Image: flattop341 via flickr

Image: flattop341 via flickr

Friday, the day before, 5 months, was harder than today.

For the most part, the day was busy. I had my writing group in the morning & then spent the late afternoon & much of the evening at the birthday party of a family friend. “B” is the younger sister of my oldest friend. She, with my friend, & their mother, were the first people here the day my mother died. “B” has proven to be a life-saver. She has helped me with walking the dogs in the last few months. Even before I dislocated my knee, I couldn’t walk them together. Leo & Teddy travel at two decidedly different paces. Leo loves to run. Teddy is content with a just the car ride & seeing the park. He prefers to kick back & lounge in the grass. So, “B” has been there to fill in the gap my mother’s loss left. She used to walk Teddy, while I ran Leo. “B” was also the one who dropped everything the day I had to take Teddy in for surgery & stayed with me until we knew for sure he had made it through surgery. It was good to be there to help her celebrate, but the unfortunate thing about any family event with her family is the noticeable absence of my mother. She would have been there. She was always there for parties, special occasions at their house. But still, it was a nice way to pass the day even if it did suck on some level.

But I’m learning that’s how it goes. Every day, every thing, even if it’s good or ok, still sucks on some level.

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

Five months.

I actually woke up crying. Not a great way to start the day. Luckily an old friend from high school was in town, so we were meeting up with another of my good friends for a late breakfast. We ended up hanging out for about 4 hours, which was a great way to distract myself from the day. I did ok the rest of the day. Enough to keep myself busy. I guess I should see it as a good thing that I was able to get the crying out of the way early in the day.

Today was actually the birthday of one of the friends I met up with today. The unfortunate thing is that my mother died on her 5-year wedding anniversary. My friend, “A”, actually knew my mother well. “A” got the call about my mother in the middle of celebrating her anniversary with her husband. She was here within the hour of me finding my mother & spent the rest of the evening here at the house with everyone else until she had to go home to her 1-year old son.

I guess I’m hyperaware of dates & connections. Saturdays. The 20th. I wonder when that will stop.

Wade Franklin via flickr

Image: Wade Franklin via flickr

Teddy made it through surgery. He is now in ICU at the animal hospital under observation. We still have to get through the next 24-48 hours. Worries are infection & possibility of a clot. If all goes well, he’ll be home in 2 days.

Things actually didn’t go to plan. We got up early this morning & trekked to the vet for surgery, ready to go. We got there & found out that the stones were definitely the kind that required surgery. So, the simple sedation & flushing were out. Given his Cushings, the vet decided she was less comfortable with doing the surgery herself. While she does surgery, it’s not her speciality. So, she referred us to the animal specialty hospital where Leo gets his oncology/chemo care.

Even though I’ve been going there almost weekly for the last 6 weeks & really like the staff, I remembered how stressed I got when I first had to take Leo in there. I was worried about having a melt down again. So, I called up a friend & she was kind enough to drop everything & come with me. Her presence helped so much. She shared her snacks with me at the hospital, because of course I hadn’t eaten–which only increases the likelihood of me having a meltdown. So, the snack was good. And she was just helpful with asking questions & keeping me calm.

Luckily we got another great doctor there, a surgeon. So, if anyone is in the Los Angeles area & needs a good animal specialty hospital, I can highly recommend Animal Specialty Group–at least their oncology & surgical departments. I’ve been to other animal hospitals in the area, & this is by far the best place I have ever been. Expensive, but good. (more…)

TheTruthAbout via flickr

Image: TheTruthAbout via flickr

(I’m getting bad about actually posting this on Saturdays….)

Saturday was actually a nice day. Started it out at my writing group. No writing, but we had a really great discussion about writing in general that was reaffirming.

Spent the afternoon watching TV & vegging out. It was raining, so perfect excuse to curl up on the sofa & do absolutely nothing.

Then in the evening, my oldest/best friend invited me over to dinner with her parents, sisters, husband, & kids. They are essentially my surrogate family. My friend, her mom, & her sister were the first people here the day my mother died. So, I love hanging out with them, even if it inevitably reminds me that my mom isn’t there. But, I guess that’s the price to be paid to have a few hours of distraction.

—–

Today, Sunday, actually proved to be the bad day. I miss having my mother to talk to. The unfortunate thing, at this point in my life, is that she was the one person who I could talk to about everything. So, today when I was thinking about somethings & everything, I realized there wasn’t one person who I felt I could call & talk to about it all. I really just started missing my mother, which of course led to tears. They come with the territory. I don’t know. I’d just like things to get easier–not necessarily the missing my mother (that I don’t expect to get easier), but how about life. It would just be nice.

Image: TheTruthAbout via flickr

Everything happens for a reason. Everything is a lesson. Nothing is a disaster. Nothing is the end of the world. That’s what my mother taught me.

In the last 3 months my mother died unexpectedly, our family dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer, & I dislocated my knee cap on Christmas Eve resulting in crutches & a straight leg brace. While each of these events have tested my will, my faith, my optimism, none of them has knocked me out (even though any one probably should have). I don’t believe I’m any stronger than anyone else. I’m devastated. I have minutes, hours, days where I just want to scream. I want to rail against the unfairness of it all. I want to be bitter that I’ve been dealt all this at once. I cry. I breakdown. I wind up on the kitchen floor in the fetal position, now & again. But then, I have to get up. I can’t keep it up. I can’t sustain the tears, the sobbing, the depression. I just get tired. For me, it’s more exhausting to give in than to get up & try again. (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.

Some good news today…a better way to remember today…the vet just called and said all of Leo’s test results came back normal. That means there is no evidence that the cancer has spread to his bone marrow, lymph nodes, liver, or spleen. Yeah!!!

Three days after his first chemo treatment and there has been no evidence of side effects. We were warned that the first 24-48 hours were the ones to watch. The most likely effects would be nausea, vomitting, loss of appetite, and decreased energy. He’s had none of these. His appetite is normal. He’s keeping his food down. He’s going for his normal walks. And he’s still as hyper & annoying as ever.

The vet says it’s good that he’s handled his 1st treatment well. A good sign for future treatments. I’m not counting on this, but still, it’s good to know & hope.

So, next chemo is Tuesday. There is still one more possible side effect that we are waiting to see. On the 6th/7th day after treatment they say to keep an eye out for fever and lethargy. That’s when his white blood cell count will drop & when he is most at risk for infection–thus the fever. So, we’re not totally out of the woods yet with this first treatment, but so far so good. We’ll get to day 6/7 when we get there. But for now, just happy with where we are at.

I’ve been dreading today…it being the 3 month mark. It’s so weird to think it’s been that long, and even weirder that it doesn’t feel like that long. I ended up having a long phone conversation yesterday with that old friend who I met up with last Saturday, who’s mother passed 2 months ago. We ended up talking about our mothers, what had happened, and how we were coping/doing. It was the first time we’d had a chance to talk about it. It was really nice to talk to someone who actually really understands what you are going through. Family & friends mean well, but for the most part they don’t understand what it’s like and the thoughts that run through your head. And because we’re both roughly at the same time point in all this, there is a better understanding of what it means to us, what it has done to us, & what it continues to do to us. People really do come into your life when they are meant to and for a reason.

Well, still several hours left in the day. It’s weird that the 3 month mark and the 20th both land on a Saturday. We’ll see how it goes. At least my brother is here for this one. We’re about to take the dogs for the walk. A good way to pass a couple hours & get out of the house.

Image: Ezu via flickr

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

Thanksgiving was fine. Spent part of the day with my mother’s family, including my grandmother, & the other part with family friends. All in all, it was fine. I really wasn’t expecting it to be difficult. As I said, Thanksgiving hasn’t been a big production in our family for years. That certainly was a welcome fact yesterday & probably did more to make it easy than having friends and family around.

Today was fine. Did a little work, ran some errands, played with the dogs, & just generally hung out & got some much needed sleep.

So, tomorrow Leo gets his sutures removed & I find out more details about what comes next. As much as I’m trying to focus on the fact that he’s ok today, I know tomorrow is still going to suck just because I’ll really have to think about what exactly does come next. But you know what, maybe there will be some decent statistics/odds. I’ll settle for decent. Good would be great. Fingers crossed & positive thoughts.