Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Two point five weeks ago I wrote one wallop of a post, and I haven't been around since then!

I assure you, it's not because I'm abandoning my blog (I know, whoever is out there reading this was really worried about that).

I need to accept that I'm just busy. I'm busy at work (with stuff besides actual work), I'm busy outside of work...I'm just busy. I'll give you a run down of what's been keeping me away the last few weeks.

In December I signed up to do our company's version of Take Your Kids to Work...what I didn't realize until I was sitting in the first meeting was that I'd signed up for the planning team, not the Day-Of team. I ended up on a team with my good friend and one other woman, and we were responsible for planning the first workshop the kids participate in. The first run was last Thursday, and we'll have our second (and final) run tomorrow. Last week's kids loved our workshop. It involved lots of creative building with office supplies and legos, and then they got to destroy what they built (what kid wouldn't love that?!). But goodness, I will be glad when noon arrives tomorrow. It will be nice to be done. Planning and organizing the workshop and making sure things went off smoothly was way more of a time commitment than I thought it would be.

In addition, I had planning meetings for an Externship I'm trying to organize between work and my alma mater, I was assigned to our Floor Event Team, invited to co-lead my floor's June Food-Drive team, and I had the first few meetings as a co-lead for part of the company's fall charity fundraising event.

I said yes to all of them.

And then, in a panic, I realized mid-March that I needed to drop something because I couldn't possibly juggle all of those things over the next six months.

So I dropped the Fall charity event. It was an easy (but humbling) decision. I hate admitting that there's something I can't handle, for whatever reason. And I picked this event because there was very little guidance and I didn't think I would be able to make it what it should be.

It's full speed ahead with everything else though!

Tl;dr: The last three months were definitely a balancing act consisting of work, volunteering, and home life. Just making sure all my work and volunteering got done, and done well, was a fantastic lesson in life-work-volunteer balance...and the lesson continues!

Also (and I think importantly) I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there's been an inkling of depression that's been a bit like a tide, lately. It flows up and then ebbs out, always gradual, and always a nuisance.

It's not something I really talk about, but in 2011 I was formally diagnosed with moderate depression. To avoid bogging you down with all the intricacies, I'll just say that I manage my depression with the presence of optimism. Even if I don't feel it, I remind myself that life will go on, I will eventually feel better, and that there are people around me who love me. And even that I'm one of them...I do like myself, I just don't like my brain sometimes. It takes a lot of mental fortitude at times, and I had to change how I address my own thoughts (especially since all-or-nothing thinking is a cardinal sign and symptom of depression), but it works for me. It's just that there have been a few more bad days lately than I expected, and that is never fun.

But moving on.

I got some pretty bad news yesterday. (Backing up) Last week I was playing with my hamster, Benjen (photos for cuteness):

Playing outside today.

I noticed a large lump on his belly/side. It was round and hard, kind of like a marble, and I was sure it'd sprung up over night because I'd never noticed it before. I was worried it was a blockage or gastric problem...or a tumor. But I was sure I'd have noticed a tumor.

Well...I hadn't. At least not until last weekend. And it's been so long since I had to take a hamster to the vet that I had to find one first! A lot of people don't realize that small animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, etc) are considered "exotics" and need to see exotic/small animal veterinarians (like you would take a lizard or a bird to). So I found one between work and home (Northwest Exotic Veterinary Clinic...they were amazing if you're in the area and looking!), and took Benjen in after work yesterday.

I'm gonna stop here and say: I know a lot of people will judge the decision to take a little $10 hamster to the vet. Did the visit cost way more than I paid for him? Yes. But it really doesn't matter. My pets (all of them) are my babies. I got them all knowing I may need to seek medical attention for them at some point, and that the price tag would be high - but that is what responsible pet ownership is. If your pet, no matter the size, is in pain or acting strangely, you should take them to a vet. Period.

(PS, Maureen...thank you for telling me you did the same with your rats, it means something to know I'm not crazy over a rodent.)

Okay, I'll get down from the soap box.

After some palpation and an x-ray, I was given the unfortunate (and shocking) result: Benjen has a massive tumor. Almost his entire abdomen is covered by it, so much so that you can't see most of his organs on the x-ray:

This is a bit hard to see, but basically all that gray in the middle of his stomach is tumor.

You can't really miss it here.
The only real option is to wait and see what happens. It is doubtful that he will live very long, but right now he is not exhibiting any abnormal behaviors. He is still eating and drinking normally, he is active when he should be and doesn't sleep more than he ever has. All bodily functions are as expected (both in frequency and appearance), and he doesn't seem to be in pain. They offered me a supplement to give him that will (hopefully) help prevent the tumor from metastasizing, and could even help shrink it, and some pain medication for when he starts to exhibit signs of needing it. And I'll be monitoring him like a hawk for any decline in health, because he doesn't deserve to suffer some long, drawn out life just because I don't want to let him go.

And now I'll say...he has been such a trooper. The vet and assistants even complimented me on how well behaved he was (I guess it was a big deal that he didn't bite anyone). Yesterday he was poked and prodded, weighed and x-rayed. For the x-ray they had to stabilize him on his side and his back, and I could tell at the end of it that he was exhausted and uncomfortable because he just curled up against me and snoozed while I stroked his head. I could tell that all that strange movement and forced stretching really made him feel the tumor.

I feel awful. I feel like I should have noticed sooner, and I can't believe I didn't. Seriously...I looked at his xray pictures and realized he's been living with this for ages, but it wasn't until I felt his tummy in just the right way that I noticed. Even the vet took a minute to find it but was so obvious.

I know I can't beat myself up about it, and that I did the right thing taking him in...but that doesn't make it sting any less. I've been a hamster person since age 6, I've had dozens of them at this point (multiple at a time for most years), and it still hurts to have something like this happen.

But all I can do is love on him while I have him.


Well sheesh.

That ended up just as depressing as the last one! I really owe you guys something uplifting...and I will do my best to make that happen with the next one!


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