Monday, May 2, 2016

My World.....Shattered

Just rollin' along, living life, working hard, hiking hard, and loving living in The Treehouse at Dragonfly Hill.

Jake was doing fairly well on the phenobarbital, with a few breakthrough seizures - until he had a severe cluster of three seizures over the span of a few hours.  My poor Bubby.  He would barely recover from one when another would strike.

And the look he would give me as a seizure was beginning was utterly heartbreaking.  In that split second before the seizure took over his body, his beautiful golden eyes pleaded with me to make it stop.

He knew what was coming.  I knew what was coming.  And it bore down on him like a freight train.

And there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it.

I tearfully talked to the vet, and there weren't a whole lot of solutions.  Since he was beginning to exhibit toxic levels of the phenobarbital, his dosage couldn't be increased, and other meds weren't an option for him.

My beautiful Main Man, my partner, my goofball, my loyal protector, my love, my big cuddle bear, passed peacefully and quietly under the gentle and compassionate care of our vet on April 23, 2016, with Piper and I by his side.

Rarely does a dog touch one's soul like Jake did mine.

Rest in peace, my sweet boy.

No more seizures.


Catching Up - Part IV

April 2016 rolls around and it's already time again for the next twice-yearly CT and oncologist visit.

Back in the chair again.

Robert and Tien - and goofy shoes and socks.....

My favorite ex-husband Michael went with me to
see Dr. Hampshire - and also to apparently serve as
the official photodocumentarian of the appointment :-)

Doesn't everyone wear butterfly Gobys to the oncologist?

Poor Dr. Hampshire had an awful cold, but he still ROCKED it by pronouncing
me still stable, and giving me one of his cherished A+ smiley faces on my report!

Off to Cheesecake Factory for the traditional post-oncology feast!

Chicken Marsala - um, YUM!

No, they weren't both for me.....

Catching Up - Part III

In November 2015, Jake and Piper and I moved to The Treehouse and began adjusting to and LOVING mountain life.  We got to know the neighbors, began discovering the plethora of hiking trails nearby, and experienced our first snow here.  It was glorious to finally be living again where there are seasons!

Sadly, this was also the time that our lives would take an unexpected, awful turn.  

My beloved Jake began having seizures.  Just completely out of the blue - terrifying, violent seizures.  Any animal in the throes of a seizure is awful to watch.  But a 110-pound Rottweiler having seizures in a small space is horrific.  The potential for him to severely injure himself is very real and very frightening.  

Now it was Jake's turn for diagnostic imaging.

We had all the testing done - MRI, labs, and evaluation by a canine neurologist - but there was no discernible reason for the sudden onset seizures.  No brain tumor, no blood or organ issues.  Nothing.  The vet diagnosed him with idiopathic epilepsy and we began a twice-daily regimen of phenobarbital.

And we put one paw in front of the other and kept moving forward.

Catching Up - Part II

In October 2015 - during the time that both my old house and my new house were in escrow, I was selling my beloved vintage trailer Lil' Chick and frantically purging stuff to downsize from a 2-bedroom house with a dining room, enclosed patio, and garage to a 626-square foot tiny house - I had my twice-yearly dates with the Sharp-Rees Stealy Rad Techs and Dr. Hampshire the Awesome Oncologist.  Other than a couple of minor things that Dr. Hampshire isn't even worrying about, I'm still stable - life is GOOD. Woot!!!  See y'all in another six!

Jared the rad Rad Tech
I love the good news I get from Dr. Hampshire!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Catching Up - Part I

Wow.  I can't believe it's been a YEAR since I updated this blog.  Holy crap.  I'd been doing so well with keeping it current, then I slacked off.  Why?  Because there really wasn't anything of note in Cancerland.  Which is a damn GOOD thing.

But life kept happening - most of it great, some not so much.  Let's re-cap:

Since 2014, I'd been getting restless at my house in the city.  I LOVED the house itself, with its original 1947 hardwood floors, charming details, huge yards, and wonderful neighbors.  But I was in a very urban area, surrounded by gang violence, drug deals, and street racing.  At the time I bought it, it was right for me.  But as a few years passed, it became more clear that it wasn't where I was supposed to be.

And this cancer thing was a HUGE part of that.

I'm a Parkie, and have been since first volunteering for the National Park Service in high school, lo these nearly four decades ago.  Couple that with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis and a mantra of "life is short" and you get a spirit that yearns for something better:  for a small community, for wild spaces free of noise, crime, and congestion.

So I began looking at properties for sale a little further out, away from the city.  My commute to work was already 45 minutes to an hour each way, so what was a few more minutes on the road?  As fewer and fewer properties looked promising, I cast my net wider and began looking further away.  My ever-patient realtors trudged all over hell and half of Georgia with me, up and down rutted roads, into sketchy backcountry areas, to and from canyons and hilltops, looking for the right property.  With the types of properties I was looking at, my daughter and my bestie were concerned that I'd be too isolated and too far away from neighbors or help if something happened.  In a rare moment of acquiescence, I had to agree:  as much as I saw myself on a remote piece of property, the reality is that I have a disease that will require treatment at some point and may cause complications.  I needed to be smart about this property search.

I began looking in our little mountain towns:  there, I could be out of the city but still have the rural space and the small-town community that I craved.  After seemingly endless months of searching, I found IT:  my little cabin in the woods.  I put my city house on the market, put an offer on The Treehouse, was fortunate to have both properties close escrow on the same day, and moved to the mountains in November 2015.

And it's been the best decision I've ever made.  I make the 150-mile round-trip commute to work twice a week (and miss the traffic both ways since I leave early and come home late), and I telework from home the rest of the time.  I have clear mountain air; glorious birdsong; brilliant star-filled night skies; a deck that overlooks my little third-acre oak-studded mountain paradise that I've christened Dragonfly Hill; amazing neighbors with horses and chickens and goats; and unlimited miles of hiking.  My tiny house is just a little over 600 square feet, and it's perfect.

The Treehouse at Dragonfly Hill.

For me, I'll always feel like my clock is ticking.  And I'll always be cramming as much living into my days as I can.  Life is too short.  And it has a tendency to fast-forward WAY too fast.

What are you waiting for?

 Do.  It.  Now.


I'm Still Here.....

.....and still livin' life.  But, I was a bonehead and lost my blog username and password and couldn't get in - UGH!  Until today - SUCCESS!  I'm IN!

Now that the username and password have been summarily recorded and saved, I will be updating the blog soon.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Latest 6-Monther

It's an interesting thing, living your life in 6-month increments, leapfrogging from one CT scan and oncology appointment to the next.  

For 5-1/2 months, everything's blessedly normal - work, errands, camping, yard work, etc. - then about two weeks prior to the next CT appointment, the scanaxiety kicks in and BAM! The bus traveling through Cancerland veers off the road and into a big fat gloppy mudhole, where it remains bogged down in worriment and dread until the CT results roll up, hook up their chain, and pull it out of its quagmire.

Yeh, I know:  I'm a drama queen.....  

Many people told me not to worry, that this CT will be fine - I've been feeling great and remain asymptomatic.


The fear is always gonna be there, that this slow-growing cancer will morph into a more aggressive form (or threaten to cause havoc like it did in 2013 when we had to beat it back into submission with the Rituxan cocktails).  From talking with friends who have undertaken their own cancer battles, I've learned that the worry is a normal part of living with a cancer diagnosis, even during glorious days of remission.

So last week, I donned one of my fav shirts and high-tailed it up for my latest date with the Radiology Techs.

Since I'm always seated in the same chair for IV insertion, I always seem to pose the same way:

I will never tire of those delicious warm blankies!

My view from the IV chair.  Dork.

As soon as I was IVed up, Jared the Rad Tech set me up in the CT room for my next photo shoot:

The Rad Techs are always so efficient and fast - I was finished in just a couple minutes.  I told Jared he's like pit crew on the Indy 500.

Another CT scan in the can!
After the CT, it was off to a doctor appointment for a horrible month-long toothache I've been having. Wait, what?  A doctor appointment for a toothache?  Um, don't people usually see a dentist for that sort of thing?  Well yes, people usually do - but HUGE dental phobics don't.  

Stage IV cancer?  Piece of cake.  Dentist?  Oh HELL no!  (bad childhood experiences, choking in the dentist chair in my 20s, etc. etc. etc.)

A few weeks prior, I had called my primary doctor's office and told them my tale of dental woe and he gave me a prescription for 600mg ibuprofen 3x daily (the multiple Aleeve I had been downing on a daily basis wasn't touching the pain).   

Alas, the doctor told me she couldn't really do anything for me, and told me to see the d-d-d-d-dentist. After a month of enduring this pain that felt like a horse kicked me in the jaw (and ear and throat), I gave up and headed straight to the dentist and got right in without an appointment (oh goody).

Actually it wasn't bad.  I've been in so much pain that it honestly felt good to be getting to the root of the problem (so to speak).  X-rays revealed a small infection in a broken tooth.  When the dentist pointed it out on the x-ray, I screeched "That's IT???  THAT wee spot is the cause of my ceaseless torment???" (told you I was a drama queen.....)

We made an appointment for an extraction in May (I got a camping trip coming up - I don't want to be post-extraction on a camping trip!) and he sent me on my way with prescriptions for antibiotics and Vicodin.

I'd say I handled it pretty well:

Today, however, was the best day of the past week:  I got to visit with my Awesome Oncologist, Dr. Hampshire.  

Selfie with my onco homeboy, yo.....

Why was it the best day of the past week, you ask?  Because my CT was perfect and my bloodwork was perfect, even with fighting the tooth infection.

Can you say R-E-L-I-E-V-E-D???  

I LIVE for those good report cards from my Oncologist!

And as for you, Scanaxiety: