Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stress Reducer

This following tale is not one I'm proud of but one I need to get off my chest.

It reflects poorly on me but it was a really important step in continuing my life.

Every since my child could talk he wanted a dog. Pleaded for a Scottie dog. His Dad doesn't like pets and said no......Until one day we were coming out of the shopping mall to leave a little cute girl with a cardboard box of dogs begged us to take one of her cute puppies home because her Dad told her she couldn't come home until they were gone. The dog grew in three months to a giant Rottweiler/German Sheppard mix as best as the vet could tell. It knocked us down and tore up trees roots and all and my husband gave it away to the lawn service guys who loved that dog. They have a ranch outside of town and wanted a big ol guard dog. Happy ending for all.

Years went by and my son continued to beg. He wanted a real dog. He said real dogs are like Scottie dogs, small and you can hug them. He begs and pleads and his Dad practically turns purple each time he asks he just wont hear of it. Then friends of ours say that they found a dog, an adorable sweet dog wandering in front of their home and its trained and sweet but they already have dogs and their big dogs don't like the little dog and they have to keep them all separated and the husband says to take the found dog to the pound. On the final day of the dogs life she begs me to go get it. I beg my husband and he says finally with huge sighs that I may go to the pound and get that dog and ONLY that one dog. I go to save the dog and it turns out that our friends husband relents and she already has picked it back up.
But OF COURSE they show me the other dogs all locked up and I swear to you by all that is true that they look at you with these huge "save me" eyes and you HAVE to take one home if not two or twenty. I bent down to pet them and this little black dog leaps right into my arms and rubs her nose on my cheek like kisses. We bring her home, and she proceeds to turn into a Tasmanian devil and rips our drapes to shreds, tears up the couch, ruins the carpet with determined defecating with vengeance. We brought her to the vet and the vet says the dog must have been abandoned and it has issues. You think??. The vet advises that we get one or two more little dogs to help this one live in a "pack" and she would be calm and relax and not want to "get back" at humans for the past. My husband about freaked out and demanded we find a new home. I did. I gave it to a family who had two little dogs and were looking for a third. They loved her and it was a good match. Happy ending for all.

Years go by and soon my son is begging again. This time I really want another dog too, I just really missed the last one and I had loved that little black dog even if she was a devil in cute doggies clothing. So I chime in. This time surprisingly my husband is not as adamant but he is weary worn in his listening. He says the only dog he would even consider is a white dog. A Maltese. We went to every rescue we could to search. We scoured the newspaper and penny saver ads. We became hunters. My husband went out of town for a couple of weeks (this is 5 years ago) and we see an ad in the paper for the PERFECT dog! A new puppy this lady had to get rid of as her dog had puppies and she couldn't keep them and had one left.

We fell in love with this little ball of white fur. It was really young and cute and we carried it in our arms. I spent hours training the dog, and took it to puppy class even. He was a really quick learner. But he had hip and knee problems and then allergies. Pretty soon I was taking the dog to the vet every three months for shots and medicine and pain pills. Then we spent two years trying different dog foods to try to modify its diet because it was allergic to everything, even rubbing on our clothes would make him break out and we discovered he was allergic to fabric softener. Because of this he was a miserable dog. He was grouchy and didn't like kids. Didn't like other dogs, didn't like to be petted anywhere except on the top of his head and his belly scratched. Anywhere else and he'd likely bite you. He bit me hard once when I was putting medicine on him and after that I was leery of him. Its never a good thing to hate your own dog but that is exactly what I did. I hated that dog and all the fussing it took to care for him. My son never liked the dog to begin with and my husband felt that we betrayed him by getting a dog while he was out of town. He said that just because he said he would consider that kind of dog didn't mean we could have one without him being there to approve.

So for 5 years I insisted that we care for this mess of a dog with its poo balls, and diarrhea and runny eyes and biting teeth and red oozing skin because it was a responsibility and I just couldn't bear to again give another dog away like we were failures. So we kept it. Kept paying the vet to give him allergy shots (2$ a day) and special food and special salve and we got it to where with much care we managed to keep him going without all the sores and misery, then I got cancer and they told me the one unifying thing in breast cancer studies is the amount of stress the women are under.

With a heavy heart I determined that one of my greater stresses of life was this dog. I finally conceded that its not necessary to torture myself or this family any longer with the misery it is to keep this dog.Its been a year in trying to find the perfect home for him but finally a family looking for a little dog called and we met them and we told them all about the food and how they would have to care for him and they really didn't mind. We gave them a 25lb bag of his special food, his special bed, his salve, and all his toys and things and bid him well. I told them that if it didn't turn out to be what they wanted that they would have to be responsible to pass him on or bring him to a shelter. Breaks my heart to admit that. I am the rescuer not the relinquish er.

Our family life has improved 1000% without the dog. The amount of relief is palpable. Every day is like a joy to wake up and not have to deal with that grouch. As a huge pet lover it was really sad to have to realize how much I resented him.How much my husband hated having that dog and how much happier we would be once he was gone.

I feel like I've let the pet lovers down. We havent really told anyone, just whomever comes over and asks what happened to our dog. So there, now you know another reason I'm enjoying life now. But its with a bit of guilt.

And the lesson learned? Third time is NOT always the charm.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One Year Today

No one in my family or even any of my friends realized it but today was one year since my surgery to remove the cancer.

Its been quite the journey. Not a bad journey, not really a good journey but a life changing journey to be sure. There were devastating moments and there were some sick moments and a few pain filled moments but the things that I thought were going to be the worst weren't and the things I thought would be no big deal turned out to be bigger than I thought. Most moments were ok. I guess that is the surprise in this cancer journey. I had little physical pain....mostly overwhelming exhaustion.

My prognosis is good, my tumor markers are good, I'm almost done with going to the chemo room and getting my infusions....I have two sessions left. I'm so happy to hear the great news and yet.......There are still moments where my heart freezes and my eyes get wide, a flush of searing heat goes through me and I'm filled with terror. Terror of the 'what if'. Then the moment passes and life goes on just like a swift river and I have to run to catch up and I forget about the terror. I have been really redirecting my mind when it wants to dwell on the what ifs. I cant live a life filled with terror.

But mostly......mostly this journey has filled me with the power to voice my desires, my wants, my needs and to speak up when I feel slighted, or wronged and that is the surprise to me. I used to be filled with gumption as they used to say in the old days.......then I got passive and became almost a martyr with my overwhelming desire to avoid confrontation. Over the years I changed from brazen to whispy voiced and then I carried life's responsibilities like burdens; well more like stones upon my back.

Weary with the crushing responsibility to do everything for everyone every day and all the time. Rushing here and there, going and doing and then running and rushing and just running myself ragged all in the unrealistic wish to be the perfect wife, mom, manager, bookkeeper, cleaner, washer, volunteer, working woman, partner, lover, listener, and woman. I juggled so many things like cooking old fashioned meals every night and yet rushing home to excersize to look well and being a cool mom and have
good balanced homelife and a house with with discipline and yet wholesome attention doing all the work stuff and school stuff and still be that old fashioned wife who was above reproach. And I did it all very well.
I was proud of how I managed it all.
Proud of my crazy blurry life.

This journey into the world of cancer has halted all that in its tracks and made me voice to others that that life I led is just ridiculous and got me NOWHERE and if the risk is to loose my life than I want to live life in a relaxed normal manner that lets me BREATH. Do you know that sometimes I wouldn't even get a chance to go to the bathroom all day or two days until I'd crawl into bed at night and be sick to my lower stomach and realize I really needed to use the restroom? That kind of living is nuts. And I lived like that and STILL felt like I wasn't doing enough.

Its taken one year for my family to realize that I'm not like before. They still want me to be. But I'm not going to do that again.

Do you know what it was like? It was like I was in one of those whirlpooly things in the drain when you let the wash water out in the sink and its twirling down the drain. But cancer was the stopper and it stopped me from draining away and now I have a chance to live life nicely. In pace. With grace and peace.

I've been painting and relaxing and taking naps and watching TV and cooking and meeting friends for coffee and lunch and taking time with my son. I even signed up for a class at the local craft store and paid for it and went and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I've gone to a jazz music night with a friend. I went and had a makeover in a department store cosmetic counter. I have been easing back into real living and I don't intend to stop. I will even insist on growing some vegetables this summer!

Next on the agenda is to get my son properly graduated, enjoy the summer properly and then see him off to school and then figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.