An hour before the attack. GT with full complement of tail feathers is at the bottom right.

Part I

My stomach is in knots right now because I’m killing time till I have to leave for the Breast Cancer Center and get a biopsy. I don’t think I have cancer. I’m actually nervous because I don’t want someone to shove a needle into my boob. And they found this lump last time I had a mammogram and decided it was benign and it’s probably still benign.

I guess I’ll be honest with you. I’m a little scared about cancer. Because there is a lot of cancer in my family, paternal and maternal, and my mom died with cancer.

Oof what a day I had yesterday. As I was dressing after a shower, I glanced down the hill at my babies, my Lil’ Hussies, the chickens whom you all know I adore. I saw no chickens, but that’s not too alarming since I’ve left their pen door open lately and let them roam. I did see a dog, walking along the creek. And then I saw a second dog, INSIDE the pen chewing on…something, I couldn’t really see. Whatever had happened, I missed it because I was in the shower.

And then I felt white hot, and my heart pounded so hard my knees shook, and I ran madly around the room, scrambling for boots and a jacket, saying “no no no no no,” and flew down the hill yelling, “Get out! Get out!” and the stupid dog knew instantly it was bad, and cowered and ran to the back of the pen. Then hen he had been chewing on, named GT, was huddled in a lump. I already hate dogs, and I’m scared of big dogs, and this was not so much huge but intimidating: a solid hunk of meat that looked like maybe a pitbull/bulldog mix. I chased and chased the dog, but its pure instinct was to go to the back corner of the pen, opposite the door. Well thank god the dog has good owners, because the ONLY way I got that damned animal out of the chicken pen was to wrap my arms around its middle and half-drag it to the door, and even then it kept breaking free and running to the back corner of the pen. All the while, my heart was pounding and I was frantically scanning the area for the other hens but not seeing any. I was hyperventilating, heart in my throat, still demanding, “Get out!” Finally, finally I dragged that stupid beast out of the pen and shut the door. The thing could have killed me – it’s one of those breeds of dogs. But again I say thank the gods for its owners who have raised a good dog. A good dog who now knows about my chickens.

I went to GT, lying amidst a pile of feathers. She was alive and bleeding, possibly a broken leg. I petted her and soothed her, but didn’t know what else to do and I needed to find the other chickens. I ran frantically around the pen, looked under the chicken house, looked up into the trees above hoping they were smart enough to fly up. No chickens. I was a mess, calling “My babies, where are my babies?” circling round and round the outside of the pen, among the trees, calling them. I felt literally sick to my stomach.

Thus began an hours-long drama of scouring the whole neighborhood. My neighborhood is mostly forest, so I did so much bush-whacking. I asked at the neighbors’ places for permission to hunt their properties, and one of my neighbors joined the hunt. We searched and searched and found three pretty quickly, both smart/lucky enough to have jumped inside fenced areas of my other neighbor’s back yard and also their rose garden. We went up and down the road, up and down the creek. My neighbor finally went home and I had to give up after finding three hens plus wounded GT. Then the old matriarch, Jamie, wandered in from the woods, a bit bewildered. She never dies. She is indomitable. Four were in good shape. I was missing three.

Yesterday was supposed to be the day I really got to work on my final projects for school. I have so much work piling up and I just found out my brother and his family are coming for the weekend from Montana and I’m SO excited to have them here and I’m thrilled that they want to visit. It’s just that I have one huge final paper due Monday at noon and I haven’t even started because I’ve got all these other assignments I’ve been working on…ugh. You know how it is. You’ve been in school. I was already so stressed out with school, and with the biopsy, and then my beloved hens were attacked by a stupid dog and I hate dogs. Anyway, my pulse was approaching normal again, so I went back to working on school, and periodically I checked outside and yes, one by one, bedraggled hens began appearing. By evening the last one showed up. I have all eight of the Lil’ Hussies back. I still felt sick and wasn’t able to eat all day.

I realize that my big One Year Later post is supposed to be March 12 – the Day the World Changed For Me and it’s now exactly a year later and that goddamned pandemic that rocked my world that day is still raging. Our new cases of COVID-19 in the US have dropped from the peak and have stabilized at the level we were at last summer, and last summer we were in the depths of a pandemic. Will it ever end?

It’s enough to make me fall apart but I am indomitable too.

The past 365 days I have been healthy and happy. I have learned so much in my classes. I have connected more deeply with some friends and reconnected with family – can you believe that? During a pandemic? I have made brand new friends who are today integrated into my life. I have loved and I have been loved. I met the most amazing, incredible man. I am deeply in love. I’m still pinching myself. Pedro has lived a life with tremendous challenges and we see in each other someone who understands. Long before we met we had both chosen to leave the pain behind us and find the joy instead. He’s a kindred spirit. He checked in with me yesterday all day about the chickens, and has messaged me multiple times since early this morning, worrying about me today. One Year Later and despite the world’s madness my life seems to be getting progressively better and I’m addressing each new catastrophe with grace when I can (albeit not graceful there for a few hours yesterday).

Part II

And viola. It’s done. I’m back and it was fine and I barely felt a thing. I will find out the results next week they said.

Guess what? They put a titanium marker in me to mark the spot they checked and now my left boob is bionic! I need a superhero name. While I was waiting for yet another mammogram, to check exactly where the titanium is, I messaged Pedro and told him I gave his name as an emergency contact. He wrote back “That’s great, thank you!” I was expecting him to say it’s ok that I gave them his name without asking permission, and instead he said thank you. He wants to know, even about the shitty stuff in my life. It meant so much to me, that ‘thank you.’

Guess what else? I came home and went out to check on my girls. They must have brains like goldfish because they were all happy and eager to get out of their pen again and roam free. I told them, “Don’t you know this is where the dogs are?” but they didn’t care. But better…GT was out there with them. It stands for Garbage Truck. You were wondering, I know. She came to me from a friend whose nephew named her. She is alert, and hobbling on a bad leg, and has no feathers on her back end. She’s a truncated chicken. Because of swelling probably, her poo isn’t coming out as it should, but I think that will improve and I have high hopes of a full recovery. I stood outside with them while they soaked up sunbeams and ate grass. GT laid down and ate her grass from that position, resting her bad leg. Then I coaxed them all back inside and shut the door against dogs.

Truncated chicken
How sweet are these girls? GT is lying in the grass to rest her wounded leg. Two (yes, her name is Two) kept sticking by GT for the time I was out there. The other hens would wander off, and Two stuck by GT. They have been close as long as I’ve had them, and it seems as though Two is staying by her side on purpose.

What’s my message today? After I left the Breast Cancer Center my heart felt like it had dropped out of my throat into my intestines. I was so relieved. My lungs opened up and I started shaking. Isn’t that funny. It happens with me that my trembling tends to kick in once everything’s ok. Though pummeled, I was feeling so alive and thought of the indomitability of life. Viruses are amazing. You’ve got to respect what they can do – imagine that kind of power to take down enemies a million times larger. Chickens are amazing. People are amazing to have started with stone tools and today I had a 6-minute mammogram to double-check the placement of a titanium marker. And people are amazing to have capacity for joy and grace that we can all tap into. And love. How fortunate we are that there is love in the world.

It’s so much harder to face another spring – another one! – in a pandemic. It’s so much harder for me this time. But I am now bionic, and based on my past history I know I can get through anything. Writing to you guys is therapeutic. I am feeling better, thank you. I’ve been fielding calls from people who are checking on me. I’m actually hungry for the first time in two days, and that’s a good sign. I know my scheduled post went out this morning and I never post twice in a day. But I wrote that one a week ago and this one I wrote to you today and I’m just going to send it out. So there. ❤

23 thoughts on “Indomitability

  1. Ahh, you strong bionic woman! Much love for you and for your amazing chickens who ran away! That’s smart, if you ask me. And they all came back too! I’m so sorry for your state of shock but I’m glad that you’ve done your maintenance. It’s better that you’re being monitored. I did my first mammogram last year and it was painful! No bionic or other implants for me but they stretch and pull you left and right… My results were good and I wish the same for yours. I’m so glad that you’re loved and at peace now and hungry again. Hugggggs!

    1. Thank you beloved. You were one of the friends I grew closer to in the past year. I even met your Amore and your parents! How exciting! My first couple of mammograms were so painful. I know what you’re saying. These last few were not so bad, and I’m not sure if it’s a change in technology or the technician or both. Maybe I’m tougher this year, which would totally make sense. Ha! I’ll post an update and let you know the results of the biopsy, after I get them. Thanks for the hugs. I can use them today.

  2. Yes, you are indomitable – as if I didn’t already know. Tackling two major fears in one day is commendable. It occurs to me that the reason for your success with the dog is that you were so protective of your babies that you showed the animal no fear.

    1. Oh gosh, Derrick, I’m sure you are right. I didn’t even think of that, but it must be that I felt no fear. I didn’t even hesitate. The first time I was attacked by a German Shepherd, I only got it to stop when I finally lost my patience. I was thinking “How dare this dog?” I faced him and pointed my finger and said, “NO!” The dog sat down and I limped home. I need to remember that if I’m ever attacked by a bear, ha ha!

  3. Good golly, Crystal. Reading this is enough to raise anyone’s blood pressure. I hate that dogs are out loose to roam and destroy. I do hope GT recovers. You, I’m sure you will. No matter what comes at you, you will prevail. I hate how they leave you frightened for days and weeks. I stopped getting mammograms. Each time they saw a mass and wanted a scan. Each time, I felt so much anxiety that in the end, after my PF diagnosis, I stopped getting them. But of course, I’m old so it doesn’t matter. I’ll keep you in my thoughts daily for a positive outcome. I’m hoping all goes well with the visit and you get your project finished. I’m here when you need me. Giant squishy hugs. It will be nice when they are no longer virtual.

    1. I’m sure I made it more emotional of a story than another person might make it, but they are my babies and ohmigosh I love them. I want to go talk to the owners, but it’s hillbilly country out here and I don’t want to head over there alone. I can lead off with the fact that they did raise a good dog. Some people get those breeds to make them fighters, and these folks clearly did not. I want to find out if their dogs broke loose that day, or if they are periodically turned loose. It will make a difference in how I let my hens out of the pen.

      As soon as I hear the results on the test, I’ll let you know.

      1. If you explain to the owners the way you explained it to me, they will understand. Dogs follow instincts and have to be trained out of that. I’m expecting good results. You expect them too. Hugs.

  4. Crystal, the campaign has kept me from blogging or reading blogs, so I’m not sure what prompted me to read yours this morning.
    Despite the trials of your day(s), your post is ultimately one of positivity and success. You conquered your fear, you saved the day with your chickens, and you made it through the biopsy.
    I am proud of you and happy for you and will be sending all good thoughts for a negative test results and no sight of those dogs!
    Take care my friend.

    1. Beloved Laurie, kindred spirit in my life before Pedro (wink!). I’m glad you stopped by and I always love hearing from you. I’m glad you caught the right mood from my post. Ultimately, I wrote it from a good place and I’m thinking of all the positive perspectives, about Covid, about health & technology, caring about my animals and others’ animals. I have a really good attitude about the lump in my breast, and that’s good medicine, I know. Here’s to negative test results and positive attitudes! ❤

  5. First, before the little hussies and before before the cancer scare (few things are scarier), I am so pleased that you have found a good buddy to love! It sound like the girls have more or less made it through another trauma. Spring will be okay. While Covid is still here, we can see things improving instead of getting worst. By summer, the majority of Americans will have had their vaccinations. And there is a world of difference in Washington. Take care, my friend. PS… the quilt should be finished sometime in the next two weeks. 🙂 –Curt

    1. Thank you Curt!! Having Pedro in my life is huge news. It’s a little hard to learn how to shift my perspective, from dating for so many, many years to finally not having to think about dating anymore. The endless dating creates a whole kind of ugly personality where I’m suspicious, desperate, and insecure with every man who is kind to me. I came to believe, after decades of experience, that there was no one I could ever be satisfied with. I’ve spent the past six years since I broke up with Arno, trying very hard to make myself love men I thought I should be able to love. So yeah, a complete change of worldview in December. Within weeks of meeting Pedro I knew all the dating was over. I don’t have to try hard to love any part of him because it’s automatic. It is clear he feels the same way about me. Thank you for pointing out that beautiful thing! We are always planning a trip to southern Oregon because he moved to Portland from Klamath Falls and I had family in Klamath, Chiloquin, and Lakeview, and anyway, we will eventually head down there and you two can meet him!

      The girls are doing great. GT is getting out every day and limping less. She is such a trooper, out there, hopping along as fast as she can to keep up with the other ladies. I am so excited for Spring, and a new administration, and I get my first shot tomorrow!! Whoop!! Have you guys had your vaccinations? And I am dying to see that quilt. ❤

      1. We look forward to meeting Pedro, Crystal. And wish the two of you the very best. When Peggy and I first met, she was 39 and I was 46. It’s been magic ever since. 🙂
        It does sound like GT is a trooper. We have a wild turkey who has one leg and has been hanging out in our yard. I haven’t seen her for a couple of days, however, and hope she is okay.
        Peggy and I both have our vaccinations, now. We were lucky to get in early! Our second shot was over three weeks ago!
        The quilt is supposed to be done this week. 🙂 –Curt

  6. I love that you too find words therapeutic. And dogs frightening, Crystal.
    What a rollercoaster ride you’ve had in such a short space of time. But I’m so happy to hear that you are now bionic (most probably with yet undiscovered super-powers ;)), and that you have found love in the form of a kindred spirit. I always marvel at how quickly life can fluctuate between extremes. But above all I’m so happy that you have a resilient spirit.

    1. Thank you, Jolandi. My resilience is maybe like yours? Perhaps you recognize resilience because you need it so often. You and Michael have chosen a life of adventure and that means you must draw from inside yourself so often. I didn’t realize how far behind I am on your posts. This morning after the pottery lesson I began reading A Taste of Freedom at September, and now I’m caught up through 2020. Ha ha. It reminds me a little of taking over my own property out here, but your property is in a different country with different customs. Yes! What you said about fluctuating between extremes. That has been true in my life. Maybe that’s what people are avoiding – those people who choose not to have constant adventures – maybe they’re avoiding those extremes, and I can see the appeal for others. But not me. I say bring it on! Thank you for being happy for me. ❤

      1. You are so right about drawing regularly from deep inside to be able to live a life of uncertainty through choosing the path of adventure. I at times feel overwhelmed with everything I have and want to do here in Portugal, but I love this new adventure on the land. At least that is when there isn’t a fluctuation into the direction of an extreme I don’t particularly enjoy. 😉 Cheers to many more adventures for both of us.

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