More surgery / and my vanity

I’m sitting here this morning in bed. I’m having a bad pain day. The nerve pain is hot across my right side and chest and the there is that tingling tickling burning sensation that travels across to my throat. I cough. Nobody knows exactly why. They know I have a lot of scarring that has adhered to my chest under my arm and I have radiation damage as well. They feel my sensations come because of this issue. All these things that are very hard to fix.

It’s funny how such a little area can make a person disabled when it flares up. It’s very frustrating. I’m so much better than I was last year but I’m still plagued with pain and it’s too much of a focus of my day and it controls my life too much. So on Wednesday next week two surgeons are going to try to ease some of the pain.

My wonderful nerve surgeon and a plastic surgeon are going to try fat grafting. This procedure requires liposuction of an area on the body. With me it will be my stomach- and my love handles 🙂 -see the smiley? I’m all for losing some fat since I’ve put on weight from the medicine I take for nerve pain.

Anyway they spin that fat so they get the good stuff and then they inject in my areas of scarring and pain. The idea is twofold. The scar will be lifted off the chest wall which may relieve some of the pain . Think of having gum stuck in you pants pocket and the two sides are stuck together. Well that is my issue on the side of my body where I had the node biopsy. So your skin is all one piece and when one part is stuck onto your chest wall it throws everything off. My neck gets tight because the scar is so tight it pulls the skin and muscle all the way to my neck. I get rib and breast aches and muscle tightness in my back. All from this small area of my body being off kilter! So the fat will create cushioning under the scar.

The other thing that is looking hopeful with fat grafting is that the stem cells in the fat can help regenerate the radiation damaged tissues. This has been studied over the last few years and the results have been very promising.

So that’s where I am. My third surgery in the last year. All in hopes that I will get to an acceptable pain level. Pain free is likely not going to happen and that’s been hard for me to accept. But I have come to terms with it to a degree but I continue to look for ways to help it improve.

Thankfully I have an amazing surgeon who wants to help. He has brought in a trusted plastic surgeon to do the grafting as he assists. I offer myself up to their expertise and they are pretty optimistic that I’ll get some noticeable relief. So I’m praying this is so and crossing my fingers and toes for an extra boost of hope. If I get some improvement a second grafting can be performed. (More lipo!)

I did ask the plastic surgeon if he would put the extra fat in my face. He said he would during my exam but later thought better of it. Maybe it’s just too much for one session! Maybe he had been joining. I Just thought getting a few wrinkles filled might be an extra bonus!

Since my cancer and subsequent pain issues and because I have three teens who like seeing my hair gray – I have aged a lot in the last few years. So I have had some filler done in my face.

I can hear people gasping. But hello lots of us are getting Botox (I’m not a candidate in my forehead because I have too heavy a brow), fillers and nips and tucks. I don’t want to age gracefully if it is going to go this fast. It is not graceful. So I’m just trying to slow it down -and crap after what I’ve been through I deserve to do things that help me feel good about me.

I’m not one of the confident woman who can accept their body changes and aging. I wish I were. I’ve gained weight and I’m out of shape because I’m limited in the gym. I do walk a lot. But I am not feeling good about me. I’m used to being thinner and more muscular than soft.

I will say that some filler I have had I’ve liked and some I haven’t and thankfully I did not get the kind that lasts lots of years. I don’t like my cheeks probably because I’ve gained weight since I have had my cheeks done. And I feel too cheeky! But I like the filler in my smile lines and in a couple other facial lines. I’m scared to get the filler under my eyes. Which is a problem area for me so I invest in lots of concealer.

I share this because I’m not afraid to show my vanity which come from vulnerability. I’ve been tossed around the last four years. It’s been super hard . Sometimes I wonder why I am still so vain and not just thankful for what I have. The fact is I’m both. I’m thankful and vain. And truly it’s each persons choice what they choose to do or don’t do with their bodies. So I own it. I’m vain but I tell myself that’s ok because I’ve been through hell.

So when the surgeon was thinking he might put some fat in my face I felt excited and nervous. It’s like maybe I could have pain reduction and a cosmetic boost all in one. I figure he changed his mind for a good reason. Probably wants to stick to the real issue at hand. My pain. Which is just fine with me.

In the long run if I had to prioritize what is most important – getting rid of pain would rank #1. Obviously. So heres to surgery number 3 for my post cancer treatment pain – I’m praying for good pain relief . (And if he has some extra fat for a wrinkle or two maybe he would surprise me).

Oh and there is the liposuction 😉

Hey whatever it takes to keep the spirits up right?

Happy Birthday Dad


Today would have been my dad’s 82nd birthday. I still can’t believe he isn’t alive. He planned on living a long time. He never would have been ready to go I don’t think. In a way I’m glad his death was fast and he didn’t see it coming. Here then gone. 

I miss my dad and have grieved him plenty over this last tough year. I sometimes felt that I didn’t know how to navigate with him gone. It’s that loss of connection that leaves a hole.  That person I have never not known isn’t existent on this planet anymore. It’s still sometimes throws me for a loop. 

I think I’m to a point where I can sort through some of the boxes I was sent by my brother who went through his effects (aka stuff) and sent me things he thought I might want. That includes many photos. I have purchased albums for them and may sort through them in the fall. Some of his clothing was used to cushion the boxes and that was the hardest thing for me to deal with when I first opened the boxes. I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet. 

Grief needs to be felt in order to move on I think. I don’t enjoy it. I lost three people who were very important to me in a short time. It’s been rocky. But I see that the only healthy way is to trudge through it. But we all deal with grief in our own way. We let a little in at a time. Otherwise it’s like a landslide that can knock us over and cover us and keep us from moving at all. 

I think when we lose someone we feel like we are the only ones who feel that loss. It’s because grief is a personal thing. It’s lonely.  We can talk out our feelings some and sit with others feeling the loss as welll but -for me at least -grief is deeply personal. Some days it’s lonely. But with my dad’s loss I’m processing it and I’m moving forward. 

In a tough year I have been blessed as well. I went from needing to be in bed bc of severe chronic pain to being able to move again. That thanks to a surgeon who listened and cared. I’ve been able to buy a beach house for my family. That thanks to my brother who agreed to buy me out of my dads Florida condo (and it is on Marco Island and it did survive Hurricane Irma ). My kids are doing pretty well. All working and one in community college and the other two getting ready to apply. Things are good. 

Amidst grief and loss there is so much sadness but there is joy. Lately I’ve struggled some with my feelings about many things and I’ve gone to see a threpist that I really like. This a safe place where I can open up about conflicted feelings and just vent about the last four years and get it all out. It’s a process. 

I’m sitting on the beach as I wrote this.  Something my dad would have done today I’m sure. I’m looking at the Atlantic and he likely would have been looking at the Gulf of Mexico. But we both shared a huge love of the beach. 

I think about the up and downs of our relationship and the hurts. It was quite a ride. You always want your dad to get you and if doesn’t get you then he supports your dreams. My dad didn’t always get me. I think it was easier with him to relate to guys. He was a guys guy. 

When I began my love of baseball we had lots of conversations about our teams. It was a way to bond more with him. I’m glad for that added bonus of baseball becoming my go to sport. It helped when conversations became awkward or tense. 

I began the process of forgiving my dad years ago. We were always waxing and waning. I always wanted him to just see me for me. And maybe finally he did. 

He became enamored with my photography a couple years ago after I gave him a canvas of a little mountain called Sugarloaf that was near our home in Maryland. We hiked there a few times. I think he even went there alone sometimes. I’m so glad he thought I had talent. No matter your age most of us want our parents to be proud of us. 

There are many things about my dad I don’t know. He struggled with alcohol use and it seemed he was happiest when he was buzzed. Well maybe we all are. But he loved his alcohol too much and he would never admit that it had a hold on him and as he got older I decided maybe it didn’t really matter. Let him just have fun. 

And he did have fun. He had friends and he travelled. I’m so glad for that. He even married his long time love a few years ago. That didn’t end well and it’s not a story I choose to tell now. 

My dad is buried about 45 minutes from my home. In a Catholic cemetery- next to his second wife Jean.   She passed away from Cancer in 1994 at the age of 51. His first wife is my mom. She lives with me now. He definitely wanted to have a partner. I’m not sure he ever mastered being a great husband but I know he loved all of his spouses. I’ve found my dad loved people the best way he knew how. Don’t we all try to love the best way we know how? I think it’s never perfect because we aren’t God. 

Everyone has a story. I know my dads story is deeper than I’ll ever know here on earth. But as conflicted as our relationship could be at times I am so glad he was part of my life.  He was funny and charming. He cared and I know he loved me.

 Since he has been gone I come to see how much alike we really are. My impatience and tendcies toward moodiness and my quick temper are all him.  Though I don’t often show my temper like he could. 

My dad was as big as life itself. A huge precense when he was in a room not only in stature (he was 6’4″) but also in personality.  He was more outgoing than I am and he kept up with friends better than i did. Though I am trying to be better at that.

 Stan Wilson was something. And he was my dad. 

So I’m sitting here in the beach on a beautiful day on Sept 23 remembering my dad on his birthday. I thought I could get through this without tears. But I am not. And that is ok. I cry because I loved. 

Later today I will take some of his ashes and scatter them in the bay just near our beach cottage. I want to release him into the water which he so loved. Later when the gardens are done being put in at our cottage I will scatter some of his ashes there- so he is part of Cool Breeze Cottage. I can just hear him saying “Cool Breeze! Here comes Cool Breeze!”  My high school nickname -he loved nicknames. I hated that name then but now I have three teens and I so get it! 

So happy Birthday Dad. I’d like to think you are with loved ones -your dad, Nana, Jean , keenie. And Ernie , the haleys,and mr Deveraux, mr Vogelsinger and many more. 

Happy Birthday. Your daughter here on  earth misses you so much and will love you always. 

I’m a child 

I remember sitting in a therapy group years ago. It was well before I was going for myself. I always went in the hopes I could find ways to change other people in my life that I thought needed changing. I wasn’t ready to change me. I was fine. 

In that group I learned about The Inner Child.  Back then Author John Bradshaws ideas of finding the inner child and healing the inner child were big in therapy groups. 

That group was BIG into healing the inner child. We had to get up and speak to our inner child. I hated that.  I was there to fix someone else. I was fine. Yes my dad drank. Yes he had anger issues and yes I grew up in a dysfunctional family but my inner child was fun. I was there to fix a guy. A guy I was dating. 

I still recall the house where we met. It was a funky cottage in an older section of Bethesda, Maryland. Not far from the Potomac river. It was an eclectic neighborhood. And the house vibe wasnt what I would have expected for a therapist but the room with its area to sit in a circle on the floor with pillows lent itself to comfort and a safeness. But when we had to talk to our inner child I thought they were all nuts. I only attended two or three sessions. During the last one I attended a woman a little older than me decided to put it out there for me -she said that I needed to stop and look at myself and ask myself why I wanted to date such people that didn’t want to commit to a full relationship. It wasn’t him it was me that needed to change. 

I was taken aback and left that night never to return. I wasn’t the one who needed to change. It was him. 

I was only 24 or 25 years old. I wasn’t there yet. I was so immature. I didn’t see what the others saw. But good for me to seek therapy. Good for my mother who herself went to therapy over the years even when people made fun of those who sought such help. She taught me not to question therapy it was just something one did like go to the dentist. I saw no stigma.

I just wasn’t ready to search inside myself. 

As the years progressed I went to a number of therapists. Some didn’t jibe with me so I left treatment. Othees worked out well for me and I stayed with them for years. My last one -Barbara-who we (my entire family ) saw died of Colon cancer. I still miss her and haven’t found anyone since that was a good fit for me. But i will. 

But before Barbara there was Claudia. She might even read this as we are Facebook friends. Claudia. She was my therapist right before and a then after I married. She was the perfect therapist for me at the time. She got me to work on me. She wasn’t a Bradshaw enthusiast I don’t think though I’m sure we did work on my inner child in many non-direct ways -like in regression therapy. 

Claudia and I talked, she did Reiki, tap therapy (as I was dealing with terrible anxiety) , hypnosis and more.  She was a kind and caring person. She championed me and I’ll never forget her. 

She made me see my inner self and my inner child. She helped me realize that I was a good person and I deserved good things.  Though I still struggle with that sometimes. 

But I came to realize we never really grow up all the way. And the most evolved humans are the ones who embrace their inner child and spend time healing any brokenness or trauma that child encountered.

 And It’s fun to act child like sometimes. The other day my BFF from childhood -Eileen-sent me a text and in that text she wrote something that made me belly laugh. It hurt too since I’m recovering from surgery! But it’s good to let that child shine through sometimes.  We go back almost 50 years. That’s a lot of lifetime but we still can snicker like the teens we once were. 

My husband gets together with high school friends and they go on and act like they are still 17. It’s a good thing I’ve known a couple of them for almost as long as he has or the jabs and old stories and theimmature  behavior might get old -but I can join in some bc I have old stories with some of them -though I forget many of them but our friend Terry has us doubled over much of the time. That’s the kids in us. Those connnextions are a blessing.  

Tom Atkins wrote a poem about picking a honeysuckle and tasting its nectar and how it brought him back to his childhood. I love the poem be when I read it I felt it. I was picking honeysuckle as a girl and then later with my little kids.  When I read that prom it warmed me ane I felt that child inside me giggle. 

So all these years later I’ve come to know my inner child and I’ve worked on her. I’ve know when I go to therapy I go to help me not another person. 

Little Anne is in there and she has healed a lot over the years because I worked on both of us. We still have a ways to go. I still have a lot to figure out.  

A couple weeks ago I was perusing one of the local online yard sale pages and I saw this Barbie dollhouse. (See below). It came with the furniture and car. My heart jumped. I wanted it. My innner child jumped out and sang “get me that dollhouse”.  I had one as a child though these have evolved and are even better than before.  But I remember seeing that dollhouse under the Christmas tree one Christmas morning many years ago. I still remember how I felt. 

I have no room for such a thing and no reason to buy it- except for the way it makes me feel. Like a kid again. And that’s a good thing. 

I didnt buy it. But I saved the picture. I hope it goes to little girl who will someday when she’s middle aged look at a picture of a dollhouse and feel the way I felt when I saw it. 

I’ve come to love my inner child. For a long time she was hurt and she was ignored. And that hurt child helped facilitate some bad choices bc she was hurt. But Now we are one. I’m am and adult and I am a child and we love dollhouses. 


Screenshot Photo cred: Facebook yard sale site. 
More about the inner child in this great article: 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evil-deeds/200806/essential-secrets-psychotherapy-the-inner-child

It’s always something….

gildaThe new year really came in like a steam roller for my family. From the loss of my father-in-law in late December to some issues with my teens to my mom’s back surgery which came just before a blizzard which drove me from being able to stay to manage her care post-op to getting home to deal with two and half feet of snow that hit our area and kept my kids out of school for a week – it has been an eventful new year thus far.

What a difference a week makes. Here we are post blizzard and the roads are cleared, the snow is melting and the kids are back in school (thank God).  My mom has been moved to a rehab hospital in Lancaster, PA where she is making good progress towards regaining strength and mobility. It is a slow process but she is in a very nice facility and seems to be comfortable there. The next road for us is to find a place for her to live in Maryland near us as we would like to have her down here before June. So that means a lot of research and visiting places. Not to mention the packing up and decluttering of her home in PA so we can get that sold as quickly as possible.

I am again reminded by my friend Donna – “It’s always something” – a quote she sent me recently from the beloved Gilda Radner playing Roseanne Rosannadanna.

It is always something.

I remember when I saw the slogan “Shit Happens” years ago on a bumper sticker on some car someplace. I remember thinking how funny that was. But I don’t think I realized how true that was at the time. Shit had happened in my life but up until then the crap hadn’t really hit the fan. As we age shit really does happen and some of us get a lot of shit and some of us are luckier and we get less. But it Happens. What a wise quote – it grows with you – and we aren’t alone because everyone has shit happen! It is comforting in a way – yes?

It really comes down to how we handle it all – right? Some days we want to put our heads under a pillow and not face the day, sometimes we long for a bottle or ten of vodka so we can drink ourselves into oblivion and forget the shit that surrounds us. Other times we stand with mighty fists trying to face down our shit and other times we plod through just trying to get to the other side.

It is always something – it is always going to be something. And that really stinks when you think about it. But it is what makes life life. We are just always trying to deal with – or duck – the shit. Sometimes there are things to be learned from these events and sometimes they are just things to get through- maybe in the end we are wiser,stronger, more grateful, more loving, or we have an epiphany and sometimes maybe we are in shell shock for a while. I was in shell shock after my cancer battle- it took a while to make my way back to feeling like I was living life not just getting through the day. Maybe sometimes we get through but we are left with questions. I know I sometimes just have endless questions and I drive myself crazy with the asking because sometimes there are no explanations.

For me what gets me through the hard times is faith. Orange slushies and wine are a help but my faith in the fact the someone wiser and greater than I has my back is what I cling to when crap hits the fan. (I know some are reading this and wondering how I can write about my faith and crap in the same sentence- well it kind of feels good. And both are part of my life).

Faith may seem cliche’ to many and maybe it isn’t the go to for all of us. Faith is an important tool in my “dealing with life” toolbox. Sometimes when I am drowning in crap I forget to rely on my faith- it is when I am feeling so lost and like nothing will give that some little niggle comes into my head that reminds me that I have a wonderful God watching my back. I may not like the circumstances I am in and I may not get the outcome I pray for but faith is what calms my waters. We all should have some type of go to.

Whats gets us from one end to the other of this life- where it will always be something- takes a good amount of strength and hopefully a sense of humor (and hopefully a go to) because it is so much more fun to laugh than to cry. Have you ever had a good cry and then it pivots into a laugh – maybe bc someone said something silly to try to cheer you up or you are in the midst of a good cry and your dog farts and you have to laugh or urn to another room? It really is so weird – this life. That we can ball our heads off one minute and then snicker like a ten year old in the next.

This life – it can be ugly and depressing and scary and sad and it can be so joyful and gorgeous and silly and light- there is crying and there is laughing – sometimes life is faith and crap in the same sentence. Life is amazing…

and I am grateful for it….well maybe not the crap part…but the rest is pretty cool…

 

 

 

 

 

Dogs and Me-thoughts on my love (and need) of dogs. 

Last week our PitBull mix Reese got into a fight with my Old English Sheepdog Ridley – our newest edition to our home. The dogs had come in from outside where I had just watched them playing. The dogs seemed pretty rambunctious and I don’t like that in the house so I was going to put them back out but decided to give them some leftover apple first. I stood up with a plate in my hand and the dogs ran over and never quite got settled (they need to sit to get any treat). In a split second 2 year old Reese was going at Ridley who was doing his best to protect himself. Reese who is smaller but much stronger than 11 year old Ridley pushed him to the ground and had a hold of his next above the ear and he wouldn’t let go. Ridley stopped fighting and was whining. It was very scary.

I was able to get Reese to release his hold – my son had the mind to grab the water spray bottle we keep handy – he sprayed and I tugged at Reese. He let go and I threw him outside. I went out and yelled at him and chased him with the spray bottle more bc I was so mad than it being any important correction. But I think I made my point – but it was very upsetting to me. Thankfully Ridley had only a minor cut behind his left ear.

Ever since the altercation over a week ago -things have been quiet between these two. A couple days after that event Rudy took his turn getting after Ridley too. No damage was done to either dog and I did correct Rudy and gave him time in solitary – away from the pack. They all seem to have moved on.

Since the first event, I have been quite off kilter and not as relaxed when my dogs are all hanging together as I usually am. I feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is not really like me. These altercations were clearly tiffs and the dogs have seemed to move past them. Why can’t I?

I realize it is my issue not the dogs. I have been doing a lot of thinking about it.

I have mentioned before that some of my reaction is likely comes from some Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. PTSD from my own life which probably is what drives me to want and need dogs in my life, and then the post traumatic stress that has caused such a strong reaction to the fight which derives from the time last year when my husband, Kevin, was bitten by another sheepdog we had adopted. We had him 4 days and the dog attacked my husband without warning – severely biting him multiple times. This landed my husband at the urgent care (in hindsight we should have gone to the ER) and he became very ill due to the infection he ended up with from the bites.

It was a scary event and one that could have been avoided had I never agreed to take that dog in the first place. I knew he had bitten the foster person. Though it was downplayed I should have had a much bigger red flag on that bit of information. I ignored it bc the desire to get another sheepdog into this house was greater than my red flag meter.

I think I was very affected by the attack on Kevin and I wasn’t sure I would ever adopt a dog again. Though this is what we do so I could only stay away from getting another dog for so long. I have carried a lot of guilt and fear away from that incident, which I am sure, played a part in my reaction to the fights between my current dogs.

Kevin reminded me the other day that when we chose to add another dog to our pack we stir up the dynamic for a time. He is right. I need to remember that dogs have their own hierarchy and though over three weeks had gone by since Ridley joined the family, things are still getting established in their dog world.

We can’t ignore the fact that Pit Bulls have been bred for fighting and their reactivity to challenge is well known. They can be fierce and scary when they decide to fight. Deciding to have a dog with Pit Bull in them is not for everyone. When we decided on getting Reese we felt confident that we could handle anything that came up. Had we met Reese after the dog-biting incident I can’t say for sure if we would have adopted him. I may have been too nervous. But maybe that would be the fear talking and I don’t like to bend to fear.

Dogs have been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. But recently, I have been thinking more about this and have realized that in my childhood dogs represented calm for me. Psychiatrists have said that dogs are very important to children who are leading complex and difficult lives. I realize now why I was so drawn to them from such a young age. To this day I have a dog near most of the time. I have a dog curled at my feet as I write this piece.

I grew up in a chaotic household. Not normal chaos – the dysfunctional kind. There was yelling and fighting. Our family dog, a black and white cocker spaniel mix named Inkspot-became my friend and she calmed me. If things got too loud in my home I would hide in the closet and Inky would sit with me until it felt ok to come out.

I am realizing now that so much of my life even in adulthood has been about chaos or post-traumatic stress and dogs were the medicine to comfort me.

My need to have multiple dogs in my life has been to fill something that I didn’t get in my childhood. A sense of stability and of calm and order – a need to give to living things what I did not have. We get dogs for all kinds of reasons but rarely think about them. Thanks to Reese, I am thinking about them.

I have always been drawn to saving things. This primal need must come from my childhood. The trainers know it is rarely about the dogs, it is always about the people. I felt unsafe for much of my life. When you feel you have saved something you feel like are saved as well. It is healing. The more I do it, the more I heal. In a way I know this is selfish, but it is good and feels good to me and good for me. And the dogs benefit too. So it’s a win/win.

I got into rescuing dogs by accident. I hadn’t considered rescue back in 1992 but I just happened to hear about Greyhound rescue. I felt this instant need to help. Probably my first jump into rescuing a dog was not well thought out. I got into it on a whim and thankfully that breed worked out.

I have had dogs in my adult life for 25 years. I have had at least two dogs for much of that time and I have up to six living with me. That’s not for everyone but it is something that I feel is right for me. My husband shares this passion, and that is important. In a marriage, you can’t do this alone. In that time I have learned a lot. One thing I do know for sure is that you cannot ever think you know everything. Dogs are animals after all and they will act that way and sometimes it will take you by surprise.

I remember as a kid when our Lab Sam killed a squirrel in our backyard. My brother thought it was cool – I was sad for the squirrel and my mom was horrified. We don’t want to see the primal side of our animals. We try to teach them to live with us in a civilized manner and for the most part they do this agreeably and I am sure the fact we provide them food and shelter is a good motivation.

The best thing we can do for ourselves is when getting a dog rescue or from a good breeder is to look at the type of dog you are considering and learn about the temperament.

In our case with Reese we really liked him. He was just about 4 months old and pretty darn cute and we had some connection to him. We didn’t really chat about the fact he was part Pit Bull until after we put an application in on him. We knew the good sides and the bad and we knew the risks and we opted to go ahead and adopt him.

When we get a dog we also think about whether the dog will fit in with our other dogs and we have to also consider the kids. If a dog is aggressive to my kids or to us they have to go -as did the dog that attacked my husband. It would have been irresponsible for me to keep a dog that was aggressive.

I also had to re-home a dog once because my other dogs were attacking him. It was heartbreaking but sometimes dogs just cannot get along and to keep the dogs safe sometimes you have to rehome one. The dog that we rehomed ended up in a great home for him and lived out his life in peace and safety. It hurt me to give him up but this wasn’t about me it was about the dog.

When getting a dog we also should consider where they will live

A giant dog that needs room to roam and run should not be kept in apartment. I had a greyhound in an apartment but they are couch potatoes – really they are. But to have our collie mix Pierce in an apartment would drive him mad and a potential owner mad. In our case now we have four acres and a big dog yard where they can run and run.

Reese has been an incredible dog – albeit full of energy- he has been the ambassador of our dogs welcoming guests human and canine alike into our home. Until the issue with Ridley he had never been aggressive at all. In fact, it was he and Rudy who lay with me after my cancer treatments bringing me so much comfort. This fight last week was the first and it shook me. Dogs are the calming forces in my life so when they act aggressively– it stuns me.

After a lot of pondering, I do feel that my reactions to Reese fighting with Ridley were valid – but I also think they shook me more because of the biting incident with Kevin. I lost some of my confidence when that happened. I hadn’t realized it that until I really thought about it. I can get past this though. It is like falling off a horse. It is imperative you get back on and ride through the fear and doubt.

Rescuing dogs is what I do and I have experience at it. I realize that I can’t fix everything and we have our limits but we think Reese is a pretty good dog and we are willing to work with him on his issues if they arise.

I did learn to be more diligent with them when it comes to food. I am not sure the fight occurred because of food alone but something happened when they saw me with a plate. I also will be adamant that they stay calmer in the house. They seem to play well outside. Inside a dog can get bumped when they are jumping about and that can sometimes result in misunderstanding that can lead to a fight.

I have learned that I love the Pit Bulls and the Pit mixes but they come with some risks. The very cute and sweet dog can be a mean creature. But in general he is a very nice dog. I am more aware now of what he is capable of and I won’t take the for granted.

I am dedicated to Reese. I can’t let a dog go easily. I don’t give up on things that quickly. I spent much of my life trying find love and acceptance. I have that now with wonderful people in my life that have lifted me up and have never given up on me. I am not ready to give up on him.

I am lucky; I found the acceptance and love in my life that I had been craving as a child. It took a while to find and it took a while for me to feel worthy of it. My love and need for dogs has never wavered and my dedication to helping them is still as strong as ever. The little girl inside me will never forget the little black and white cocker spaniel mix that sat with her when she scared and sad and licked her tears away.

Thanks for reading…

 

 

Reese -age 2 – the Pit Bull mix that is the inspiration of this post.

My heartdog Rudy -age 3

Newcomer- 11 yr old Ridley

Lemon – age 6

The crew. Lemon in back . L to R – Rudy, Pierce-age 2, Ridley, and Reese

 

It’s what we do. 

 This is Ridley. I have hesitated to write about him. Partly because I tried to be in denial that we were actually getting a 5th dog – yet again- after I said no more dogs! The other part is because this is an Old English Sheepdog and if you might recall we tried to rescue another OES about 1.5 years ago and that turned into a disaster. That dog bit me on the second day we had him and after I decided to let that go as a stress thing- two days later he attacked my husband. He suffered severe bite wounds- and despite being seen at urgent care he became very ill with an infection from the bites. He nearly lost a part of his finger and to this day he has stiffness and bad scarring on his hand. I suppose he fared ok seeing as how the bites were all over his hands and legs. He was lucky.

The hardest part of that experience aside from seeing your husband crouched in the bathtub allowing the blood to go down the drain as he tried to rinse off the wounds and not pass out was how the rescue group treated us. They never asked how my husband was doing and acted like the dog was the victim – and they implied we must have done something to make the dog attack my husband. This really was upsetting on so many levels. They did take the dog back and as far as i know he is living in a separate building on a fosters land. But blaming us ignored a dog with a serious problem. I was contacted by a number of rescues groups after I wrote about the incident that the dog should be euthanized. Maybe we should have done that – in hindsight I cannot say I wish we had – bc the entire event it hurts my heart still – but if one looks at it logically that dog should probably have been put down. I have prayed that he never ever bites anyone again- especially a child. I can say that in hindsight I wish we had never dealt with that rescue and for a while I wasn’t sure I would ever rescue again – especially an OES.

Since 1993 there has been 12 dogs that have been part of our lives. Ten of those were rescues the other 2 pups we bought from breeders. I am no dog trainer but I know dogs. I think after the experience with the sheepdog and the reaction of the rescue I was hurt and discouraged.  I wasnt sure I could handle going through that again. I thought puppies would be the only way I would go if I brought another dog here again. All of our dogs now are young. Ages 6 and under. We did not need a puppy.

And we didnt need 5 dogs again. We don’t. For a while finances precluded us from adding to the group but that has been lifted as my husband has gotten a new job that will allow us to loosen our belts some. We still don’t need 5 dogs. We don’t. I kept telling myself we needed to downsize the number of dogs we have because we want to move to the beach in a few to sometime years (we have no idea is what I am trying to say) and I couldn’t figure out how many dogs would fit on any of those little lots at the beach. So I thought after each precious dog in our lives left us we would not get another one. Two would be the optimum amount for us I thought -and for many two  is too many—for me two dogs just seems like an empty nest! But I had to be practical and financially careful. But that stress has been lifted so maybe there is room for more.  But we don’t need five dogs- we don’t…

But I miss having an OES and I miss having a senior dog.

And with the passing of time I realize that I am less effected by the last fiasco with the biting dog and the nasty rescue. I also realized that I am not a practical person. I have never been one. I have no idea if we will move in a few to sometime years…and I cant start living like that now. The more I thought about leaving my farm the more I didn’t want to leave it. The more I looked at my hens – whose numbers were dwindling after the loss of a number of my old girls over the summer and fall- and realizing I said I will not raise anymore chicks or ducks bc we are going to downsize in a few to sometime years- I realized this was living for the future and I wasn’t living in the now. That made me sad…because after having dealt with cancer I try to embrace the now more than ever.

So I began to make contact with some OES rescues that I know- I had been too impatient before and used a rescue I had not heard of and as it turns out had a bad reputation among other OES rescues country-wide. So this time I knew who to contact and we began a dialogue. But the dialogue also had to happen with my husband- Kevin. After all it was he who suffered the most the last time I tried to get an OES. But hes an amazing guy and he doesn’t harbor resentment and he has moved on. He knows how much I miss my OES Dave and how I fell for the breed and he knows how much I miss having one- so he is on board and not reluctantly…he looks forward to a new friend. If he lived alone he definitely would not have 5 dogs-  that’s all on me. But I think Kevin – who grew up with no animals- loves the life we have created and is up for adventure. We are in this thing called life together and for that I am blessed.

My wants for dog number 5 were pretty simple…I wanted an older dog 7 yrs plus and I wanted an OES and a male- and I didn’t want a biter. I love old dogs and we have rescued a number of them. They often get euthanized if they are put into a shelter bc they aren’t the first in line for adoption. So sometimes it isn’t as easy as it sounds to get an old guy. But once I put the feelers out I got a line on Mr Ridley in the picture above. Ridley met my criteria…he is a male and OES and hes old between 8-10. He is said to have a wonderful temperament – no known biting and has done very well in his foster home that he shares with other dogs.Tarheels OES Rescue in NC was pulling him from a shelter in WV. The owners could not keep him anymore bc they had young kids and no time for him. I think he was loved enough at some point but the kids became a priority and Ridley was relinquished to the backyard (he was quite matted and flea bitten) and then they took him to the shelter. From all I hear he is a happy guy.

I have known about this impending addition for weeks now. I think I was afraid to post bc then it would seem too real.. I am still nervous about all of it—my PTSD from before. Is writing about it making my life to much of an open book? Will people flame me if it doesn’t work out for some reason? But I can’t let fear deter me. I have a lot of support with this one. Belinda- the rescue director- has my back. She has been very careful to get me a dog that had an incredible temperament. I have my friend Betsey who did OES rescue for years and gave me my first beloved OES Dave years ago. At first Betsey wasn’t going to give him to us bc we had young kids- but she liked that we were at home most days and Dave needed that for health reasons. I am so glad she took a chance on us – I fell in love with Dave and the OES breed. There will never be another Dave but I do look forward to having an OES in the house. I am nervous and hoping this placement is a good fit. I am sure I will be reporting about this journey.

So tomorrow at 3pm we will meet Mr Ridley and bring him home. We were able to get a transport all the way to Hagerstown, MD 50 minutes away from us. Everything is falling into place. We have his food and his bed. Tomorrow we will have 5 dogs. We don’t need five dogs….but I am not living in the future – I want to live in the now. And giving a home to an old dog who lost his first home- to give him a second chance- is part of who I am (and now who Kevin is). This is the life we chose to live. It’s what we do.

Thanks for reading…..

 

Some dates you don’t forget

As much as I don’t desire to celebrate cancerversaries or many other dates that mark my cancer journey, today is a date I will never forget. It was two years ago on this day that I had my lumpectomy to remove the nasty cancer from my body.

I remember the entire long day as my surgery was scheduled for 2pm. I was nervous because not eating for that many hours was going to be hard for me. There was also the issue with my frequent potty breaks. For some reason I had to go so many times while waiting for the surgery and I trotted across the hall to the restroom dragging iv lines while trying to hold closed my gown. There was also the wire that had to be placed in my breast and then a radioactive substance was injected there as well. The nurse came in carrying the stuff with large gloves. It was out of a sci-fi flick and I kept thinking “they’re going to put that in my body?”  Yes they were. The things we endure to try to become well again.

The last thing I remember before going into surgery was begging for something to take the edge off. The nurses kept putting that off and it wasn’t until the anesthesiologist came in and saw that I was in a state (from nerves and not eating ) that I got a shot of some very nice stuff. I recall happily babbling all the way down the hall into the operating room and saying something to Dr Bahl my rockstar surgeon. She laughed and then I was waking up in recovery. Cancer gone.

Two years later. I’m ever so grateful for this time I’ve had. I’m was so thankful for the clear mammo I had in August. The intense pain of  the 3D mammogram-where smashing the boobs down as far as they can crank the Machine is mandatory- was worth the “normal/benign” finding that came ten minutes later.  Note to anyone facing 3D for the first time:Take Advil or something before and after. It helps some with the discomfort.

So two years later. Life hasn’t been the same. It’s so much better in the most important ways and harder in others. And the funny thing is some of the hard things have actually blossomed into good things.

Case in point. My brain. Somehow my brain was affected by this whole thing. I’m not able to multi-task like before. I get overwhelmed easily and my brain is foggy a lot. There are so many things that play a role in this. The cancer treatments themselves. Radiation and the anti-cancer meds I take now can play a part in the change to my brain. I’ve also been in peri-menopause and now full blown menopause (well I hope but can’t say for sure until May 7,2016). This can wreak havoc on the brain. I take piles of natural things to combat this fog and to keep my body as healthy as possible. But the brain thing is still there. It is frustrating. It makes working at my job hard. I can’t keep focus. But I’ve come to realize that it’s ok. I had to finally admit to myself that I really dislike the job anyway. It’s a business that has been struggling and I’m tired of it and the stress of it. It took a lot to admit this but my new brain made me realize that sometimes you have to let go before you can move on. And I really want to move from that to something else. I’d like to continue to work from home so I suppose I’ll see what happens as I think in those turns. Karma (or God) has a way of bringing things to light. So I imagine one day the next thing for me will become clear.

There have been been frustrations with my new brain but there have been huge blessings too. As I mentioned above I realized I didn’t want to work in my job anymore and that is big but there is more. When I had my old brain I could multi-task and I was always bouncing from one thing to another. I had little down time. Now I find I can stop and chill.  At first I didn’t like it – I could sit and do nothing and 45 minutes would just be gone…so not a thing I would have ever let happen when I had my old brain. But now I see the good things about this change. I hate cleaning the house now and am not bothered like I was before with clutter and mess. Before I couldn’t fathom letting the house get too unkempt- I would vacuum and swiffer daily…now once a week works for me. Its freeing and maybe a bit embarrassing if someone pops over and we have some dust bunnies and crap piled up on tables- but only mildly. And there is more! For years I liked the idea of baseball but I couldn’t settle my mind to watch a the long game. I even went to local games and would drink a beer and eat some food and chat with people never paying much attention to the game. I had a hard time waiting for the pitch -yawn yawn- just throw the ball. Now- I love baseball. It just happened one night while sitting and watching a game with my husband I became all things baseball. I now have the MLB app on my phone and get my team line up sent to me daily. I know all the names of the guys on the team and understand lots of the radio chatter on the sports stations. I love the stats and the all the strategy and nuances that go into the game . I will talk baseball on and on with my husband and I must say he considers this blip in my brain a great coup for him!  And because we have a business partner that works with the my the team I love, we have gotten to go to a game and sit in some awesome seats. I saw one of the best games of the season with Bryce Harper scoring three homers. And we are going to see the Baseball Hall of Fame very soon. I like this part of my new brain. Who would have thought I would love baseball?

My new brain has also brought out a new creative side. I’m taking more chances and trying new creative things. My most recent endeavor is furniture painting. I am new at it but it is fun and I am learning a lot. And many of our crappy pieces have been reborn. I think my entire family is shocked that I have the patience (I still deal with impatience but in some areas it is better) for this – my old brain would not have been. I would not have taken my time to get it just right- I would have just wanted it finished. Finding this new outlet has been good for me. I can see that even though my new brain had impediments – it had gifts as well.

Physically I still suffer. Before the cancer – physically I was more whole than I am now. Now I am in some ways- broken. I have pain each day and since it is not extreme pain I am able to deal with this pretty well. I have lymphedema which is uncomfortable some days- I have gotten a pump to deal help manage it. It is a condition that will not go away but it can be well managed so it is not a daily bother. I have frozen shoulder and this has been a bigger issue for me. Not know which way to go with treatment has been a challenge. I have some type of nerve damage that has the doctors puzzled and this damage is exacerbated by the shoulder. I am not sure if I have this damage from surgery or lymphedema or what. I do know that from the first day after surgery I had a stiff shoulder and I also know radiation made that worse and I know that I made it worse by shoveling ice and muck during the winter following treatment.

No doctor understands why I feel the way I do and that is frustrating. I have gotten to a point where the symptoms are tolerable and I am not sure having shoulder surgery to release the capsule is a good choice when the doctors who don’t know why you get the painful sensations (that lead to chronic coughing) in your upper body – and who cannot assure you that you would be cured from said discomfort- nor can they guarantee it would not be worse. So here I sit. I have my own stretching regime and I have seen some thawing in the shoulder but I still have the nerve discomfort.  For a long time this really got me down.

I have to admit the after the cancer has been worse for me physically than the during. Before the cancer I had some back issues but physically I was strong.  I worked out daily and I was in good shape and I need these workouts for my sanity. Before the cancer I could get up on my horse and ride without thinking. Now there is more planning involved…but hey I can still do it. I can still work out – again I am limited and there are more things to consider – but I do it. Before the cancer I didn’t feel sick. I didn’t feel sick on the day I was told I had cancer. The after is different. The battle leaves you with scars. For a good while after i suffered with depression and issues with fear. That eventually ebbed. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I may never be without some issues – thats a hard pill to swallow sometimes. But so many people walk around each day and live their lives with issues. Before cancer I dealt with anxiety and issues with an auto-immune disease. We all deal with stuff. I know I am not alone in that and I don’t want to wallow in a pity party for myself. So instead of putting off doing things until I felt a certain way I vowed that I would get busy living my life. You never know, the way I feel today might be what I long to feel at some point in the future -we don’t know what the future holds for us-and we only have today to really live. So living is what I have been doing. When I flip through the pictures on my phone over the last ten months or so I see a life well lived. I have done more than I ever could have imagined. No I haven’t scaled a mountain or been on a safari but I have done things that I may have never done before the cancer because my anxiety would hold me back. I still battle with it but I battled cancer and that was harder so I push anxiety aside and try to live the life I have now the best I possibly can.

Some days are hard…my nerve issues have been bugging me lately and the shoulder is bothersome- but we all have good days and bad days. The old me could not accept this about myself. Even then when I would not do something bc the beast anxiety had a hold over me I would beat myself up for having a bad day. Now I love myself more and though I don’t like having a bad day where I am not feeling up to snuff I try to allow it to just be and accept it.  It is hard bc sometimes I have found that living life after cancer makes you want to speed life up. In that you want to check every item on your bucket list off for fear that you will never get to do it. Two years out from cancer that has subsided some and my new brain in its inability to deal with too much input shuts down – so I have slowed down the manic “I better do this before it is too late” mantra. Because when you are living manic you aren’t really enjoying the moment.

Two years later. I find that my life is sweeter and better than ever before. There are challenges. We all have them. I have found that we will never be without them and it is how we face them and deal with them that makes a difference in our lives, Each day I try to live a good life. I try to find joy. I try to learn something new. I try to laugh. I try to be better to my people. I try to love well. I am not exactly where I would like to be in some aspects of my life but I am happy and blessed to be right where I am.

Thanks for reading…..