enjoyed a lovely dinner together at South City Kitchen Vinings. Great food, great wine, great conversation and phenomenal bonding. We are so fortunate to have so much in common with this family as it relates to values, family and salsa dancing.

We have the completed calligraphy project – escort cards, signs and menu cards. I am thrilled with Anne Elser’s work.

I am finishing assembly of the amenity baskets for guests and they will be done by the time the bride arrives.

Gaby is working diligently on the fondant dahlias and related flowers which will decorate the wedding cake. With three different flavored layers, the cake is baked. He is full-on focused on the decorative elements now and is up late each night cranking them out creating them. The cake will be assembled in Dahlonega.

Tonight, the bride arrives from DC. Top-of-mind is much needed rest for her in the next three days so she is refreshed and re-invigorated before all the events begin.

Tomorrow, Alexis flies in and our family will be complete once again. The pace will pick up at that point as we begin the round of facials, threading and manicure appointments.

Our cabin awaits us and the bridal party on Friday. It will be a treat to be surrounded by all these kids we’ve known for years and are a part of our collective memories.

The rehearsal dinner on Friday evening promises to be a treat as we further connect and integrate our families. And, the kids have something special planned… I can’t wait.

Now, for the real issue. I still don’t have the right shoes for the perfect mother-of-the bride dress. I have purchased six pair up to now and none proved sufficiently beautiful. Well, there were those Manolo Blahniks which matched perfectly… but the price is not justified. Yet.

I head back out tomorrow to continue the search.


Yesterday, Sept 9, marked the anniversary of the day I decided to start moving in the hope that I could become healthier. No lofty goals at the time, no dieting, just aiming to walk a block and back.

Two years later, I am a new person and I celebrated by running the Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run in downtown Atlanta, and run it I did – the entire way. Seriously.

My race times are inconsequential – finishing is the goal since I live by the saying that “slow and steady wins the race” plus i have a tendency to trip and fall (note to self: fix that). But running for 3.1 miles on asphalt is a new accomplishment and I did it in 38:38.

Today, I go back to my beloved trail for another 3.1 mile run. That’s where I did it first, the day before the Kaiser. I’m in the zone people, I’m in the zone.

A Bridal Shower

Oh what a fantastic week! As they trickled home, one by one, the momentum built for Katrina’s bridal shower which was the week’s ultimate destination.

Everything turned out perfectly especially the beautiful guest favors created and conceived by Alexis who is the Maid of Honor.

I won’t lie by saying that I hadn’t been nervous. After searching for the perfect venue for weeks, and second-guessing the decision over and over again, Sugarplums Tea Room in Canton GA was the perfect place for this special bride. It was so beautiful, so tasteful, so perfect!