Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I'm in a Holding Pattern

It only took a few weeks after Blitzkrieg started chemotherapy to put his cancer in remission. Blitzkrieg still needs to keep his weekly appointments and daily medication to keep the lymphoma at bay. As we deal with side affects, good days, and meh days these last two months I didn’t dare utter the word remission because I thought I might jinx things.

Hi everyone.

Last week I started to feel confident about using the word. I was going to update the Blitzkrieg Cancer Treatment Fund page using Remission as the post title.

After Blitzkrieg’s Monday chemotherapy appointment, the oncologist said she wanted to talk to Husband and I. That’s never good.

Blitzkrieg’s lymphoma is back.

Husband and I are crushed. So is his medical team. This is unusual but not unheard of. The doctor told us Blitzkrieg is one of the hospital’s favorite patients. She told us the staff knew his history and works hard to make it up to him by offering him the best care they can. She told us funny stories of how Blitzkrieg reacts differently with each member of the staff but allows them to do their jobs although sometimes he voices his displeasure (no surprise given his past abuse issues) he doesn’t bite, “just talks back.”
Mid bark he looks like devil dog

It validates all of the hard work Husband and I put into Blitzkrieg’s behavioral rehabilitation to have a group of dog professionals recognize and understand what we have done and why. It does my heart glad they recognize Blitzkrieg’s funny quirks and personality traits that make him our most cherished gift.

I am so thankful they came to the same conclusion Husband and I did – that we need to make it up to Blitzkrieg for whatever horrible abuse he got at the hand of a horrible human during the first year of his life.

We started a different chemotherapy protocol Monday. It is not as aggressive as the first protocol Blitzkrieg’s body rejected. We have a follow up appointment Thursday. We will find out if the new protocol is working. We find out if we have weeks or months left.

Based on how Blitzkrieg has been acting, I fear the worst.

Especially after I called his oncologist yesterday and she concluded our conversation with, “Spoil your boy for me.”

You can spoil me with bacon...

I surprised myself with an ugly cry on the stairs on the way to the kitchen to refill a cup of coffee while writing this post. I have not cried like that since we first got Blitzkrieg’s lymphoma diagnosis.

I feel like there are a million jangly chains inside my body.

I want to do something to take my mind off my anxiety while being too depressed to move at the same time.

I am on the brink of a migraine.

Tears are starting to stream down my face as I type right now.

What makes Blitzkrieg so special to us is his journey. He was fear aggressive, a fear biter, and anxious. He flinched when I picked up small objects like a magazine or the TV remote.

Once we started learning simple sit, stay, come commends, you could see the wheels turning behind that big brown eye contemplating all of the possible outcomes if he did or did not do as we commanded. In the beginning, Blitzkrieg was always surprised he got praise and treats instead of a smack or a kick.

I earn my keep by managing Lisa's projects.

We walked on air at all of Blitzkrieg’s little victories. Blitzkrieg let me pet him on his blind side. Blitzkrieg did the Down commend the first time at home when not doing it in class. Blitzkrieg didn’t jump off the sofa, walk a crossed the room and wait until I was finished, when I picked up a book to read from the coffee table. All of these victories where peeling away the onion of abuse issues. With each layer we threw away, more issues surfaced.

Husband won't let me replace these overstuffed very 90's chairs because the big cushy arm is Blitzkrieg's spot. If you sit in this chair, prepare to have a dog ask to sit on your lap. Epic cuteness!

In return Blitzkrieg taught me to be a better human. I had to be hyper vigilant about reading his body cues. That in turn helped me pick up social cues in humans I almost always missed and made me look like a flighty jerk. 

Recognizing that Blitzkrieg learned somethings differently than other dogs in our obedience classes made me a better instructional designer. I lost count of the many lessons in learning how to work with Blitzkrieg that corresponded with the training programs I developed for human learners and vice versa.

When Blitzkrieg went for a bite or snarl or other top level bad behavior  I learned how  to fake being the authoritative pack leader and give the correction the situation needed while inside my brain I wanted to freak out. This helped me when a manager at work tried to push my buttons and make my temper flare to get me into trouble. Instead of my normal response of crying or getting mad and lashing out (thank you childhood bullies for that autonomic response) I saw this woman as a big mean dog at the dog park doing what I've seen a thousand times before, dominating and trying to provoke a smaller dog into a bad reaction.

Instead of getting upset like she wanted me to, I calmed down because I saw the situation for what it was. That made her more angry, red faced, stabbing the air with her hands (at that point I was visualizing a Rottweiler bearing it's teeth), I also started to be concerned for my physical safety. So did my coworkers hearing her from the other side of her office door. I will forever be grateful for Blitzkrieg for teaching me how to be calm in that situation. Before him, I would have played right into her hands.

Little dog, I helped you conquer your fear of the Roomba. 
You helped me conquer years of childhood bullying. We both win.

Many of you had no idea of Blitzkrieg’s past. You do not realize the major achievement we accomplished with things like Blitzkrieg allowing me to pick him up and put him in a bucket for a blog photo. Enclosed spaces and picking him up used to freak him out because bad things used to happen.

You totally need to use this as a new compost bucket Lisa!
 I'll wait here until you do.

We have a thousand stories for things like this that most people with happy go lucky pets take for granted.

I like big food bags and I cannot lie.

Husband, Blitzkrieg, and I felt like we won a gold medal the day a person at a therapy dog booth saw Blitzkrieg at a rescue event and tried to recruit him. After observing Blitzkrieg for a while, the woman said Blitzkrieg had the right temperament to be a therapy dog. My heart sang! We did it! We peeled back all of the bad layers of the onion and dealt with all of them. All of three of us! Together! Team Blitzkrieg!

We felt it best to decline the offer given Blitzkrieg’s fear biting history.

I used to be anxious and afraid. Now I'm a tough guy. 
I defend our borders with a sword - and twine.

Blitzkrieg’s good public behavior earned him car rides to dog appropriate places and events. Husband and I feel we owe it to Blitzkrieg to give him a good, fun life because a human was so cruel to him in his beginning.

Blitzkrieg was such the good traveler on our family emergency trip to Maryland last summer. He had to stay in the hotel room for most of the stay. He didn't complain one. bit. We made it up to him when we got home with lots of trips to dog appropriate places around town.

I have no idea how Husband is functioning at work and in public today. I had to stop writing three times during this post as tears started to stream down my face.

Tomorrow we find out how our world will end.

I hate cancer.

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Michelle Marie said...

Makes me sad to read this, but I appreciate you sharing this journey. I don't know what else to say, but sending hugs and prayers to all three of you. I am going to go hug and pet Miss Camille and Miss Sierra now.

Unknown said...

Blitz is indeed special. Fingers and paws crossed for decent news. I can sense your heartache, and I know it is next to impossible to be strong right now, having gone thru a similar lymphoma situation with our cat Matisse, who was the best "Mana's boy" there ever was. Hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Being a pet person and reading all of your Updates on your sweet little guy makes me tear. My little "dude" and I are snuggled on the sofa right now because of thunder. He keeps me safe by squeezing in close during storms. Winston and I think of you guys every day and appreciate you sharing your journeys - past and present. We had a rescue cat and had to have a badly damaged leg removed so I know what you mean about rehabbing body and behavior. She was my best bud for 22 years. There are many of us out here in Cyberland who are pulling for all three of you and understand what an important part a small wiggling ball of fur plays in the lives of families. Winston and I are thinking positive thoughts and saying prayers for Blitz.

Mary said...

My heart goes out to you. Just so you'll know, by sharing all about Bliztkrieg's journey, you are helping other people and pets. Others like me are reading this and will remember and use the points you've made about helping an abused and/or sick animal friend. Thanks for your honesty and kindness.

Anonymous said...

Blitzkrieg is so lucky to have you and your husband, though I know you would say that you are lucky to have him. I have a 5 year old spaniel who is my best friend, and I can't imagine life without him. If I start thinking about the eventual day he won't be by my side anymore, I feel paralyzed with grief and fear. My heart hurts for Blitz and you and can only hope you have many months together. Your post was so heartfelt and real. All of Blitz's fans are sending love and prayers.

Jennifer @noteasy2begreen said...

It's a beautiful story. Blitzkrieg and you were both lucky you found each other. My present cat is also a rescue; she was blind from toxoplasmosis, completely unsocialized, and generally considered unadoptable. Watching her transform into a cuddle whore has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My first cat died of liver cancer. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. I hope you get some good news today about the chemo. Hugs.

Linda said...

My heart goes out to ya. Blitz has certainly had a good life with you and hubby and he will always remember that. May your next visit be filled with wonderful news! All the best,

Kerrie said...

I remember when you were going thru this early stuff with Blitz, during our MindLeader days. I'm so sorry your family has to go through this tragic situation. I'm super glad you've had each other over the years, because clearly, you needed him as much as he needed you!

Lillie Hawkins said...

Hi! I'm just a new reader and my heart suddenly pour out over Blitzkrieg. Being a pet lover as you are, I know how it feels to know that your lovable furry friend, and a family member has an illness. I'm hoping that he will recover soon and start to make your life colorful again.

lots o stuff said...

I am so sorry. Samson, San and David thinking of you, your husband and Blitzkreig. Remember Samson is his peke cousin. I am sure this is so hard, and bacon is definitely in order!.


lots o stuff said...

I am so sorry. Samson, San and David thinking of you, your husband and Blitzkreig. Remember Samson is his peke cousin. I am sure this is so hard, and bacon is definitely in order!.


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