Saturday, December 18, 2010

Well, Well, Well . . .

What in the world does that title mean? Well, it means that things are going pretty well here!


Steve ate, showered dress and is off to the church to make up for all the time he lost due to lying in bed moanin' and groanin'. (And sprinting back and forth to the bathroom.) He's still eating very carefully so as not to upset the delicate balance of recovery but all in all, he's doing well.

So that's the first well in the "well, well, well."


Even though Snowy did throw up the lovingly prepared chicken and rice I made for him last night, today he ate fairly well (a bit more chicken and rice) and has actually drunk about half the water in his bowl! He's still not real energetic but seems to have a little more of a sparkle in his eyes than he’s had for the past few days.

I'm hoping that he's turned a corner. If he'll just keep eating and drinking (and keeping it down), I'll be one happy doggy mama. (Of course, eating and drinking won’t magically dissolve his kidney stones that are continuing to grow but at least the momentary crisis seems to have passed.)

That's our second well.


I know that some of you were concerned yesterday when I wrote that Sarah wasn't feeling well and that I had e-mailed her oncologist. Let me just reassure you that the symptoms she was exhibiting were more connected with possible late effects worries rather than relapse worries.

I so appreciate your prayers and concern for her.

And that was the third well in our "Well, well, well" line up.




(photo courtesy of “"Let’s Go Digital”)

I actually got up the nerve last night to hit the "buy" button on the computer and finalize my camera purchase. (Nikon D5000). That's a scary, fun, fulfilling, intimidating, exciting, amazing thing to do! It should be delivered between the 22nd and the 24th. Hooray!

We’re having our Christmas program (actually called, “Smitty’s Christmas Variety Show”) tomorrow night at church and Monday morning Nathan is flying in. Our tree is not up and cards aren’t sent and gifts aren’t wrapped so I guess I’d better transform myself into Busy Becky Mode rather than Blogging Becky Mode.

(Much to Snowy’s chagrin. He much prefers my Blogging Becky Mode because it gives him someone to hang out with while he snoozes.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Two Steps Forward. One Step Back.

When I called the vet's office earlier today the lady who answered said, "We're definitely going to want to see Snowy today; I'll have the vet call you back."

When she called, we talked for a while and she expressed her concern again about Snowy not eating or drinking, especially with the way his liver panel had looked earlier in the week. However, instead of telling me to bring him in, she suggested that I cook him some chicken and rice, flavored with a little broth; she wanted to see if it was a matter of him just not liking the (canned) food, or of him being unable to tolerate any food in general.

Well, let me just report that he scarfed down that chicken and rice and even lapped up some of the broth. "Yay! One step forward!"

I took him with me to pick up Sarah from school and get a few groceries and when we got home he started drinking water for the first time in forever. (I imagine the sodium in the broth made him thirsty.) Once again I said, "One step forward."

However, ten minutes ago I walked into Nathan's room and Snowy was on the floor in the corner, throwing up everything he had just eaten. (Last night when he threw up, he had the good manners to do it on the back deck. Not this time!)

I was not precisely in the mood to get down and clean up dog vomit (especially since I had been feeling queasy earlier in the day) but I did it. And survived it.

And now I imagine this means I'm going to have to call the vet again in the morning to let her knew he wasn't able to keep that food down either.

Are we on Plan C here? Or is it Plan W? I've kind of lost track.

In other news . . .

There were a couple questions left a couple days ago that I forgot to answer; I don't remember who exactly they came from.

Question 1: How did Sarah do that style when her hair was piled up?

Answer 1: I asked Sarah and she said that she just used a banana clip in the back and left it "sort of messy." (Hmmm. When I leave my hair "sort of messy", it never looks that good!)

Question 2: What camera/lens did you decide to get?

Answer 2: I'm getting the Nikon D5000 but haven't made a final choice on the lenses yet. Who knew the subject could be so complicated? I'm grateful to Mike, Michaela and Pam (and others) for giving me great advice on the subject and patiently answering my endless questions.

Question 3: Is Sarah home schooled?

Question 3: I home schooled Sarah during the first part of 8th grade since we were in transition. Ever since halfway through her 8th grade year, though, she's been in our local (very small and excellent) public school. She loves it and is doing great.

Thankfully, Sarah was feeling better when she got home from school although I did e-mail her oncologist to keep him in the loop.

And now I'm off to cook up some chicken and rice soup for my other patient, Steve.

Are we having fun yet?

All Sorts of Stuff

Stuff 1:

Happy, happy day!

As of this very moment, thanks to the incredible generosity of my dear Smithellaneous friends, I have in my possession enough funds to purchase a DSLR camera! (The funds came from a combination of people buying our books and CD's, in addition to a few people sending in designated camera/Christmas gifts.)

I have been avidly, frantically and earnestly reading stuff online, e-mailing friends, asking advice on FB and staring at numbers and features and pros and cons till my little brain’s about to burst.

But I am so very excited to have this dream of many years finally coming true. I hope to order today or tomorrow and will maybe even have the camera in time for Christmas.

Hurray and hurrah! Thanks to all of you who have invested not only your encouragement but your gifts into this dream; I will think of you each time I shoot a photo.

Stuff 2:

I told Sarah this morning, “Well, he threw up last night.”

She looked at me thoughtfully, pondered for a moment and said, “Who?”

I had to laugh because I had sort of forgotten we had TWO thrower-uppers around here who go by the name of “he.”

Steve did great last night, apart from being unable to sleep till 4 am. Unfortunately, the “he” who threw up was Snowy. Also, he has not had even one little sip of water in the past 24-hours; his bowl has stayed the same level and we’ve all been watching him carefully to try to catch him in the act. You all provided some wonderful drinking advice which I tried, but he is completely disinterested in his water bowl. And frankly, that really worries me. He also hasn’t eaten since throwing up last night about 9 pm.


It looks like yet another phone call to the vet is on the agenda and I have no doubt that she’ll want us to bring Snowy in. (So nice that we can help her make her BMW payment this month. We’re nice like that!)

In the meantime, Snowy is (of course), settled snugly in beside me and snoozing to his heart’s content. He is such a dear and peaceful companion to spend time with.

Stuff 3:

Sarah left for school this morning with a few physical issues and not feeling well. (Nothing of the contagious sort.) I guess I will stretch my worry abilities a little further and put her on my worry list as well.

Stuff 4:

To give us all a wee little break from the talk of sick family members, here is a video of a song that Debbie, Randy, Steve and I sang at church when they were in town a few weeks ago. I just absolutely love singing harmony with people I love. Nothin’ better!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And Yet Another Short Report On My Two Fellas.

Fella #1

Thankfully, all the voluminous output from Steve’s body has ceased; however, he’s still sleeping a lot, eating very little and actually lost five pounds overnight!  (I’m just a wee bit jealous because it generally takes me at least 4 1/2 years to lose five pounds.) 

My nursing tasks yesterday consisted of bringing him water and making him a poached egg on an English muffin.  Hmmm.  I’m getting pretty good pay for not much work; I’ll have to see if I can hang on to this gig a little longer!


Fella #2

As far as I can tell, I think Snowy is doing better.  He ate with a really good appetite last night although this morning, he took one or two bites (after acting extremely hungry), and then walked away from his dish looking confused.  Or was it bemused?

The thing I’m most concerned about is that he’s drinking very little water, and lots of water is supposed to be our secret weapon for combating these quickly growing kidney stones.   I’ll keep an eye on him today and especially keep track of his water consumption.   I really don’t know why he’s suddenly started to ignore his water bowl when he was drinking in fine camel-esque fashion just a day or two ago.

And just so you know?

I really and truly do promise that I will start writing about other subjects than Snowy soon; right now, however, my Mama Heart is just Snowy-focused.

And he’s just so stinkin’ cute.  I told him to gaze out the window with a thoughtful, pondering expression on his face and look what he did?  Is he the quintessential thoughtful, pondering fella, or what?


He’s a bit embarrassed in this picture because he doesn’t want anyone to see just how badly his mother spoils him and tucks him in and fusses over him; it’s just not good for his masculine self esteem for all that coddling to be seen by the general public. So please, for Snowy’s mental well being, just forget you ever saw this picture. 


He and Sarah hung out a few minutes before school this morning. 



And when it was finally time to take her to school, he got so very happily excited--as this video will show.  Please try to overlook my annoying “excited doggy voice” that I am exhibiting; it’s just that the more excited my voice gets, the more excited Snowy gets. (Even though he may or may not have any idea what I’m talking about.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Short Report on Snowy and Steve

I did finally call the vet about Snowy not eating; she told me to drop by and pick up (yet another) kind of food, as well as a med that will stimulate his appetite. (So now we're having to track FOUR doggy medicines.)

She said if things hadn't changed significantly by tomorrow to call back and she'd see if he needed to be hospitalized again.

He has nibbled around this morning's food a little bit since then but still isn't drinking much. Other than that though, he seems to feel contented and happy. So . . . we'll see.

Steve continues to lie in bed and moan, not to mention groan. I'll lead music at church tonight and someone else is stepping in at the last minute to teach. Snowy can get in bed with Steve and nurse him back to health because, after all, Snowy truly does have the heart of the world's most compassionate nurse!
Snowy's still not eating.

To cheer myself up, I watched this video. Snowy could have been such a star in this song. (Since he does a lot of singing and talking already.) :-)

Smith Men.

Well, I was all ready to write another Happy Doggy Post today since Snowy ate his new food great last night and was bouncing around the house like a frisky puppy.

This morning?  Not so much. He took one tiny nibble of his breakfast portion and then stopped eating. He seemed fairly peppy for a while but he’s sleeping beside me now.


I guess I’ll give him three or four hours to see if he decides to start eating again and then make another Vet Call to see what we need to do.

I think it’s incredibly dear that so many people have been checking in on him over the past few days.   It makes my heart happy to know that we aren’t the only people who love this sweet doggy.  You can see by the stat counter that the past two days have seen a big increase in page views from the normal traffic pattern.  I think we have a celebrity on our hands!


Of course, he’s not such a big celebrity that he’s too important to assist with jobs around the house—like helping his mom and sister wrap Christmas presents.  He was right there in the middle of everything last night--he’s a “paws on” pup!


In the midst of all the wrapping, he took a few moments to have a heart-to-heart talk with his Sis and tell her all about his recent hospital stay. The two of them are Hospital Buds from way back.


They discussed IV’s and X-rays . . .


. . . and surgeries and doctors.


And finally, when Snowy had gotten all of his burdens off his (cute, white) chest he said, “Whew!  I feel so much better now!”


These are a couple packages that he “helped” me wrap. What would I do without him?


In other Smith Male News, Steve was violently sick all through the night--vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sweats, etc.  In fact, he came very close to passing out once. 

So today I shall be his designated nurse/brow soother/bucket emptier and also Snowy’s designated nurse/pill giver/vet caller.

Gotta take care of my men!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm writing this note with a very contented, happy, quiet doggy lying beside me on his red blanket in the big chair.

I got home shortly after Steve brought him home from the vet and I acted like a positive idiot squealing and carrying on over him.

He's on tons of meds and a few restrictions (and to his great horror he is sporting a PINK dressing on his IV site), but all in all, he seems to feel well. He wolfed down the first serving of his new food without a quibble, so that was a big relief.

Thanks to ALL of you for checking in here, for praying, and for sending warmest Snowy thoughts our way.

We're a house of happy Smiths tonight

More soon . . .

Call From The Vet

Snowy had a good night!

He ate a teeny little bit of food this morning and is keeping it down so far. The vet is still waiting on one of the pancreatic tests to come back, but she thinks that his most recent and urgent problems (vomiting, no eating, etc) are diet-related.

She’s going to keep him in the hospital most of the day and keep I.V. fluids going; if all goes well, we can pick him up mid afternoon. He’ll be sent home on an antibiotic, Prednisone, and a liver medicine; she said he’d have to stay on the liver med for the rest of his life.

She’s also putting him on an entirely different “medical diet” from the “medical diet” he’s been on for the past year.

But we can deal with lots of meds and new diets.  He’s alive!  He’s coming home! 

May I just add that it’s pretty easy to tell who the popular member of the Smith family is.  When I checked the page view counter at 10 am, it was already at the number that usually takes until early afternoon to reach.  In other words, you guys are checkin’ in on him often.

He’ll be so pleased to hear that.

Signs of Snowy

(No word yet from the vet as to how Snowy did overnight.)

When I got up this morning and went around the house, all I could see were signs of Snowy.

His favorite chew toy with the squeaker inside.


His sweater.


His food and water dishes. . .


. . . and the unmistakable signs that he scratches his rug, hoping (I guess) to find a whole cache of hidden bones. And you know what I always tell him? Good luck with that.


The red blanket I put in the chair for him so that when he lies down beside me as I write, his little sweet belly isn’t too cold against the leather chair. (Yes, I know. He is spoiled. Rotten.)


The signs of one of his (very) few annoying traits. When we got new rugs for our recent bathroom re-do, he became convinced that there was a bucket full of chicken, steak and hot dogs hidden somewhere in the tufts of the rug and he started digging to find it. We can always tell when his (forbidden) digging has taken place because of the fluffs of tuft that waft out into the hallway.


But with a face this cute . . .


. . . he is quickly forgiven.


Yesterday when I made the appointment to take him to the vet, I told Steve he didn’t need to come with me because A) Steve had a jam packed schedule for the day and B) I was assuming they were going to say, “Hmmm. It looks like the food we gave him last week doesn’t agree with him. Let’s try something new. (Because that’s basically what they were suggesting when I called about bringing him in.)

So I thought, “No big deal. It’s a change-of-diet visit. I can do this alone.”

After Snowy and I had been taken to an exam room to wait, he got extra, extremely, super hyper. The vet does that to him. I would estimate that over a span of fifteen minutes, he got on my lap, jumped down, asked to get back up, jumped down, asked to get back up, etc. at least 50 times. It was very much like spending fifteen minutes with a hyper active toddler. He’s usually a fairly calm dog so I could tell how anxious he was. (I was also relieved to see him displaying that much energy!)

The vet came in, did a quick exam and then said, “With a dog this small and with the serious issues he has, this is ‘sacred time.’ This is time we can’t squander in finding out what’s going on.”

She added, “I know he just had an x-ray ten days ago, but I’m going to do another x-ray, as well as some blood work.”

She gathered Snowy in his arms and as I watched his fluffy white self disappear down the hall into a scary place without me, I got sort of stressed. And emotional. And even though I knew Snowy wasn’t sick enough that we were going to have to make The Decision that very day I still thought, “I wish I had asked Steve to come with me after all".”

About five minutes later, the door of the exam room opened and in walked Steve!

He had just happened to be at the pharmacy across the street dropping off a prescription and when he found out how long the wait was going to be he thought, “I’ll just go on over and see how things are going with Snowy.”

Fifteen minutes later, when the vet returned, I was extra grateful for his presence.


Because when she started talking, I started crying.

She started showing us copies of Snowy’s blood work and the levels that were supposed to be high were low, and the levels that were supposed to be low were high. When she mentioned that one of the kidney stones was bigger, that he had pancreatitis and there were a lot of other issues going on, I just cried all the more.

So basically, the three of us functioned very much like an impressively well-oiled team.

She talked. Steve listened. I cried.

I just couldn’t help myself. I would pull myself together for a minute or two and then she would move on to her next point and I’d be gone again--mascara, mucous, tears, everywhere.

She basically said he could die within a week, or that he could possibly even live another couple of years; until she saw how he did through the night, she wouldn’t be able to give us a real accurate prognosis. Bottom line though? She said he was a very sick dog with a lot of things wrong.

She told us that they don’t have ultrasound equipment here in town (to get a better look at his pancreas and kidneys) and he would have to be sent to a specialist quite a distance away for further testing. (At great expense.) She mentioned that the kidney that had the larger stone could be removed entirely. (At even greater expense.) And then when she said he’d have to spend the night in the hospital I remember thinking through my tears, “When is enough enough? Do we say we will spend $400 but not $900? Do we say we will spend $1200 but not $3000? How much is a doggie’s life worth? How much should we allow him to suffer? When is enough enough, on all fronts?”

I just don’t know.

I’m sitting here anxiously waiting for the phone to ring, to find out what’s next on this Snowy journey we’ve been on for eleven years. Is the journey over? Or do we still have a few more miles to travel with our little buddy?

It’s just so hard.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snowy Is In The Hospital

I’ll write more tomorrow, but here’s a brief report on Sir Snowy.

Snowy has to stay in the hospital at least overnight.  He has a high white cell count, pancreatitis, high liver enzymes, increased blood in the urine, and also, one of his kidney stones has grown bigger in the last ten days and is showing up brighter on the x-ray.  (Meaning that it has become more “dense.”)

Since he has eaten and drunk very little in 36 hours, he’s very dehydrated and will be on IV fluids and antibiotics all night.

The doctor said we would be called immediately if there’s any change during the night; otherwise, we’ll hear from them in the morning as to whether or not he responded to the treatment and what’s next.

I keep looking around the house waiting for him to show up. But he doesn’t.

And I miss him.


To The Vet

I heard back from the vet who said that since Snowy is eating very little and has been vomiting, she really needs to see him. He also doesn't seem to be urinating very often and that's the last thing we need right now.

I'm taking him in at 3:45.

Sigh. He's asleep again. Still snuggly in his red coat.

Music. And More.

Stop! Before you go one step further, read one more word, or take one more breath (well, maybe that’s a bit extreme), listen to this 30-second song.  I promise it’ll make you smile.

This is from our “Like A Blanket” CD and features Sarah when she was 7 years old and just a couple weeks away from a bone marrow transplant at Duke.  To have a small, bald child stand in a studio and sing about heaven when she’s about to undergo a medical procedure that few kids survive—well, it’ll touch your heart.

(Note: at that particular point in her treatment she had a feeding tube, so when you hear a bit of a rattle in her voice, it has to do with that tube.)

Here is a compilation of short samples from the same CD. I’ll never forget recording the last song featured here (When Heaven’s Calling) and having to stop more than once to wipe my tears away—always, always thinking of Sarah while I sang, and wondering how much longer she would be with us.

To look back at that unsettling, heartbreaking period of life eight years later with a healthy fifteen-year old living in our house—well, it makes those tears all the more precious.

Here are a few brief excerpts from the CD.   Ordering info is at the end of this post. (And yes, that is Steve in the picture!)


When I posted yesterday about Sarah’s friend Victoria coming to visit, I forgot to post one of my very favorite pictures of the two of them.  Is this dear, or what?

Jan-Mar 03 023

And speaking of “the girls,”  “Anonymous” had this question about them:

Just wondering...How did Sarah and Victoria meet?

Whenever our family was not on the road traveling, we parked our RV at our home church in Mooresville, NC.  One night, Steve and I were going out to a minister’s Christmas Dinner and needed someone to babysit Nathan and Sarah.   We asked our pastor (and dear friend, Danny Stephenson) if he could recommend someone to us, since we weren’t usually at home long enough to get to know all the people in the church.

Well, he just happened to recommended a lady named Crystal Southerland, who showed up at the door of our RV with little Victoria in tow.  

And the rest is (very happy) history!


Just a little note about Snowy, since so many of you have taken to heart our little buddy and his medical condition.

I mentioned yesterday that he had thrown up and didn’t seem interested in his canned food, which (last week) he was basically inhaling within about thirty seconds of having it put out.

This morning when we put out his breakfast portion of canned food, he took one teeny bite and then completely ignored the rest—as well as his dry food, which stays out all the time.

The bad part about all this (besides the fact that he’s stopped eating almost completely) is that it’s the canned food that is supposed to be our only remaining “magic bullet” to help slough away those kidney stones.  If he won’t eat that—well, what then?

I’ve got a call into the vet to let her know what’s going on.  In the meantime, he is cozily curled up beside me in his chair, wearing his little red sweater, and very deeply asleep.

This is one of those precious moments in life, quiet time spent with a doggie friend who may not be with us a great while longer.  (And yes, I’m crying as I type that.)  He’s such a good little guy and has brought us such joy and so much comfort in tough times.

Praying for a Christmas miracle but wanting to do whatever is best for our little buddy.

And on that subject, Leece left a comment:
Prayers for Snowy. It's awful when you know 'the decision' is coming. Is it simply the cost that has made you come to the conclusion not to go ahead, or are their medical reasons too? Prayers for you all.

Leece, I think if this were a dislocated hip or a broken leg or something unusual and not likely to recur, we might consider trying to find the money for treatment.   But since this is his second “stones episode” in a year and since the older he gets, the more prone he will be to producing stones, we’re just not willing to go through all this trauma and expense on a repeated basis.

His last surgery was very difficult for him and for us—he was in ICU for a couple days and downright miserable and demoralized when we were finally able to bring him home.  I just don’t want to see him face all that again.


I posted last week that we are making available “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cancer Book” (which contains Sarah’s story) as well as our CD, “Like A Blanket.”

We just got another shipment of books in today, so we’ve got plenty!  Here is a brief description of the book from Amazon:

A support group you can hold in your hand, this loving and inspirational collection of intimate stories,by cancer patients and their loved ones, medical professionals, clergy and friends, is a must-read for anyone affected by cancer. Writers share all their experiences--from the diagnosis, to breaking the news to loved ones, to discussing the effect on home, school and work, from securing a medical team to living through an ever changing self-image, from the embarrassment of losing hair to discovering a new spirituality.

chicken soup

And here’s the picture from the cover of our CD.  I  think it’s been awhile since I told the story of this particular shot.  The photographer (obviously able to discern that Sarah had a sense of humor) said, “Sarah, your hair’s messed up!”  And then pushed the shutter immediately and captured her merry response.

Like a Blanket Back Cover

The proceeds from the sale of this book and/or CD will go toward helping me purchase a DSLR camera.

The cost is just a donation for either or both items. Please also include $2 for CD and $5 for book, to cover postage.

You can pay by PayPal (use or by check.

Please make check to Heartsong and send to:

Becky Smith

127 Raleigh Wood Dr.

Manteo, NC 27950

If you’d like the book autographed to someone in particular, please let us know and Sarah and I will both sign it for you.

It’s not too late to order for Christmas!!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Visitors. Snowy.

Somehow leaving for a long trip to the doctor at 6:30 Friday morning didn’t seem quite so bad when I got to look at this on my way out of town.



When I arrived back home at about 4 pm, Sarah was camped out in the kitchen, looking out the front window and eagerly awaiting the arrival of our special house guests.


Finally!   They arrived!   Victoria and her mom, Crystal!    Hurray!   And other exclamation-marked words!  


Crystal presented me with a wonderful basket of goodies when they arrived.  I just love me a basket of goodies! 


And speaking of Crystal, she and a couple of her friends have a wonderful Etsy shop called Tulle and Twine.  Here’s an ornament that she made and gave to me.


Sarah and I would consider it a personal favor if you would drop by and look at their gorgeous, quirky, creative items. It’s not too late to order for Christmas!


But back to Friday--to make the day even more special,  Friday was also the 11th anniversary of when Sarah and Victoria first met as four-year old tykes.  Plus,  Sarah had been anticipating for many months the opening day of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,”  the latest movie in the C.S. Lewis series.  And Friday was That Day!  

She was so happy that her best bud got to be in town to go and see the movie with her.(Poor Steve was outnumbered 4-1 on our Big Movie Outing but he was very brave and courageously held his own as the only male on our grand adventure.)

It was a fun movie and a fun weekend, made all the more special by getting to celebrate how long these two girls have been friends.


December 2002 047

 sv young

sv young4


sv young 7

   sv young5 


That was then . . . this is now.  Happy eleventh anniversary, girls!

s and v colage



And now on to . . .

Snowy News

First of all, I’d like to thank those of you who suggested in the comments section the possibility of helping to pay for a surgery for Snowy; our family (and Snowy, especially) is honored that you would care enough about our little buddy to express such sweet generosity.

However, we have come to the point where we’ve decided that if another expensive surgery turns out to be his only option, well—we’re not going to choose that option.

Tough stuff.

This morning, he definitely did not feel well—he was all trembly, he threw up once, and then refused to eat his canned food (which he usually loves) and some pain med I gave him soaked into bread, which he also usually loves and gobbles down immediately. Thankfully, this afternoon, he has started to eat just a little.

We’re watching him, and pampering him, and cuddling him. (And also shedding a few anxious tears.)

A little water; not much food.


Sigh.  I guess mom is pointing that silver box at me again; I should try to look a little lively.


Or not.