Monday, December 16, 2013
My beautiful Gracie is gone. How can it be that just 9 days ago she was waking me, walking with me to the pantry, and "singing" to me for her breakfast...and today she is gone. How did that happen? It was so fast...Her thyroid and kidney issues were under control. She saw the vet on August 30th and all was well. Today she is gone. My heart literally hurts...I can feel the hurt in my chest. Here's what happened...and this is more for my memory book than for all of you so don't feel the need to read it in its entirety.
A week ago this past Saturday, I gave Gracie her IV and when I gave her her dose of the thyroid medication, she wouldn't open her mouth. I pushed gently on her jaw, but higher than usual. She cried out and hid. I didn't see her for the rest of the day. On Sunday morning, I couldn't find her. I called John to cancel plans because I wasn't comfortable not knowing where she was. Instead he came down to double the efforts, since the two of them would be attached at the hip when he was here...LITERALLY. She would sit as close to him as possible. As soon as she heard his voice, she came sashaying out, ate, drank water, took her meds so we followed her to her hiding place...behind a bedroom door. By Friday, she wasn't coming out so I brought the food to her. When she finished eating, I carried her to the sofa, where I combed her fur, noticing a couple of drops of drool. Since she had a tooth that needed attention, I planned to bring her to the vet today.
Yesterday, she was lying by the heater and was barely moving...only to readjust herself. She stared at her food but did drink water. I medicated her and watched carefully. My friend Sandy picked us up & we brought Gracie to the Emergency Vet Hospital, where it was assumed that she had an abscessed tooth. My worst fear was that they would keep her overnight. Instead, when the vet looked into her mouth, Gracie had an aggressive squamous cell cancerous tumor at the back of her mouth & throat (which is what I had pressed on that Saturday morning), growing towards her eye. There was one decision to make...well, really no decision. So, my beautiful little Gracie is gone.
Stunned & shocked that a tumor could grow that quickly. Yes, I, who have worked with cancer patients since 1999, am stunned & shocked.
Sad to have to let my beautiful little Gracie go. Sad to watch Katie sniffing at Gracie's favorite spots and crying. Sad that her beautiful little face can only be seen in photos. Relieved that she is not suffering...but the tears won't stop.
1. Gracie was a part of my life for 10 years, coming to me when her original family abandoned her after 8 years. She entertained me, loved me, healed loneliness & grief, trained her sister Katie very well, and kept every secret I ever shared with her. She will ALWAYS be my blessing.
2. Katie, who has a big job on her little shoulders to help my heart heal.
3. John, who found Gracie through a co-worker, and was such a wonderful dad to her.
4. My friend Sandy, who was my angel yesterday in not letting me go alone to the ER, until John could join us.
5. Iggy, Pianella & Amos Henry, who welcomed her at the gates.
6. My friend Maribeth, who while dealing with her own problems was by my side in heart...and texting Sandy.
7. My Spark Family - you know who you are - who comforted me through phone calls, Spark messages & goodies, & posts at our team message board.
8. G-d, Who created these beautiful creatures to be our companions, and Who directed Gracie to me...even if I do think just for this morning that He could have worked out a better way of doing this.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Time sure does fly! Foolish me thinking that my work schedule would be lighter in November. I'd forgotten all the events I pushed to November to not turn folks away. I love being on the Hope Bus, but I think I've reached a breaking point since I can feel my alterego, "Mean Mauri," really pushing to the surface. Not so much with visitors to the RV, since I can't help but be compassionate as I listen to their questions and stories. It's more people with whom I interact - read that as "co-workers" - who are trying my patience. I'm not sure if it is because I've forgotten what it's like to deal with the folks who stay in the office, or whether it is that I meet so many wonderful, courageous, strong people on the Hope Bus for 5, 10, 15, 60 minutes and so I've forgotten the challenges of long-term relationships. At any rate, I need a break!! Next Monday is the last 2013 foray for the Hope Bus. Then it is back to the office full-time to prepare for 2014. Before I go back there, I need to forget that:
2 co-workers have decided to rearrange my office, take one of my file cabinets (not understanding that the program for which I work 8 hours/week is state-funded and those files cannot be in the same cabinet as the Foundation's files), and want to clean out the other program's belongings to be mixed in with the Foundation's.
1 co-worker talked about creating a rack card with quick info on breast cancer. I reminded him I did write the text for that last winter, citing risk factors, symptoms, and screening requirements. He told me it was too "clinical." HELLLLOOOOO!!!! It's a disease and needs to be straightforward, not flowery...and wants to meet before Thanksgiving to discuss it. Uhhh, it's been sitting there for 11 months...and we need to create them in 2 days???
Lastly, there are 2 events to which I am told I must go - One is a spa day for our staff. I don't like people I don't know touching me - and yes, I believe that may be because of the sexual abuse as a child. So, I had to choose from a facial, manicure, pedicure or massage. Chose the facial & manicure...and am hoping the spa has terry clothing that fits me. Not relaxing for me - just anxiety producing.
The other event is a major Christmas party held in Boston. John won't come so I have to go alone...I'm not a big event lover...sooooo...we shall see.
Okay. Now to the stuff that matters.
*SPARK RESTART* Plan:
1. Tracking nutrition/analyzing daily - no matter my schedule thanks to the Android app for my phone
2. Blogging - first in 11 days
3. Visiting my 3 teams - not so good
4. Decluttering - have managed to donate another bag of clothes
5. Exercise - hard to do when I'm on the Hope Bus for 12 hours/day
1. Gracie & Katie, who have a calming effect when I return home
2. John, who invited me to see "A Christmas Carol" last Sunday, an annual tradition for us. We are also going to see a play that is a retrospective of Lucille Ball tonight - so he does his part to make sure I have some fun.
3. Two amazing women I met this on the Hope Bus, facing incredible challenges and succeeding in staying positive
4. Thanksgiving day lunch today with the survivors from our Hope Bus support group
5. Very busy days on the Hope Bus, which made those 12 hour days pass quickly
6. G-d, Who continues to send blessings my way
Monday, November 11, 2013
For those who read yesterday's blog, you know I was very excited about visiting the Dunbar Tea Room...well, the best laid plans...Here's how the day went...
When we arrived on Cape Cod, our first stop was to drop off the pet food at Collections Gallery in Sandwich. While there, John mentioned that last year he received a call that he won a prize. Believe it or not, that was last December...and they were holding it for him. It was a $25 gift certificate so he bought a beautiful handblown glass wind chime...It had brilliant colors and one was clear glass with very thin lines of the other 4 colors. Beautiful! It was made by the artist who was working yesterday. While there, I remembered I needed a "Yankee swap" gift for the Sisters in Survival holiday dinner in a few weeks. It is a glass snowman ornament, made by the same artist. Always fun to meet the artist who creates the things we buy. Here is the ornament:
From the gallery we headed to the Dunbar Tea Room. Just as we approached it, I commented to John, "What if it's closed?" Sure enough, as we pulled into the parking lot, there was a sign that it is closed until next Saturday. We were both so disappointed. As we headed down the road thinking we would just stop at the first place that looked interesting, John was paging through one of the local tourist papers he had picked up at the gallery. In it he found a listing for "The Tea Room at Borsari Gallery." We decided to take a chance and try it. What a find it is! Though I still love the Dunbar Tea Room, we are so happy to have an alternative.
Here's the entrance:
Here's the view from our table. We loved the generous spacing between tables.
Our tea set...When the Bells from England owned Dunbar, they used these lovely teacups. Unfortunately, the American women who now own it, switched everything to plain white dishes, cups, etc. We decided we did like having these beautiful pieces from which to drink our tea:
Lastly, my lunch - the Ploughman's Lunch. I ordered mine with Stilton cheese. John wanted a taste so we traded two pieces of the Stilton for two pieces of his cheddar (and he added ham slices to his). In the little condiment cup are Branston pickles, a British staple, I assume. I LOVE those pickles. With it came two thin slices of toasted Italian bread (of which I ate one & John add my other).
We continued on our way, visiting galleries & a huge antiques center. We stopped at a local farm where John bought an apple pie that he cut into before I could photograph it, and we also brought home a garlic pizza from "Yarmouth Pizza by Evan." These pizzas are artful creations and will be dinner tonight for me (and for John, I presume).
Thanks for coming along with us to Cape Cod!
*SPARK RESTART* Plan:
1. Blogged yesterday & today.
2. Tracked/analyzed my food...not too bad considering I ate out yesterday, and had a slice of apple pie!
3. Visited all 3 teams on Sunday.
4. Exercise - we did take about a 15 minute walk while on the Cape.
5. Decluttering - just recycling went out
1. Gracie & Katie, who guarded our home
2. John, for agreeing to do what I wanted to do while at the Cape yesterday & for treating me to that lovely lunch...for finding that lovely tea room
3. Tea at the Tea Room at Borsari Gallery - surrounded by beautiful art, comfortable surroundings, and wonderful service
4. Tea - I just love the comfort of a good English Breakfast tea
5. Stilton cheese - yum!
6. Living so close to one of my favorite places on earth
7. G-d, who brought us safely there and safely home
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Each day I check FB my home page has posts from friends/colleagues listing something for which they are grateful. My PB team also has a November challenge of listing daily thanks, and I have been participating in that daily. I love that the PB challenge also asks for a random kindness we have done for someone & a random kindness that was done for us. I think of the 3 things we list daily, the act of a random kindness done for me is my favorite part of the challenge. It has helped me to understand what an act of random kindness can be and that it can be something quite simple. For instance, yesterday when John arrived, he brought beets for me. They were on sale and he knows how much I LOVE beets. I was so excited that I cooked them and we had them along with our vegetable pot pie for a late lunch. Simple.
As I type the word "simple," it reminds me of the teasing I endured as a child, and still do as an adult at times, because simple things are what put the biggest smiles on my face. In my first business job in the 1970s, three friends vacationed in Bermuda. I couldn't afford to join them since I was paying my dad's medical bills. Two of three bought me souvenirs, long gone now in the decluttering over the 40 or so years. The one that remains is a small piece of coral that one of them brought me from their diving experience. Yes, back in those days it was okay to take samples - what did we know about affecting the environment? That piece of coral has always held a place of honor in my home to remind me of how it felt to have been "included" in a simple way. My cousins teased me endlessly and even laughed at the coral. Lots of cutting comments were made. I didn't care. It meant that Diane knew what was important to me and how badly I felt I couldn't go on the trip. Since then, I've always tried to do for others what she did for me. I may not always be successful, but honestly? It is what gives ME the greatest joy - to make someone feel as I did that day.
On another side of the coin, I am conflicted on thanksgiving challenges. What happens on December 1st? Will we forget to look for those moments in our lives for which we should be thankful? Should it not be just an ordinary habit we practice each day? It is thanks to my PB team that I have this conflict in my mind.
When Wanda first invited me to blog each day, there wasn't a formal team. We were teammates on another team. I was going through a tough bout of depression over issues in my life, added to my SAD that appears about the end of September. Wanda suggested that I join her and a couple of other teammates of hers in blogging 5 things for which we are grateful. I call them blessings, as you know if you visit my blogs regularly. As a result it has really become an ordinary habit for me. (Can you guess what my 2nd blessing will be today?) I go out of my way to say thank you to others. I also have to thank Kathy from my MI team for connecting me with Wanda. So...
Thank you for reading my blog today!
*SPARK RESTART* Plan:
1. Tracked nutrition/analyzed everyday last week.
2. Blogged twice last week. :(
3. Participated in 3 teams just two times last week.
4. Exercised - well, not very much.
5. Decluttered - a bag of clothes/purses got donated.
1. Gracie & Katie for keeping me entertained!
2. Wanda, for the idea of blogging my blessings, and changing my daily habits!
3. Kathy, who connected me with Wanda, and encouraged me when I first started this part of my journey
4. John, for paying attention to my likes, & always enjoying my home cooked meals
5. Spending Saturday with John, just hanging out at home with the kitties & movies
6. For the first 7 hour run of straight sleeping in many months
7. G-d, Who puts me in the crosspaths of some wonderful people
Friday, November 08, 2013
...trying to get back into the swing of my normal life. Somehow work always puts a kink into it...as does life.
Though I though work was going to be maneagble in November, the past two days were a bit on the hectic side. Taught classes on breast health at a local high school, meeting a new survivor who shared part of her story with them. Always amazed at how differently each person reacts to their disease.
Tuesday was a non-stop day on the Hope Bus and I love that one of the women we met, who had been called back for more diagnostic testing & a biopsy, actually took the time to call me just now to say everything is good with her. It came back negative. Woohoo!
Tonight off to the "Legendary Divas" show, courtesy of my boss. These are men dressed as celebrities, ie Lady Gaga, Cindy Lauper, Cher, etc. Two of them perform every other year at our big Flames of Hope(tm) event and the brother who dresses as the females uses the back room of the Hope Bus as his dressing room so we've gotten to know each other.
Working hard to get back to work on my *Spark Restart* Plan...Hopefully by this time next week, I'll be caught up with my emails, SP mails, reading/commenting at blogs, and my teams so I can get into a rhythm here.
*SPARK RESTART* Plan:
1. Blogged Monday & today; missed 2 days.
2. Tracked/analyzed food everyday.
3. Visited one team everyday; the other two I visited on Monday & today.
4. Fitness not so good.
5. Have donated more clothes this week.
1. Gracie & Katie, who kept me warm by sleeping on my hip these cold nights.
2. Relaxing, fun evening tonight.
3. Planning a few vacation days in December.
4. Spending the weekend with John...John who?? Hahaha...
5. A slow day at the office
6. G-d, Who grants me so many blessings
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