Friday, June 08, 2007

It's been a year... (?)

A year ago today I met my oncologist, Dr. Rini, for the first and only time. I had just been told that there was a nodule detected in my lung, that would need to be biopsied. I thought that my world changed in 2005 when my kidney was removed with a diagnosis of cancer, but this news really rocked it. The biopsy was fortunately negative and so far the nodule has not grown, so it is looking more likely that it is just a weird, benign growth. Still, there is always that uncertainty about what might be going on. At the end of this month I will contact Dr. Rini's nurse to schedule my next CT scan in July, since I am finally to the point where I could wait 6 months between scans.
I have no reason to think that this scan won't be clean, but until I hear that it is, I'm on edge. If it is indeed clean, that will give Jim and me extra cause for celebration; we're going to Las Vegas in August to celebrate our 10th anniversary. I also have other plans, like being evaluated for refractive surgery (LASIK), even though my girls both want me to keep my eyeglasses. If on the other hand, the scan shows some growth, then it will be treatment option time and my whole life will be thrown for a loop. I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on this possibility, but it's in the back of my mind and pops up to the forefront at times.
Not looking for anyone's pity here, but in case I seem even more distracted and spacy than usual, you'll know why.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Witness to a nightmare

Last week I attended a memorial service for a five month old girl who died of SIDS.
What a nightmare. It's the worst thing I can imagine happening to a parent. I remember how distraught I was last year when the nodule was found on my lung. There were many tears shed over the possibility of my babies losing their mommy. But to have the opposite happen is just beyond comprehension. When I learned of this little one's death I was stunned and kind of pondered it in my head. When the death notice was published, including a photo of a sweet baby with her mama, I felt like someone had crushed me and sucked the air out of me. Imagining her parents' grief, I was really depressed all that day. All I kept thinking of was that this couldn't be true; could she somehow not be dead? I've talked with other friends this week who felt the same way.
The service itself was very nice; the minister talked about how there are no answers, no reasons. She read part of WH Auden's poem Funeral Blues, which you may remember being read in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral:

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

After she read it I thought to myself, the last line is not true. Love does last forever, even if the one we love is no longer with us. That was where the minister was headed as she said the same thing. The baby's daddy was among those who spoke and he echoed the minister's sentiments. There is no answer, no why, how, what, who. It just is.
And it is so unfair. I know how much this baby was desired by her parents, how dearly she was cherished and how she was prayed for and loved. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I am still crying for her and her family.
In her memorial service program some lines from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran were quoted:

And he said:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's
longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong
not to you.

You may give them your love but not your
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of
tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not
even in your dreams.

The family suggested memorial gifts to First Candle/SIDS Alliance.

Since this happened I've been hugging and kissing my girls even more, and trying to really pay attention to them, to soak in every moment with them. It sounds terribly corny, like something any of us would say in response to a senseless death of a child. But as I work on me, and as I try to become a better parent each day, I let more of the mundane issues of the day roll off me and just enjoy the bits of happiness that are in my path. I certainly still lose focus at times but I keep coming back to awareness.


We knew we wanted to get another dog after Floyd died. Since we're gone so long during the day, I like for the dogs to have one another as company. I'd started looking online at various rescue sites but hadn't really seriously researched anything. I did know that I had Becky's request for a "small dog that will sleep on my bed" in the back of my mind.
One day in late April Jim forwarded an email he received from a coworker. It was forwarded from someone looking for a home for a dog they had named Ruby. She was a big dog, about 13 years old. She was in a shelter about 2 hours down state and was due to be euthanized, so a woman, K, was picking her up on Saturday and driving back to her home to foster her. Jim emailed her saying that we might be interested in her. I was surprised as she was definitely not a little dog! We were out in the morning that Saturday and Jim got a call from K letting him know she was on her way home with Ruby. She said Ruby was definitely not 13 but more like 8 or 9 years old. Jim told her he needed to talk to me and to Becky and we'd call back to set up an appointment to meet them.
I discussed it with Becky, who had seen Ruby's photo online. She liked the look of her so she agreed to meet her. I called K to let her know and asked if it would be feasible to visit the next day. No, it wouldn't, I was told. Wow, I thought, they found someone else already. Well, not exactly. K took Ruby out to the yard and went inside to take care of some things. Ruby jumped her fence and took off! K and friends had been out looking for her; the last sighting of her was by a local grocery store. K was sick about it, understandably. As we talked I told her that we truly wanted a smaller dog, so she suggested we check with Minimutts Rescue.
I went to their site, which connects to Petfinder, and found several cuties. We liked a little girl named Lana, but she had an adoption pending. Another dog on the site was Trixie, a black cockapoo who was a puppy mill mom. I completed an online application and waited for our references to go through. We had to give a vet reference and 3 personal references. Everyone said nice things about us, so we were approved within a couple of weeks. Carla, the founder of Minimutts, was fostering Trixie herself. So, the day before Mother's Day, she brought her over to visit us and to finalize the adoption. Trixie was a little nervous, understandably, but warmed up to us over the rest of the weekend.
Since then the girls have fallen in love with her. She is very sweet and really enjoys affection. Carly was calling her Lucy for a few days, after a dog in a book that we read most nights at bedtime. The funny thing is, Lucy in the books is a golden retriever! Becky lobbied to change her name to Daisy, but we decided that Daisy and Bailey ( or Bay-lay as both girls prounounce it) sound too similar. We got Trixie a name tag last weekend so Trixie she shall remain.
Unfortunately since she was a puppy mill dog, she resists pottying outside. If we stay out with her for 5-15 min she will finally go, but we have to go out with her and give her a treat immediately. Bailey is loving this because he gets a treat every time he goes too, to model the desired behavior . I'm sure he must be thinking "I don't know why I didn't get an immediate treat before, but this is GREAT!" This weekend I bought a crate for her and we've been reading up on crate training and other techniques to get her to go out.
She had her first visit with our vet on Saturday. In good news, he doesn't hear the heart murmur that the foster vet heard. He also says that her cataracts aren't bothering her much now. OTOH the reason she is knock kneed is because her kneecaps are on the insides of her legs. The vet says it doesn't bother her right now but eventually one or both knees might need surgery. Oh well.
I hope to get some better photos of her up soon, but my camera died and my computer needs replacing, so I have some issues to work out first. :-)
You might be wondering what happened to poor Ruby. Well, it turns out there was a happy ending to her story. K got a call the next day from a local family. They had been shopping at the grocery store where Ruby had run to, and they took her home. She and the family quickly bonded so they ended up adopting her! K was worried that we would be angry but Jim told her, and I agreed, that this must have been Ruby's fate, to be brought 2 hours north to find her family. Her name is Midnight now and last I heard she was doing well.