Writer’s Block for a Bigger Purpose

It’s very funny how the creative muses mess with you. I’ve been trying for two weeks now to write something for the blog. I’ve had two or three good ideas and though I’ve tried and tried and tried writing them up, I cannot get the creative juices to flow. My muses simply refused to cooperate. So I have three pieces of lackluster, half-baked writing. When that happens, there is nothing for it but to let them sit until those accursed hags (oops, I mean my lovely muses) decide to grace me with their presence again and then I can rewrite, turning them into sparkling, witty, inspirational works of art. Sure.

In the absence of any creative inspiration, an option did present itself and slapped me in the face today. I almost didn’t pay any attention to it though it literally had me in tears. I had defined my blog fairly narrowly in my own mind. Specifically funny stories about what happened with my hounds. Well, I guess it’s already sort of morphed a bit away from that so what I’m about to do won’t be a huge departure. Maybe just in my own mind.

I was catching up on the tweets from the peeps I follow. In and amongst the many was a tweet about a greyhound quilt that had been mentioned on the Etsy blog. Being a fan of all things greyhound I had to check that out. It was a stunning quilt. So, I clicked through to the artists’ Etsy site. The quilt seemed to be a new departure for her as all her other offerings were jewelry. And I guess there really are no coincidences in life and all things happen for a reason.

The first piece of jewelry I saw, a necklace, said, “My Tripod Rocks.” It had a stylized greyhound on it and the number three. The next necklace said “Osteo sucks,” and had the stylized greyhound along with a second ring that said “Compassion, Hope, Bravery.” There was more greyhound jewelry both for hounds fighting cancer and those who had crossed the bridge. There was also jewelry for hounds that were lucky enough not to have to face an illness. All of it was beautifully made.

Just seeing that first piece made me catch my breath. One cancer dog family immediately recognizes another. I knew her story before I looked at any other part of her website. I only needed to see the photo of the tripod necklace. And indeed when I read her story, she had lost a beloved hound to osteosarcoma in January of 2010. The amazing heroes at OSU had fought with her to save her boy. A large percentage of the sales from the jewelry are going to the OSU Greyhound Health program in memory of her special boy and in recognition of the incredibly special work they do there.

While all of our money currently goes towards chemo treatments, medications and veterinary visits I realized there was a way I could help even if I wasn’t in a position to go on a shopping spree. I could spread the word about this artist’s special jewelry with a purpose. In the interest of full disclosure, I get nothing from this but the hope that some more money ends up at the OSU Greyhound Health program. In fact, the artist does not know about this blog entry and doesn’t even know who I am. But I think she is doing a wonderful thing and being the mum of a sweet girl with osteosarcoma, I can vouch for the fact that it does indeed suck. I am thankful there are people out there like this woman who channeled her sadness into action to help me and my girl and all of us. I hope you’ll take a look at her site.

Beth Wade's Etsy Site
Beth Wade's Website


The Forest for the Trees

You should keep a “cancer log” for your dog. This was one of the many pieces of excellent advice that I read in the book “Help Your Dog Fight Cancer” by Laurie Kaplan. Since I tend to have difficulty remembering what happened yesterday, this seemed like a very good idea. I started to keep a log for Girly Girl on the day I read about it in the book.

Girly Girl ate her breakfast, or she didn’t eat her breakfast. Or she finally ate it at noon. She refused to eat yogurt anymore when she always used to love it. She stopped eating her pills and supplements mixed in with her food. She would only eat them with cheese. She won’t eat her pills and supplements with cheese anymore, she’ll only eat them with cream cheese. She won’t eat dinner. She ate dinner but not until after 10 pm. She will only eat dinner if it has baby food mixed in. She will only eat food if I feed it to her.

Girly Girl’s doctor visits are noted. She had chemo. She went to see Dr. Edelbaum our family vet because she just wasn’t feeling very well between chemo treatments. She went for blood tests because there was concern the chemo drugs were lowering her white blood cell count. She was seen by the emergency vets. She had an echocardiogram because the chemo drugs cause heart damage.

The myriad of supplements and medications that we stuff twice a day into my little 54 pound peg-legger are all listed in our log. There are the medications that Dr. Romansik prescribed for her for nausea and diarrhea after the first chemo. These unfortunately did not work. He gave us Sulfasalazin for the diarrhea and Cerenia for the nausea after the second chemo and these worked much better. In addition she also gets marshmallow root, slippery elm, aloe vera juice, L-arginine, Denosyl, Joint 3 (glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid), Bone Stasis and a probiotics-enzyme powder blend.

All food choices must be logged. As a cancer dog Girly Girl eats a high protein, low carb diet. Cool proteins only (duck, turkey, and rabbit). When she does eat carbs I try to ensure that they are complex carbs. Finding crunchy treats that are lower in carbs can be a real challenge and we’ve logged a whole bunch of attempts. The furry kids have always had extras mixed in to their dry food. We log all of these and we’ve had to make some changes there as well. With chemo, Girly Girl’s tastes have changed. What she will and won’t eat gets noted for future reference.

We also write down all the real fun stuff like the times she vomited on my arm while I was comforting her and later on my leg. We also note every days poop status. Poop has become very important in our life. Within 24 hours of a chemo treatment Girly Girl begins full on diarrhea. She never recovers normal poop status before the next treatment even with medication. The trick is to make sure that she stays hydrated. The trick is also how many different ways you can describe the consistency of poop. Salad shooter, mashed potato, soft serve… I don’t mean to offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities but this is life with cancer.

Every day I write all these things down. After awhile you get very caught up in these details. Was her poop this morning soft serve or was it more firm than that? Did I remember to give her the Denosyl? I have to remember to log in that we changed food yesterday from Nature’s Variety to Blue Buffalo. But I also note the occasional victory (she played with a toy for the first time since surgery today, she tried the basement stairs today, she ran today, she’s jumping up on the couch with me again, she did a helicopter today!).

While I was busy thinking about poop and food and vomit and supplements and when the next chemo treatment was, I failed to see the proverbial forest for the trees. There, in my log, day by day. All those small victories. They added up. When I finally stopped writing and took a good look at Girly Girl, really watched her. When I stopped thinking about cancer and just thought about my sweet, heart dog. I realized she was back. She was on three legs, but she was truly back. My joyous, squeaky mad, midair toy catching, helicopter doing, roaching (almost), cleaning her bowl, running, jumping, sniffing, demanding to share the couch, loving, girl had snuck back in. Welcome home baby girl! Settle in and stay a good long while.