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Friday, May 30, 2014

An Unplanned Laundry Exposure.....and ALOT of background information!

Sorry in advance for this VERY long post.  I feel I need to give background information on this issue, and it will also help me as I develop my laundry hierarchy, which I am not ready to tackle yet AT ALL.  Unforunately some circumstances have come up this week, that may make it necessary for an unplanned exposure, in need to actually have clean laundry.  A little background information first, and then I'll talk about the unplanned exposures that I am going to have to do over the next few days.
As I've mentioned many times in previous posts, laundry/clothing is one of my absolute biggest issues.  I tend to separate this into two categories.  First of all is the clothing contamination, which I will discuss further in a separate post (and have addressed a lot already though in this blog).  Second is the actual process of washing my clothes.  There are so many rituals I go through to make sure my laundry is done right.
1.  Separating out everything into separate loads--socks, my T-shirts, my daughters T-shirts, sleep pants, my "outside stuff", my daughters "outside stuff", towels, my underwear, my daughters underwear, etc.  I do use the washing machine for my daughter and my clothing.
2.  I hand wash all of my husbands clothing (because his clothes are dirty and I consider him and his clothes contaminated and I don't want them in the washer)
3.  I wash most loads twice.  New clothes 3-4 times.
4.  I have to make sure that all of the soap gets rinsed off out the clothes, so do extra multiple rinse cycles (sometimes the rinsing alone adds on 40-50 minutes per load).
5.  A lot of loads get a special sanitary setting on my washer, which adds time to the cycle.
6.  Toilets cannot flush when the laundry is going.
7.  I run an empty cycle between most loads.
8.  I wash out the dryer door before I start laundry in the morning (in case my husband opened the door or touched it....which he doesn't even use the washer anyway, but my OCD tells me to wash it anyway).
9.  I have to turn off the water supply to the toilets downstairs and in the master bathroom (because they run by themselves when the washer goes into a spin/drain cycle and I am horribly obsessed that toilet water is backing up into the washer.  BIGGEST LAUNDRY WORRY!!!
10.  I will not use the dryer for my daughter and my clothes.  I line dry everything of ours for about 11 months now.  I will use the dryer for my husbands clothes.
So, I can't do my laundry when my husband is home, because he doesn't know about a lot of this.  Loads take me a LONG time to do, and I constantly check the washing machine to make sure that there is soap tumbling around in the clothes  That they are actually getting clean.  I worry that if I only wash them once, that all of the "germs" on the clothes are really just tumbling around with each other and nothing is really getting clean.  So somehow washing them twice makes me feel better.  The weird thing is up until a year ago when my laundry OCD started, I washed lots of things together and only once.  I would wash regular clothes and socks (gross!) together.  I would wash underwear, towels and sheets all in the same load.  So why did I start having a problem with this?  I don't know!  It started with one thing and has morphed.  Laundry and clothes are a huge, time-consuming issue for me right now.  If I could start cutting down on this, I would probably be amazed with how much "free time" I had again . To be honest, this is what consumes most of my day right now.  I usually  have a plan on what needs to get washed.  If my husband comes home during a load, then that load is "ruined" right on the spot.  Because I don't want him to know I turn the toilets off, I go into the bathroom and turn the toilet on before he comes in the front door.  Then I feel that toilet water could possibly have gotten on my laundry, and I throw it out.  I also feel that him washing his hands at the kitchen sink could somehow get through the pipes and the dirty water down the drain could get into the laundry.  I know this is irrational, but it is one of my biggest obsessions.  I work from downstairs at my home, so I am constantly going upstairs to see if he is home.  Sometimes my heart starts beating so fast with anxiety that you would honestly think that a burglar has broken into my house....all of this because my husband MIGHT be home and I have to figure out how to take care of everything if that happens.  Getting the water shut off fast enough, thinking about buying new clothes to replace the ones that I think are ruined, knowing that my anxiety will shoot through the roof if I have to do this again!!!  I know rationally that most people only wash their clothes one time through the washer.  I mean, really...isn't the whole point of a washer to clean the clothes and they are clean?  I can not accept this though.  The OCD tells me they are not clean after one wash.  So onto my unplanned exposure......
I had about 4-5 loads of laundry I needed to get done over the course of 3 days.  My husband unexpectedly took off from work 2 days this week and that completely threw me off.  I knew I couldn't get any laundry done if he was home and I was running out of things...only a few pairs of socks, and underwear and a couple of pairs of sleep pants left.  My options were A) to rewear things for a couple of days or B) to wash things through only one cycle and try to get as much stuff done as possible if he were to leave the house for awhile.  I don't really want to wear my underwear or socks more than one day.  Sleep pants I could manage for 2 nights in a row (and I actually did that last night) in attempt to make our sleep pant supply last twice as long if I needed to, until I was able to do laundry again.  I DO NOT feel comfortable tackling any of the laundry issues right now.  I have been working on my food related stuff and some perfectionism issues and have actually done pretty well (I'll update on those this weekend).  Since I used to wash laundry just one cycle  per load (without any problem up to a year ago), I feel that I am going to have to do this.  And to be honest unless I want to spend most of my time doing laundry for the rest of my life, this is something I will eventually need to tackle. husband just left the house and said he would be back in a couple of hours.  I just put the socks in the washer and know that I only have time to wash them one cycle.  Usually I do a quickwash cycle and a sanitary cycle for socks.  Today I will do the sanitary wash, but no quickwash.  The extra quickwash is what gives me the added comfort of feeling they are clean.  My anxiety right now is about 7-8.  The OCD tells me they might not be clean enough.  The rational side of me says...they are being washed in a sanitary setting.  All germs will be killed.  Most people do a cycle only once.  I used to do my laundry normally.  I will forever have laundry OCD if I don't start working on this.  I am not ready to start this, but maybe this a push to get me working on this.  To reclaim time and life back.  It will be one thing to just wash them once, but the next step will come in a couple of days--when I run out of my other socks and have to start wearing these.  I will have to wear them, and the thought of that makes me anxious.  But I have to do this.  Maybe these unforeseen circumstances that forced me to do my laundry quick, will be what pushes me to keep fighting off this part of my OCD.  I will update in a couple of days how this all went....and will also have some positive gains in OCD to post about as well. Hopefully this laundry exposure will be counted as a gain too.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Eating contamination/My Food Related Hierarchy

Regardless of whether or not I choose to get treatment professionally, I know that at this very moment I need to very much start working on self-treatment at a bare minimum.  I have decided to come up with a list of hierarchies for all of my subtypes of OCD.  As I make the lists and start going through some of the lower exposures, I will document my progress on this blog.  Contamination OCD is by far the worst for me.  Contamination comes in many different forms....clothes, laundry, going out in public, pets, my husband, food, etc.  Laundry/clothes/husband is probably not what I will tackle first (because it is the worst of everything).  My plan is to make a hierarchy for every problem first...sometimes it helps me to take a step back and look at this and realize how bad things really are with my OCD right now.  I probably won't remember everything at this time, but this will be a good starting point.  I am going to include what bothers me, and a  SUDS (Subjective Units of Distress) score for each other words on a rating of 0 (no anxiety) to 100 (the most extreme anxiety), where does my anxiety fall for each item if I were to do it??  I am planning on starting to work on food/eating contamination first.  I have about 3 places right now where I feel safe getting take out from, 2 of those places are drive thrus.  I won't eat at restaurants and I would typically feel very uncomfortable veering outside of my 3 safe places.  I have seen things happen at other restaurants or drive thrus that make me uncomfortable, and then I just won't go back.  I would not want to use restaurant silverware or cups.  I do have a hard time with the plates too.  I used to just get finger food in the rare instance we would go out to eat with extended family, but then after the "gasoline contamination" (see post from last summer) I am not able to use my hands to eat.....and since I can't use the silverware, that pretty much puts eating out, out of the quesion.  If we go to family gatherings, I won't eat, so I just avoid those anymore.  I stopped eating bakery items from the grocery store several months ago bcause I saw their baking pans looked rusted.  I stopped buying deli lunchmeat at the grocery store awhile backbecause I would see things like the worker wiping down the meatcutter with a cloth/cleaning solution and then use those same gloves to get my meat.  I stopped going to one grocery store close by my house about a year ago because there was a man I saw in a black trenchcat and sunglasses and he was was walking around the store watching people.  This happened right after the Boston marathon bombing and I was scared that this person might be doing something harmful to all the food in store, so I hadn't been back there since.  I tend to take my grocery items from a few back on the shelf.  I won't take first box of cereal, for instance, because I think what if someone had it in their cart and didn't want it and put it back.  It just feels safer if farther back.  I won't buy the item if there are none behind the first row.  I am very aware of espe cially bags of food.  If I have a large bag of M&M's, I will push on it to make sure there is air in the bag, if that makes sense.  To make sure there isn't a hole or leak in the  bag somewhere.  If I buy a box of waffles and notice there is a hole or tear in the bag inside I won't eat them, I'll throw them out.  There are a lot more examples, but hopefully this gives some background on the food OCD.  So with that, here is my partial food hierarchy.  There are a lot of other little things, but I feel this gives a pretty good idea of where I'm at and where I need to start.

Using restaurant silverware    100
Eating out a restaurant that I normally don't go to 80
Eating out at restaurant/drive thru by myself (no one else is eating with me)    90
Eating at a social gathering 100
Drinking a fountain pop through a drive thru 100
Eating foods from the bakery 90
Taking the first item off the grocery shelf (instead of getting one a few back)   100
Not "Checking" bags of food to make sure there isn't holes in them   100
Making food at home and touching food with my hands (instead of gloves)  100
Wearing gloves when I handwash pots/pans   100
Using a baking pan without lining with foil    100
Going back to HyVee grocery store (store I stopped going to) and purchasing and eating food from there 90
Eating at a buffet 100
Eating meat from deli counter 90
Eating with my hands 100

Wow, I have a lot of 100's in this category.  Since this post has been in progress, I have tackled a few things.  I ate a pizza from a restaurant that I go to for other things, but stopped eating pizza there when I saw their dirty looking/possibly rusted pizza pans.  We ordered pizza on Thursday night (as it was the last day of 5th grade for my daughter!), and I ate it for dinner and lunch the next day.  I bought several things from the bakery..croissants and donut holes and cinnamon rolls, and ate them.  I went to my off limits grocery store for the first time in a year.....bought more bakery items (and  ate those too).  Small setback here though.  I also tried to buy deli meat and the woman was eating with bare hands, then came and put on one glove to get my meat.  I saw her touch the wrapper with her bare hand, and I couldn't go through with it anymore at that point.  But...I did go to another store and bought deli meat over the weekend, and we ate that.  So a small setback, but I was able to do a few things I haven't done in a long time.  And I did all of this in just a few days.  May not sound like much, but baby steps right?  You have to start somewhere.  So I do feel good about that.  Granted, all of them were the 80's or 90's SUDS.  Right now I am not sure how I will do the 100's.  Most of them, I don't want to do.  I think I will just have to look at the list and ask myself "if I were forced to do one of these things next, which would I do"?  That is what is recommended in Jonathan Graysons book "Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder".  Even after doing these smaller exposures, they really weren't that bad, once I just did them.  I tried to remind myself that people eat from the bakery, eat at restaurants, and go to that particular grocery store everyday.  And that once upon a time, so did I.  And my OCD took that away from me, and now I am working to get it back.

On an unrelated note, I had a pretty bad contamination situation Saturday night.  My daughter vomited in the middle of the night.  She woke me up and didn't make it into the bathroom.  She threw up on her bedroom carpet, in the hallway, and on her clothing and some of mine, and our slippers.  The weird thing is cleaning up the vomit doesn't gross me out.  Its just that wherever the vomit was, is now contaminated.  My husband came and used a wet vac to clean the hallway.  I didn't tell him about the vomit in her bedroom.  I didn't want him in her that is a "safe place" in my house.  And to have him, who I feel is contaminated, in her room is a score of about 500!!!!!  I went and cleaned it up myself, but now I am scared to walk on those spots.  I have paper towels over the spots for now so we remember not to walk on them, but it still feels gross to me, like I won't feel comfortable walking around her room.  I threw away all of our clothes, we both took a shower, and I drove to WalMart to buy us new slippers.  This spanned from 2:45-6am.  Then I realized she had vomited right next to the rack where I had our underwear drying. (Why do I line dry clothes?  See previous posts!!). So I was worried some vomit may have spewed on the underwear, so I threw out all the underwear and hangers.  Then I noticed a couple very small dots of vomit on her comforter and sheet, right at the very bottom where it almost touches the floor.  Comforter tossed.  Wasn't sure how we would sleep until I got new bedding and sheets, so we slept on the couch for the remainder of that night.  Then I bought new sheets, but I couldn't wash them because my husband was home all day.  I am unable to do laundry when he is home (because I turn off 2 toilets in the house in order to do my laundry and he doesn't know about this yet.....actually I think he might be starting to catch on though).  So to compensate for this I took a scissors and cut off a piece of the sheet at the bottom.  That way there was no vomit on the sheet and I felt we could sleep there.  I still didn't like it, but there wasn't really any other choice.  We could not sleep on the couch again.  SO........I was able to make some gains in the food contamination department this weekend.  I'm not sure if you could call everything that resulted from the vomiting a setback, as this is pretty par for the course for me.  Throwing things out.  Wasting things.  I hate it.  It feels so wasteful and I really do hate it.  It is the ultimate problem I have right now.  I guess I just need to feel happy with myself for starting to work on this, and realize that the clothing contamination issue will have to be dealt with, but right now it is my highest highest anxiety situation and I just can't go there.....

Monday, May 19, 2014

Update on starting treatment

I wanted to provide a quick update on the possibility of starting treatment.  I have located an anxiety treatment center in Kansas City, which is about 3 hours away from my house.  I'm still unsure how realistic this all is with all of the commuting, but I firmly believe that if I want to get treated I need to go to a true anxiety treatment center, not just "talk therapy" through a psychologist here in my hometown.  I talked with a very nice woman there who is one of the staff psychologists and has been assigned my case.  She explained the procedure and policies to me.  I have discussed it a little with my husband and he seems on board with the cost, as we realize that insurance is not likely to cover any of this and it will likely cost thousands of dollars.  Again my husband does not realize the extent of my OCD, so it makes me very nervous to proceed with all of this.  I'm unsure if I would want him involved in every aspect (at least not at first).  There is a lot of obsessions and rituals that he knows nothing about at this point.  Regardless, the possibility is out there and I have never gone to this extent to find a treatment center.  This summer would be a really good time for me to start treatment since school is out.  It would also likely require me to take a medical leave from work due to traveling and the frequency of appointments.  There is a lot to consider when weighing the options of treatment.  The following are just a few I can think of off hand:

To be able to function more "normally" (even a reduction in symptoms is appealing)
Less family stress
Less chance of my child falling into OCD habits from watching me
Not wasting money on buying new clothes and throwing things away
To have some extent of FREEDOM from OCD
To be able to go out and enjoy doing things once again
To be able to be physically closer to my husband/family (through hugs)
To be able to go to social gatherings and not feel isolated
To know that I CAN beat this!!!

The thought of treatment is frightening
I don't want to expose myself to the things that I am constantly trying to avoid
Sometimes it seems easier to just live with OCD, than go through what I need to do to get rid of it
Family life will suffer further
My daughter could fall into OCD habits
OCD is likely to continue to get worse without treatment
Very expensive continuing to throw things away
Travel time
I could get to the point where I become homebound

Sometimes I feel like I should just give it a try.  The thing is I'm scared of the treatment!  I don't want to have the OCD, but I don't want to do the treatment.  Even the basic exposures I know they would start out with are terrifying to me....not to mention how that will progress the further into treatment I go.  The thought of even doing something such as touching a doorknob in my house and then putting my hand on my clothes and sitting with that anxiety all day.....I can't even go there.  For those of you that have gone through treatment, what do you think your biggest motivator was?  If you are not being treated, what is holding you back?

The thing is I've been able to successfully self treat myself for my other subtypes of OCD.  I can't say that I'm without symptoms in those areas, but I have learned to manage them to where I would consider them a "minor nuisance" in my day and not consuming large portions of my day.  I am really working on my magical thinking/work perfectionism and have made a lot of progress in those areas.  Most of my "checking" behaviors are manageable anymore, except for those that cross over with contamination.  I still have a problem "checking" things where contamination is an issue. As for doorknobs, garage doors, stove knobs, refrigerator, etc....I don't really have a problem with those much anymore.  The contamination though is the BIGGEST issue, and the one that just continues to morph and spiral more out of control every day.  I am really spending a lot of my time anymore keeping my "safe zones" clean and safe, and I will write more about that in my next post....stay tuned!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Tribute to Lacey....

Meet Lacey!  I am going to take a break from the OCD talk today to write a tribute about our wonderful labrador, Lacey.  I have been thinking about her a lot lately and it is important for me to put her story on here!  Unfortunately, Lacey passed away last November, at age 4, from ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia).  She was the most loyal pal you could have.  My daughter is a big animal lover and she had wanted a dog for YEARS!  Finally on her 6th birthday back in 2009, we gave her the news that we were going to get a puppy!  A yellow labrador retriever.  Lacey was born on July 26th, 2009.  I still remember making the drive to get her, when she was 8 weeks old, t a small farm about 2-3 hours away from our house.  My daughter was beaming in the backseat and sported a yellow shirt with a puppy (that looked very similar to Lacey) on it!  When we arrived at the farm she was in a kennel outside the house, scratching furiously at a pile of shredded newspapers.  We knew that she was going to be one determined girl from the get-go!  She was such a sweet girl.  Could definitely be naughty at times, but she was such a huge part of our family...and still is!  I remember giving her baths at the beginning and she just hated water, which is not real typical for labs who are usually water lovers!  She would hang her head and put her tail between her legs and just sit there while I bathed her though.  Our walks were always an adventure.  She loved to pull me around.  Pretty much where she was headed....well, I was going there too, whether I wanted to or not!  She loved to eat and was often found "counter surfing" in the kitchen or with her nose stuck in the trash can.  She was a faithful friend, and really like a sister to my daughter.  They were in about every picture together...birthdays, holidays, and just playing around outside!  Lacey was a good sport and let us dress her up for Halloween, she wore birthday hats and New Years hats and joined in all of the celebrations with us.  I've got the sweetes pictures of my daughter reading her books by the fireplace or on the couch and Lacey is intently wanting the story just like a child would!  She liked to pay "visits" to our neighbors too!  One time shortly after we moved into our new house, I took my daughter to a function and came back home and Lacey was just sitting in the living room where I had left her not ten minutes ago.  A couple of days later our neighbor said "your dog paid us a visit the other day!".  Apparently I must have not shut the garage door all the way and she got out, ran across the street and into our neighbors home (they were moving in at the time, so their door was open).  She was such a spunky girl and wanted to make friends with everyone she met!  She could deflate a soccer ball in 2 seconds flat!  She was a pretty energetic girl until the summer of 2013.  We had just moved into our new house then and she was approaching 4 years old.  She was starting to look thinner, which we thought was a good thing because at one point she had weighed in at 90 pounds (which is huge for a female lab).  An average female lab weighs about 55-70 pounds.  My husband weighed her one night and she was about 65-70 pounds.  I remember saying out loud, "that's not normal, she should not lose that much weight".  But then the more we thought about it we realized that we had cut out almost all table foods for her.  She had not access to our kitchen trash can for months after we moved in (because we have a hidden one in our kitchen cabinet under the sink now), so we thought she really was doing good and entering more of a "normal weight".  She was also becoming a little less hyper, which we attributed to outgrowing the puppy stage.  She wasn't lethargic by any means, just not going "full speed" like she had been.  We had heard that labs take about 3-4 years to get out of the puppy stage and she was almost 4 so figured she was just starting to calm down a little.  She also hadn't been eating well for a couple of weeks.  It all started one day when in my tired state in the morning I filled her food dish, and then went back and instead of filling her water dish---I accidentally poured more food into her water dish (where there was already water).  It soaked her food and made it spongey and it seemed like after that she didn't want to eat.  We called the vet at that time and explained her not eating for a couple of weeks and they said she was just being selective about her food and to not offer her other treats.  Well of course I didn't want her to go hungry so I fed her things like cheese and pasta and meat and she ate that all happily.
On October 19th, 2013 everything started going downhill.  I had let her out of her kennel in the morning and she was going upstairs and she stopped halfway up the stairs on the landing and just started swaying from side to side.  Then she sat there for a moment and bounded up the last half of the stairs.  When she got to the top she went into our family room and again started swaying back and forth again.  She looked like someone who was drunk might look....staggering.  Her head started to roll around and she thudded over on her side and fell against the wall.  She had the most frightened look on her face.  My daughter and I witnessed the whole thing and were shrieking and screaming.  We called my husband and immediately rushed her to the vet.  We weren't sure if she had a seizure (that is what it had looked like to me).  The vet took some blood, told us she could have epilepsy or a form of autoimmune anemia that dogs can get.  Gave her a steroid and said straight to our face, "I don't think its anything to where she won't live to see her 5th birthday".  We went home and bought her some canned dog food.  Through the weekend she started eating better and perking up.  By Monday morning I really thought everything was okay with her, she seemed so much better--really almost back to normal with eating and her energy level.  I wasn't too worried about it at that time and was thinking the vet would call us and tell us everything was okay.  That morning I ran some errands and had a missed call on my phone when I got home.  I remember being in our family room and listening to the message and watching Lacey in front of me as I listened to the vets words.  She sounded like she had been crying or was crying as she left the message.  She mentioned that she got the bloodwork back and it looked like a form of leukemia, but there were some options such as chemotherapy, but most dogs didn't survive for more than a few months.  It was recommended that we take her to Kansas State University where they have a veterinary teaching school.  This is where we could talk with a veterinary oncologist and have questions answered and decide how we wanted to proceed.  I remember all 3 of us making the trip up there just 2 days after the labwork was back.  She had a bone marrow biopsy done which confirmed the diagnosis of ALL.  We were devestated.  They told us that most dogs live for about 2-3 months WITH treatment and 2-3 weeks WITHOUT treatment, but that ALL would ultimately claim her life.  They had some very rare circumstances where dogs went into remission a little longer, but typically this is a grave prognosis.  My daughter vomited several times during the visit she was so devestatated.  We were all crying and sobbing through the entire day of tests/discussions.  We decided to go ahead and do chemotherapy on her, as they told us that most dogs tolerate chemotherapy fairly well with minimal side effects.  It would help prolong her life and give her a better qualify of life for the time that she had left.  We were all set in this plan and then the vet came back in and told us that things had changed....that her Hemoglobin level was only 3.9 (normal level is 12-15) and that they didn't think she could tolerate chemotherapy. That she was severely anemic and that she probably only had a couple of days left to live.  I asked the vet if there was anything else we could do.  They decided to go ahead and give her a blood transfusion, and I think that was because we pushed it so much that they finally decided to try it.  They told us that normally they don't give blood to their oncology patients, but we could not just take her home and watch her die over the next 2 days.  We wanted to give her every chance that we could.  In order to have the blood transfusion she had to stay overnight in the ICU at the hospital.  We actually drove back home that night and it was horrible leaving here there 2 hours away.  Of course my mind was anxious already with being a nurse and with the OCD, that I was worried about everything that could happen to her while she was there.  They called us a couple of times that night to let us know that she was doing okay.  The next morning we drove back there and she got her first chemotherapy infusion and we brought her home.  We were warned that the blood transufion would probably last for 2-3 weeks but the vet did not believe that was enough time to get her to start making her own red blood cells, and that in another 2-3 weeks we would likely be back in the same situation with the low counts and the urgent need for red blood cells. We found a vet in our hometown that does chemo and works with oncology patients (as her regular vet did not do this).  We had not been happy with our regular vet and how everything was handled, so we were so thankful to find someone else that really knew what was going on and could help her in our hometown and correspond with the oncologist in Kansas.  Lacey did pretty well for the first couple weeks of chemo.  She seemed to tolerate it well, she ate well, and was super hungry from being on the steroid pills still as well.  She even seemed back to her rambunctious self at times.  I could tell on her walks that she didn't have quite the same energy level, but boy she did want to get out and try to walk--she still had the strength to pull me around for awhile.  We had a couple of bad days/nights where we felt it might be coming to the end soon.  She had a couple of nights where she breathed real heavy and would go off by herself and just pace around the house--moving from one spot to another to another.  You could tell she was miserable to move around.  Miserable to sit still too.  It was a horrible feeling of helplessness.  Her blood counts looked okay during that time though.  Her RBC's were staying up and the cancer cells were coming down, so we kept fighting.  The vet seemed hopeful that she was doing better--not that she would be cured necessarily, but that she was responding to the treatment.  There was also several times that she would have trouble putting her paws on the ground and they would kind of hang limply in front of her.  We weren't sure if she was having bone pain or nerve involvement.  She kept pushing through though, and we felt that just maybe she would be okay for another few months.  For the last week of her life, things kind of started going downhill every day.  She was less mobile and had less energy.  When I took her outside to walk, we only got one or two houses down and back and she would lay at the end of the driveway or in the garage.  I let her outside downstairs one evening and when I went out on the deck to call her up, she was standing at the foot of the stairs like she couldn't move.  Eventually it got to the point where my husband had to carry her outside to go to the bathroom (she was never incontinent during this whole time).  She would pick herself  and walk about a foot and thud down on the floor.  Her ears were hanging down and she was not her perky self anymore.  She looked sad, her eyes looked sad.  We took her to the vet for another lab draw and this time it showed her Hgb was undetectable on the lab register.  The vet told us that she only had a couple of days left and her recommendation was to take her home and spend all the next day with her and bring her back that next evening to be put down.  Being put down--what awful words to hear about your friend.  We did spend the whole evening with her, and that night she again got dizzy in the garage.  We spent the whole next day with her as a family--talking to her, petting her.  Telling stories about her.  Feeding her a cheeseburgher for lunch.  I remember as the time approached to take her to the vet, it was the most horrible feeling.  To know that in 3 hours, 2 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes, our friend would be gone from this earth.  As my husband picked her up and carried her to the car, it was just feeling that when we returned home she wouldn't be with us.  I am crying right now as I write this, as it evokes such emotion in me.  She sat in the backseat next to my daughter the whole way to the vet.  It was hard to look at her in the rearview mirror, but I couldn't stop watching her.  She always perked up when we got in the car, she was looking outside.  Carrying her through the door of the vet, we had brought some packaged ham lunchmeat to feed her up until the end.  She ate up until the very end.  It just kills me inside to know that she was happily lapping up ham not 1 minute before she died.  I asked the vet to draw her blood before the procedure--I just had to know if her Hgb was still undetectable, or if there was a chance that just maybe it had gone up.  It hadn't.  I felt horrible having them draw blood again, but I just needed to know for peace of mind that she truly wasn't going to get better.  If we hadn't had her put down, she would eventually gone into shock or her heart would have probably stopped.  We of course didn't want that to happen, so we knew we didn't have a choice, but it doesn't make it any easier.  Some might read this and disagree with the steps that we took with our friend.  Some might even say that we made her suffer too long, but I don't think so.  Up until those last few days, she still seemed happy.  We felt that her quality of life was still well.  As with all labs though, they aim to please.  They just want to make their humans happy.  We have no doubt that she was probably suffering more than she let on, and that she kept hanging on for us.  We have no regrets about doing the chemotherapy .  After she died, we took her out to my in-laws farm and had her buried under a large tree.  My husband made a coffin for her, and we read some poems and said some prayers.  It is hard to have her gone--she has been gone for 5 1/2 months now and there are some days where it still doesn't seem real.  We miss her here on Earth, but know that she now lives in Heaven.  God has made all sorts of beautiful creatures, including animals and pets.  We will all be reunited someday.  Lacey joins our angel baby in Heaven too, who died as a result of a miscarriage in 2006.  I know that they are playing together in Heaven.  I know that Lacey is cancer free now and is not suffering anymore, and that gives me peace.  We still talk about her every day.  Not a day goes by that she is not thought of.  Her picture stands on our fireplace mantel.  In fact I accidentally call out "Lacey" when I am calling out our new dog now.  I only want to make one comment about OCD in this story.  No matter what kind of day I was having or how stressed out I was about the OCD on any given day, Lacey was always my faithful friend.  OCD can be so isolating socially.  Currently I do not go out with friends at all and avoid social gatherings with family even.  I do have to go into work occasionally, but for the most part I work from home.  When I do leave the house it is to take or pick up my daughter from school, or go to the grocery store or church (which I have been doing online recently through live stream services at our church).  I used to be able to go outside and do things in our yard, but I'm finding myself increasingly wanting to be in my home anymore.  I wasn't at this point at the time of Lacey's death, so we still experienced lots of walks and playing outside in the yard.  But even if I had to go wash my knee off after Lacey licked it, or even if I yelled at her and became irate beause she got up on the counter and "maybe" licked a dish, or a piece of food on the counter,etc.  (and I threw away lots of dishes/food because of this), she never held anything against me.  She was always happy to see me, and she heard everything about my OCD--she was my "talk therapist" in a way.  She was a good listener and a great friend.  Lacey, I miss you so much and even though it is hard not having you here, I know that we will meet again someday.  Until that time, run free!!!!!