The Crisis Of Last Week

On Monday morning last week, I had a vet appointment scheduled for Maggie. She was due for her checkup and vaccinations but there were other concerns I had to discuss with the vet. She’s been showing some signs that not all is quite right with her and it seemed more than just being a slightly senile 10 year old neurotic beagle.

I had thought that maybe I was crazy and I was imagining her symptoms. But then she stepped on the scale at the vet and she’d lost 4 pounds. Being as we have always kept a close eye on Maggie’s weight so that she wouldn’t give into Portly Beagle Syndrome, this was not a good sign for her. She really didn’t have 4 pounds to spare.

The vet and I discussed possibilites and ways to go about diagnosing them. Then they got a blood and urine sample from her and sent us home to await the results.

Good gravy, it was a long wait. By the end of the day Tuesday I had a migraine so vicious that I would have thrown up except I hadn’t eaten so there was nothing to come up.

When we finally heard back from the vet things were a little unclear.  We ruled out the most likely possibility but the remaining possibility wasn’t sunshine and roses either. The vet said she would have the pathologist take a closer look at the cells in her urine sample to see if we could determine anything more and that she would let us know in a couple of days.

Thursday we found out we were still in limbo and the vet was recommending more expensive tests. We’re talking upwards of $500 worth of diagnostic testing and we’d already spent a few hundred dollars on Monday.

This is the point where my parents being veterinarians comes in so handy. While they live too far away to treat Maggie, they have been so wonderful in helping us over the phone, talking over diagnostic options, talking to us about treatment options, and running the whole gamut of scenarios with us.

After a lot of conversations between Scot and I and my parents, we decided that we were 80% of the way there with diagnosis and spending $500 to get 100% there was not really smart. Especially when there isn’t much we can do.

Maggie has bladder cancer.

It’s not very common in dogs but it is slightly more common in beagles. It is generally inoperable because it tends to occur in a section of the bladder that makes it nigh inaccesible.  While chemo treatments might exist, I just can’t put my dog through something so rotten that she won’t understand.  There is one treatment available to us.  Many dogs respond to it and it is surprisingly affordable. But we cannot cure her. The treatment will alleviate her symptoms for a period of months.  Then the symptoms will return and it will be time to let Maggie go.  We don’t know how many months she has. Dad has seen some dogs go 18 months to 2 years but the research literature says 6 months. So, it’s anyone’s guess.  We started the medication on Saturday and we’ll see how things progress.

It was not an easy week last week and it was especially difficult trying to keep all of this from the kids until we had an answer. Once we did, we sat down and told Liam who was heartbroken. He took it as well as he could have and I think he understands that the loving thing to do is let Maggie go before it gets really bad.

In some ways, I’m so grateful for knowing we only have months because it means everyone has a chance to say goodbye and make a few last memories with her and to adjust to the idea that we are going to lose her sooner rather than later.  But no matter when it happens, we will all miss her terribly.


7 Quick Takes On Life In Our Nuthouse

1. Scot finally seems to be on the mend.  He worked half-days all last week and he’s back to work full time this week.  The antibiotic they put him on in the ER seems to have turned the tide.  Thank Christ for that.  He’s still not up to full strength but he’s getting there and life appears to be returning to normal on that front.

2. Jamie loves preschool so much he hates leaving preschool.  He just cannot get used to the idea that he’s only there for half a day and he constantly tells me he doesn’t want to go home. Yesterday when I picked him up, he said he didn’t like preschool – right after he finished telling me how much fun he had. I asked if that was because he had to leave and he said “yeah.”  Poop.

However, the same facility that our preschool is in runs a drop in daycare. So we’re going to investigate letting him stay all day at ‘school’ one day a week. The daycare portion is inexpensive as these things go so we can swing it once a week. When I told Jamie I would look into it he perked right up. We’ll see how it all works out. I have to find out what kind of availability they have and that sort of thing.

3. Second grade with Liam is Serious Business.  Tests, tests, and more tests! Pretests! Reading tests! Spelling tests! Math tests! It goes on and on and on. The amount of homework has ramped up again (I expected it would) to the point that we’re now tackling as much of it on the weekend as we can.  On top of that, two days ago he came home with multiplication homework.  Multiplication! I didn’t start learning that until the 3rd or 4th grade and certainly not in the first month of it!  Holy crap!  I’m pretty sure second grade is stressing me out more than it’s stressing him out.

4. Pumpkin update! So, it turns out that we got two pumpkins from our plant this year.  The second one is still ripening and it’s much smaller than the first but we got it! I think I figured out that I planted it in too small a space so it couldn’t root itself properly when setting fruit.  Next year (I’m hoping to try this again) I’ll plant it in a larger space and hope for a bit more in the way of a harvest.

5.  The new schedule is still killing me a little bit.  With Jamie out of the house for only 2.5 hour chunks 3 days a week, I feel like I’m running a marathon every day that he’s in school. I drop him off, try to go for my 3 mile walk, come home & cool off, then jump into chores until pick up time. It’s crazy. I can’t seem to fit it all in!

And yes, I have made some changes on the health and wellness front. I’m back to exercising as regularly as I can. I got way off track this week due to The Crisis of The Week (which I will talk more about in a separate post at a later date) but I haven’t forgotten my promise to myself so I’m hoping I don’t get completely off track. Thinking about exercising counts, right? (ha! I wish.) I’ve also tried to be better about my food choices and journal my food intake. That one is a bit of a roller coaster. Some days are really good, some days are really bad, and others are just so-so.

6.  This house needs a major purge of STUFF. We have too much STUFF and it’s driving me utterly batshit.

7.  Squirrel!

P.S. When I did a google image search to find a funny squirrel picture, I discovered that ‘squirrels with guns’ is a thing. Image search THAT if you dare!

Genius Discovery

For years, I have loved the Bath & Body Works Foaming Hand Soap. I love the scents it comes in.  I love the way to foams up so washing kid hands is easy. I love the way it makes my hands feel when I wash them.

I try to be frugal though so I always bought them in bulk when B&BW was running a sale. So, maybe twice a year I’d spend $30 on soap and that was that.

But this latest round of illness with Scot has finally convinced me that we need to lay off the anti-bacterial agents in this house, if only for the sake of Scot’s health. It’s a small change but maybe it’ll make a bit of difference.  Also, I’m running out of the B&BW soap so it was time to either restock or change.

Did you know that finding foaming hand soap that does not contain triclosan (the active ingredient in antic-bac soaps and Purell) is nigh impossible? They don’t make them!  Cue the sad panda face from me. Instead, I found a couple containers of Softsoap brand hand soap that were acceptable scents and resigned myself to my kids using way too much soap and spending more money.

In frustration, I tweeted about it.

Seconds later, a twitter friend who goes by TwinmamaTeb tweeted back that I could make my own.
Wait. What? I already make my own laundry soap, how could I have missed out on this foaming hand soap thing? But she assured me that I could. Just fill the foaming dispenser with water and add a few pumps of any old soap you wanted and VOILA! Foaming hand soap on the cheap!
I had to try it out.
I just ran out of soap in the kitchen this morning so I dug the dispenser out of the recycling and thoroughly washed and rinsed it, ridding it of the last vestiges of the soap that I’d run out of.  Then, I filled it with warm water and added 10 pumps of the Softsoap I’d bought this morning.  I put the lid on and swished it around to mix it then gave it a pump and BAM! Foaming hand soap. Works like a charm.
The small bottle of Softsoap I bought is going to last for AGES doing it this way and save a TON of money in the process.  I think I just cut back my soap expenditures to around $6.00 a year but we’ll see how long it goes.  And! And! It’s plain old soap with no triclosan!
Try it! You won’t be disappointed!

I Spoke Too Soon

After blogging yesterday about Scot having pneumonia and hoping he’d get better, he took a nose dive last night and ended up at the ER.

I was getting kids to bed and he was awake after having slept for most of the last 2 days. He was coughing. That nasty deep, hacking cough of pneumonia and I didn’t like it.

“I don’t like the sound of that,” I said. “You’re not supposed to be doing that 3 weeks and 2 rounds of antibiotics later.”

So Scot called our doctor who called him back and said it was time for a chest x-ray. My mother-in-law very graciously came and picked up Scot so that I could stay with the kids and while they had planned to hit Urgent Care, Scot changed his mind and they went to the hospital. By this time the humidity outside had made it difficult for him to breathe and he knew the ER could treat things more aggressively than Urgent Care could.

Of course, it was Friday night so they were slammed.

It was a long night for Scot and my poor mother-in-law. The staff took the xray and ran a bunch of blood work only to figure that while things are kind of getting better this stuff just doesn’t seem to want to die.  Also, they had a hell of a time starting an IV on him despite the fact that he’s been making an effort to keep hydrated.

In the end, they gave him an HOUR LONG breathing treatment, some IV fluids, an IV bolus of antibiotics, and some codeine for the cough.  He came home with prescriptions for the Trogdor the Burninator of antibotics and some more codeine. They are trying to KILL IT WITH FIRE.  Since this is now the third class of antibiotics they’ve put him on and they finally pulled out the BFGs, I’m hoping this will turn the tide.  This shit will kill the plague so it better damn well kill this.

I fell asleep sometime after 1 am and Scot didn’t get home until around 2:30 am.  Unfortunately, the kids were up at their usual 7 am wake up time so we are crispy fried critters today. It’s movies and PJ’s today for this house.

I am going to need an entire pitcher of sangria when this is all said and done. And then I’m going to need douse my entire house in bleach.

Catching Up

Man alive, it has been a long few weeks.

In no particular order, the goings on around these parts lately include:

1. Scot has had pneumonia for the last 3 weeks.  His work has been PHENOMENAL about the whole thing. They’ve told him not to push himself or do anything he’s not ready to do and that he’s not worry about the work he’s supposed to be getting done. It has eased both of our minds to know that they are understanding.

He did try to go back to work on Tuesday after being off for 2 full weeks.  He made it all day Tuesday and half a day Wednesday but it seems that was too much too soon and he’s been a limp dishrag since Wednesday afternoon.  Here’s hoping the weekend brings improvement…

2. The first full week at school for Liam was a HUGE improvement from last year.  He’s used to full day school now and he dropped back into the routine with almost no ripple.  It was a crazy first week getting everyone to their commitments and having Curriculum Night in the mix as well (which was one giant data dump and a lot to take in).  But we got through it and I think second grade is going to be good. So far he seems to like his teacher and he’s happy with what they’re learning in class so I’m content. The first grades he brought home – his first real letter grades – were A’s. Go Liam!

3. Jamie started preschool this week. He had a sneak peek last week when he got to see the classroom and meet the teachers.  He loved it so much he cried when we left and was grumpy for an hour after we got home.  He’s had two days of shortened hours this week and both times he cried when I picked him up. I think it’s a combination of the stress of adjustment and not wanting to go home yet. The poor kid is used to full day daycare and this 2 hours at a time business is really pissing him off royally. But the teachers say he loves his time there so I have to trust that he’ll get past all this and learn to love it.  I feel bad for him, though; I wish it could have been different.

However, check out how excited he was to go on the first day! (And please note that getting these pictures was nearly impossible – he was so excited I couldn’t get him to stand still long enough to keep my pictures in focus!)

Ready to go Mom!
Headed out the door with a backpack as big as he is.

Also, there is nothing like a suburban preschool to make this mom feel out of place. I didn’t know anyone (except my one neighbor up the street), they all show up for pick up way early (I got there 10 min early and there were 8 other moms there already), and they all seem to know each other from last year. I don’t know them yet so I can’t say for sure, but it felt like walking into a sea of Stepford Soccer Moms and I’m the odd woman out.  It’ll get better and Jamie loves it, so that’s what matters.

4. What about me, you ask? Well, I’m trying to keep my head above water and on top of the chores. I’m usually last on the list of things to take care of and I have to remind myself to shower on a regular basis.  I’m trying to work my way into figuring out how our new schedule works and how all my responsibilities fit into it. I want and need to make some fitness and diet changes for myself and I’ve been waiting out these last two weeks impatiently. At the start of next week I’ll be seeing how my time really works out and I’m hoping that those 3 mornings to myself will afford me the time to put myself higher on the priority list every now and then.