When One Thing Goes Right, Another Goes Totally Wrong…or, About Mister Bubby

So here I am, plugging along, focused on working out and being healthy. And I’m actually succeeding; since April I’ve lost a good bit of weight and have increased my cardiac stamina and have started feeling pretty good about myself. But, wouldn’t you know that when one area of my life starts going well, another part falls to shit?

One day a couple of weeks ago, I notice that my baby, Mister Bubby wasn’t going down the deck stairs or bearing much weight on one of his back legs.  I was unconcerned at first; I thought perhaps he’d taken a little tumble while scrambling down the stairs, which would make sense for him to have developed a fear of those stairs. But more time went on and I realized there was something definitely wrong; his whole gait changed: instead of the cute little butt-wiggling walk that he normally had, he was almost swinging his left leg out to the side in order to propel himself forward. So, I finally called Mister Bubby’s doctor yesterday and was able to get him in first thing in the morning.

After a little exam, our good doctor looked at me and said that he felt a large lump directly above my baby’s knee. Said that it “felt funny” and wasn’t quite sure what it could be, so in order to be thorough, the best thing to do would be to get an x-ray.  In order to get the proper angles that he needed, I had to leave Mister Bubby at the doctor’s office in order to receive a mild narcotic so the leg could be manipulated. Dr. B promptly gathered up Bubby while we spoke at length about how much time he’d need to complete the task. Before leaving, I looked at my son who looked at me wide-eyed as if to say, “What the hell!? Ma!?” but was a good boy as I told him I’d be back and gave him a scrub on the head.

Mister Bubby

Mister Bubby

A couple of hours later, I made a phone call to check on my Mister and see if I could pick him up. It was then that I received the most upsetting news that I could possibly have gotten. The doctor believes the large knot he felt in the leg and saw in the x-rays to be a tumor. I promptly started sniffling and crying, stating to the doctor that was the one thing I was hoping it was not. Upon picking up my boy, the doctor did say that there is a very slight chance that the knot is there because of tearing of ligaments and/or tendons. At this point, that is what I’m hoping for.

Bubby is eight or nine years old; he’s become an old man over the past five years that I’ve had him, and because of this, the doctor wasn’t willing to give him more medicine in order to do the biopsy yesterday. So, upon picking him up, I scheduled the procedure for Wednesday. And here I find myself today, the day after receiving this news, trying to concentrate on work, and I realize that that just isn’t going to happen today.  Instead, I’m focused on the fact that my baby could be very sick, and will be biopsied tomorrow. I’ve never been a patient person; waiting to find out if my dog, who I think of as my child is healthy or sick is killing me. The only thing I can do at this point is to ply him with his favorite cookies and make him happy.

The plain truth is that I simply don’t know what I’d do if I Mister Bubby wasn’t around anymore. He’s been my companion and my best friend for the last five years. He’s stuck faithfully by my side through the good times and the not so good times. And, he knows when I’m sad or sick and does his best to make me feel better.  Here’s to the mysterious lump being caused by injury to his leg rather than a cancerous tumor, and to Mister Bubby living many more healthy years by my side.

 

Trudging Through (the Snow)

I thought it would be a really good idea to plan a hike with two friends a couple of weeks ago. I was itching to be out in the sun, plant my feet on the trail and take in some good vistas. With that being said, I’d like to point out that I live in northern Virginia…and it’s March. This part of the country gets unwieldy snow storms through the months that you think should be sunny and warm with high temps in the 60s and 70s. It just so happens that it has snowed every week here for the past three weeks. Three weeks of wearing layers, bundling up in winter coats and scraping the car free of snow has not made me a happy girl. Alas, when I decide that I want something, that’s what sticks in my brain until I do it, and therefore, this weekend it was decided that I would meet up with two good friends (and make a new friend, as one of my friends brought a new acquaintance with her) and we would hike Stony Man Mountain. I’d read about Stony Man before; the views were supposed to be stellar and (the big plus side of this trail since I hadn’t hiked in a while) it was rated as “easy”. I don’t know who rates these trails, but whoever it is a liar. This ended up being one of the more difficult trails I’ve done.

Now, remember I told you had it has snowed quite a bit recently? We’ve had a few warm-ish days recently and for whatever reason, the prospect of a snowy trail didn’t even register in my (what must be tiny) brain. I met up with Christina (long time friend with whom I’ve hiked before) at 7:30 a.m. to make the trek to Sperryville, VA to catch up with my good friend Kate and her new friend, Abby. It was a bright, sunny day and the temperate felt fairly moderate so I was excited to hit the trail for the first time since New Years Day. As we made the drive to the entrance of Skyline Drive, peeking out of the car window I noticed how the mountains were still draped in snow, and yet, the thought of trudging through a snowy trail didn’t pop into my head. We paid our fee and proceeded along the parkway to Skyland, a parking area between mileposts 41 and 42. After bundling up and consulting our map and directions, we proceeded to the trailhead and were met with a thick carpet of snow to either side of the crystalized-in-ice trail.

Stony Man Trailhead

Stony Man Trailhead

This made me nervous. The last time I hiked, I hiked on trails like this and was sore for literally days afterward because of the slow-going and tedious business of staying upright. We marched on, Abby and Christina taking the lead, Kate taking small steps and me bringing up the rear with baby steps in hopes of not face planting onto the icy trail.

Making their way through the snowy landscape...three hiking mamas.

Making their way through the snowy landscape…three hiking mamas.

I’m not what one would call sure footed at all; in fact, I have a small stride and plant my feet rather lightly – both of which put me at a disadvantage when it comes to making ground and staying vertical! I felt a bit better once Christina had found me a sturdy walking stick; note to all who want to hike in the snow: trekking poles or walking sticks are your friends.

We made the short (yet icy, and slippery) jaunt to Stony Man lookout without any incidents of bum or face plants and boy was it worth it!

Three Of the Hiking Mamas at the Summit Sign

Three Of the Hiking Mamas at the Summit Sign

Me Atop Stony Man Lookout

Me Atop Stony Man Lookout

The views atop this summit are incredible: 360 degree views with snow-capped mountains surrounding you and an amazing view of the valley below. The photo op here was too much for me to resist and I wound up taking picture after crystal clear picture of the snowy scene.

The View From Stony Man Summit.

The View From Stony Man Summit.

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After a little snack on the blustery lookout rocks, it was time to head back the way we came and figure out what way to go to end up at our next destination: Little Stony Man. Little Stony Man is touted as an east coast climber’s hangout; I can only assume that because of the ice and snow that there were no climbers today.

After lots of discussion, and a peek at our map and our directions, I discovered that only one out of the four of us were good with directions. Abby took the lead, blazing forward down the White Trail (the AT or Appalachian Trail). Trail conditions remained less than desirable for me, every step I made I worried that I’d end up in a split on the ground or with a broken leg or ankle. I think my trail name should be Sure Foot, don’t you? Alas, we made it to the next post with only one incident: Christina slipped and bit the dust after taking a slippery step on a rock. No blood, no foul…we kept moving on.

Once again consulting the directions and labeled post, we followed the way that read clearly “Skyland 1.4 miles”. Only this time, the trail didn’t feel right to me. We were gaining elevation and while we’d had a safe bit of distance between us and the edge of the cliff until this point, we were allotted that security no more. A few inches now separated me, (good ol’ Sure Foot) and my demise. With every step I planted my walking stick firmly, swallow in determination and try not to think of how easily it would be for me to make a stupid mistake and end up rolling down into a ravine. That right there shows how much confidence I have in my feet and balance. Needless to say, I was the next person to fall. And hard did I fall. Right on top of a rock; I landed right on my hind end while spouting an expletive I’ll keep to myself now. After getting back up, I proceeded to fall yet again. That’s right! Not once more, but twice more. The downward slope that we had come to was getting the best of me and I was none too pleased about it. But then we came to a rather steep upward slope that got the best of me.

We finally arrived at another post marker which put us on the yellow blazed trail, getting me off the blasted Passamaquoddy Trail. I cursed it and it’s ice and smiled as we hit our last 0.4 mile stretch of trail. I was thinking to myself, “this will be cake! Less than half a mile and I’m sure it’ll be relatively flat since we’re so close to the parking lot.” I was wrong. In fact, I’ve never been more wrong in my life. The trail description and directions state that there is a “slight incline” before coming to the parking lot. All I have to say to that is, “nu uh”. Slight my ass. I think what made this stretch even more challenging was that the snow was no were near as packed down to resemble an actual trail through this stretch as the previous miles we’d covered. This felt more like a walk through the woods in lightly trampled snow. Abby and Christina are total pros; they found their speed and stuck with it, stopping every now and again to make sure that I hadn’t thrown down my walking stick and sat down in the middle of the trail in protest of the cursed white stuff. This section of the trail was the worst for all of us; even good-natured Kate started asking where in the hell the parking lot was (after we heard several cars, I knew it couldn’t be far). After huffing and puffing, baby stepping, slipping and trudging along, I finally saw the blacktop of the parking lot! Once that blessed parking lot was sighted, I thanked God (and my lungs for helping me through that tough portion) and picked up my pace. We’d done it! First hike of “spring” done. Honestly, this hike may put me off hiking for a while…or at least until the snow melts and there is no more danger of a snowy forecast! Without the powerhouse that is Abby to lead the way, Christina helping me down slick downward slopes and Kate to keep pace with me, I don’t know that I could have made this hike today. The views were definitely a reward for the hard work we all put in, but I think the real prize is knowing your friends can help motivate you through the tough spots (in life and on the trail) and get you to your destination.

Hiking with the Girls

Hiking with the Girls