Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NO not yet.....it is NOT time

Levi - listen to me - it is not time to go yet! We have so much more to do!! We have hardly made a dent in your bucket list....we are just not ready yet....Hold on sweet boy....rest all you want but please dont go yet.

You said that you would not leave until we were ready to handle life here without you - well we are NOT ready yet.

You see we enjoy so much the slobbery bulldog kisses that you give, the poor pitiful looks when you want something that you know that you cant have, the snoring, the lap naps, the way you love to eat....the list goes on and on.....

It is NOT time to go yet - rest all you want (I will be right here beside you)- sweet dreams my precious boy - tomorrow will be a better day!

Hugs and Kisses and all my love,

Be careful if you think you are standing.....

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13
Wow - what a difference a couple of days makes - Just when I relaxed a little and just when I thought I could see the sunshine on the horizon - the dark clouds appear again.

The news from Friday on Levi left us smiling from ear to ear - we were maintaining -holding ground. By Monday - the appetite was gone and we spent countless time enticing him to eat. By Monday night - he was stressing, panting and pacing to the point that we had to sedate him for rest. All in the blink of an eye.

If you are familiar with the health struggles of Coach Burns - they you know how quickly things change there also - Pneumonia again (4 times last year) on a man with no immune system is horrrifying. No sick time and still trying to recover from the December/January monies missing due to his illnesses and now here we go again.

Each time I begin to stand again or feel slightly comfortable - the flood gates open and we are swept away with trials and tribulations that remind us of how unfair this world is in ALL aspects.

So what do we do?? We cling steadfast unmoveable to our Lord and we pray that these trials will be brief. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

And when these are over.....sign me Worn Out but Joyously Mature, Complete and Not Lacking Anything

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Keep doing what you are doing!

As you probably saw on facebook, last night we took Levi to see Dr. Parker and get some lab work done. He was scared to death - bless his little heart! As we sat waiting to see the vet, Levi was giving us the dreaded "please dont leave me here" look....We assured him that he was not going to stay but the fear never left his eyes.

Long story short - Levi's levels had improved slightly. Please understand that his levels will probably never return to normal as the kidneys are so damaged BUT the word we heard were music to our ears! Slight improvement - KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!!!!

Dr. Parker seemed to be relieved as we were that the levels were a little better! He cautiously reminded us that this was not a permanent fix and that Levi was going to require major care the remainder of his life....We understood....we listened and paid our bill and left hopefully for three more weeks. KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!!!!

We were all smiles as we got in the car and headed home with our little ball boy! Nothing could wipe the smiles and grateful tears away! Lots of hugs and kisses for our brave little fellow!

Keep doing what you are doing is what we were told so we will keep praying, loving, feeding, medicating, playing, holding, kissing, growing everyday for as long as we have! You see what we are doing is growing with the Lord daily , watching unconditional love unfold before our eyes, taking responsibility for a little life, treasuring the moments and spreading the love with our family and friends, expecting less and receiving more, giving all we have got and reaping rewards unimaginable.

Thank you Lord for using Levi to strengthen our walk with You, our relationship with each other and our family and friends. You never cease to amaze me! I stand in awe of you!

Praising Your name Lord for you alone are worthy!!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A little nervous but we know the Great Physician.....

Well it has been three weeks today since we left the doctors office armed with Sub Q fluids, supplements, medications, dry food and wet food for Levi. We have turned our home into a regular monitored doctors office - sticking to the schedules and routines - paying extra attention to his every move. We are 100% committed to giving him the best that we can while we have the blessing of his presence here on earth.

Tonight we go back to see if what we are doing is holding ground - we will have the blood work checked again and compare the numbers to the last two times that they were taken and hopefully see that he is not getting any worse yet.

To say that we are nervous is an understatement - oh how we long to hear the words tonight that our precious Levi is completely healed and will be able to enjoy a long long bulldog life! Realistically we know that we are not going to hear those words - we know that the damage done to his little body is major and we know that his kidneys will never be able to sustain a long life without divine intervetion. But still we hope!

We believe that everything happens for a reason - there are no concidences! God has a mighty plan for each one of our lives and it will be His way. We will have hard times, we will hurt, we will battle many many temptations and sins, we will fail at times. Yet we also know that we are never alone and that each day he renews our strength in Him if we allow Him to.

We may never know why Levi was born this way or why his life will be so short but we do believe that the Lord is using Levi to slow us down and watch the unfolding unconditional love at it's very best! Lord we thank you for each and every moment of this - the smiles, the tears, the extra work, the bonds that we are making with new friends and family, the testimony of true love one second at a time.....Thank you Lord for Jesus!

So tonight we will load Levi into the car and visit our friends at Montevallo Animal Clinic and whatever we are told - it will be ok! We believe that he is doing better and that is enough for us!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Levi's Bucket List

Hey everyone - this is Levi! I am taking a minute to write down the things that I still want to do before I meet Arthur at Rainbow Bridge! I know that this is hard on mom and dad and Ash and Lex but I am going to be ok! They tell me that I have a wonderful brother there waiting for me - Arthur - their very first bulldog - he will take good care of me until they join us someday!

So here it is - my bucket list

1. Eat more double cheeseburgers - Mom says that they are not good for me now but I know that she will give in and let me have some more. She really really loves me and she know how much I love a double cheeseburger!

2. Go to church(Sunday School) - My mom teaches a bunch of kool teenagers on Sunday mornings and I know that I can help in a lesson on unconditional love - she has to clear it with the pastor first but I believe that it will happen because I can teach without using any words - I know my mom loves these teens and I want to love on them too.

3. Go to the Quad with Lex and pick up chicks - you may not know this but I am a chick magnet - Lex and me together - there will be no stopping us - look out ladies!

4. Meet Ms. Ashley's Gabby - the new grand dog as my parents call her - she is a tiny yorkie and I know that she will love me! How can she resist? After all I am a bulldog and that is enough said. Oh and ride in Mr. Mike's new car - heard it was cool!

5. Lots of hugs and kisses everyday from Mom and Dad and Lex - this being sick thing has gotten me lots of extra attention - it is good for me and I believe that it is good for them also! This world needs a lot more hugging and kissing in my opinion!

6. Go to the park and have a picnic - I have not been to the park very much since I am only a 1 1/2 years old but it was so much fun! Mom bought me a new wagon and I cant wait to try it out so hopefully we will have a pretty day really soon!

7. Play ball - love those words - I love to play with my ball - I don't have much energy anymore but I still have my ball in sight most of the time! Mom and Dad keep buying them for me and I love it but the white one is still my favorite!

8. Go to work with Dad (Coach Burns) and met the football players! I will wear my Jemison shirt and harness - I love football and my dad! He is the greatest!

9. Go see the grandparents (Mimi & Grandpa & Grandma Burns) - they all love me and I am sure that they will sneak me some snacks! They love my parents and me so much!

10. Make sure that Mom and Dad know that I love them and I will be waiting for them at Rainbow Bridge with Arthur - I am so glad that he will be there to show me the way and take care of me till Mom and Dad make to heaven!

I don't know how long I have left down here (people you don't know how long you have either) but I do know that I have been loved and loved and loved and I will be OK! When my time comes, I know that Mom and Dad will cry but this is not the end of the story - I am Levi Malachi Burns and I am a lucky lucky dog!

Later dudes - hey mom whats for dinner?

Monday, February 13, 2012

The reality of it....Day 20

Daily we feed Levi the special food specifically for his kidney failure, we administer his meds in the morning and in the evening, we keep the water bowls filled to the brim, we make sure that he has his ball in sight at all times, we give SubQ fluids as directed by our vets and we watch his every move....constantly reassuring ourselves that he is getting better. Everyday we say he is getting better - he is holding his own!

But the reality of it is - he is not. The past couple of days we have noticed that he is having difficulty with the stairs - he use to could run right up them much faster than we could...now he seems clumsy and takes them one at a time after he has tried to run up and failed...heartbreaking again.

This morning - he was starving for his breakfast - took his meds and proceeded to start eating his morning wet food on top of the dry. We have started feeding him separate from Lil Ben and Annabelle because of the food being different so Coach Burns carried his bowl into a quiet room so that he could eat without interruption from the others. I watched from upstairs as I was hurrying to get ready for work...

Suddenly in the midst of eating - things changed quickly - suddenly Levi was flat on the floor rolling on his side- shaking, salivating, and urinating uncontrollably. The look in Coach Burns eyes stopped me in my tracks and I was distracted from Levi for a few moments as I knew in that second that Coach Burns realized as I did that he is not getting better.

The episode did not last very long - Coach Burns got him in his arms and loved him through it. I cleaned up all the mess fighting back the tears and in a few minutes Levi was Levi again almost...Coach Burns took him to his favorite spot downstairs with his ball and he was sleeping soundly when I left for work.

Coach Burns said Levi was back to his normal self when he left for work about an hour after me. Again, the tears flowed all the way to work as all of this is so heartbreaking!

The reality of acute renal failure is death - bottom line - when the quality of life is no longer for Levi - the time will come when the decision will have to be made. The Lord will show us when it is time and episodes like this morning just serve to remind us that the day is coming....

Appreciate each moment, love with all you have and thank the Lord for all your blessings - this is how we choose to life and how we choose to die and always on bended knee praising your name Lord.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Levi - the teacher

To say that we are busy is definitely an understatement - I barely spend any time at home between the two jobs and church seems as if I am only here to shower and sleep and make the list of things to do for the next day!

Levi is teaching me new things each day and I hate to say it but it was brought about because I know that my days with him are very limited. The past few mornings I have made it a point to snuggle with him and Lil Ben and Annabelle - play ball with him - check on him several times during the night...I now seem to be paying close attention to where he is at all times. Drinking it all in like an addict - loving him unconditionally similar to the way he loves us.

His poor little body is failing him and yet all he wants to do is please us, love us and enjoy us....WOW - I cant say the same thing about me when I feel terrible all I want is to feel better - forget about others just make me feel better.

A true picture of love - one of the few pictures here on earth that we see of unconditional love - I pray that you have found that kind of love with our Lord - He died for us - He knows the number of hairs on our head - He knew us when we were still in the womb - He loves us unconditional - He is faithful to forgive us and His grace and mercy is beyond measure and He blessed me with Levi - a little dog that has taught a busy middle aged woman how to appreciate the little things again!

Thank You Lord for blessing me with Levi and for the lessons I am learning from my time with him.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Let's play ball....

I am not a sports person - cant believe I said that outloud after all my husband is a high school coach. He loves football, basketball, baseball, hockey, racing...you name it...He is 100% sports fanatic. I am terribly uncoordinated - no rhythm - the one that was always picked last at recess..you get the picture. I watch sports with Coach Burns - go to all the games but know very little about it- I support his teams (with the exception of his favorite college team). But given the choice to watch sport or a good movie - give me the movie anyday!

I am not a morning person at all! I am grumpy and unsociable - irritable and hurried - always lacking sleep. Coach Burns has learned to not talk much of a morning for I have the tendency to snap at comments that normally would only get a chuckle. For years I have tried to wake up nice but most days it just takes too much effort!

However things may be changing - imagine that! You see there is a little bulldog named Levi that loves to play ball - loves loves loves to play ball! I have never seen anything like it! He has lots of balls but one favorite - a squeaky baseball - carries it with him throughout the house and into the yard. Always know where to find it when you ask him where it is...

Thank you Lord for blessing me today! Now let's play ball!!!
Today for the first time EVER of a morning - I found myself playing ball with Levi before leaving for work and I enjoyed it! I don't know how many more mornings he will feel like playing ball but I pray that this continues and I stop and take a few extra moments to play with him - it sure made me smile and I believe he was smiling also!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Levi and Sub Q fluids

Until this episode with Levi - I had never even heard of Sub Q fluids - now it is part of our life....right now every third day for three weeks and then every other day indefinitely ....Can I say - Oh my? I am used to the cleaning of the wrinkles, the wiping of the bottoms, the endless cleaning of the ears and eyes....I have gotten that down to a science but now this....Again Oh my!

For those of you who are wondering what I am talking about - here is a how to link of what we know have to do with Levi ... http://www.thirdstreetvet.com/nss-folder/cehandoutfiles/Subcutaneous%20Fluid%20Administration.htm

So last night - we got the fluids out and cleared the line - put on the needle - found us a spot on the rear to begin - He was excited and knew something was going to happen so we gave him his ball to chew on....Of course Coach Burns got to hold him and I got to do the dirty work - stick him with the needle and open the flow.....bless his little heart - he took it like a true trooper!

We sat there with him for what seems like a much longer time than actually was while the fluids proceeded to cause a bubble under his skin - about the size of your palm....once we have reached the designated amount - I pulled the needle out and pinched slightly to keep the fluids inside.

It look funny on his body but the doctors told us it would absorb quickly and it did...Levi handled it much better than we did - practice will make perfect so we should get pretty good at this in the next few weeks! Praying that the Sub Q fluids will give his kidneys some relief and that he will continue to feel better!

We know that unless something miraculous changes - our days are numbered with him even though he is so young. We have accepted that - we will do the doctoring and the cleaning, and preparing special food and whatever else is required of us to keep him comfortable because we love him - Like parents love their children, like families love each other...HE IS FAMILY! Thank you God for blessing us with our little ball boy!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Well with my soul.....

It is Sunday night about 10:00 pm and my house is so very quiet....Coach Burns is sleeping, Annabelle is sleeping, Lil Ben is sleeping and Levi is too....Quiet times like these are very scarce in our house! As I sit here typing, I hear the washing machine churning away with one of the multiple loads of the day...all is well at least for the moment.

Today we sang - "It Is Well With My Soul", a hymn that was written by a man in total despair over losing his family at sea - yet he found a peace to say it is well with my soul. Today on GFBC program - Bro. Kevin Hamm spoke of Job and all that he went through - none of which he brought on himself - yet he worshipped anyway.

To quote Beth Moore - sometimes you gotta praise first and feel it later! I have been there and done that. I have praised through the good times and the bad...I will continue to do so...One day - I pray that I will be able to say "it is well with my soul" while still on this earth...I am still a work in progress with a LONG way to go!

Tonight we sang my favorite song ever - What a day that will be
The words go like this:
There is coming a day,
When no heart aches shall come,
No more clouds in the sky,
No more tears to dim the eye,
All is peace forever more,
On that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

There'll be no sorrow there,
No more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain,
No more parting over there;
And forever I will be,
With the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that wi
ll be

Until He comes or takes me home, I pray this life down here can be well with my soul.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Levi and Listmaker Laurel

Yesterday Lil Ben had a complete bloodwork up because he was feeling bad - for those of you that don't know - Lil Ben is a full brother to Levi just a year and 1/2 older... Lil Ben is fine! Other than a little dehydration from a upset stomach - he is home and sleeping in his favorite chair as I type!

Levi got fluids tonight at the vets - Coach Burns and I were instructed on how to do this at home....hopefully we will be able to do it without much trouble. This leads us to our new life of meds and special diets and care!

In case you don't know, bulldogs are pretty high maintenance dogs to begin with - they need their wrinkles cleaned daily, theirs ears cleaned, their butts wiped, their eyes and noses care for.....we have a routine for this and they actually don't mind it at all...well except for Annabelle (she usually tries to sneak off)

Now we have to prepare special food for Levi - give meds every morning and every evening - some he likes - some he does not at all especially the liquid that taste like chalky mint...he fights when we have to give him this twice a day...

Now fluids - three times a week to start for three weeks - it will take both Coach Burns and I to do this - can we say quality time with a smile???

So how do we fit all of this into our busy schedule and not forget anything?? Well never fear Listmaker Laurel is here! I have already sat down tonight and marked up the calendar for the next month -making sure that Mr. Levi has all that he needs and we don't plan anything to conflict with his meds!

I knew one day that my obsession for list making would come in handy - now I know why! To everything there is a season.....praying for the next season in Levi's life to be as happy as possible!

Coming soon - Levi's Bucket List with the help of Listmaker Laurel.....laughing laughing laughing!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Darling...are you sure we are in St. Lucia?

Coach Burns and I have been planning a trip for our 10th anniversary for a while now...St Lucia - beautiful tropical island, sun, sand, water, gardens, food, relaxing, sleeping in, adventures - All inclusive - flying in from Atlanta.

We have spent countless hours looking at the resorts and the packages - dreaming of a week without a care in the world! Oh, just the thought of it makes me smile! We spend so much time working and working and being sick that we have willed our minds to break away if just for a few days....then something unexpected happened....

Levi got sick...not just a little sick but a oh no kind of sick....Just within the past week - we have already spent 1/3 of that trip on his vets bills and that is just the beginning. Tomorrow we go to learn how to give fluids at home so we will need supplies for that. Levi is on special food that you must buy with a prescription and that is not cheap either...Meds, Meds and more meds...You get the picture....

So darling - close your eyes and we are in St. Lucia right here from the comfort of our own home! I will light the tiki torches on the deck and fill up the dog's pool with clear water! You put on some beach music and I will make a delish dinner... Just listen to the waves....peace and quiet and love abides...what a treasure we have found - St Lucia has bulldogs too!!! Who could ask for anything more?

Levi - Day 8 - Dr. Jeykl and Mr.Hyde

Oh my Levi Malachi!!! We have officially entered into a whole new world of pet care! From all outward appearances - Levi is still just the cutest little bulldog that he has always been - a little mischevious and crazy eyed but calm and well behaved most of the time.....ALL of this has changed since the hospital stay - he now has that wild eye look pretty much all of the time he is awake.

We believe that the combination of all the meds he is on coupled with the kidney failure progressing that the little fellow is just coping the best way he can. However, lashing out at Lil Ben is not the answer - neither Levi or Lil Ben need to be fighting and not to mention the human that gets in the way....Monday it was me - last night it was Coach Burns. Both of us are sporting punctures and bruises that look pretty ugly.

We have addressed this with our vets and Levi started doggie valium last night for his tremors/shakes and he is hoping that will take the edge off of Levi's anixety. Sure wish that Levi could talk and tell us what to do - wouldnt that be fabulous??

So now we battle this terrible disease and we battle to get our household back to the peace that it once had. Behavior modification/training/specialist is not the best option for a dog that is not feeling good.... We hate to keep him from the other dogs but we are prepared to do so if the meds cant control his new urge to attack.

Levi gets meds every morning and more meds at night - restricted diet - and Friday we will start fluids at home everyday. His sleep patterns are also off due to the tremors waking him up...

Quality of life?? He still loves his ball, loves to be petted, loves to eat, still climbing stairs to be where everyone else is, still our precious Levi - until in the blink of an eye he displays his disgust with the fact that he is dying and starts fighting like a dog literaly.

Isnt he a lot like us? When we have had enough - dont we do what is natural to us? Scream, cry, get angry, hurt someone with words - all because we are in pain and we are self-asborded at the moment....Then the smoke clears and we are sorry for what we have done....Levi Malachi - we love you! We are going to love you through this!

Thank you Lord for showing me the error of ways through a little bulldog's pain! Give me the strength to be example you would have me to be! Thank you for loving me despite the meanness that I spew out so often.