A candle in the darkness

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This year, of all my years, has been the most challenging and the most painful, but also the most revelatory. I’ve discovered a strength I didn’t realize I possessed, an ability to look for the ray of light in a dark place that I’ve never known before. I’ve developed a caring bond with complete strangers and found solace in trying to comfort others who are confronted with life altering diagnoses.

None of this would have been possible with this community. The diagnosis alone would have crippled me, I fear. You’ve given me a shoulder to lean on, to cry on, and an audience when I need to unload. You’ve been answers when I have questions, you’ve made me smile when my heart was breaking. You’ve been friendship when I was lonely, and kind words when I’ve been hurting.

For all this (and much, much more) I am eternally grateful.

Merry Christmas, my friends!


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Hoppy Holidaze

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I wanted to wait to post this until I knew for certain, but now I dont feel so much like I’m tempting fate to say it: my Christmas wish is coming true! My girl is still with me, and she’s still going strong. She continues to amaze me with her resiliency and fortitude, her continued grace in battle.

Although I understand that at this stage of the game her situation could change pretty rapidly, I just am beyond-words grateful for her still being here today! That was the only thing I wanted this Christmas. (World peace would be nice too, but I’ll settle for a snuggle next to the fireplace with Woo.)

Me and my girl

Beach girl


Photos by Images by Isabel. Used by permission.

Hoppy Holidays??

So, I was originally going to post this under a topic on the forums, but then I thought it was maybe a little too off topic, but I still wanted to share:

I’ve never really been a big fan of the holidays — growing up dirt poor, we often didn’t have any money for Christmas, and relied heavily on charity to even have a holiday.  When I first started spending the holidays with my husband’s family, it was a little overwhelming for me — so much holiday cheer.  Really?  People actually enjoying the holidays????  However, these last few years have really put a damper on even their Christmas cheer.

Rio’s cancer treatments have fallen around the holidays — radiation for Christmas 2007 and surgery and chemo around the holidays in 2009.  Three years ago this week our beloved cousin lost her battle with breast cancer.   Last Christmas, we weren’t sure if my husband’s grandmother would make it to Christmas following a spill (and subsequent head injury) on Thanksgiving day.  And my husband had just lost his job.  And, this year, I am still worried that Rio might not make it to the holidays, plus my husband is still unemployed.  Merry Christmas to us.

Now to my point in all of this:  In this life, there are things you can control, and others that you can’t.  Although I’ve been feeling very bah-humbug-ish, I had a bit of an ah-ha moment this afternoon after one of my Tripawds friends asked me about holiday traditions that got me into the spirit.  I got to thinking about my favorite Christmas tradition — putting up our tree.  We don’t do theme trees at our house — all of our ornaments are specific to an event, a time, a place, something special for each year.  The year we went to France, I bought a blown glass Eiffel Tower.  Australia, I bought a kangaroo carved out of some strange palm tree.  The year we got Rio, I have a little brown and black puppy ornament.  You get the picture — our tree is like a journal, and every year, it’s like getting to read and remember only the happy moments.

In thinking about this tradition, I had a small epiphany — this will likely be my last Christmas with Rio, and, damn it, I want it to be the best one she’s/I’ve ever had.  Not in terms of gifts, because dog knows we can’t afford that, but in terms of the holiday spirit.  I want lots of warm and fuzzy memories to carry me through the dark days ahead.    I’m going to listen to my Tripawd Warrior Code and live in the moment.  I may not get to “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of bliss, but I will make it through the next few weeks without gagging and bah-humbugging on “holiday spirit.”  (Although if I hear one more TV or radio commercial butcher some poor innocent and unsuspecting Christmas song, I may rethink this whole thing.)

I’m thankful…

A couple of weeks ago, I was wondering if Rio would make it to Thanksgiving.  She was doing poorly, and I was freaking out.

She threw up nearly every day for almost a week and a half.  Some days more than once.  We made some adjustments to her care — it’s obvious that the tumor in her lymph node has grown larger and is putting pressure on her colon.  So, we went to a four-times-per-day feeding schedule to slow down her intake.  A little less food to digest at any given time…  I also have taken her completely off dry food — she is only getting my special “soup,” fresh, cooked meat, pumpkin, and “wet” food (Wysong makes one that only has meat, liver and water) and Honest Kitchen.  We also are giving her Pepcid morning and night instead of just once a day.  And I took her off the Meloxicam, because that can cause stomach upset.

With all of these changes, we’re not exactly sure which did the trick, only that it worked.  Because now, she’s back to her normal self.  Her appetite is insane (you’d think I never feed this dog…  EVER!).  She opened a can of whuppass on Tosca yesterday, because T thought she’d help Rio with her lunch.  Today, she played chase with her friend Rayna around the house for a bit after dinner.

And for this, I’m thankful.  Whatever comes tomorrow, at least I had today, and it was good.

Happy Turkey Day!!!