Finally settled in to Rumson NJ

All about the children

I am now, officially, a mother of a 6-year-old. We celebrated Evan’s actual birthday with a trip to Sesame Place with our good friends from San Francisco, Bill and Jessica, and their two beautiful children, Delia and Will. The kids (and parents) had a blast. It is always fun catching up with old friends, and even more fun when water slides and roller coasters are involved.
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But it was not just Evan’s birthday that we celebrated recently. JP’s mother (known to the grandkids as “Gee”), has a standing tradition of taking her granddaughters on their 4th birthday to NYC to buy their first American Girl doll, and treat the granddaughter (and her new doll) to a special luncheon. Since Gee is not in town in April, Erin got to celebrate her 4th birthday gift in August. Erin impressed us all by picking out her doll, and her special outfit, within the first 15 minutes of being in the store. Unfortunately for us, we had budgeted two hours before the luncheon. Needless to say, we found ourselves wishing we had taken the later ferry and slept in a bit longer. Regardless, we all had a wonderful time. Thanks, Gee!

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As I have mentioned in previous posts, the kids have been staying home with me this summer. One day, I received an email from the mother of one of Erin’s friends from Goddard School. Apparently her son, Brennan, said to her that morning: “Do you remember my friend Erin from the Strawberry classroom? I miss her.” Awww. Erin talks about Brennan all the time, too. So we immediately set up a date to get together for ice cream and a little fun time at the local playground. Erin and Brennan had big fun playing together, and Evan was excited to show us how he can get across the monkey bars now. A good time was had by all.

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My four-footed children have also had an eventful few weeks. I continue to shake my head at what is going on with Madison. She has all of the symptoms of Cushing’s Disease — a disease of the adrenal glands which causes an insatiable appetite, endless thirst, a pot belly, panting, etc. But test after test has been negative. The latest test did show some elevated estrogen levels. We’ll be starting her on lignans to help counteract that (which is a similar treatment for Cushings), so I’m hopeful that we’ll see some improvement.

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Tucker has been struggling, health wise, for a year. He had slowed down considerably (he has arthritis), and had started eating more dirt and other things on our walks. I had tests done on him, and it confirmed a borderline thyroid issue. We did a more extensive test, and it was inconclusive. He had some of the markers of hypothyroidism, but the blood results were not typical. We put him on thyroid medicine anyway…but we never did see any improvement. When the doctor confirmed that the medicine was not improving his thyroid levels, we stopped the medication. Something else was causing the issue…but what?

Then Tucker went through a period where he snapped at my children whenever they came in close for a hug. On a few occasions, he actually made contact and broke the skin. This was completely out of character for him, so we went back to the vet. There was nothing obvious…but given his history of seizures, and given the fact that he had started sleeping down in the basement (which was also out of character), some sort of brain tumor was suspected. The only way to confirm would be an expensive MRI, but we held off on that…mostly because we weren’t sure what we’d do with the info. We decided to take a wait and see approach.

Shortly thereafter, Tucker started to show a lack of interest in treats that he used to salivate over. This was odd, but he was still eating other treats, so I did not get too concerned. A few weeks later, Tucker started to show signs of back pain — he stumbled down the stairs and he collapsed outside when I let him out to go potty. So he went on Prednisone for a few weeks. This seemed to re-stimulate his appetite and he stopped snapping at the children. I was elated. Maybe that was all that was wrong after all…maybe he was just in pain…maybe that was why he had been acting so strange.

Last month, Tucker started losing interest in his dog food. At first, I was able to tempt him by placing a few treats in his bowl…he’d end up eating everything. But eventually that stopped working. Then I turned towards sprinkle cheese. The added flavor worked for a few days, but then it stopped. We went to the vet. He prescribed some medicine to help with an upset stomach, and asked me to come back if that did not help. I gave him the medicine and started adding warm chicken broth to his food. This also worked for awhile. Then he started to refuse the medicine. Hiding it in cheese or peanut butter did not help. At first, he would eat the cheese/peanut butter and then spit out the pill. Then he started to refuse the cheese/peanut butter all together. He also stopped eating his food. No amount of warm chicken broth would coax him to eat in the morning, but I would eventually get him to eat in the evening. Then, one day, he refused his eventing meal as well. So we went back to the vet.

Dr. Hines (aka the best vet I’ve ever had) squeezed me in to an already packed schedule last Thursday. I explained how Tucker just was not eating. How he was sleeping so long that there were some mornings when I would have to go down to the basement and coax him awake. Dr. Hines was concerned. When he took Tucker’s temperature and found he had a fever, he became even more concerned. When he began pressing on Tucker’s abdomen and saw the dog wiggle in pain, he became even MORE concerned. He suspected pancreatitis. I authorized blood tests and x-rays. I wanted to get to the bottom of Tucker’s issue.

When the doctor came out, he said the words I had not expected. “Tucker has a sizable mass in his abdomen. I no longer suspect pancreatitis. I am pretty sure this is the cause of his problems.” :-(

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