Running as Fuel

I’m writing this in our usual hotel room where G-Dog and I stay every Sunday (soon-to-be every other Sunday, I can only hope!) during our visits to The Big City so that he can participate in a clinical trial for his cancer at a Major Vet Research Clinic. Tomorrow’s appointment is a big one: tomorrow will be Week 4 of the research trial, at which point they’ll be doing x-rays on his lungs to check on his progress…if any.

If the x-rays indicate that the tumors have shrunk or at least have not grown since his last x-rays 5 weeks ago, then G-Dog will continue with the trial and he’ll get his next treatment tomorrow afternoon.

If, however, the x-rays reveal that the tumors have grown, then…well, in the doctor’s words, “We’ll need to have a discussion.”

I hate those discussions. I’ve had those discussions before, many times when my mom was ill and those discussions inevitably led to decisions that no one ever, ever wants to make. The worst part is that I feel incredibly helpless…because I am. I can’t make his tumors go away. He’s been through radiation and chemo, we’ve given him CBD treats and added fish oil and special immune-strengthening herbs and mushrooms to his diets (all with his radiologists’ permission) and have taken him to the best vet clinics in both states we’ve lived in. But the one thing we can’t do — what I wish I could do and would do in a heartbeat — is take away all of this sickness.

This morning I woke up with my heart racing and all kinds of anxiety cascading through my body, and I knew it was because of what I fear we’ll find out tomorrow. When G-Dog suddenly vomited, my anxieties skyrocketed, and even a reassuring phone call with the clinical trial vet in charge didn’t do much to calm my nerves.

So I did the one thing that has always always boosted my spirits: I ran.

If you’re any sort of runner, you’ve undoubtedly read plenty of articles about how to “fuel your run.” I’m a longtime Runner’s World subscriber, and I devour those articles, not least because I’m such a foodie.

But I also use running as fuel itself. Fuel to power me through long work days. Fuel to juggle multiple, day-to-day responsibilities. Fuel to keep up with my 4 very active pups — yep, even G-Dog, who is actually quite energetic despite his cancer. And fuel to destroy, or at least minimize the terrors that come from being human and loving friends and family so fiercely.

The so-called “runner’s high” can do more than jumpstart my busy days. It can infuse my sorrowful heart with the courage and stamina and energy I need to take care of the ones who need me the most. After a good run, I can feel that heart swell with love and strength. I open my Hobonichi and feel able to conquer the world, as well as those terrors that just that morning felt suffocating. Most of all, it helps me get out of my self-pitying head and pour all of that love and attention to G-Dog.

While P. stayed home to keep an eye on G-Dog — who, despite the vomiting, was full of playful energy — I ran just over 3 miles and let the overwhelming panic melt into the asphalt behind me. By the time I got home, I was sweating, breathing hard, and feeling ready to do everything in my power to take care of my pup.

We left our small town mid-morning and arrived in The Big City a few hours ago. Despite the six-hour drive, I had plenty of energy to get us checked into our hotel, get him settled in, unload the car, and feed him dinner. He has a lot of medications, most of which he can’t stand, so while meal prep isn’t complicated it does involve a lot of steps. Thankfully, he’s always had a healthy, hearty appetite — if you didn’t know any better, you would never guess he has cancer.

Afterwards, we went for a long, 45-minute stroll around the quiet neighborhoods that surround the hotel. By the end he was pretty tired, but he was in good spirits. We returned to the hotel, where he lapped two bowlfuls of water before lying down and napping on his bed. I ordered a steak, baked potato and a side of veggies, and am now just relaxing and watching old reruns of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. (We don’t have cable at home, only Netflix, so whenever I’m in a hotel with cable/satellite TV I take advantage!)

Tomorrow we’ll find out whether we’ll need to have those discussions….or if we’ll have more time to love G-Dog. Tonight, though, I still have enough energy to take him for one final walk before bedtime and cherish every single minute of it.

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