Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I have lost to February

There's a Dar Williams song called February, about lost love using February's horrible oppressive coldness juxtaposed against the cooling of a love affair. While the topic of the song isn't really relevant, I always think of one lyric.

"and we'll gather all our arms can carry, I have lost to February".

I have a lot of anxiety about another February, because last one was pretty bleak.

February 1st: It became clear that Guinness was succumbing to his cancer
February 5th: I said goodbye to my Big Man.
February 12th: I went to the hospital-discovering I was in preterm labor
February 14th: Valentines Day in the hospital, waiting to see if the doctors would be unable to stop my labor
February 15th: Made it to 34 weeks, at which point they would no longer try to stop my labor if things continued
February 16th: Sent home from the hospital on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy.

And then the long agony of waiting began. Each Friday, I could mark another week of my pregnancy. Another week of growth and development, another week where the NICU might not be an inevitability. The remainder of the month was filled with anxiety and the exquisite boredom of bedrest. Suddenly all I wanted to do was laundry. I spent hours feeling minor contractions, counting their duration. Hoping they wouldn't quicken.

With Zoe's illness, I will feel a lot better once February is over. It feels like a cursed month.

I remember you, Big Guy.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Old Dogs

Zoe had something that looked an awful lot like a seizure yesterday. She was at work with me, getting a CBC done to check for adverse effects from the chemo. Yeah, she's got cancer. Again.

Zoe had an anal sac adenocarcinoma removed in 2009, and had chemo in 2010. She has been cancer free since then, and by 2013 I had gotten pretty lax in checking her remaining anal sac. It is standard of care to only remove one anal sac, because the morbidity associated with the removal tends to be higher with bilateral removal, and it rarely metastasizes to the other anal sac. So, we've blithely gone along, and I had finally stopped worrying so much about the remaining one. I had her at work with me in November, and figured, better check. And there was a new mass, in the other side. Lucky us.

She had surgery that day. She refluxed after anesthesia and had horrible esophagitis, which kept her from eating normally for about three weeks. We started chemo in December, and she's had three treatments. The oncologist said she expected we could gain at least a year with chemo, plus "she just looks like the kind of dog who could go on for awhile". She doesn't look 14, I guess.

Having old dogs is a unique sort of horrible at times.  I feel for my friends who've never had an old dog, but will soon. It's a lot of worry. A lot of guessing. A lot of negotiating with fate. Before Guinness got melanoma, I spent a lot of time wondering if his kidneys or his neurological condition would decline faster, and which would ultimately be his demise. Turned out, whammo, cancer. That bastard that just couldn't leave well enough alone.

Now with Zoe, I wonder if chemo is more harm than good. She's always had a good quality of life, even during her last bout. She had some bad days just post-surgery. On the third day after chemo, she'd always look at her dinner skeptically, as if it wasn't quite worth it. But it was short lived. This round, I thought the esophagitis was going to be the end, I've never had a dog so miserable. Once that healed, and it didn't look like she'd strictured, I was hopeful that treating her was the right thing to do. But she's older now, and the chemo seems to take more out of her. Plus, I think it's much harder on her to be in the hospital all day than it was. And yesterday, that seizure came from nowhere.

So I will watch her. If it happens again, I will not scramble to do tests, and I will consider stopping the chemo. I have my syringe of diazepam at home in case she needs it.  I will try to do the best for her like I tried to do the best for Guinness. I won't cut her life short, but I will not let her suffer any more than is absolutely necessary, and I will try not to prolong out of selfishness. Today she ate her breakfast, she played with the boys, and she's sleeping on her bed.  I will watch her, and hope she will tell me what she needs.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New year. Humility. Parenting. Etc.

Oy 2013. Great and terrible. On the one hand, I had a baby. I weathered pre-term labor, kept pregnant til term, delivered my baby without any unwanted intervention (oh, I WANTED that epidural, believe you me). I've nursed him exclusively for nine months (with bites of solid food for the past two). I've gone back to work and weathered the stress of working motherhood. I've battled some PPA. I have a wonderful son whom I adore.

If only the little bugger would sleep...I kid not, there is nothing to make you crazier than sleeplessness. The arguments around sleep training infants. The middle of the night fights over who will get up this time. Being pinched and poked by a baby in your sleep. Joy. It's crazy-making, arguing with yourself (and others) over your methods. Co-sleeping or not. CIO vs WIO. Any method you choose, someone will tell you that you are damaging your baby. Super fun.

I pretty much found my school of thought on dog training and stuck w it, sure I add more tools to the toolbox, but I believe in relationship-based and positive training and don't question. If only I could find a sleep-coaching method I believe it so thoroughly.

It's funny, being a vet and being a dog person, I see a lot of posts on my feeds discussing people's opinions on not having kids. I get it, not everyone is a kid person, and more power to you! I feel encouraging people to have kids who don't want them is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, a parent knows how hard it is, why would you want someone to go through that if they have no inclination? So for my friends who have had someone imply or outright state they are going to be sorry if they don't have kids some day, I call bullshit. If you don't want to, don't. You'll have a lovely and fulfilling life without them.

That being said, I do resent the implication that I've sold out or bought in to some paradigm because I had a baby. Life is full of compromise, and yes, you compromise big time to have a kid. I can't travel 6 hours for three day agility trials right now. I'm lucky if I get a daily shower, so my dogs aren't getting daily hour long training sessions. Loving your child is not better or worse than loving  your animals. But it is different. It is a different feeling, a different love. To me, it's an experience I wouldn't miss out on. Again, not better, or worse, just different. Amazing. And maddening. And a whole body, visceral, primal, aching emotion that I have never felt for another living being. It's just what it is.

However, you childless folks get to sleep, so I sort of hate you for that.

The terrible-I still miss my Guinness. It's been almost 11 months. I think about him daily, especially around the holidays. I miss his sweet face, and his soft presence.

I miss my normal body. I feel ponderous, tired, slow, lumbering, slothful.

I miss feeling like rest and relaxation were acceptable and not slacking off on my parenting duties.

I miss feeling competent at work rather than always feeling like I'm playing catch up after being gone so long between work weeks.

We'll see about 2014. I've got some goals. #1 is get healthy, which I haven't fully defined yet, but I will. #2 is improve relationships with my primary people, especially my son as I learn to parent. #3 is develop at my chosen profession. #4 is continue to improve with my hobbies, including agility. I need to fully flesh out these goals and make a plan. Easy to say, harder to do. I need a nap.