Ciao Bella….

I feel like I’ve turned into an animal blogger lately.  My pet’s health has been as stressful over the years.  My Lola passed after living with multiple illnesses, Georgia lives with multiple chronic illnesses, and my sweet, sweet Isabella has been battling lymphoma for the roughly 2 years.  Today, Isabella lost that fight.

I met Isabella over 12 years ago.  199144_1014574250816_3227_nShe was a stray that lived on my street.  Multiple people were feeding her and my elderly neighbors were encouraging me to take her in.  I already had Lola and wasn’t sure if I wanted to take her on, but I was positive I wouldn’t let her be outside in the winter.  I ended up having the decision made for me when an elderly neighbor entered my home (without knocking) and proudly announced, ‘Honey, I found your cat outside!’.  She dropped Isabella, who promptly ran into my basement.  Decision made, I had two cats.  Two female cats who never got along.  Isabella never got along with other animals.  She was a fierce hunter who viewed all other animals as adversaries.  She hunted my poor Lola too many times, so I had to put up a gate to keep them separated when I wasn’t home.  It was a gate both of them could easily cross, but they never did.

Georgia, the dog,  joined us when Isabella was around 4 or 5.  She tolerated her because of me.  The only reason I got a puppy instead of a rescue dog was specifically because of Isabella.  I figured if the dog grew up with the her, things would go smoother.  It was as smooth as it could be with a rambunctious puppy and a crotchety cat.  Lola always protected Georgia and vice versa.


My only whole group photo. Isabella is on the steps.

Isabella was turning into my Jan Brady, the classic middle child.  I always made an effort to spend time just with her.  I let her go outside with me and she seldom wandered.  She was never outside unattended because squirrels and birds were too tempting for her to hunt.  She loved laying in the garden in wait for her pray.  I sprayed a hose on her many times to let a bird go.  She was happy to be an indoor cat for the most part, but she loved those outdoor adventures.


My furry family always traveled with me to visit my parents over the holidays, one year, Isabella hid when it was time to go (she hated car rides and probably the outfits I dressed her in for the Christmas cards).


I ended up leaving her with my parents temporarily….or so I thought.  Turned out that Isabella was much happier as an only child.  Georgia and Lola were also happier without her.  My parents fell in love with Isabella so I made the decision to leave her with them permanently.  She lived with me for a total of 6 years, and the last 6 with my parents.  Isabella knew nothing but love.  She was their Bella and they adored her.  I should note that my mom is allergic to cats, but that didn’t stop her for opening their home to her.  Isabella was treated like a queen and my parents enjoyed having a cat.

Roughly 2 years ago, Isabella was diagnosed with lymphoma.  I was told she could make it about 2 years…and honestly, she kicked cancer’s butt the whole time.  Yesterday was Christmas, and it was obvious that Isabella was not well.  I barely slept last night because I was so worried about her.  I kept covering her with a towel because I was afraid she was cold.  I got her in for a vet visit early.  He examined her and said she was really too sick to do anything more.  She still had some spunk, but you could tell she was exhausted, wheezing, and weak.  I had no choice, but to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge.  I held her for over an hour telling her how loved she was, how sorry I as that I couldn’t make her better, and I sang her a stupid song that I made up for her years ago.  Georgia and Lola had songs I could sing to them, so obviously, I had to make one up for Bells.  I held her for a long time.  At one point, she looked at me and placed her paw on my face.  That was very un-Isabella.  Since I left her with my parents, she rarely looked me in the eye.  She was not a touchy-feely animal.  Until the end, I was the only one who could really hold her for any period of time.  That brief touch let me know that she knew she was loved and that she loved me, too.  I don’t know if she was fully ready because of her fiesty spirit, but she trusted me to take care of her. I held her as she crossed the bridge and then I held her some more.



My heart aches today, but I will never regret one moment having her in my life.  Rest in peace my fierce, beautiful warrior.  If you see Lola up there, be nice to her.  They say black cats are unlucky, but I am so lucky you found me!  You will be missed my Bella.  I’ll see you on the other side.


Isabella Rossellini Conway 12/26/2017

Looking forward to a long winter’s nap…

It’s been a rough couple of weeks.  The dog’s diabetes diagnosis (see my previous blog It’s been a while…) and the stress of handling it caused me to flare HARD.  A medrol dose of prednisone and a lot of rest has gotten me in better shape.  I don’t feel great, but then again, I never feel great.  I guess the perfect word to describe how I feel is “meh”.  How sad is it that “meh” is my new normal.  I am trying to be optimistic that my new-is biologic will get me back to where I was a few weeks ago.  Time will tell.  I’m getting used to my new morning routine with Georgia.  Getting up earlier than usual is hard, but it’s going ok.  Her diabetes is slowly becoming manageable.  She is back to her bossy and funny self.  She even chased a cat the other day.  She’s getting treatment that she needs and it’s obvious how good she is feeling.  Oh how I wish that could happen with me.

I’m excited to have 10 days off over the holidays.  I will visit with my family and friends and try to rest a lot.  I usually write lists about what I am going to accomplish, but this time, I’m writing list of things I am going to accomplish from my childhood bedroom in my parents house.

  • Binge watch Stranger Things and the Flash
  • Read a book or two
  • Nap
  • Avoid watching the news
  • Nap
  • Work on Georgia’s book
  • Nap
  • Nap
  • Nap

In years past, I would take a trip, go shopping at outlets, and do dinner and drinks with friends every night.  I still hope to do some of those things…..after a nice long nap!

Thank you to everyone for your support of this blog.  It means so much.  If wish you all a happy holiday season no matter what you celebrate.  I also hope you have a happy, healthy, and pain free 2018!



It’s been a while…

It’s been a while since I have written.  I’ve had a serious case of writer’s block and honestly, since switching to my latest biologic drug, I’ve felt pretty good.  Maybe I was feeling cocky.  Maybe I was feeling lucky.  Maybe I am only inspired to write when I am in pain.  Today I am inspired and I am in pain.  You see 2017 has been a craptastic year in many ways.  Whenever things are going well, life seems to smack me hard.  This time, it hit hard and broke my heart.

I’ve written many times about Georgia Grace, my 8 year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  23473169_10215316483811544_2051780795757797242_nShe is the epitome of a #spooniedog.  She battles a neurological disease called Syringomyelia, hip dysplasia, arthritis, chronic ear and eye infections, dry eye syndrome, and chronic skin infections.  In March of this year, she was also diagnosed with chronic valvular disease.  That last diagnosis really broke my heart….because I have no way of fixing her (literal) broken heart. She takes 15 pills a day, receives acupuncture, and is the poster child for canine cannabinoids.  It’s a lot to manage, but has become our normal.  I can typically look at Georgia and know what is bothering her.  Usually a quick medication adjustment and she is fine again.

A few weeks ago, I started to notice that Georgia was fairly mopey, guzzling water and very clingy.  We had a change in weather, so that tends to trigger syringomyelia flares.  I chalked it up to that.  Adjusted her meds and kept watch.  The excessive water drinking continued and my neighbor mentioned that she thought she had lost a lot of weight.  I knew that was a sign of something being wrong.  I had a feeling we were looking at diabetes or something worse.


Waiting for test results. Feeling pretty sick

Sure enough, blood work indicated diabetes.  I was sent home with insulin and needles and told someone would contact me about the rest of her blood work results.  My head was reeling.  I thought it was bad news, but something we could treat.  The next day, test results indicated that Georgia had diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially deadly complication of diabetes,  and she needed to be hospitalized right away.  Suddenly, I went from thinking, “I can do this” to OMG… dog may die.

I was faced with a huge financial bill and no guarantee that Georgia was going to survive.  I canceled my Thanksgiving plans which included spending time with my parents and family, as well as my 30th High School reunion (all of which are located 2 hours away).  I needed to stay close to the vet hospital in case a decision needed to be made about Georgia’s life. I would never let her cross the Rainbow Bridge without me.  The vet hospital didn’t give me much hope.  Her heart condition caused complications with the treatment of IV fluids and they had to stop it.  Eventually, she stabilized and they tried a more conservative treatment.  The entire time I was told that she may not respond due to all of her medical issues.  I literally felt my heart breaking.  Georgia Grace is a warrior who battles diseases that would topple the strongest of men (or women), and she never complains.  I wasn’t going to see her in the hospital because she has terrible separation anxiety.  The hospital encouraged me to come and see her Thanksgiving day.  She needed to be carried away from me because she was determined go with me when I left.  She kept sitting by my purse no matter where I moved it to.  23795831_10215411959078366_8172862047408054690_nI suddenly realized she knows that I take the purse when I leave, so she stayed close.  I felt so guilty leaving her.  That night she complained and fussed all night.  The vet tech told me she started showing some feistiness after I left.  After 3 days in the hospital, I was finally told they were “cautiously optimistic” that Georgia would recover.  She ended up coming home at 9:00 pm on the 4th day of her stay.  Nine pounds lighter, exhausted, and with an arms length of directions for me to follow.  The look on her face when she realized she was leaving with me was priceless.


Let’s go home!

Now we have a new morning routine that includes blood glucose checks, food, and insulin.  It takes me almost 45 minutes on average to be able to stand up in the morning, so now I am getting up even earlier to get her routine completed.  As you can guess… body is finally rebelling.  Two days after bringing Georgia home, I had a huge flare. The stress and lack of sleep took its toll.  My knees, elbows, hands, and shoulders literally burn with pain.  It seemed my Fibromyalgia and RA were fighting for dominance.  I’m still not sure who won, but I know it wasn’t me. I slept almost 16 hours with braces on my joints so I could actually cope with the pain.  A week later, and I’m still struggling.  I fear a call to my rheumatologist is in order because things are not getting better and simple tasks like dressing, showering, and taking care of a #spooniedog are just about impossible.  I see cortisone shots and prednisone in my future and it’s not making me happy.

Someone said that Georgia’s medical conditions are not good for my health. I brush it off because I will never regret one moment I’ve spent with Georgia. She has taught me so much about myself and how I deal with my chronic illness.  She is an inspiration and a positive light in my life even when we are both struggling.

I have to thank my amazing neighbors and friends for helping me when I needed it and inviting me to be a part of their Thanksgivings so I wouldn’t be alone.  I also have to thank the Cavalier Brigade who helped take the financial stress of the hospital bill off of my shoulders.  Georgia and I have made friends in the cavalier rescue world and I am eternally grateful for their support.  Finally, I have to thank my family who checked in on me and talked me off the ledge a few times.  It’s been a rough few weeks but hopefully I will get past this flare and get back to better days.  Time will tell.

Being a spoonie is hard.  Being a spoonie with a pet spoonie is extra hard, but it’s worth it.  Georgia’s purpose on Earth is to love and be loved.  Lucky for me, I get to love her the most.


Thanksgiving at the animal hospital.  Love you to the moon and back Georgia.