First, a huge thank you from me and a super-special "woof!" from Lucy to all of you thoughtful folks who left messages and sent emails wishing her well. These have been incredibly difficult days for Desi and me and reading through your words, your tips and your advise helped more than I can ever say.
I don't have good news to share, but it's not bad news either. Lucy met with a specialist Thursday who confirmed that there's a pretty nasty tumor in her rear right leg. We've scheduled the amputation for this coming Thursday.
It was a hard decision to make but three vets have so far assured us that Lucy will be 100 percent pain-free after the leg is gone. We can see that it would help: the pain is growing almost by the day, despite the painkilling drugs she's been on.
The surgeon we consulted with showed us pictures of a dog with an amputated leg about the same size and weight as Lucy, and looking at those really helped us make up our mind. "People usually say after the surgery that you've given us our puppy back," she said, pointing out that for dogs, unlike us humans, there is no stigma associated with losing a leg because they don't think about how they will appear to others.
I've also been looking up dogs with amputated limbs on the internet and they all look happy and healthy. Last year, on our road trip, we met a three-legged dog, Miracle, on the beach in Charleston and she looked completely blissful as she took a soak with her family.
After the amputation will come the chemotherapy. While waiting at the vet's office we met another dog parent with an adorable 14-year-old cocker spaniel who, his father said, has been on chemo for the last two years. He also hasn't had any remarkable side-effects.
I feel encouraged already.
I wanted to address here quickly one discordant message I received last week among the dozens of supportive ones. The writer-- who did not disclose his/her name-- asked me to spend a couple of happy days with Lucy and then euthanize her. There was something wrong, this person wrote, with fetishizing about a dog as if it were a human child.
My immediate instinct and action was to send the message down the deleted drain, where it deserved to go, but on second thoughts I thought I would respond to this person right here. What was truly shocking to me is that he/she said they had had pets of their own. But then I reminded myself that pet parents do exist who think exactly like this: Freddie, our beloved 17-year-old rescue, was dumped in the shelter by the family he had lived with for 12 years because he was diagnosed with a moderately serious heart ailment.
It's true that animals are not the same as human kids-- they are perhaps better because humans are incapable of unconditional love and loyalty of the kind animals give you. Lucy, in her almost eight years with us, has give us her whole heart and all her devotion. She is no less to us than a human child would be. Even now, despite the pain, I can see the fire to live in her eyes. When Desi picks up the leash to walk Opie or Freddie, she hobbles to the door, eager to go too, although she's restricted from most exercise. We know she'd love to walk again with us, as she used to just two weeks ago, and we are not about to turn our backs on her, especially when the vets assure us that she can be happy for many more months to come. When the time comes to let go of her, she -- and we-- will know it, and we'll take that step. But not before we've given her a fighting chance.
Blogging has not been on my mind much, as I am sure you'll understand. But since both cooking and chatting with you does make me feel better, I have decided I am going to keep at it as much as possible.
Today's post is an easy one for me because the recipe comes from another blog. I made this theeyal early last week. A sumptuous but everyday dish from the beautiful state of Kerala in south India, theeyal is a dish I'd eaten as a child at my Malayali friends' homes, and was reawakened to again recently when a reader, Sujala, asked for a recipe. Since my childhood friend Sangita, who writes the blog Foodskaypes, is a Malayali who has learned some wonderful and traditional recipes from her mom, I sent her to Sangita who immediately obliged.
The star of this theeyal is bitter gourd, or karela or pavakkai or kaipakya. This healthful veggie is immensely popular in the Indian kitchen both for its flavor as well as its body-healing properties. Its deep bitterness makes it appear formidable to new cooks and those not used to it, but a kiss of just-right ingredients can turn this warty, deep-green toad into a prince.
And that's exactly what happens in a theeyal. The mellowness of the coconut, the tongue-tickling sweet-sourness of the tamarind, the bitterness of the gourd, and the pungent heat of the spices all come together in some sort of kitchen alchemy to make a dish that will make you want to pick up your plate and lick it off!
All you need to go with the theeyal, as Sangita says, is some boiled rice and some poppadums.
Visit Sangita's blog for the recipe which I pretty much stuck to, except that I changed the order the ingredients slightly. I added the turmeric and chilli powder to the bitter gourd so they would get lightly toasted in the oil, before adding the water.
This theeyal goes to Nupur's CopyCat edition of Blog Bites. Thanks, Nupur and Sangita!