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Week 37

It’s been five weeks since I posted an update about my ankle.  You might remember that I had to take a break from physical therapy because I had to wait for my insurance visits to kick in again (I am on a six-month rolling program).  Ultimately, it’s been 37 weeks since I broke my ankle.  Crazy, eh?

Monday, the 24th, was my first day back.  I was excited because I had missed the routine of it.

I was a little dismayed when the office staff told me that the physical therapist I’d been working with had been relocated to the the beach office.  Ugh.  I wish I’d been told sooner because there’s a distinct possibility that I would have asked for my visits to take place there, which would have been a little inconvenient but would have helped with consistency.  However, I know that all of the PTs at this place are excellent, so I decided not to say anything.  The girl I’d been assigned to is very athletic, and she is a DPT, meaning that she’s a doctor of physical therapy, like my other guy.

My Monday visit wound up only being an eval so she could get the lowdown on my case since she had not worked with me before (we had chatted, but she had not been in charge of me).  She also measured my range of mobility and pulled and pushed on my foot.  A lot.  I discussed my concerns, which I’d made a list of on my phone, and we discussed some of the issues I’m still having.  She wasn’t going to be there for my Thursday appointment but said that another PT would work with me.

Rather than having me do any exercises that day, she iced me down and hooked me up to the TENS unit.

That evening, I began experiencing a high level of pain.  It was so bad that I may have shed a tear or two.  The Mr. and I weren’t sure why my ankle was throbbing so badly.  We thought that the manipulation of my ankle had been the culprit.  I was pretty desperate to get the pain to ease off and found myself running a bath at 11:35pm.

Despite the pain, I did my cardio and ab workouts the next day.

On Thursday, I had my second appointment, and as soon as I got on the bike to warm up, I knew things were going to be tough.  My legs felt like lead; they just did not want to pedal.

I then did my regular calf stretching exercises while the physical therapy assistants tried to figure out what I was supposed to do because my new therapist had not left anything in the computer for me.

Ugh.  That was frustrating because my surgeon’s PT script had been written for six weeks, and I didn’t want to waste any time.

This office has a program called MVP that helps athletes transition from physical therapy to more intense athletic training to get back into their sports.  My Chicky girl had gone through several rounds of the program, which we credit for getting her in the best shape of her life after she tore her ACL.  A couple of months ago, a new athletic trainer was hired for this program, and she wound up working with me on Thursday.

I loved her!  I was already in a lot of pain.  In fact, I’d been in more pain than usual last week, which I couldn’t understand.  We discussed the Beach Body program I’ve been doing for the last three months – specifically the leg workout.  I had done this workout on Sunday and had upped my weights.  Prior to that day, I’d walked four miles two consecutive days, so I’d pretty much set myself up for the pain.

I pulled up a list of the exercises for her to look at, and she was dismayed.  She explained that the moves were too big for what I was ready for, which was why I was having so much pain.  She’s got a plan to break down each move into their fundamentals, help me master them where I’m pain-free, and then help me transition to the bigger moves – slowly.  She also told me not to do my lower body workouts at home – to do them when I was in physical therapy.

Hearing her tell me that I will be pain free made me cry.

Y’all, the week was just awful.  I cannot even tell you.  I had to take Aleve two days, which I never, ever do.  The pain was probably at a 9 – bone pain that I hadn’t felt in months and months.  I’ve figured that I’m going to always be in some kind of pain for the unforeseeable future.  The Mr. constantly tells me that I’m doing too much, but I just cannot live my life sitting in my recliner.  My body NEEDS to be active; I NEED to burn calories.

So yeah, I had a little cry session right there in the PT’s office.

Bless J’s (the trainer) heart.  She was so sweet.  She understands my angst because she messed up her knee during a very important track meet that would have allowed her to go to State when she was in high school.  As she told me the story, her voice cracked, so my fear was something she could personally identify with.

I got myself together quickly, apologized for my weak moment, and we proceeded.  I wound up doing a couple of new moves.  One involved putting a tight band around my ankle, with me kneeling on the floor.  The band also went around a heavy piece of workout equipment, so it wouldn’t move.  Then, I had to, with one foot planted on the floor and my left knee on the floor, lean forward on my right ankle to stretch it, hold it for three seconds, and then return back to neutral.

You might remember that my surgeon diagnosed me with Achilles tendinosis, which is characterized by extreme tightness in that tendon (because of the lack of use while I was in a cast and boot).  We have to break it down to allow it to rebuild stronger.

It’s so freaking painful.

The second exercise she had me do involved me in a similar position on the floor, right foot planted and left knee bent on the floor.  I had a pole that I had to place at the top of my right foot, toward the right side of my toes.  As I held onto the pole with my left hand, I had to lean forward, hold the stretch for three seconds, and then return to neutral.

This was VERY painful; I felt the pain in the muscle on the inside of my ankle behind the ankle bone.  It was the PERFECT move that targeted my area of trouble precisely.  I’m sure I’ll be doing this move a lot.  In fact, during one of my reps, I felt a pop, which was a good thing because that muscle/tendon had been soooooo tight.

Then, I got iced down while I was hooked to the ever-wonderful TENS unit.

I spent the rest of the day extremely sore.

That didn’t stop me from completing the Hogwarts Running Club Eternal Glory 4-Miler virtual race the next day (it was a rest day from my Beach Body program).

Y’all, this was a hard walk for me.  I was in pain from the moment I left my house – pain that I had not felt in months.  I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to do the entire four miles.  I purposely walked slower, thinking maybe all I needed to do was stretch out my ankle.

Nope.  It stayed sore nearly the entire walk, but I did complete the whole distance in one try, so the feeling of accomplishment was HUGE.

I rewarded myself by spending the afternoon at the pool and got to chat with my friend, Megan, who was there as well.

On Saturday, the Mr. and I headed out to see a movie, but we had some time to kill beforehand, so we hopped into a store and did a bit of shopping.  The walking around was still tough.  Ugh.  I felt like I did back in March with my foot hurting every time I took a step.

I’m considering calling the surgeon’s office to schedule an appointment; however, I may give myself a few more PT sessions before I do that.  I remember him telling me that the new protocol would be very painful.

Check.

He had told me that I needed to ask myself if I felt any better than I did the month before.

Well, I had . . . until Monday evening.

Ahem.

I’ve pretty much decided that I’m definitely going to schedule another surgery to have a few pins removed.  One in particular is, I suspect, the culprit for 80% of my pain.  Crazy, eh?  I’m aiming to have the surgery the week of Thanksgiving but am trusting in God’s timing.  All I know is that I’m going to have it before the end of the year.  We’ve had a lot of medical expenses this year and have met all of our deductibles, so it would be more cost effective.  Plus, I don’t know how much longer I can go with this pain.  Some days, it’s almost unbearable, and I’m a tough cookie, so to say that is saying something.

So that’s where my progress stands at this point.  I feel like I’ve taken a few steps backward, and I’m frustrated.  I’ve had a few pity parties this week as I’ve tried to find reasons for the extra challenges I’ve gone through the last few days.  Ultimately, I know that my progress depends on 1) God, 2) consistent physical therapy, and 3) TIME.

I’ve been reminded that I am not a very patient person.  I want my old ankle back, and that’s just not going to happen.

I’m not going to lie – #findingjoyinthejourney was a bit difficult this week.  Pain is a thief of joy, y’all.  I feel overwhelmed sometimes, and that hurts my heart.  So much.

I am so grateful that God loves me when I lack faith – when I can’t see the finish line.  I’ve had glimpses, only to turn corners and discover hills that weren’t on the original plan.

If you would continue to pray for me, I’d surely appreciate it.  This is one hard, long road that I’m still trudging through, a bit unwillingly and very much resentfully at the moment.  That’s just me being as real as always.

Thanks all!

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Catching Up 3.0

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve got some catching up to do, eh?  These past two weeks . . . if I could erase them, I would, but since I can’t, I guess I’ll go forth.

Despite my world being turned upside down, life has had to continue, albeit at a different pace.  Grief has a way of slowing a person down, to the point where some days, you’re doing good to put one foot in front of the other.  Thank heavens for friends who continue to check in with me to see how I’m doing.  I received a card and Amazon gift card from my precious friend, Kris.

She and I have done numerous online Bible studies together.  She has a heart of gold. ❤

So, back to the blogging . . .

To help me gauge where I last left off as far as blogging goes, I’m digging into my Flickr account.

Ugh.  Loads and loads of pictures, because that is something I’ve managed to keep up with . . . photographing and uploading tons of pictures so I can remember every moment of every day.

I can be extra that way.

I have been doing a crap-ton of reading . . .

Poolside and in the pool as well . . .

I must have read the second book right after.  Alas, but I didn’t take a picture.

I started on the Throne of Glass series (shout-out to Megan, who’s dying for me to get to the last book so we can discuss the characters).  I will not get to Once and for All until I finish this series.

Y’all, Throne of Glass is every bit as good as Megan promised.  I flew through the first book.

While I waited for the rest of the books in the series to arrive from Amazon, I started on the third book of the Storm Siren series . . .

I loved this series!  I have discovered that I like books that delve into magic powers.  Perhaps one day, I’ll finish the Game of Thrones series.  I’m in the middle of the second book and refuse to watch the series until I either finish or ever (I’ve heard it’s a bit graphic).

Meanwhile, my new books arrived . . .

All Photos-547

I do believe I hear angels sing when the Man in the Brown Truck delivers Amazon packages.

In the middle of reading all of the aforementioned books, I also participated in a Proverbs 31 online Bible study . . .

This book needs to be read by every single person.  We all tell ourselves lies that, gasp, we actually believe.  Jennifer’s wise words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and her gentle leading to scripture passages, help readers learn strategies to combat the negative crap that goes into our thought closets.  I’m going to be keeping this book close at hand to refer to.

I haven’t just been reading; I’ve also been working out.  The only day I missed was the one in which Molly passed away.  I couldn’t even pick up my arms that day.

I did my workout the next day . . . and cried throughout the entire program.

I have been keeping at it, though, and I’m starting to see results.

I’m currently doing Body Beast, another Beach Body program.  It’s a weight training video series, my favorite!

I really, really like it.  It’s definitely challenging, but the payoff has been worth it.

There are even weights incorporated into the cardio and ab workouts!!!!

Yesterday, when I was brushing my teeth, I randomly looked up and saw a little bit of arm muscle action going on.  The vain part of me was a teensy bit happy.

Please ignore the pink thing around my waist. It’s my Flip Belt, which I wear when I’m walking. It holds my phone and kleenex. I love it, but it’s not very fashionable.

Pele and Gambit have been sticking close to me since Molly passed away.  They don’t stray far even during my workouts.

I’m trying to walk at least three days a week.  I spread my walks out around leg day because my ankle still cannot handle too much at one time.

My pace isn’t great, but whatever.  My only competition is my brain and my bum ankle, both of which come out battered some days . . .

This was my ankle after a day of only doing a shoulder workout . . . no walk that day.

I keep trying to put into practice the lessons I learned during my Bible study . . . I am not defined by my circumstances.

The last person to finish a race is still a finisher, same as the person who came in first.

The fact that I’m getting out in the heat and humidity means I’m trying . . .

I read the following quote in my Bible study book:

I’m going to print this, laminate it, and display it prominently in my classroom as a reminder to my students and to myself.

One small snafu in my workout plans happened when the new ear buds the Mr. gave me for Christmas stopped working the DAY we left for his surgery.  I was not very happy; monkey wrenches and I do not get along.

I called the company because they were still under warranty, and the representative I talked to was extremely helpful as he explained the return policy.  After emailing him a copy of my receipt, he confirmed that my pair was still covered.  He then sent me a pre-paid mailing label to print out with detailed instructions on how to package them up.  I had them in the mail the day we got home from the hubby’s non-surgery.  I got a new pair in the mail on Monday . . .

I absolutely love these ear buds.  Even though I’d purchased an Apple watch a few weeks ago, it doesn’t do a good job tracking my heart rate when I lift weights.  I had done some research about this and discovered that the reason is that your blood vessels constrict when you work out, so it’s hard to keep a consistent and accurate heart rate on the watch.  The ear buds check your pulse through your ears.

Now, I will say that the power cut out on me three times yesterday when I was walking / working out, which was not good at all.  I’m going to track the issues and, if necessary, return them again.  Ugh.

One thing I learned while I didn’t have my ear buds was that I could still use the Record app, which is done by Under Armour.  My Apple watch connects to it via Bluetooth, so I can start workouts from either my phone or my watch (the app also installs on the watch) and track things there.  MyFitnessPal (my food app) receives the workout information from the Record app.  This has led me to believe that you can use the Record app with any Bluetooth enabled tracker.  Interesting, eh?  Oh, and I used my regular iPhone ear buds while I waited for the Under Armour ones to arrive, and I still got updates about my progress (calories and distance) from the Record app.  So cool!

One other thing I’ve been doing over here in the land of Auburnchick has been eating out with the Mr.

One day, he texted and asked about dinner.  Here’s what I sent him . . .

He wanted to know if I wanted to meet one of the guys he works with.  He even mentioned Mexican food, my favorite.

Thirty minutes later, the transformation was complete . . .

Forget the Today Show makeover.  All I needed was a straightener and my own makeup.

Last week, we visited an one of our favorite restaurants, Bonefish Grill.  We had not been there since I was in my boot . . . way back in January.  I wore a new shirt, which the Mr. had ordered for me.  Bonefish Grill has the kind of ambience you’d wear it to . . .

The back just makes this shirt . . .

What a lovely dinner too . . .

Don’t be hatin’

Edamame and the House Salad for me.  I can’t exactly remember what the Mr. got, but he was very happy.

There’s still more I could update you on, but this post is way too long already.  I’ll have to save the rest for another post (or two or three).

Childhood Ruminations on the Hodgepodge

I took a two-week hiatus from the Hodgepodge to mourn the loss of my sweet fur baby, Molly.  I’m turning a corner in the grief and am getting back to my routine now, which includes Hodgepodging.  So, without further ado, let’s get to the questions!

1.  Growing up, were you close to your grandparents? Tell us one or two specific things you remember about them.

I was not close to my grandparents while I was growing up because they lived in Canada and France.  I did get to visit them one summer, and they came to visit us once.  I remember that my maternal grandfather was a silly man.  He made a lot of fun of himself.  My maternal grandmother was more serious.  They had divorced a number of years prior to my seeing them, and my grandfather had a live-in girlfriend, which probably made him happy.  My grandmother was bitter until her death.  My paternal grandparents were interesting.  My grandmother loved her wine and sweets.  My grandfather was very serious.  He was harder to get to know.

2.  What’s an item you were attached to as a child? What happened to it?

I was attached to my books.  I have a few from when I was younger but not many.  I didn’t take much with me when I got married and moved out of my house.

3.  When you look out your window, do you see the forest or the trees (literally and figuratively)? Explain.

Literally, I see trees.  I live across from a small pond that has trees that separate it from the road outside of my neighborhood.  As far as figuratively, I am doing my best to keep my eyes on the forest despite the trees.  Life continues to be chaotic with random, hard things hitting.  I’m trusting God, though, for His grand plan while trying not to feel overwhelmed by all of the unexpected happenings that are popping up every time I turn around.

4.  Do you like sour candies? Which of the ‘sour’ foods listed below would you say is your favorite?

grapefruit, Greek yogurt, tart cherries, lemons, limes, sauerkraut, buttermilk, or kumquats 

Have you ever eaten a kumquat? What’s your favorite dish containing one of the sour foods on the list?

I do like sour candies.  Sour Patch Kids are one of my favorite types, but I also like the tart cherries you can buy at convenience stores.  As far as sour foods, I’d say that tart cherries are among my favorite.  I also like grapefruit.  I’ve never eaten a kumquat.  I just can’t bring myself to do so.  A favorite dish I made a few weeks ago was A Couple Cooks Veggie Burger with Tart Cherry Salsa.  It was delicious!  I’ve never made salsa before, so for my first go, what a great pick!  I found the cherries at Walmart.

 5.  July 1st marked the mid point of 2017. In fifteen words or less, tell us how it’s going so far.

Imagine the world’s highest roller coaster with harrowing twists and turns.

6.  My Random Thought

The Mr. and I went to Bonefish Grill the other night.  We used to go every couple of weeks; however, we had not been since January.  I remember that the last time we were there, I was still in my boot and on crutches.  Then, he got sick at the end of that month, and we pretty much didn’t go anywhere for weeks.

It was so much fun to order a martini and indulge in my favorite dishes . . . edamame and the house salad (no meat).

Life’s been so hard these past two weeks; the sadness so heavy to bear.  Going out and being around people, in small doses, is proving to be a balm to my tender heart.

I Have This Hope

I was doing really good today and thought I was starting to turn a corner in the grieving process.

Then, I got in the car and headed out to run a couple of errands, turning on the radio as I left.

That’s when I heard this song . . .

And just like that, the floodgates opened up, with my tears keeping pace with the rain that started to come down outside.  (Coincidence or not?)

As I listened to the lyrics, I felt as though my heart was talking to God . . . the words echoing the thoughts and feelings I’ve had since last week.

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I’ve been a Christian since I was a teenager, and I’ve been through some hard times, so I know, with certainty, that there is a purpose for everything, and that my tears are never in vain.

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go.

Isn’t it hard not to live in fear when you experience one setback after another?  The Mr. and I have talked about this . . . how we dread losing another pet because of the pain we’ve been through with Aubie and, most recently, Molly’s passings.

Then, I heard the next verse . . .

But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here?

As I heard the words, “Will you catch every tear,” I had a picture in my mind of a scene in the final Harry Potter movie.  In that scene, Snape has been dealt a fatal blow by Voldemort, and as he lay dying, Harry approaches him.  Snape and Harry had been at odds for years, and Snape had killed Dumbledore, so he was very much hated.  Yet, he tells Harry to get something to catch one of his tears.

Harry obeys, and he rushes to Dumbledore’s office, drops the tear into the Pensieve (a basin used for this purpose), and discovers a side of Snape that he didn’t know about before.

That scene takes a toll on my heartstrings on a regular day.  This afternoon, well, yeah.  It was brutal.  There is just so much wrapped into these four-plus minutes.

Think about the number of memories attached to each one of our tears.  Our tears tell the story of our lives.  If this story was painted, I envision it being done in watercolor.

Sometimes, there are happy tears, and we rejoice; other times we are sad, so we grieve.

Ultimately, when we examine the reasons for our tears, and if we are open to it, we can see purpose in the events that led to the tears.

Of course, if events have recently transpired, then we won’t necessarily understand the purpose.  That’s where faith comes in.

When Harry Potter sees Snape’s memories, he realizes that everything that Snape went through was because of his love for Harry’s mother and, ultimately, his love for Harry himself.

So it is that I imagine that the Lord is catching all of my tears and guarding them closely, aware that it is through them that my deepest joys and sorrows are expressed . . . especially when words fail me.

My tears are not in vain, and there is a purpose for my pain.  I don’t fully understand the reason, but I praise God that He knows, and that He will not let anything go to waste in my life.

This week, #findingjoyinthejourney has been tough, but I press on, thankful that God is my strength.

Autopilot

If I could choose a song title to represent my life right now, it would be “Achy Breaky Heart.”

Today marks one week since my sweet fur baby, Molly, passed away.

I had to take a break from my blog because the grief has been all-consuming.

I didn’t know the weight that sadness carried with it.

I’ve always heard people describe feeling numb after a tragedy.  I guess that was me in the initial hours as I had some practical stuff to take care of.  The worst thing was taking Molly to the vet so they could care for her body.

The Mr. helped me get her to the car, and I was so wracked with grief that I could hardly walk.  Parting with her at the vet’s office near about did me in.  I don’t even know how I managed to drive myself home.  Thankfully, nothing is very far in Podunk, Florida.

I had originally thought that I’d do my workout as a distraction.  The Mr. ordered me not to out of concern that I’d hurt myself.

Well, I don’t know what I was thinking, because by the time I got home, my limbs were so heavy that I barely made it to my bed, where I fell, exhausted and at the lowest I’d been in a very long time.

All I wanted was Molly, and I cried so hard for her.

I eventually dozed off until the Mr. came home for lunch.

After he left, I got up and saw to Pele and Gambit, who, the Mr. had reminded me, needed me more than ever.

I think sometimes we forget how sensitive animals can be, and those poor babies had been through the wringer as well.  Molly was their sister/mama, and her absence left them extremely confused and, dare I say it, sad.

I sat and loved on them the best I could, and then I blogged (my previous post).

Chicky called me a couple of times during the day and let me pour out my heart to her.  I’m thankful for her thoughtfulness.

Late that afternoon, I decided to go for a walk.  I knew I needed the fresh air, but y’all, it was so hard.

I don’t think I’ve ever cried when I’ve been out walking before, but I did just that . . . so many times . . . during my three miles.

Rooster called me while I was outside, and he listened patiently as I sobbed on the phone.  We had all been close to Molly.  Because he and I don’t have issues with allergies, we were able to handle her dog hair better.  Molly used to sneak into his room and crawl under his bed when she was afraid of storms.

When I finished my walk and looked at my stats, I was a little surprised.  Even though I had purposely walked a lot slower, my heart rate had been pretty high for most of my walk.  Grief can be so hard on a person’s body.

Going to bed that night was extremely difficult, and I put it off as long as I could.  Pele sensed my hesitation and did something he’s never done before . . . he slept beside my bed.

I slept pretty late the next morning, and I immediately started crying when I woke up.  Ugh.  What a tough way to start the day.

I found a sweet text from Rebecca, who was checking in to see how I was doing.

I don’t know what I would do with her.  She had prayed for us that long 4th of July evening when we knew that Molly wasn’t going to make it.  She was the first person I messaged right after Molly passed away, so she had been sharing, real time, in my grief.

Day 2 was as awful as the first day, and I frequently (and randomly) broke down in tears.

The dogs were still adjusting.

I made myself get out to a couple of places because, as I discovered, the world doesn’t stop spinning just because your heart is broken.  I hurried home though, not wanting to infect the public with my brand of sadness.

I made a batch of Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Popsicles but had a hard time enjoying them.

The face of sadness, y’all, because I keep things real around here.

The Mr. and I attempted dinner out.  He even took me to get my favorite, Mexican, because I hadn’t eaten much in two days.  We talked about Molly . . . about how shocked we still were . . . about whether we could have done anything differently.

I did the ugly cry right there at our table.

What a hot mess.

After much discussion, we’ve come to the conclusion that Molly had probably been sick for a little while (the cough that started months ago), but that something brutal got a hold of her at the end and just wouldn’t let go.

Regardless, my heart still hurt.

Gambit kept close tabs on me, even sleeping on the floor (he rarely does this, preferring his dog bed) . . .

Day 3 was still tough, but I had the small distraction of playing with a friend’s son’s new puppy (no pictures of that).  My dogs were not amused when I got home.  I’m sure they felt as though I was already cheating on them.

I also braved the pool that day for the first time since Molly had passed . . .

With each day that passes, I can’t say that it’s getting easier yet.  I’m still waiting for that.

I still expect to see Molly’s face when I come home from being out.  In fact, that’s been one of the hardest things . . . coming home and knowing that she’s not going to be here to greet me.  One night, when the Mr. and I had gone out to eat, I sobbed as we entered the neighborhood and cried harder the closer we got to our house.  I tried to explain the reason for my tears.  He understood, but gosh, was it hard.  I sat in the car after we pulled into the garage, unable to make myself go in.  He waited until I collected myself.

Bless that man.  He’s grieving too, but he’s supporting me in his sweet ways.

He’s been printing pictures of our fur babies and buying frames.  This experience has been so very hard on both of us.

I’m on serious autopilot right now; joy is found in fleeting moments.

I’m loving extra on Pele and Gambit, finding comfort in their presence.

I found the following quote a few days ago, and it does a good job of summing up how I feel.

It’s not that my love has no place to go.  It’s just that the object of said love isn’t here to pour it out upon.

My sadness is magnified when I see tangible traces of her disappearing left and right.

There’s less of her hair in my vacuum.  Her dog beds are gone (I had to dispose of them because she’d soiled them when she was so sick).  I put away her food bowl.  In fact, only having to prepare two bowls for each feeding breaks my heart.  Even scooping poop in the back yard makes me sad as I realize that there’s nothing in her usual spots.  This might seem funny to some of you, but it doesn’t take much to trigger the tears.

There is just so much to miss:

The way she sidled up to me when she wanted attention
The way she would begin easing her way to me at the first sign of rain or thunder
The way she would patiently wait for her turn to be loved on while we were loving on the other dogs
The way she would slide down beside me on the floor while I was doing ab workouts
The way she would look up at me, her soulful eyes meeting mine, in silent conversation with me
Kissing her in the middle of her forehead where her hair was the softest
Hugging her for endless moments because she always had the most patience for it

I miss everything.

And so it is that even as I begin reincorporating more things into my routine, I do so a bit unwillingly and rebelliously.  I miss my furry friend . . . my partner in crime . . . my Mama Girl.

Oh, and a quick but heartfelt thank you for the prayers, texts, and messages on Facebook and Instagram.  God created us to glorify Him, and one way we do that is by supporting one another.  I don’t know what I would do without each of you.

Remembering Molly

Ten years ago, I brought this furry bundle of joy home from my local animal shelter.  I’d fallen in love with her from the moment I’d seen her.

She’d been found living on the street and couldn’t have been more than seven weeks old.  She was tiny and simply adorable.

Molly was a force to be reckoned with, let me tell you.  From the moment she tore into the house, she decided that she wanted to be the boss.  Aubie took issue with that, while Pele cowed behind Aubie.  Molly instantly took to her new big brother and hounded him relentlessly.  The first night with her in the house was quite the experience, and I wondered what I’d gotten myself into.

She was pretty sick those first few weeks with some serious intestinal parasite issues.  The vet who cared for her told me not to hold out for much . . . that she probably wouldn’t make it.

What nobody knew at the time was that Molly had a stubborn streak that was a mile long.

We took her to a soccer tournament in Virginia because she was too little and too sick to board.  She was so small that she crawled under the seats separating the front and back sections of the car.  Rooster took such good care of her during the games so that we could watch Chicky play.

Molly proved the vet wrong and survived those first few, antibiotic-laden weeks.

She actually did more than survive; she thrived.

I’m pretty sure there was more than her attitude and the medicine at work.

She was experiencing the power of love, and she gave as good as she received.

Molly didn’t like a lot of people; it took her a number of visits with someone to accept the person.

She immediately loved us, though, and was a loyal and protective companion.

She and Pele had tons of fun in those early years . . . back when Pele had ruined me, and I was letting the dogs get on the couches.  Mind you, Pele had just come into my home six months prior, so he hadn’t taken long to rewrite the rules that had been firmly in place for Aubie . . . typical second-child syndrome, you know.

Molly and Pele used to fly from one couch to another during play time.  They chased each other hard and fast.  This play continued even after they were banned from the furniture.  Every time Molly got a bath, her playful streak would come out, and she and Pele would go nuts.

From the get-go, we suspected that Molly had some cat DNA in her because she imitated some feline mannerisms.

For instance, she used to walk on the back of the couches when she and Pele would play,  She also liked to rub against people’s legs when they walked through the house.  That’s something she never stopped doing, and with her thick, white fur, dark pants and dresses were not safe while Molly was around.  She also rubbed up against the sides and back of the couches.  I later grew to suspect skin allergies were the cause of this, but who knows.

After Aubie passed away, Molly immediately took ownership of the Alpha position, and she quickly let the other dogs know it.  Pele often got in trouble for getting into stuff when her short, sharp bark alerted me.  I used to watch as he would throw her dirty looks when I was reprimanding him.  They were siblings in every sense of the word.  She did the same thing to Gambit when he would go to the neighbor’s fence to smash his head through to try to get to their dogs.  Molly was the enforcer.

Notice that I didn’t say that she was the rule follower.

Not only was Molly sassy, but she was smart.  Wicket smart.

Molly and Pele were best buddies and got into some trouble together.  We firmly believe that she and Pele were the fur baby equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde.  Molly was the brains, and Pele was the muscle.

Molly loved to run . . . out of the house and around the neighborhood.  You could watch the two of them communicate silently, with just a look.  It was in that moment that they would bolt for the laundry room door . . . the one that led to the garage.  Pele would jump on the door handle, pulling it down as he landed, and the two of them would run out of the garage to freedom.  We started keeping a key in the lock because of this.  She knew when that door was unlocked, and shenanigans would ensue.

Molly hated thunder but, as the Mr. discovered one day, loved to play in the rain.  She got out of the house when it was storming, ran to the pond across the street, and looked back at the Mr. as he tried desperately to get her in.  Despite the loud booming, that dog was only coming back when she was ready.  Remember that stubborn streak I mentioned?  Yeah, it wasn’t so good during these kinds of instances.

Molly’s need for speed, coupled with her intelligence, led to one of the funniest escape antics I’ve ever seen.

Here’s how she looked from the other side of the fence . . .

To be sure, Molly kept us on our toes!

She eventually mellowed out as all dogs are wont to do as they age.

She began getting gray hair in her ears, although her face maintained its puppy appearance.  Her wide girth often had us singing, “I like big butts, and I cannot lie.”

Ha!

In the last few months, Molly had begun coughing.  We figured it was from the tree bark that she was constantly chewing out back as limbs always littered the yard thanks to the storms that Florida is famous for.  When I took her to the vet for her yearly checkup in April, I was given a couple of antibiotics for a small red spot on her gums and told that her coughing was most likely allergies.  This made sense given how she’d spent years rubbing against the couches in what I suspect was her attempt to scratch her back.

In early June, Molly threw up a few times, and one night, she pooped in the house.  Her appetite was also beginning to wane.  I decided I needed to run her in to see what was up.

The first concern was her weight loss.

The vet put her on acid reflux medicine, and a round of (very expensive) blood tests was ordered up.  The doctor was looking for liver and kidney issues; however, everything came back clean.  The vet warned me that she couldn’t rule out cancer, especially for a ten year old dog like Molly.  There wasn’t much more she could tell me without sending me to a specialist who could do more invasive and very expensive tests.

So, I gave Molly her meds and tried everything in the world to get her to eat.  For awhile, she seemed to be getting better, but when the Mr. and I left for his surgery, she refused to eat for the dog sitter.

I’m so very glad that we were able to come home, sans surgery (see previous post), because Molly’s health started taking a turn for the worse.

Her eating was spotty, and she just didn’t seem to be herself.  We chalked that up to lack of food = lack of energy.  She was still drinking.

When you don’t feel good, the water comes to you.

I tried feeding her pureed pumpkin and even baby carrot food.  This dog was not living to eat but eating to live . . . albeit unwillingly.

I bought a couple of tubes of high calorie gel and used a syringe to feed it to her.  She despised it.  I was hoping to trigger her hunger mechanism or at least keep her going until whatever she was fighting passed.

It didn’t work, and by yesterday afternoon, she wasn’t tolerating the mix of Pedialyte/water that we were giving her.  She couldn’t keep anything down, and she was having trouble walking outside to potty.

It was awful, y’all.  To watch my big, strong girl lay, confused as she worked so hard to make it to her bed was gut wrenching.

We planned on taking her to the vet this morning if things didn’t improve.  We had a lot of people praying for her, and we were praying too.

The Mr. just didn’t want to make the decision about putting her to sleep.  Doing that with Aubie had nearly done him in with the second guessing.  He just couldn’t do that with Molly, and I couldn’t blame him.

Unfortunately, by 8pm, she was really struggling.  She just couldn’t get comfortable for long periods of time.

I asked the Lord to take her gently, but alas, that wasn’t the road He led us to travel.

I got the Mr. up at midnight, fearing that she was about to go.  He sat with us for two hours, and we spoke words of love into her soul.

We told her how much we loved her . . . what a wonderful dog she had been . . . how much we would miss her . . . that it was okay to let go.

She was stubborn though, and she would not give up.  By that time, she could only lift her head, and she repeatedly looked back at the Mr. to make sure he was still there.

The Mr. went back to bed around 2am; he had to go to work in the morning.  I grabbed my yoga mat, a pillow, and a blanket, and I nestled close to her with my arm around her neck.  She was at eye level with me.

I dozed off for about 45 minutes, and when I woke up, she was still taking ragged breaths.  It was obvious that she was not registering anything though; she seemed to be in a catatonic stage.

I sat with her another hour before things suddenly changed.  I yelled for the Mr., and he came running out of the bedroom.

Y’all, it wasn’t long before she took her final breaths.  It was the hardest thing I have ever watched, but I was determined to be with her to the end.  I think that she became aware of us at that point.  I hope we brought her comfort in her last moments.

And then, at 5:15am, she was gone.

I can’t type this without crying, but I need to process it, and this is the only way I know how.

The loss I felt in the moment she let go was devastating.  Although I am glad that her suffering is over, and y’all, she really, really struggled, I immediately grieved her absence.

This furry baby had been a part of my life for ten years.

That’s a long time.

She and I had a strong bond that was forged from understanding.  She was a unique blend of cray-cray that I totally identified with.  She was anti-social, and I can be that way too.  She used to hide under the bed when she got scared, and there are a lot of times when I retreat to my home to get away from things.

Brokenness met brokenness, and love bloomed.

That was my Molly.

I think that’s why we took such good selfies together.  I’m often teased for the stuff I post on social media, but I am so thankful for all of the pictures I have.  They paint a picture of my life with Molly, our closeness, and how empty of a space her passing has left.

I’m grieving hard, y’all.  This pill is a bitter one to swallow.

Yesterday morning, I woke up, and most things were right with the world.  Today, mine is turned upside down.

I am so grateful that we had Sunday, which was her last good day.  She got outside and enjoyed the sun (and selfies).

I trust God through all of this, as I see His hand of mercy through the events that led to today.  It’s not a coincidence that the last vet to treat her wound up being the first one who saw her and gave her such low chances of surviving her initial health crisis.  She even remembered Molly after all those years.  God had brought us full circle.

Still, my heart is shattered.

So, if you see me, and I seem sad, please understand why.

I need time to adjust.

I don’t know how long it will take me to get used to only seeing two dogs at the door when I come in . . . not hearing her shrill bark when I pull into the garage after work . . . not having her soulful eyes stare back at me when I lean in for a hug.

She used to do this thing where she would put her front paws on your shoulders when you reached down to pet her.  She was the only one of our dogs who could sit back on her haunches.

Gosh, but I’m really going to miss that.

I am praying that God allows our pets to be in heaven.  I want to be reunited with my sweet girl one day.

For now, I’ll let myself feel the hurt of mourning, and I won’t apologize for it.

I know that time will dull the sharpness of the pain, but for now, it’s razor sharp and is cutting through every fiber of my body.

I thank the Lord for leading me to her that fateful summer day ten years ago.  I pray that I was as faithful a servant to her as she was to me.

And to you, Mama Girl, I thank you for always trusting me, even when you didn’t understand.  They say that a dog is man’s best friend.  Well, girlfriend, you certainly earned that title.

I’ll never forget you, and I’ll always love you.

Love,

Mama

Script Change

In my last post, I think I mentioned that I was going to be having a couple of busy weeks.

It started off with some packing on Monday . . .

On Tuesday, after leaving explicit instructions with the house/dog sitter, the Mr. and I jumped in the car and headed down the road.  Snacks were a must . . .

The Mr. drove all day while I made him listen to the pre-season episode of Rob Has a Podcast Big Brother.  The Mr. was not amused, and I was forced to listen to talk radio for the next two hours.

We hit some rain during our trip but finally arrived at our destination . . .

The sign is a little hard to read, but it says Mayo Clinic.

You may remember my post back in February when I described the health issues that the Mr. had been suffering from.  Over the last few months, he’d been back and forth to the Mayo Clinic for periodic testing.

In May, after another round of MRIs and other tests, he decided to push forth with a very complicated surgery.  This surgery would involve a team of doctors. Surgery was scheduled for June 29th.  He had a round of pre-op appointments on the 28th, which was why we left on the 27th.

The Mr. was very nervous about the surgery; the recovery time was expected to be six to eight weeks with a possible follow-up surgery.  Success was expected but not 100% guaranteed.

Let’s just say that those six hours in the car were not exactly what you’d model the perfect marriage on.  Tension was high.

On the 28th, I got up at the crack of dawn and visited the hotel’s fitness room to get in a walk.  I knew we had a long day ahead of us . . . hours of walking back and forth between doctor’s offices . . . lots of sitting time.

I didn’t plan very well, so we were scrambling to get ready in time for his first appointment, which had been scheduled bright and early . . . 7:30.

I can’t say that we showed our best sides to one another as we fussed.

Ahem.

It’s a good thing our hotel was right next to the hospital, though, which saved oodles of time.  Jacksonville traffic ain’t not joke, y’all.

I love the Mayo Clinic for so many reasons.  Timeliness is a biggie.  We have all experienced the horrors of waiting for hours while doctors deal with double-booked schedules.  This doesn’t happen at the Mayo Clinic.

We did have to wait a very short time, but we’d been told that the doctor we were seeing . . . the urological surgeon . . . had a surgery that morning.  He was popping in to see us before he went to that surgery.

Now, let me tell you.  We have talked to a couple dozen doctors, at least, since the end of January when this ordeal began.  Many of them have not had good bedside manners.  Most have been knife happy . . .  as in let’s do surgery right now kind of happy.

We don’t like those people very much.

This doctor was not like that at all.  He was very approachable and talked at our level.  He began by going over the risks of what he would be doing.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Every surgery has risks.  We weren’t really worried about those too much.  I mean, we were at the Mayo Clinic, for heaven’s sake.

Then, the doctor sat back in his chair, and he said, “I’m not really sure why you’re having surgery.  In fact, the GI doctor and I were talking about your case yesterday, and we don’t know why you are having it.”

Now, imagine for a second that from January 23rd, you’ve been told that you’ve got to have surgery . . . that you’ll die without it.

Every single doctor had been telling us that.

Then, this much-educated, very respected doctor sits and tells us that he doesn’t know why the Mr. is going forward with it?

We were majorly confused.

I cocked my head to the side . . .

Accurate

The doctor went on to explain that the Mr.’s most recent MRI had shown . . .

Wait for it . . .

That he was GETTING BETTER!

Double accurate

The doctor, in turn, looked confused.  He told us that typically, patients are completely on board with surgery, but to see us so confused was a signal that surgery did not need to be happening.

The Mr. then shared some of the things that his GI doctor . . . the doctor we started out with and the one who specializes in Crohn’s patients . . . had told him in May.

Well, Mr. Urological Surgeon rang up Mr. GI doctor right there in front of us, and they had a brief meeting of the minds where we learned that the GI doctor had not made the Mr.’s situation sound quite so dire the last time.

I looked at the Mr. and said, “I guess this is why I need to come with you to these appointments – so we have two sets of ears.”

Apparently so.

But I was still confused.  Were we talking about canceling the urological part of the surgery or both parts (the GI part too)?

Both.

I looked at the doctor and said, “Well, now I won’t have to take care of a sick man!”

He genuinely laughed at that.

Y’all KNOW what I’m talking about and don’t pretend that you don’t.

The doctor said that the Mr. had been showing fewer symptoms the past few months (I attribute this to God answering prayer and to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which the Mr. has been following pretty religiously since February), so they don’t like to operate on asymptomatic people.

Now, to be sure, the Mr. still has a messed up intestine from the 30 years he’s been dealing with Crohn’s, but we both know that surgery won’t cure it.  Crohn’s can hit multiple parts of the intestine.  Getting rid of one affected section won’t guarantee that it won’t reappear elsewhere.

The doctor assured us that if the Mr. takes a turn for the worse, he can always reschedule surgery.  He also put the Mr. on a plan to visit him in three months for tests to monitor his progress.  His abscess isn’t fully healed.  A new MRI will check on that, as will some other tests.

The doctor walked us back to the GI doctor’s nurse, gave her instructions to cancel the rest of the day’s pre-op appointments, and then sent us off with his blessing.

Y’all should have seen us walk out of there.

We were shell shocked – dazed looks on our faces.  Our brains could not process this change of events.

We started texting people immediately.  His parents had to be notified first because they were about to drive several hours to be with us for the surgery.

I had to let my friends from home know.  There’s a small group of us who are really close, and they had been praying non-stop.

I let Rebecca know.  She and I had been texting for days.

Then, because we didn’t know what to do, we got breakfast in the wonderful cafeteria at the hospital.

Crazy, eh?

The Mr. ate with gusto, let me tell you.  I don’t think you could have wiped the smile from his face if you’d tried.

When we finished, we went back to the hotel, loaded up our stuff, and checked OUT!  We took a selfie (which I posted on IG and FB with the update) in the parking lot and began our long drive home.

Gosh, y’all, but we were still so confused!

We tried to figure out how we’d gotten things so wrong!  What the heck?  We talked back through the series of appointments, but honestly, I think we would have made the same decision!  The Mr. was trying to figure out what the GI doctor wanted him to do.  The doctor couldn’t tell him explicitly what to do because things were not clear cut.  Thankfully, the urological surgeon gave it to us straight, God bless him!

We listened to praise music the rest of the way home, let me tell you.

We did make a pit stop to see the Mr.’s parents.  We also visited with Chicky’s puppy, who’d been visiting the grandparents for the past two weeks while Chicky traveled.

We got to see Chicky as well.  She arrived about an hour after we got there.  She’d flown into her city the night before and had made the drive up to retrieve her fur baby.  The original plan had been for her to go to the Mayo Clinic so she could be there for the surgery, but with the cancellation, she adjusted her plans.

It was a blessing, in so many ways, to get to go home.  Our fur babies needed us . . .

Molly had been refusing to eat (she’s been pretty sick).

We were eager to resume life.

I have to credit Rebecca for the title of this post.  As we were texting, she said that it was like God had called for a script change in our plans.

In my mind, the summer had been split in half . . . the first being one of luxury, and the second being one of care giving (i.e. not relaxing).

Waking up LATE on Thursday, in our own house, made the Mr. and me smile all day. It was a relief to partake in normal activities without the stress of a looming surgery hanging over our heads.

All Photos-505

I didn’t realize how exhausted I was until I took a two-hour nap in the recliner that afternoon, despite having slept in past 9am.

We were able to attend the reception for a precious young couple who just got married in May.  They are the children of dear friends of ours.  I’d RSVP’d no, because of the surgery; my friend eagerly told us to come when I texted her that we were going to be home.

As I said in the update I posted on Facebook, although surgery could still be in the Mr.’s future, we are celebrating the miracle of TODAY.

Isn’t that what life is about – finding joy in each moment?  Heck, it’s been my hashtag since November 13th.

I know that God doesn’t answer yes to all of our prayer requests, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for things.  His no’s are for good reasons because He sees the whole plan for our lives.

But, when He does say yes, hello world, but you just can’t deny that it’s Him.

A friend commented on how good we looked after I posted a selfie from the reception.  I told her that gratefulness is a good look for us.  It’s one that we should wear every second of our lives, because we have so much to be thankful for, good times and bad.

The Mr. and I have certainly had some difficult days in recent months.  We are thrilled to be able to bask in the sunshine of a good day for a change.

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