Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Amore means Love

Natalie is in 4th grade and Larissa goes to preschool 3 mornings a week. I scheduled my radiation treatments in the morning before school, thinking this would be less disruptive for my family. The radiation itself only takes about 15 minutes, but it wipes me out. The pain I have in my back and hips makes it difficult for me to roll over in bed or even get out of bed. I still cannot bend over. I also have nausea and vomiting much of the time. The thought of eating makes me feel sick.

I have Zofran and Compazine for nausea. I am taking MS Contin for pain and today my dose was increased to 30mg every 12 hours, with Vicodin every 4 hours prn. I have never taken many meds and now I'm taking so many at once- it's hard to figure out what is working or isn't working. Sometimes, I feel like I could sleep all day...

Growing up, we always had dogs and cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, parakeets, and fish. Mark always had cats. Mark loves cats, but he has asthma and is allergic to them. Whenever he holds and pets cats at his mother's house or my parent's house, he needs time to recover using his inhaler.

Just before my diagnosis, a friend of Mark's asked if we were interested in a puppy. His family has 2 Italian Greyhounds and they just had seven puppies. Mark did some research on them and called my mother to ask what she knew about them.

My mom said, "They are really interesting dogs, but I can't say I know a lot about them."

"From what I have been reading, well, they seem a lot like cats. Short hair. Don't smell. Playful and energetic. Like to cuddle."

"But they are not cats. They are dogs," she said.

"Yeah, I know, but they are very cat-like."

"You should find a way to adopt a cat."

"Not with my allergies," Mark said. "Hey, do you want a puppy?"


Mark and I took the girls to see the puppies. Mark's friend and his wife have 2 sons and a daughter, so the puppies were used to children and had been held a lot. The puppies were playful and precious. One puppy kept coming up to us. She snuggled in my lap. She chose us.

When we returned to see her a few days later, my parents came along. Mark's friend and his wife explained that they weren't planning on having puppies, but now they wanted to find good homes for these puppies, then they planned to spay/ neuter their dogs. By the time the puppies were ready to leave their mother, both my parents and Amy's family had decided to adopt a puppy, too.

My parents already have 2 dogs, Bailey- a yorkie mix- and Buddy- a golden retriever. Their sheltie, Nikita, had died a year ago and we all missed her. Amy's family has Ariel- a shitzu- and Lily- a black lab. On August 10, I wasn't feeling well, so I waited at home with Larissa while Mark and Nan went to get the puppy we had decided to name "Amore." My parents and Amy met there.

Mark started for home with Natalie holding the puppy in the backseat of his cab. Mark had visions of this dog growing up to sit in the front seat next to him- riding along together. Once the car was in motion, the puppy started to cry. Loudly.

Mark called my mother, "Something's wrong with this dog! Do you hear this? What can I do?"

"The puppy just misses her mother and family. Everything is new and strange to her. She is ok. Just relax and try to calm her."

"What? I can't hear a thing over that screeching."

"Mark. Have Nan hold her and calm her. Tell her to try singing softly."

"Natalie bailed. I am trying to get her to sit next to me on the seat."

It was a long, noisy ride with Mark questioning this decision every miserable, earsplitting mile. Then, they got home and Amore was quiet. She was interested in everything outside. We walked her around in the grass on her leash. Inside, we showed her the kennel, lined with soft blankets and new toys. We led her to her new food and water bowl and watched as she ate and drank. We ran her back outside when she started to pee on the floor. We took turns holding her as she slept...

Had I known that day, that 3 weeks later I would be diagnosed with cancer, would I have chosen to adopt a dog? Probably not, but I believe that things work out the way they are meant to be. While I lie in bed, holding my barf-bucket nearby- I can feel Amore breathing softly under the covers, stretched out along my back (taking full advantage of the warm, rosy glow of my latest hot flash). She licks my face. She jumps into the bathtub with me. She noses the cupboard under the kitchen sink until it opens, then she roots around in the wastebasket for treats. I love this sweet, little, naughty dog.

                           Amore (left)  and her sister, Nora

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