For those of you interested Only in TRAVEL, I (Jack) wrote the blog between March 2010 and October 2010 during our travels west. We saw the most beautiful places and had the best time in our big truck and little trailer. See Blog Archive below.

May 28, 2011

Awakenings at 3 a.m.


A time finally comes when you "get it"... when in the midst of all your tears and insanity, you stop in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out, "ENOUGH!!". Enough fighting, crying, guilt, and struggling just to hold on.

Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.

You realize it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.

You realize that in the real world there aren't always fairy tale endings and that any guarantees of "happily ever after" must begin with you...and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that your lost spouse wasn't perfect, nor are you; and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who and what you are...and that's OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.

You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself and in the process, a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did or said to you (or didn't do or say) and you learn that the only think you can really count on is the unexpected.

You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say and that everyone will not always be there for you and that everything isn't always about you.

So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself...and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties...and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You learn to open up to new ideas and different points of view and you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really want out of the rest of your life.

You learn the difference between WANTS and NEEDS and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown through the grief process...or should have never bought into in the first place.

You learn that principles such as honesty and compassion are not outdated ideals, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build your new life.

You learn that you don't know everything, it's not your job to save the world and that you can't teach a pig to sing. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you begin to relearn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are, not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not necessarily mean lonely.

You stop trying to control people, situations, and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect.

You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and depression so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels our bodies, laughter fuels the our souls. So you take more time to laugh and play.

You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you believe you deserve, and that much of life is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen.

Most importantly, you learn that in order to really "move on" you need direction, discipline, and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it's OK to risk asking for help, whether it is from a friend or a professional.

You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it under a cloud of impending doom, gloom, and sadness.

You finally actually learn that life isn't always don't always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to good people. You learn not to always take it personally.

You learn that nobody punished you and everything isn't always "somebody's" fault. It's just life happening.

You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy, and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison your whole world.

You learn to be thankful and take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted...things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about...a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

Then, you begin to take some responsibility for yourself and by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself again and to never, ever settle for less than your heart's desire.

You make it a point to keep smiling, to trust, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility. Finally with courage in your heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best you can.
~Sonny Carroll (The Awakening)

May 27, 2011

There's So Much Wrong...

...and Rich isn't here. I dropped Jack off for what I think will be his last tap before his surgery. He cried like a baby when they took him back which only added to the sadness I've been feeling; only some of which I can write about. He doesn't mind our regular vet, but he knows something is up when I bring him to GVS. So, here I sit, waiting for the call that tells me I can come get him. The house seems even emptier without him. I hope that the surgery fixes him 100% so that we can go camping, again. I feel that I'm giving him the very best chance I can. First, he'll be at a specialty center. He's in the care of an excellent internist and has had all the tests to confirm that he is good health other than this condition. Unlike regular vets, he will have a dedicated anesthesiologist for the surgery, and THE most competent surgeon to do his surgery. Now, he will be in their hands, and I can only hope that he comes through the surgery with good results.  
Best Friends
 Jack and Lizzie
So Sleepy

Quit Waking me, Suz...
So "Jack"

We all feel so bad about little Mary. She's suffered more than any of us in her seven short years. Doesn't seem fair. My thoughts are with her all the time, and with Jenny, John, and Judy. It's a helpless feeling not to be able to do anything-I'd trade places with her in a flash if I could. Poor baby.

I find myself wishing and wishing that Rich could be here--I realize how much I relied on him and his strength during difficult or sad times, and how I miss sharing the happy times. I still feel so empty and hollow without him. Perhaps he's fortunate not to know the sadness--I hated him to be sad. Hard time writing, today.

May 13, 2011

A Sad Time...

Two days ago I learned that my sister's granddaughter has Leukemia. Life changed for their family in a split second. Shock and disbelief, deep sadness, and frustration that they can't rewind and change what they heard, hoping with their very being that the doctors were mistaken when they knew they weren't. I feel so terribly sorry for her Mom (my niece) and her Dad who are suffering every parent's worst nightmare. And, I feel sorry for my sister and brother-in-law who are also devastated.

Fortunately, my sister has always been a very involved grandmother and is able to take care of their other child so they can stay at the hospital while they take the necessary steps to prepare their little one physically and emotionally for chemo therapy and the long and difficult road ahead.

It's such a helpless feeling to be so far away. I can't do the meaningful, hands on type of things, but I'm hoping our family can lend support in other ways from afar. As you read, please keep this precious little 7 year old in your thoughts.

We had good news about Jack. The Dr. from Texas will do the surgery, here, on June 7. I fully expected that he'd have to be tapped, again, today, but he wasn't. Even though he had leaked some more fluid, it wasn't enough to warrant another tap. Our vet wants to see him again next Friday unless some sort of emergency occurs before then. I'm very relieved. Jack has a good quality of life--doesn't even know why he's going to this place where I leave him amongst all the strangers.:( I hate that he looks back all the time they are walking him down the hall away from me. Our vet thinks he has a very good chance for full recovery, and I hope that I can take him out west once more and he can take over the blog, again.

May 6, 2011


Good news. Jack had no fluid on the left side of his chest and not enough to tap on the right side. Our Vet called me with the good news and then said he had heard from the vet in Texas and he wanted to meet with me to discuss the communication from her. My heart sank because I thought maybe she was not going to do the surgery. Well, she's quite a lady.

1. The surgeon on this rotation at AMTU wouldn't let her do the surgery. The option would be to wait until the next rotation (sometime in June) and risk that,  that surgeon would also decline although she knows the next surgeon and thinks she has a better chance. She listed three other possible options.

2. She trained a surgeon who is at UGA (not as a specialist in this particular surgery), but whether UGA would permit her to oversee the surgery is questionable. If she could attend the surgery whether in person or by video conference I would consider it. Again, I would pay expenses, but our vet said the school might not go for it.

3. The vet from Texas does a clinic once a month in Houston at a facility similar to the one I'm going to and she would be willing to do the surgery there.

4. She is willing to fly here to Atlanta and do the surgery at our vet's facility if the surgeons agree. Of course, I would pay her expenses for being here and the costs associated with surgery and recovery. This is my 1st choice if it can happen. If it can, aside from making Jack well, I hope it can help other dogs and cats in the area with the same condition/disease in the future.

So, Option 4 and Option 3 are the ones our vet and I felt would be the best, with number 2 as an ace in the hole and possibly number 1 as a last resort. 

So, today is a good day. Our doctor says Jack is in optimum health. I'm so thankful I found him. He's not only good to me, but he really likes Jack. The best news of all is that Jack is not filling up as fast as was expected and remains remarkably asymptomatic. He has a dog there, now, who isn't as lucky. He had 2 litres tapped, yesterday, and was back again, today, and had filled up with another 2 litres. He isn't breathing well and his heart is suffering so his prognosis is not good. Poor pup-makes me sad and I don't even know him. 

Susan and I have to feel we've done everything we could possibly do for Jack. We felt the same about our sweet Lizzie, but in the end we couldn't let her suffer and had to let her go.

I was so excited (and hungry) that I forgot about PetSmart. Oh, well, maybe when Susan gets home. I pulled into the driveway and took some pictures. What I thought were going to be great shots weren't; evidently I had pushed the manual focus button by mistake. Once I realized it, Jack was antsy to get in to eat so was avoiding the camera as you can see.

So Hard...

I got up early and took Jack for a walk before I took him in at 7:45 a.m. He's such a lazy bones. He didn't want to get out of bed.

Once he heard the leash, he was up and at it! He always runs to his food dish as if to grab an energy bar or to make sure that he won't get hungry on a trip. He started that way back when Rich used to walk him and since he is a "man of habit", he never changed. Susan and I laugh every time. He was surprised this morning because he didn't know it but he was fasting. When we got back we got into John's truck, which completely confused him, but somehow we managed to get where we were going. A more discombobulated pair you'll never find.

He couldn't get closer to me if he tried while we were in the waiting room--really wanted to sit on my lap, and managed to get half of himself up. A doctor walked by with a black lab, and of course he was reminded of Lizzie, as was I. He howled as she turned the corner out of his sight, and tears slipped out of me. The ladies at the desk came out to shower him with attention. Lots of pats and rubs.

When they come to take him in the back, he's very cooperative, but he always looks back at me several times as if to say, "Aren't you coming?" I just about lose it every time...I managed to get out the door and then lost it.

In the short amount of time between leaving the house and getting back, I lost my phone, his collar, keys, and my glasses. I recovered the phone and the remembered the glasses and phone were at home, but the collar is still missing--I think I left it there. It's the choke chain that he likes--it's like his jewelry. He's probably the only dog that really, really likes his choke chain. I take it off him while he's there because I don't know if he could catch it on whatever kind of area they hold him in until they're ready to see him.

It will be a while before I hear whether he has to be tapped. They do rounds until nine o'clock while the aids prep him for an ultrasound.

The house seems so empty and sad without him. I know if Rich were here he would be taking him to Texas, too. There used to be a program on the Animal Planet channel with a vet, Dr. Fitzgerald, in Colorado. Rich used to look at me, sometimes, and say, "If either of them (meaning the pups) ever get sick, we'll take them there. I wish he were here to go to Texas with us.

Well, I'm going to try to busy myself to make the time go by until they call so I can go get my buddy. I think we'll go shopping at PetSmart. Well, that's if he's not groggy. If he is, we'll go tomorrow.

May 5, 2011

New Hope / Anxious Days

I went out to dinner with Martha and Jim Turner, tonight, and as always, had a great time. They are so much fun to be with. Martha asked me to bring the blog book that Jack wrote, so I did. Time passes fast when I'm with them because we laugh a lot. Susan stayed with Jack. She's his sister but he thinks of her more as a girlfriend. She's very good to him. Sometimes she walks him three or four times a day; especially since I hurt my back.

Some days it's not so bad getting up the hill and once we're in the nature center, I enjoy our walk because I can let him go off leash (not supposed to, but no one is there when I go).

A vet at TAMU has agreed to do Jack's surgery. She is the director of cardiothoracic surgery at TAMU, and the best in the country at the surgery that Jack requires (name too long for me to remember).  The odds of success have been 20-40%, but her success rate has been 100%. We don't have a date or specifics, yet, but it's a step further in the right direction, and we're very grateful that we have this option. Fortunately, Jack is feeling fine; loves his walks, gets all excited when he hears Susan's car pull up, and his appetite is great. He surprises our vet and others at the hospital because he is asymptomatic which is very unusual. He's taking a nap on his dining room bed at the moment.

He'll be moving to his other bed shortly, as he always does. Jack has a routine for almost everything.

We have to be at the vet early in the morning so that our vet can check to see if there's enough fluid in his chest to drain. I'm hoping he hasn't filled up, again, but I think I'm pipe dreaming because it's three weeks and that's been about the length of time that he needs it. They have drained over three liters, twice, and over a liter last time all without showing any signs other than that somehow he looks to me huskier. I actually first noticed it after they drained him the first time--he looked smaller (which stands to reason). I'm glad he doesn't know what's coming-they keep him comfortable so I don't think he remembers anything bad happening, but he comes out pretty "drunk". I always get nervous and feel bad about taking him. That's why it was good to see Martha and Jim, tonight; it took my mind off it.

On a lighter subject, John and Michael took the truck and trailer over to the Nascar Race at Darlington, and will be home on Sunday. Today, I think they went to the pit for a while, but mostly camped. They are a comical pair. Michael said, the other night, that Lisa told him that John snores. He asked me if I had anything in the camper for   snoring. The only thing I could think of was the taser.

They had a smooth drive over-I'm not sure who drove when, but they both agreed that they'd never own a diesel truck because it is so noisy. I realized, driving John's little truck, today, that it's nice to have a small, quiet vehicle. However, noise or not, I'm glad I have the big truck pulling the little trailer. Michael sent a couple of pictures over his phone.

John cooked some Bubba burgers and then built a campfire toward evening or should I say  barn fire. At any rate, it appears that they are having fun so I'm happy for them.

Can You Tell Who Was Doing All The Work?
I have decided that I will take the trailer to Texas as it will give Jack a close place to recuperate. I have a friend who lives about 90 miles from the hospital so we'll get to see her at some point. Ellen graciously offered me a hookup that she has in her yard or for us to stay in her house. Such a sweetheart. Just knowing someone is that close makes me a little less nervous. I already know the route I'll be taking. Of course, I'm not as excited about this trip, but I'm hoping that Jack can take over the blog at some point. Maybe he'll even recuperate to the point where we can continue on up into Colorado. That all remains to be seen.

Well, sign off time for tonight. Crossing my fingers about tomorrow. I love my pup with all my heart.