Posts Tagged ‘pugs’

“I throw up six more times and two more shots and I’m done!”

In Cancer Sucks on December 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm

That’s my daughter’s mantra right now. I really love her math on this, it’s her sense of humor and her reality in timing out the end of her treatment. It’s nice to finally see a glimmer of light at the end of this very long dark tunnel as it where.

It’s funny I haven’t posted for over two months and since the successful operation removing her softball size tumor (although I have been “posting” my reactions and thoughts in my head all along). I should have been elated yes!? But even though the surgery went exceedingly well and was done in 3 hours as opposed to the projected 8 to 10, it was hard to celebrate when you’re watching your daughter react badly to morphine and the recovery is a minor ordeal in and of itself.

After optimistic hints from the surgical team that we would have clear margins, the tumor had come out “cleanly” and intact, the plastic surgeon and hand specialist who were on call were not needed and the amount of muscle taken out due to the proximity of the tumor or in the margins was minimal, so functionality of the hand and arm was expected to be near normal. There was a lot to worry about with this operation to say the least … we find out finally(!) a week later that the margins all came out clean … and a sigh of relief … coupled with the let-down of the pathology being indecisive about the effect four rounds of chemo and a round of radiation actually had on the tumor (we went through all that for what?). Although the tumor was intact and did not metastasize indicates that all this treatment had some positive effect (right!?) … It all could have been so much worse or so many gradations of worse.

Yet, still hard to get happy as we are then reminded that the protocol still requires three more rounds of chemo, so we were initially looking at early January as the end of treatment. But, knowing as well all along that you’re never really done, she’ll have a lifetime of CT scans and MRIs to be sure it never comes back … or another type of cancer strikes (as happened to my mother/her grandmother), so in the back of our minds we are very aware that it never really ends … all part of the over-arching “Cancer Sucks!” theme here.

Thanksgiving is in the hospital for Post-Op Round One of chemo, so not exactly festive, even though the donated turkey dinner is very welcome and good. And we have a second T-day dinner at home with her grandparents after being released from the hospital. Again not exactly festive as the conversation isn’t exactly a fun-filled catalog of the past year’s delights … but interestingly the end of November and early December does turn in to happy time.

My daughter is in very good spirits, hence the quote-title of this post. Her wound and arm heal rapidly. It looks like she will have nearly full movement in her arm and certainly has full functionality of her hand. I’ll be surprised if there is even any need for rehab, so I think this plays in to this feeling of general goodness lately. We just like all being together, seeming to relish the uniqueness of it, given the tumult of the past five months. We just liked being for a change.

So the girls pool their saved b-day money and buy a little pet Roborovski or Robo hamster (I typed out the breed because I know we will forget what he was in distance future), whom for reasons I can’t comprehend, they name Joseph, which seems unnecessarily formal for a hamster …so to their annoyance I call him Joe. Just an example of why it was so nice to be “normal” for a change.

Prepping for Post-Op Round Two of chemo did put a dent in it all as one would expect. One of my last bonding moments the weekend before my daughter was off to the hospital again, was shaving her itchy head with my new beard/hair trimmer. The new rounds of chemo was making her hair fall out again … but, it made her happy to have a buzz cut, she’s very practical about all this. So yes, on one level it was appalling sad to have to shave my 11 year-old daughter’s head because she losing her hair due to chemo due to cancer. But on the other hand seeing how she was handling this in a matter-of-fact practical way made me really proud of her and proud of her strong psyche through this. OK, writing this now and thinking about it is emotional and is reminder of the suckyness of this whole situation.

But, the goods news, coupled with the ever-necessary bad news (third round of chemo postponed until after surgery to remove two minuscule spots on her lungs in early January, one of which we knew about already, but are apparently they’re right next to each other and they don’t what they are, but chemo hasn’t made them disappear and our oncologist even said that CT scans are so detailed now that they find all sorts of benign things all the time, but surgery is still the best option just in case, especially since the effect of the chemo on this type of tumor seems to be minimal).

Anyway, good news … she and my wife make it through another 4-day hospital stay on the preferred oncology wing with the great nurses and familiar faces and finally(!) a nice room-mate family. Which again is one of those “people are amazing” things in terms of both people’s goodness (this case) and people’s awfulness (got a whole laundry list of that for another time). So my younger daughter and I spring them early Friday evening which coincides with the weekly the Friday-nite pizza party for oncology patients, one of those “lucky” coincidences of her Tue-Fri treatment schedule. Everyone gets home happy, the girls are elated to be with each other again, and excited by the twinkling Hanukkah display on the mantel and that it begins next week (and happens to include eight nights of presents ). The pug is elated and relieved that everyone is home. Everyone is exhausted, but glad to be in their own beds with no IV pumps beeping in the background … just street noise and random barks from the pug’s crate for no apparent reason …

We’ve got things to do people!

In Cancer Sucks on August 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm

The generosity displayed by strangers and folks only acquainted with you by work or school or religious institution still astounds me. Wow… (insert long thoughtful pause here) … people can really be nice and they don’t, or hardly even, know us.

And I love that people give anonymously.  You just give because you know it’s needed, you don’t need to know who gets it.  And maybe my preference for this type of giving is because I’m a shy and hate a fuss and just feel you should do the right thing or a good job (and be competent dammit!), because it’s the right thing to do and it’s nice to be nice. …and I hate a fuss …

So things like covering parking fees at the hospital or sandwiches for the families on Thursday’s on the ward, or overall financial assistance grants, it’s all amazing and nearly always chokes me up thinking of this generosity by people I don’t even know and will probably never meet or get to thank.

Then there are the non-anonymous givers … Just beginning to run into a little of that, very little, but even that little bit of “look we’re doing the right thing” … or, and I think this is generational to some extant, “we’d like come over and see the family” is tiresome to be on the receiving end of.

Now a visit, or as the kids these days say “hanging out,” that’s nice for your close friends and acquaintances who’d you just hang out with anyway, never mind the cancer. But, really, if you just coming to “visit” and don’t happen to be an 11-year-old girl who wants to discuss Bieber’s hair or weave friendship bracelets or both … well, entertaining guests in the parlor takes a lot of energy (and we don’t have much in the first place) and we’ve got things to do people!!!

And those things to do can be anything from letting our minds unwind reading the paper or catching up on a book or listening to NPR or napping, to just being – looking around to see your whole family home in one  place, quite and happy and not interrupted by a nurse to swap IV bags … you suddenly realize what a luxury things like that are …

We’ve got calendars to update, and lists to make,  which doctors do we have questions for, and confirming appointments, and checking meds, and grocery shopping, and doing laundry, and mowing the lawn, and weeding, and cleaning the fish tank, and going to Home Depot to find stylish but cheap ceiling fans … and nap … All the stuff you do in normal life is now compressed in to your “off weeks,” the weeks your child isn’t in the hospital getting chemo.

And now we have daily radiation to add to that scheduling mix too, so the two weeks off are only kinda-sorta… That’s our “normal” and again, and not meaning to sound like an ungrateful git, but we’ve got things to do people!

And yes, thus post was inspired by a real incident the first day back from a week at the hospital where all we wanted to do was be lazy and relish that we were all home as a family … on the other hand said incident did inspire me to write a couple entries and those in question did leave a tray of cookies … I’m an ungrateful git* …

*we’ve been reading the British version of Harry Potter to the girls this summer, even though my oldest has read it twice already, hence the use of git 😉

As a addendum to my possible git-tish (if that ‘s a word) behavior, I will also point that the visitors in question also came over with their dog, I suppose the idea being their dog would provide a therapy dog visit … ignoring the fact that we have our own dog that has been a great pal to both my girls through this and is a little sweetie when he’s not being an a nut-job puppy running away with anything he can pick up off the floor.

So back to the story … without asking, interloper-dog is unleashed it at our front door and proceeds to run through our house with our dog in tow of course.   And then let up on our furniture without asking!  As a responsible dog owner I can’t imagine doing this with my dog!   We always if our guy can come in to a yard or play with another dog, or how the other dog in the house might react, etc. etc.  I mean good gravy! What if our pug went beserk on her dog!?

Instead our little fellow was just kinda perplexed at this interloper being in the house, jumping up on furniture that he’s too short to jump up on (although he is allowed on the sofa with a blanket spread out in a feeble attempt to contain his shedding <LOL>).   And to top it, this other dog’s up on the couch growling down at our guy.  And as growling interloper is jumping around up on our couch my wife asks, “she won’t have an accident right?” Response, “Oh, no, she never does that.”   And you just know what’s going to happen next …

So the kicker is, my wife finally insisted on taking them to our fenced-in front yard, especially after both she and I noticing that the interloper was sniffing around the floor a lot (which good dog owners take a a sign that their pup needs to go!).  And sure enough, the minute this dog gets outside it takes a nice long pee …

Well, this all sure made for a great story, and in reality was all probably over in 15 minutes.  But, it was like a case study for Miss Manners, or maybe we were being filmed for some new rudeness reality show and the release we need to sign just didn’t reach us in the mail?  Oh yes, someday we’ll look back and laugh … but, someday hasn’t come yet …

My old dog Zander

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2010 at 9:18 pm


My little buddy for the past 11 years, Zander the pug, passed this week.  His photo here, in his younger days, before the gray hair set in.  This picture has been my “avatar” for social network sites for years now, as well as my online character name in Call of Duty (in case any of you have unwittingly sniped me in the heat of combat).

With his expected, but still unexpected passing, I realized how much I would miss him greeting me every night when I came home from work. As well as his walks with me (which lately were more waddles due to his back & hip problems), and his incessant afternoon barking sessions, which the neighbor’s will grow to miss too I’m sure 😉

His pedigree name was Tartan’s Braegar … yes, really…  it didn’t usually come up in casual conversation.  His name, just Zander, was usually called out to indicate we’d dropped a bit of foodstuff on the floor.   Even in his old increasingly deaf years, he was pretty good about hearing us call his name or tapping a foot on the floor indicating a variety of tasty delights.  And the sound and smell of popcorn turned him into a wily little jackal.  Thinking back on it, he saved us a lot of mopping and sweeping when the girls were little.  Until the very end, he was a fixture under the dinner table between our girl’s seats and he hoovered up countless bits of accidentally dropped or flung food, it was quite the life for a pug.

I know the mailman will miss him.  Our mailman, Danny,  is a dog guy and always talked to Zander and made sure the gate closed behind him after he dropped off our afternoon mail.   It was the one time of day in the past few years when we knew Zander’s back legs would miraculously work and he would zip down the stairs to bark and spazz at Danny just like in his puppy years.

He never lost strength in his front legs and shoulders though.  His


last walks were the usual pug tug and pull as he sniffed everything he’d sniffed a hundred times before and wouldn’t move until he was done.  Which might explain the pain in my right shoulder that flares up as I get older, “pug pull shoulder,”  eleven years of trying to get that little guy to move along has taken it’s toll on my tendons 😉

One of Zander’s  favorite words was “golf.”   The others, not surprisingly, were “eat” and “treat!”  Somehow “go on,” used when trying to get him to go, usually late at night when you’re dead tired, never ever seemed to catch on.  Anyway, he would always perk up at “golf!?” as it meant a short car ride and a nice long walk in the woods with lots of smells and places to mark.   And often came with friendly pats on the head, and the occasional treat, from real golfers.  He was an intrepid hiker in his younger years and always so good about sticking close to me.

And once, when I use to take a few clubs with me on our course jaunts, he actually dropped my golf ball in the hole for me when I was putting on an empty green.  It was an OMG moment.  I never could coax him to do that again, if I could have, it would have won the grand prize on AFV for sure.  His last walk up there, on a relatively cool day earlier this month, was a long one without me picking him up once to carry him, it was quite something given his weak back legs and hips, and one of the really nice memories I’ll have of him.

And one more thing.  He could smell really good when he’d been sleeping on the couch at night.  He’d be all soft and warm and there’d be this aroma somewhere between Fritos and warm corn tortillas.  Given my penchant for late nite snacks he’s lucky I never poured chili and grated cheddar on him 😉

I’m really going to miss you little buddy.