Thursday, April 24, 2008

i may live.

i'm beginning to think i may live.

Today i finally could feel the other dogs. i've had other times like this: depression so deep my senses shut down. Sadness so complete i couldn't feel/see/hear/anything around me. Now at least i recognize it for what it is. When there is information coming in that i cannot process at the time, i'm cocooned in a silence of the senses.

My mother dying and leaving me with pages of angry and hurtful words: silence. Losing babies to miscarriage: silence. And now losing our Dynamo dog to a sudden onslaught of cancer cells: silence.

For a few days i could hold the other two dogs in my lap and even pet them, but my senses were silent. It was as if i could not actually feel their fur, or their licks, or their sighs as they nestled into my lap. Silence. i guess that's what shock is about. When the interruption hits that carries a sudden overwhelming pain, the senses say "no more" and stop working.

i know i'm reacting this intensely to what some folks might say was "just a dog." But Dynamo was never "just a dog." Dynamo, brought home at the size of a smallish meatloaf, tried to run our home like a toddler does: Pick me up. Put me down. Feed me. Hold me. Love me. Gimme. And in the fashion of doting parents, we did. He fascinated us with his 6 foot tall personality stuffed into a three pound body. And when he seemed lonely and i felt unable to fulfill his needs, we even got him friends. Well, honestly, the second dog was a friend for Dynamo, and came in the tiny package of Barnaby, a sweet and loving brown and white piebald miniature dachshund with blue eyes. The third and extra "friend" was more for me--a little chocolate boy being sold as "pet only" since he was not good enough for AKC standards. "OH but you ARE good enough for ME!" i said. i called him Morris, after the Morris the Moose storybook character. Morris is a bit big for a miniature dachshund, at full size he is about 17 pounds, and "mini" is supposed to be no more than 11. But he was chocolate (my favorite food ever) and spotty, like he'd been front and center when a chocolate factory exploded. He had a lop-sidey nose and mouth, and i knew he was meant to be mine.

Three dogs could not have more different personalities--Dynamo, large and in charge, first in line to bark at any intruders, even if said "intruder" was simply the same guest who just stood up. "Same person, Dynamo," we'd say, "Same person, he just stood up--" And Dynamo would feel the need for the last word, the last growl. We knew who was in charge. Barnaby, the people pleaser who loves everybody, would follow Dyno's lead and bark, then prance over to the person for petting. Morris, the Moose would bark his deep bark, also following Dynamo's lead, but all the while pressing back into the safety of mom or dad. Morris the Timid is more his style.

Dyno, never one to back down, once actually bit the nose of a large pitbull mix. He was clearly in charge in all situations. On a walk he wanted to be first, and with two other dogs on leashes this is a difficult thing. When mornings came, bringing time to go outside to do their "business" Dynamo would hold back, sinking further into the bedsheets of our bed. "Naw, you guys go ahead, I'm gonna catch a few more zzzzz's," his body language said. We would either have to force the point and drag him out of bed, or like the bad parents we often were, we'd let him stay in bed. "Okay, sweetie," we doting parents would say, "you can wait." Bad, bad parents. But after all, Dyno was in charge.

It feels so odd to have only the Two Amigos, missing their Numero Uno. And we are definitely feeling the loss of our Numero Uno. But i'm thankful to at least be feeling something besides the blankness. i think i may be on the way to healing. And i can only keep praying for Dynamo's daddy to start healing as well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Want.

I want
to rant and rave and scream.
I want
to throw his Goddamn useless expensive low-fat kibble into everyone's faces.
I want
to take every green bottle with Dynamo's pills
throw them to the ground and smash them and grind them beneath my feet.
I want
to erase the last two months of his sliding health
from my brain
including his lifeless little body stuffed with cancer
I want
my baby-dog back.

The "i don't know how to feel" Tuesday.

As i journaled my way through the craziness that was my mother's death, i seem to be blogging my way through Dynamo's death. Now, i know there are some people that think grieving the loss of our dog is just rediculous. Perhaps at the present, my blog is not for you. But my blog/my feelings. My little kingdom.

As incredibly sad as we are about our little Dyno the dachshund, i'm glad we didn't lose a child! But Dyno was special from day one--my hubby was having a hard time with work-- the events of 9-11 caused the Oakland leg of United maintenance to be closed down. i had just been downsized from my job, and he had been cruising the internet looking at puppies. He'd wanted a black and tan dachshund since having a full sized black dachshund during his growing up years. i'd harrassed him for years about them not being cuddly dogs, why did he want one of those?

He found one he could see locally at a petshop. i didn't even know there was still such a thing as a petshop with actually cats and dogs around anymore. We asked to see the little black mini dachshund, and Dean sat down on the floor. This little 3 pound puppy dog ran around in circles, in and out of Dean's lap. It was a picture i'll always remember, this big ol' tough mechanic guy sitting cross legged on the floor, playing with the tiny bundle of energy running full tilt around the petshop floor. i just looked at the two of them and melted. That puppy was ours.

We picked up a few things neccessary for the care and feeding of this bitty little meatloaf sized doxie, and headed home, me driving so Dean could love on the dog. And thus began the love affair between Dean and Dynamo.

Dean carried him everywhere in his coat jacket for a long while--bundled into his neckline, tucked into his pocket. We went on several trips in the motor-home that month of October 2002, and Dynamo prouldly rode along in my lap in the passenger side seat. When not on my lap, he managed to weasle his way into his daddy's lap or coat. He was the proudest, most loved puppy in the universe just then. We watched him play with toys and eat his kibble and took photos of every tiny move he made, just like the parents of a new baby.

It was beyond a doubt the match made in heaven. The two of them absorbed and reflected their love and admiration for each other. He slept up against his daddy's back in our big California King sized bed. i walked ever so carefully while preparing meals in the kitchen, as he was such a little bit i was always afraid i might step on him.

He grew into king of the castle--one or two daintily placed licks on his daddy's nose when he got home from work, and he had his daddy's heart all over again.

Probably all of that doesn't sound that amazing to a reader--but how do i put into words the amount of sanity that little dog meant for his daddy coming home from the craziness of his job? i don't know that i can. How do i express the amazing feel and smell of his fur and his neck as we held him in our laps and snuffled into him? i don't think i can.

There was just so much we loved about him, and so much he gave back in love and cuddles and the little squeals to say "pay attention to me!!" He could be demanding. He could be bossy. He could be many things one could call signs of the "unbalanced dog" Cesar Milan "The Dog Whisperer" style. Dogs aren't supposed to rule the grown-ups. They aren't supposed to be the ones to call the shots. But Dynamo did. And you know what? Those were many of the reasons he wedged himself so firmly into our hearts and our lives.

A few people came by to share our pain last night: friend Sabrina who upon hearing the news said, "Where are you? I'm coming right over!" And friend Adina, who loved Dyno and loves us, came and brought flowers and cried along with us. Our youngest daughter, Corinne, and her hubby Luis came over and spent a long time just talking and listening and sharing our feelings, and they made waffles for dinner, the RIGHT way--you've heard of the EZ Bake Oven? My cooking style is how they named that. i am an EZ Bake Cook. i just throw all the parts of the recipe into a mixing bowl, mix it, and call it waffle batter. They followed the "separate the egg whites and beat till stiff" part of the recipe, and came out with these amazing fluffy waffles you could just eat straight off the waffle grill with nothing added.

Jarel is having a hard time too, frustrated at not having been able to say goodbye to Dynamo. But we are simply trying to share our grief among all of us, it definitely lightens the load for each individual to share this huge stone castle's worth of pain and loss we are feeling. The castle has lost its King.

i know we will heal, i know we will one day simply be able to look back on Dynamo's short 6 years in our life with only the great memories. Right now that time looks to be somewhere so far beyond reach. i need to just rest in the comfort of my God and my family and friends. And thanks to those of you who have reached back to me in this blog.

i feel oddly devastated. But it got me out of Pain Class, at least temporarily.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dynamo is gone.

The surgery showed he was filled with a huge tumor of cancer, winding through his intestines etc. They advised us to come to the vets as soon as we could. He was still sedated from the surgery, and we were given the rundown on what had transpired, and given the option to let him go peacefully. We sobbed pretty loudly, and petted his head and kissed his sweet ears and the top of his head. The doctor used a injection into the i.v. and let him slip away.

i don't know when we will ever be okay again. Can't ever explain all he meant to us.

Just plain struggling.

Hubby of mine, just skip this one...

Having a little trouble here remaining positive--i came home early from class because i don't feel well, only to find that our doggy Dynamo's bloodwork is good news, bad news. The good news: his pancreatitis is better, in the proper range. The bad news? Well, his thyroid still is on the low side, but even worse, he's anemic. And not the kind that is low iron, the kind that means he probably has internal bleeding.

So we took him back in. The doc explained all that, and suggested she do an ultrasound in the office this morning. It showed his spleen is enlarged, and probably has been for some time. This suggests he may have cancer in it. i'm confused, because she said the bloodwork showed it was unlikely he had cancer causing the anemia. But maybe that means he could have cancer that isn't the cause of the anemia? Anyway, this afternoon we are waiting to hear about the surgery he is now having to check the spleen and surrounding areas. Does he have cancer, does he not? Why else could his spleen be enlarged? Most importantly, will he be okay?

Meanwhile the cash register is merrily "kaching"ing away, and our sadness and anxiety meter is running off the charts.

So please, if you believe in praying for doggies, please do--if you do not, please pray for this doggy's daddy, and if you have an extra, throw one up for me.

Monday anxieties.

i find myself on this Monday morning wishing to remain cuddled in my bed with my doggies, reading some hours away. i do NOT find myself wishing to jump up and run off to spend 4 more hours in a circle of chairs meditating or on a mat on the floor doing stretches or at a table making careful conversation with a bunch of strangers who care not where i go or what i do in my free time.

i am repeating to myself, THIS IS MY LAST WEEK. THIS IS MY LAST WEEK. And i am a tiny bit happier. The past 4 weeks have gone quickly enough, but is this chronic pain class level 3 supposed to leave me anxious, wondering what i will say THIS time that is "wrong"...

There is the added anxiety of our doggy, Dyno. We had to get his bloodwork redone, so i took him on Saturday. He freaked out BIG time, and acted very ill all the rest of the day. Trauma, apparently. i think he was just trying to get the easy-to-digest meal that includes chicken.... But now, results of his bloodwork came in, and HE'S ANEMIC. Could it be his losing 3 pounds, or 1/7 his total body weight, in 2 months? And apparently he's still on the low-thyroid side. So the doc thinks he's maybe bleeding somewhere internally? That's scary. And that all adds a HUUUGE component of anxiety to my dysfunctional-self salad.

So, anybody want to join me for a nice plate of anxiety, with maybe some nausea on the side?


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Something fun for Sunday.

My sister sent these photos she found of when she and i were just young things living in Vail Colorado.

i am the dark haired one above, my sister is the lighter haired one below. OH how i loved those bell bottom pants, AND our way cool coats!

i was so danged cute back then--but i'm still about the same amount sassy. ;-)

God bless the 70's.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The randomness of it all.

My hubby said my last post was somewhat unintelligible. Upon re-reading it i must agree somewhat. But it was morning, and i was dreading the pain clinic class, and had many odd dialogues running through my mind. And possibly i was influenced by last night's viewing of Criminal Minds on tv, about a Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI who profile perpetrators of crimes. And perhaps i was enjoying the thought of myself as one of their crazy criminals. Whatever.

The odd thing was, even with all my anxiety about going to class, and all my crazy criminal thoughts, it was actually a good day. My young friend "T-shirt boy" wore one today saying "Prisoner of Love."Apparently the word "Prisoner" canceled out the word "Love." He had another cover the t-shirt with the heavy sweatshirt days. A couple of the other guys were so incredibly quiet i sort of missed them, but they claimed to be trying to stay out of trouble. i attempted to find out whether or not the two women who started a week after i did are just gone, or are they coming back? They've been missing for days now. i asked the psychologist during group whether or not i could even ask her that, and she said, "I probably shouldn't, as they may have personal reasons." i said, "i wasn't going to ask their reasons for being gone, just whether or not they'll return while we're still here." She answered, "Well, I hope so." Something to ponder. Maybe the two ladies are being held in a back room somewhere...or possibly they have dug their way to freedom and have not been found yet.

The day just unfolded pleasantly (i have to give some of the credit to a nice chat with cousin Lea Ann on the way to class using my hands free head dealy--and the two Ativan--) and fairly uneventfully. Nurse Anya was in a great explaining mode, and i always enjoy that.

i've struggled all day and all evening to stay awake when i wanted to be asleep, so i think i shall stop writing and give in to the sleep. And hopefully tomorrow i will wake up in a more coherent state of mind.

Things to get out of my system before today's Week 4 Day 4.

"Oh, times where someone has pissed me off by 'correcting' me?" i say, with a little giggle to myself. "Oh i could tell you stories--" Thoughtful, pleased look at the memories. "But," i say with a new innocent look on my face, "the medication has really helped with that," i say, nodding.

i sigh at that fact.

"Okay, onto the next lunchtime topic then!!"

This is an editorial comment after being told by a couple of people that they didn't "get" this. i was simply in a Jack Nicholson sort of mood....telling the story of what has happened in the past when i'd been "corrected," as has been happening in the pain class. i was just playing out a scenario in my crazed head, as it were.

Does that help, DoTheLimboLady?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why i will never be Teacher's Pet.

Yesterday after a lovely weekend, i walked into pain class, the Room of Positivity. i saw the tripod and camera set up to video our weekly progress to be shown at the Friday friends and family meeting. Immediately i did what i normally do when faced with a camera: "oh no! Taping!"

"We don't say that--" the nurse said sweetly in a passing comment sort of way.

Damn! "Right--too negative--" i said, trying to step out of my pile of verbal chewing gum on the floor, trying to think how to move on. Of course, i do this by continuing to talk (poor choice.)

As we start pulling our chairs into a circle for the morning meditation, i say, "Looks like we're missing a couple of people."

"That's focusing on group-care, rather than self-care. We're trying to learn to focus on ourselves in this class--" the nurse points out.

"Oh, really? Didn't realize that," i said. Damn! Again!

Somehow within the first 4 minutes of the Monday morning class, i had stepped from the pile of verbal gum only to stumble into the larger pile of elephant poo behind me.

i always intend to remain quiet after those moments, but i never seem to be able to. i mean, i cannot possibly be asked to live in silence for 4 whole hours, but i can't stay out of the quagmire for 4 minutes.

And then, come Tuesday. We have three newbies. One is a very fit looking woman in stylish Victoria Secret yoga pants and an adorable short sweatshirt with a pink dotted lining in the hood over a casually stylish long tank. i look down at my hugely oversized gray sweatshirt and Walmart sweats. The second is a woman of indeterminant age in a pink high necked sweater and pink pants, who seems determined to meet nobody's eyes, seemingly wishing the rest of us were not there. She wears some jingly something on her wrist or somewhere, adding an annoying punctuation to all her moves (even during meditation. Why does she need to move so much during meditation??) It was bad enough for one day, i'm seriously hoping she loses it on whatever deserted island she wishes she were on.

The third is a mid-twenties guy who was totally pleasant and friendly, wearing an Umbrella Corporation t-shirt. For those of you without video game crazy 20 year old sons, that's the symbol used in the Resident Evil games and movies. At lunch i mentioned to him that my son would be tearing it off his back if he were there. When one of the nurses asked what it was about and we answered, she said, "You'll have to leave that word out, we can't use that word--" Evil. She was talking about the word evil. Okay then.

These are some of the things that baffle me. Stuff like my "oopsies" yesterday--we clap for ourselves as a class when we do some things, we clap for the graduating class students. And yet observing we are missing some of those members is a negative thing. And "evil" as a word is apparently banned. So, if a word can carry a negative connotation it is not allowed, we will have to develop some sort of code when discussing movies we've seen etc. i think i shall start a list of words that could be questionable, and start working them into positive comments, just to use at lunch and test the waters. Possibly i will stay awake better.

It looks like i am being somewhat negative about a class that is overall a positive experience. There are good things, a lot of them. i am being much too analytical, and unwilling to simply accept the edicts from above. i want to understand them, or even better, i want them to make sense.

i'll work on writing something more positive tomorrow. "Why i WILL be a winning student!" or some such thing. But tomorrow. Tonight my thinker is too tired, and terribly disappointed about the whole Teacher's Pet thing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yet another reason i would make a lousy druggie.

i realized that since oxycodone has received publicity as a white-collar addiction, people must receive some perceived-as-positive effects, right? It looks like its feelings of euphoria are the main reason people abuse this little pill.

Me? Euphoria? Nope--the most positive thing i received out of the feelings of oxocodone has to be that i was feeling kind of hyper, so i reorganized my underwear drawer.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Why i failed Drugs in the '70's.

Apparently i was never meant to be a druggie back in the day, or here in THIS day.

My new drug was oxycodone, otherwise known as "Hillbilly Heroin." Now, if that doesn't bring a smile to a person's face i don't know what will. i didn't realize the side effects that were slowly creeping into my body and head until today. i got up for class after sleeping maaany hours, and had a lot of trouble coordinating my movements and thoughts. These are the days i worry i will show up somewhere with my bra worn on the outside of my clothing.

As i drove i realized i should NOT drive the freeway at all today, my judgement being a bit impaired. All around and inside my head things were floating, and i wasn't actually sure what was a real life thought or a piece of a dream. And i hurt more than i have in months! Dang.

Determined to talk to the nurse or doctor early today, i grabbed Anya before we even got to the room. She said, "Well you will definitely talk to the doctor today--" i was hoping for sooner than "today." Like, NOW. We sat down for meditation. With crazy feelings in my body and brain i could not do it, so i quietly left the circle to get my pills and took something to calm me down. As we crossed paths putting away our chairs, i told Anya i needed to go. We stood in the hall and i said, "i feel like i'm climbing out of my skin.i really need to leave and go home and sleep." She said, "Let me talk to the doctor, I'll be right back." She reappeared, smiling. "The doctor says that definitely sounds like you're having side effects. He wants you to stop the oxycodone immediately and go back to the patches. Go home and we'll see you Friday." "i don't have enough fentanyl patches for the new dose" Again to the doctor. "Just go sit in the waiting room, and I'll come talk to you." i wandered to the waiting room feeling quite thoroughly crazy, and wondering about needing a new prescription that i would now have to walk to the pharmacy and wait for.

Bless the doctor, he came to the waiting room with 3 boxes of the patches! i was saved from the pharmacy!

i drove home, feeling very unsure, but very relieved--and with extreme driving care. i was in a huge amount of pain, physically and mentally.

i've slept most of the day and evening, in my half dream state. i even managed to do a tiny bit of my current knitting project, and hope that tomorrow when i see it i will not find a mess.

So, bad day. And how can i enjoy the kind of drug known on the street as "hillbilly heroin" if i'm in too much pain? Something's just not right here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

This is my brain on drugs.

Yes, i have scrambled eggs for brains these days.

i am on pain medication trial number four. The patch is a thing of the past, 2 little pills 3 times a day are in.

i talked to the doc yesterday: "Well, it seems that the first few days of the increased dose of the fentanyl patch i am very dizzy. Like right now. BUT, my pain number is not any less than it was. At all."

He agreed that's not helpful. He said i am obviously getting something through of the medication, since i am having the dizzy side effect, but it would be better to have pain reduction. So, since i am not getting that, we should try again. Off with the patches, in with the pills.

Something i am learning while in this make-a-note-of-my-pain-number time of my life is how to observe and rate my pain. This has shown me that there are several distinct sorts of pain involved. One is the arthritis pain. That responds at least in part to ibuprofen. This is good. Then there is the general fibromyalgia pain, which generally stays in a 3 point spread. It responds to very little. Then there is the fibro muscle fatigue from exercise, which seems to respond only to stopping the activity. And last, there is the all-encompassing fatigue from the fibro. IT only responds to being asleep, the only time i'm not aware of it.

So perhaps i should be keeping 4 charts? Or at least have 4 rating columns on my one chart? "Current activity: strength exercises. My arthritis is complaining but hanging in there, my general fibro pain is discussing whether it wants to be a '6' or a '7' on the pain scale, but says the shoes are comfortable. The muscle fatigue is screaming, and the Just-Plain-Fatigue would like the muscles to shut up so it could take a nap."

i'll be curious to see whether or not the new medication will speak to more than one of the 4 at once.

Friday, April 04, 2008


When i heard that my pain management classes would include meditation, i admit to a little trepidation. In my mind the word "meditation" goes straight to visions of Buddhas, little clinkly bells and incense. Since we are not allowed scented things in class, the incense would be out, leaving Buddhas and bells.

Being a professing Christian, i had some questions. But logically Kaiser healthcare wouldn't be allowed to promote any specific religion. So my brain then went to "let's see what this is about and how it can benefit me."

My thoughts were, "i can do anything as long as i frame it in my relationship with God." This became my visual--julie in the center of a large-ish picture frame (a tasteful one, of course.) And that frame is the representation of God: all-encompassing, holding me in His center. i've sensed Him around me since i was a child, helping to reign in the chaos of my home.

My thoughts went from that picture to the thought that, anything fitting inside that frame of His will can be used.

In class, what meditation has come down to is training yourself to still the mind, toss away the million worrisome thoughts, even simply the million neutral thoughts that run through my mind at any given moment. And who is God anyway? Peace in the midst of the storm. Oddly, once my mind is calmed i am actually in a better place to be receptive to God.

Most of the meditations we've tried have involved watching our breathing, constantly refocusing our mind on the breathing and off the "i need to pick up milk" kinds of thoughts. Or the ones that kept haunting me all through the week without Dynamo: "oh i hope he's doing okay!" "i hope he gets to come home soon" "how much is this gonna cost??!?" i've discovered my breaths have shapes--curlier when i am first watching them and trying to concentrate, less curly and more of a wavy shape as i focus in, and wonderfully smooth and swishy when i'm the calmest. Really. They do.

And do you know what? The focusing on my breathing to chase away what they call at class "monkey mind" when your thoughts are jumping all over the place, actually lessens my pain. We also have relaxation sessions, and honestly i'm not sure what the difference might be, since they both have the same effect on me. And between those and the gentle, breath controlled exercises, the stress i hold in my body because of the constant pain lessens.

The sad part of it is, as much as we work through finding a medication regime that brings my pain level down to one that will allow me to move on with my life rather than be frozen in it, i may always have some pain, i may always have to monitor how much i do ("pacing" as it's called in class) to keep the pain down. But these tools help me to have hope again. Already i am less sore in the mornings. Already i'm learning to let the worries go for bits of time.

Hopefully the next few weeks will continue to teach me.

First things first!!!

Patient and daddy are resting fine.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A little Tuesday extra.

Given that today, April Fool's Day, is the day my hubby proposed to me aaaall those years ago (32) i figure i will put an extra little photo op on the ol' blog.

The two things have absolutely nothing to do with each other. But i wanted to say that about April Fool's, and i wanted to put the photos on. So, yeh.

Above are a couple of photos of when hubby and i visited his doggy Dynamo in the local Castro Valley Vet Hotel--oh they were glad to see each other! BUT, Dyno didn't come home today, either. He's still having issues and needing treatment. (cha ching!) Poor Dynamo, he really wanted out of that crate when he heard us coming. He looked so small, but then he was 2 doors down from a cat that looked to be about his same size.

Tuesday at Pain Class

Today was an okay day at Pain class. We had new people, making the three of us who started last week seasoned pros! WE were the ones to walk in casually, fully aware of and comfortable with our environment. WE were the ones to put our lunches away with bored expressions, WE were the ones to do all the exercises correctly the first time (well, maybe not that one...)

Before we met them, i entered the waiting room to see two of the ladies who called me "analytical" yesterday in what sounded like a negative way, we smiled at each other and all was okay with them. (The psychologist i'm still not so sure about. But at 12 she still has plenty of time to grow up.) No exceedingly private parts were mentioned on this day, allowing me to slide by without embarrassing myself. (One guy actually did relax his sphincter enough to fart somewhere to the right of my head during today's afternoon relaxation session....)

After yesterday, this day was an improvement, so i probably won't need that early morning friend-therapy session i needed this morning. (Thanks, guys!)

Hoping for a fart-free Wednesday.