Sunday, February 23, 2014

Awaiting Spring....

Maggie and I are truly awaiting spring. We are both fed up and over winter. Well Maggie is fed up with me trying to make her do exercises in the house and would rather just get out and walk and run to stretch her legs, instead of my crazy exercises to help her.
Basically we don't know if anything is getting better. She runs away when she sees me coming, as I will "mess" with her leg. 10 inches of snow hampered any outside excursions. While Maggie LOVES snow, 10+ inches is just to much when you are up to your neck in snow. Her legs are only 10 inches long. Then having a pulled groin muscle, I am sure was not helpful. In addition, while they did shovel the sidewalks in my development, there was no grass to be found, no where to walk... and so we hung out in the house.
This weekend we had a nice warm up to 60 degrees and we went out to stretch out legs and boy did it feel good. Sadly it is short lived and tomorrow it all changes back to winter here. March is not looking promising, cold temps are coming back. Now the question is how do I trick her back into doing her exercises inside and not running off to hide.
Time shall tell. :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Caring for those you are entrusted with....

I feel like crap today... I let down Miss Maggie once again. I am not saying I can't make a mistake or won't make a mistake, no one is perfect. I just feel bad that I just don't understand her.
Apparently Miss Maggie is in quite a bit of pain and has been... just like the darn hindsight showed me she was sick for quite awhile before beginning her cancer treatments. I feel like I just don't get it, am I really not seeing what she is trying to tell me? Or is she hiding it really well. I think it is the later...
For while I am not one to over react to every little thing that occurs, I do have a wait and see attitude but I do have her best interest at heart.
I have noticed the past few months that she has been limping, not walking at a full stride. We tried some painkillers and exercise for a short time and that helped her. I had thought on looking into the Rehab department with the Hope Center in the future, perhaps when things had progressed more, I mean I was thinking this was just old dog-ness...
But at our last appointment the Oncologist said it could be a good thing for her. He thought they might have openings a few weeks out... we asked, they had one this week... well, why not I thought advice is always a good thing and it doesn't hurt to just see what they have to say.
So this Wed found ourselves at the rehab center waiting for our appointment... then it found us realizing she has level 2 arthritis perhaps a low 3. While that is a concern there is something more immediate that needs our attention... She is limping, she has a strained groin muscle that is flaming in heat, she has some super tight, spasming muscles... she is pretty uncomfortable... I never saw it. I would have given her the pain pills we had, but didn't think she was in pain.
She does hide her pain; also I have never seen her in pain. When I have known she has hurt herself she acts as if she isn't.
I realize that she really will walk to the end of the earth for me, do anything, has full trust in me... and I feel like I just let her down. It is fine though we are on the right path, we are getting relief and now I know. Also it just amazes me even more how wonderful this dog is. She really is an angel, someone special. I am truly blessed to have her in my life.
So there are not great words of wisdom tonight, no revelations... just a thought I need to post a blog and this is a new event in our journey of life... and something we as Animal Care Takers in this life need to remember and look out for. Don't just ask if something is wrong, look twice and a third time then go find out.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 A Year in Review

To me the beginning of a new year tends to be around my birthday. A time I make new plans, resolutions, look back and take a general assessment of everything. But this one is a bit different.
A year ago my life changed, not in an overly dramatic way, but enough to cause me to sit back and say "Wow". Last year Maggie was in the ER, finally stable after a pericardial effusion scare, only to be faced with the word Cancer. What amazes me is that I wasn't scared, I didn't have that floor dropping feeling of dread, I was ready to face whatever this was to be. And Wow, what a journey it has been.
With a diagnosis of Lymphoma, incurable but treatable, a good chance of remission... we started on Chemotherapy for 5 months. Weekly Dr. visits and routines of medications, good days and bad days, became the pattern of Spring; But Maggie being the trooper she is, she taught me a lot about fighting, outlook, and how sometimes just taking a nap solves everything. I've discovered that my dog is my hero.
I found comfort though in that time, I had a direction, a goal, something that I still can't find a word for but I know I am looking for it. A purpose... On June 4 she was determined to be in clinical remission... and off we went to "live life" Now was time to check off that bucket list and just enjoy every moment, which we did, and have and a new saying I have is... Life is just too short...
But every day that passes, every hour, moment and such... well, soon we fell back into the routine of life and had to be reminded to enjoy it. But there were moments that reminded us. Our monthly Vet visits stretched into 2 months, to 3 months... with the promise that we send pictures, updates, and drop off cookies.
Mid Summer I accomplished a major goal... which was a bit like saying goodbye to an old friend. I paid off a long term debt that I have been carrying around for years and years. Waiting for someday to come when I would pay it off. About 5 years ago I got serious about paying it off. Along with a few unexpected expenses, figuring it all out, and getting used to it, buying a condo, quite a few car repairs and Maggie's Chemo expenses. I paid off that debt in a 4 year period. I still am paying on Maggie's expenses but that is okay, that is new debt... not one I have been putting off for years and years.
I have also done a lot of soul searching, or understanding really this year. I have learned quite a bit about myself and realized a lot about my family. I had thought when Maggie was diagnosed that they would be there for me. Everyone says "when it all comes down to it, it is family that is there for you" Yet, they weren't. Close family that is... some extended family was there, but then they don't live here. But it was with friends that I found my support group in, unexpected places. I realized that sometimes you have to accept that you can't count on those people and you have to lean on others, and as I have always known... you really are on this journey all alone, lean on God. It was hard to realize certain people are... well, people themselves and they have faults and shortcomings too. But boy how life changes when you realize and accept that and them for who and what they are. Also realize it is not really their fault but perhaps their parents, and their parents before them...
The fall came, I became more involved with the Ballet Studio and helped with Nutcracker Rehearsals, documenting everything, BOY was that a project. It has been a special dream come true. I don't have the confidence to teach, I didn't have the confidence to dance, BUT I have special dear friends who have allowed me to be a part of their school and live out my dreams. To help them out and be a part of the rehearsals, performances, and to watch these young girls dream and follow along the path I once went, I only hope I can encourage them to be more, and do more, and perhaps have the confidence to try, and find the love of Ballet that I have.
This year had a lot of fun moments, moments of recreating friendships that I had lost, or not really had. With the 25th reunion of High School and Facebook connections, it was time to actually meet with these people to really for those friendships that we have formed online with out all the teenage issues involved. I have had a great time reuniting with people I have known for years but just now have found things in common with. I have gotten back in touch with childhood friends. Realizing a bit that those are your true friends, they know you "back then" when you were who you really are, they accepted you then and now, and you are true friends.
So now this Christmas, Holiday, New Year season I find myself being a bit reflective and looking back on my year and realizing, I did a lot of growing, I went through a lot, I have handled a lot... and well I think I have done a great job, come out on the top side and am really excited for 2014. As the groundwork has been laid for an even greater year this year. Sadly I know this might be the year I have to say goodbye to Miss Maggie, but I do know that until that time we shall just take every moment that comes and enjoy it. Perhaps that is what New Year's Is All about Charlie Brown....

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Happy 11th Birthday Miss Maggie!

Happy Birthday! Her birthday just happens to coincide with mine. No, I didn't make it up, she truly was born on Sept 15th 2002. Do I love her any more or less then the others that have passed through my life? No, if you know me, you know they all have a special place in my heart, even the ones that aren't mine.
But this birthday is a bit more special than the others. For it is one that might not have come. Earlier in the year at New Years I was not sure of the path we were going to follow, not sure what decisions I would have to make, or what was in store for us. I will admit that once I committed to Chemotherapy I fully believed that we would have remission for 2 years, that one day nature would just take it's course and Maggie will leave this world in a natural way of old age. Okay part of that is unrealistic and I am aware and prepared to have to decided when the time is the time. But I did know we would find remission and it would be a long one. What I did not know was how wonderful this journey would be, how amazing she is and how she is my hero.
Some of our adventures are chronicled here, some are not. Basically her strong will, being a bull in a china shop, knowing what she wants and not "leaving off" it until she got it, our schedule and routine of exercise, medications, and rest days, allowed this to be a joyful experience. I didn't need to reach out for the support of everyone through the blog. Though just knowing you were there if I needed you was help in itself. I found the strength everyday in her eyes, her will to go on.
So currently she is 3&1/2 months in remission, she is full of energy, her hair is growing back, she has a tail again! We had monthly visits to the Oncologist who would say "go home, have fun, you are too well to be here". It was comforting when she greeted everyone with a butt moving tail wag, and everyone would come out to say hello to her, they really did love her and miss her. I also feel so blessed when the Oncologist said "I really am so pleased with her, I really did not think we would be at this point today when we first met in January." I want to say to him "we shall be here for many years to come" but who knows about that.
So she runs, she plays, she chews her bones. Greeting each new day as another day we have together, we try to make the most of it. But time also moves on and you get comfortable, fall back into the old ways, thinking there is tomorrow for that long walk or run on the golf course at night. We are back into our normal routine of life, and that is good. Though I do need to remember that everyday is precious. And as much as I realize every year I get to have a birthday myself, to be alive myself, is a joy, I do realize it too with her. I am so blessed to have know this dog, to know her spirit, for it is an amazing strong spirit. She is my teacher, my mentor, my companion, my soul mate in many ways. I have been so honored to have her in my life.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The New Normal

If you had said my life would be like this 4 months ago, I wouldn't have believed you. But I also would have said sure I can do this. Cancer treatment has involved weekly visits to the Vet, days of just relaxing and letting the meds to the work. Days of anemia and low blood counts. And the good days. For the past 4 months we have embraced every day.
At the same time we have been fully blessed. There have not been hard days or days of extreme sickness. Slight nausea and low red blood cell counts have been our worse days. Early on was harder than now, yet I tell God... I can handle more. Yet he does not give it to me, he has made this a wonderful journey. I have met wonderful people, found again a new outlook on life.
I think back on what Miss Maggie has taught me on our Journey with Cancer, and it is to greet each new day with a smile, a wag of the tail, with enthusiasm. To walk in to the clinic with joy, excitement and a "HI, I am here!" attitude. To get through each night after treatment with a patient, stoic determination... to embrace life and live it all.
I have realized that through out her whole life she has been teaching me this. Even as a crazy puppy, even as an older dog... she meets everyone as if they are her best friend that has been gone for 5 years. she wakes each day ready to have fun. Everything is done 110%.
The last 2 years I have thought I have an "old" dog. She was slowing down, I thought this is the time that we pace ourselves, that we embrace each day, but can't enjoy them to the fullest like we did before. Then we had the Cancer diagnosis and that had changed ALOT. She once again has the love of life she had before. She has taught me to never give up, to expect nothing and appreciate everything. In a month we are done with Chemotherapy, our weekly Vet appointments will end. What do we do then? What is life to be like. Oh we shall enjoy every moment we have together and we shall live it all to the fullest.
We also shall be learning a "new Normal".. We have already learned how to live our New Normal of weekly appointments and life with Cancer treatment... now we shall learn how to live life, to fully live life until it is over.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A March lamb becomes a lion....

February time frame....
Maggie has entered the 2nd cycle of treatment, we have just completed the second week of 5. It is rather coincidental that all of this has occurred at this time of year. Winter and Lent....
It will get worse before it gets better, there is a basic adrenaline rush in the beginning, you are excited for each week, new experiences and such. It all passes in a whirlwind. But the second cycle is harder than the first. Time seems to move slower, each week takes longer to come about. You have time to reflect on what you are doing, you realize that you are close to 1/2 way done which is great, and yet you have just that much longer to go. What was difficult before is now harder, and you know it will just get harder the next cycle through.
Just like the time of winter, how many weeks will the temperature go down, when will it start to go up. Winter has always been a time I just get through, watching each day for a little bit more sunshine, the sun setting later everyday. Finally over time Winter gives way to spring, to sunny days and warmer temps. I am renewed, ready to clean house, to start over and seize the day. Spring comes and new plants, a rebirth of such.
Is it a coincidence that Easter occurs at this time each year. For this is a time of change, a time to resolve to do something, better, different, or just to put away what was before and move on to what is new. 

Time has passed and now we are at the end of March and Easter is upon us... I thought of starting all over but this corresponds to what was said before. 

Miss Maggie is 1/2 way through treatment, what seemed like a time that would drag on has passed. But now like the saying of the month of March "in like a lamb out like a lion", the next cycle is likely to be different. The month of March this year was just like that, it was mild in the beginning and now it is cold, and snow, rain, and well, just time for warmer temps that are not happening.

Chemotherapy has been that way, the first 1/2 was mild, easy at times. Oh there were a few bad days but really less than 8 in 10 weeks is wonderful. BUT now the next cycle is upon us and it just might be worse than it has been. I am prepared, but scared at the same time. Cancer is nothing to really laugh at, don't say it is easy for it just might come back to haunt you. Just as it has been, the past few months have been easy, manageable... so now we are in for it, the March lion is upon us. I pray that he is gentle and remembers; as the lion with a thorn in his paw, to be kind and gentle and forgiving.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

At the Bus Stop

The past few months I have been working the morning shift at work. This involves me getting up and leaving  earlier in the morning. Please understand why this is an ordeal as I am not a morning person, generally it is not wise or productive to talk to me till after 8:30 or 9am. I am just not really ready to deal with all the stuff in the world in a happy, kind, loving way. It is kinda like a morning cup of coffee thing, only I don't drink coffee.
So since I am working earlier this puts me in the Morning traffic pattern. If I don't leave the house before 8:40am I have to sit and wait 5 min for the school bus to load at the stop down the street, because it is for a whole development of kids. If I work earlier, don't leave by 8:25am and if I have to mail something, I end up behind another bus stop of a whole development of kids for 5 min.
At first I would be upset if I did not make the turn before the bus and fume as I was sitting there obeying the signs. Then I started realizing that as I was sitting there waiting for the 20 plus kids to get on the bus, seated and settled before that flashing stop sign closes, was that the car was heating up, it was warmer and kinda nice. My fingers thawed, I could take off the 2 hats & gloves, I wasn't so upset to sit here waiting. Now most of these days I was in the left lane as I had tried to speed past the bus before it stopped. One day I was in the right lane, right behind the bus.
Being in the right hand lane was the right lane to be in... It was here I realized there was more like 30+ kids at this bus stop. But also there were 15+ parents standing there, waiting with the kids for the bus, chatting with each other, watching to make sure the kids don't run in the street, that they line up nicely to board the bus. Then as the kids were settling in on the bus, those same parents all stood there waiting, laughing, smiling... and waving to the kids as they went off to school.
Suddenly, peace came over me, I smiled, I thought of the kids feeling so special to have someone wave goodbye to them, to wait and say have a nice day, I love you. Some parents were dressed to then go on to work, some dressed to spend the day at home, some I could tell were still in their pajamas and I think of how they were lucky to get to the bus stop in time. I started to smile, watching these parents... and as they waved to their kids as the bus pulled away, I found myself waving to them as I pulled by. As if to say, thank you for caring, for being there for your kids, thank you for sending them off with a smile, love. They waved back... thank you for sending me off with a smile and a Have a Good Day...
Now as I turn the corner in the mornings I hope that I am going to be stopped behind that bus for 5 minutes to be part of a special morning routine. And I do end up having a good day, I also wish that I could be there in the afternoon when bus drops everyone off, I hope those same parents are there waiting to say, welcome home, I love you.