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July 17, 2013

On June 23, 2013, after a 6-day, whirlwind hospice vigil (ending to a long, long illness), my mom died from PSP, a rare, fatal brain disease. That’s why the blog sits silent. After a total of 3 weeks off for hospice / bereavement leave, I’m in triage mode in every area of my life. It’s hard to resume the day-to-day demands, while under the crushing weight of grief. Below you’ll find my tributes to my mommio and a few brief health updates about our intrepid canine heroine.

Lessons I Learned from Judy Coet

(My Mom and First Friend)

rox college graduation (mom rox cropped)

Do your best, even when no one is paying attention.

Make and keep friends by being a good friend from day one.

Loyalty and humor will take you far.


Go all in with love.

Weather life’s ups and downs with grace.

Bear witness to the hard times of others.

Be brave.


Here is a video tribute as well and the obituary I wrote.


Lilly Health News

Recent blood tests show that Lilly is NOT at therapeutic levels of cyclosporine (an immune mediator drug often used in people after organ transplants). She should be at 200-300. She was at 40 when last tested. Since she has been pretty steady at clearly not-helpful levels, we’re seeing how she does without this drug entirely. Today is day 6 off the cyclosporine, cold turkey.

Monday (July 15) out of the blue, Lilly developed a nosebleed for the first time in a very long time. It didn’t last long, but it’s still of concern.

July 29 we’ll retest Lilly’s blood and urine to see if the new lower-protein diet and new medication (benazepril) is helping curb her protein loss / kidney issues.

Last week and again today, Lilly ate the 1/2 of an incontinence pad that we use inside her washable diapers. Ongoing, daily steroids cause her to eat non-food items. She remains at 1 mg dexamethasone daily. These pee pads usually pass through her without incident, but it still makes me worried and frustrated.  Until further notice, Lilly will be tethered to one of us or in her crate diaperless. Because inducing vomiting using hydrogen peroxide can sometimes trigger brain inflammation, we did not try that strategy at home with either of the recent diaper incidents. (She did it once during the hospice week as well.)

Lilly has chemo again next week.

Ginko Health News

While his blood work and urinalysis look darn near perfect, even though our big boy is now 13 years old, his recent senior dog wellness exam revealed:

  • A possible heart murmur
  • A possible heart rhythm issue
  • Maybe the start of laryngeal paralysis

… because, you know, I don’t have enough worries.

He seems fine, and our veterinarian simply wants to listen to his heart again soon. So, we’ll see. She says the majority of dogs do NOT progress with laryngeal paralysis, so the coughing after drinking could just be an old dog thing that doesn’t get any worse.

Return to Blogging and Social Media

I really don’t know how or when I’ll return to blogging and social media. Right now, almost everything seems trivial or inane.

I do have some practical advice for those in hospice situations that I might share soon. We’ll see.

I’m just so heartbroken and tired. It’s a miracle that I get out of bed each day and function (or at least try) like a normal person.

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. Thanks for checking in. Take your time in returning, and make sure to take care of yourself too.


  2. I greatly admire the fact that you’ve been out here at all. I am so very sorry for the loss of your mother, on top of everything else you’ve been dealing with ongoing.
    Sometimes we just have to try to keep plugging along and trust that we’ll eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there, and take care of yourself too.

  3. Oh Roxanne. My heart just breaks for you. I think taking some time to heal you is a good idea. I cannot imagine the stress you have been under for the past 3 years. My thoughts are with you my friend. Blessed be your mom.

  4. Sweetie, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I lost mine 7 years ago, so my heart goes out to you – I’m sending you giant hugs. 🙁

  5. I came here to find a story on the Thundershirt, but ended up finding the story about your Mom and PSP. My Grandma died from PSP this past November. I spent every day with her during her last couple of years. It is a truly unfair disease. I am so unbelievably sorry for your loss. I hope Hospice was a comfort to you and your Mom.

  6. Words can’t express how sorry I am to hear about your mom. I hope you are hanging in there the best you can.

    I’m glad you posted…as I was worried about your whereabouts (although I certainly understand why you haven’t posted!)

    As for your pups, I would worry about Lily eating the pads too, so I think it’s smart to not have her wear them when you can’t supervise. Better to be safe than sorry.

    I do hopefully have something positive to say about Ginko’s heart murmur. My lab also developed an adult onset murmur, which was diagnosed in Nov. of 2011. It has progressed over time, but he is now on Enalapril to slow it’s progression. It’s an inexpensive med, and I don’t want to say it too loudly, but he’s now had this murmur for a year and a half and still being his same old energetic self. I hope Ginko’s murmur progresses as slowly or even slower. 🙂

  7. What a lovely tribute to your beautiful mom–and thanks so much for your updates on Lilly and Ginko. As others have said, there are no words other than I support and love you for all you do for us. Your blogs have helped so many learn about medical issues and how you deal with them. It’s hard, frustrating, and you’re doing more than most. My thoughts are always with you, Tom, Lilly, and Ginko.

  8. Take time to heal, my friend. You are surrounded by seen and unseen 2 and 4-leggeds sending you comfort and love. Wishing you calm and peace at this very tender time.

  9. Roxanne, my heart goes out to you. It is only time that lessens the pain of losing our loved ones. Our journey through life is full of challenges….as you face the days ahead please know that your “Champion Of My Heart” friends like myslef truly feel your pain. Allow yourself time to heal. Hugs to you and Lily 🙂

  10. Oh, Roxanne. I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your mother. You have so much going on – taking care of yourself is the most important thing. Blogging and social media can wait! We’ll be here whenever you feel up to it again! In the meantime, I’m thinking of you and your family.

  11. Rox – I am so sorry about the loss of your mother. The video was a beautiful tribute and it’s easy to see how much you loved her. Right now you need to take care of yourself, and if that means a break from blogging and social media – so be it. We will be here when your ready to come back. Sending lots of love.

  12. I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of your mom. I understand how difficult this kind of loss is. Bless your heart and your Mom’s.

  13. Hang in there. Beautiful tribute to a wonderful mother. Nothing is harder than losing a mother… be kind to yourself.

  14. I have no words to say that would make everything better, Roxanne. I only think of you, pray for you and hold you and Lilly in my heart. I can not imagine what you are going through – I can only say I pray I have your attitude and humor, even in times of despair. You don’t know the example you are giving us, should we too walk down that road….

    Debra n Snap

  15. Oh honey, you’ve had such a hard row to hoe. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Much love and good wishes from Georgia.

  16. Nice to see you popping into your blog again. Sending good wishes for your canine pals and hoping things improve on that front.

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