It was eight or nine years ago we loaded Haley into our truck and brought her home. On that ride home Janice reiterated she’s not a dog person but the stop at Petsmart was an obvious betrayal. There was Blue Buffalo hard food, canned soft food, treats, a raised food and water dish, a cute pink collar with lotsa bling and a matching leash and more. It wasn’t two weeks later Janice arrived home from work and Haley met her with excited yips and yipes and front feet flailing in the air. Janice may not admit to being a dog person but there is no arguing that afternoon proved she is a Haley person.
She is our little girl, sweet as she can be but with an independent streak all her own. Janice’s boss took her in when a neighbor found her dodging traffic on a busy street. We became her people and she continues training us. Since then we’ve grown to believe she is the most adorable thing on four legs. Of course we readily admit our prejudice.
Even though trying our patience is her specialty, Haley is 14 pounds of precious. If either of us is not feeling well, upset about something or just having a bad day she is there to help make it better. We don’t always recognize how in tune she is but eventually one of us picks up on it.
When we came home after the February 16 Urgent Care visit, hospital blood draw and CT Scan, the little girl was laser focused on our stress. She was especially drawn to being with Janice and doing everything possible to help “the mom” feel better. She must have believed her responsibility was to make it better. As things have progressed she continues to be both amazingly empathetic and comforting. If only “people” words could explain to her.
April 7 was the first chemo and radiation treatment for Janice. We took time for breakfast before treatment. We are frequent customers and so many awaiting updates.
Little could anyone imagine the untimely death of the owner. His memorial was Sunday, 24th of April. Meanwhile the restaurant is closed while his wife seeks suitable purchasers to take over the business.
Then there are the dreaded moments of truth. You know, the ones when you accompany the person you love beyond yourself tand observe while the IV gets set up and a couple different things go in before the chemo drugs start. And Janice insists I go home, be with our little girl and there will be a text before time to transport her home. I ain’t sure but suspicion has it she wants me to comfort the little girl.
Whether it’s her intention or not that’s what happens. At times when Haley is concerned ‘cuz one of us is ill she stays close by believing her closeness helps comfort and heal. And in her unique way she helps more than can be told.
Then there is the language barrier. We don’t speak dog and she doesn’t speak people. So sometimes even though irritating, whining is the best she can do. At those moments either Janice reminds me or I remind her the goal of our baby girl is for us to understand she knows things are going on and she is stressed just as we are. In Haley’s world, language barrier be damned, just let me make “the mom” feel better.
As we drew ever closer to Rochester the enormity of why we’re taking this trip took on fresh clarity. As the miles passed Janice admitted to nervous “butterflies” (my words not hers). We found ourselves discussing it’s real, and it’s gonna happen starting tomorrow morning. Whoa!19
We found the Mayo Clinic building that the next day would begin in and then found our motel. After hauling our stuff in and unpacking there were phone calls, texts and Facebook updates to keep people up to speed (actually to let them know we didn’t crash and burn along the way). Then we found food, topped off the gas tank, located a liquor store and appeased my curmudgeonly self with Newcastle Brown Ale.
Janice crawled into bed a little after 9:00PM and was singing (depending on what you call singing) in no time. It had been a full day and sleep was likely best for her.
Mornings are great so long as I don’t need to get out of my robe before 11:00. So Tuesday morning and I were not going to be on friendly terms. We took advantage of the continental breakfast and caught the free shuttle service to Mayo. Our driver kept a stream of upbeat banter going that probably helped relieve stress for many passengers.
Then there we were, Mayo Clinic towering 19 floors over Rochester, MN. To say the least it’s pretty impressive for a city of just over 100,000 people. We briefly stood outside taking in the enormity of this center of healing before wending our way to an information desk for directions. Moments later we were on an elevator quietly whisking us to the twelfth floor. As the doors opened and we stepped out Janice confessed to feeling a bit panicked. Reassuring isn’t so easy when you are only slightly less in panic mode but I think I hid it pretty well. Signs directed us to our Twelfth Floor East destination and as a receptionist asked how she could help Janice’s panic factor took her voice momentarily. The receptionist say take a deep breath an we’ll try again. She got registered in and we sat waiting for the next shoe to drop.
There really was no next shoe. A nurse roomed us and did the nurse routine then Dr Nitschmann came in and took a lot of information before calling Dr Mariani in for their exam and recommendations. Thus came the bottom line: no surgery, radiation and chemo and it can be done in Fargo. There’s no place like home. We took a cab back to the motel, loaded the car, paid the bill and were homeward bound around noon.
These were a couple intense days for us. More so for Janice but none the less a shared experience. Now comes the next phase. Radiation therapy begins next week and chemo a couple weeks later. We are told after treatment it will be controlled much like other chronic conditions.
Hmmm! So if I start whining chronically a Gibbs slap will control me? Ugh!
For us the adventure began February 16. We’ll call it an adventure for lack of a better term. It was sometime in May she had an Urgent Care visit and her pee test was positive. Antibiotics were pressed into service including a Sulfa she was so allergic to it caused nearly an entire week of lost work. Eventually they got the right antibiotic and bye-bye bladder infection. Then came that fateful February 16 when Janice said we needed to go to the Urgent Care ‘cuz it might be back or at the least something was happening. By the time we left the Urgent Care a blood draw and CT Scan was set up for that afternoon. Even the most casual observer would know something was up and neither of us were casual observers.m
Very few days later we met with Dr Dees and learned the scan showed a “mass” and a biopsy was scheduled. After the biopsy results we knew it was cancer. Onward and upward to an Oncologist appointment with a Dr Bagwell. OK, he is nothing like T-Bag from the TV series “Prison Break.” Can you say big sigh of relief boys and girls?
Actually Dr Bagwell was a breath of fresh air for a tension filled consultation. Aside from picking up on things not usually part of a medical history he was blatantly honest about a lack of the type of Oncology specialist Janice needs that can’t be found in North Dakota. Three places were discussed: University of Minnesota Hospitals, Johns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic. Janice’s gut feeling went for Mayo. Dr Bagwell was partial to Mayo ‘cuz he was born in the Mayo associated St Mary’s Hospital. Me? Mayo is tops in this solar system. So Mayo Clinic it is.
Except for a PET Scan Wednesday 02-23-2016 it’s a holding pattern for us until everything Mayo has planned for Tuesday 03-29-2016 comes to fruition. There is little to hang our hats on until then. We could bleed fears, apprehensions and stresses all over these posts. The thing being they are unfulfilled fears, apprehensions, and stresses. Seems there are two basic choices. One is to give into the unfulfilled stuff, assume a fetal position and let the pity party begin. The other is remain in the moment, don’t try predicting the future because that’s why we’re seeing Mayo Specialists. Let’s not do the fetal thing and pity party yet, that may well be a waste of time and emotion.
There are what seems like thousands of things to do preparing for the trip to Rochester, especially since the stay may be short or on the other hand need a couple extra pairs of skivvies. A couple extra pairs should be enough for a week or two, right? Anyway, it’s getting closer and no matter how prepared we are at least something will be forgotten (toenail clippers come to mind for no obvious to me reason). Bet we can find toenail clippers in Rochester too.