The Nature of Quilters

A quilter often cuts perfectly good pieces of fabric into smaller pieces, and then sews them back together to make something beautiful and useful, snuggly and warm. The best quilters can take scraps and align them just right to make something even more special. It’s those crazy quilts that your grandmother had on her bed – pieces of your mother’s first dress. Part of the curtains that hung in her parents’ living room. Your grandfather’s favorite plaid flannel shirt.

Most quilters add a label to identify their work. Quilts are not disposable. They will be around longer than most quilters will remember making them. A label is useful.

It should not come as a surprise that my group of quilting friends would come to me in a time of need and sew my pieces of life back together into something beautiful. I am humbled and grateful and so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful, talented, caring and generous group of quilters, and that I can call them friends.

This week, my Andi girl had a big surgery, during which the vet performed four different procedures, and none of which were out of the ordinary. But Andi is a rare case and was a high-risk for developing pneumonia during recovery. We needed to watch out for her, and I’m all she has. Or so I thought.

Her village of quilters stepped in to help. I am humbled to share these acts of kindness with you:

One quilter babysat for Andi while I had to work. It was pre-surgery and we were trying to avoid a breakdown which would inevitably lead to respiratory distress and an even higher risk for problems while intubated. That same friend sent her home to me with puppy meatloaf to eat during recovery. She paid $150 toward her vet bill so I could afford her dewclaw removal and a microchip.

Another quilter friend paid $100 toward her bill, which paid for the anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, tooth extraction and allowed me to buy a new filter for her humidifier. She spent the day with me today and bought me lunch. Company was something I really needed after my lonely and long first two nights in uncharted territory.

Today a third quilter friend showed up with two overflowing totes filled with organic, healthy groceries from Trader Joe’s. I have been stranded and couldn’t get to the store. Tonight I had a very healthy and tasty salad for dinner. Sure beat the Pizza Hut I had last night!!! I am beyond overwhelmed by the kindness in this delivery and so glad I don’t have to go hungry tonight!

As I type this, my little love is sleeping under my feet. As I watch her belly slowly and steadily rise and fall again, her breath sounds remain silent with no congestion. I can’t help but feel the threads of my friends pulling tightly around me, closing up any gaps in my seams. What I see and feel around me is beautiful. These acts of kindness have been extremely useful in my life. I don’t know how I would have done it on my own. I would not have been able to do it on my own.

The label I’d like to place on this work-in-progress would say something to this effect:

“The Language of Friendship is not Words, but Meanings.” – Thoreau

Made with love from the kindness and generosity of many friends. – Tamra, Crystal & Sarah

We will cherish this quilt forever.

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Recovery

This recovery post is not about recovering from exercise. It’s also ( thankfully) not about recovering from addiction.

My girl is in recovery after a long day of medical procedures. Spay, dewclaw removal, deciduous tooth extraction and a microchip installation. It was a long day for my baby.

This is a difficult thing to do alone. But I have great friends so I know I’m not completely alone.

Please say a few prayers for my best friend. We would like to avoid a respiratory infection (specifically pneumonia, which could kill her). I’d like all incisions to heal and I look forward to having my training partner back!

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The Hardest Part

I’m at work. I should be working, but I wanted to take a moment to clear my head.

Andi had her surgery today. It was a very risky surgery for a very standard procedure. Because of her condition (Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia), she runs a high risk for developing pneumonia during her recovery. It was a risk both the vet and I decided to take. Even though at 9 months she had still not gone into heat, both the stress of the inevitable heat cycle on her body, and the potential of getting pregnant were too great. If she were to have puppies, chances are they would all have this same condition. It hasn’t been easy to manage, and I would never feel good about finding homes for puppies with a (known) health condition like Andi’s.

The surgery is done. I would not have been able to afford it without the help of friends. I thank you so much for the support, the prayers, the financial backing. It’s been tremendous. Andi’s friend paid for the removal of her dewclaws. She had very floppy dewclaws on her rear legs. I jokingly called them her bunny slippers.. they did make her feet look big and fluffy and white. She had two deciduous teeth removed that were impacted against her adult canines, and causing a lot of plaque build up. She is now spayed, and I no longer have to worry about her going into heat and having to avoid the dog parks or my friend’s dog who is an unaltered male.

Now is the waiting game.. I pick her up in about 4 hours and bring her home to be nursed back to health. OK, she really just needs to be monitored and loved and kept separate from the other dogs in the house until she is recovered. I bought a new filter and solution for the humidifier to help keep the air in our room healthy. Anything it takes to keep her lungs clear.

The same friend who paid for her dewclaw removal made her some puppy meatballs. Andi loves this puppy meatloaf, and this time she made it into meatballs. Andi has a history of being a finicky eater, but no matter how she is feeling, she’ll eat that meatloaf! This should be good.

I am a nervous wreck. I was lying to myself this morning when I dropped her off at the vet with dry eyes. I lied to myself as I sat here getting work done. It wasn’t until I went out to grab lunch and the vet tech called to update me and my heart sunk through my stomach to the dirty ground beneath my feet that I was finally able to acknowledge how worried I am about this next week. I didn’t know they were going to call. I thought they were calling to tell me she didn’t make it.

Truth is, Andi has taken on so many roles since she walked cautiously into my life on October 3, 2013. She has become my best friend, my companion, my campaign, my training partner, my teacher, my coach. She is my snuggle buddy, my greeter, my joy. She has taught me patience. She has taught me diligence. She has shown me what it means to be there for someone, and she has taught me to keep my stress in check. She has brought out the best in my friends who have supported us through this very expensive endeavor. She has brought strangers into my life. She has introduced me to other dog owners. She has warmed the hearts of many, near and far.

She is the best yet most challenging thing to ever happen to me.

Katy & Eyes

The day we first met – September 29, 2013.

Katy & EyesThe day she came to be with me – October 3, 2013.

The Greatest Compliment

I have a great puppy dog. As most of you know, she comes with her own set of health issues, but all of that can be overlooked because she is such a great pup. She has an awesome personality. She is friendly toward everyone, human and canine, young and old, big and small. The dog park is her favorite because there are so many free-running dogs who need herding. She could run for hours.

Yesterday I was consumed by anxiety and worry about her upcoming surgery, where she is a high-risk case and could develop pneumonia from the intubation tube and not survive recovery. At 9 months, she has yet to go into heat. But the spay surgery will prevent the stress on her body and will prevent her from passing the condition onto any puppies.

Yesterday I made a new friend at the dog park. He didn’t know I was having a hard day. I almost skipped the dog park to take a nap, but Andi wouldn’t let me fall asleep so I reluctantly went.

I was talking to this person about Andi and our story about how she came into my life. I said, as Andi ran sprints through the trails at the dog park by herself, that one of the things I liked most about her was her independence. She plays by herself, runs by herself, entertains herself when there’s no one or nothing to play with. He simply said, “you do realize she is that way because of you.”

Later I mentioned how friendly she is and that everywhere we go she is a hit. She greets everyone and everything with such kindness and gentleness. I got lucky. He simply said, “you do realize she is that way because of you.”

I get it. Dogs respond to their “owner’s” personality and to the way they interact with and respond to other humans and animals. I have always allowed Andi to be herself. When she was an 11 pound puppy, I didn’t seclude her in the small dog section at the dog park. I didn’t over protect her. I was always there and paying attention to intervene if I had to, but I always preferred to let her find her own way. And she always has.

I’ve thought more about my new friend’s comments. I struggle to take credit for her demeanor and personality. Because she came to me that way. But I’ve thought about it. Long and hard.

When Andi came to me, she was overly submissive. She would immediately roll over onto her back when anyone even looked at her. Was this out of sweetness? Or fear? She is still sweet, but she is nowhere near as submissive. When she first came to me, she didn’t have manners. She was 3 months old. She didn’t know how to ask to go out. She didn’t know that she could walk when the leash was attached to her. She would choke on her water until she avoided drinking altogether and ended up dehydrated and sick. She used her mouth and teeth a little too much when we played.

It was the greatest compliment to give me the credit for my dog’s friendly and all-inclusive personality.

I’ve often thought about the things I do for Andi not being enough. She has been an expensive dog whom I would not have been able to afford without help from my friends and donations through my GoFundMe account. I often feel insufficient in my abilities to provide her what she needs. She should have gone through a training program. She should have her nails trimmed professionally. Her duclaws probably should have been removed. But who has all that extra money? Certainly not me.

For the first time I was able to understand how much I’ve done for this little girl by providing a loving, safe home. I am gentle with her and stern with our boundaries. I respect her fears and make slow attempts to overcome them. I socialize her daily and exercise her regularly. I have provided structure in her days, and have adapted to her varying health conditions to help her gain weight, take her medication on time and I have provided her with a healthy home environment where she can breathe comfortably and with ease.

What a compliment! To be told my dog is awesome in many ways thanks to me. The more I think about that and other people’s dogs, good and bad, the more I realize how true that is. I always thought dogs had a good judge of character. Now I know that a dog is also a good indication of their owner’s character.

I love this girl even more now. She is just the light of my life.

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Break Fast

This is the end of one of the best weeks of my life. I thank God for the blessings He has given to me. I am thankful for the open heart, open eyes, and new life. We actually broke fast with communion at church this evening which was the most meaningful communion I’ve ever taken part of.

And tonight, as I pictured myself sitting at the table of The Lord, I partook in my first meal in 9 days – homemade minestrone soup and peasant bread from my new favorite local bakery, Baked.

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The Results are In! 7-day Juice Fast

Aside from last night, it’s been a great week.

Last night I was struggling with soreness in my mouth. Had I known this was a side effect of a juice fast, I could have worked harder to prevent it. The tongue sheds layers of excess proteins. The tongue becomes “furry”, and creates the perfect scenario for canker sores. The insides of my lips peeled yesterday and my tongue was sore in several places. I went to bed feeling discouraged, frustrated, deprived, and aimless.

I woke up feeling better, after getting a great night’s sleep. I decided I would take a break from fresh juice today and I swung by the store to purchase some low sodium broth, one each of chicken and vegetable. I also grabbed a coconut water for good measure. So far, the warm vegetable broth is feeling amazing in my mouth. Most of the soreness was gone this morning except one tastebud on my tongue, which is inflamed. It’s amazing how such a small part of your body can create such a big, big pain!

Without further ado, the results of my week-long fast:

3/25/14 weight: 160.4 lbs

3/25/14 BMI: 26.6

4/1/14 weight: 151.8 lbs

4/1/14 BMI: 25.3

Weight Loss : 8.6 pounds

I also measured my chest, waist and hips. I didn’t want to get too terribly caught up in measurements and weight during this fast because that was not my purpose. For that reason, I also chose not to take pictures.

I lost 2 inches on my waist, 1.5 inches on my hips and a whopping 3 inches off my chest (which, yes – was a very good thing).

I noticed the loss in my chest the first and the most, and that actually felt very good. Bigger is most certainly not better.

Will I continue? If you asked me last night, you may have gotten your face bitten off. I was in a rough place. I turned to the comforts of my bed, blankets and heating pad and tuned out the world.

But today I have found some renewal in the vegetable broth. I might break fast early and break with Westside Church. It has been long enough. I have learned a lot. I am now entering a territory that feels uncomfortable, not just physically but emotionally.

I was not doing this for anyone but myself. The rules were my own. I have learned a lot, and gained a tremendous amount. I want to quit while I am ahead, and avoid the downfall into an unhealthy spiral on the other side of this spectrum of self-control. The fast will not be broken until Wednesday evening at the prayer group. I just hope they do not provide pizza.

It has been one heck of a journey!

Thanks for reading.

The Marathoner in Me

It was a tough day today, and the toughness nor the day is not over. Day seven of my juice fast. No different than any other day.

Except.

Yesterday I walked 6 miles, and today my body was trying to repay the debt.

I am very hungry today. My mouth is sore, which I learned is a side effect of a juice fast. Something to do with your tongue shedding and expelling excess proteins.

I wanted to quit but I will not. Both yesterday’s behavior (walking 6 miles on 6 days of no food), and my ability to keep going when the going gets tough is the marathoner in me fighting for the finish line.

I am halfway. When I wake up tomorrow, I will be more than halfway, and I can begin planning for my transition back into solid foods, when I break fast on Tuesday evening. Today I found a great recipe for minestrone soup in the crock pot, so it will be ready when I get home from work.

For breakfast on Wednesday morning I am making myself two poached eggs, and a sliced avocado.

I’m going to learn to make my own hummus, and I plan to make so many more of my own foods than I have in the past year.

Now I am just rambling. I will check in tomorrow morning with my weekly recap on weight loss and measurements, etc.

Please, I beg of you – if you have some healthy recipes for soups, pleas share them with me! Thanks!!