About Stilettos In the Sand
Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, there was a Woman who thought she was living the American Dream. Her childhood, although now not particularly memorable, was fairly normal.
She went to school. She got a job. She met a tall, blonde and handsome pilot and married him. It was all good. They were the perfect "Ken and Barbie" couple. The handsome pilot built her the house of her dreams in North Carolina, where she thought they would live for the remainder of their many, many days to come. Circumstances, totally out of the control of this lovely Ken and Barbie couple, changed everything.
Shortly afterward, they came to find themselves living a whole new life in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Oh, sure, they are still the perfect "Ken and Barbie" couple, but Barbie now wears an abeyah over her designer outfits when she leaves her house, she has given up her pink convertible because she is not allowed to drive, and she no longer has an office that she visits five days a week, instead choosing to spend her time as a stay-at-home wife and an over-protective, doting Mommy to their two absolutely adorable, much loved and very, very pampered four-legged "Kids."
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Sterling’s surgery took place on June 7th. We brought Sterling home on Friday, June 11th. He did pretty good the first week he was home, and then kind of took a turn backward. On Wednesday of last week we headed to Dr. Metz’s office so that Sterling could be “hydrated.” And, of course to get a prescription for more pain medication. Fentanyl patches. Sterling gets a new 100 mg. patch every three days. Poor little guy has lost weight – he quit eating – and at this point refuses to eat anything but chicken and rice. Whatever I can get him to eat is what I will feed him. We probably do not have much more time with Sterling. My heart hurts about this.
In the meantime, life in the States has been going along… We bought a vehicle. A 2007 Jeep Commander. Oh my gosh. It sure isn’t a Tahoe! DH says the Jeep is our “temporary” vehicle. Umm hmm. If five or six years is temporary. For a “temporary” vehicle he is making it pretty permanent. Yesterday he attached a tow bar [?] to it so that he can pull his boat. Hopefully, the Jeep will be DH’s “temporary” vehicle. I’ll be looking at BMW’s…
Looks like DH has a job. That is a good thing. Waiting on the final “yes,” from the HR department, but the Chief Pilot says that the job is DH’s. So as soon as the final “yes” comes, we will head to the northeast to find a place to live. The northeast. Where it is cold and where it snows. I’ll narrow it down when we have the final “yes.” From The Sandbox where it is 120 degrees for nine months of the year to the northeast where it is cold and it snows for nine months of the year. No. Suffice it to say that I am not particularly thrilled with this development, but you have to go where the jobs are, so it really is not even a choice.
And, speaking of The Sandbox… One of the things I do NOT miss at all is the call to prayer being loud-speakered FIVE times a day. Yeah. I know the jugearedjackass thinks it is one of the most beautiful sounds, but let me tell you it is not. I was sitting outside the other day with Sterling and listening to the sounds of the woods. That is a beautiful sound. The call to prayer is nothing more than an intrusion. A loud, obnoxious intrusion. If I never hear it again, it will be to soon.
What are the Saudi’s up to? The usual insanity. If a woman breast-feeds a man then they become related and they can interact without fear of being arrested by the religious police. Huh?!? Did anyone catch the recent article, which I think I saw at Weasel Zipper’s place, about how a dozen people who were in “mixed” company were partying and got caught by the “religious” police? All of them were immediately thrown in jail, but for one young woman who was a minor – she was ten* – who was given 80 lashes. You cannot tell me with a straight face that lashing people is what a civilized country does for punishment. Sure, they lash people in Singapore, too. But not nearly to the degree that people get lashed in Saudi Arabia. Oh, and what else? They beheaded two people and nailed the headless body of one of those to a cross. Civilized? No. Not at all. Am I going to miss Saudi Arabia? NEVER!
*She was not really ten. But it isn’t a secret that ten-year-old girls are most definitely old enough to be wives in Saudi Arabia. A lot of pedophiles there. Oh, sure. Like in the States, right? Only in Saudi, sexual assault on little girls [and boys, too] is legal.
The friendship, the support. Everything. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. The Boy, Sterling, is my Baby. Yes. I have my hands full right now. No. I’ve not responded to individual comments like I have in the past. Honestly, if DH wasn’t with Sterling right now, I wouldn’t even be on the computer.
There is more to come with Stilettos in the States, at some point. Oh, Hell Yes, there is. I promise. You have no idea how good it is going to feel to know that I no longer have to bite my tongue and say what is allowed to be said. I can say what truly goes on there on that side of the world. I can tell you all this much, though. I was there for seven years. I blogged for four [five?] or more of those years. Did I ever one single time say that I liked it there? No. [Find me ONE place in my archives where I have EVER said I liked Saudi Arabia. You can't find ONE single time and you WON'T.] I did not like it there. I tolerated it there. You will never ever in a gazillion years hear me say that I liked living in Saudi Arabia. As a matter of fact, I just barely tolerated it. Nothing good to say about Saudi Arabia right now. Not a single teeny tiny positive little thing. Well, okay. I take that back. Manohmanohman do I miss my house “assistant,” or in Saudi-speak, my Houseboy. The new houseboy’s name? It is me. And my name is Beth, not Sabra. I choose Sabra when I started this blog for my name then and there. For more reasons that had to do with my DH’s job than for my keeping who I was secret. Although, in all honesty, believe me, that, too, was a concern. You do what you have to do when you live in a third world assbackward country. My name is Beth.
For the time being, however, there are only two priorities I have everyday. The biggest, most important being Sterling. Right behind him, though, Saffrynn. These days have not been our easiest. I suspect they are not going to get any easier with Sterling and osteosarcoma.
Cancer. Why isn’t there a cure yet? Or, even a preventative shot like for the flu? Yeah. In our dreams. Right? They can’t “plug the hole” for the oil spill [Heh! on the jugearedjackass's watch, no less - imagine if it was Bush!], how could I expect a cure for cancer?
In the meantime, before Stilettos in the States comes alive with the real author, “Beth!,” [if you continue to call me Sabra, I will understand and will in no way be offended - I promise] please contine to be as patient with me as you have so marvelously done so far as you have sat out our move from The Sandbox to the States and now with what is one of the very all time lowest points in
my life our lives – the osteosacroma with The Boy. Sterling. Right now? It is not about me. In my world? It is all about Sterling. And, Saffrynn, too… Stilettos in the States will happen. And if you think for one skinny second I will hold back about my life in Saudi Arabia, you are sorely mistaken. Not a chance.
Brought The Boy home yesterday, late afternoon. He was happy, happy, happy to see us and we were happy, happy, happy to see him. Saffrynn was happy, happy, happy to see her Big Brother. No – not happy. Estatic!
Geez. What a nasty gash our poor little guy has on him right now though. It is a “Y” shaped incision with no less than 150 staples. Big and gnarly. There is quite a bit of after care. Fine by me. Massaging his left leg every couple of hours for ten minutes or so to alliviate the swelling is not a problem. Hot, dry compresses every hour or so to the wound to alliviate the swelling is not a problem either. The team of vets at N.C. State Vet School assure us that we have removed the pain. No, we have not “cured” the cancer, but with the tumor removed the pain is gone. It will be early next week when we have all of the pathology back.
Have to say that Sterling is doing okay on three legs. Tripod. DH called him Tripod. No, Sterling is not running and jumping on the bed yet with three legs but that will come in short order. [We need to keep him from jumping on the bed for at least three weeks, so until then the boxes remain on the bed at all times unless we are actually in the bed. Boxes on the bed were the deterrent before we had the surgery done and something told me not to put them out in recycling quite yet.]
We will be going next week, back to N.C. State Vet School to talk to the oncologist and the surgeon, again. Not quite sure how we will proceed. Not saying we won’t do chemotherapy, but not convinced we will go that route quite yet, either.
The good thing: Sterling is home!
Sterling could be coming home as early as tomorrow! Yay!!! But more likely he will be released on Friday morning. TJ, the 4-year vet student says that Sterling is healing and progressing nicely. He is up and walking already on three legs. TJ assures me they are keeping my Boy pain-free and as comfortable as possible. TJ told me last night to expect a very large incision. Okay. Thanks, TJ, so that I can be prepared.
Man oh man oh man. This week has been just awful. Awful!
The dear friends we are staying with are not home right now. Their eldest daughter passed away on Monday in New York. Again with the sledge hammer to the gut. For us. And even worse for dear friends. May you rest in peace beautiful Anita… 41 years old. Much, much, much too young. Sadly Anita leaves behind her husband of 20-something years and five sons, along with her two sisters and their families and of course her parents – our dear friends.
The good news, finally, though, is that the two e-boxes we packed that have clothes and other relatively necessary items – the Kids tables, etc. – will be here tomorrow afternoon. We were told the e-boxes would reach the States in 7 to 10 days. Ha. Just like many of the things we were told by Aramco, prior to our leaving Saudi, 7 to 10 days is a big fat lie. The e-boxes left Saudi on May 12th and today is what – June 9th? At least be honest and tell us it is going to be almost a month. I would have packed differently. I might have even fed-exed some of our stuff to us. No matter. Tomorrow is okay. At least I don’t have to keep wearing the same pair of shorts over and over and over, now. Oh, and I can put on a different pair of shoes, too!
If Sterling comes home tomorrow, also? Well, then life is getting better and I won’t even bother dwelling on all of the bad that has happened this week. Yeah, well, okay. Maybe there is still a bit of “dwelling” that might need to be done…
Sterling had his surgery yesterday. The right front leg was amputated. We cannot see him until late today or tomorrow. He is in ICU, heavily medicated. It is unlikely that we will do further treatment. I spoke to Mike Metz last night, our vet, who referred us to N.C. State. Mike is also a friend. Yes, certainly chemotherapy and radiation are options to consider but not necessarily the route we will go with Sterling. Sterling is not a young Great Dane. Mike is not telling us to NOT go further but he is also not encouraging it. I understood exactly what he was telling me. I do not want Sterling to suffer at all and I do not want him to be in any pain.
We have removed the source of his pain by having his leg amputated. We know that the cancer is aggressive and that it will, in the short term, kill Sterling. Not that we will let it get that far. We will know. I will know. Sterling will NOT suffer. I will in no way allow that to happen. Our plan will be to keep Sterling happy and comfortable. He will be able to go for walks again and he will be able to play tug. Sterling will also be able to jump up on the bed again and he will be able to get on and off the couch. If you do not already know this about Great Danes, they are truly “couch potatoes.” They like walks but laying on the bed or couch is
good, too better.
Sterling’s little sister, The Baby, paced and worried with me yesterday. Awww. Isn’t that sweet?! What a good little girl she is. Saffrynn. The Baby’s name is Saffrynn. Saffy senses my anxiety, no doubt. And, let me tell you that yesterday there was a lot of anxiety.
The surgeon that removed Sterling’s leg will check in with us twice a day. He will call us each morning to let us know how Sterling is doing and again in the late afternoon or early evening. As of late yesterday – early yesterday evening – all was well with Sterling and he was coming out of his fog from the surgery but still being sedated with heavy duty pain medication. The leg has been sent to pathology and we will know more in a day or so. I think I know all I need to know, though, at this point. And all I need to know is that Sterling is okay.
Bigger things happening. Not good things. Bigger things.
The Boy. Osteosarcoma. Bam! Got hit in the gut with a sledge hammer this week on that one. Took my breath away.
Our trip from Saudi to North Carolina was a very long one. We left from Bahrain and flew to Amsterdam. I was told when I made the arrangements that both The Boy and The Baby would be let out of their crates at the “Doggy Hotel” to relieve themselves and to stretch. That did not happen. Apparently the layover has to be more than four hours in order for that to happen. We only had a three and a half hour layover. So, neither The Boy or The Baby got let out to do business or get a little stretching in before our flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
In Detroit, I was allowed to take them out of their crates and take them outside to do business. It was in Detroit where I saw that The Boy’s metal water dish was smack dab in the middle of his crate with the prong ends up. Poor guy – laid on that for some twenty hours? [Why he didn't push it out of the way is beyond me.] As I took The Boy out of his crate he was limping on his right front leg, badly. Actually he wasn’t limping on his leg – he wasn’t using his right front leg at all. Whoa! What happened there?!? He was fine when we left Bahrain.
I took him to the vet, here, as soon as I could get him in and we had x-rays taken and got some medication – pain meds, arthritis medication – for him and we were told to follow up in two weeks and we were told that if it was arthritis then we would see a noticable improvement. The Boy did NOT improve. He got worse. I didn’t wait the full two weeks to follow up. We went to the vet last Friday – a week ago, yesterday. Dr. Metz – our vet here – the vet we had for many years prior to moving to Saudi Arabia – said that he believed that there was something much worse going on than arthritis and he referred us to the N.C. State Vet School. We went this week for our appointment with the neurological specialist.
BAM! Osteosarcoma. Bone cancer. A very painful and aggressive cancer. We were told that we have six to eight weeks with The Boy. Sterling. The Boy’s name is Sterling. I have not published the names of my four-legged Kids on my blog before for safety reasons. I did not want someone in The Sandbox calling Sterling by name. More a trust issue than a safety issue, I guess – or both. I had my reasons. Sterling. Poor little guy. Sterling is in pain. Was in pain. We are managing the pain with a Fentanyl patch and with Tramadol and Rimadyl.
There are options. Choices. None of them are particularly good. Because Sterling is in so much pain the plan, as of right now, is to amputate his entire right front leg. The tumor is in his shoulder. That will not, of course, stop the cancer from speading and growing. If we remove his leg we will be able to let Sterling be relatively pain-free – again, with pain management medication – probably for three to four months. That is the likely scenario for Sterling’s time with us. Radiation and chemotherapy? Another option. One that we are not going to choose. At most it would buy us another ten or twelve months. Tops. It is far too much to put a dog in his senior years through. We went that route with our Rottweiler, Sergeant, many years ago, when he was diagnosed with triple cell carcinoma. Did we do it for Sergeant or did we do it for us? Either way it was stressful for him. It was painful. I will not do that to Sterling, too.
Surely there is a reader out there who has been through much the same that we are going through right now. Any recommendations? Thoughts? I have done some research and am changing his diet to a high-protein low carbohydrate food. The recommendation of the neurologist was “puppy chow.” Does Sterling like it? Heck no. I’ll be doing more research on high protein diets for dogs and will figure out what is going to be best for Sterling.
Sick. I am sick to my stomach. I am sad. Sterling is my baby! The Boy. I am absolutely heart-broken that the poor guy has to go through what he is going through. I would happily trade places with him. DH and I sat and talked last night and we are wondering if we are doing the right thing. Amputating his leg. Once again, we wonder whether we are doing this for Sterling or whether we are doing this for us.
Posting will be light. Maybe even non-existent for a while.
DH has asked me to refrain from saying some of the things I really, really want to say until some retirement paperwork is complete and the money has been safely deposited… No sense risking that, so for the duration – until everything is complete – mum is the word.
Except… I have got to say that Miss
Michigan muslim wining the Miss USA pagent irks the heck out of me. Of course, now that we all know such a pious muslim woman is also a pole dancing queen… [I'm on a computer that isn't letting me do cut and pasting - for whatever reason - so I can't get the link to work - but it's all over the interwebs - just google it.] Oh, sure. Someone try to tell me that everyone sins and that everyone makes mistakes. Not everyone is quite as hypocritical as one particular religion cult, though. [Don't even bother commenting and trying to tell me that I am being prejudiced or judgmental. This is MY blog. I am home now. I can say whatever I want and if you don't like what you're reading, then go somewhere else.] Miss Oklahoma didn’t win because of her answer about Arizona. We all know that. It is “Carrie Prejean II.” Miss Oklahoma is a stunning beauty! Much, much prettier than Miss muslim whose win was bought and paid for by her relatives. All part of a terrorist network, by the way. Debbie Schlussel has the whole scoop. [Can't link...] The win was also political correctness gone mad. It will be interesting to see what all comes out of that and to see if she gets stripped of the crown she is not deserving of. Oh. And, it will be interesting to see if a fatwa gets put on her head. I mean, after all, what self-respecting muslim woman would parade herself in front of the entire world in a bikini! Pfft. [I didn't watch the pagent. I did see, somewhere, that Miss muslim stumbled after her win. Regret missing that - but since she didn't actually fall... I bet along with being a pole dancing queen she is also a heavy drinker. Ut-oh. She better watch out. She'll be giving muslim women all over the world a bad name.]
Have set up a new blog site. As soon as I get the kinks worked out I’ll link it and then everyone can visit me at my new “home.”
Truly I appreciate all of the well wishes and the HUGE welcome back to the States. I think I’m finally on the right time zone, now, and that life is getting back to normal. As normal as it can be when you don’t have a home and don’t know where you’re going to live, next, and don’t have jobs, or a vehicle [yet], and all that kind of daily life details. Wine. Wine helps a lot. Sterling. Alexander Valley. Louis.M.Martini. It is all good! I no long have to refer to it as grape juice. I can call it wine. And, as Linda said in a comment, I can actually spell SEX and do not have to type “xes” ever again. Not that I have anything to say about SEX right now, but to know that I am not being censored and that I won’t be blocked from my own blog by typing “WINE” or “SEX” sure feels nice…
We are home!!! The United States of America! We made it. My gosh, what a long, long trip it was. Thirty-one hours? Longer? We left Saudi at 7:30P on Monday night. We arrived at the home we will be staying at until we find a home last night at 8P – or 3A Saudi time – Tuesday.
The Kids did just fine considering the ordeal. This has all happened so fast and the last couple of weeks with packing, inventory and movers – then the trip – which, by the way I did by myself – DH will be home in a few days – he had to finish some paperwork – it has all just been one big whirlwind. Some of it has not quite “sunk in.” I am exhausted, both physically and mentally. The next couple of days are going to be “down time” for me. I need it. Down time and wine. Lots of wine!
This blog will switch over to Stilettos in the States. Expect that soon. Oh, don’t think for a skinny minute I don’t have some things to say about my life for the past seven years… I do. Some of it may not be all good, either. I bit my tongue while I lived there. I don’t have to bite my tongue and keep quiet about what life was REALLY like in Saudi Arabia ever again.