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Truman is sick again.  On Monday night, he stopped using his back legs.  His front legs work fine, and he can drag himself forward by those paws.  But his right leg is tucked uselessly under his body, and he’s dragging it around like a deflated balloon.

The vet said, as always, bring him in.

He has lost weight again despite eating enormous amounts of food.  She took x-rays to rule out a fracture, which leaves us with two possibilities.  An infection (the same one or a new one) that is affecting his nervous system.  Or cancer.

The twins’ faces crumpled when she said that word — how can your face not crumple when you hear that word? — and we continued the conversation silently through stares and shrugs.  What can we do if it’s cancer, I asked aloud.  Nothing, she told me with her eyes and a head tilt.

So now we wait.  And we give him the antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory drug.  It may be an infection or it may be cancer, and we won’t know until we know.


We went down to Hilton Head on holiday.  The ocean is fairly calm, and you can walk far out into the water.

We were jumping waves in the sense that we were bobbing up and down every time a gentle wave passed by, and I was hanging off of Josh’s back because the last time I put my foot down in the water, I accidentally stuck it in a crab’s pincer.  I rationally know that oceans are not swimming pools and they are homes for animals, but… I don’t like the reminder.

So we’re in the water when a man comes running down the beach and screams, “Massive shark!  Get out of the water!”

Fuck the crabs!  I race for the shore, screaming at Josh, “Get my daughter out of the water!” (Like that I get all possessive when panicked?  She’s suddenly mine and only mine.) When we get to the sand, I turn around to survey the water, expecting to see a huge dorsal fin where we were just bobbing.  But nothing is there.

When the man loops back, I stop him to ask about the shark.  Massive shark, he told me, came within 10 feet of his child.  He was running up the beach to warn people.  But where is it? I asked.

Over there, he pointed, many many yards away.  We could have swam towards the shore at a normal pace, and it still wouldn’t have reached us.

But isn’t that life?  Everything seems dangerous until it’s not dangerous, and simultaneously, everything feels fine until you realize it isn’t fine.  It could be a calm day in the ocean or it could be the seconds before a shark attack.  It could be an infection or it could be cancer.

You just never know until you know.


1 a { 07.06.16 at 9:23 am }

Aw, poor Truman! I hope it’s just an infection…

As those people at Disney who lost their son would not be expecting alligators, it would likewise never occur to me to look for sharks. Or crabs, for that matter. Midwestern living – fewer wildlife hazards, more tornadoes? Guess I’d better revise my thinking, given my fall vacation plans.

2 Karen { 07.06.16 at 9:23 am }

This: “Everything seems dangerous until it’s not dangerous, and simultaneously, everything feels fine until you realize it isn’t fine.” Such truth.

Sorry to hear Truman is sick again. Hoping very hard it’s just the damn infection that won’t go away and he gets better very soon. xoxo

3 katherinea12 { 07.06.16 at 9:24 am }

I’m sorry to hear Truman is sick again. Sending thoughts and hopes for recovery.

4 Suzanna Catherine { 07.06.16 at 9:41 am }

Oh, poor little Truman! Sending prayers for his complete recovery – whatever this evil thing is.

I hope your trip to HHI was great It’s been quite some time since I’ve been there. And I never remember any SHARK warnings! Jelly fish yes, but not sharks. That would freak me out, for sure.

In my youth, (eons ago) Hilton Head was our beach of choice. 40 – 45 years ago it was so very different. No traffic, very few people and just lovely. I hate what it has become in the last two decades. So much commercialism. I know it still has great appeal for many family vacations, I just wish everybody could still visit and enjoy the Hilton Head I remember.

Please tell Truman I love him, too and hope he will much better soon. ?

5 Delenn { 07.06.16 at 10:16 am }

Truman is pretty damn strong and so are you guys! Hopefully, he will recover–if not, I know that no matter how much time he has left, he will feel the love that you and your family give him. ((Hugs))

Our Cape Cod trips have been laced with shark sightings the last few years. Just read an interesting article (I think in National Geo) regarding this migratory pattern, which is based on the seal populations.

6 torthuil { 07.06.16 at 11:31 am }

So sorry to hear about Truman’s poor health. The waiting and wondering is awful. I would have run like hell from the shark too. That instinct is there for a very good reason.

7 Cristy { 07.06.16 at 12:25 pm }

I’m so sorry about Truman. I’m rooting for him and thinking of you all as you go through this.

It’s amazing how differently life can end. In some cases, it can catch us completely by surprise (both with dying and surviving) while at other times the end is slow. It keeps us guessing. And in a way, it’s a good thing as it reminds us what is truly important.

Glad you didn’t come face-to-face with a shark.

8 Ana { 07.06.16 at 2:40 pm }

Hilton head is our family’s vacation spot, I’ve been going there since I was a kid, though we aren’t going this year. I’ve never heard of a shark sighting and I hope the place isn’t ruined for me… I’ve been stung by a jellyfish there, though, and I did get back in the water…eventually.
I think humans are terribly irrational when it comes to what is and isn’t really dangerous…but also, as you say…we don’t actually know which of the many many dangers are really going to get us.
So so sorry to hear about Truman and hope its the infection and can be fixed.

9 Justine { 07.06.16 at 10:21 pm }

Oh, no, Mel. 🙁 I’m sorry to hear that Truman isn’t well … holding you all close in my thoughts as you wait to find out the answer. How do we know? We can never know. It sucks, and maybe it makes us all hold on a little tighter.

10 Jamie { 07.07.16 at 12:23 am }

I’m sorry to hear Truman is not feeling well. Sending healing thoughts!

Also, sounds like a scary beach experience. Yikes! Glad you all are safe.

11 Mali { 07.07.16 at 2:08 am }

Oh, I’m really sorry that Truman isn’t well again. Thinking of you all.

“You just never know until you know.” You’re right. My cheery Dr said something like that to me. (“You turn 45 and all bets are off!”) Which makes me try to take each day as it comes, and appreciate the ones that I have.

Eek. Shark. I’m a bit like you – I don’t like sharing the water with other creatures, so once I can no longer see my feet, I prefer not to touch the ground, in case it’s not the ground I’m touching!

Oh, by the way, I’m wondering if your son was in the water too? lol

12 Battynurse { 07.07.16 at 4:47 am }

No thanks on the shark.
Hoping Truman gets better. Hugs to you all.

13 Beth { 07.07.16 at 1:09 pm }

So sorry to hear Truman is under the weather again. Ive about had it with the universe this past week so it’s time for him to just be well and stop worrying all of you – and not to make this about me, but Ive just had it. Enough with the sadness, enough with the sickness, enough with the cancer and failed adoptions and sick fur babies. And our old cat, my first baby, is sick. I am at the limit.

I think you summed it up well – “everything seems fine until you realize it isn’t fine.” Please keep sharing Truman updates.

14 JustHeather { 07.07.16 at 2:31 pm }

The idea/thought of sharks only freaked me out at night (on the west coast). And while I love swimming in the ocean, if I feel something squishy or not what I’m expecting, yeah, that’s not cool. Lakes give me a more creepy feel about touching the bottoms…there’s more silt and decaying things in lakes.

Keeping Truman and you all in my thoughts. We saw some guinea pigs at the store the other day and I thought of you all.

15 Jess { 07.08.16 at 10:10 am }

Oh, no…I’m so sorry to hear that Truman is continuing to face health challenges. I had a beloved cat who lost the use of his hind legs, and it was awful to watch and not have a reason why. I hope the meds help and it’s not cancer.
Ack…I don’t like crabs but I REALLY don’t like sharks. Even though they are totally demonized and Peter Benchley famously said that he regretted writing Jaws because of how it added to fear of sharks and killing sharks when they aren’t all that vicious, you go into lizard brain mode when you have a report of a fin nearby. I’m glad it turned out not to be as scary as originally thought, but I would have totally panicked! Good for you, going in the ocean. I haven’t been in years, and really, really don’t like being where I can’t see the bottom.

16 Charlotte { 07.08.16 at 12:16 pm }

I hope it’s not cancer. I’m sorry Mel. I hope he gets better soon.

Also…totally with you on knowing it’s the ocean, but not needing a reminder.

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