Monday, April 30, 2012

More Burgers in Tara's Future...

Contrary to my last two posts, I have found that I am not at all brave. A brave person doesn't want to crawl right back into bed every morning so she doesn't have to face the day. A brave person isn't on the verge of tears every second of the day. A brave person wouldn't feel as though her whole world was caving in when she finds a new lump on her dog.

The additional testing came back on Tara's tumor, and it is not good. It has spread to the lymphatic system, but I didn't need the report to know that. There are new lumps appearing every day. Every freakin' day. Her head, neck, legs, back, sides...everywhere. You know that feeling of being punched in the gut and having all of the wind knocked out of you? That's what it's like with each new lump.

Last Tuesday when Tara had her stitches removed (from her surgery on April 10) we showed the vet the half dozen lumps that had appeared at that time. Tomorrow he will be taking one (or more) of them off to be biopsied, just to confirm what we already know to be true. It has spread. Like wildfire.

Thursday we will be taking her to a holistic veterinarian. At this point I kind of feel like it's closing the barn door after the horse has run off, but it can't hurt. Plus, Tara really loves to go for rides in the car, and she knows she gets a burger after every appointment! Here she is after getting her stitches out last week.


Nom, nom, nom!

The only good thing about this whole situation is that Tara feels perfectly fine. She is acting normal, eating and "eliminating" normally, playing with her toys, running around the yard, and generally being the sweetest dog in the whole wide world. Don't get me wrong, this whole thing sucks, but at least she has no idea it sucks.

It's my goal to keep it that way...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In Which I Become Brave, Part 2

When last we heard from our (allegedly) brave blogger, she was about to embark on an epic journey across the country. Well, maybe not "epic", and not exactly "across the country". Still, it was from New Jersey, through the whole state of Pennsylvania (which is a pretty wide state, by the way), and well into Ohio. Yes, I do know how pathetic that sounds, but I've never been that far west! Yes, I know how pathetic that sounds, too.

Moving right along... The plan to leave on Monday was scrapped, and new plans were made to leave at 9:00 on Tuesday morning. That would still give us a full day on Wednesday for me to help my friend unpack, return the rental car, and be on the train at 12:25am on Thursday. WP_000601

I packed my things late Monday night, and had everything ready to go. Dad would pick me up and take me to my friend's house in Cherry Hill (about an hour away) and we would get the cats in their carriers and be on our way.

But alas, that was not to be. My friend calls at 1:00am to say she is not feeling well and can't possibly leave on Tuesday. OK. Plans were made to leave Wednesday morning. I would be at her house by 7:00am, we would gather all the cats and be on the road at 9:00am. Sharp. 

Wednesday morning, dad picks me up at 6:00, we make good time and get to Cherry Hill a little before 7:00. There are no signs of movement in or around my friend's house. I knock on the door and she comes to the door. At this point, I am seeing this whole thing through dad's eyes. There are boxes and packing material all over the house, empty cat carriers in the hallway, and my friend comes to the door in her bathrobe. I look at dad, he looks at me, and I tell him everything will be fine, it's under control. He doesn't believe me for a second. He gives me a hug, promises to pick me up at the train station the next day, and against his better judgement, he leaves.

Our plan was to be on the road by 9:00, so I enter the house with thoughts catching cats and loading them in carriers. I find out that first we have to finish packing. FINISH PACKING!!!! OK, calm down. How long can that take? I find out that her plan was to be on the road at 10:00. OK, that's just an hour later. We should still get to her house in Ohio by 7:00pm, allowing for a couple of stops for gas, etc. 10:00 comes and goes. 11:00 comes and goes. She is packing, and I am moving boxes into two pods that are still in her driveway. The pods are scheduled to be picked up at noon. We surely have to be on the road by then. Surely not. The pod men come and go, and we are still packing and loading the two cars. 

At this point, I ask, delicately, if we shouldn't be catching cats and getting on the road. You have to understand that my friend has such a good heart, and is truly a wonderful person, but I am beginning to see that what I thought was a mild case of separation anxiety (along with her normal crazy) is out of control. I tell her that no matter what, we have to be on the road by 1:00. That would get us there by 8:30 if we don't stop for gas or have to pee. (Not exactly realistic, but I am trying to make the best of a bad situation.) That would give me 3 hours in Ohio to help her unpack the essentials and get the cats acclimated to their surroundings before having to leave to get to the train station.

Are we on the road by 1:00? No. We have a terrible time catching the cats, in which much blood was shed. Human blood, not kitty blood, although I have to admit I was tempted... We finally had 8 cats in crates, at least I think it was 8, and then two get free. Turns out we had the cages upside down and they got out through the big holes that are supposed to be at the bottom of the crate under a tray. I sat on the front porch and could feel the tears starting. My friend says, "Maybe today isn't a good day to go, after all." I point out that for me it was the last day I could possibly go. I have to get the 12:25am train on Thursday to be back in Philly the next afternoon. I work on Friday, and have got to be back. I also can't afford to reschedule the trip for another week and take more time off work. For me, it was Ohio or bust. I said I would drive the rental SUV which was packed to the ceiling, literally, and whatever cats she wanted me to take. I would drop them off at her sister's house in Ohio, and her sister could take me to the train station.
WP_000603So that's when I became brave. At 2:45 on Wednesday afternoon, I pulled away from her house, and headed to Ohio. By myself. Not counting the wailing cats in the back seat, of course. To let you know the enormity of this undertaking, I do not drive over the Walt Whitman Bridge, and I certainly do not drive on the Schuylkill Expressway. Have never done it, and never will. Heck, there's a reason why people call it the Sure-Kill Expressway. However, to get to the PA Turnpike, I drove over the Walt Whitman Bridge and the Schuylkill Expressway. (How brave am I?)

I was doing fine, concentrating on  listening to the GPS, getting through the traffic, and not missing an exit, but when I finally got on the Turnpike and the mechanical GPS voice said "Continue on Route 76 (the PA Turnpike) for 298 miles" I broke down. After the PA Turnpike, I still had to drive on the Ohio Turnpike for well over 100 miles. I thought there was no way I could possibly do this alone. Again, not counting the angry, wailing cats in the back seat.

Turns out, I could do it alone. Although, I was on the phone with my sister or parents every hour (hand's free, of course) so I wasn't really alone. Then my friend's sister, Judy, called, and assured me that she would get me to the train station in time. So even though I was alone in the car (except for some really, really pissed cats) I had a whole support network making sure everything was OK. Some might say my family is over protective, to be so concerned about a 49 year old daughter driving to Ohio. I prefer to say my family loves me.

Anyway, I only made two very quick stops for gas (where I also pumped gas for the first time, by the way! Yay, me!), and made it to Ohio, without mishap, at 10:30pm. We will overlook the fact that I arrived at the wrong house and knocked on a complete stranger's door at 10:30 at night. People in Ohio are really, really friendly, by the way, even very late at night. After finding the right house, I finally met Judy, her husband and her best friend. They all welcomed me like a long lost friend.

I followed them to my friend's new house, where we set up litter boxes, cat food and bowls of water, and I unpacked cat beds. They we let the cats out of their kitty prisons, and we left for the train station. Judy and her friend Peggy insisted on accompanying me to the train station and waiting until I was safely on board. I kept telling them they could leave me, but they insisted. I'm glad, too, because the train station was in a dodgy section of a small town in the middle of the night. Also the train station was unmanned, and the building was really, really nasty. We all agreed that is was a perfect spot for a murder.

Eventually three more people arrived to board the train, but they wouldn't have been any help in an attempted murder. It was one older woman wearing sandals, and a couple who had to be at least 100 years old. And the man was blind. No help at all. Plus the train was over an hour late. Could things have gotten any worse? Yes, we could have been murdered, but we weren't, and we made it safely onto the train.

WP_000605The train trip home was uneventful, and I made it to Pittsburgh in plenty of time to catch the connecting train to Philly. I was exhausted, but had so much caffeine the day before that there was no way I could fall asleep.

In honor of my new-found bravery, I had a Greek Salad on the train. It was delicious! I even ate the stuff that I usually discard. Instead of eating just the lettuce and the tomatoes and tossing the rest of the add-ons, I ate the black olives and feta cheese. First time ever. You might point out that there are also onions and mini pepper like things in the salad, also, but no, I didn't eat them. Eat onions? Unidentified peppers? That's just crazy talk!

The train eventually made it's way into 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. I have always told dad that, while it's good to see him at any time, I was never so happy to see him as when he came back from the pharmacy after picking up my prescription for pain killers after my back surgery. I was so happy and relieved to see the prescription er, him. He now topped that day. Both mom and dad were at the train station to pick me up. This is the only picture I got...


...but I think it's my new favorite picture of them.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

In Which I Become Brave...

Well, it's been less than a month (barely) since my last post, so I guess I'm getting better at blogging??? Probably not. I've just been so busy, and quickie updates on Facebook are much easier. Haven't found me on Facebook? Here I am. I am making up for the absence of posts with this very, very long one, so settle in...
Those of you who follow me on Facebook already know the worst. Ten days ago I found a lump on my sweet little Tara. 

It wasn't the normal fatty tumor that lots of female dogs get. It was large (about the size of a half dollar), round, hard and flat. I immediately thought the worst, of course. I called the vet right away and they said to bring her right in. As soon as WonderVet saw it, he said it had to come off and to bring her in the next day. (Love my WonderVet!)

 WP_000602Tara is such a little trooper. She did great with the surgery and the stitches (and she has a LOT of stitches). Any time she would try to mess with the stitches you just had to look at her and say "Tarrrraaaa, Tattie, Tattie, Tattie" and she would stop.
She is such a sweetie pie... I have been trying (mostly unsuccessfully) not to freak out...too much.

We got the preliminary lab results that it is a malignant sarcoma, and that the surgical margins are clear. We are still waiting for a more detailed report. Tattie gets the stitches out on Tuesday, and the WonderVet will show me where all of her lymph nodes are so I can check them every day. Apparently that's the next probable place for a lump to appear.

 I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I hate the month of April. I totally blame April for every bad thing in the world. Not really, but I have so much anger over this. So very much...

So what about the title of this post... "In Which I Become Brave"? What's that about? Certainly not anything to do with Tara. I am the opposite of brave where the dogs are concerned. Not at all.

A very good friend who has a large heart, and an even larger dose of craziness (the way all good friends should be) has gone through a very nasty divorce over the last two years, and decided to move from New Jersey to Ohio. Her main concern about the move was her cats. She has 6 indoor cats, and 5 outdoor cats. The indoor and outdoor cats do not get along, or else they would all be indoor cats, so I offered to help drive the cats to Ohio. The plan was for her to drive the indoor cats and I would drive the outdoor cats. The moving date? April 15. April 15, 2011.

That date came and went, obviously, so then the moving date was was July, then November, then February, and then April again. (Yes, freaking April!) Plans were made to leave on April 4th, and I would return by train on April 6th in time to go to work on the 7th. I arranged for vacation time from work, we rented an SUV, and I bought my train ticket home.

 April 2nd comes, and she says she will never be ready, can we delay a week? I couldn't go the next week, so we decided on Monday, April 16th. We would leave early in the morning, arrive at her new home outside of Cleveland in the afternoon, have a couple of days to unpack and get things settled, and I would catch a train home on the 19th. The only passenger train that comes through northern Ohio heading east arrives at 12:25am. Middle of the night. Ugh, but no problem. We can deal with that.

She called me on Friday the 13th (that should have been a red flag) and said the movers would not be finished packing, and could we leave on Tuesday? Sure. No problem. At that point I was just as happy to be home with Tara, as it was six days after her surgery. I drove to her house anyway on Monday to help with getting the rental car, and any last minute packing that needed to be done.

Last minute packing? It looked like a tornado hit the house with "stuff" still everywhere. (This should have been another red flag.) Not to worry, she says, she is leaving lots of stuff in the house. OK. No problem. We pack until late that night, and make plans to leave at 9:00am on Tuesday.

 What happens next? Do we catch all of the cats? Do we go to Ohio? Stay tuned for the next installment in a day or so. For now, I am headed to Fortescue. No phone, no internet, but plenty of gnats! Heaven!