Sunday, November 27, 2011

The C Word...

Cancer...we found out on Monday that it is affecting one of our immediate family members...Notre Chien :( The vet thinks that Chien has lymphosarcoma, which is apparently very common in Golden Retrievers. It is not exactly a confirmed diagnosis, but the vet feels fairly confident and in order to get complete confirmation we would have to put him under to get a sample of one of his masses. The vet didn't think it was necessary to put him through that given the symptoms he has and the blood work that came back, both of which seem to indicate that it has spread through his entire body and is now affecting his liver, kidneys and intestines. Our only options at this point are to make him comfortable or go to an oncologist, but given how far along it is, she didn't think it would give us more than a few more months and we don't want to put him (or our family) through that just to get a few months. He is 9.5 years old.

This all started about 3 weeks ago when we randomly bought him a different type of food. He pretty obviously didn't like it and started not to eat. He would still eat any scraps we put in his bowl, but wouldn't eat his dog food. We figured it was just him being picky. After about a week and a half, we bought him his old food, but he wouldn't eat that either. He started to become very tired and having some digestive trouble. The most noticeable thing though was he started to be extremely thirsty and drink way more water (and then have to go out more) than usual. We just thought maybe he was sick or maybe he was becoming diabetic. Then we gave him a bath and noticed how incredibly skinny he had become (he is so fluffy that it really isn't too obvious when he is dry). Theresa came to visit though and immediately noticed he was skinny and not acting himself. That is when I called the vet and took him in to find out the bad news.

Apparently this type of cancer is extremely aggressive and once dogs start to get it, they have about 30-60 days if left untreated. Given the onset of symptoms, I would say it has probably been close to 30 days now that he has had it. And I can tell you it is getting worse every single day. He has become listless and is panting heavily. He is on 4 different types of medicines to try to ease his symptoms, but they do not seem to be helping. We had so many people at our house this week for Thanksgiving - people he knew, people he loved but hadn't seen in a long time, and people he had never even met before - but he barely seemed to move when someone walked in the door. Occasionally he would get up and give a bark or two, but it was very obvious that it was a struggle. If you know Chien at all, you know how heartbreaking it is to see him respond like that to someone coming in our front door. Our niece calls him the crazy dog because when someone comes over, he runs around like crazy, jumping and barking and wagging his tail ferociously. He will then come charging at you full speed only to turn at the last second, put his back to you, sit on your feet and lean his head back to be petted, all while doing his best to stay sitting and not jump up for more affection. But this week we were happy if he got up at all or even lifted his head when someone came in. He also is not eating anything. We were making him rice and then some chicken and then we bought some special soft dog food which he seemed to like, but now he is not really eating any of that either. Every day seems to be much worse than the day before.

So, it is with an extremely heavy heart that I tell you that Notre Chien is not going to be with us much longer. Right now I just pray that we have the strength to make that decision when the time comes (could be as early as this week if he doesn't start responding to medicine or if he continues to decline). And I pray that the children take the news ok - I don't think the girls will understand it too much but I do think Ben is going to have a hard time with it. And most of all, I pray that Chien is not in pain and that he knows how much he has meant to our lives. We love him so much.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lowes Build and Grow

What have we been up to lately? We have been busy, but not taking many pictures! Last weekend I ran the Chicago Hot Chocolate 15k race downtown (which is 9.3 miles). It was cold, but there was hot chocolate and chocolate fondue after the race, so that made it worth it! I went down with my friend Jill and although we didn't run together, we met up after the race to enjoy the yumminess together! I was overall pretty happy with my race. I finished in 1:17, which put me at about 8:17 pace. It was the fastest per mile average I have run in a while, but I was hoping to get down a bit closer to 8 minutes per mile. I ran the first 7-8 miles of my last half marathon in just over 8 minute pace (and then severely dropped off after that), so I was thinking I could do that again for this race and just hang on for the last mile. But it didn't quite happen. Oh well, I was happy and felt good throughout the race. It was nice to finish strong and not feel like I was completely dying at the end for a change!

Over the past two weekends we have gotten together with the Kurby's twice, so that has been fun! We had a mini-Thanksgiving with them this weekend and it was tasty, but I ate entirely too much. I guess that was just getting me ready for the real thing coming soon!

But yesterday, we took the kids to the Lowes Build and Grow program. I have taken Ben to two before this one, but this was the first one I took both Ben and Abbey to. Basically, Lowes puts on this program where you sign up (early because it fills up quickly) and when you go to Lowes on the date they have a kit, hammer, nails, apron and safety googles and you get to build a project together. Previously, Ben built a monster machine and a monster truck (both Halloween themed). This week's project was a science experiment kit and the kids absolutely loved it! The building on this one was pretty easy (just nailing together the top, bottom and sides of the box), but the fun has been non-stop! It came with two test tubes, a mixing bowl, and a whole set of cards with experimentson them for us to perform. Ben loves doing experiments anyway, so he is thrilled to have his own experiment kit with actual experiments for him to perform. As an example of the experiments, in one we mixed red geletin, baking soda and vinegar together to form an exploding volcano! Here he is with his safety goggles on ready to get testing!

Abbey's not so sure of her safety goggles, but she likes doing the experiments. Abbey is a bit young to do the hammering, but we worked together on it and I think she had fun. This was a good project for her because it wasn't as difficult as the previous ones. I am not sure if I will take her each time - it might depend on the project - but she likes to be included in everything if she can!

Here are my two little scientists!

Mixing the ingredients together!

Careful're not wearing your goggles!

Juliette did not have much interest in the experiments quite yet. She preferred to do what she always Little People and Doll House! She is very independent in her play and will often go off on her own to play with her dolls and Little People toys - it's so cute to watch and listen to her playing with them.

Thanks to Aunt Domi for letting us know about the Lowes Build and Grow program. It is a lot of fun and the kids get a kick out of making these projects on their own. The best part about it is that it is completely free (although I think you can buy the kits in the store if you can't attend the workshops). If you haven't tried it, look it up to see if it is in your area. The recommended ages start at age 7, but Ben does just fine with it with minimal help from me.
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