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3.06.2015

Seven Weeks With Molly | An Update




Today marks seven weeks since Molly's lymphoma diagnosis.  Back in January, we had no idea she'd make it this far, and we actually had a little bit of a medical scare with her earlier this week.  Monday morning, she was walking around just fine and able to stand at her food dish to eat her breakfast.  Things seemed to be going well so I left her and Gia to their piggy business while I sat down and got to work.  I went in to check on them during my lunch break, like I usually do, and Molly rushed out of her igloo to greet me.  However, I noticed she stumbled on her way out and seemed to be having trouble walking.  She came over to say hello then quickly turned to go back inside, limping and holding up her front left paw.  I tried to coax her out to see what was wrong but she wouldn't move, so I just stayed by their caged and observed her for a bit.  After a few minutes, she came out to get some water but she would not put any weight on that paw.  She wouldn't even stand on it, instead opting to lay down the front of her body and drag her self around with just her back legs and right front paw.  Needless to say, I freaked out.  She was fine just four hours before!

I called the vet to explain what happened and they said that because the change was so sudden, she needed to come in first thing in the morning to be checked out.  They also told me to be prepared for whatever the doctor may find - it could be anything from a pinched nerve due to the enlarged lymph node to a dislocated joint or fractured bone.  Knowing that her lymph nodes were quite large, I started to worry that this may be the beginning of the end.  My worst fear was that the vet would say there was nothing she could do, the tumors would only get worse, and we needed to start thinking about when it would be appropriate to euthanize.  Molly had already made it a week longer than her initial prognosis, with no medical intervention whatsoever, so it felt like we were on borrowed time with her.  I'm not ashamed to admit, I got pretty emotional.  I picked her up, held her in my arms, and told her how much I loved her.  I told her I never want her to be in pain or to suffer but if she had any fight left in her I'd do whatever necessary to make her happy and give her good quality of life for as long as she wanted to stay with us.  I started crying, and almost instantly, she began licking my arm as if she were comforting me.

After a little while, I put her back in her cage and noticed she still seemed to want food, she just couldn't support herself to stand at her food dish and eat.  So I put her food and some hay at the entrance to her igloo and let her lay down while she ate.  She didn't seem to be in pain, just not able to move.  Gia, not one to be separated from her piggy sister for long, came over and laid near the entrance to the igloo, too, and helped herself to some of Molly's food.  Needless to say, Monday was an emotional day and The Husband and I both were pretty depressed Monday night.  We were prepared for whatever the vet may say the next morning but we were trying our best to remain optimistic.

Tuesday morning, Molly was still in good spirits, eating breakfast while laying in her igloo, but still unable to move.  The vet gave her a full exam, checking for fractures, dislocations, sores on her feet - anything that would tell us why she couldn't put any weight on that paw.  She found nothing.  She said she suspected the enlarged lymph node was compressing on the nerves in her leg and that was why Molly couldn't walk.  We had two options.  We could give her a standard pain medication that would ease her discomfort, the benefit being that Molly has taken that pain med before, after both of her previous surgeries, and we knew she could tolerate it well, but it wouldn't really do anything about the actual problem of nerve compression.  Our other option was to start her on prednisone.  In addition to relieving the pain, prednisone is also an anti-inflammatory.  If it worked, it would actually reduce the size of her lymph nodes and slow the growth of the cancerous cells.  The risk, however, was pretty high.  Lots of guinea pigs can't tolerate prednisone very well because it effects their digestive system and causes it to shutdown.  If that were to happen, we could take her off the medicine but there's no guarantee that would reverse the negative effects.  But if it worked, we could potentially give her another few months of improved quality of life!

The Husband and I were really conflicted.  Do we give her the safe medicine even though it means she'd only have a few weeks, at most, or do we give her the risky medicine hoping it'll give her a few months of a happier, more comfortable life?  I asked the vet what her recommendation would be knowing Molly's medical history.  She said that because the lymphoma was at a very aggressive stage and was incurable, she thought we basically had nothing to lose.  She recommended the prednisone.

"Honestly, I didn't think she'd make it six weeks," she added.  Molly has defied the odds with respect to her past medical issues and there's no reason to think she couldn't do the same this time.  So we went ahead and said yes to the prednisone.  I gave her the first dose when we got home from the vet and she spent the remainder of the day resting in her igloo.  She was eating, which was a good sign, but she still wasn't moving around much.  The next day, things changed.  She came out the following morning for breakfast, still limping but able to use her leg and stand at her food dish to eat.  By that evening, after just two doses of prednisone, she was moving around the cage munching on hay and playing with Gia, and by yesterday, after three days of meds, her energy level was back to normal!  Last night she came out for play time, chased her balls around the living room, played with Gia, and munched on lots of red peppers and leafy greens.  She's perkier than before, moving around with ease, and squeaking and purring at the tiniest bit of attention.  Plus, her lymph nodes are noticeably smaller!  At first I thought it was just my hopeful imagination but when The Husband came home from work, one of the first things he said when he saw her was how much "less puffy" she looked.  The tumors are still there, but they're not nearly the size they were earlier this week.  She has to continue taking it everyday for the rest of her life but so far, the prednisone seems to be working!  Our new goal is to get a family photo with all five of us when Baby T finally arrives.  A week ago, the notion was just wishful thinking but now, after seeing how well she's doing with the medicine, another three months with her seems like a real possibility.  We know her health is at a precarious stage and could change at any time, but we're remaining hopeful.  She's a tough little cookie with a strong will to live, so as long as she's happy, comfortable, and relatively healthy, I'm keeping my promise to her to do whatever necessary to give her a good life for as long as she wants to be with us.

xo

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2.27.2015

Friday Five

1 // I have a new nephew!  Levi Jason was born Tuesday afternoon and I, as the proud auntie, immediately went on a shopping spree for cute baby stuff to send him as a birthday present.  He's a handsome little man (as expected) but we're refraining from too many internet pictures at this point.  So I'll show you some of the cute stuff I bought for him instead. :)

H&M baby clothes
H&M


2 // Molly has now hit the 6-week mark since her vet discovered she had lymphoma.  She's officially passed the initial 2-5 week prognosis!  I knew that little piggy wouldn't give in easily.  She still has a pretty hearty appetite, looks generally healthy (clear eyes, shiny full coat), and likes to come out to play with her toys and cuddle on the couch.  The cancerous lymph nodes are significantly larger, though, and they're slowing down her mobility just a bit.  She has a little bit of a waddle to her walk and when she tries to run she does this funny little bunny-hop thing.  On the other hand, she actually wants to run and play so I'm taking that as a good sign that she's not actually in any pain.  The downside to her hearty appetite/limited mobility is that she's gained a little bit of weight recently but I'm not about to put her on a diet at this point.

3 // We're tentatively planning a babymoon for some time in the next month or two and right now, we're between Chicago and Maui.  I know that seems like a no-brainer for some but Chicago has a special place in my heart and I still have a few friends that live there, too, so the decision is a tough one.  (Btw, when did 'babymoons' become a thing anyway?)

Chicago / Maui


4 // We have dinner plans with friends this weekend and it's quite possibly the last time I'll hang out with many of them sans bebe.  Needless to say, I'm super excited.  And a little bit sad/nostalgic even though bebe isn't actually here yet.

5 // And speaking of things to be excited about, I'm already looking forward to Lent being over and we're only about 10 days into it.  The no-sugar thing has been tough but I just realized something making it all the more difficult.  I completely forgot spring is the time for my all-time favorite seasonal candy - the Reece's peanut butter egg!  I'm going to eat about 50 million of them come Easter Sunday.  Okay, maybe not 50 million, but at least a solid dozen.  That's reasonable, right?



PS - I totally saw the dress and white and gold.  Still do.

Happy weekend!
xo

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2.25.2015

Wise Words | A Year Ago



As I sit here nearly six months pregnant with a mini-gymnast doing acrobats in my belly (or maybe he/she is having a wild dance party?), I can't help but think how true this is.  A year ago, my focus was on how I was going to shoot the impending 26 weddings on my calendar and somehow still find time for a vacation.  Now, I'm still thinking about all my upcoming weddings and *hopefully* finding time for a vacation, but thoughts of raising a little human, keeping him/her healthy and happy, and somehow also still teaching them how to be a productive and contributing member of society seem to be taking up the most brain space.  It'll be interesting to see just how different things are this time next year, when that mini-gymnast is a full-fledged 8-9 months old kid!

Are you where you thought you'd be a year ago?  Anything different you didn't expect?

xo

Image

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2.24.2015

Rachel & Kyle | A Lands End Engagement Session

Golden sunlight and clear blue skies, two people smitten with each other, and two fluffy pups smitten with the ocean.  It's the perfect recipe for a totally fun and sweet engagement session!  Rachel and Kyle chose Lands End and Ocean Beach for their engagement photos, two of their favorite locations for hiking and spending time with their sweet little pups.  We started off hiking through the greenery and wildflowers and chatting about wedding plans, honeymoon adventures, and their favorite places in San Francisco.  Engagement sessions are one of my favorite types of sessions to shoot because it often feels like we're just hanging out and getting to know each other, while coincidentally taking random photos in beautiful locations.  It inevitably helps things go more smoothly on the wedding day, both for me and for the couple, because we're already comfortable with each other and know exactly what to expect.  And this session with Rachel and Kyle felt exactly like that - a few new friends hanging out together and taking in the lovely views.

After a quick little costume change for the love birds, we headed over to nearby Ocean Beach, one of their favorite places to take the pups for a family outing.  Of course, by the time we actually got to the beach, the dogs were much more interested in chasing waves than posing for the camera so we let just them do their thing as the last little bit of sunlight settled over the Pacific.  It was a gorgeous evening spent with two kind people in love and two overjoyed pups happily romping in the surf.

More from their Stern Grove wedding coming soon!

engagement photos at lands end

engagement photos at lands end
engagement photos at lands end
engagement photos at lands end
engagement photos at lands end
engagement photos at lands end
engagement photos at ocean beach
engagement photos at ocean beach
engagement photos at ocean beach


engagement photos at ocean beach
xo

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2.20.2015

Friday Five

Trying something a little different this week with five things on Friday. :)

1 // Last weekend, we celebrated my niece's first birthday with a Frozen/Valentine's Day party at the park.  She's the sweetest, cutest, happiest little girl and it was awesome to spend a sunny afternoon with her, her big sis (my adorable goddaughter!), and the rest of the family.  As stressed as I am about all things baby, I'm really glad this little one will have cousins close in age to hang out with.

first birthday party at the park
first birthday party at the park
first birthday party at the park
first birthday party at the park


2 // And speaking of cousins, I just found out my sister, who is also pregnant, is being induced next Tuesday!  She has preeclampsia so her docs feel early induction is the best option.  I'm a little worried for her and hoping everything goes okay, but it's exciting to know my little nephew Levi will be here in just a few days!  So many babies in my life right now...

3 // This no-added-sugar thing has been super tricky, and it's only Day 3.  I know I jokingly said sugar is my crack, but that is a legit analogy.  I've even had withdrawal symptoms - headaches, low energy, moodiness.  Kickin' a bad habit ain't easy, folks.

4 // Gia has been super cuddly lately and while I'd like to think it's because she wants to snuggle with me, I think it's really Molly she wants to be close to.  She used to hate being held or sitting on my lap but on Valentine's Day, she randomly decided it's actually not so bad.  When I hold her by herself, she still doesn't fully relax but when Molly is on my lap, too, she crawls off her pillow and snuggles up with both of us.  And normally Molly is a jealous little piggy and doesn't like me petting them both at the same time, but lately she's been perfectly happy letting Gia snuggle while I hold them.  As a result, Gia's been getting a little more cuddly every day and I love it.

guinea pigs cuddling on lap


5 //  We're planning to see Hot Tub Time Machine 2 this weekend.  I know what you're thinking - "It looks so dumb and with all the Oscar-nominated movies still in theaters, isn't there a better use of your time??"  Maybe.  But I thought the same thing about the first one, then decided late one night to watch it on TV and it has become one of my favorite comedies ever.  The sequel looks equally dumb so I'm hoping it turns out to be just as surprisingly enjoyable as the first.

xo

What are your plans for the weekend?

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