Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bringing Her Home

Bryan went by the vet today and collected Haley's ashes, which we'll bury out back on a less rainy day.  I hadn't cried in a few days, but bringing her remains home sure did it.  Since I wasn't there with her when she passed, part of me was still half looking for her as we go about our day.  Seeing her cremation certificate and having the box she's in come home helps reinforce the reality of her passing.  That's a good thing, even if it hurts like hell.

I think Caylee has realized that Haley isn't coming home--she's talking about her more, but calling for her less.  She'll say "Haley bit you, but Haley's sorry."  And I'll follow it up with "Yes, Haley's sorry.  She loves you, but had to go bye bye."  It's still a punch in the gut, but at least it shows that she's processing Haley's absence.  Annabelle's doing better as well.  She's not looking for Haley anymore, and is slowly becoming less clingy, though she still refuses to be left downstairs if the rest of us are up.  Bryan and I are adjusting too, slowly.  It's been 8 days since we had to make the call to put her down, and, though we still miss our big dog like crazy, every day gets a bit better.

We love you Haley.  Good dog.  RIP.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

RIP Haley, We'll Always Love and Miss You

Ok.  I've been debating posting about this, but it's the only way I can think of to let everyone know, without having to rehash it by telling everyone individually.  None of us are really up to talking about this a whole lot at the moment, but I would rather people know so that we can heal without reopening wounds every time we have to tell it again.

We made the extremely difficult and heartbreaking decision to put Haley down yesterday.  She had been an amazing dog for 7 years, but in the last month and a half something in her changed.  She attacked and almost killed a family member's dog without warning or provocation back in September.  On Monday evening, she and Caylee were playing just fine, and then Haley followed me into the kitchen.  Caylee followed right behind her, and touched her on the back (not a slap or a grab--literally just put her hand on her), and Haley spun around and went after Caylee.  She knocked her down and bit her face and didn't stop until I yelled and grabbed her, which fortunately was pretty quick since I was standing right there.

Caylee is fine.  We took her to an urgent care clinic and they superglued the deeper puncture.  Everything else is healing up fine, and she shouldn't have much of a scar.  It could have been so much worse, and we are grateful it wasn't.

I wish Haley had growled or given me some sign so I could have stopped her, but there was no warning.  While Haley had been a bit unpredictable around new dogs, and would respond in kind to aggressive dogs, she never exhibited unprovoked dog aggression until September, and had never exhibited any sort of human aggression until Monday.  She had growled at Caylee once or twice in the past, and snapped a couple of time when Caylee hurt her accidentally--both normal dog communications that Caylee had done a good job of learning to respect--but she never gave any sign that she would actually hurt Caylee, especially without any provocation.  She was always patient with her, and would go behind the couch or to the bedroom if she didn't want to play.

With this incident following so closely on the heels of her attacking our cousin's dog, we knew that we couldn't keep Haley.  Though it was very tempting to rationalize doing so, Caylee's safety, especially in her own home, takes priority.  Besides, any plan we could come up with for keeping her would have inherently decreased Haley's quality of life in our home.  We tried to get her into a non-kill shelter or rescue group to rehome her, but because of the incident with my cousin's dog, and especially because she attacked a child, no one would take her.  We talked to friends and family, but no one was in a position to take her.  We talked about putting her up online, but couldn't bear the thought of her ending up in a bad home, or as fight dog bait, or possibly attacking someone else's child, or grandchild.  We talked about training as an option--the problem is there was no observable trigger either time.  It wasn't a pattern of aggression, but instead moments where Haley just unpredictably snapped.  I really think something was starting to go wrong in her head.  So, we made the best decision we could among all the bad ones, and chose to have her put to sleep at our vet's office, which she always enjoyed going to, with her boy by her side.

I spent the morning beforehand loving on her and giving her treats and ice bones.  Haley was on her best behavior, knowing she had done something wrong, but she was her happy, normal, cuddly self.  She was my big cuddle bug velcro dog, so I cuddled her a lot.  I brought Caylee downstairs to hug her and say goodbye, so that Haley would know that Caylee was ok and not mad at her and so that the bite wouldn't be her last memory of Haley (for however long her memories of Haley last).  Caylee wasn't afraid at all, and Haley nuzzled her.  Bryan took her, and was with her the whole time.  He got to love on her for a good hour before the procedure itself, and said she wasn't ever scared, just the normal vet office slight nervousness, and that it was very peaceful.

We are pretty torn up right now, and Annabelle is pretty sad and confused, but time will help.  Soon we'll be able to look back at our time with Haley, and it will bring comfort and not sadness and regret.  I miss my dog, and am heartbroken, but she attacked my child--Caylee comes first, period.  Anyway, if you're still reading, feel free to stop here.  As I've said, it's not something we really want to discuss or talk about much.  That said, for my own processing, I'm going to make a list of all the things I'll miss about Haley, and my favorite memories.  Feel free to read them, or not.

I will miss her jumping into bed in the mornings, after Bryan went to work, and cuddling.
I'll miss how soft her fur was, especially her ears.
I will miss the adorable way she perked her ears forward when we said one of her words (even words like bro-co-li), for all the world looking like the 6 month old pup we first brought home.
I'll miss how high she could spring into the air, and the looks on people's faces when they saw her jump for the first time.
I will miss how she would lay on the stair landing while we were upstairs with the baby, or when one of us was upstairs and the other was down, just so she could keep an eye on all of us.
I'll miss the way she would let me know when the baby way up from her nap, even before the monitor picked it up, by coming to get me or by sitting on the stairs and staring at me.  I'll miss how her she would jiggle her legs while sitting on the stairs.
I will miss her low bark when she wanted to go outside and we weren't moving quickly enough, and her loud bark when she heard something in the yard at night.
I'll miss how she would always lay on the bed or outside the bathroom door while I was showering, just to make sure she knew where I was.
I will miss the way she loved to go on walks, and it will always haunt me a little bit just how excited she was to go on leash and go to Bryan's truck, and ride away shotgun style.
I'll miss the way she greeted us at the door, and how she would tell us when it was time to go to bed.  I will miss the way she would come back out and lay on the couch beside me when I couldn't sleep and decided to stay up and binge watch TV.
I'll miss the way she would go to sleep behind the chair in our room, only to get up after we were all in bed and kick Annabelle off the pillows on the floor at the foot of our bed and curl up.
I will miss watching her run with Annabelle in the back yard, doing laps.
I'll miss the way her head popped up in the backdoor window when she wanted to come inside.
I'll miss they way they wrestled and played together, and the way they would hunt lizards in tandem.  I will miss the way they would always go to "their" bowls--there's only one bowl now.
I'll miss the way she took her time to eat, then drink, then go outside.
I will miss the way she was always underfoot in the kitchen, and the way she would curl up in my lap, or lean against my legs.
I'll miss watching Caylee hug her and watching them play.
I will miss hearing her "sing" with Annabelle when Caylee cries/screams, and I'll miss hearing Caylee say Haley's name as she slowly fades from her day-to-day life and memory.

I'll never forget how she loped up to Bryan when we first went to see her, and how she sprawled in his lap.  She jumped in his truck without hesitation, sat in my lap in the front seat, and didn't look back.  She wore the collar she had on that day every day, and would get very affronted if you took it off of her.
I will never forget when she caught the sparrow in midair, and was so proud of herself--and was so confused as to why I was crying.  I'll never forget when she came back to camp at the ranch holding a deer leg, looking as if she'd just done the best thing in the world by raiding a deer dump.
I'll never forget her wading into cacti to get at the turkey buttermilk that Bryan had dumped there.
I will never forget how beautiful and strong she looked when pointing at birds.
I'll never forget how she mostly clipped her own nails by biting them off.
I will never forget how she loved her walks, how she played with Penny, and Dixie, and Tiberius and Abby.
I'll never forget the way she loved her jingle tire ball, and how confused she was about playing fetch outside instead of inside.
I will never forget her running full speed down the length of our first married apartment and the entry hall in our home, and not being able to stop.  She would skitter and slam into the door, get up and shake and jump around, and then do it again.
I'll never forget her nervous tick when we first moved into our house--she would stand next to a wall and tap it with her foot.  We had Haley footprints under our dining room window until we repainted.
I will never forget coming back into the house, after forgetting something on the way out the door, only to find Haley standing on the dining room table, trying to see out the window to see where we had gone.  And I'll never forget her and Annabelle howling together when we would go on a walk without them--we could hear them clear around the block.
I'll never forget how, after I swatted her with a wooden spoon one time, she found the spoon in the sink and shredded it--and had a vendetta agains wooden spoons forever more.
I will never forget her stealing most of my carefully-made crab cakes--off of the island, without moving the plate an inch.
I'll never forget her doing her tricks for cookies.
I'll never forget the way she would flip her head upside down to look at me, instead of just turning around, especially when I had stopped petting her without her permission.  Her ears would flop back and then she would head butt my hand until pettings resumed.
I will also never forget the times when I was reading a book instead of paying attention to her, and she would insert her head under my book and throw her nose upwards--sending my book flying across the room--and then lean into my legs and put her head in my lap.
I will never forget her cuddling me when I was on bed rest, and how she would rest her head on my pregnant belly, or the way she and Annabelle would supervise feedings and diaper changes when Caylee was tiny.

Rest in peace, sweet Haley dog.  Putting you down is easily the hardest decision we've ever had to make.  I don't know why you snapped and attacked Caylee, and I don't understand, but you were incredibly loved and are and will be sorely missed.  Good dog.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

ActemRA Update

SUCCESS!!!  Sort of lol.

Actemra is working, for the most part, and I'm doing better than I've been since before going off of everything to start trying to get pregnant, and I've even been able to start a moderate, very low-impact workout regimen here at home.  I'm not doing as well as I did when first on Remicade, but I'm also not on my max dosage.  And that is the part of all this that has been a success.

On the "sort of" side of things, my liver enzymes are being stupid.  By that I mean they keep going up.  They aren't at "oh-my-god-stop-everything" levels yet, but it's definitely something that is concerning enough that Dr. C is continuing blood work monitoring every 4 weeks.  Additionally, he has decided to keep me at my current Actemra dose until/unless my numbers come back down.  Or, at the very least, stop going up.  The other "sort of" is that I am still on methotrexate, and Dr. C is not overly optimistic about me ever being able to stop taking that little brat of a drug.

All that said, I'm still feeling cautiously optimistic about Actemra.  I'm doing my part to try to get those pesky liver enzymes to come back down by cutting down my alcohol consumption--which I know I'm not technically supposed to enjoy anyway.  I normally don't have more than, say 5 drinks in a week; however, now I am trying to cut back to only 1-2 drinks a week.  So far I've been successful!  Additionally, in the trying to increase the effectiveness of my current Actemra dose, I've been refocusing on my weight loss efforts.  I'm trying to be more aware of what and when I eat, making the choice to be more active throughout the day, and by engaging in the aforementioned workout regimen (courtesy of Fitness Blender) in an attempt to boost my energy level, lower my stress level (sans wine lol), and, of course, lose some weight.  Daniel and Kelli, a husband-wife team of professional trainers, make and share free workout videos.  They also sell workout regimen PDFs organizing their videos according to specific health and fitness goals.  The one that I am following cost about $5 and is a 4 week low-impact workout routine meant for both beginners AND for people with health issues.  Hey look!  I'm both of those lol.  Anyway, they are very big on proper form, listening to your body, and working out according to your individual ability--all of which are attitudes that I would expect and require of in-person personal trainers.  I'm enjoying it so much that I'm going to cancel my gym membership--saving $42 a month--and I'm already seeing results after only a couple of weeks!  Suffice it to say, I'm very pleased with my $5 purchase.

For the immediate future, I'm going to continue to implement these health changes as consistently as I can, and hope that my pissy little liver calms down.  Ideally, I will be able to get on the larger dose of Actemra in the coming months and see even more improvement!  Fingers crossed!

Monday, April 21, 2014


Well, my Remicade is crapping out on me.  It has been slowly losing effectiveness for several months now; however, within the past two months, that process has started to accelerate.  My rheumy let me know that we should start looking at other options back in October, but I just couldn't let go of the hope the it was just a lull in effectiveness.  January and February disabused me of that hope, and March and April have only clarified the need to try something else.  After looking at the options my doctor presented, I'm about to start Actemra this week, provided that all the insurance stuff goes smoothly.  It's an IV infusion, like the Remicade, only much shorter, lasting one hour instead of 3.  It also targets a different part of the immune response (IL-6), and so, hopefully, will have a good chance at succeeding where Remicade has failed.  So, it looks like I will be starting my 4th "big boy" drug--methotrexate, Enbrel, Remicade, and now Actemra.  

I'm scared.  And feel silly for being scared.  It's not like this is my first drug switch, or even my first IV or biologic medication.  The side effects are basically the same as Remicade, with a few new rare ones thrown in, just to keep things interesting.  I seem to be an ideal candidate for success, according to both my independent research and my doctor's opinion.  I guess it's just that whole "fear of the unknown" thing, combined with the fear of failure.  I'm tired of drugs ceasing to work, and it scares the hell out of me that my body seems to burn through them much faster than normal.  Enbrel was supposed to be effective for 5 years--I burned out in 2.5.  People stay on Remicade for 10+ years--I'm switching after a total of less than 4.  Granted, that might be due to going off of it for the pregnancy and then trying to restart it again, so, my bad, I guess lol.  Not something I regret even a little bit, even now that I'm facing another switch.  I would just really like Actemra to work, work well, and work for awhile...and so I'm scared it won't.

The good news is if, worse case, Actemra doesn't work, or stops working, we still have a couple of other options on the table, and more options are being developed on a yearly basis.  Hopefully, the speed of medical advancement will surpass the rate at which my body adjusts to the current drugs.  At some point, I'll probably have to become a guinea pig, so to speak, but I keep holding out hope that day is pretty far in the future.  Kind of like the possibility of ending up in a wheel chair or the reality of a future elbow replacement surgery--I'm planning on putting that shit off as long as possible.  After all, what am I, if not the queen of procrastination? ;-)

Anywho, on the upside, going on Actemra means there's a high likelihood that I will be able to STOP methotrexate all together, and seeing as I wanted off that med even before I started taking it, that's enough of a bright spot to help dispel the encroaching gloom of another failed drug.  So, hooray for Actemra!  Here's hoping you prove my fears to be unfounded, and my particular pain-in-the-ass case of RA to be no match for your medical might!  

And so, my journey with RA continues.  Time to take the next step, and start making phone calls to ensure the bureaucratic paperwork part goes smoothly.  Wish me luck!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Expanding My Craftiness

Exciting news!  I'm not as completely hopeless at making things as I've always believed myself to be!   Lol, seriously though, I'm starting to learn another craft, in addition to knitting.  While knitting is my first love, and I'm definitely keeping busy turning yarn into finished products, I have found another crafting love.  My amazing husband knocked it out of the park with his Christmas 2013 gift to me--a shiny new sewing machine and a class to go along with it!  The class was taught at the local yarn shop by one of my friends, and by the end of it, I had successfully completely a placemat!  Since then, I have also made a lined drawstring toddler backpack for my nephew's first birthday, and helped my friend Julie show a quilt top!  I have a few other things I want to make too, and I'm very excited to have added another craft to my hobby list!  The only downside is that sewing is shaping up to be just as addictive of a hobby as knitting is...I stayed up until 4:30am working on the backpack without realizing it!  While I can definitely stand a little sleep deprivation for the sake of the craft, my wallet just sighs--fabric and yarn are definitely going to eat any discretionary funds I can squeeze out of my budget!  Anyway, here couple of pictures of the drawstring backpack I made!


Upcoming Knitting Projects:
MORE baby hats lol
A couple of shawls
Finishing a couple of almost-done and just-started projects
A slouchy hat

Upcoming Sewing Projects:
A drawstring backpack for Caylee
A stuffed dino for Caylee
Possibly starting my first quilt!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Where in the World Does The Time Go?

Hello to anyone out there reading this!  I can' believe my last post was in September, and here we are in April already...and I promised myself I would do a better job at keeping this blog updated!  Oh well, nothing to do but try again, I suppose.

Let's see...I guess I'll start with October.  HI made Caylee's costume this year--she was a zebra!  Unfortunately, we were all sick on Halloween itself, so I just let her run around the house in her costume lol.  November brought the birth of my cousin's second kiddo, a beautiful little girl we'll call R.  That same month, however, also brought the hospitalization of my Papa.  We stayed in town for Thanksgiving, and family came in for Christmas.  Bryan's birthday was a lot of fun--dinner and a movie with some friends.  Papa's surgeries all seemed to go well, and we even got to visit him Christmas Eve with all of my dad's side of the family, minus some of my cousins who were out of state.  New Year's was a pretty laid back affair, and 2014 got started.  We all got sick again, which seemed to be a pattern--Oct, Dec, Jan, and Feb too.  My birthday came and went--dinner with lots of fun folks and realizing that I'm only a year away from 30 lol.  We all hoped that Papa's recovery would continue making progress; however, it did not--he continued to have major set backs, and he finally came to the end of his journey with us.  He passed in the beginning of February; however, Bryan and I and the baby all had a stomach flu the week of the funeral and didn't get to go.  That was very difficult for me, to not be with my family to say our last goodbyes, but at the same time, I know that Papa was already gone, and I like to believe he and my Dee Dee are keeping an eye on those of us still here.  Before I knew it, it was suddenly March.  Caylee and I went to Fredericksburg with my parents to visit my Gan Gan for a week, and had a wonderful time seeing family and enjoying being in the Hill Country.  Now, it's April--well, that got us caught back up fairly quickly!

Caylee is 20 months old today, which I can scarcely believe.  She knows how to count 1-10, can say all of her ABCs, knows how to spell her name verbally, speaks in sentences and phrases, has several books mostly memorized, and doesn't stop moving until she's asleep lol.  She's not quite ready for potty training yet, but I think it won't be much longer before she is--at the very least, she's getting to where she enjoys sitting on the training potty we bought her to read books lol!  Bryan and I are extremely proud of her and constantly amazed at how quickly she learns and grows!  Speaking of proud, I'm sure proud of my hubby as well--he is now working on his Masters degree while working full time and taking care of us!  He's pretty much fantastic :-).  Anyway, that completes the family catch up for now!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Caylee's First Birthday and Other Awesomeness!

I know, I know.  I said I was going to be better about updating this blog.  In my defense, the past two months have been awesomely busy.  Or busily awesome.  I'm not sure which, but both seem to fit.  Let's review the highlights!

August 16 was Caylee's first birthday.  That's right, I am now the mother of a one-year-old!  Since her birthday fell on a Friday, we planned her first birthday party for the next day: Saturday, August 17.  The party theme was sock monkeys and the colors were red and pink.  Caylee's Aunt Julie made her a red and pink tutu to go with her special birthday onesie.  

In my family, the tradition is to invite everybody to the first birthday party.  So that's what we did.  We invited great-grandparents, great uncles and aunts, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and all the cousins driving there from.  And of course we invited our friends that we consider family as well.  When was said and done, the best guess count was that we had 60 people at my house the same time.  Fortunately, the weather was beautiful, so we got to make use of our back porch and pergola.  It was barely controlled chaos, but a complete blast!  That said, I'm glad we only do that for first birthdays lol. 
All in all, the party was a complete success.

The next weekend, Caylee got to spend time with her Ganma and Grandpa while Bryan and I headed for San Antonio!  It was our first "just us" get away since before I was pregnant.  We took advantage of a LivingSocial deal and stayed at a wonderful bed-and-breakfast called the OgĂ© house.  

We ate from food trucks, went to the zoo and the Riverwalk, had dinner, drinks AND dessert with Gina and Stephen, and took part in San Antonio's Culinaria restaurant week.  It was an amazing weekend, and Bryan and I really enjoyed the chance to be just us for a while.  We love Caylee more than anything, but it was really nice to not be "mama" and "dada" for a couple of days and to, instead, focus on enjoying time as best friends and spouses!

Kaylee had her 12 month check-up the week we got back. According to her doctor, she's the picture of health!  

In September, Bryan's Papa invited us to go to the A&M-Alabama game on the 14th.  Whoop!  We excitedly accepted.  Normally, Caylee would have stayed with my parents; however, they were on their celebratory "We're retired!" trip to Colorado.  Fortunately for us, Caylee's Aunt Alicia offered to watch her for the day.  It was Caylee's first time staying with someone other than my parents for a 12 hour+ period, and I was slightly nervous as to how she would behave. However, my concern was completely unfounded! According to Alicia, Caylee behaved wonderfully and had a wonderful time to boot.

  Bryan and I also had a wonderful time at the game!  Even though the Aggies came up one touchdown short, it was still a very exciting football game and they played very well.  I tend to get very excited during football games, so I was pretty hoarse for the next couple of days!  We were so grateful to Papa for inviting us!  It was definitely the can't-miss game of the season!

At the beginning of September, Bryan also started his first graduate course.  This is definitely required some adjustments to the family schedule, but it is more than worth it!  I am so very proud of him!  That pretty much catches us up on the highlights of the past two months.  

In between the highlights has been our normal day-to-day living. I can't believe I'm the mother of a thirteen month old!  This past year has gone by way too quickly.  That said, I love watching her grow each and every day and love the excitement and proud look in her eye when she makes a new discovery, learns new word, or gains another ability. The newest ability is using the handles on our family desk as handholds to scale the cabinet in order to see the computer.  Her rock-climbing Uncle Austin and Aunt Fanny will be so proud!  

I'll end with a video of her next-to-newest word.  I'm so proud of my munchkin!



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