Monday, January 14, 2013

a Graham update

It's been about six months since Graham was in the hospital, and I wanted to check in with an update on how he's doing.
The overall answer is, pretty good.  He's still at the lean end of what a healthy weight is, despite the fact that we're feeding him more than we used to.  The vet thinks that because he lost so much intestine, his body can't hang onto as many nutrients.  So his morning and evening meals are a little bit larger, and he gets a little bit of peanut butter as a treat most days.  He isn't technically underweight, but he's still about 5lbs less than he used to be.  
He isn't allowed to run, and that's sad but a fact of life.  I know that he misses it, because his eyes and ears perk up when we take the girls out.  The vet told us that he's welcome to run around in the backyard and exercise at the dog park, but extended runs we should probably avoid.  That's partially because of how easily he could become dehydrated, and partially because he's having enough trouble hanging onto weight.  So he gets to play and wrestle in the backyard, but the days of taking him out for 2-4 miles are over.  His 5K PR stands where it is.  I wish I could explain to him why that is, but without a frontal cortex, he'll never understand.
He is extremely spoiled, and I'm okay with that.  He gets to climb up on the bed and snuggle with me after the poet leaves in the morning while the girls go back in their houses.  He comes to work with me while the other two stay home.  He gets a little bit of extra love, because at least once a day I look at him and remember how close we came to losing him.  That doesn't mean the girls are ignored or deprived - hardly - but Graham will always be special.  We fought for him, and he fought for all of us.
As far as the help we received, we haven't forgotten.  It has changed our lives, and that's not an exaggeration.  Before all of this, before I lost my job and we emptied our savings to the IRS and everything that happened to devastate us, we were very financially focused on paying down debt.  I volunteered my time to the golden retriever rescue, but our funds were all being poured into trying to kill off our student loans.  And that's just not true anymore.  It took us until late August to pay off the debt that we had accumulated over the summer, and as soon as we had paid off that debt, we started paying it forward as we had promised.  Every month, every paycheck, a little bit would go into rebuilding our savings account from zero, but another chunk would be donated.  When our house in DC sold, we were able to make a couple of significant donations from the money that we made there.
We haven't quite reached the point where we've donated the same amount of money that was donated to us to help Graham, but we're close.  I talked several months ago about selling my horn, and I'm hoping that the person that is testing it out right now purchases it.  If so, we will be able to donate yet again, above and beyond what we have promised.  Both of us have been working two jobs for several months now, and that is a big part of why we have been able to make these things happen so quickly.
But the poet and I have discussed this, about what happens when we have paid all the money back or forward.  And we've decided that it's not going to stop there.  We do still have student loans that we are working on paying down, but it's more important to us to donate monthly, to remember and be grateful, than it is to pay those off as quickly as possible.  Some people might call this stupid or irresponsible.  I believe it is necessary.  We've decided that we'll continue donating until we've matched the total amount of money that was spent on his surgeries - an amount that is approximately four times as much as what was donated.  And we probably won't even stop there, but that's where we are headed next.
Graham getting sick has changed our lives, in a real and permanent way.  We talked about it this weekend.  Before all this happened, it just wouldn't have occurred to us to donate in this way.  Maybe in part because we are selfish white people trying to pay down our expensive college educations, but I think it's also because we hadn't been affected by tragedy like this before.  And once affected, we will never be the same.  Every time I see something somewhere about a hurt animal or a rescue foundation or everyone someone raising money to fight actual human cancer, I try and send money, even if it's only $10 or $20.  Because someone did that for us, people reached into their hearts to save a member of MY family, and I know how much even the little donations help.  So many times since this has happened, I've heard someone say, "But it's only a dog."  I know that.  I know he is only a dog, and that there are far more important problems going on in this planet than keeping a puppy alive.  But he's also a member of my family.  He is probably the only baby I will ever have.  He saved MY life when he was 7 weeks old, and he didn't even know it, and I'll be damned if I won't fight for his.

26 comments:

  1. I'm so thankful that Graham was and is a fighter. He's your first born and deserves the extra attention. Don't you feel like a golden's eyes almost understand everything you say? I feel like Cooper gets it most of the time and simply chooses not to talk! :) Again, so thankful you baby boy is doing well!!

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  2. Of course you should (and did!) fight for his life. God entrusts us with these creatures - what kind of people would we be if we didn't do everything we could to take care of them? So glad Graham is doing well!!

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  3. They are so much more than "just a dog".

    So glad Graham is doing well, he's so beautiful and you're all lucky to have each other! :)

    Hope your are enjoying CO. It looked cold when we were watching the game!!

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  4. Way to make me cry on my lunch break jerk. Xoxo

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    1. Yep, I teared up too. Hooray for Graham and the whole family.

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  5. So glad to hear that everyone is doing well in your new home. And thank you for such an open and honest update.

    As an aside, my Dad had to have a big chunk of his small intestine removed as a result of blah blah tumor things... For the first year afterwards he had a very hard time gaining and keeping on weight. He did some research and learned that a lot of our nutrient absorption happens in the intestine, and with his shorter, nutrients were just going out. He went to a nutritionist to talk about ways to capture those nutrients in a different way. One suggestion was for him to drink Ensure. It started as twice a day, and now he is down to one. He has found that his body is able to compensate and absorb everything he needs from that Ensure. He jokes that everything else he eats is to be social with whomever he's eating, 'cause the only thing that matters to his body is the Ensure.
    I'm not suggesting that you give Graham Ensure (or maybe you could...?) but it might be worth looking at seeing how he can get those nutrients to allow him to gain weight via something other than regular dog food?

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  6. I pink sparkle heart YOUR heart. Y'all are, as we say in Texas, just good people. Graham included!

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  7. I'm glad Graham is doing well and enjoying his extra attention. I bet he loves spending days at the office with you.

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  8. Thank you so much for the update on Graham. His story, and yours, touched me deeply. Then and now. Maybe because I had been in similar circumstances and know without a doubt that we shouldn't ever have to make those decisions just based on money. I am so glad to hear that he (and you) are recovering so well.

    Love to you, the Poet, Graham and the girls.

    The Kidless Kronicles

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  9. I believe gratitude is one of the most powerful and best forces on earth, and I'm glad you're experiencing it. I hope it outweighs the bad seeing as how it's all my fault. Well, mine and Graham's.

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  10. When one of our dogs had a major medical issue, we threw all of our "rules" out the window. And they've more or less stayed there, but he is healthy and doing well, and I feel that it's a blessing for us that he is still enjoying life and that we CAN spoil him.
    Glad that Graham is doing well and enjoying life with you in CO!

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  11. Love you Graham and so happy to see you are doing well..... Don't know if you are enjoying these freezing temps in CO but that too shall pass and you can play outside once again.

    Sitbones

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  12. I'm not a dog owner but reading your post brought tears to my eyes! What true love you have and what wonderful hearts y'all have!!! I'm glad that Graham is doing so much better!!

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  13. thank you for th update! i am so glad graham is doing better?
    would he like tracking?
    we did that when we adopted our rescue dog. it is a great way to exercise their brain. even a 10-15 minute track will tire them, but it is mentally and not physically.
    email me if you want to know more.

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  14. Awesome story! Dogs have a special place in my heart because of (so far) the one and only dog I've ever had. My wife and I have a catahoula leopard dog named Mandy. She's our baby and part of our little family.

    P.S. Check out Dave Ramsey. I actually heard of him from another fitness blogger. He's a financial guy, not fitness, maybe his stuff will appeal to you. His teachings have really changed me and my wife's outlook on money.

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  15. Still the bestest blog on the internets.

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  16. so glad that your pup pulled through <3 I need an update on how the pups are adjusting to mountain life!

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  17. Thanks for the update my friend. It is a great story and one that brings smiles to my face and heart when I read it.

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  18. so glad to hear he is doing great! What an awesome dog :)

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  19. It's great to hear that he's recovering well. I hope he likes his new home! (I'm a tad jealous)

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  20. Love Graham and I haven't even met him. Glad he is recovering. He is beautiful!

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  21. Yay, Graham :) Please hug and kiss him for me.

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  22. I'm thankful Graham is doing better and thank you for the update - I have been watching for one. What you are doing is a beautiful thing and gives me a lot to think about it my own life and what people have done for me. Thank you for that too. Happy New Year to you and your entire family!!

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    whole thing is presented on web?
    My webpage - Justin Bieber Shoes

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  25. Dogs are family and worth every penny and hug and deserve to sleep on the bed :) So glad Graham is recovering nicely!

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