Monday, January 25, 2016

Baroness Von Slayer

I don't think that there is ever an easy way to deal with death.  I was thinking about it earlier today; is a prolonged death easier to deal with or a sudden death.  And, though I think that with a prolonged death you have the ability to say goodbye over time.  You have the ability to celebrate the life that is slowly fading and you have the ability to cherish the small things, whereas I think that with a sudden death you are robbed of all of that, neither is easier to deal with.  Death, all around, just sucks.  Yes, I know that it's a part of life and inevitable.  It's not easy, though, at all.  There is never enough time in either situation for one more hug or one more chance to speak words of love.

Dave and I got our first cat in 2001 when we were living in a single wide trailer.  He was taking a Chinese history class and was compelled to name the cat Hoarse after some emperor or warrior or something (I've never taken a Chinese history class and don't feel the need to even Google any of this to confirm it).  Anyway, Hoarse the cat came to live with us and was a spoiled, fat runt.

Affectionately called "Kitty", she spent much time stretched out in various places to bask in sunlight.

She was loved and a staple in our family until she passed away in 2014.  But, we knew that it was coming.  She stopped eating as much, she was getting thinner, she slept a lot more than normal.  We consoled ourselves with "she was old," "she had a good life," "she was loved," and "it was her time". But, her loss was not any easier to accept with those sayings.

Kitty with Cody, Chris & Will

We got Slayer on Halloween of 2009.  My husband and middle son went to get her.  She was a fluffy ball of black fur with huge paws and lots of energy.

She was born on August 25th and shares a birthday with my middle son, Chris.  When we got her, at two months old, she was all puppy.  We crate trained her and had her on a schedule for potty trips and walks.  We took her to obedience classes and trained her and spoiled her.
Graduating Obedience Class

Will feeding her

When we first got her
Sitting pretty while a sandwich was being stacked on her nose

She had the softest ears and the fluffiest paws.  And, slowly, she started getting some of her father's coloring as the the years went by.  She went from being a pure black, long haired German Shepherd, to getting whitish gray patches around her paws that crept up her legs, and under her tail.  Her father was a white German Shepherd and her mother was a long haired traditional colored German Shepherd.

I remember her slipping from her collar on the lead in our back yard in Tinley Park and having to walk the neighborhood yelling "SLAYER!"  I remember how she would lay in front of the front door, rolled over on her back, acting like a draft dodger.

How the fur on the top of her back would raise up as she barked when a questionable person came too close to any of us.  How she would pull Cody on his roller blades as he walked her every morning before school.  How she would run circles around the kids, trying to herd them close to her for protection.  How proud she was when she killed her first bunny, after chasing them around our yard for over 2 years.  She paraded that thing up to Dave and the boys while they were putting up Halloween decorations outside.  And, Dave describing the conflict he felt when he saw her "Good girl.  Boys go inside now.  Good girl, drop it.  Boys, inside.  Such a good girl."  And she sat there all proud and beaming.

I felt safe with her in the house.  I felt safe leaving the house with the boys in it because of her.  I remember a few months ago when a man came to our front door and rang the doorbell.  We have huge picture windows that look over our front stoop, and she ran up to the window closest to the door and started barking and snarling and sure enough, the fur on her back was sticking up.  I took her and put her in the room closest to the front door and shut the door to the room.  Opening the front door to see what the man wanted he asked "Which is suppose to scare me more?  This (pointing to my NRA sticker on my front door) or your dog?"  My answer? "Both".

She was very much like Nana from Peter Pan.
Giving Will kisses

She would sleep on the landing of our staircase, guarding the boys as they slept at night.  She would stay in whatever room all three of our boys were in and watched over them.  She didn't like it when one of them went out to play, and would sit by the front picture windows waiting for them to come home.

Slayer's 1st Birthday, celebrated with a peanut butter filled Kong Ball.

She would greet us at the door when we returned home, if we all went out together.  And she would always appear in the picture window when I pulled into the driveway with my van and would watch me come into the house.

We would jokingly call her the Snow Princess, because my god did she love the snow.  She would nudge her nose into it and flip it over her back.  She would roll around and wiggle in it.  She would chase the boys and catch their snowballs as they threw them back and forth.

When you would walk into a room that she was in, if she was laying on the floor she would roll over on her back wanting you to rub her belly.

If you were sitting in a chair and had your legs crossed, she would walk up to you so that you crossed legs foot was under her belly so you could rub it.
Cutting down our Christmas Tree

Hiking with the boys

And, on Friday, January 22nd we lost the ability to get one more of any of those.  And I swear, I have not cried like I did that day.  I have never dealt with a loss like this.  One so sudden, one where a constant daily companion was taken away so quickly.  And, I've had those irrational thoughts that go with the grieving process.  Like, I can't live in this house anymore.  Like, I hate the sound of the trains.  Like, I can't sleep until I clean the rail road tracks.  Like, being woken up by what I swear is the sound of her dog tags jingling.  Like, pulling up into the driveway, parking my van and looking up into the picture window and feeling a void when I don't see her looking out it at me. Like, I didn't take enough photos of her.

Today was tough.  Today was the first day that I left the house and returned to it completely empty.  I knew when I was leaving that I needed to change my routine.  I checked all of the doors to make sure that all of the locks were locked.  I turned off the TV.  For the first time since I moved into this house I dead-bolted the front door.

We got rid of most of her things on Friday.  Her food and water bowls.  What was left of her food.  Her blue "egg" and balls.  He brushes and harness and leash.  We have not taken down her cage yet.  I can't do it.  Not yet.
This sudden death thing sucks.  It's also made me think, in those rare moments when I haven't been lost in disconnected thought while staring out the picture window towards the rail road tracks.  Or in sudden and overwhelming crying fits.  I think that what I'm learning from this is that it really is true, that I only have today.  That those closest to me should know how much I love them and how awesome they are and that I should hug them a little longer.  Because, I just don't know.  I don't know what tomorrow will bring and I should appreciate the blessings that I have in my life right now, this moment.  Thank you, Slayer, for teaching me this.  Though, I truly would give anything to have you here.

She was such a good girl and she will be so very missed.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Endometriosis Story {Part 2}

I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis on September 16, 2015

I talked a little (well, really, I ranted) about it in this post 
And, here is Part 1

Recovery sucked.  I'm just going to honest here.  But, recovery from anything for me usually does.  

Plus, I don't do well with anesthesia.  Not like getting ill from it, more like feeling out of it for days.  

I was in the recovery room at the hospital for maybe an hour after I woke up.  I dislike hospitals, so the first order of business was to get out of there; meet the minimum requirements necessary to leave and just go home. [go to the bathroom and keep a muffin down?  done!  bring on the water and muffin!]

We were fortunate to have my dad up from Texas while this was happening.  He came up for my older two son's birthdays and decided to stay a few extra days to help out while I went in for surgery and then the following day while I recovered, which we are really grateful for.

Because, man, did I sleep.  Like for hours and hours.  If I stopped moving I fell asleep.    

I also couldn't drive or pick up my youngest son (or anything equally as heavy) for a while.  My 16 year old thought that it was awesome being my chauffeur while I was on the mend.  I got to experience my 16 year olds driving.   

What I found most interesting was that the pain that I was experiencing in my back, hip and knee was no longer there.  I started seeing a chiropractor in August (about one month prior to my procedure) while I waited to get in to see my orthopedic doctor (for my knee).  I was in so much pain at that point that I couldn't walk, sit or stand.  From x-rays I learned that I have a bulged disc, disc degeneration, sciatica, facet syndrome, transitional vertebra (6th is fused) in my spine and degenerative disc in my neck. 

The most important thing to note from that sad list is the sciatica, and here is why - when I went for my one week post op check up with my OB/Gyn, he explained that I had Stage 4 disseminated/severe endometriosis.  He said that it looked like someone took a spray gun and sprayed it everywhere. And, that there were severe deposits on the ureteral sacral ligament.  
My procedure on 9/16/15 consisted of the following:
-Hysteroscopy with Myosure/Novasure Ablation
-Polyp removed from uterine wall
-*was scheduled for possible removal of right oviduct and left ovary/oviduct, this was not done*

Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease.  Mine, well, mine decided to cause inflammation so bad that it effected my sciatic nerve and made it near impossible for me to walk or do much of anything else.  That ureteral sacral ligament - yep, that baby was inflamed!  For months I thought that is was a knee injury from 2014 acting up.  Nope, inflammation from endometriosis.  

Amazing, right?

This would become a reoccurring diagnosis from my specialty doctors - inflammation.  Across the board, my family doctor, my gastroenterologist, my urologist, my orthopedic doctor, my chiropractor, and my physical therapist.  Inflammation was causing all of my problems.  And, endometriosis was causing the inflammation.    


When I found out that endometriosis has the ability to spread to the colon and bladder, my next course of action was to find doctors who wouldn't pass off my endometriosis diagnosis and take my symptoms seriously so that a course of action could be determined.  This was not an easy task.    

For more information about Endometriosis, check out the Mayo Clinic site here 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Endometriosis Story {Part 1}

I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis on September 16, 2015

I talked a little (well, really, I ranted) about it in this post 

I'm going to back up a bit, here, and share about what led to my diagnosis.  

I thought that I was going through menopause.  I realize that I'm only 39, but hear me out. I've been menstruating a LONG TIME, and I'm totally not exaggerating here either.  Like since 4th grade.  So, the through that just maybe after, oh 30 years, maybe I could be going through menopause really isn't that crazy.  I shared a little bit about that here

So, I went in for my yearly with my OB/Gyn in August of 2015 and just kind of shared that you know, I think some weird stuff is happening and that it may be the early stages of menopause.  

And, thank god for my doctor.  He was all "Yeah, no" and sent me for a bunch of test. Mammogram & internal ultrasound to be specific. And, sure enough, not menopause.  The mammogram came back clear.  The internal ultrasounds (yes, more than one) did not. Pre-cancerous cysts were detected on my ovaries in addition to polyps on my fallopian tubes.  And, I don't know why, but it was those polyps that made my OB/Gyn decide that a laparoscopy procedure (and some other things) was necessary.  I went in for my procedure on September 16, 2015.

I'm quite fortunate in my diagnosis, really.  The average time span is typically up to 7 years before accurate diagnosis.  

Had I had any symptoms prior to what I shared at my yearly in August 2015?  Yes, but no. All of the "normal" symptoms that go along with a monthly cycle were present, and they also mimic the symptoms of endometriosis.  But, looking back now, I can note specific occurrences and know that it was likely causes by the endometriosis.  I really think that was the greatest thing that I gained out of this - knowing the cause.  

For more information about Endometriosis, check out the Mayo Clinic site here 

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Little Like This - Or That?

I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis on September 16, 2015

I need to back up a bit to explain how this came about.  But, this date right here, it's the anchoring point in my life right now.  I'll get around to it, the backing up a bit and explaining.  Just not in this specif post.  So, bare with me here. I'm about to rant.

1) "Oh, I know lots of people with Endometriosis."

2) "You're just going to get a hysterectomy, right?  That's how it gets cured."

3) "What in the hell is that?"

1) I'm not a big fan of trivializing endometriosis.  I don't know maybe I'm taking it personal.  Possibly, but, I don't like the trivialization of any situation.  Every single one is independent and different from the other.  

2) Nope, I'm not getting my lady bits ripped out.  And, no, that's not how it's "cured".  Actually, it cannot be cured.  I'll always have it.

3) Hey now, that's a fabulous question!  This is what the Mayo Clinic says
"Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region.
In endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal tissue that binds organs together.
Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during your period. Fertility problems also may develop. Fortunately, effective treatments are available."

The best was to sum up what it feels like is this image:

I am currently going through treatment.  I'm two months into a six month chemotherapy plan.  I have a hard time saying that, sharing that, because I don't have cancer.  

It's not all gloom & doom, though.  There have been some positives, like:
1) I can walk more than a block without the aid of a walking stick
2) I can sit and not be in pain

And, yes, my endometriosis was contributing to me not being able to walk or sit.

So, I'll be sharing a bit more here about my endometirosis, my diagnosis, my treatment and what I'm learning along the way.  * (which, so far, has been a lot) *
So, thanks for stopping on by and checking this post out.