Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wrapping Up with Some Highs & One Big Low

The last couple weeks have been a flurry of activity—mostly good, positive stuff but mixed with one major setback.  We’ll start with the good news, though…. 

The storage garage is steadily being emptied!  Millie has quite enjoyed being a “junkyard dog” and watching me sift through boxes of stuff to scan, pitch, or sell.   We are on track to finish this job in about a week and be ready to hit the road.

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One of the neighbors happened to notice me taking pictures of some lighting equipment I was getting ready to list on eBay.  It was going to be heavy and difficult to ship, so I was not looking forward to that, but the gear was worth way too much to just pitch, and was too specialized to sell on Craigslist.  Incredibly, this neighbor happened to be a budding pro photographer in need of just this very gear. He also, incredibly, happened to have the cash on-hand too (not a common thing with budding photographers!).  Serendipity strikes! Hoo-ray!

Another big worry was whether or not I’d be able to sell the Sprinter van within just a couple of weeks before leaving Chicago.  We had used it all Summer to haul and move stuff, not only for my house, but my sisters’ houses too.  But now, time was of the essence!

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So I posted a Craigslist ad (as well as posting on Facebook, and some Sprinter-specific web forums) and hoped for the best.  Within a week, I had over a dozen inquiries—some buyers wanting to come from as far as Alaska and Oregon to buy it!  Apparently, finding a low-mileage, first-generation Sprinter (that has not been beat up as a tradesman’s daily work vehicle) is precisely like finding a needle in a haystack!

As it turned out, a dear WinnieViews reader ended up buying it and now has great plans to let it finally become the camper van it’s always yearned to be!  Bon Voyage, and may you both have many happy trails ahead!

I’ve been making my way down a checklist of mundane errands to get done before we leave Chicago at the end of the month.  Getting the View and Tracker serviced, bank accounts consolidated, and a final vet visit for Millie.

It was a warm day when we got our View serviced at Winnebago Motorhomes out in Rockford, so Millie and I camped out on the front porch while the service guys worked their magic. 

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Yes, there are 2 other Winnebago dealers located much closer within the Chicago metro area, but I’ve always found the 90-minute drive out to Rockford well worth it for this dealer’s superior service expertise, prices, and their ultra-friendly, family-run small business that gives a level of attention to customers practically forgotten about in these days of corporate-run RV mega-dealers.

Last week, I booked Millie for one final visit with her favorite veterinarian, Dr. Lisa Doering of The Whole Pet in Bartlett.  Dr. Doering was the one who first discovered Millie’s cancerous mast cell tumor 3 years ago during a routine dental cleaning surgery, and she continued to call and check on us regularly that Winter when we were out in Arizona getting oncology treatments.

Millie had a few new lumps I wanted Dr. Doering to check out, and I was also hoping she might still have time to fit Millie in for one more dental cleaning before we left.  When Dr. Doering examined the lumps, she thought they were probably benign, but because of their unusual locations (and Millie’s cancer history) she thought it might be wise, indeed, to have them removed while Millie is under for dental cleaning.  The only challenge was that the next week, the other 2 doctors were out and Dr. Doering would be the only doctor running the clinic.

But, she managed to juggle some other appointments around so that Millie could get in for surgery just 2 days later.  Things went great with the teeth cleaning and removal of the lumps on her nose and rear, even if Millie was not amused by her new “haircut.”

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Unfortunately, as if it was “déjà vu all over again,” Dr. Doering also discovered a small new tumor on the same leg that had been the site of Millie’s previous cancer.  This tumor was up at the knee joint, and it also turned out to be another cancerous mast cell tumor.

There, sadly, are no good options for a nearly 10-year old dog at this point.  If Dr. Doering removed the tumor, another one (or more) would likely appear soon after.  Millie’s whole leg could be amputated, and while that might buy her another another year or two, at what quality of life? 

So, I decided to go the holistic, palliative route.   I’ll try to remove or slow down any possible triggers for cancer growth via diet, drugs and supplements, while making every day as fun and comfortable as I can for Millie. 

Millie is now on heavy doses of Benadryl and Pepcid AC (to hopefully slow the progression of cancerous histamines and ulcers from forming), and I’ve now removed all dried kibble & commercial canned food from her diet.  Even though she was getting the best brands of each, I’m hoping it will be safer/better to just leave her on her human-grade dehydrated food and mix that with freshly cooked meat.  Looks like this vegan will now be buying and cooking meat daily again!

We have no clue how slow or quickly this disease will progress, but I plan to get Millie to a nice sandy dog beach this Winter to enjoy more stick throws and paddles in the warm Pacific waters (like those she enjoyed in Mazatlan last year).

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In the meantime, she’s enjoying her afternoons of Frisbee-playing and lounging under the cool shade of an evergreen tree in the lush green grass of my sister’s yard… life is very good for now.

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32 comments:

  1. Oh Lynne, I'm so so sorry to hear of Millie's diagnosis. This is really tough news to hear, and I know it's hard for you, just as you plan to start this new life of adventure with her. God bless you for taking the approach you are, just to help keep her comfortable and to give her the best life you can as she makes her journey through this difficult chapter in her life. She's been so luck to have you as her mom and taking such good care of her. I know she's been the best companion for you, too. Just know you're in our thoughts and prayers as you work through this.

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    1. Thank you Jack. It wasn't nearly as devastating to hear the news this time as it was 3 years ago-- perhaps because Millie and I are now living a simpler, less-stressful life focused on appreciating each and every day we are given. No certainties in life-- Millie could out-live me for all I know! So, no need to stress about this diagnosis--we'll just go with the flow and enjoy our time!

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  2. So sorry to hear about Millie's cancer. I hear of way too many pets getting the same diagnosis. You are probably aware that the meat in grocery store's is from animals fed GMO grain, ground-up BT corn stalks and plenty of antibiotics. Organic, grass-fed animals are the only ones really safe to eat any more....and finding it and affording it aren't always possible. Best of luck to you and Millie.

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    1. Yes, mass-produced meat (and its impact to the animals themselves as well as our planet) is a big reason why I eat a mostly-vegan diet! But seeing as Millie will need fresh meat daily, and I have little room to store anything frozen, I will usually need to buy her the common grocery store stuff. Still, I'm thinking that's a big step up from the meat that was likely used for her kibble or even her premium canned dog food! I'm starting with lean ground turkey and ground chicken, and whenever I can find organic, I'll certainly buy it!

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  3. So sorry to hear of Millie's diagnosis. I know you will both make the most of each day, Take care and know we are thinking really 'good' thoughts for you and yours.

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  4. So sorry to hear Millie's news but know that you will do the best possible to give her a happy time ahead. Hugs.

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  5. I'm so sorry to read this news. I'm happy for the approach you are taking and not making Millie go through a lot of treatments to only make her quality of life less than good. I'm wishing her the best in fun times as I know you will be giving her.

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    1. Yes, since this reoccured less than 3 years after exhaustive, painful, (and very expensive) cancer treatments that Millie absolutely hated, it was a very simple decision to not go down that road again! I don't regret pursuing those treatments when we did-- she was younger then, and they gave her 3 more healthy, happy years. But now that the options are more drastic (and likely even more painful), no need or desire to subject her to all that anymore. We will focus on fun and enjoyment instead!

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  6. So sorry to hear about Millie. I really hope the changes you are making for her will buy her more time. She is just such a sweet, sweet dog. I think you are approaching this the best possible way you can for Millie and I am sure that the time she has left will be happy times.

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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    1. Thanks Ruth. We're sure going to try to have lots of fun this Winter!

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  7. Give my little chicken-loving friend a big hug from her Aunt Suzanne, and tell her a visit to the Carnivore Cafe is hopefully not too far off. ;-)

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    1. My first attempt at a Carnivore Cafe last night was not too bad-- freshly cooked ground chicken to mix in with Millie's dinner. But I can't quite bring myself to handle and cook raw meat first thing in the morning, so she will likely be quite happy to hit your cafe' for breakfast!

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  8. So sorry to hear. A tough decision but one that must be weighed, as you did, with the quality of life.

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    1. Thanks Kim. Yes, once we've all reached a respectably mature age, I think that's all any of us would want-- more quality remaining days than quantity!

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  9. So sorry about Millie. Make the most of her time left and then treasure all the special memories she has given you.

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  10. So Soory about the bad news........I am sure you are doing the right thing and hopefully time will be on your side as Millie enjoys and thrives on her beach trips this winter..... What a great job you accomplished working through the items in the storage locker..... Soon you will be on your way and ready for some well deserved rest and relaxation ...... All the best and thoughts for You and Millie....

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    1. Thanks Sally. Looking forward to a warm and relaxing Winter!

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  11. So sorry to read the news about Millie. The picture you posted of her on the lawn... I think she's waiting for the fresh cooked meat she heard you talking about ;-)

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  12. Oh goodness.. my heart goes out to you and Millie. What a tough and courageous decision to maximize her time remaining. *hugs*

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    1. Thanks Cherie. We will focus on a fun, warm Winter. What wonderfully pampered lives our nomadic pets have-- they see more places and get to experience many more things than most humans can ever dream about!

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  13. Hearing about Millie is heartbreaking. Reading about her, well, we have all probably gotten attached to Millie. I, too, had a "Millie", only mine was Andy. You are doing everything right, Lynne. Love your time with her.
    BTW, I JUST read your comment back to me on 08/30.......thank you! And I will email questions. Please keep up the great blog and the Millie news.
    Jane

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  14. So sad that Millie is having health issues. Love the pictures of her on the beach and in the water at the Isla while you were in Mexioc.

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    1. Yes, she had such a wonderful time on the Isla. Wish we could go back this Winter, but have some other things to do and people to see in the U.S., so perhaps next year!

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  15. Millie is sure lucky to have a caring owner, who thinks of her needs first. Here is hoping the treatments and diet works wonders:)

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    1. Thanks! Fingers crossed! One thing is for sure, Millie is feeling like royalty with this great new food and attention!

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  16. A non-GMO diet is a good thing! My husband is in "relapse" mode with his Multiple Myeloma, so we buy only the best of organic meats and produce that we can find. Fortunately it is easy to find these days, as the organic meat and produce counters of even mainstream grocery stores are expanding with what I assume is a greater demand for decent food.

    As you travel, you can use Google to find local farmers/ranchers who provide non-GMO and pesticide- and antiobiotic-free foods. If you have room for a small cooler tucked away somewhere - maybe in your toad - a block of dry ice can supplement your freezer when you happen upon a good source.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

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  17. Oh no!! How sad. This is not what I wanted to read while catching up on your blog. Love what you are doing for Millie and your plans to give her the best of the best for as long as you will be together. Enjoy every moment of your time and wishing you some wonderful adventures in the months to come. Hugs to you both.

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