Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Homage to the Human Body

The human body is amazing.

Nearly two gallons of blood is pumped through our bodies daily. Like budding leaves on the ends of trees, human lungs contain 600 million aveoli - enough to cover a tennis court - that filter carbon dioxide and process the oxygen we breathe. The average person's largest organ, skin, covers about 22 square feet and is one of our first protectors against the outside world.

Really, we are amazing creatures. Not only in our ability to live, think, contribute, but also in our abilities to heal.

Healing. To heal. To make whole. To repair. Physicially, cells regenerating to replace or repair damaged cells.

There's all kinds of healing and methods to get there: spiritual healing, physical healing, emotional healing; wound healing, the healing of a broken heart, wholistic healing, faith healing, self healing.

Okay, we get it. So what are you getting at, Shannon?

I had a doctor appointment today, and received for the first time since July good news.

It appears that the abscess on my remaining ovary is responding positively to the antibiotics. My doctor kneeds on my abdomen like a kitten. For once, I do not wince in pain. In fact, I'm in no pain. I feel better than I've felt in three months.

I return next week for one more ultrasound, just to be sure.

To think that not even six weeks ago, I underwent a complicated abdominal surgery that sent me into a tailspin near death is unfathomable...and absolutely astounding. So many times in those first couple weeks after that surgery I didn't think I could hold out, muddle through. So many times I thought my life would never be the same again. And, actually quite quickly, in five and a half short weeks, I feel like myself again.

The antibiotic I still take daily leaves a horrible taste in my mouth that stubbornly holds on despite the strongest, longest dose of Listerine. But that's okay. There are worse side effects. And it's a small price to pay to keep my remaining ovary and have my life back.

But it's not just that mauve pill I take nightly that heals me.

I believe I am healed by each breath I take toward wholeness.

I believe I am healed by that tiny tiger moving through my veins, from the simple act of positive, forward thinking.

I believe I am healed by the love and light sent my way from friends and family near and far.

I believe I am healed from a Light that shines.

I believe I am healed every time I step outside, to see my children, my dogs, the trees, the sky...

And I believe the human body is a truly miraculous thing. And I am so thankful.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Things I've learned from my dogs (and from my 5th grader): Things mushing has taught me about life

My fifth grader thinks she's smarter than I am sometimes.

Sophie and Big Brown

And I admit, she is wise beyond her years in many ways. Always kind to animals, Sophie is compassionate, intuitive and gentle - probably her best qualities. And they're certainly good qualities to have, especially when working with sleddogs.

Sophie and I went to the Tractor Supply Company for dog food and fly bait during one of the few weeks I wasn't in the hospital last month. While milling around in TSC, we stumbled on this:

A four-wheeled pedal cart. Light enough to stow under the dog boxes for transport with the seat and steering wheel off, but heavy and stable enough for decent fall training. And with a locking brake and fairly beefy little tires, it seemed much safer than the old three-wheeled cart I've used for the past four years.

"Oh mom can we get it? Please?" Sophie begged. "It's perfect for me to train with too!"

Sophie is as stoked about fall's arrival as I am. Always smaller than the average kid her age, I had second thoughts for Sophie, in all her 60 pounds, running a 2-dog junior class last winter and withdrew her from the race - something she was angry at me for until the Easter lillies blossomed.

But this January, she will run that race as 10 years old. She shares in the kennel chores and has been a big help these last few weeks while I have been recovering from two abdominal surgeries. She deserves to reap the benefits sown from her hard work. So last night, I took Sophie out for her first official unassisted two-dog cart training run with Jack and Ruffian.

I am able to take my truck back on the bridle trail we run on. So, gritting my teeth, I hopped in the truck and led her out, letting her run unassisted for the first time on a cart.

So many ways they leave the nest. This was just one more way for me to let go, watch her blossom. Click on the video below to watch her in action.

She intuitively knew to ride the brake down hills and before turns and let 'em go on uphills. She knows her commands: as a five year old, I used to steer her through the grocery store calling "gee" and "haw." And she did good....until it got dark.

As the temperature cooled and night fell, she began to panic a little. The trail is hilly and winds around along an old railroad track and into a deep thicket of woods. Sophie's imagination began to take over. I heard her squealing, then crying; I saw the dogs nervously begin looking back at her, clearly disturbed by her show of fear. Then I saw her stop.

"Mom!" she yelled.

I hopped out of the truck and walked back. Her headlamp blinded me so I couldn't see her face, but I could tell she was crying.

"I'm scared!" she whined.

And so I gave her a pep talk. And as I was talking, I realized mushing teaches such valuable life lessons. It had never occurred to me before.

Things Mushing Has Taught Me About Life (that I'm passing on to my 5th grader)

1. Patience After all, you're working with dogs. At the end of the day, they're still dogs, not rocket scientists. They can do what you ask and things can go smoothly, and you can share some beautiful scenery with them, but they can also be bone-headed pea brains and cause you enormous frustration. I've been dragged, bit while breaking up a dog fight, clothes-lined, peed on...but, I can't be angry at the dog. Because, really, he was just being a dog.

2. Losing your cool won't get you out of a jam Panic certainly happens in this sport (especially early on), and often wiping out is just part of the game. Fear - of being lost, of creepy crawlers in the woods, of flying down a slick hill behind a team of crazy huskies - fear transfers to your team. And when they sense your fear, they don't trust you as their leader. And if they don't trust you to lead, chaos can happen quickly. You cannot make clear decisions if you are afraid. If you are focused on fear, you aren't focused on driving your team, and that's when accidents happen. Set fear aside and move ahead.

3. Team Work Like with patience, the team work exhibited by a team of huskies on a pristine white trail away from everything is like a well-oiled machine. There's nothing like it in the world. And experiencing it on the first winter run of the season never fails to bring a wide smile to my face. But like any team, if one member is slacking, the others must work harder to make up for the slack. Teams work best when we all find our role and play our part to the best of our abilities.

4. Leadership With six or eight or however many boneheads looking to you for direction, you'd better be alpha. Because if you're not, who knows what they're likely to do. After all, they're just being dogs.

5. Follow Through Probably one of the most important lessons in life, and one I hope Sophie retains. Despite what people think, mushing is physically strenuous and damned hard at times (see #1 above). Even when things go smoothly, running up hills behind a sled, steering through trees and around corners can tire even the hardest of hard bodies. Get up and get back on the runners.

I owe a lot of my own tenacity and stubborn nature to genetics (thanks to my Marine father) but also to what I've learned from dogs and from this sport. It helped me to be tough during my recent hospitalizations. And I hope I can pass these lessons in life down to my Sophie.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

First training run!

FINALLY! Exactly five weeks after abdominal surgery, I'm back in the saddle! It was a little rough because I'm still anemic and get winded easily, and because I'm training very young dogs. But in all, we had a successful first run! Click the video below to check it out.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Conservative Management

I had a visit from Dr. Karlen, an OB/GYN specialist, objective voice and second opinion today. He agreed with the infectious disease doc that my body seems to be responding well to the Tigecycline.

We all agree on conservative management, that is, since my body seems to be responding well, my white counts are good and I'm afebrile (no fever), surgery will not be necessary; they will continue to treat me with oral antibiotics...which means...

I can GO HOME!!!!

Two of my favorite people on 2 East: (from left) Kelly and Lauren

It's good because I've blown out my second vein since I came here this morning. If I never see another needle for the rest of my life, I will be a happy woman!

It's also good because maybe, just maybe....I can start training in a week or so. We'll see.

TTFN - happy girl!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ride the Tiger

Which bags are bigger: those on the IV pole? Or those under my eyes?

Could I look any worse? Drained. Pale. My sister says I have "that sickly look." Thanks sis!

But inside, I'm fighting.

The Tiger in ancient Chinese represents dignity, ferocity, sternness, courage, and protection.

Qigong (pronounced Chee-gong) is a helpful tool for healing in ancient Chinese medicine. It incorporates movement, breathing, meditation and visualization to strengthen and heal the body. Qigong is said to stimulate the circulatory system, enhancing the elimination of wastes from the body, and the increased flow of lymphatic fluid improves the functioning of the immune system. Experts have found qigong can increase the amount of disease-fighting white blood cells, and improves the supply of oxygen to the body.

Several years ago, I learned a qigong guided imagery meditation used to promote healing called the Meditation of the Dragon and Tiger. Together, the dragon and the tiger represent yin and yang. In this visualization, one pictures literally swallowing a tiny tiger and a tiny dragon and watches as they move through the body, restoring balance and increasing vitality.

So what does all of this have to do with me?

I have been practicing this visualization technique since my admit to the hospital. Like the old Jefferson Starship song says, I wanna ride the tiger. Er, uh....Tigecycline.

And ride it out I do. Every 12 hours.

For an hour every 12 hours, I am connected to the tiny bolus of Tigecycline. And for that hour, I practice visualizing that tiny tiger moving through my veins.

Saline Hep-lock: allows quick IV access when needed, but allows me freedom to roam when I'm not receiving medicine

And, things appear to be working. I squint when I write that. Could it really be that easy?

Dr. Tan of infectious disease pushes on my abdomen.

"You don't seem to wince as much when I push," he says. "I think the Tygecil is working."

We can only hope. Until I know for sure, I'll keep riding the tiger - both of them!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tigecycline: the tiger moving through my veins

The yellow tiger moving through my veins

Tigecycline, the powerful, bright yellow IV antibiotic that drips steadily from a little bolus through plastic tubes and into my veins, holds the key to my keeping my remaining ovary. I’m not sure if it was intended to conjure these images or if it’s because of my literal interpretations of language, but because of its name, and the powerful punch it delivers to abdominal infections, I picture a small tiger streaming into my blood stream ready to pounce. I picture its claws extended, its teeth barred, hear its snarls as it travels to this infection ready to rumble. I hold onto this image. I visualize the 4 cm pocket of infectious fluid surrounding my left ovary shrinking, defeated from the Tiger. It’s got to work. I can’t face another surgery. It’s got to work.

Yes, I'm back in the hospital. Abdominal pain and a low-grade temp prompted a visit to my doctor's ultrasound tech, which revealed the glowing mass of infection around my ovary. My only remaining ovary. And I don't want to lose it like I lost the other one. The treatment plan right now is to try to kick this with aggressive IV antibiotic therapy and a possibly ultrasound-guided needle drain in the back. No one wants cut me open again after what happened last time, including and most importantly, me.

My roommate is the most obnoxious, demanding and self-centered elderly woman ever made by God.

She calls out constantly, “Nurse!” every 30 seconds when she has to relieve herself – what she calls going “tinkle” – and she has to relieve herself every 20 minutes. Apparently she abuses the nurse call light so much that the nurses have started writing her pleads for assistance off, like the boy who cried wolf, so now she’s just decided to yell for them. And yell she does, starting before dawn at 6 a.m. when she soils herself.

Dawn breaking over the busy buildings of the hospital

Later, she takes to asking me to push my call light for I’m puking my guts out. My nurse comes in to give me some Phenergan, and the elderly lady interrupts her to yell out, “help me!”

She’s happy to chat about her various illnesses and surgeries, and offers up odd information at random.

“I have a husband,” she says out of the blue.

“Okay, that’s nice,” says the nursing assistant who is awaiting the lovely task of wiping her up after her current tinkle.

When she’s all clean, she makes a phone call, I presume to her husband who I know from her random offering of information that she’s been married to for 57 years. She tells him how she’s being discharged today. She tells him the nurses don’t come when she calls, that they “giggle at her from the hallway.”

Being “sick” has become the elderly woman’s full-time job. At 78 years of age, it’s what she does with her life, and it contributes to the economy just like any job. This woman helps employ many people, from nurses to assistants to doctors and their secretaries; home health aides, Medicare claims adjustors, right down to the people who make the equipment all of those people use.

I wonder what she did with her life before she became sick and frail.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Updates from the ranch: the circle of life a tough lesson

Big Brown gave birth last Thursday, September 17th, a few days early as I was putting the whelping box together.

I heard a strange bark early that morning, and I should have gone out, but it stopped quickly and I became busy with getting the kids on the bus to school. Later, when I was building the whelping box, I went out to check on her. She had dug a hole in the heat kennel and in it, I found one stillborn pup - a female - who looked just like BB. She was licking it, clearly trying to get it to move, but it was already cold. She had chewed the umbilical cord off like a good mama. I sat in the kennel and cried for the loss. I named it "Blaze" because it had a brown blaze across its shoulder. We were so looking forward to our first Lazy Husky litter.

Big Brown being a good mama to baby Blaze

When she was distracted, I moved the pup away and brought BB into the feed room. I set her up in a crate with a dog bed, food and water, and we had a small doggie funeral back in the area of our property that's becoming a pet cemetery.

Later that night, around 10:30, Chris and I heard the strangest sound outside - like a mix between the braying of a donkey and the crying of a human. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It was eerie and mournful.

You guessed it: it was BB, calling for her pup. Instinct is so powerful, and the circle of life a cruel lesson.

A friend of mine, musher and Gin-Gin champ, Jodi Bailey, said she heard a legend from the elders of Tanana, Alaska that when a dog dies unexpectedly and seemingly for no reason, the spirit of death came and would not leave the village alone, so the dog goes with death to spare the people.

Some creatures, for whatever reason, are just not meant to be. Nature makes no bones about keeping only the strongest strains of species alive, and cares not about our emotional connections to those species. A tough lesson.

Big Brown has been living life on our sofa since I found her crying for her baby Thursday night.

Comfy on the sofa with Chris

Anyone who says dogs don't feel grief - even if it's on an instinctual level - hasn't been around many dogs, in my opinion. Because BB was definitely despondent for several days.

Today, she finally perked up. She's back with her pack now, and tonight, to commemorate the occasion, I snapped several pictures of the girls in action ambushing Yeti, just like always. Check it out: click the video below.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The kindness of strangers, and those not so strange

Chris and my anniversary was yesterday. As a gift, Chris put up a hammock for me in the dog yard! Now I can rest and recover and still be outside and with the dogs!

I have been blessed.

So many things I am thankful for these days, the gratitude wells up inside of me several times a day and I tear up. So many emails I have received from friends, family and even total strangers offering up blessings, well-wishes, encouragement and kind words. It has been truly humbling and I want to say a huge THANK YOU to every person who has been there.

Some recent email excerpts that have moved me:

Amy, a doggie rescue friend:
"hi shannon, i don't wanna bug you since you are fresh out of the hospital and have just been through a hellish life-changing experience....but i wanted to tell you that i had something for you, i wanted to send it to you while you were in the hospital but i wasn't sure where you were....please let me know if and when you are feeling up to it, if you ever wanna meet, i'd love to meet you and see your dogs/kennel....i hope you are doing well, i've been reading your blogs and stuff and am just so amazed, you are very talented! i really would love to meet sometime and see your doggies, i have always been obsessed with alaska and recently watched the whole season of "iditarod" from itunes it was sooooo cool."

Amanda, a young woman just getting into dog mushing:
"I wanted to let you know how much your recent journal entries have touched me... I so admire your strength and resiliency, and your tenacity in not giving up after such a rough year is so incredible to see. You are a true hero, Shannon, and I'm sure that anyone that reads your blog can see that! Thank you again for sharing your story and for writing with such honesty even when you are in dark places.

Jen, my childhood best friend:
"It has been absolutely amazing to see the battles that you have come through these last several weeks (even longer if you count the original surgery). Your posts have been heart-wrenching at times and totally hilarious at others, but always so genuine. I appreciate your candor and how you just tell it like it is. :-)

Well, I want you to know that my boys and I have been praying for you EVERYDAY since this whole ordeal began and we have no plans of stopping! Even my students at school have been praying for you, too. We're believing that this will all turn out for good (even better than 'good')."

My friend Sherry Sutherby in Michigan:
"You appear at peace. You remind me of people in my life who trust God ~ totally ~ without reservation. Who have total peace because they know they are NOT in control. They do their best each day, but God is going to provide for them, and make them safe. Your peacefulness comes through your writing...and spreads to others. I'm happy for you."

Phil in Illinois:
"Hello Shannon, In following your posts and offering support during your recent horrible ordeal, I learned a lot about you. You're a great writer, a musher and a very strong and brave person. I wish you the best in your continued recovery. Your posts have been very interesting and I look forward to reading them. My thoughts and prayers are with you."

Lindsey in Colorado:
"Hey Shan. I just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you and doing my best to send positive energy your way! I am so sorry that you have been so ill this summer, but you are such a strong and willful woman that I KNOW you have the ability to handle this. I am not a God or religious person by any means, but I do love the saying that God will not give us more than we can handle. I am thinking of you lots, and of your sweet little girls. I know how hard it is to see a parent seriously ill at such a young age. This experience will make them stronger than you can imagine. I know you can get through this! I know I am so far away, but seriously if there is anything I can do to help.. just ask. You are such a wonderful and special person, focus on getting better!! We are thinking of you and loving you!

There have been many, many more just like these: little notes or voicemails offering good karma, from friends like Tom Roig, whose mother recently passed (very sorry to hear this, Tom. I know how close you were to her); from Ed and Tasha Stielstra, from Jim Warren, Jason Barron, Tim Looney, Frank and Stacey Teasley, my Auntie Ellen, Kim and Mark Swickard, and so many more.

I try to return the emails, but I am slow to get to them. So this is a huge THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART to all of you!

I am strengthened by the blessings of my friends and family, and the kindness of strangers who are now not strangers at all.

Here is a song that I think of lately. Listen to it if you have time and are so willing. Namaste.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Driving and crying: as American as the open road

It must be an American thing. We love our cars, and I am certainly guilty of fond affections for my truck.

Yes, it's true. In America, driving equals freedom.

There is something about it. An open road, the windows open wide, fresh road-going air blowing, ipod plugged into the stereo. When I used to smoke, there was always a cigarette lit if the car was in "drive." The perfect mix to relaxation.

Still looking rather sickly, I smiled as I pulled out of my driveway in the Toyota today for the first time in weeks

So today, when I fired up the Toyota after a month of not driving, I was more than a little overwhelmed. In fact, I cried. Sitting in the Sunoco station fueling up, surrounded by people going about their everyday activities, something as commonplace as driving took on great significance for me.

So many things have taken on great significance for me now. And I cry often - sometimes from the sheer joy of simple pleasures, like eating, or showering without puking, or washing my hair! The gratefulness I have for life is more than I can explain, and often, more than I can contain. Tears well up and every day things are just....beautiful.

I am very happy to say I have spent much time with my furry four-legged kids the last two days, which has brought tears to my eyes too.

the backyard mayhem

And, I realized yesterday after going out back for the first time in weeks that Big Brown has been keeping a secret.

Chris has been caring for the dogs while I've been in the hospital and recovering. As an editor, he has a lot of attention to detail. In life, however, he doesn't have so much. He had no idea about Big Brown's little secret. But it took two seconds for me to figure it out yesterday.

Big Brown is expecting. Papa, Yeti, like Chris, has no idea. But Brownie girl knows. After dinner tonight, she lay down in the grass and let me rub her growing belly looking up at me, eyes half shut, enjoying the rub down as only a pregnant female can enjoy a belly rub. She should be due in nine days. It's certainly not good timing as we started our fall training tonight, and I am still very weak and recovering. But, as John Lennon said, life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. And so, life happens. And it's beautiful: the mistakes, the mayhem, the joy and the sadness. It's all so beautiful.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto" - Dolores Claiborne

Okay, enough is enough. Now I'm starting to get pissed.

For the last three days, I have spent 95% of my time getting sick or trying to prevent getting sick. It comes out of no where: in bed, in the shower, sickness in hurling, heaving masses and leaves me shaking and in tears. I've lost eight pounds since Thursday. I'll be the first to admit I'd like to lose a few pounds...but not this way.

Quaking in tears, I wrote my friend Joann two nights ago from a dark, dark place of desperation, fear, and a sadness I've never experienced. In broken sentence structure, I typed the words:

"Things have only gotten worse since I got home. I throw up all the time - and no one is sure why. I am so weak I can hardly walk across my living room. I'm afraid I may need to find someone to take the huskies."

Did I really write that? Could this...whatever this is ...really bring me to my knees and make me give up this dream? My dream? My dogs? What I've invested so much time and money and love into?

Nephrologists throw up their hands without a clue; other docs don't concur. I finally end up back at the hospital today. More needles, more blood draws, more phenergan and Zofram.


Nada. Blood cultures: NORMAL. I'm discharged with some well wishes and Saltines.

That's it. It's time for some good, old fashioned stubborn Irish will and determination, damn it. I'll be damned if I'm going to let this thing kick my ass, I don't care if I eat nothing but Saltines from now until January! Tonight, I'm ready to fight for what I love. I will not give up. And besides, who doesn't love a good come back story?

I will be back on the runners, and better for all of it, on that I swear.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

"All things are ready if our minds are so" Henry V, Shakespeare

In college, I studied countless hours of Shakespeare and Chaucer, thinking like most college students these things could never be relevant to "real life." I find myself thinking back to several quotes again tonight from one of my favorite Shakespearean plays: Henry V.

I was so moved from the king's soliloquy to his soldiers in rallying them to take up arms and fight, I still look back on that scene when I need to muster strength to face a challenge. Out numbered in soldiers 5 to 1, the English army is clearly fearful of going into battle with the French. Until the king, shown below from my favorite 1989 film with Kenneth Branagh as Henry, moves them to be brave "for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother." The scene moves me to tears.

At the end of this soliloquy, Henry says, "All things are ready if our minds be so."

I think of this tonight. Today has been difficult. Even simple things, like showering, seem to exhaust me. It seems like an uphill battle, repairing. Sometimes it's hard to not focus on the pain and all that's happened.

It was two weeks ago tonight my belly was sliced open to reveal a scary world inside, an infection that was taking over my entire abdomen. A lot of it is a blur. I remember the pain. I remember hearing a doc say I would be moved to the ICU and intubated if I didn't start improving, pronto. I remember being terrified.

In the aftermath, now that I'm home, I realize I can never be the person I once was. I am forever changed.

I tear up often. Little things take on great meaning. Last night, sleepless, I wandered into the kitchen to savor a delicious, ruby red grapefruit. It was unlike anything I'd ever tasted before, so sweet and juicy and luscious.

I think of all the things I love that I almost never saw, tasted, smelled or felt again.

I am ready, in mind, to get strong again and heal. I just need to be patient with my body.

Here is that soliloquy from Henry V, with Kenneth Branagh. "Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars and say these wounds I had on Crispin's Day." Someday, maybe I'll be proud of these battle scars.

Friday, September 4, 2009

And so begins

And so begins the process of trying to put all this behind me and repair.

I was shocked to realize how much my body had atrophied after two weeks in a hospital bed. My legs almost buckled underneath me as I walked up the front step of my house.

For the first time in my life, I'm scared of my own dogs - of their power and strength. I went out to see them yesterday shortly after I returned home, and was terrified they would rip open the stitches in my belly jumping up on me in excitement. They were so happy to see me. It breaks my heart I cannot frolic with them like normal right now.

Which naturally leads to the question: what about this season? It's already September. It will be at least a couple weeks before I'm strong enough to even maintain dog chores and possibly run them. Do I have time to work both myself up and to train them for the Midnight Run?

And why oh why does it seem like every year there's some obstacle staring me in the face, preventing me from getting to Midnight Run? And why do I have to want this this one thing so bad?!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Little things

It's really little things that mean the most, isn't it? Like when your husband brings you white pizza from your favorite pizza joint when you're in the hospital just because that's what you want more than anything in that moment. It's little notes colored by little hands, sent to you from your friend's daughter in Michigan to cheer you up. They don't cost anything. They're not fancy. But they mean so much. It's the nurse who stays up with you in your darkest hour the middle of the night to tell you everything is going to be alright, and believes it.

In the end, it's not about politics or this camp or that camp. It's not about "liberal" or "conservative" or about any black and white ideology or unneccessary drama we fill our lives with.

It's the little things that show true love and true devotion. The last two weeks have been the hardest ever in my life. But during those two weeks, I've learned clearly who truly cares for me and who doesn't. Sometimes, the results have shocked and hurt me. I know I cannot take it personally, however; perhaps some people just don't know how to deal with the acute seriousness of what's gone on. Other times, their reactions - or lack of reaction - has demonstrated to me what I already suspected.

What I do know is this: there are very very few people in this life you can count on to be there when things get this rough. And I am continually overwhelmed and humbled with gratitude and thanks to all of these people. I know who those people are now, and I am super thankful to have them in my life. You know who you are. Kathleen, with all your silent prayers from Minnesota; Sherry, for all of our long conversations about God; Joann, for cheering me up with your Mitch Seavey book; Brittany, for telling me it was going to be alright; "Super Dave" for finding veins when no one else could; Bob, for understanding; Michelle for your Mad Magazine; Paul, for the Sour Patch Kids, Runts and flowers; Kim, for the beautiful print and card and lots of thoughts from horse country; Tim, for making me laugh; Mom, for meatloaf :-) ; Cindy, Linda, Bob and Jan, Monica, Dana, Jen, Julie, Tina, Jill, JaX, Stacey, Rinda...thank you so much to everyone.

I am 100% weaned from IV antibiotics today and tomorrow, come hell or high water, I am going HOME! The very sight of this place - its smells, sounds, everything - makes me sick to my stomach. I cannot wait to feel the fall air on my face again, emerging stronger, wiser, better for having triumphed. Ultimately, having triumphed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


It’s a beautiful September day today, azure blue and hopeful. I’m trying to find a comfortable position, but it’s difficult. I’m bruised. My lungs hurt from the atelectsis and effusions still, an audible clicking sound every time I breathe in and out. Doppler equipment tracked down one of the only remaining decent blood vessels I had at this morning’s 5 a.m. blood draw. My thighs are covered in bruises from the twice-daily heparin shots. I drink water by the pitcher full and still can’t get enough. The renal doc said I shed over four pounds in water yesterday alone. Four pounds. Most food still makes me gag, but the thought of pizza and beer kept me up well past midnight last night.

And yet, it is such a good day. I smile to myself. I look up at the neon yellow stuff in the tiny bolus on the IV pole that has saved my life: Tigecycline. I think about how far I’ve come.

I overheard residents rounding in the hallway this morning that I may go home tomorrow. And though they haven’t officially told me, I think this will happen.

Pictures drawn by the hands of little ones who love me are all over the room. So much love. I received a book in the mail yesterday from my good friend Joann – Mitch Seavey’s Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way, and just thinking of running dogs again has me smiling. Those dogs are my life. They’re so much more than dogs to me.

And tomorrow, I am hopeful I will return home to them. I can’t wait to see their little faces. And begin my life again.