Tag Archives: Blossom

The Bunny Has What?!

Gracie sleepingThe results are back, and Gracie’s two month medical mystery has finally been solved. She has MRSA.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.” This is not a disease that bunnies can carry primarily. She got it from humans!

The first thing that occurs to me: I can’t believe our vet even thought to test for it. The ear itself doesn’t look like any of the gnarly MRSA pictures online. It’s thick, warm, scaly, and flaky.

But having a good vet is just as priceless as a good oncologist. And in addition to being an adept surgeon (he’s reconstructed both of her ears twice), he’s a smart internist. He realized that we were spending a lot of time in hospitals and connected the dots that maybe – just maybe – we brought something home to Gracie. He has seen it only one other time during his career where a NICU doctor brought home a MRSA infection to his pet rabbit. The odds must be astronomical.

My next point of shock: I can’t believe Blossom didn’t get it. She hasn’t been sick at all, but she did just have both tear ducts flushed because they were blocked. That would have been a perfect MRSA entry-point right there. And they lie next to each other all the time. Gracie often wants Blossom to groom her “bad” ear, but Blossom refuses. She’ll get up, hop around, and plop down to clean Gracie’s healthy right ear instead. I think it’s quite obvious why.

Third point of shock: How did I not get MRSA?! If there was someone in this house who should get sick, it’s me. And an infection like MRSA could have wiped me off the face of this earth in no time flat. After my seizure the only room they had for me was in the ICU. They tested me there, so I know I’m MRSA-free.

It’s for this reason that I think it came home on Seth. It’s not his fault, of course! He probably got it from pushing me in a wheelchair at Fox Chase (the only facility we visited in this timeframe) and then gave it to Gracie while she was getting meds after one of her ear surgeries or tear duct flushings. Luckily, he’s a healthy guy and didn’t get sick himself.

In hindsight, I doubt it was preventable. We are clean, hand-washing people, and this was just a freak thing. MRSA lives in all healthcare facilities, and we’re just lucky that our vet figured out what was going on before it consumed our poor bunny.

Gracie starts a minimum 30 day course of chloramphenicol this evening. It’s the strongest thing she can have, and hopefully her tough little bunny body will maintain weight so we can knock this out quickly. She’s a tough broad. If anyone can kick some MRSA ass, it’s Gracie.

In the meantime, we will keep a very close eye on Blossom. And I guess I’m on Gracie quarantine. One of the vet’s primary concerns is that I can easily become infected until she is cured. I bet Monty Python never thought of this when he created the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog!

 


Boston Bound

I am scheduled to see Dr. Shaw at MGH before the month is up. I’d tell you the exact date, but that wouldn’t be too bright, would it? Someone could break in and steal stuff – or worse – endanger the buns. I’m sure I’ll post an update when we return.

Yes, “we.” My partner-in-crime will accompany me. In fact, we’ve decided to head north a few days early and make it a mini-vacation of sorts.

So… Please send me your suggestions for the best things to do in Boston. Anything which involves a lot of walking or stair climbing is out, but I’m sure the city has plenty to offer otherwise.

Just click ‘Reply’ or ‘Comments’ to post a comment with your Boston suggestions. Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom!

P.S.: Since this is a short post about travel, I’d like to take a moment to publicly thank my neighbors, Steph and Thom, who take care of the girls most times we go away. They are very animal savvy, and knowing the girls are in good hands gives me so much peace of mind!


Dear Diary

March 3, 2013

Blossom lies next to me. I wrap my arm around her, and a feeling of peace and warmth envelops me. Sometimes I think she can sense when I really need her, and tonight was certainly one of those nights.

My first sign of discomfort was around 6:30pm. But I ignored it, and Seth and I had a nice time at dinner. The discomfort grew into small pangs of pain, so we decided to forego drinks with friends.

We returned home around 9pm, took care of the buns, and started to watch a movie. Twenty minutes into “Puss in Boots,” and I was doubled over in pain. It was 10pm – quite a late start for one of my episodes.

In fact, when I passed 8pm with only a little pain here and there, I thought I was in the clear. Sometimes – maybe once a week – that happens. The discomfort never develops into a full monster.

We stopped the movie and opted for a TV show which didn’t require my attention. At some point I scurried to the bathroom, crouched over like some sort of spineless zombie. I caught a glance of myself in the mirror and was shocked at the pasty, sickly face that appeared.

The worst of it passed in the first two hours. By midnight I could lie still (no more writhing and kicking). It’s now 2am, and I’d say I’m 90% of the way through this one. Small cramps of pain come and go, but in general I’m feeling much better. I’m exhausted, but that’s partially because it’s 2am!

I’m going to call my oncologist on Monday. My primary oncologist, that is. The one I really like and trust. I will bring him up-to-speed and discuss with him what my options are if I discontinue my current treatment. I need to know what he would prescribe next, what my chances of success are, and what the side effects might be.

I fell asleep sometime after 4:30am and netted about six hours in dreamland. When I awoke I felt like I had been hit by a tractor trailer. It didn’t take much for Seth to convince me that I needed a day off from LDK.


Fill in the Blanks

LDK has taken a toll on my body and spirit. So many times I begin drafting a post, only to realize that it’s a carbon copy of the one before it. Instead of another laundry list of complaints, I thought I’d bring you up to speed on life in between LDK episodes.

Over the past week, things have been absolutely crazy for Seth. He’s been working nearly around the clock to “keep the lights on” during some technical issues. It doesn’t irritate me or anything like that. He’s great at what he does, and I’m very proud of him.

Even with little time to spare, he put together a thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift. I was hoping to get a card as I have in years past. And I figured with everything going on he could get it during the day and give it to me in the evening. Imagine my surprise when, first thing in the morning, he came bounding down the stairs with a card and present. The card was perfect, and inside the red ribbon-tied box were tons of milk chocolate covered pretzels – my favorite!

February 14 is also Shadow’s birthday. I had to choose one when I adopted him many years ago, and Valentine’s Day seemed perfect for a pony I love so much. We’ve asked several vets, and most of them agree on his approximate age. Shadow turned 37 years young yesterday! He was treated to a warm apple and carrot mash.

We were originally going to visit the farm this weekend. But with everything going on at Seth’s work, we decided to postpone our trip. Since we are driving – not flying – we have the flexibility. I do miss my mom and the animals, so we will reschedule for some time soon.

Earlier in the year (during cycle three, I guess) I was able to handle some other matters too. I applied to continue my dental insurance via COBRA and moved my 401k to a new IRA. Then I needed to figure out what to do about life insurance. As you can imagine, no one in their right mind wants to insure a stage 4 cancer patient! I did a lot of research and found a broker who could offer me a couple of very small policies. Luckily I had a better option. I was able to convert my group life insurance to an individual whole life policy. It’s quite expensive (relative to standard life insurance) but is the best option for me. Because it is a conversion, there are no health questions or possibility of denial. It’s not a lot of coverage (no one will become a millionaire), but I feel better having it in place. My next piece of business is to complete a will and living will. It’s not as macabre as you might think; these documents, as well as a life insurance policy, are good things for all adults to have.

Finally, an update on the girls. Gracie has fully recovered from her most recent ear surgery; but because of the angle in which it healed, the doctor may need to do another, smaller procedure. The ultimate goal is to prevent all future ear infections. She had to have this same set of surgeries on her right ear last year.

Blossom has been both naughty and nice. She has been very affectionate towards me, even more so than usual. When she hops into bed to snuggle I feel so warm and fuzzy and loved. On the naughty side, her evening bathroom behavior has been sub-standard. I’ve threatened a vet visit if she doesn’t shape up. (Any change in behavior can indicate that something is wrong.) The vet visit would just be a precaution, though, because she is behaving normally otherwise. Silly bunny…

I think that fills in the blanks. And I hope I’ve shown that, despite other issues, life does move forward. There are clearings between the LDK storms. My next scan is this Tuesday, February 19. I expect to see continued stability and maybe even a little more improvement. At my appointment two days later (Feb 21) I will ask for the second of two dosage reductions. Hopefully the doctor will agree to drop me to 450mg / day. At that point, I will allow LDK one more cycle to see if the side effects improve. That means “sticking it out” for another three weeks. If you don’t hear from me sooner, I’ll let you know how that appointment goes.

I hope you enjoy your weekend. I’m still wishing for a significant snowfall. I want to play in the snow!


Holiday Portrait

4 of us


Sharp Dressed Bun

I adopted Blossom in April 2006 when she was only three months old.  Since then, I’ve been tempted (on many occasions) to dress her in little clothes.  But they don’t make bunny clothes, and I wasn’t sure what dog size she would need.  (A medium, maybe?)  Truthfully, I couldn’t bring myself to purchase something that would irritate her only for my amusement.

Then Thursday came.  When I retrieved the mail, I was excited to find a Teflon mailing envelope.  Inside was something squishy and light.  Assuming it was fabric, I carefully cut open the package and pulled out… two bunny dresses!!

I really don’t know Susan from Ajax, Ontario.  We met each other through the Bunspace website.  And yet, she (and her bunnies) sent me a present and cards in anticipation of my birthday later this month.  I was so touched.  She had thought of me and my little girl.

With the cute dresses literally appearing on our doorstep, there was no escape for Blossom.  I waited until Saturday when I had Seth’s assistance for bunny wrangling and photography.  One dress is pink with “Princess” silk-screened in white.  The other is a green and pink jumper with a heart.

The dressing and removal was traumatic.  But once she had it on, she was able to hop around without a problem!  I didn’t leave it on for more than a few minutes, so as not to cause too much trauma.

The next round of bunny tormenting will be this weekend when we take Blossom and Gracie to see the Fat Man.  I thought about taking her in a dress but decided against it.  A trip into the world is exciting and challenging enough!


Welcome

Seth and I have long been planning to sell both of our houses and buy one together. We’ve lived one mile apart for years, and we figured we would wait another year or two for the housing market to bounce back a bit. But over the past year I’ve become increasingly needy (go figure), and we decided to move forward with our plan sooner than later.

So without further ado, Blossom and I are pleased to welcome Seth and Gracie into our home. Gracie moved in two weeks ago, and Seth moves this weekend. The bunnies (Blossom and Gracie) are still getting to know each other during supervised playtime.

We will list my house for sale early next year and look for a larger place the four of us can call home.


Bad to the Bone

I had my PET scan on Friday, and I’m anxiously awaiting the results.

My worst fear is that my scan will light up like a Christmas tree.  (QVC is having “Christmas in July,” so please excuse the reference.)  My cancer has already metastasized to my spine, thus the horse is out of the barn; it’s very possible that it will start appearing in other bones.  My primary concerns are the two things which have been a source of pain and sleeplessness for the past two nights: my ribs and collarbone.

I know I have three fractured ribs.  While in the hospital in May, the scans showed one fractured rib, and we assumed this was from coughing.  But the scan I had at the end of June showed three.  And the pain doesn’t line up with the ‘coughing’ explanation.  My rib(s) didn’t bother me much for the entire month of June.  Now they are worsening each week.

The newcomer is pain in my collarbone.  This started on Wednesday, and I think it is probably a side effect of the new injection, Aranesp.  It can cause bone pain because it stimulates the process in which red blood cells are made.  I’m experiencing a sudden onset of stabbing pain followed by a couple of hours of aching.  I’ve never broken my collarbone, but I imagine this is how it feels.

Now, pain and I aren’t strangers.  But this sort of pain is quite acute, and Percoset (albeit a low dose) barely touches it.  If I complain to an on-call doctor he will just send me to the ER.  No thanks.  So I’ll stick it out until Monday when I speak with my doctor.  I don’t know what else they can give me, but I’m going to ask.  My real hope is that by then the collarbone pain will have subsided; that should make it easier to find a position in which I can sleep comfortably.

For now I’ll keep up the painkillers I have and try to distract myself with “Christmas in July.”  Seth has been visiting often, and Nurse Blossom keeps me company during the night shift.  I’ve complained to friends via text messages, my mom via phone, and now the public at large via this post!  If whining can make one feel better, I should be fixed up in no time!


Keeping the Clouds Away

I haven’t written lately; I’ve been very tired and perhaps not in the ‘sharing’ mood. First, let’s talk business…

My white blood cell count was low the last time I had chemo. I was still able to get treated, but some of the doses were reduced. On Friday I returned so they could recheck my counts. This time my hemoglobin and platelets were too low. (I suppose this explains some extra fatigue, shortness of breath, and racing heartbeat.) My white blood cell count was at the low end of acceptable, but my doctor felt this was artificially high due to a shot I take post-chemo to boost them.

This stuff is to be expected, but it might change the game a little. My doctor has requested I get a PET scan right away so we can see how active the cancer is. Based on the results I will either move to a maintenance chemo regimen (taking 2 of the 3 current drugs) or switch to an entirely different chemo cocktail.

What a disappointment. The train was chugging along smoothly while my doctor started every appointment with “your counts look good.” But now there’s talk of a shot to boost my red cell production and thoughts of switching chemo drugs. And every new drug means a chance of a bad reaction or undesirable side effects.

My PET scan will be later this week. Keep your paws crossed that I don’t have any new metastases.

Now on to some fun things… I have little adventures scheduled in July, August, and September. For one of them, three of my bunny friends and I will have a girls’ weekend at the farm in WV. It’s going to be so much fun! For another Seth and I have reserved the ‘swim with dolphins’ experience I discussed in a prior post. Everything has been carefully scheduled around my current chemo schedule, so my body better cooperate or else!

The other exciting thing has been my new bed. After considering it for months and receiving some great feedback to my blog post, I finally purchased a daybed and mattress for my living room. It’s absolutely awesome! I still have some sleep challenges, but when I do sleep I wake feeling much more rested. And my snuggle bunny is back! I have a makeshift step setup so Blossom can easily hop in and out of bed. This makes me so happy!

Otherwise I spend a lot of time indoors or in a pool (preferably one larger than my 8′ inflatable). I’m probably sleeping 10-12 hours a day in various segments. I try to listen to my body and not feel guilty if I need to rest all day. It’s a hard mindset to change because we naturally associate sloth with laziness.

And finally, I try to keep my stress to a minimum. I can think about being sick, but I don’t obsess over it. It upsets me that my counts are off, but I’m not shedding tears.

Nope, I just want to relax and enjoy the summer. Cancer will be around to worry about on less sunny days.


Bucket List

I’m not a big fan of the term “bucket list,” but I certainly do think about how to enjoy life as much as possible.  For me it often involves furry, feathery, or otherwise non-human friends.  Please allow me to ramble, er, elaborate…

Each November we visit Seth’s parents and enjoy a mini vacation in sunny Florida.  This time I hope to take part in a ‘meet the dolphins’ experience.  I know it’s a cliché, touristy thing to do, but it sounds really cool.

Meeting new animals is always incredible.  Earlier this year I was privileged to have a behind-the-scenes tour of the Cohanzick Zoo in Bridgeton, NJ.  There I met New Guinea Singing Dog puppies, Stabby the porcupine, baby marmosets, and many other precious creatures.  It’s an experience I will never forget.

Of course I also treasure time spent with the animals I already know and love.  I could never keep track of how many times each day I look at Blossom and smile.  Nor could I tell you what it’s like to gently blow air on my pony’s nose and receive a little kiss from him.

You might not know what it’s like to watch geese lovingly bathe each other in a pool of water.  Or how peaceful and serene it is to look out over the pasture and see the geese, ponies, dogs, and a goat all coexisting in harmony.  But these common occurrences do bring me joy.

I’m fortunate to have surrounded myself with other people who love and respect animals, too.  In past years, Seth and I have structured two vacations around time spent volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society.  And through an online bunny community I have gained close friends near and far.  Even my neighbors are an integral part of a local animal rescue.

While I’ve been rambling, Blossom has hopped onto the couch, snuggled next to me, and now demands my affection.  So even as I try to figure out what I want out of life, I must pause (paws?) and appreciate everything I already have.  That’s why a “bucket list” just doesn’t cut it.  Life isn’t about a checklist; it’s about loving and being loved, whatever that means for you.


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