Monday, June 26, 2006

There are three souls in my life who have been constant comfort the past few years.

There is my 10 year old American Eskimo mix who I took in as a puppy while I was still in college. She is the smartest dog I know, with a large vocabulary, both human and canine.

There is also my 4 year old English Setter. She and Lovely are the best of friends. They sleep together each night, and she has been a real therapy dog for Lovely's transition into living with her parents separately.

Then there is Tippy Tail, a 3-5 year old Irish Red & White Setter. I never did know how old he was. Tippy (not his real name, he would have you know), got sick I think sometime in the last 6 weeks. There was not a moment that I can put my finger on, but looking back, there are so many signs that connect.

Last Thursday night, Tippy Tail lost it.

There has been a problem with fence jumping for awhile now. Not just a little 4 foot fence, but a 6 foot wooden fence, with an invisible fence buried along the inside so he wouldn't go to the edge. Tippy didn't care, he would run through the shock, jump the fence, and be off to roam the neighborhood.

There was the day that my fiancé caught him and tried to bring him back to the house and Tippy bit him on the arm.

There was the change in the other dogs too. Tippy bit the older dog on the ear one day. She had started nipping at him in the house and trying to keep him separated from the rest of us. We thought she was just being old and ornery, but now of course, everything looks different.

Last Thursday night, the three humans were in the music room and Tippy was with us. My fiancé and I were sitting in chairs, practicing a song for our friends' upcoming wedding. Lovely was sitting on the floor, petting Tippy. There was nothing unusual about this. He loved that little girl. He would come to her for pets each night and often would sleep next to her bed at night. Everything should have been fine.

In an instance, I see Tippy lift his head and his eyes were like nothing I had ever seen. I had time to stop singing and think to myself, "That doesn't look right." Then he was on her.

He attacked Lovely right there on the floor with us sitting there. Completely unprovoked, and with no warning growls or anything, he jumped at her face and nicked her right above the eye. In that regard, we are very lucky. She was physically not hurt much, but emotionally has had a really hard time.

Tippy had to go. Right then. I did call his rescue group before I made any final decisions, but no one wavered on what had to happen. The unpredictable and unprovoked attack on a child could not be explained or tolerated.

I took him to the vet myself. The rescue group said that they would take him back, but they would euthanize him. I wasn't going to send him away only to do what I could have done. It took me about five minutes to get the story out to the vet once I arrived. Between sobs, they understood that I had Tippy in the car and needed to have him put to sleep.

I stayed with him until the end. He was scared I think, but then again, there has been a nervousness in him that lately that goes on the list of things I didn't connect with him. I had promised him that I was his forever home, so I stayed with him for his forever. I stroked his head and told him that I loved him, and then I said goodbye.

The next couple of days I spent beating myself senseless about the whole thing. Not one person doubted my decision, except me.

Then, yesterday morning, I woke up and realized something very important.

I am an adult.

There are people and pets and things for which I have responsibility for now, and I am competent enough to make tough decisions. Tippy was my dog, and I was responsible for him, his health, his safety, and most importantly in this case, the safety of those around him. Lovely is going to be my stepdaughter. Not only was she not safe, she didn't feel safe, and there was no way I was going to let her be afraid to come in her own home. Plus, if he would bite her, a little girl that he loved, he would bite anyone. This erratic behavior doesn't exist in a healthy dog. There was something wrong with my Tippy Tail, and even though I will never know what it was, I am confidant that I made the right decision.

That doesn't mean that I don't miss him. We all miss him. I miss his cold nose in the mornings, the way he would throw his head back and give a hearty, "Roo, roo!" when it was time to go outside. I miss him laying by my feet and looking up at me with those huge brownish red eyes that perfectly matched his brownish red spots.

Tippy was a great dog who had come a long way in his life as a pet. I loved him very much, all the way to the end.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

For the past week, Daddy has been staying with my brother and sister-in-law in Tennessee. Momma was going to the Presbyterian General Assembly in Birmingham, Alabama.

Each day she has been gone, Daddy has gone into his bedroom and packed his suitcase. He thought Momma was coming back each day. She has been gone for almost a week.

Each night, he has kept my brother and/or sister-in-law up all night, calling them every 15 to 30 minutes to come and help him get up, get down, straighten the sheets, go to the bathroom, pack his bag, get a doughnut, or just to ask if they were still there. No one has slept more than 3 hours in a row since his arrival.

Each of his declines comes with a fall further than he had been before and a fall too far to get back up to where he used to be. Last night, he called out for his dad all night long. When my brother went in to help him, Daddy called him, "Daddy."

Each time a new development occurs with Daddy, my mom tries to analyze it. She talks about medicine changes, differences in their schedule, him being in an unfamiliar environment, or how she hasn't taken good enough care of him. It is time for that to stop.

The fact of the matter is that is doesn't matter anymore why he is getting worse in leaps and bounds. What matters is what we are going to do to handle it. If it is medicine, then how quickly are we going to fix it? What are we going to do to make sure that all his different doctors are on the same page? What are we going to do to make sure that Momma gets to sleep?

What are we willing to give up? Work? Privacy? Space? Pride? Location? Friends?

There comes a time I think when it is just time to shut up and act. I obviously think this time is now for my parents.

Denied. Denied. And denied again. Never mind the fact that they are wasting time and now probably money for not just approving the scan.

It doesn't matter in the end. She is of course, getting it anyway. Next week. Then she goes back to her oncologist on June 30.

Now we continue to wait.

Friday, June 09, 2006

And the answer is no. Again, the insurance company has said no to the pet scan that my mother needs. There has been no treatment yet for the cancer we know she has. The pet scan is a "treatment planning" procedure. Blue Cross has delayed her treatment by weeks and shortened her life by who knows how long.

The doctor will resubmit the request today in hopes that it doesn't come across the desk of another complete idiot. Of course, that is assuming that someone besides complete idiots work at Blue Cross. That is a huge assumption.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

There is a commercial that NBC is running for a new show. In it, a man asks, "In your wildest dreams, am I there?".

That, I think, is not only a valid question, but one of the most important ones I've heard in a long time.

In the midst of the craziness of my parent’s illness, I have gotten a divorce.

A divorce in my family is a crisis. I introduced another crisis into our lives when we were already in crisis. Not entirely fair, but I couldn't wait any longer. I could not take another avoidable disappointment in my life. In early 2005, I told my husband to leave (he couldn't pay the bills in our house, so in my mind, I got to stay), and I got the quickest divorce I possibly could.

And now, my family knows that I will be with someone who loves me like they think I should be loved. I am with someone who would be with me in my wildest dreams.

I love them for realizing this, and I love them even more for being happy for me in this aspect of life when there are so many reasons to just be sad.

I have an amazing family.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Today, my momma's doctor resubmitted the request for her pet scan. Still unable to convince Blue Cross Blue Shield that they weren't trying to diagnose ovarian cancer, only to map where it is in her body, they have a new plan.

Lucky for Momma, she is also a breast cancer victim. They will be resubmitting the request for a pet scan for a breast cancer patient. She is so lucky to be both a victim of ovarian cancer and breast cancer. Hooray.