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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Invading cells

Hectic and frenzied best describe yesterday. I found out early in the morning that S’s biopsy showed undeniable cancer. I knew that I needed to keep moving to avoid falling into an abyss so I snowbiked with K and R in the morning. Although the world was gray and dim with an approaching storm, we had fun.
Part of the cloud veil lifted and revealed blue sky and a mountain mirage.In the midst of the wintery world, another aspen tree had burst its buds - a sign of new life in the midst of a very late winter. I looked at the buds and flowers closely, and I'd never noticed their intricate beauty before. The flowers literally explode out of their casing.

After our ride, I took S to the vet for some bloodwork and to formulate a plan. I expected a short and easy trip down and back up the mountain but the snow cascaded out of the sky at an incredible rate. As I headed home up the narrow and tortuous canyon road, a sheriff's car with flashing lights sped past me and turned sideways in the road, creating a blockade. At first, I was frustrated that I had barely missed the window of opportunity to get home. But then I started hearing about the extreme scene unfolding above us on the road, and I was grateful not to be up there. I didn't get home until after 9PM (from a 3PM appointment), and the drive was harrowing after the road opened. I was the first try to ascend our insanely steep road so I had an ATV police escort through the first hairpin turns. I think the drive burned out my adrenal glands because I feared sliding backwards down the hill (it's happened before).

Yesterday evening, about 8" of snow fell in a couple of hours so I cross country skiied early this morning. The new snow sparkled and glittered under an intense sun and blue sky. It transformed the pine trees into white fluffy forms. The snow-weighted trees narrowed the trails to sinuous thin paths with glimmers of blue peeking through. The snow was a blank slate with absolutely no tracks besides deer mice - I guess that all the wild animals hunkered down for last night's storm.

Both K and R joined me for the ski - their second of the day because my husband took all three dogs for a very early ski. K is not acting like herself - she's not enthusiastically frolicking during our outings and acts sporadically afraid of R. Yesterday, I took her to the vet along with S, and the vet agrees that she appears to have fallen into hypothyroid quicksand again. So, while we're awaiting her blood test results, we're pre-emptively increasing her thyroid supplements. I hope that it makes her happier.

R, on the other hand, exuded high amperage electricity. He's retained a puppy playful habit of biting my ski tips. He reserves this antic for whenever I look unstable, like as I try to weave around the rocks on a descent. It was a super cute antic when R was a tiny puppy but now he's capable of grabbing a ski and turning it according to his whim. I've become adept at balancing on one ski while wrangling with R for control over the other ski. I need to figure out how to stop him from doing this. If I say 'leave it', he just attacks again after the 'leave it'. If I stand still, he patiently waits for the first smidgen of movement - and he's surprisingly patient. Throwing a stick distracts him only briefly. I'm almost at the end of my list of tricks. Any ideas out there?
Unfortunately, even if R abstains from ski-wrangling, cross country skiing hurts my back. So, I pulled out the Fatback for a short, back-loosening spin, after skiing. It takes diligence and energy to keep my back pain within a tolerable threshold.

The day glowed with beauty beyond description, lifting my spirits immensely but briefly.Then, the dark clouds hanging over Divide reminded me of the scary tests a few hours away for S. As I gazed at the mountain beauty, I felt like gravity suddenly pulled me down at ten times its normal force. I stood rooted to the spot, feeling unable to take another pedal stroke. I remember this feeling from past losses - but each time, I think that I'll never feel so bad again. Without that splash of optimism for the future and selective memory, I'm not sure that happiness would be possible.
This afternoon, the news from the vet left me feeling like my 'heavy' moment during my ride had been a premonition. Although S's major organs look cancer-free, his lumbo-sacral lymph nodes are "large, cavernous, and angry". This finding darkens his outlook to a matter of a few months. We won't make any decisions until we finish gathering information - but simply keeping him comfortable is rising on the list of options.

Our dogs epitomize love and happiness for us but the ending always lurks on the horizon. I'm not good at the ending.


  1. What a heavy burden. I've known people who won't have a dog because there is always an ending. They have no idea how much joy they are missing.

    Our breeder lost one of his favorite dogs. His statement is one that always gives me comfort.

    "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

    Here's hoping S will have many wonderful days ahead, happy to be with you and giving you joy.

  2. Oh KB...I am so sorry. I'm terrible at the endings, too...and while I agree that we should smile because it happened, it seems impossible to avoid the crying at the end :(

    Sending you a million hugs and thinking of you all,

  3. Wow! You got way more snow than we did from that storm. We're hoping for a bunch Saturday too, but we'll see. No advice on the skis, we've never let ours see us on skis. I'd probably hurt myself or them.

    I'm sorry to hear K is still feeling slow and worried. I hope the meds perk her right back up.

    And, of course, I'm sorry to hear about the hot nodes inside S. We're keeping all of you in our hearts.

  4. OK,

    You might want to talk to me. Our dog had the same prognosis, but lived two years. It was not cheap though.

    We did surgery, radiation, then chemo. His quality of life returned after the surgery and he had an excellent year and 3/4 after that.


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