Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Man's Best Friend

Mackie is a 2 year old pedigree chocolate Labrador.  Although cheeky, strong willed and a bit slobbery, she is beautiful, smart and loyal- a real character that you can't help but love. 

Mr T and I brought her home as a tiny helpless pup and fell instantly in love with her.  We faced 'toilet training'- this was a painfully slow process, but hey, she cracked it!  We got through the teething months (many, many months)- razor sharp little pegs gnawing at your fingers, toes, clothes... the big strong teeth that followed, gnawing on... well... the entire house.  We lost floorboards, carpet, furniture, so many shoes- even bricks from the walls!  If it came loose, she chomped on it.  We faced the sleepless nights of howling and whimpering from the pathetic little creature that needed to be with her pack... right in the bed beside us, in fact.  We tackled puppy bootcamp, learning to 'Sit', 'Give paw', 'Roll-over', 'Put my shoe back', 'Please stop barking', 'We need to get back in the car now...'- I guess we trained each other!  The hard work was so worth it- she's a bit older and she is the most kind natured, loving dog you could ever meet- if still a bit noisy- and we simply love her.

Since bringing home that adorable pup, our lives have changed quite a lot.  With a change in career, comes a change of hours.  The working days were getting longer, time with my best friend Mack was getting shorter.  Ever the perfect companion, she greeted us lovingly at the door day after day, always pleased to see us (and I always imagined to "finally have someone open the door so I can peeeee!"), never destructive, or badly behaved- just there.  Mr T and I are also in a band, so along with the long working week, we also have rehearsals and gigs- yet more alone time for poor Mack.  Other than the odd extended game of fetch, she never wanted anything from us but our time- the one thing we didn't have to spare.  Whilst she never played up, we really felt the guilt of this sociable, lovable pup all alone for so much of her time.  Don't get me wrong- we engineered a fellow couch potato in our Mackie, happy to snooze all day long if needs be- but we knew in our hearts that this was not the life she deserved.  We made the heartbreaking decision to rehome her when the perfect home appeared.  She would have company every day, a fellow pup of a similar age to play with, long walks come rain or shine- we couldn't say no.

After brief visits to both our home and theirs, we dropped Mackie off for our final goodbye.  I did not expect such pain and heartache.  Mr T and I were inconsolable as we made our way home.  We opened the door to our empty house- a home no more.  No greeting, no familiar noises, no scuffle to get in to the hallway... just nothing.  The house looks bare without her and her things.  Our whole routine is gone- our lives were centered around her.  I dread the day when Mr T is out and I am home alone- because I really will be alone.  No pup laying at my feet, shadowing me around the house, pestering me to go in the garden every few minutes.

So the house will be clean and tidy- it may even stay that way until the goblins are around.  We have the freedom to come and go as we please- we've booked a little weekend away and have been able to stop off for dinner on the way home from work- a luxury we couldn't afford with Mack waiting to be fed and watered!  But I'd take it all back in an instant.  I'd give anything to have her come trotting in from the garden, rain soaked and covered in mud and jump on the sofa beside me!

I know it will get easier in time and we are trying hard to focus on how much happier she will be in her new home.  We've seen her with her little partner in crime, bouncing around the garden, just the way it should be.  We know we did this for all the right reasons and she will live a longer, happier life as a result.  We will build new routines and get back to some sort of normality. 

But she has left a huge space in my heart, in my life- I will always miss my best friend.  Always.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The results are in...

Firstly- I've been overwhelmed by the support from my last blog- thanks to everyone for your kind words.

It's been a tough time since going in for my op.  Recovery has been slower than I expected- it turns out I'm not a very good patient!  I love the thought of sitting around watching my favourite programmes and reading a good book, but the reality of it... not so great.  I'm not good at being told 'don't do that', it makes me want to do it all the more.  I realise that this advice is for my own benefit, but those that know me, I'm sure will agree, that I'm quite stubborn.  If I've got my mind set on something, there is very little that can or will stop me.  This, however, stopped me; I've been forced to rest whether I wanted to or not!

But I'm on the mend, back at work and generally feeling quite well.  In fact I popped along to my doctors' surgery this evening to collect a 'fit to return to work' certificate.  I knew my results weren't due until later this week, but on the off-chance I asked if they had heard anything.

"I'll check- one minute..."

Longest... minute... ever!

"Yes, they're here.   It's fine."

Me with a blank expression- "What's fine?  You have my histology results?  What does 'It's fine' mean?"

Honestly, I may as well have been asking for the results of a spelling test!  But I read the notes and saw for myself- everything was ok.  In short, they have removed the abnormal cells and surrounding tissue.  There is no sign of invasive cancer and I have to go for a re-test in 6 months to check for further abnormalities.

I can't explain how relieved I am.  Mr T and I have tried our best to avoid the possible outcome of these results but it has hung over us like a dark cloud.  It's there every hour of every day.  Every decision, every plan we made- it factored into the equation.  It turns out that everything is going to be ok- and believe me when I tell you that I am so grateful, we both are- but I can't help but think of how it could have been.

I've spent time looking into the possible treatments had the outcome been different.  It's heartbreaking to think that for some women, this is the reality.  The choices that these women have made, are making now and will have to make in the future are just incredible and my heart goes out to them.  I will always give what I can to Cancer research charities and I will raise funds for this cause when the opportunities arise.

I've had some lovely messages as a result of my blog and I'm so pleased to say that some women have said that after reading my story they have gone to get themselves checked.  If this is you- thank you and well done.  If you're thinking 'I really should go, it is overdue' please go.  Pick up the phone, get it booked and just go- for peace of mind if nothing else.  The sooner anything out of the ordinary is picked up the sooner it can be treated and you can carry on as normal.

This has been such a wake up call.  I intend to look after myself, to overcome the reluctance to put myself in uncomfortable situations if it is for the sake of my health.  I'm one of the lucky ones.  I'm at risk, so I will continue to get myself checked and keep myself safe- I hope you all value yourselves enough to do the same.