…and still counting.

At least Christmas is over. Got through it by ignoring it. I slept through Christmas Eve as I slept off the morphine. Christmas Day managed to be a non-event as I didn’t feel like going anywhere. My brother & I just stayed home watched movies & avoided the day. Worked out well. We agreed that next year we’ll make an effort, but this year it just wasn’t going to happen. The knee just made it easier to do that & get away with it.

Went to my writing group this morning. Nice to get out & to catch up. Not so much writing. I know, I know. I need to write. I need to get on it, but apparently I’m a master of avoidance. A theme these days I suppose.

On my own this evening. My brother & his girlfriend are off to see friends they haven’t seen since coming into town. I’ve been left with my supplies in reach: TV remote, laptop, books, magazines, assorted pain killers (although really haven’t needed them), water, & snacks. They took the dogs for a long walk & fed them before they left. They’re sleeping now. Hopefully that will remain the case until they get back. Otherwise if they’re looking for attention or to go out, I’m screwed; or rather they are. (more…)

Last night it dawned on me that the day before I dislocated my knee cap & became incapacitated I mentioned my need for a day off, a day without responsibility for anyone or anything. Apparently, I got my wish. While I now can’t do anything for myself & spend most of my day on the sofa or in bed, & have to be waited-on hand & foot, this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.

My brother has been more than great, taking over the care of the dogs, the house, & me. He’s doing everything; not exactly the vacation from school that he’d planned for. I’m incredibly glad he’s here. Honestly, don’t know what I would do without him. Few people would put up with me as well. But, this might be too much of a good thing. Day 2 & I’m over it. I want to cook for myself. I want to drive. I want to be able to move without someone clearing the way for me. (more…)

So, one way to avoid Christmas…dislocate your knee cap…not intentionally, of course.

Yep. Ever well-coordinated me managed to loose my balance while putting my jeans on this morning and fall, dislocating my left knee cap in the process. Smooth, I know. This meant a trip to the hospital in an ambulance & about 2 hours in the ER.

I have experience with this injury. I dislocated my other (right) knee cap when I was a freshman in high school (eeks, like 18 years ago! Wow, that long ago?!?!). I did it on the last day of gym class right before summer vacation started. Luckily my gym teacher was the physical trainer for the football team & she was able to pop it back in right then & there. Still, had to go to the ER & everything, but when your knee cap is sitting on the side of your leg, all you really want is for the damn thing to be put back ASAP!

Unfortunately, this time, I had 5 paramedics/EMTs & they refused to do it. They said I had to wait for the doctor to do it, despite my pleas. When I did get to the hospital, the doctor was able to do it fairly quickly after arriving. Thank God!! Seriously, the pain of having it popped back in is absolutely nothing compared to it being out. Admittedly I was doped up on a good amount of morphine, but it really didn’t do anything for me. Made me a little woozy, but didn’t distract me from the pain like they said it would. Really don’t get why people drug-seek for the stuff. Not impressed.

So, now I’m home in a straight leg brace, on crutches, & vicodin as needed. More or less my knee feels fine–despite the fact that I can’t bend it, bear too much weight on it, etc. There’s just a slight throbbing/pressure pain that the vicodin I just took should help alleviate. Honestly, since I’ve done this before, it’s not too big of a deal. Although the fact that I’m on crutches & in a leg brace for at least a few weeks could prove to be a bigger deal. (I wonder if I can drive?…hmmm.) But for right now, I’m fine & choosing to laugh at the absurdity of this happening now.

My best/oldest friend was on her way to my house when this all happened (I was getting dressed so she could take me to pick up my car at the mechanic-luckily that turned out to be a minor repair). She rode with me in the ambulance & hung out at the hospital with me while my brother stayed home to take care of the dogs & wait for my father to drive up. She pointed out that this was “my 3rd thing.” You know, that whole “things happen in 3’s.” So, we have:

1. my mother

2. Leo’s cancer

3. my dislocated knee cap

So, I’m done according to her. Things can only get better. I choose to think she’s right & to laugh at the silliness of today–like razzing the paramedic who took 3 sticks to get the damn IV in me or telling them they were useless if they weren’t going to pop it  back in & to go get me a gym teacher. What else can I do? Cry. I will. I have. But I can’t do it forever & really I’m tired of focusing on the negative.

Leo had his 2nd chemo session today.

His 1st went completely fine. No side effects. He was perfectly himself this past week. Good appetite. Good energy. No nausea, vomiting, or fever. None of the things we were supposed to keep an eye out for. So, that was good. Really hoping this next week goes just as well.

The vet did say that his white blood cell count was a little low, but still within range. Anything bellow the “3’s” (not sure if that is 300 or 3000–still learning the lingo) & they would have held off on his next treatment. But he was at the high end of the “3’s”, closer to “4”, so he was ok to get the 2nd dose. She said his bone marrow will regenerate & the count should go back up once his body adjusts; but just to keep an eye out for fever (i.e., a possible infection). Fingers crossed, that will not be an issue.

He did drop a pound between last week & this week–from 27 to 26 lbs. They said they weren’t worried because it could be any number of factors, most not related to his cancer, that could have caused the fluctuation in weight. But I still don’t like it because weight loss is something we do need to be concerned about. But at the same time, he was eating normally last week & no vomiting; so no real explanation there for the weight loss. Our approach at this point is he gets to eat whatever the hell he wants at this point; we’re bulking him up…of course within reason.

Today/last night was just stressful. The chemo thing really wasn’t that big a deal which is weird to say. Last night I just started feeling stressed because I realized that since my mother died, I’ve been taking care of everything on my own, all the things my mother used to take care of; plus now, I get the added stress of the family dog’s cancer. And it’s just worn me down. I’m kind of at the point where I really can’t handle things going wrong. Last night I was worried that our other dog (the one who was attached at the hip to my mother) was sick. He seemed better this morning, but the thought that something was wrong with him just didn’t sit well. My ability to cope & deal these days is paper thin; so the thought that Teddy, our other dog might be ill, just made me crack. So, it didn’t help this afternoon when, after my brother & I dropped Leo off at chemo & made our way to Starbucks to get something to drink/eat–since we hadn’t done either yet, the car started having problems. Had to have it towed. Not what I needed. Throw on top of that that Leo was supposed to be picked up within the half hour of us leaving him. In the end, the car was towed–problem still to be diagnosed; a friend picked us up & took us to pick up Leo. We got him 3-hours later than planned, but he was fine. But it was just not the added stress that I needed. I basically had a breakdown as we were waiting for the tow truck. I’m stressed. I’m tired. I’m sick of my mom being gone. I want this to be over.

The added stress of Christmas tomorrow doesn’t help. My brother & I are still in avoidance mode. We talked about our lack of plans today & just decided to wing it. We have invites, but we’ve committed to nothing. This period is just proving to be rougher than I expected or was willing to acknowledge. Now it’s here & I can’t, we can’t. The only consolation is that we have each other to get through it; but we still have to get through it, & that’s the part that fucking sucks.

I did realize this morning that I essentially need a day off. I need a day where I’m not responsible for anything; where I don’t have to take care of anything or anyone; where I can run away & just do whatever the hell I want without having to be somewhere. I need a break. So, once the car is fixed (hopefully tomorrow!), sometime in the next couple of days, I am doing just that. My brother can take care of the dogs & everything at home, & I’m just going to disappear for a day. I’d love for it to be longer, but reality prevents that. So, I’ll settle for a day.

But first, I have to get through the next 2.

Seriously, positive thoughts. Things need to get better. I choose to remain an optimist, even though I have every reason not to be.

Merry Christmas.

Leo is currently at his first chemo treatment. He’s also getting his tests done to determine if the cancer has spread to his liver, spleen, or bone marrow. Fingers crossed, it hasn’t! Positive thinking. Yes, the positive thinking hasn’t exactly proved itself recently, but I choose to remain optimistic. Or at least I’m trying.

I’m really hoping he handles the chemo well with few side effects. I really don’t want to this to affect him. It’s supposed to improve his quality of life, not make it worse. But, we’ll see. Vet keeps telling me that, for the most part, dogs handle it well with minimal side effects–usually some nausea, vomiting, or appetite loss for a couple hours to a day; and there’s meds they can give him to counteract that. I think he & I can handle that. Let’s hope for that.

My brother & his girlfriend arrived home yesterday, so he was able to take Leo in with me today. Such a relief. Definitely helped keep my anxiety level down; although, I’ll admit, I’ve definitely felt anxious the last 2 days in anticipation of today. But, at least I had someone there in case I freaked out again. But so far, so good.

Ok, more once I know how it goes. For now, positive thoughts.

You know, I’m really still waiting for all of this to sink in. Yes, there are constant reminders; and in those moments, there is a realness to it. But for the most part, it just feels like she’s on a long trip. When does that stop?

Today was a good-weird day.

Started it off at my writing group. I haven’t been in 3 weeks, so it was nice to get back. Most of our time was actually focused on writing, but I really only got a paragraph done, and I’m not even sure I like it. I’m struggling a bit with the beginning. I think I’m trying to get it right this time before I go too far forward. Right now it’s between one day & the next. I could jump forward or around & work on something else, but I really want to get this figured out because I don’t want to have to restart again. Also, I guess I’ve been having a little trouble focusing & getting in tune with my character this week. I really want to be over this lack of focus thing, & every time I think I am it just comes right back and kicks me in the ass.

At the end of the day, I guess I sould just be happy that I got 2 hours in of thinking about my story, even if there wasn’t much in the way of word count.

So, after writing group, I had lunch with an old friend from high school. We haven’t seen each other since we were 18. Yep, 15 years. So weird to begin with. Anyways, we reconnected through Facebook. I swore I’d never get on that thing, but I have to admit, in the 5 months I’ve been on I’ve reconnected with 2 friends that I had lost contact with & really had no clue how to get in touch with otherwise. So, very cool. Anyways. It was nice to see her, but it was weird. Right before a 3rd mutual friend showed up to join us (someone who I still keep in touch with, but whom she hadn’t seen), she tells me that her mother passed away 2 months ago. I hadn’t mentioned that my mother had as well until she said it. Before I got there, I wasn’t sure how to mention it or if I would need to. It’s definitely one of those weird things to bring up & just drop in a conversation. It’s kind of mood killer. We really didn’t talk about it because the 3rd person in our group showed up. The only thing I learned was that her  mother’s death was also sudden. It’s just weird to be sitting across the table from someone who really understands what you’re going through & who’s kind of at the same point in processing it. Yes, I have friends who have lost parents, but they’ve lost fathers. And not to devalue fathers–I love mine, but there is a diffrence. And there is something to losing someone suddenly. It’s differnet from losing someone due to long illness. With illness you get to say goodbye; there’s time to process what is about to come. I’m not saying it’s any easier; but it’s different. So, even though we didn’t talk about it today, it was just incredibly strange & comforting. I’m not sure where our relationship is going. We exchanged numbers & talked about getting together again soon. I did send her a message on Facebook saying if she needed to talk, to call me. So, we’ll see. It’s just weird that we’re both going through this & meet up again now.

I do believe there are no coincidences & people come into your life for a reason. So, we’ll see what this reconnection means.

One thing that did come up in our conversation was the fact that this new/old friend mentioned she was ready to get back out & date. I don’t know how much this has to do with the loss of her mother or to a relationship that ended a while back, but it brought up something I’ve been debating. The last deep conversation my mother & I had was the week before she died. The Saturday before we had gone to lunch & she ended up bringing up the fact that she really wanted to see me in a relationship & thinking about marriage. Now, usually my mother doesn’t butt in; but for some reason that weekend she did. There was even a comment about her being willing to fix me up. I said no thanks. Since I moved back here 5 years ago, I haven’t dated anyone seriously. Except for some ill-advised hook-ups with exes, who need to remain exes, I’ve been on my own. I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of years trying to figure out who I am, without needing to explain myself to someone new. I’ve met a couple of people & while I went out a few times with one of them, nothing really stuck. Just really wasn’t my type when it came down to it. So, now, I’ve been debating this whole dating/relationship thing. Yes, there is a part of me that wants to make a more concerted effort, but another part of me that is very conscious of the fact that I’m considering it because I don’t like being alone right now. And for me, that seems like a really bad reason to want a relationship. I don’t trust myself to make good choices right now. Even though I’m very self-aware, I could see myself choosing to be with someone just to be with someone, not because they’re the right person. So, I don’t know. Something to think about. At this point, I’m not going to over think it. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. But I’m a little wary right now.

My brother comes home for Christmas break in 3 days. I’ve never before been so excited to see my brother. It will be nice not to be in this house on my own for a couple of weeks. As okay as I am here, I am alone & as much as I used to love alone time, I’m over it.

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

Yesterday was a bad day.

Leo had his first appointment with the oncologist to discuss treatment for his mast cell tumor. She outlined the tests & chemo treatment plan she recommends. As far as tests: she wants to do an ultrasound to check to see if the cancer has spread to his liver or spleen; then aspirate (stick a needle in & suck out some cells) two lumps to see if they are just fat or the cancer; and then do a bone marrow tap to see if the cancer has spread there. For the chemo, he’ll have IV therapy once a week for 4 weeks; then he’ll go every 2 weeks for five months with a mixture of IV and oral meds. All in all it’s a 6 month protocol. She essentially said we’re looking at 6 months to a year. I choose to focus on the year. Keep in mind that he’s still perfectly himself.

Anyways, so I got all this information in about 10 minutes. Then I had the costs for the next 6 months of care thrown at me. Cancer care for dogs is not cheap. They wanted to do the tests & start his first chemo session that day. It was just too much at once & I started feeling really anxious. Luckily I had called my brother to discuss what was said (Leo afterall is both of ours) while they were getting stuff together. He noticed I seemed really stressed. He recommended that I ask if I could bring him back to start everything. I’m glad I did ask. I don’t think I would have thought to do it if I hadn’t been told to. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Getting out of there when I did with Leo probably saved me from having a full blown panic/anxiety attack. I could just feel myself getting amped up the longer I was there. And being in the exam room with closed doors did not help me.

I think one of the key factors in why I started feeling overwhelmed yesterday was my mother. Being there on my own with Leo just hit me over the head again & again with the simple fact that she wasn’t there. With all the family dogs, my mother always took the lead with their healthcare. We’ve had dogs with serious illnesses before; & while their care was a family decision, she was there to make the final decisions. And there I was doing this all on my own for the first time. So it was her not being there & then having to make all these decisions. Not that the decisions were hard. I’m going with all the doctor’s recommendations & I’m going ahead with treatment. But it was just way too much at once. Really, doctor’s should spread this stuff out. This really just should have been a consultation appointment & then testing & treatment would start another day.

I understand that in delaying treatment for another week risks having the cancer spread further. And I know we’re supposedly playing with a one-month life expectancy without treatment. But, I’ve never really believed that one-month life expectancy crap, & I’m convinced that he’s fine today, he’ll be fine next Wednesday when we go back. Yesterday was just not the day to start all this.

It took me until about 7 last night to finally calm down, but still I felt scattered. I feel better today & I know I did the right thing for both of us, me & Leo, in getting us out of there yesterday. A benefit of starting all this next week is that my brother will be home from school for the holidays & he can help me with everything & be there to keep me from climbing the walls. Always a good thing. Yesterday just really made me realize there are things I can’t do on my own & for future reference, I have to have someone there with me. So, lesson learned.