That’s the thought I go to sleep with and the thought I wake up to, every day of these 11 months since Mina’s been gone.

This week has been rough, thinking about last year and how we were spending our last month together, something I knew but couldn’t quite believe. I went to my office at work just nine days in October 2009. Mina needed me at home and I needed to be at home with Mina. I knew then how precious every minute was with her and I wish I had them all back.

Me and the Bean, February 1997

So, I’ll go to the sanctuary this morning and help the other animals because I can no longer help my Mina Bean. She’s happy and healthy and enjoying a life I can only imagine – no sadness, only joy and peace. Mina deserves that after spending her entire life dealing with me and our nomadic life. Hell, she deserves to be Queen of Heaven for putting up with my crap!

How has it been nearly a year? And how many long years before we see each other again?

I talk to her all the time – when I leave our home, when I return, and sometimes I find myself talking to her as if she were here and just as normal as can be. I always talk to her before I go to bed and sometimes I cry. I know she listens with that look on her face that seemed to say “I get it, Mom, and if you’ll just rub my tummy it’ll be OK.”

Mina’s birthday is tomorrow on 10.10.10. Binary code, my friend Pepromene reminds me. Mina was born 14 years ago, the best day of my life (even though I was unaware at the time).

I miss you my sweet little fur face. I miss you as much as I love you. I will love you always.

Truth: I started writing this post a couple of days ago because I knew it’d be too hard to write today.

I can’t believe this, it still isn’t right, it’s just all … not right. I haven’t seen Mina in six months. I can’t really describe how the time is passing because it appears to be geographic. When I’m in our home, where we lived together for three years and seven months, it’s as if I’m in a bubble where Mina is still around. Kinda. I talk to her all the time and I feel like she listens but there’s no sense that she’s disturbed or unhappy, even when I can barely speak for crying. It’s the one place I feel closest to her, though sometimes when I’m driving and I’m quiet it’s as if she’s in the back seat, looking over my left shoulder.

When I’m not at home, time seems to pass at a normal pace so that my life is running on two different clocks.

She’s always on my mind, even if I’m thinking of something else. You see, after 13 years together it’s impossible for all roads not to lead to Mina. Our lives were so intimately connected and that bond isn’t broken, especially in the places we spent our time – home, the leasing office, walking around the property, in my car, out at the winery, or at Auntie Sue’s house.

I haven’t been inside a vet’s office since the day after she died. That’s so weird.

My friends say I’m doing better. I dunno if they’re tired of hearing me talk about her but I’ll talk about Mina for the rest of my life. She is the single most important relationship I’ve ever had (and will likely ever have). I am fortunate to have known Mina for so long, to have spent some years of my life with her, and I cherish that time. Now, if I could just practice all the lessons she tried to teach me! The most important lesson is how to live my life in the moment. That’s how Mina lived and you could see in the joy she expressed so often, even when she was sick. We were happiest when spending time together, and I still have guilt about all the time we spent apart during her too-short life.

I am eternally grateful for the gift of Mina to my life. I hope she feels the same way. Who knows how long I’ll live without her, but I’m sure we’ll be together again some day. I just hoped she picked a part of heaven that doesn’t have any bugs.

Ah, the bugs … Neither of us are fans of the insect kingdom. I remember back when we lived in Crofton, Maryland during the 17-year cicada invasion. At first there were just a few of these enormous, loud bugs flying around, but in a couple of weeks there were gazillions of them. Taking our walks became about dodging these, apparently, blind flying bugs. The sidewalks were littered with their corpses, so Mina would often pull me off the curb and into the street where there seemed to be fewer of them. She never tried to eat one, like some other dogs we knew, and she honestly seemed as grossed out as I was by them!

There are a lot of other memories, of course. I spent the weekend thinking about them, talking to her now and then, and missing her terribly. I can never tell when I cry about something I’ve read or something I saw on TV if the tears are for what I saw or for Mina. Sunday is hard as it was our last day together. The day that Mina pulled all of her strength together and showed me a good time, as so many human and non-human animals do just before they die. It was a miracle that morning and afternoon and one I’ll always treasure for the sheer amount of will it took for Mina to give it to me.

This morning, despite cold temps and high winds and pollen, I walked the route we took that last day together. I smiled thinking of how Mina could be walking beside me, but with a perky step and no age or pain to hold her back. Near the end of my walk I saw a woman from the charity car wash and she had a big, white English Boxer with her. I smiled at them, and he kept barking at me, insisting I come over for a meeting. I obliged and learned his name is Steve and he’s very sweet and young and really liked how I scratched his head. I remember how Mina would bark at people and some would come to see her and others, the people who will never understand or like non-humans, would run the other way. All she wanted was to say “Hey you! come over here and let me sniff ya! Yeah, you!’

Mina Bean, Mina Bean! Cutest girl I ever seen! Mina Bean! Mina Bean! Yo’ bowl betta be clean! (one of the raps I used to coerce her to eat during chemo)

**UPDATE** Mina will stay at VIMP until 3 p.m. Dr. Smith explained that Dr. Birnbaum is in a procedure and hasn’t been able to write Mina’s discharge orders and give her a final once-over. I called back to find out how much my bill will be and it’s not completed but it’s already more than I expected. More than I have in my checking account and I can’t make a transfer until July 1. I’ve used up all my transfers this month. So, I applied online for another loan to help cover the rest of Mina’s chemotherapy. I just hope it’s enough and that I can afford the payments. To say I’m despairing today is true.

Mina is at VIMP where she’ll be until around 11:30 a.m. Right about now, the LVTs are taking her blood and urine to make sure she’s fit for today’s 90-minute infusion of chemotherapy’s nastiest, and most effective, drug.

She didn’t want to stay and even burped up some puke while we waited for her paperwork. The tech came out with some Litmus paper to test the puke and then cleaned it up for us. Mina was shaking when the tech took her to the lab. I feel bad for her because she’s nervous but I know they take very good care of her.

They’ll do a CBC and if her numbers are good they’ll give her the infusion. If not, they’ll call me to come and get her and reschedule it. I put her on the scale in the waiting room and she’s lost nearly another pound this week. I simply can’t get her to eat much of anything, despite the mirtazipine. I told them this in the form I fill out every week to let them know how she managed the last chemo.

If she does get the doxo today, it’s going to be a rough week for her. That shit make her feel nauseated all the time, and she eats even less. But next Tuesday starts her rest week so I’m hoping to shovel as much food down her as possible before we start the third quarter.

As for me, I’m running out of money and it’s causing me enormous anxiety. I talked to Dr. Cliver last night, one of Mina’s regular vets, and I told her that if we both survive the chemo it’ll be a miracle. I honestly had no idea – NONE – how difficult this was going to be for Mina and myself. Mina’s a champ, she’s doing the very best she can, but I’m the worst cancer caregiver on the planet. I don’t sleep much, I’m cranky, and I can’t concentrate for very long. Last week was supposed to be a vacation, but I swear that Mina was depressed when I didn’t go to work yesterday. I think she needs a break from the constant insanity of my anxiety.

More later when they call me.

s.

It’s a good thing Mina is popular with all of her vets because I am certain they’re not so fond of me.

I called VIMP this morning because Mina just won’t eat anything in her bowl and she didn’t show much interest in my breakfast this morning. She slept most of yesterday but we did take three walks around the property. I don’t know where she gets any energy on the very few calories she’s taking in.

Dr. Birnbaum’s LVT explained that when Mina came in for her staging appointment that she was already down to 50 pounds. So to VIMP, she’s only lost a little more than a pound and it fluctuates back and forth. That’s why they’re not worried about her weight loss. I explained that in late February when Mina first started rejecting her food regularly, she weighed 54 pounds so, to me, she’s lost six pounds overall. At least now I understand why VIMP is so casual about Mina’s bones sticking out all over.

Dr. B. also called in a prescription for Mirtazapine again, so I’ll pick that up today and start her on it tonight. That’s the anti-depressant known as Remeron, that she takes before bedtime and wakes up ready to eat. It helped her appetite back in May so I’m hoping it will help again. Can’t hurt if it takes the edge off of Mina’s anxiety, either.

This morning we walked for nearly 25 minutes! Not bad for an arthritic cancer patient of 12.7 years. She wasn’t interested in her breakfast, which I served in a ceramic bowl inside her regular metal bowl because my dear friend, Jill, explained that chemotherapy leaves a metallic taste in human mouths and it might be the same for canines. So, I should cook and serve her food in non-metal dishes.

Then, she figured out there are pills in the tofu cream cheese that I made. She spit them out on the carpet, I retrieved them and pushed them down her throat, and Mina promptly heaved ’em back onto the carpet. I lost my temper and yelled at her and grabbed the pills and pushed them all the way down her throat. Then I sat at my desk and fumed for a bit until Mina came over, tail tucked, eyes wide and sorrowful, nudging my leg with her nose.

I petted her for a few minutes and then decided I needed to get out for some fresh air. I went to the Battlefield Park but that mission turned out to be a bust, so drove to the only store around that sells Earth’s Best Organic baby food and nearly cleaned them out of second year chicken and turkey jars. That was only eight jars, BTW.

When I got home we went outside for a quick pee and then I fed her two jars of chicken and sweet potatoes and a jar of turkey and vegetables. It keeps her from starving but it’s not the nutrition she needs. I noticed she’d been scratching the wound on her face so we cleaned that up with some iodine and Neosporin and I put more Vagisil on her ears.

Today we’re going to drive out to Amissville again to pick up our order of Chow Now. Tomorrow, Mina is going to visit Auntie Sue, Uncle Robin and feline cousins Amber and Pearl while I attend a friend’s vegan wedding. Auntie Sue has crafts planned for Mina, which is usually pretty cool. Last time Mina stayed for the day they made a plaque of pink homemade Play Dough and pressed Mina’s paw into it, inscribed it with her name and the year and it’s hanging by a ribbon above my bookcase.

Crappy cell phone picture - it really is pink!

Crappy cell phone picture - it really is pink!

I feel like I’m not sitting inside the roller coaster car sometimes, but hanging on to the last car for dear life.

s.

Mina will likely be glad to not have me around this evening. I’m a mess. I had a panic attack on the phone with her cancer vet, Dr. Birnbaum.

See, Mina’s anemia is much improved and her white cell count is normal. But, Her popliteal and prescapular lymph nodes were palpable, meaning, Dr. B. could feel them. That’s not good.

Then, I set out to get her prescription for chlorambucil filled. She has to take 15 tablets of 2 mg. each ALL AT ONCE.

Can’t find any place that has it, not Rite Aid or Target or CVS. They don’t carry it in any of their pharmacies. I put in three calls to VIMP and Dr. B. answered the phone the third time and was so nice. I’m sure she thinks I need meds, but she calmed me down and said the lymph nodes aren’t worrying her because Mina’s spleen is normal. She also told me the only pharmacy that carries the chlorambucil is in Lake Ridge and I can’t get there in the next hour.

The VIMP budgies talked a lot today!

The VIMP budgies talked a lot today!

So, I’ll go tomorrow and get her meds and give them to her immediately. Dr. B. said if her anemia and white cell counts are good next Tuesday, we’ll go ahead with the next Vincristine IV, possibly at a higher dose than last week, despite being a day behind.

Mina lost 0.6 pounds this week despite a healthy appetite. I am not happy about that but I appear to be the only one worried that she’s a sack of skin and bones these days.

See how skinny?

See how skinny?

I hope Mina has a good evening while I’m out and that she enjoys being with people who aren’t afflicted with anxiety disorder. I’ll get some batteries this week and start the tapes again because – clearly – I need a refresher.

s.

… not the new couch.

s.

Updated with photos and stuff.