Last night was a hard one for me. Despite a strong appetite, it appears Ahnung is still losing weight. It’s been a little over 3 weeks since I came home from the Philippines. I arrived back home on Thanksgiving night and when I walked in my house was greeted by four very happy bouncy furkids .. of course, Mister was in the front jumping all over me, Missy was right behind him and Legacy came around the back so he could get to me too. Then there was my sweet Ahnung, who as she always does, waits behind and on the perimeter of all the chaos with her tail wagging like crazy. She waits till her crazy siblings have had their chance to greet me and knows that I will come towards her. I let the 3 bouncy pups out into the backyard so I can greet my sweet girl without craziness around me. I see her ribs protruding and it’s obvious to me she has lost weight. I know in my gut something isn’t right.
I have an appointment already scheduled with Lake Harriet Veterinary for Monday and Wednesday. On Monday she goes in to get blood drawn so that on Wednesday when we meet with Dr. Cathy we will have the results of her blood profile. When I bring her in on Monday we weigh her and she is 58 lbs. She has lost 4 lbs. On Wednesday I return for our appointment with Dr. Cathy. She now weighs 57 lbs but everything else checks out great. Her blood profile came back great .. everything was in the normal range! Her physical check up also is great, yet I know in my gut there is something that is not right. She is losing weight and there is something going on. I absolutely love Lake Harriet Veterinary and the care I receive from their staff and their vets. I love that they practice both eastern and western veterinary medicine and that they listen to me … they listen to me and they recognize and respect that there is a bond I share with Ahnung and when I say I ‘just know’ something isn’t right they hear me. Dr. Cathy tells me she would recommend chest x-rays. Later that day that uneasiness in my gut about what is going on is confirmed when I hear the words come out of Dr. Cathy’s mouth telling me Ahnung’s cancer has metastasized to her lungs. Interestingly, that day my surgeon also called me out of the blue to check on me and to make sure that I had on my calendar to have a breast MRI done in April. The diagnostic mammogram I had done in October didn’t show anything, but neither one of us expected it would as what is going on in my body appears to not show up with current diagnostic tools (mammograms or ultrasounds). I’ve had four excisional biopsies in the past couple of years and only when they cut out pieces of me and send it to the laboratory are they able to confirm that the cells in my body are going awry … some say it’s DCIS, most say it’s atypical ductal hyperplasia, and they all agree that there is something going on but they can’t quite figure out what it is. There is no simple answer to treat what is going on so the path I have chosen for now is ‘close surveillance.’ My surgeon asks me if I notice any new lumps in my breast. I am honest with her and tell her that it is now much harder for me to tell with all of the scar tissue. I also tell her I have decided to not think about it anymore. I will return every 6 months for my tests and procedures but part of me has stopped listening to what’s going on with my on body. It’s now also been a year and a half since I learned I have a rare heart condition – left ventricular non compaction … a heart condition that will lead to heart failure. Because it’s so rare there are so many unknowns .. it could be a year, two years, 10 years before the symptoms of heart failure begin to manifest. Due to a much higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest I have also had to adjust my life style and there’s an increased awareness on a daily basis of the fragileness of life and of how one’s life and most definitely one’s perspective on life can change in a single moment.
I admit I have consciously worked to put my health issues on the back burner. I don’t want to think about it. I am tired of seeing so many doctors and undergoing so many procedures, tests and surgeries. I also know that Ahnung and I are so connected and our health journeys are parallel and interconnected. In 2010 I was diagnosed with atypical ductal hyperplasia and since then have been walking that line of breast pre-cancer and cancer. In 2011 Ahnung was diagnosed with mammary cancer and had surgery to remove the tumor. In 2011 I was diagnosed with a very rare and serious heart condition. In 2012 Ahnung was diagnosed with a very rare, aggressive cancer. For both of us we are have what most would consider, terminal illnesses. Yet on the outside, we appear healthy. Ahnung continues to live and cherish every moment. And for the most part, I am able to share that same perspective of living in the moment and cherishing what I have right now, right here.
But then there are moments, sometimes hours and even days when I cave to the reality of what lies in front of me … last night was one of those times. As I noticed Ahnung’s protruding ribs again I realized I don’t know how much longer I will have my sweet girl with me. As I watched Legacy and Ahnung roll around in play I realize that Ahnung chose Legacy last summer … did she bring him into our lives knowing that her time may be limited and that when she moves on that Legacy will continue her work? Is she also trying to tell me to pause and notice my own health issues and to not put them on the back burner? I have witnessed the incredible bond grow between Ahnung and Legacy over the past 20 months, and when I look into Legacy’s eyes I see pieces of Ahnung. Last night and this morning, I feel something I can’t explain. My heart has been hurting and I ‘just know’ once again as my gut is speaking to me, that something is going on. I don’t know if it’s my precious Ahnung, or if it’s me, or maybe it’s both of us.
So this morning I needed to just take time to be silent and to reflect. I need to create space for whatever messages are trying to make their way to me through an angel (my precious Ahnung) who has blessed me with her presence since October, 2008. And as I make time this morning for quiet time, Ahnung lays by my side. It’s like I can hear her say, ‘Breathe. Listen.’ We are not fighting or battling cancer. We are not fighting my heart condition. We are not fighting anything.
Harmony. Community. Compassion. Love. Acceptance.
One Beat. One Heart. All will be okay.
Legacy brings out the puppy in Ahnung