First I want to welcome the newest member of our family:
Beela is part Beagle and part Basset. Or something. She is a lovely, sweet and patient family dog.
Beela is the ending to a story that most people who love dogs and rescue dogs know. The story starts with a person going to the shelter to meet the cute puppy whose picture she saw online (the puppy who has 10 other admirers lined up while the older dogs watch from behind their hurricane fence cages). It ends with the right dog finding the right person at the very moment when the two need each other most.
After getting in line to pet the cute puppy, I walked down a silent row of mostly empty dog cages and paused in front of one that read, “My name is Junie B. I am 1 year old.” Junie is the nick name of Sophie, a very brave little girl who is fighting brain cancer and the daughter of my good friend Jenna Vincent–read more here. So of course I had to stop and see the dog who had this name. And to my surprise, this dog had “the look”. Dog people know the look, especially those of us who have done more than a few rescues. That look.
Here is how she responded to me:
Of course it’s different once you have kids. Adding a dog is higher stakes. No one at the shelter knew anything about her. All they knew was that she had transferred from another shelter, and that she had been a stray. They thought she “might” tolerate kids. So we brought the kids in to meet “Junie B” to make sure she was a kid dog.
Amazingly, in that pee-smelling, stressful, busy adoption room at the shelter, “Junie B” had the most gentle demeanor and even gentler mouth with all of us. Taking snacks from our hands, she was calm and polite. She made eye contact and loved to be touched. She was clearly a keeper. And YES, emphatically, she is a kid friendly dog. Here she is being a great kid dog:
We named her Beela because there is only one Junie in my life, and clearly the universe was using that name just to get my attention.
settling in to the good life.
Things I love
the way reading Tin Tin has translated into Sufyan’s real life. He winds up to run like a drawing of a superhero about to speed away.
the feeling of having a home.
our new public library.
that they held hands in their sleep (even though they torture each other when they are awake).
pretend play (here with dress-up shoes as phones)
Laila’s method for choosing an outfit–lay it all out and walk around the bed saying, “hmmmm” while tapping her bottom lip with her index finger.
dress up play!!!!
I know. She’s the princess in every shot. And in reality. I swear it must be innate because not only am I a self-proclaimed anti-princess, but we do not have TV, do not watch regular cartoons, and my kids don’t go to any kind of school or care situation. And still, she’s the princess. Every. Time.
(Laila and her favorite friend dressing up)
making them natural versions of comfort food (raw macaroons, vegan rice crispies without refined sugar, and our version of Lara Bars which we call, “Mama Bars”.
I love that chalk gets brighter on wet pavement.
ear protectors to help us deal with loud noises, which now includes Beela’s barking.
I love how goggles make us fearless of water.
improvised face painting while Mama wasn’t looking (yes, that’s marker)
the look on Laila’s face when my mom gave her her very first doll. First doll ever. Oh MY GOSH it was adorable how she fell instantly in love.
And I love this man.
He’s the best father and partner I could ever have imagined. At times recently it seems like he’s carried us all. Really.
There have been so many nights that I have had to go to bed at 6pm and by 9pm after he’s gotten the kids fed, bathed, and put to bed (not to mention worked a full day) he comes in to take care me while I go through the depths of nausea and pain and fear. He’s been my rock.
(Getting chased by kids with water guns in the back yard.)
the way Laila thinks quickly. She’s a little imp. I put her on the hood of the car for a moment to grab my keys out, and literally 1 second later she was sitting defiantly on top of the car. Look at her face and her Baba’s face as he tries to get her back down… says it all.
And I love that my mom came to stay with us and help us through this time.
Karmic Spider. How a spider changed my life, at least for now.
So my Lyme doc re-ran the test for Brucellosis because he “had never seen a case” and it must be a lab error. This was in June. In July I got the results that in fact again I am positive for Brucellosis. I called Dr Lyme with the results, and he basically told me he doesn’t know how to treat, would look it up, and not to worry he’d see me again in 3 weeks. WHAAAAAAAAAT? It took me 1 minute to find Brucellosis on the CDC website and learn it infects brains. And spines. And any organ. I am NOT waiting 3 more weeks!
Ok, so I got off the phone shaking my head in disbelief at the lack of action and care. I called an Infectious Disease specialist and spoke at length to the nurse who told me to go to the ER if I felt “at all” worse in the week it would take for me to be seen. “You sound sick,” she said. Yes. I am.
Got in to see an ID doc who looks over my extensive chart and notes and takes me off all the antibiotics Dr Lyme had put me on, and puts me on 2 others to treat the Brucellosis (Doxycycline and Rifampin). He orders a bone scan.
On Thursday I had the scan. 3 parts. Part one is to get injected with a radioactive tracer. Let me not linger over that, because it is horrifying. I don’t care that it’s “less radiation than blah blah blah” the bottom line is I get injected with a radioactive material. Part 2 is pictures of my veins disseminating the tracer. Part 3 is to go home and wait for 4 hours and return to get pictures taken and a 3D CT scan.
So I am waiting the 4 hours and during that time I managed to get bitten by a spider. On my hand. With the welt coming up encircled by red and lines going up my veins, the nurses at the scan told me I should go see my doctor right away. Ha ha ha! Thanks, Universe! I thought. Because I need another thing to worry about.
So after the scan I walk to the next building to drop off the pictures at my Infectious Disease doctor’s office. While I’m there I ask if a nurse might look at my hand. I am seen by a doctor. Doctor Clear, I’ll call him. Dr Clear isn’t concerned about the spider bite but he is curious about my diagnosis of Brucellosis. He is the ONLY doctor I have talked to who has ever treated a human case of it, and he doesn’t think I exactly look like a Brucellosis patient (ie I can walk, talk and exist outside a hospital). And he took an interest in my case. He asked lots of questions. He spent 45 impromptu minutes with me right then and there. He answered my question about the timeline of this infection (it doesn’t match Brucellosis) and he tells me that basically he doesn’t think I have it. He mentions better blood tests to find out and at the end of the visit I begged him to take me on as his patient. He agreed and the next day I came back to see him. The result? Bone scan was clear. He really doesn’t believe I have Brucellosis, but he ordered that better test (an agglutination test?) and he came up with some new ideas. Like that it could be TB. A type of TB that is transmitted in unpasteurized cheese and not via droplets. It could easily lie dormant for the year it took for me to get sick after Palestine. He is going to test my thyroid because of all the weight loss (which is continuing) and hair loss (new and gross. Between hair loss and black hairy tongue I am so hot right now). But the biggest thing?
He took me off all the antibiotics. All of them.
So where am I now? Going back to square one. Detoxing my system of the effects of all the antibiotics and seeing what is really my illness and what is the toxicity of the drugs. After all, I have been on heavy doses of all kinds of drugs for 3 1/2 months solid. Doxy, then biaxin and doxy and nystatin and mycelex, then biaxin and bicillin injections and mycelex and diflucan, then diflucan and biaxin and amoxycillin and mycelex, then doxy and rifampin and nystatin and mycelex….
I’m holding my own. I’m keeping a fever journal (no entries yet) and keeping track of my pain and candida infection from the antibiotics.
I feel pretty good, and since Friday I have been slowly feeling like myself a little again. I am scared about what all this means, and what could happen. But I feel that this is the right move.
I mean, I am sick. I have some infection that we don’t understand. I am losing weight and hair and I have EoE and I am being sent to a rheumatologist etc…but at the same time without the drug side effects I am feeling better. So far, so good.
Oh, and Dr Clear also said this: “We will get to the bottom of this.”
He is the first doctor to reassure me that I will get better. That I will recover. I really really need to hear that.
Onward through the fog.