Thursday, December 31, 2009

A decade in review

As 2009 draws to a close, it's just occurred to me that we are ending a chapter in history with this decade. Some are calling this the worst decade ever, while others feel the opposite. I think it's a cumulation of both, but certainly for Generation Y'ers, (born late 1970s-mid 1990s), it's been quite a ride for many.

So here's a brief list of what we've seen in this decade:

9/11 and the rise in terrorism
Iraq and Afghanistan wars
Tsunamis in Asia with horribly high death tolls
Hurricane Katrina
Major financial and housing crisis, recession
Issue of global warming brought to the forefront
First US African-American President
Heightened airport security
Prominence of China everywhere
All of the political scandals and nuances of the Capitol

Human genome project and the significance of the role of DNA in a variety of disorders
Stem cell research emergence
Gene therapy promises
Rise in alternative medicine, organic foods and yoga movement

Rise in social media and networking, including twitter, facebook, myspace, and blogging that changed the way we communicate
Introduction to ipods, blackberries, and iphones which also led to increase in texting and yes sexting as well
Wikipedia, youtube, and google

Introduction to Harry Potter!
Shows Sopranos, Lost, Law and Order series, The Office, 30 Rock, and many others reigned
Reality tv took off with a variety of shows and unforgettable characters
Many prominent deaths, probably death of Michael Jackson will be most highlighted

I know this just scratches the surface, but it gives a good picture of the good, bad, the ugly, and how it has all affected us in one way or another.

Now, as for me, the decade has been a teachable one with many defeats, triumphs, and most of all self growth.

10 years ago, I was a lonely, depressed, burnt out, sophomore in college who further learned how much the eating disorder was affecting my life.
10 years ago, I got my first puppy as my own, Baxter, and started my first therapy stint in college with C. I learned that raising a puppy was tough and at times therapy even harder.
10 years ago, I was diagnosed with hepatitis B, had a biopsy, and began treatment. I learned the complex, confusing system of hepatitis B and how it can severely affect your body and mind.

9 years ago, I started my job at the kennel and began obedience with Baxter. I learned what possibilities there were with Baxter if I kept a good head of patience.

8 years ago, I did a 4-month treatment course of interferon (horrible!) and had a brief taste of what recovery was like.

7 years ago, I had non-epileptic seizures which forced me to take a medical leave of absence from college. I learned that I had much anxiety about the future, and that it was not going away anytime soon.
7 years ago, I graduated from college and had no clue what to do with my life. I learned it was really not the end of the world, something at the time I thought about.
7 years ago, I began on a path towards learning about animal behavior and becoming a trainer. I learned I was actually good at this and it could possibly be a goal for the future.

6 years ago, ED relapsed back into my life, and I thought I'd never get better; began therapy with new therapist, K.
6 years ago, I gave Hank, my Aussie X, a home after briefly being a psychiatric service dog and living in the kennel for over a year. From him, I learned about letting go of expectations in my dogs.
6 years ago, I learned that not everything was my fault

5 years ago, I learned that people were not always as they seemed

4 years ago, I adopted Daphne, my deaf white Boxer, at first a foster who became permanent. I learned a whole new language and challenged my training skills through her deafness.

3 years ago, I seroconverted and no longer carried any hepatitis B signs clinically speaking. I learned this holy grail was actually possible despite having been a chronic carrier for so long.

2 years ago, I ended therapy with K, began this blog, and decided to really put forth a true effort in recovery.

1.5 years ago, I ran my first marathon and did a second. I learned the ability and strength of my body.
1.5 years ago, I finally began making real strides in recovery and began therapy again with C. working on tough issues.

1 year ago, I found Tovah and gave her a home. I re-learned the difficulty of raising a puppy, but learned from my mistakes with Baxter.

2 months ago, I got up in front of 100s of people and did laughter yoga (this was a big thing for me!) I learned that it was possible for me to be a bit outgoing if I stopped worrying so much about what other people thought.
1.5 months ago, I bought my first house, moved to a new area, and changed jobs. I learned that though this was/is all a scary process and transition, I could endure it.

23 days ago, I learned about letting go and saying good-bye to a dear companion. I learned that my heart could be broken, but that I could be mended.
0 days ago, I learned that recovery is still reachable for me, and that I'm actually beginning to have some belief in that.

I don't know what the next decade will bring. I don't like to think in large time spans, as I know life can always throw curve balls, and it won't necessarily be what you dreamed or hoped. I don't do resolutions but instead, I like to think about the small goals I can make. Each success of a small goal makes an impact, giving me a little more self-esteem in the long run. It reminds me that deep within, there lies strength, courage, and a continued hope for a better tomorrow.

So what is your decade in review (or year)? What have you learned? What do you hope to do or learn?

Lastly, I hope for each of you, the next year and decade in coming brings about a renewed sense of hope, a ray of happiness and stability, health, and peace within yourself. Here's to 2010!

Note--*I thank all of you for your support and comments. I hope this blog has been just as helpful to you as it has been to me.

Follow-up: running group debate

First off, thanks to those who commented on my debate to join training running group and who voted in the poll. The commenters raised some excellent questions, so thank you for making me think more about this.

I did attend the meeting last week to get more information. There were quite a few people of all ages in attendance The interests varied from running a full marathon to walking to completing a half-marathon. Some were seasoned runners who wanted to qualify for Boston, others were newbies looking for a challenge.

The program itself is rather large. Last year, they had over 800 people sign up in their three locations. A fourth was added this year for more convenience and option for runners. They expect that this will also increase the total sign up number.

In general, I think the program is laid out nicely with various workouts and rest days in between. There are trainers--some with a lot of expertise, others more like cheerleaders who help runners in every workout session. Everything is done at your own comfort pace. You can move around between groups if you decide to switch from a marathon to half marathon or vice versa. You can join at any time throughout the year. Obviously, there are many people to socialize with. And lastly, you get some cool, free perks!

So with all that in mind plus all those other deeply thought out answers which I'll get to in a minute I have decided NOT to join at this time.

Reason number 1: In the last 48 hours, I have manged to get some sore throat/cold thing, so I just don't feel like it is wise to run, breathing in 20 degree weather, especially when a provoking hack of a cough has ensued.

Reason number 2: I'm afraid of being really strained for time with everything else going on. I know in February especially, things will be getting VERY busy. I'm also still learning my way around here. Take for example the few runs I did last week/weekend. I went on a nearby golf course and got completely lost. Later, I found out it is actually three golf courses combined! After 45 minutes of being lost, I really just did want to get home in the WARM house. That day was windy with a wind chill in the teens or less!

Reason 3 tied in with number 2: I also have a lot of stuff that I want to do with the house, especially near spring. I don't know if I'd really have enough time to get everything done if I'm training. I'm sure it would be doable, but I think I almost need to cut myself some slack here.

Reason number 4: I worry about overexercising/overtraining/obsessive quantity. Even the best sought out plan for me, I still have a tendency to do too much too fast and wind up injured about 2/3 through the training. Though I have learned to take rest days, there is usually still a bit of a guilt feeling leftover.

Reason 5: I worry about not eating enough. I do tend to eat more while training and it helps to a degree with eating issues, but I still do not eat enough. I think I read somewhere that something like 50% or more of female runners do not eat enough. Sounds about right to me.

Reason 6 tied in with number 4, I do fear a risk of lapsing back where I have been. Without any treatment team set up at all, I think it could be detrimental to any progress I've made thus far.

These are the main reasons not to join the training group, This doesn't mean that in the future I cannot join, but just that I think I need to give myself some time to feel a little more comfortable with a new setting, a new house, a new job, etc. Though I worry about the socialization aspect of things, it just means I have to work a little harder. I do think that if I do not put myself out there within a relatively short period of time, depression and isolation can easily follow. And I'm trying really hard to not to let that happen.

So for now, I am sticking with my walks with the dogs and a few short runs, nothing major. The walking is mostly with my clients' dogs, but I do walk my own dogs as well. With Tovah, I am doing some running/walking with her since she just has SO much energy, and without playing at the kennel all day like she used to, she just seems to be my WILD child. (It's a good thing her buddy Betty is coming for a slumber party tomorrow) It's good for me, because I do not push her too much due to her young age. By thinking about her and her own joints/muscles, it gives me perspective on what is healthy. (kind of like this post about the importance of fat)

Thinking through this reminds me of how I could cognitively cogitate through this process. Before, I'd probably would have just jumped on the running bandwagon, then regretted it, but would have felt unable to back out of it. I guess this is just another brick added to the my layer of recovery. :-)

I hope any of you who may be going through a similar ordeal can look at all perspectives and decide for yourself what is best. And if not, then as commenter M said in a recent Carrie post on "enough" exercise: "It sounds like plenty of qualified people who know you and your health history are willing to define "enough" for you ... but maybe you don't really like the answer, so you're waiting for a better one..." (M. hope you don't mind me calling you out, but this was a great comment, and I think a lot of people can relate)

Follow-up: dental appointment

I had my dental appointment today. There was no major fanfare or inquisition or anything like that. Actually, the most vivid memory I have is of the donkey in the movie Shrek jumping up and down and yelling, "pick me, pick me" over and over again. That happened about halfway through the appt. when the dentist left to see another patient, and I was drifting in and out of sleep. Apparently, it was the end of the dvd and no one had pushed play again.

The appointment was pretty straight forward. The dentist just asked why I was there--mostly to get the bridge re-cemented. The bad news is that there is a huge hole in it where the cement has worn off which is likely the culprit of the cold sensitivity. This also means I'll have to get this bridge replaced or an implant put in. The good news is that the teeth that are under the bridge look good. Once she re-cemented it (and with some lovely stinging pain), I was good to go.

The next appt. will be more comprehensive and other questions then may be asked about my teeth. I pretty much stuck to the basics of my general dental history today. At another point in time, I'll bring up the ED history if she has already not guessed it.

The ironic thing is that my boss knows this dentist! Apparently, she had some work done by the dentist's husband a few years ago. Smallish world I guess.

Note: *Just a quick observation This dentist was tiny! I normally never feel a certain way with professionals, but I felt like the Marshmallow man (I guess technically that is Marshmallow woman) standing next to her.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New area, new dentist

It's been over a year since I've been to the dentist, but I decided to go ahead and make an appointment today. I figured it was the end of the year, so I might as well use my dental insurance rather than feeling like I'm paying for nothing. In a way, this is a good sign, because in prior years, I practically lived in the dentist's chair. This also means that I haven't had as many problems in general with my teeth at all. Another kudos for me! This also equates to virtually no purging either! (I say virtually, because since 2008, it's only been a handful of times) Yeah to me!

Anyway, clapping ends now, because I'm also going to the dentist due to some recent sensitivity in my mouth as well as my bridge loosening after eating nip candy. This collision has happened before, but I just never seem to learn.

I'm a bit antsy as this is a new dentist, and just like a first appointment with a therapist or doctor, I'll have to go through my whole history again. "Now, just why do you have 2 holes in your mouth, a loosened bridge, a space where a bridge used to be, and a chip in your front tooth? And you're how old again?" Argh! Most never ask those questions in that particular style, but that's how it runs through in my head. You know expect the worst and be happy that it usually doesn't turn out that way. Of course, I could be completely wrong too, but we just won't go there.

The appointment is Wednesday morning, so a day to rehearse just everything I will say. Actually, I have gotten better with divulging my eating disorder history with dentists, but it still cause some anxiety. I was actually very hopeful when I looked in the phone book and recognized a name, a dentist who shared a practice with my other dentist where I used to live. Sadly, I think the phone book is wrong and she is no longer there as there is no evidence of her on their website. Wishful thinking I guess.

Friday, December 25, 2009

So it's Christmas

I must admit I'm not in a very holidayish mood. Of course those who have known me for years on end would probably say "well, you're never really in a holiday mood." This is true, holidays tend to stress me out. But this holiday, it's not so much a feeling of stress or dread as it is just apathy and blase`. It's like watching Thanksgiving and Christmas sneak up on you, barely realizing or caring it was even here anyway. It's kind of sad, because I had this fantasy of having a beautiful Christmas in my first new home.

But since my mother is in San Diego at her husband's son's wedding (technically, this makes him my older step-brother but I honestly never think of him that way), and I declined having my father visit me out of pity for Christmas, I'm here alone. Trust me, I'm used to it, it's not a big deal anymore. However, I will be going to Christmas dinner at an unknown person's house, kind of similar to Thanksgiving. This person is my boss's husband's mother who apparently loves to entertain. She's been told I was vegetarian and do not drink (there is a champagne toast somewhere thrown in the occasion), so it should be interesting to see what is available. I've been told there will be plenty of vegetables.

I'm not too worried about the dinner itself but I actually feel a bit of concern about what to wear as I've been told this person can be judgmental at times. I asked A. about this, and she said she never wears jeans, so I guess it that means khakis, dress pants, or a dress. Hmmm. I think I only have option khakis in my closet with perhaps a nice blouse.

The rest of today is low key with going through more boxes (I've procrastinated this quite a bit), deciding what to donate and being with the dogs. Secretly, I'll be glad when the holiday season is over, and the expectation and guilt of not being so jolly for the holidays will be over. I still hold out hope that one day I will actually feel real "happiness."

Ok, so not to end on such a sour note, here are a few funny Christmas ecards. I truly hope that each and every one of you have a happy holiday, surrounded by those you love. Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to all!

Gingerbread cookie joke
(I hope your holiday does not wind up like the gingerbread cookie men)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Debate: to join running training group or not?

The other day I was at a friend's house dog sitting and happened to see this running newsletter. My friend I know is not a runner, so I guess it must have been her husband's. Anyway, I thumbed through it and noticed that a running training group will be starting for my area in January for an upcoming half and full marathon in the spring.

Wheels turn in my head, should I join or not?

Previously, I ran two marathons last year (that feels like sooo long ago) and ran up until this past May. Then, I took a break from running all together and have not run one iota since. This is a record for me since 2001 maybe? I have, however, been leisurely walking dogs almost everyday which has felt good.

Part of me really wants to join so I can meet some new people around here. The other part of me isn't sure I am ready to be training again. But then again, I was oh so close to qualifying for Boston at my last marathon. While it is true, training did help motivate me towards a goal and fuel myself better, I still had many days of falling into an obsessive route.

I like to think that maybe by joining a group, I might be able to keep a better balance of things, but we all know how easy it can be to lapse into an extra workout here or there, only to wind up having exercise take over a complete pie chart of your life.

So I don't know what to do. I have to decide soon. The informational meeting is tomorrow evening, but I don't think you actually have to confirm and pay until the first workout in January.

I ask you, should Tiptoe join the group and take a chance that she is healthy enough in recovery to keep herself stable? Or should Tiptoe not risk it at all and continue leisurely walking dogs and maybe adding a jog or two here or there? Maybe it's too much right now? Please vote in poll as well as commenting here.

Note: *Just to add, I'm not in any treatment at all right now. Several weeks ago, I actually called C. and told her to close my file since I had no clue when I'd be able to see her again, and it had already been a few months since I had an appt. I know I can reopen my file at anytime, but it is not likely since I am a further distance from her--driveable but difficult.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Thwarting possible triggers

It's interesting in this new job, because I'm actually around people again. For the last 4-5 years, I've pretty much been alone with just the dogs. Luckily, I'm not in an environment where weight is discussed frequently, but occasionally it is brought up.

My boss was saying how she had been trying to eat healthier. She said after her mom died recently, it made her reassess things. The other office person in the room said she noticed that her clothes were baggier too. A. said something along the lines of "yeah, can you imagine me anorexic at my height and weighing XX pounds?" My reply was, "yes, and I've known many similar stories." I kind of gave A. a look and said that it was good to be healthy but that it can easily go overboard, that it is more about moderation than anything else. A. agreed but I still worry.

I've known A. for a long time and a few years ago, she told me about her anorexia plight in high school, and I revealed to her my own struggles as well. A. recovered from her anorexia by essentially having her parents use a "modified" version of the Maudsley Method. They had sit down meals where A. had to finish her meals. They checked her weight often, telling her it had to be an X amount before doing certain socialite activities. The only thing I'd say she did not have was any therapy at all. Amazingly, A. never relapsed, at least not full fledged, but still I know she presents some of the underlying factors that easily contribute to eating disorders.

I did not tell her during this conversation, but what I wanted to say was, "you really do need to be careful, because it is so easy to fall back with just one misstep. She also said to me that there were times when she just simply did not feel like eating or felt physically ill (this was after her mom's death). I understood this and held my tongue in saying, "you really need to try to eat at those times, because you can spiral out of control."

Ironically, after this entire episode, we went out to lunch at a buffet and A. commented that this was the most she'd seen me eat. She added in that she meant that in a healthy way as she's been me pick at food before. Normally, this kind of comment would have thrown me into some tail spin, like "Yes, I really do eat, people!" However, this time, it did not. Instead, I just went on my merry way of eating lunch just like, well, it was lunch and nothing more than that. We went on with other topics of conversation related to work, the dogs, etc. Truly, A. has done a tremendous amount for me, and I feel in a way, I owe it to her to stay healthy as kind of her "right arm" person. There's honestly too much at stake for me to fall ill again and crumble.

Perhaps, that is one incentive for me to continue on the bandwagon in recovery. It is of course for myself too, and there are certainly times I have to remind myself where I once was to where I am now. Life is still not completely fulfilled. I have a long way to go with that, but having a clearer head, feeling less tired, especially driving (yes, there was a massive link for me with undernutrition, sleep deprivation, and driving), learning to feel emotions again feel worth it right now. And so, I continue to trudge along my off-beaten path.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Embarking on a new chapter in my life

This will be a short post since I'm pretty tired. Many are probably wondering where in the heck I went for the last few months and why my blog was set to private during that time. Though I am no complainer in any way shape or form, I've just had a lot going on with many changes and heartache in a very short period of time.

Some of these include:

Resigning from my job
Starting a new job
Buying a house
Moving into a new house
Relocating to a different area
Dealing with Baxter's illness, surgery, and treatment
Grieving the loss of Baxter

In the archives of October, November, and December, you can read about my first time house buying experience, moving, and everything that went on with Baxter.

Losing Baxter is still very difficult. I think about him and visualize all the places where he used to be, the funny habits and quirks he had, and the comforting feeling I felt when his head was literally next to my head on the pillow at bedtime. I miss his presence dearly and how he used to pick up all the dog bowls for me. Now, I actually have to pick them up myself until I teach another dog to.

I think the saddest thing for me is that I feel like as I embark on a new chapter in my life, Baxter should be here with me to test out all the waters. The thing that gives me a sense of acceptance is reminding myself that everything happens for a reason. We may not be able to see it at the time, but I do believe, there is always a reason.

Overall, I think I've handled things fairly well--at least better than I have in the past. I still got stressed, worried, anxious, eating fell off the bandwagon slightly for a week or two, but for the most part, these emotions didn't rule every aspect of my life so much. It helped tremendously having a gps to get around as driving in new locations is not my forte and causes a lot of anxiety. Yes, I still got lost, but I at least was able to find another route. Now, I can actually drive places without the gps which makes me feel much more confident!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Saying good-bye to Baxter

I've never been good at saying good-byes, and the one on December 8th this week was probably the hardest I've ever had to do. I know several of you have been following Baxter's updates, and I don't feel like it would be complete without this post.

Sadly, I had to make the decision to let Baxter go. As my previous post said, he was not doing well. I visited him on Saturday night, and there was no change in his demeanor--still comatose, despite high dose steroids and mannitol, a drug to reduce cerebral edema often used with trauma patients. The next afternoon, I made my final decision to release him to the Rainbow Bridge.

His passing could not be a spur of the moment thing, however, as I really wanted things done a certain way. I had been in touch with the UMN vet the entire time, and she finally realized Baxter's grave condition and agreed with my assessments. We both decided that a necropsy would be very helpful, not only for research purposes (she was very gracious that I even allowed this as many owners would not have gone to that trouble), but also to hopefully shed light on answers and causes. His death was untimely, unpredictable, and we were all kind of stunned, honestly.

Through much arrangement, the emergency vet center agreed to send his body (unfortunately it had to be in two shipments--yes gross I know), and then, I could proceed with his final days here on earth. I took Hank and Daphne on Monday night to see Baxter one last time. I knew they would understand. This was probably more for me in the long run, but I felt like they needed to say good-bye. They both did well, remained calm, and seemed sad too. There was a moment when Hank had water droplets on his nose. I like to think those were his tears.

I took Tovah the next day with me. Some people argue about this, but I really wanted her to understand. I took precautions as I did not want to upset her terribly. She did very well, sniffing him before and afterwards. The friend I had with me said that when the medications were administered, she came to her and buried her head in her legs. I knew she understood and was able to say her good-bye. Afterwards, she was able to play with her new buddy, Betty, a standard poodle whom my friend and I are taking care of for our vet who recently got married and is on her honeymoon. Since they met last week, they are like two peas in a pod!

Baxter's passing was quick. With two long snores, he was gone. I knew in a sense he was not completely there, but at the same time, I think his body held on long enough for me to release him. By this time, I knew it was time as he had some swelling in his paws. I stroked his head, cried, talked to him, told him how much I loved him, how he had been such a strong fighter, how I would be okay eventually, how he would be a in a place that was pain-free, how he was such a good boy, how I'd miss him so much, how I could have never asked for anything more from him.

Though this is all so sad and difficult for me, I have to give much credit to the emergency vets, to the UMN vet, my personal vet and substitute vet who worked really hard to save him.. I think each of them were affected by his passing and are very interested to hear what the necropsy results are. I feel closest to the UMN vet, because I know she had a lot of stake in this. I know she is just as confused and saddened as I am. I feel grateful knowing that she did not treat Baxter just as "dog number 14," but as Baxter, a dog trying to get better from brain cancer, a dog who was someone's constant companion. I'm also quite grateful I was here in this location at the time, as I know where I had been living, they would not have been equipped to handle Baxter's care.

This week has been filled with many many tears. One reason why this has been so difficult for me is because Baxter was my first dog on my own. I obtained him in college at a point when I was severely depressed and lonely. He helped in so many ways with filling such an empty void. Baxter did other things for me as well. It was because of him I got into dog training. It was because of him I got into natural diets and wanting to provide the best nutrition possible for him. He taught me so many things about life and was there to weather the storm on all my bad days and become the ray of sunshine I needed. In essence, he was "the dog," as my friend says. He was "the dog" that changed my life.

The one consolation for me in all of this is in hoping that a good outcome is possible. I hope that by learning from Baxter, he can help other dogs and humans in the future. In that, I like to think of this as Baxter's greatest attribute to service.

I know I have all the memories of him from puppyhood to adulthood that will always remain with me forever, but still, sometimes, I think I am waiting for some sign from him just to know he made it safely to the Rainbow Bridge. If you're there Baxter, drop a dog bowl on the ground so I can hear it or hit the doggie doorbells. Then, I will know you are where you need to be.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weighing out hard decisions

I know I have discussed Baxter on here extensively, and I am again. This week has been really hard. As I mentioned before, he was making small improvements up until last Sunday. Then, he suddenly began declining. At the vet's, we hydrated him subcutaneously first, then intravenously on Thursday. On Wednesday, he received his first vaccine dose from U. of Minnesota. On Thursday, he seemed worse off than he had been and fell into what I'd call similar to a coma. His vitals are okay but bp and heart rate are low which makes sense since he has not been moving much.

He's back at the emergency vet to have intravenous phenobarbital and medications to reduce cerebral edema. We're not exactly sure the cause for his coma-like state, but we think it is mostly cerebral edema versus overmedication which we originally thought. I've been in touch with the emergency vets, my substitute vet, Dr. R. (mine is getting married today and going on a honeymoon), and the vet in Minnesota, Dr. P., who performed Baxter's brain surgery. Dr. P. did not realize the state Baxter was in, but I think has finally understood.

Right now, I'm in a difficult position. I don't know the chances that Baxter will come out of this. All I can do is hope. I honestly do not believe he is suffering, just in a very very deep sleep. Some would argue with me on this point of course, but this is my feeling. The question for me is whether his body can hold up. My fear is making a pre-emptive decision and regretting it later or regretting that I may not have given him the most chance to respond. But at the same time, I do know there comes a point when to stop.

In some ways, you could say, I've already started grieving as I question my actions, cry a lot, and "miss" him so much. Every time I write or talk about him, tears just come flowing through my eyes. I'm giving at least the weekend to see if he can come around at all. And if there is no response, I'll have to make the final decision.

Note--*I'll be turning my blog back to public soon

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Despite having so many successes with challenges lately, I'm feeling very overwhelmed with everything. I just feel like it never ends, and something else comes up. It's either that or that everything just has horrible timing!

*Baxter is not doing well. He was doing well last week and making small improvements. I thought we ere having a breakthrough finally. Then on Sunday, he began going downhill fast. His last meal was Sun. AM. He has not eaten since then nor taken in fluids other than my syringe fulls of water and gatorade which were not too successful today. Right now, we're treating the dehydration, hoping it makes him feel better. I'm experimenting with foods too to try to get him to eat. It is like he is too weak to even eat, and he is down 4 pounds from a week ago.

*My vet is getting married (yeah for her!) and going on her honeymoon for ten days. I'm very happy for her but hate that she is gone for so long. She has a replacement, but I've never met him. Supposedly, he is good though. My boss and I are also taking care of her two dogs while she is gone. The positive is that it gives Tovah some dogs to play with since one of them is apparently very playful.

*My boss suddenly had to be gone from yesterday to Thursday to do stuff at her dad's. I'll be taking care of her dogs while she is gone.

*The glass guy is coming tomorrow. He is replacing many windows and will be here most of the day. I have put this off, but the guy really wants it to be done. He is afraid the glass is going to break.

*I really need to take my computers in to get them repaired. It's been trouble finding time.

*I haven't gotten as much done work wise which makes me feel like I'm being unproductive.

*Financially, I'm super stressed. I know there is a big transition period, but it is so rough right now. I hate going over my cell phone minutes, but people seem to get upset when I tell them they really need to call me after 9 PM. Then, there are other bills that were more than I expected.

*My family keeps asking me what I want for Christmas. Of course, this is all in good spirits, but Christmas is the last thing on my mind!

*I'm feeling fat and have had a few small "binge" episodes.

*I haven't had therapy since like Sept., and I am pretty sure she just wants to close my file. An hour wouldn't even be sufficient in getting through all that has happened. I don't think snail mailing counts, and I really don't have the time to drive back and forth for 80 min. each way plus an hour of therapy right now.

I know ultimately I just need to get through this time period in one piece and remind myself it is not forever--that everything will smooth out eventually. Gee, I really hope so, because I can imagine myself getting some premature gray hair.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A date

I have not talked on here about KH yet. KH is a guy who contacted me a few months ago on a dating site geared towards those who are into fitness and exercise. I hadn't been active on that site in quite awhile since DA I read KH's profile, and he seemed interesting. He also lived in the area where I moved to, so I thought location would be good if anything panned out. I figured if anything, he could at least help show me around or let me know the good Asian restaurants in town.

When I originally began e-mailing him, I told him from the get go, I wasn't sure how much time I'd have for a relationship as I was in the process of closing on a house, moving, starting a new job, and dealing with Baxter's surgery, etc. He was quite understanding and said basically to take my time.

Since then, we've been e-mailing back and forth. I told him once I was here, I would go out to dinner with him sometime. After learning of some Asian restaurants in town from my personal banker who is half-Thai, I decided to ask to see where he wanted to go. On Friday night, I called and confirmed the date with him at a Korean restaurant which neither of us had been to.

The restaurant was great! My food was so spicy, I wound up having to take a break from it and take some of it home. He agreed that the restaurant was also good. We chatted about a lot of different topics--running, his kids, dogs, personalities, etc. It was a nice "get to know you" session. I don't hold any expectations, but just to see where things go. This is new territory for me as he is almost ten years older (does not look like it though), recently divorced (like since July), and has two young kids (aged six and nine I believe). It just brings a different dimension to any new relationship.

Relationships have always been a bit tough for me in terms of anything long term. I get these moments of excitement which is actually when I'm the most outgoing, but then after awhile, I fall back into my insecurities and worry about all those superficial things like looks, my body, how I dress, etc. There's other issues too which need to be more addressed fully, but that 's been on the back burner for awhile. Maybe, it's time to bring it to the front burner?

So who knows whether anything will pan out. For now, I'm hoping to just enjoy it.

Thanksgiving success

I must admit Thanksgiving went really well. I never know how these types of things events will turn out when there are many unknowns. I try to stay optimistic, but you just never know whether you are going to hit it off with the rest of the crowd.

Luckily, the rest of the crowd--there were a total of 10 of us, wound up to be pretty cool people. It was interesting, because the ages ranged from late twenties to almost sixty years, yet, we all got along well. Dinner, itself, was good, and the hostess, my realtor, said the "eggrolls were a nice added touch" I didn't think they were my best ones, but they seemed to be a hit, especially with the one vegan guest. I even sealed them with cornstarch and water than egg like I usually use.

The other interesting observation was that no one got seconds! Actually, I wanted seconds but felt too awkward to if no one else was. I was also the only one to eat dessert! I guess everyone else was filled up with alcohol, not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just not my thing.

Most of the evening, we all chatted about a variety of things. There were many "minds in the gutter" moments with jokes, sexual innuendos, and other wild thoughts. There was only one sort of bizarre moment when one guest decided to confess a secret. That led to an awkward hint of silence from the rest of us. It was strange that he shared this with people whom he did not know well, but at the same time, I guess could show he felt we were trustworthy to do so.

I soon left after that since it was starting to get late, and I needed to get back to the dogs. But overall, I'm very pleased with how the event went. Though I love my family, sometimes, these holiday dinners are easier with other people. Maybe it's less expectation or the fact they do not know your history with food and all. It was just a nice change of pace which further helps me to remind myself I can get through these experiences even if I have anxiety and fears beforehand.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A different Thanksgiving

It's hard to believe it is already Thanksgiving and only a month away from Christmas. Normally, the holidays make me feel stressed, and I do as much as I can to avoid them. Over the years, I've spent many holidays alone out of choice. I think I tried convincing myself that was okay, that I really didn't deserve anyone and just masked it as stress. This is not to say that stress didn't consume me, but there was another layer there I felt guilty about sharing with people.

This Thanksgiving was honestly not going to be that different until a few days ago. I found out my mom was not coming to visit, so I had decided to stay at home and do more unpacking. Then, in a bizarre sort of twist, my realtor asked me if I wanted to join her and 7-8 other non-related people for Thanksgiving. At first, I wanted to politely say no, but instead I decided to look at this as 1) a way to socialize more and 2) a challenge.

I look at this as a pretty hefty decision since the only person I know is my realtor. In general, I've never felt that comfortable with people I don't know, and even more so about eating in front of them. But I'm trying not to distress over it and look at it as a way to hopefully increase my social circle which is important in a new area. One good thing is that I know I will have actual food to eat since there will be someone who is vegan. This makes making eggrolls kind of tough when egg is used as a sealant I'm going to try to substitute with cornstarch and water which may or may not work. Otherwise, the vegan will just have to make the choice for himself.

Anyway, I'm hoping to have a good time and just experience the occasion as it is.

I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. I know the holidays can be tough, especially for those with EDs, but I hope everyone can prevail, meet new challenges, experience and enjoy the holiday.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Baxter is home!

I picked up Baxter from the emergency vet clinic this afternoon. The technician went over all the discharge instructions with me which was home nebulization, coupage, and oral medications. The biggest hurdle is in helping him stand up. I didn't think it would be all that hard. But damn, even though he has lost weight, "dead" weight can feel like a ton of bricks. So I'm hoping he can recover enough to at least go potty without too much assistance. I'm lucky this house has a ramp, but it is difficult carrying him back and forth. I guess I'll get a good arm workout this week.

Seriously though, I am glad to have him back, but I still worry a lot, just as any mother would. I hope none of you ever have to watch seizures. Seeing them and knowing you can't do anything tugs at your heartstrings. This goes both for humans and our fur friends alike.

On one positive note, my washer is fixed so the hoses do not drain. This could not have come at a better time.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


As this week winds down, I was thinking about how numbers impact our lives greatly. Since moving, I've had to open many accounts--electric, water, propane, bank, cable, etc. I can't tell you over the last few months how many times I've had to write my social security number which luckily I've had memorized since I was very young and received my first library card. I felt such pride in having memorized the number which identifies you for life.

There are other numbers that have always been important to me. One is my bank account. Currently, I have three, so I feel the need to remember all of them, especially for ease of online banking. I also have a tendency to remember credit card numbers, important phone numbers (some of these numbers go way back to childhood), certain passwords containing numbers, and of course we can't forget food related items. Right now, this week, I have also gained the most amount of keys ever--a whopping seven. Gosh, this makes me feel so important :grin: However, since they all look alike, I've had to look at the serial numbers on the keys to tell them apart until I can color code them.

When you think about it, it is amazing how so many numbers can float through your head. They become so vital to everything in life, and it can become overwhelming. Besides all my normal numbers I remember, when Baxter comes home (hopefully tomorrow), his numbers will be important in terms of labs and his weight.

There really isn't a point to this post other than a mere observation. Sometimes, I think if I was able to banish all food related numbers out of my head, I'd have so much more room for other numbers. This could be good or bad though, but no matter what numbers will always exist as a way of identification, a statistic, a lab value, a serial number, an amount of calorie, a placement, and many more things in life. Some will always be meaningful, while others will be meaningless. Some we can choose while others we can't. I just hope in time, some will have less meaning and just BE.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Baxter worries part 2

Baxter is still at the emergency vet. I spoke with them at 12:30 PM, and they said he was doing fairly well. At times he had lifted his head and looked around a bit, but at other times, he was very sedate.

They said he had a little vomiting this morning, so there was a concern of aspiration pneumonia. By the evening, he vomited more brown fluid. A chest x-ray revealed fluid in the right lung, so IV antibiotics have been started in hopes this will stop the pneumonia from getting worse. He also had a catheter placed since he has had limited movement.

I am optimistic he will pull through, but it is hard to watch your pet be ill. According to my vet, this probably means he will not be able to come home until Saturday. She'll be there that evening, so if he is still there, she can see him.

Though I know he is receiving great care, I can't help but be slightly stressed financially. Overnight there is easily at least a grand. With all the other expenses of this move, I feel horribly guilty for this extra burden (money, not Baxter). I'm also concerned that Baxter will continue to lose weight. He has lost almost ten pounds since April and is now under sixty pounds which he has not been since he was a very young dog. His muscle loss is very apparent, so he really can't afford to lose any more weight. And this is despite my efforts in feeding him more food.

Anyway, that is the latest on him. I hope his recovery goes smoothly and well. He is such an integral part of my life and his siblings.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More worries about Baxter

Today has been one of the most difficult times I've ever had. I don't think I've posted much on Baxter since after his surgery. He continues to have right eye blindness, hearing impairment, and confusion. It is better than two weeks ago, but his cognitive deficits are very apparent. I felt horrible for all the stress he has had with the surgery and moving. It does not help either that Daphne, my deaf white Boxer, has gone after him several times in what appears to be food related. Baxter has no clue what is going on at all.

Then, things became severely worse a day and a half ago. Baxter had a seizure at 2:30 AM. Though this was similar to his first seizure back in mid-September, it was worse from his previous two seizures. His recovery time was about an hour in a half before he finally fell asleep. The rest of the day he seemed okay, but last night around 8:45, he had another episode. He had two additional ones at 11 PM and 1:30 AM. At that time, I gave him rectal valium and called K., my new boss to know where the best emergency clinic was. She came right over and drove me there. I had him stay until a little after 7 AM. He was given a sedative and seemed to be sleeping. Then, around 10 AM, he had another seizure. I called the local vet (new vet) to get into an earlier appt. Luckily, they were great and allowed me to. There, he had two additional seizures with valium given to help sedate him.

During this time, we were both trying to get a hold of Dr. P., the UMN vet who did his surgery. My new vet also talked to a local internist as well to get opinions too. We both decided it was best to take him to another emergency vet place (better and more preferred than the one I went to last night--that one was just closer), so he could be closely monitored. He is currently there, heavily out of it from a loading of phenobarbital.

We eventually did get a hold of Dr. P. who was at first surprised about his seizures but apparently the human neurologist was not as that can happen in people. This is just the first dog they have had in the study to have this. The good thing is that it is likely not a regrowth of the tumor. We think it could be that his medication, zonisamide just isn't enough without the prednisone which we have been tapering (apparently prednisone affects the gene therapy) to be effective. It is likely he will have to have an additional medication. Right now, phenobarbital is the choice. It's not my favorite medication due to its side effects and liver toxicity, but at this point, we need to stop the cycle of the seizures and manage them.

This has taken such a toll on me today. I've cried off and on all day. I'm so tired since I have only gotten one real hour of sleep. My appetite has been heavily lowered though I did eat a small dinner and a snack. I'm stressed too with thinking about the costs financially. Right now, everything is just affecting me ten fold with so much going on. My new boss is luckily so understanding and wants to make sure Baxter is okay. It is relieving to have this and not to worry about having to take time off and such. She's currently out of town today through Friday, so I'm taking care of her dogs.

Overall, Dr. P. and the new vet are optimistic this will work. Seeing 7 seizures within 36 hours is very scary, and you always wonder about their suffering. I'm just glad I had some knowledgeable vets willing to work with me and look at all avenues of treatment. I'll keep everyone posted on his progress.

Moves don't always go as planned

Thanks for the congratulations on the house. There is a lot to be done, but it gives me many things to look forward to too. In terms of moving, often times, there is a "Murphy's Law's" type occurrence.

Last week in general was stressful with packing and my father there. He can be helpful of course, but I just didn't get quite as much done as I wanted. It was immensely beneficial that my mom came to help. We did get quite a bit of packing done, essentially making it 1 1/2 days of packing. I really do not advise this as it gets stressful. By the end, we were just throwing stuff into whatever we could find--boxes, bags, etc. It is truly amazing how much one person can accumulate in almost eight years. My dad kept telling the movers I really did not have much, but it turned out a lot more than they thought, though vastly shy of the 287 boxes my father had when they moved.

When the movers came--45 minutes late, I had to put the dogs outside which was stressful, especially on Baxter (I'll give an update on him in the next post). As the movers left, their truck would not start. Apparently, the battery became drained from the lift. Luckily, I had cables, so I jumped them.

At the house, they moved the boxes, and my parents and I started to unpack all the essential items. Again, the dogs had to be outside. Hank, Tovah, and Daphne explored their new yard and ran and ran. One person had to stay out with the dogs, because there was a huge hole from the removal of the hot tub and a 3 ft drop where the pool was. It took a total of 3 hours to unload the truck and about 5 to pack.

The first night went okay, though we soon learned the upstairs can get very warm despite the fairly low temperature in the house. Poor Baxter, he was really hot, so I took him out in the middle of the night which seemed to help.

My dad left the next day, and my mom and I went back to the other place to pick up the last of my items--again, more than we thought. My mom stayed until Monday morning, and then left to go back home. I started the new job that day, going over things that needed to be done, paperwork, etc. I've quickly learned there are some nice things about being "salaried" such as having a more flexible schedule. Since my new boss follows more of an academic model, she doesn't care where I am, ie home or the office right now, just as long as my work done. This is great as I'm transitioning into a new job, house, etc.

The only bad thing is that I'm beginning to feel a little stressed financially, because this move has been so expensive. I think I get paid for this week, but I'm not sure if it has to be held three weeks instead. I'm hoping once the job really gets going, I'll feel more at ease.

Again, thanks for all the support. Though this is a positive, life-changing experience for me, it is also a very difficult time. There are moments I feel overwhelmed with getting unpacking done, finding new doctors,scheduling meals, finding my way around geographically, etc. But at the same time, I've already met some great people here. I really like my new vet, so that is a major plus. The other workers have also been very nice too. In time, I'm sure things will feel more comfortable.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


This is a quick post to let everyone know I have moved into my new house. Boxes are everywhere! I think it is going to take months to unpack them. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit. Seriously, I can't believe how much stuff I have accumulated over the years.

I will write more about the move and all, but I am utterly exhausted! This week is hairy since I started the new job today. My boss has informed me she is gone part of this week and next for Thanksgiving (I can't believe it is already here!) I will be taking care of her dogs this week. This leaves Saturday and Sunday to try to get really caught up on things. :sigh:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Official homeowner!

Yes, those are the words--"an official homeowner." Yesterday was the closing on the house. Of course, you hope for smooth sailing, but things do not always work out that way. My major snafu wound up being one unsigned disclosure by my mother's husband, something my loan officer should have done a long time ago. He did not tell me until two hours before closing! Was I pissed, you bet!

The deal with this was that he had forgotten than my mother (she is a co-signer) had remarried, so he needed a disclosure saying that her husband did not have any rights to the property. This was not a problem, however, getting this document to him was a hassle since he was in the midst of traveling. In the end, he was able to receive the document in an e-mail at the hotel and sign it. However, it had to be an original, therefore, he had to get it notorized and overnighted. What a pain!

According to my realtor and title agency woman, due to the new housing laws, closings have become a nightmare with one hag-up after another. I certainly was not any different. Be forewarned if you are getting a house any time soon. By the way, the first time homeowner's credit has been extended until June.

It was interesting at the closing, because this was the first time I actually saw the seller (had seen the husband once but not the wife who was handling most of it) face to face. As soon she we got there, she began crying. She had lived there since 1997, bought it as her first home in 2001, had her father live there until his passing, became married, and had two children. I could understand why she was emotional. There were memories made and left. She said that morning she did a video for her kids in the empty house, and it was really hard.

I could empathize with her feelings, especially with my last post. We both know these are steps for the better (with she and her husband, they will be living in her childhood home for a bit and then building a home), but it is still difficult. For me, there is a lot of excitement in owning my first home, but at the same time, all those jitters of uncertainty and stress too.

This closing was what they call a "dry closing," meaning I got possession of the house but the exchange of funds will be done today or at the latest Monday when that one document is received.

I'm happy truly, but I'll be happier when the packing is done, the movers come tomorrow, and I'm settled in.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

And moving along...

Well, after much debate, we have officially decided on Saturday as the big MOVING day. Part of me is glad it will be done then, another part of me is wishing for one more week to just "rest." But, that doesn't work so well when you really do need a paycheck. And in order for me to have that, I must be moved and start the new job.

Slowly, I've been getting things done, like getting cable set up, getting an estimate for the movers, speaking with the new vet, getting homeowners insurance, all those sorts of things. This is a time when I must keep moving forward and not procrastinate. Somehow, though my father came to help, it is slightly more difficult with him here. I can't really put my finger on it, maybe he just doesn't understand how hard this is for me.

I was thinking about that just today and it was beginning to hit me some of the things I will miss. I will miss driving home at night and seeing a group of deer, just standing and watching me. I'll miss the roads I've run on for so many years (some of the dogs I won't miss though) I'll miss the smell of fresh, country air. I'll miss the quietness in the night. I'll miss going to my favorite Asian grocery store. I stopped by there yesterday to pick up some stuff. I waved to them but didn't tell them I was leaving. I'll miss the Arboretum--a place of sanctuary with its colorful flowers and trees. I'll miss many of my clients whom I have gotten to know over the years. I'll miss the kennel, even though there were many not so great parts about it.

I want to be able to see these things one last time to have closure, to say my good-byes. However, that is likely not to happen simply because I do not have the time. And that saddens me not to have that.

Even knowing that the new move and job are positive steps, there is still a feeling of loss. I've tried hard to put that feeling of loss behind me, but today it's just caught up with me. I know it is only natural to feel this way with big change. But I'm afraid of missing it too much, like it is some sort of crutch. That feeling of uncertainty is blistering through my mind, wondering whether everything is really going to work.

It's like just when I'm finally moving past some of my fears, my fears just start bubbling to the surface again, waiting to paralyze me. I wonder with the move, will I be the same person or different? Will I retreat to my shell because it is safer, or will I extend my neck out to see what else is out there?

I know the first few months are going to be an adjustment period. I guess this is when the best approach is to to "ride out the wave."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Photos from Minnesota Trip 1

Along the way, I took some photos of where we were, what we did, and what I ate.

We stayed across the street from this cheese shop in Wisconsin. If you do not know, WI is known as "America's Dairyland" and is well known for cheese. Many call them "cheeseheads" affectionately. ;-) It really is too bad I do not like much cheese, as this would have been a great taste sampler. Here is my story of my cheese aversion if you have not read it yet.

In Minnesota, however, I did eat this wonderful veggie pizza from Pizza Luce. They use Rinotta as a substitute for cheese which is made from nuts. This place really catered to vegetarians and vegans, including gluten-free items, "mock duck, chicken, and sausage," and plenty of vegetables.

While in MN, how could you not stop by Mall of America, the largest mall in the US. It is quite huge with four levels, 400 stores, a large movie theater, and an amusement park in the center. The stores are mostly chain type, so nothing real specialized. I wasn't that impressed to be honest.

On the fourth floor, the Bodies Exhibit was there. It truly was pretty amazing to see the inner parts of an entire body from head to toe. I had forgotten until looking up the website that there has been a huge amount of controversy about the "ethics" of how these bodies were produced and are shown. Wikipedia does a nice job of outlining the controversy of the various body exhibits around the world. I somehow feel slightly guilty now as I am all about obtaining and preserving cadavers in appropriate ways, as well as giving consent.

Lastly, here are a few pictures of Baxter post-surgery. As you can see there are two incisions. The small one is where they had to take part of the zygomatic arch out in order to get to the tumor better. The large incision is where they had to cut to remove the tumor. It is like a flap, and luckily, they did not have to take out bone. Therefore, they were able to reclose the flap, otherwise, it would have been open. He still has some swelling on the left side but it does seem to be slightly better. His sight in his right eye is not there yet, therefore, he keeps doing left turns. His hearing is also not there completely. All of these symptoms should be transient, so I'm hoping within a week or two, they will have dissolved. The point at the back of his head is simply from loss of muscle. I'm presuming that and the more prominence of his spine are old age-related, at least that is my hope.

I keep saying with his head shaved, he looks more "Boxerish." My dad just says, "he looks like he has had brain surgery." I'll post other pictures as he is healing. The next two weeks are crucial in making sure he gets rest, is not very active, gets all his meds, etc. Then, his sutures will be taken out, and he will get his first dose of vaccine.

Oh yeah, and poor Baxter, had several other shaved spots on his body from the IVs and heart monitoring, etc. It will probably take a good 3-6 months or more for his fur to all grow back. Maybe he'll let me put more sweaters on him? :grin: