The Dog Park isn’t Just About the Dogs

Buddy & Scout are buddies

Buddy & Scout are buddies

Scout & Chance - Attack (they really love each other)

Scout & Chance – Attack (they really love each other)

When I adopted my awesome puppy Scout a year and a half ago, I couldn’t wait to take her to the dog park. I wanted to see her play with the other dogs, run, play fetch, make doggy friends and be her cute little self. I was excited to see her play with other cute doggies too. Never did I imagine the bonds I would make for myself at the dog park.Within just a few weeks of taking Scout there on a semi-regular basis, I started to make friends with the other dog owners. I would plan our visits based on the times other dogs and their owners came to the park. It’s kind of like how you become friends with your kids’ friends’ parents. I became friends with my dog’s friends’ owners.  Just like kids, we would have play dates for our dogs at the park. We’d even have sleepovers. If someone is going out of town and I can help, I keep their dog and vice versa.

Jump Bama!

Jump Bama!

crazy girls

Eventually a few of us started making plans outside the dog park. We would grab lunch, have dinner at each other’s houses or go shopping. We started having Friday happy hours, celebrating each other’s birthdays and truly becoming good friends. The ages of the dog park crowd range from 21 to probably 70. No one really seems to see age there though. We all have at least one thing in common – we LOVE our dogs – and that seems to be enough for us all to bond.

The dogs watch over Landon as he works in the yard

The dogs watch over Landon as he works in the yard

I feel so grateful to have met these people and their dogs. Not only do they help me with my dog, they help me with my house, my kids and so much more. Two of my “dog park friends” actually cleaned up and fenced my yard in for me. I only paid for supplies, beer and food.

Our friendships were truly shown though when Joey started dealing with pain again. He’s been in and out of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and out of school for about a month now. I have used all of my sick and vacation days from work to take care of him so I have had to find someone to stay with him each day. My “dog park friends” have been amazing through this. Due to their unusual work schedules, they have been able to care for Joey and get him to appointments during the day while I work. He has LOTS of appointments. He is going to PT at least once a week, massage at Lifestyle Resumption twice a week, acupuncture two to three times a week plus seeing other doctors as needed. None of these friends expect a dime or anything else for doing this.

Crazy Dogs!

Crazy Dogs!

Due to the stress and time restraints they know I have been under, they have even voluntarily cleaned my kitchen, worked in my yard and done other helpful household chores when I haven’t even been home. Others have taken my dog on a regular basis to the park and their homes because they know I haven’t had the time to exercise her like she needs.What started out as a place to let my dog run has become a place to create life-long friendships and support. It’s amazing how you can find that in the most unexpected places. I don’t think I could have gotten through the last few months, or even the last year, without my amazing “dog park friends.”

Where is the most unexpected place you have made life-long friendships?

P.S. If you are not, you should be following us on Facebook.

P.S.S. Want to help us find a cure for Joey’s disease? Sponsor Team Super Joey in the Histio Walk Ohio!

Doggies loving Landon

Doggies loving Landon

Scout at the dog park

Scout at the dog park

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Finding Hope in Hocking Hills

my family

my family

If you read my blog regularly, you know that my family has had a rough year with a  lot of emotional ups and downs. Our lives changed drastically on April 23, 2012 when Joey was diagnosed with LCH (read previous posts under LCH). He has been dealing with a lot of pain again over the last few months and has been in and out of the hospital. He has a constant pain in his hip and gets shooting pains down his leg every few seconds. Everyday I wish I could take his pain for him. I think over and over how I wish it was me instead. But it’s not possible to just take the pain away. So instead, my days are spent helping him with exercises, taking him to a variety of appointments including pain team, acupuncture, massage therapy and physical therapy, talking to doctors via email and phone, researching herbal remedies and trying to come up with any way possible to relieve the pain. And all of this is done while working full-time and taking care of another child. Luckily I have an amazing boyfriend, a terrific group of friends and a fantastic family to help. And as they all keep reminding me; I can’t take care of anyone if I don’t take care of myself. So that’s exactly what I did this weekend – I took care of myself with a little help from that amazing boyfriend Nick. We stayed in aquaint little cabin in Hocking Hills, Ohio. I had heard about Hocking Hills for years but had never been there. This was the perfect time to try it out since I was in desperate need of mental break and Joey would be spending the weekend with his dad. We arrived Friday late afternoon, made dinner and enjoyed the hot tub. We got up early Saturday and set out for a day of adventure.

Rock Formations at Hocking Hills

Rock Formations at Hocking Hills

Nick on a cool tree

Nick on a cool tree

We did a three-hour zipline tour of Hocking Hills. It was amazing! It included 10 ziplines and ended with rappelling down. The first two ziplines would be like the bunny slope when skiing. Then we started with professional zips. We flew through the sky from tree to tree landing on platforms. I don’t even have words to describe how amazing this was. I have dreams all the time that I can fly. This was the closest I will ever come to making that dream come true. It was worth the cost and is a memory we will always have.

After that we headed to Old Man’s Cave and ate our packed lunch at the picnic tables. We explored the cave and small waterfalls. As I traveled down to the cave, I felt as if I had entered a different world. The rock formations were breathtaking and I have always been fascinated by waterfalls. We spent the evening relaxing in the hot tub again. It was so peaceful since the cabin was secluded in the woods.

Nick holding up Old Man's Cave

Nick holding up Old Man’s Cave

After dinner and a small storm, I stood out on the deck of our cabin with a feeling of peace, looking at the mysterious sky. The sun rays were trying to peek out from behind the grey clouds. As I stared at its glory I prayed for my son to be healed. I hoped that when I returned home I’d be told that his pain would be gone. I thought to myself that I’d be willing to give up all the inner peace and happiness I was feeling right at the moment if my son could just be pain-free.

After having breakfast at the cabin Sunday morning, we headed to Cedar Falls. I didn’t think I could ever see anything more beautiful than Old Man’s Cave but WOW was I wrong. I was immediately drawn to the waterfall. I slipped on flip-flops and headed out. At first I just put my hands under the fall but realized I wouldn’t be satisfied until I stood under. So denim shorts and all, I stood under the water letting it fall on my head and off my shoulders. It was FREEZING but I found it majestic. We managed to find ourselves in some restricted areas where we climbed on top on the waterfall (Children: do not try this).  It was unbelievable to be standing just a foot away from where the water falls and to look over all the people we were just standing with minutes beforehand.

Under the waterfall

Under the waterfall

The view from on top of the waterfall

The view from on top of the waterfall

The Water Fall

Enjoying the moment

Enjoying the moment

We made our way back to the car and after driving by a few areas we wanted to see, we headed home. We had about 48 hours of an incredible escape. An added bonus was that our phones did not work at all in Hocking Hills (we let family know where we were staying incase there was an emergency) so neither one of us spent any time texting, checking Facebook or on the phone. This allowed for a complete break from the outside world. Not only did I have an amazing experience on my first trip with Nick but I was able to get the mental break I needed and feel refreshed.

As I write this, Joey is in the next room screaming out every few seconds. I so wish I could take that pain for him. I can’t do that but at least I can take care of him. Joey loves reading your messages so be sure to post positive thoughts here.

P.S. If you aren’t following us on Facebook, you should be!

P.S. S. I am open to all holistic ways of treating Joey since traditional medicine doesn’t seem to be working. If you have suggests outside of acupuncture and medical massage, I would love to hear them. Please post in the comments.

Team Super Joey

super joey

I have told you before that my son is the best superhero I know. He’s amazing. He deals with chronic pain and knowing that he has this rare and crazy disease (LCH) but still finds a way to smile every day, stay positive and make all of us laugh nonstop.  I bet the one thing that would make him happier than anything else in the world is to hear that they found a cure for Histio. We can all help make this happen!

Joey is one of the lucky ones. He had a single bone lesion. That means his cancer-like disease caused his blood cells to attack his hip bone, eating it away. He had a biopsy and bone graft, was treated with steroids, was in a wheel chair a while and went to physical therapy. Boom! He was cured (well sort of – he’s in remission and a lot of pain). He knows the disease can come back at any time and there could be a new lesion but he knows the odds are in his favor that if it even returned, it would be in the bone again. Histio can also attack your skin or organs but luckily Joey is at low risk for this.  Kids go through chemotherapy treatments and bone marrow transplants because of this scary disease. Moms and dads lose their children to this disease when it attacks the organs. No one should have to die, have an organ transplant or a fake bone in their body because of this rare (or rarely diagnosed) disease!

Unfortunately, Histio doesn’t get a lot of funding for research. Without research, they can’t find a cause. Without a known cause, they can’t prevent it. Without research, they can’t find a cure. Without a cure, people will continue to live with this scary disease and some lives will be lost. So now you are wondering how you can help, right? I’m going to tell you.

Team Super Joey is going to participate in the Histio Hike Ohio in September. Our team is currently made up of my incredible son Joey, my amazing daughter Andi, the fabulous Nick and me. We have set a goal to raise $1000 for Histio research. You can help us reach that goal. Any donation, whether it’s $1 or $100 will help us reach our goal and help Histio research. Also, if you are interested in participating in the hike and being part of team Super Joey, just leave a comment on the blog and I’ll contact you.

I hope you will consider helping us find a cure for this horrible disease. Joey, Andi and I want you to know how much we appreciate every donation and your constant support.

P.S. if you aren’t following Raising2Tweens on Facebook, you really should be!

I Can’t Live Like This

zombie mom

“Mom, I can’t live like this.” Those words play over and over in my head like an earworm. “Mom, I can’t live like this.” On Sunday Joey looked up at me with his big blue eyes and his long dark eyelashes and said “It’s not as bad as it’s been before but I’m still in pain. Mom, I can’t live like this.”

My 11-year-old son said those words to me. It broke my heart. I promised him I would do everything possible to make him pain-free again.

He went to school on Monday but the pains became so severe it was taking his breath away. We headed to massage therapy at Lifestyle Resumption. The massage helped but within an hour the pains were back again. He couldn’t go to school Tuesday. I took him to Tiny Needle acupuncture where she did something called the Seven Dragon (needles in back and head). This helped a lot but once again the pains sneaked back up. Thanks to a good friend, we did some hot tub therapy. This also helped but again the pains were back soon after.

He has a constant pain in his hip where the incision from the bone graft is. He also gets shooting pains down his leg. These pains become so severe that he can’t help but scream. Pain medications do not help. He has had several MRIs, x-rays, steroid injections, ultrasound, nerve block, PetScan and more. Joey says that all of the holoistic type stuff – acupuncture, massage, physical therapy and the hot tub – help more than anything. Unfortunately, insurance isn’t paying for acupuncture or massage so three visits a week gets pricey fast. But you know, I’d go without my own necessities if that meant he could be pain-free and not have “live like this.”

Hot tub therapy

Hot tub therapy

The Pain Team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has been working with us. They changed his meds up on Tuesday and I hope it helps. I’m going to ask his physical therapist about water therapy at Children’s. This is getting to be a lot for an 11-year-old to handle so he will start seeing a counselor at Children’s later this month. It’s hard for me to handle so I can’t imagine what he’s going through.

Everyone asks what they can do to help. I honestly wish I knew. Prayers and positive thoughts are the only thing I know to ask for right now. And… when you see us out, especially if Joey is with us, don’t ask about it. We know you care and we appreciate that but it’s hard for Andi, Joey and I all to talk about it. We want life to be as normal as it can be… and honestly, our normal changes almost daily. I might call on some of you for help with Joey while I go to Andi’s games, work, etc… We couldn’t get through this without your support. I don’t want my son to have “to live like this.”

Please keep posting positive messages here. Joey loves to read them!

P.S. If you are not following Raising2tweens on Facebook, you should!

Home Sweet Home

my family

my family

As we pulled in the driveway and unloaded the car all I could think of was sleeping in my own bed. I lugged our bags up the steps, sent Joey up the stairlift, got him settled on the couch with a cartoon and then collapsed in my bed. A few hours later I feel like a new person. I would be looking forward to a good night’s sleep in my bed tonight but instead, I will be sleeping on a bus with a bunch of middle school kids. Wait, I should rephrase that. Instead, I will be losing my mind awake all night on a bus with a bunch of middle school kids.

Oh the things we do for our children! We are leaving tonight for Washington D.C. for the 8th grade trip. We will change in a gas station tomorrow and start touring the city immediately. I won’t see a hotel room until late Thursday night. Attention other 8th grade parents: What were we thinking when we signed up for this trip????? I guess we were thinking we wanted to have this time with our kids.

I’m sure you are all curious as to how Joey is doing. He’s home. He can walk. He’s dragging his leg a little but he can walk And it doesn’t hurt. I don’t know if it was the steroid injection, the physical therapy, the massages, the acupuncture or a combination of all but he can walk without pain and without assistance! We decided to do outpatient physical therapy instead of inpatient rehab. He will have acupuncture, pysical therapy and a massage on Thursday. I really think that we just overdid on it spring break. His body hadn’t done that much physical activity in a long time. Now I know to watch the amount of activity and to get him a massage or other treatment immediately if we do a lot. He’s also going to increase his exercises at home to try to strengthen the hip and leg.

I really don’t know why we had this setback (and neither do the doctors) but we do know that it’s NOT LCH and that’s what’s really important right now. Although I know with my network of friends and family and our doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital that we could defeat Histio again, I really don’t want to take that battle on. And our fight with Histio has prepared us to deal with almost anything else without blinking an eye. We got this!

Joey loves seeing your comments so please leave words of encouragement. Oh and wish me luck on this bus trip!

Be sure to check out Raising2tweens on Facebook.

P.S. If you are on this trip with me, let’s avoid talking about Joey’s condition. I want to focus on Andi for the next few days. She deserves it!