Tag Archives: Shadow

My Old Man

imageEach February I blog when we celebrate the birthday of my first pony, Shadow. ( This post tells you more about our special bond.) This year Shadow is turning 38 years old – or so we thought…

During the move, my mom found the registration document from when I first adopted him. At that time, the veterinarian’s guesstimate as to his age would have been much more accurate. And using that information, well, that means that Shadow may have celebrated his 42nd birthday today!

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy. I’ll bring you something special on Sunday!

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The Mane Event

Seth and I decided to go very light on gift-giving last year. And after an unexpected August engagement, I had received the only physical “gift” I might hope for from Seth.

Like many of my friends, I appreciate the intrinsic satisfaction gift-giving brings. Receiving gifts is nice too; it’s a chance to have some fun with friends, see how well they know you, etc.

In the past I’ve known people who will spend the entire year judging or otherwise measuring their relationships based on how much ‘thought’ (read: money) was spent on their gift. There are different kinds of relationships and people in the world – and I suspect these are some of the shallowest. But that’s okay. They make me giggle, and I have the time to judge. (Hahaha, I’m FAR from flawless!)

All this rambling is to tell you about one gift I received this year. As Seth would say, “It broke me.”

I have a huge heart for animals. But beyond that, I think I’m pretty average, maybe a little tougher than usual. Hallmark cards and movies about separated lovers don’t make me cry. I’ve never been moved to sponsor a fly-covered malnourished child shown on TV commercials. (I can’t watch the animal abuse commercials, though!)

I’m sensitive, but for most of my life, I’ve successfully kept it secret. I’ve decided to open up a lot since my diagnosis, but the open demonstration – exposure – of feelings is still a struggle.

For all of those reasons, even my mom was surprised when she handed me my gift. I opened the tiny box and had a complete break down.

She found an artisan who weaves jewelry from horse tail hair. Back in August, my mom clipped a (surprisingly thick!) chunk of Shadow’s tail hair and mailed it in. The resulting gift was a beautiful bracelet delicately woven from Shadow’s tail hair and sized just for me.

I bawled tears of joy. Then I cried some more. It is so special and thoughtful. I have yet to wear it; although the weave is very sturdy, and it seems perfect. There are no short hairs poking out like when I would braid my own hair.

I’m not sure I’ve ever received such a unique and thoughtful gift. Just like the pony it came from, I will cherish it forever!

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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!


Shadow Update

Today was the first day that Shadow ate his normal portion of food!  I guess at his age it takes longer to recover from a setback.

Thank you so much for the care and concern you’ve shown for my dear pony, for me.  I’m touched that you realize how important he is to me and that, even if you’ve never known one, you have an open mind and appreciation for these majestic animals.


The Waiting

Amidst this weekend’s excitement, there was also a very sad time.

Early Sunday evening my mom called the farm sitter to check in on everyone.  She also wanted to see if the sitter would be available for a couple more days (and I was going to see if I could beg US Airways to waive the change fee) so she could extend her visit.

After a few minutes of conversation, the sitter expressed some concern about Shadow.  She was on the fence about whether or not to have the vet come out.  I spoke with her for a few moments; he didn’t drink much water and had very little corresponding output.  He also cut back even more on his feed and had only moved his bowels once in 24 hours.

We didn’t need to hear any more.  The vet had to come out – immediately.  My mom called the answering service, and the vet called back within 20 minutes.  One hour later he was at the farm examining Shadow.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia, my mom and I were a mess.  I wrote about Shadow a few days ago when he didn’t finish his grain.  We attributed it to the warm weather and spring fever.  He was drinking and otherwise normal.

I tried to keep us busy while we waited to hear from the vet.  I have some cool artwork, but I always second-guess myself on where to hang it.  So that night we hung six paintings.  And waited.

Finally, the farm sitter called.  Shadow was very dehydrated, so the vet gave him IV fluids.  He also drew blood and prescribed Banamine, a painkiller.  Shortly after receiving the injection, Shadow finished his grain, drank water, and followed it with the corresponding outputs.  He felt better.

We will have the results of his blood tests tomorrow (Tuesday).  I am particularly worried about his kidney values.  If he is in renal failure, there is little we can do but keep him comfortable until we have to make a very difficult decision.  But if his kidneys are okay, it might be something treatable – like stomach ulcers.

Shadow has lived a long, healthy, and happy life.  At some point – whether it be in 4 years or 4 weeks – my mom and I will have to put our selfishness aside and do what is best for Shadow.  We owe that to him.


Jessica’s Shadow

Jessica and Shadow

Animals have always been an important part of my life.  From them I’ve learned how to love unconditionally and cherish the quietest moments in life.

When I adopted Shadow, I was 9 and he was 14.  The photo above was taken approximately one year later.  This February, he turned 36.  He has been a very important part of my life – of me – for 22 years.

Shadow lives on our small hobby farm with my mom and all of our other animals.  From earlier posts you may know that the farm is a 7 hour drive from my home.  It is currently listed for sale, and my hope is to move my mom and our animals much closer to me as soon as possible.  I really need her – all of them – closer.

Yesterday Shadow failed to eat all of his grain, which is quite unusual.  Everything else seems normal – he’s grazing, behaving as he should, etc.  But it worries me.

He isn’t a young colt anymore, and while we have made sure he has the best food, the warmest winter blanket, and great veterinary care, I know he can’t live forever.

When someone you love is with you for so long, you can take their presence for granted.  As I sit here crying, I think of my last visit to the farm and how I could have spent more time with him but didn’t.

Hopefully in the morning I will hear that he ate all of his breakfast and whinnied to be let out into the pasture with his mares.

I will never be ready to lose Shadow, but I hope when I do, it will be at a new, closer farm, where I can sit and spend time with him.  Because I’ll always be his girl, and he’ll always be Jessica’s Shadow.


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