Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

Wishing everyone a joyous Thanksgiving Day filled with the love of family and friends.

~Eileen, Elvis & Olivia

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

From Joy to Despair




I had planned on using this post to introduce my new ex-racer greyhound, Olivia. I was going to describe her sweet disposition, beautiful, brindle coat, and her four dainty paws that look like they've been dipped in milk. Not to mention the impressive fact that she hasn't yet had an accident in the house or chewed one single shoe.

I was going to boast that the lovely Olivia is a canine dream come true. But I can't write any of that. Not today, because my heart is breaking.

This morning I took Elvis to the vet to treat what was diagnosed last Friday as a mild case of doggie bronchitis. He appeared to be getting worse, so I thought another check-up before the offices close for Thanksgiving might be a good idea.

But instead of bronchitis, both Dr. Arnott and I were shocked to discover that, just since Friday, an ugly mass the size of a plum had sprouted on my pup's neck. Emergency surgery revealed it was just the tip of an even uglier tumor inside his throat. Dr. Arnott removed as much of the beast as he could, but said the roots extended far too deep to get it all.

Then he phoned with the news.

My beloved boy has a terminal and very aggressive tonsil cancer. Chemo and radiation aren't viable options, not for this type of cancer and certainly not for a 12-year old dog.

This afternoon, I returned to the clinic to visit Elvis since he has to spend the night hooked up to an IV. I laid on the floor near his crate and held his head against my chest until his agitated breathing slowed down and he started to relax. Through my tears, I stroked him, kissed him, and told him what a good boy he is and how much I love him. Oh, how I do.

And in his weakened, groggy, doped up state, Elvis managed to lift his paw and lay it across my arm. Letting me know, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

My boy, my precious boy. He loves me too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A New Face a Comin'



The cat's out of the bag. Or rather, the dog that is. If you read my November 9th Pet Tales column in The San Francisco Chronicle, you know that I caved in. The clean house, free time and extra money just got to be too much. I couldn't stand it any longer.

I had to get another dog.

So I got on the horn with Stu Homer of Golden State Greyhound Adoption and submitted my request for an ex-racer greyhound. Other than requesting a small dog, since Elvis is already a big boy, I had no idea what I might be getting. That is, until Stu phoned last week to tell me my new dog had been selected. I'm pretty sure he said it was a female and I know he said it was brindle-colored and coming from Florida. I don't remember much because only his last words made a real impression:

"She's Lucy's cousin."

Now, I know that this fact doesn't amount to a hill of beans. And yet, it matters. I'm thrilled that my new dog is related to the sweet pup I lost to a wicked liver disease this past July. Even if it's nothing more than invisible doggie DNA, a little piece of my beloved girl will continue living in my home and soon, in my arms.

Because she arrives today. Stay tuned....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hunting Season

The other morning I was making my usual pre-dawn drive through a windy, woodsy canyon when, through the early morning mist, I came upon a breath-taking sight: A majestic buck, grazing in a field with a doe at his side. Had there been a spot to pull over, I would have done so, just to absorb and enjoy the tranquil moment.

I drove on, but the lovely image lingered in my mind, as did a gruesome thought: What I had appreciated as a snapshot from God would be seen by some as an opportunity for venison on the plate.

And I mused...how can anyone take pleasure in killing these beautiful creatures and call it a sport?

Karma, baby, karma.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Different Kind of Scary



There I was, watching that new creepy TV show, American Horror Story on the FX channel, when a commercial break began. And so I did what I always do: Channel-surfed. I was flipping through channels faster than a Kim Kardashian marriage when, oooooh, pretty lights, pretty lights!

Backtracking, I found myself on the infamous home-shopping network, QVC. Quality! Value! Convenience!

The pretty lights were a set of four, 16" battery-operated window candles with timer in an attractive brushed bronze base. Hmmm, I could use those. Couldn't I? Not really. Well, maybe. Considering that I'm cut from the coupon-clipping, sales-seeking, gotta-save-for-a-rainy-day cloth, I can't explain what compelled me to reach for my phone and dial the 800 number.

But I did.

Immediately, I was welcomed by a cheery attendant who asked for my phone number. When I recited it, he greeted me by name and asked if I still lived at the same address.

Uh, yeah.

Was I looking at the set of four, 16" battery-operated window candles with timer in an attractive brushed bronze base?

Uh, yeah.

And would this be on the same credit card?

Uh, yeah.

He then advised that my order would arrive on November 26, thanked me for shopping at QVC, and hung up.

Stunned at my impulsiveness, coupled with the speed and simplicity of what just transpired, I flipped back to the FX channel. The commercial break was wrapping up and the program was about to resume. I couldn't help but note the irony: American Horror Story?

Uh, yeah.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Clear and (non) Present Danger





I see him every day when I walk my greyhound, Elvis; a big, brawny, bowl-legged Boxer that greets us with angry, deep-chested growls as he slams his massive body against the fence. Each day I note, with just a hint of apprehension, that one of the planks in the fence is loose. The very plank that the Boxer targets, mind you.

N
o dummy, he.

But there's no way to avoid this house if I want to take Elvis to the park. And so, I walk my boy as quickly as his elderly legs will allow. Which, trust me, isn't fast enough for my comfort.

One day as we approached the house, my heart skipped a beat. There was no growling, no barking, no body slamming. Instead, I saw a gaping hole where the plank once was and noted the ominous absence of our nemesis, the Boxer. Uh oh.

Then I saw him--across the street on a neighbor's lawn. He was upright and alert, staring straight at me and Elvis. Panicked, I looked around for help, but the neighborhood was completely deserted. I had nothing to protect Elvis or myself, and doubted I could do much harm to the Boxer by pummeling him with the bag of poop I was carrying. I had no choice but to continue in the direction of the Boxer.

Slowly, I led Elvis forward.

And immediately, the Boxer reacted...by bolting in the opposite direction and hiding behind a hedge! I could see the whites of his eyes as he peeked at us through the branches. Then, when he heard his owner calling his name, he raced across the street and into her open arms.


Since that day, the fence has been repaired and the Boxer still greets me and Elvis with angry, deep-chested growls. But I'm no longer afraid and pay no attention. And after a few seconds the Boxer recognizes us and stops barking. He just stands there, watching us walk by. The jig is up.

We both know the truth.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Soul-Searching in the Chemo Ward




Went into my second round of chemo today with a bit of apprehension after last week's episode. The nurse said reactions are typical the first time out and I'd probably be fine, but I did note that she sat me next to her station, "Just in case."

So I crossed my fingers and nestled in for the long haul, the IV of toxic sludge hooked to my right arm and a stack of books and magazines piled to my left. Not an ideal way to spend a crisp autumn morning, sure. But any doubts I had about treating my blood disorder with something as potent as chemo were laid to rest earlier this week with a reminder of what MGUS is doing to my body.

I was sitting on the sofa,watching one of my favorite shows, Parenthood, when I noted that my feet felt like blocks of ice. Lacking any ready volunteers to heat them with a massage, I rubbed one between my warm hands and realized, with a jolt, that my foot didn't feel a thing. Nothing.

It felt like I was holding someone else's icy foot between my hands.

I've been warned that only one third of people with MGUS respond positively to chemo. But that night, holding "someone else's foot" in my hands, confirmed my decision to proceed with treatment. It's my only hope. If I don't respond, nerves will continue to be destroyed and, well, I'll just cross that bridge when I come to it.

But really, I'm one of the lucky ones. MGUS is not terminal. It's only, as Dr. Bee Gee expressed, "a major drag." As I looked around the chemo ward, I saw people of all ages fighting real life-or-death battles: Shrunken frames, bald heads, and sunken eyes filled with nausea, fatigue and despair. Spouses, partners, families and friends sitting by their sides, holding their hands and hoping for a miracle. While I'm reading Budget Travel magazine and dreaming about my next vacation, these people around me are dreaming about survival.

Puts things in perspective. Because at the end of the day, a numb foot might be a "major drag," but it sure beats the alternative.
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