Monday, May 30, 2005

Canine or Human Children?

Many of you will not understand this unless you have pets instead of children or you became closely bonded with a pet prior to or after having children.

If one is diagnosed with having NF2 before having children, then the decision to have children must be deeply and thoroughly contemplated, discussed, and the risks weighed beyond what most parents think about prior to conception.

Why may you ask? First of all, an NF2 parent has a 50% likelihood of passing the genetic disorder on to ANY offspring. That means that each child has a 50% chance of inheriting the NF2 mutation. I am considered a spontaneous mutation because the NF2 gene has not been traced through my family genetics. I am the first.

Often those who have an inherited case of NF2 have an earlier onset and more complications. I refuse to knowingly subject a child to that possibility and face the difficult task of making a major medical decision for a child when at this point there really is not a cure or an effective treatment which would not result in some life altering modification (and I am not refering to deafness).

Second, unlike some with NF2, the surface of my brain is loaded with tumors called meningiomas. I really do not know how many there are. It is hard to tell on the MRI films as they do slices of the brain and the job of counting them is really daunting. Research has shown that events involving the female hormones (such hormone replacement therapy following menopause and pregnancy) can cause these normally stable tumors to grow.

I would not think it would be fair to a child nor to my husband to further disable myself or injure myself where I could not be an independent mother. Further, it would be horrible to die during child birth and leave my husband alone with a newborn child or vice versa, a newborn child without a mother.

Therefore, about two or three years ago I abandoned the idea of being a mother to human children of my own. When I turned 30 my husband gave me one of the best gifts which are my two beloved dogs who are our children. They came from the same litter and are brother(Jake) and sister (Katie).

I think Katie happened to be the runt of the litter as her mother did not like her. We recently discovered that she was limping around and had a cruciate ligament tear and a knee cap out of place. Thus we had to have a surgeon do an ACL surgery on her if she was going to have any chance of regaining function of her back leg.

So for the past few days I have been worried out of my mind and caring for her. I applaud any new mothers out there! I was terribly exhausted as I was checking on her every hour and afraid to leave the house or sleep.

I fell asleep watching the final episode of 24 on disk 3 of season 1 (my attempt to stay awake). She had been throwing up the day prior and would not drink any liquids. I was afraid she was going to get dangerously dehydrated. Finally when I gave her medicine around 11 pm she was able to eat some white rice with milk mixed in. I kept checking on her to see if she threw up again and I must have fallen asleep about 2 or 2:30 am.

I was absolutely horrified when I awoke and it was light outside. Harley was not home yet so it was about 6 or 6:30 am. When I went downstairs she was shaking (I thought she was having convulsions). I felt horrible and thought she had dehydrated. I then realized that she peed in the middle of the night and I think she was really upset about it (this is on some towels in the garage). She probably waited as long as she could and nobody came. I was just super happy that she finally went as it had been a couple days!

I went upstairs right away and got her some milk which she drank. Then she seemed more alert and we spent a little time outside until Harley came home and it was time for her medicine again.

Jake is really sad not to have his play partner. He knows that something is wrong and is very gentle or keeps his distance when I am outside with her. The day she was gone for surgery he would not even come down from the deck or go for a walk.

She is certainly a tough little girl. She wants to run around and play but can't right now. When we are outside she hops along and wants to go up the hill into the yard or up the stairs onto the deck. We originally planned to have a spot sectioned off on the deck or under the hot tub gazebo for her but we had some days that were just too hot. Thus, we had to keep her in the garage where it is nice and cool and not to mention bug free.

It is somewhat overcast today. If it stays that way and we decide to cook on the grill, I may have Harley carry her up to the deck for a while.

I am too weak right now to lift her gently and my balance is too poor where I cannot carry 70-75 lbs uphill or up stairs without falling over. This was my greatest fear Friday night as I did not know how I would lift her safely into the truck and drive at night to the animal hospital if she needed an IV for rehydration. Thank God she pulled through!

Have a good memorial day!


Angel said...

So glad that your babygirl is doing better. A pet is just like a child in many ways. I am fortunate to have children through Melinda. Even at the age that they are, they are still or can be a handful. But I love them and would not trade this time or anytime with them for anything.

Laura said...

I'm glad Katie is better! You're a great mom and I'm sure Katie appreciates your commitment to see her through the medical crisis she had. My children ARE animals! Just kidding, they're great and I consider my dog one of my children. I actually ask Cody to walk his brother! My last dog lived to be almost 11 years old and I had him before my children were born. I loved him like a child, even more so after my children were born, because he was so gentle with them. Pets(for me, especially dogs) are always happy to see us, love us unconditionally, never argue(!) and never judge us. Honestly, I love my pets more than I like most humans:o)

Rebecca said...

Thanks everyone for your emails and well wishes for Katie. I am happy to report that she has had good days since Sunday afternoon/evening. She is now drinking water and wanting to eat like a horse. Also, she is wanting to run around, chase birds, and play which she is not allowed to do (doctors orders).

This morning I let her out of the garage and she took off chasing something! I was trying to get her to go to the bathroom. Hopefully she did not tear her inner stitches. From now on I will have to guide her out on leash and hope that she will go to the bathroom that way.

This is the first day that she took off running into the bushes (on 3 legs!). The other days she was good about going to the bathroom and then coming up to her spot on the deck.

LOL It is going to be a long 8 weeks!