Goodbye Sweet Max

My old man, my big boy, my buddy…these are all things I called my beautiful cat Maximum Paws, belovedly known as Max.  (he had more toes than normal, hence the name, Maximum Paws)

Max was 19 years old.  For the past few years he has had a number of old kitty ailments, but they were all being managed well.  This past week, he took a quick turn for the worse.  We tried to save him, we didn’t think this would be the end.  No one did.

I won’t go into details of his death.  He just got sick and we had to say goodbye.  Our hearts are breaking.  We are both devastated.  Our big boy is gone.

He leaves us exactly one week after the 5th anniversary of his sister’s death.  Sandy was a huge part of our lives.  I wrote about her loss here.

I feel like I’ve lost my children.  I know many people will not understand this, but Sandy and Max were a part of our lives for so long.  We started our lives together with them.  They rode across country twice with us.  They were close.  It was a great relationship.  And they brought so much love and happiness into our lives.  I miss them so.

I just can’t stop crying.  My heart is broken.  I see him everywhere, and no where.

my darling Max you will forever be in my heart.

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Death and Living

nature-lady-color-cropped

On June 30th my father died.  Yesterday was his birthday.  I would have thought that I would be filled with sad emotions, instead I’ve been filled with a renewed lust for life.  All we know really is life and death, I’m thinking that his death made me realize just how lucky I am to be alive.  I may have a lot of hurdles to jump over every day, but I’m alive and I will thrive.

Often when you have a chronic illness life becomes so hard we don’t care to live any longer.  I know I’ve been suicidal, more often I’ve simply felt that I didn’t want to wake up.  I simply didn’t want to exist any more, it was just too hard.  Since my father’s death, I’ve realized that I’ve been wasting what life I’ve been given.  Yes, I’m sick and I can’t do a lot of things that a normal person can do, but there are a lot of things I can do, I just need to figure out my limits and live within those without wishing for things to be different.  Wishing for everything to be different makes life miserable.

Losing a parent can make you reevaluate your life.  For me it made me realize I haven’t been appreciating my life.  I realize I want to live.  I may not enjoy every moment of my life, my life may be hard, but it’s my life and I’m going to live it!

 

During this holiday season, I wish you all a life well lived.

 

**all images on Picnic With Ants created and owned by Wendy Holcombe unless otherwise noted.

I Didn’t Expect

expectationI didn’t expect the depression I’m feeling….

I saw the signs, I have so much going on, there are so many outside reasons….but I’m struggling….this is why I’ve been away so long, why my blog has been suffering, why I simply haven’t.

Today, I’m going to write, I have too much to write about, I am overwhelmed by how much I have to write about, but I need to…..

I didn’t expect to have vertigo almost all day the day before surgery.

I didn’t expect to have vertigo in the waiting room right before surgery.

adapted from Teen Titans cartoon

adapted from Teen Titans cartoon

I didn’t expect the intense pain after my surgery.  During surgery the back injury that just got better was aggravated.  I was not just dealing with surgery pain, the pain I expected, I was dealing with the back pain and severe sciatic pain.  To make it worse, I couldn’t move to make the back and sciatic any better.  I was stuck, in so much pain.  We could not get this pain under control.  I have issues with pain medication.  Everything makes me hypersensitive, I feel like things are on me, it makes me itchy.  So I was only prescribed Tylenol and Tramadol.  This didn’t do it.  They tried to put me on my side to help, this caused me so much pain I swear I wasn’t even in the room it was just pain.  Luckily, it didn’t last long.  I decided I’d rather itch.  They tried Hydrocodone.  nothing.  I don’t know what all was tried.  at 2am they tried Toradol, this is a NSAID given by IV or injection.  I’ve had it for my migraines before.  This finally worked.  Probably in conjunction with everything else.  I finally fell asleep.  Only to be awoken at 4am to have my blood drawn.  Then at 6am for something and at 7am because shifts changed….it was an exhausting.  But I have to say, the night nurse who was trying to help me was absolutely wonderful, I couldn’t have asked for better care.

I didn’t expect to have low blood pressure, a magnesium deficiency, and have to stay another night.

I did get out of bed the first day and walk a little, I was told I did great.  (the intense pain hadn’t started yet)  I had my morning Physical Therapy on the second day and did well, even though I was a little dizzy.  I didn’t expect to have a vertigo that afternoon.  During my vertigo attack I had 3 different people come to work with me, including my Physical Therapist.  No afternoon PT, no going home.  They also had to make sure my pain was under control before I went home.  It was better that night…but I had to sleep in a recliner, glad we bought one for me the right before I had my surgery.  (ugly thing)  I didn’t expect to HAVE to sleep in a chair for many nights after I got home.  I didn’t expect to cry from the pain so much, after my surgery.

I didn’t expect my sister to come and help.  I am very grateful.  I didn’t expect it to be so hard for Stuart to stand back and allow someone to help.  He said he’s just used to doing it, it’s hard to ask someone else to do things.  Yep, I know that feeling.  It’s very hard to ask others to do things.  Especially, for me to ask for the little things.  It’s hard to ask for things like something to drink, or a snack, to reach something for me, to get me a blanket if I’m cold….ect.  Yep, I’m having a hard time asking for things too.  I’ll ask for someone to go to the store, or do some laundry, things like that…..but it’s the little things that get me.  It makes me feel so helpless.  Eh…I guess I am.   (I feel pretty weird having anyone other than Stuart do private things for me too…that is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with…one of the hardest)

I didn’t expect to have vertigo every day since my surgery.

I didn’t expect for Stuart to have to take off a second week from work.  (I think he got in a little bit of work the second week…but not much.)

-Rachel Wolchin thegoodvibe.co

I didn’t expect…..

I didn’t expect to have a death in the family two days after my surgery.  It was my extended family by marriage (my cousin’s daughter’s husband), I didn’t know him personally, but the circumstances of his death were hard….so very sad.  He was young, in his late thirties.  He was EMT on his way to work and pulled off and parked at a gas station, they found him slumped across the steering wheel dead.  The autopsy has been inconclusive.  There are still test out, but they don’t expect to find anything.  They will probably have no idea why he died.   They also found out a lot about him that his wife had no idea about, it is very, very sad.  It also makes you think…..and think….

I didn’t expect for one of my father’s friends to die the next day.  I knew him growing up.  He worked with my father, they used to Barbeque (or barbecue in some parts) together.  When I say Barbeque, I mean Southern Barbeque; a huge hog in a pit, slow roasted all night long….oh my it is good.  We used to have picnics and things over at his farm.  He let me touch my first cow, it was much softer than I thought it would be.  He was 12 years younger than my father.  As you get older you see more and more friends die, I wonder if my father is having a hard time with this?  I’ve noticed he goes to a lot of funerals.  That’s a subject that would be hard for me to broach with him.

I didn’t expect my friend Laurie from Hibernationnow’s Blog to die on April, 21st.  She caught the flu in February and that just snowballed into more and more, she just got sicker and finally her body couldn’t take it any more and she died.   I’m in complete in shock about her death.  I keep looking for updates to her blog in my email.  I look for her to chat with me on Facebook.  I heard from her in some way nearly every day.  It may not have been personally, but I always knew she was there.  Now she’s not.  Just like that….suddenly her voice is gone.  Her thoughts are not in my life any more.  Laurie fought fibromyalgia, she was quirky in ways and loved the color yellow, she loved the ocean, writing, and most of all her family.  We were both foodies, and we both lost a dogs who left huge holes in our hearts, and later we both adopted rescue dogs who took over a new place in our hearts.  The one thing we disagreed the most about was our feelings about the chef Alton Brown.  She hated him, I love him…..it was quite a debate on one of her post!  I will miss you Laurie.  All the support and love you gave me, and our friendly banter.  May you be pain-free in a nice warm place near the ocean taking a walk with your father.

I didn’t expect my dearest friend’s mother to die this week.  She has been battling Amyotrophy Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) for the past 9 months.  I’m actually relieved she didn’t have to live in her body with her mind fully aware without being able to communicate with anyone for very long.  I loved Kathy very much.  I wanted so much to be there to help care for her.  I wanted to be there for my friend and help her through this difficult time.  Now I can’t be there for her again.  The death of her mother is going to devastate my friend.  She was closer to her than anyone.  They talked daily.  They were best friends.  Her mother’s illness took a toll on the family.  Yes, she will have a lot of people around her, but I know she needs her best friend.  It is extremely hard not to be able to go.  I am so tired of feeling useless.  But this should not be about me, it should be about Kathy.  She was such a strong woman.  A single mother, raising 3 children mostly by herself.  She was so generous and kind.  She worked so hard and hard and hard….and she gave and gave and gave.  This probably gave her more joy, but from my view I wish she had been able to take more time for her.  She was just about to retire when she got sick.  I know Kathy did have a good life, and celebrated life, but I also know she was looking forward to slowing down and just enjoying her grand children.  Please don’t put off living until tomorrow.  Kathy was one of the best people I knew.  That sums it up pretty well.

I didn’t expect writing this post would make me feel better.

tonibernhard.comquote

Leaving in a Mini-Van….

don’t know when I’ll be home again…  (yes I butchered the song, “Leaving on a Jet Plane”).

We will be leaving Tucson tomorrow, Tuesday, March 19th.  I’m very ready to get home and absolutely terrified of the trip!  Terror to the point of making me sick.  What to do? Oh what to do?  I know I’ll be alright no matter what.  Stuart will be with me, and he’s just wonderful at handling things when I’m not at my best.  I feel so guilty, Stuart has been packing everything and getting food ready, and washing clothes…..yes, he’s been doing everything, as I lay in bed with ice on my head in the dark, trying not to throw up.  My stomach hurts so bad I’m getting scared….do I have an ulcer?

OK…now you’ve seen me at my most anxious.  Not pretty is it?  Getting  here wasn’t that bad.  I had that horrible cough and every room we stayed it smelled way over fragranced.   I’m sure it’s because we have to have a room where pets are allowed, but it kills me!  But I didn’t get sick…I mean sick, sick….until we got here.  Then I had a horrific attack, in a car!  I think that is one of the things that is scaring me the most.

I am ready to go home, or at least I’m ready to leave here.  This was one of the most miserable trips I’ve ever been on.  Spending the little bit of time, I was able to, with my niece made much of the misery worth it.

I noticed something the last time I was with my niece, I push myself more when she is around.  I have a ball with her, but I do more than I normally would…and I pay for it for a few days, however, it’s totally worth it!  Her imagination is incredible!  I wish I was able to spend more time with her.

I have so many appointments when I get back to NC.  First I see my CI (Cochlear Implant) audiologist.  I may have mentioned on here that I haven’t been thrilled with my hearing with my CI…but I figured something out!  My CI audiologist adjusted things so it would work best with my hearing aid.  After all we hear better with two ears.  The trouble started when my right ear decided it was going to go defunk since we’ve been here.  I can barely hear anything out of my hearing aid…on good days…and it is distorted.  So I’ve just been wearing my CI…it wasn’t set up for that, so I’m feeling much better about that.  It does look like the second CI will be happening….after all, the hearing aid isn’t doing much.

Second appointment, my therapist.  Oh how I look forward to talking to her about this trip, what a let down.  Plus, I’m really over loaded with guilt lately.  I think I should say…GUILT!  Not that it’s justified.  Most of it is about things I can’t do anything about.  But one big issue I’m having is my grief over Sandy, and my guilt surrounding her death.  I simply will never know if I did the right thing, if we could have done more?  I simply miss her so much, there still has not been a day since she died that I have not cried.  On April 18th it will be a year since I lost my little girl.  (funny how we say “lost”, I didn’t lose her,  I know where she is…in a little brown box wrapped up in her favorite blankets with her favorite toys and a raw hide)  I’ll always love you Sandy girl….but I need some help dealing with the loss of my very best friend.

I’ll also be seeing my Otologist for a CI check up, and to discuss the possibilities of another one.

In May I’ll be seeing my headache pain specialist and get more Botox shots!  Yes I’m looking forward to that appointment, too bad it’s so far out.

Some time in there I’ll be seeing my GP, time for blood test, have her check out this cough thing and all that kind of stuff.  Including this horrible stomach pain.

So I’m all caught up…I think.  Not sure if I’ll be able to do anything on the computer while we are traveling.  I know we’ll have Wi-Fi in our rooms, .but don’t know if I’ll feel like looking at the computer.

 

A Realization

For months now…oh about six…I haven’t had the desire to do much.  Blogging always helped me deal with things and I’ve found support here I never thought possible…but I just haven’t felt like it.  I’ll think about blog posts, write them in my head, but then in the day I don’t get out my computer and get in touch with the world.  I keep thinking I’m snapping out of it, and I am better…and I do think I’m pulling myself out of this depression now, but it was there sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear “What’s the point?”

It’s almost 6 months since Sandy died, and I’ve been consumed with grief and guilt.  I know I don’t have a reason to feel guilty, but all the “should have, would have, could have” questions kept swimming around in my head.  Those kind of questions don’t do any good at a time like this, but they’ve been surrounding me…all the “What if’s…”

Sandy….Happy Dog!.

I still expect to see her, and occasionally, out of the corner of my eye, I could swear she was there.  I will feel her on the bed, and nothing is there.  There have been times I could have sworn I heard her.  (Now I wonder how many times I heard noises and thought they were her and they were something else?)

A lot of people would not understand this deep grief I feel for the loss of my dog.  But she was more than just a dog to me…she was a constant companion for 19 years, my Baby Girl, my Sugar Plum Fairy…or as Stuart would call her, our “Stinky Dog”.  No Sandy wasn’t a Stinky dog.  It is a term of endearment from my husband, if he makes up a little song about you and it says you are stinky then he must love you dearly.

Stuart and (his Stinky Dog) Sandy (taken early April 2012)

Because of this lack of understanding, and the feeling within myself that I shouldn’t feel like this still, I’ve been feeling very alone with these emotions.  I hid a lot of it from Stuart for a while, but recently I haven’t been able to.

Two nights ago, I had a complete breakdown.  Nothing sparked it, nothing.  I was just about to doze off, and it started.  I ended up crying (read sobbing uncontrollably) for almost two hours.  Since then I have felt a release.  I’m still crying over her, but something broke during that night of gut wrenching sobbing.  I feel freer from the guilt than I have, I feel like I can move on….that doesn’t mean I’m forgetting my dearest Sandy Girl and everything she means to me, but I hope it means I can begin to see the sun again.  I’m kicking that little guy off my shoulder, he will no longer be able to whisper those disparaging words to me.  I love Sandy, and always will.  I know I did the best I could for her, even if i do question that sometimes.  More so, I question if the vet did the best she could have done for her, but I need to let that go too.  (However, Max has a new vet now.)

Sandy and Max checking on me in bed.

 

I know she was 19 1/2.  That’s amazing I’m told.  But just days before she died she was chasing the cat, curling up with me, and just such a happy dog.  I remember how every time she ate her dinner she wagged her tail the whole time.  I need to think more about the good memories, and remove the shroud that has been over me holding in just the memories of her last days.  Sandy brought me too much love to dwell on the tragedy of her death.

I won’t make promises that I will be here more often, but I think I will be….I need to get back to my friends, and managing my life, instead of allowing it to manage me.

(there may be many errors in this post, I just can’t read it again right now.)

Mother’s Day is very hard for some people

image from farmhousecountrystyle.blogspot.com

Every year since my mother died Mother’s Day has been bitter-sweet.  Everywhere I look people are telling you to get in touch with your mother, let her know how much you appreciate her, and how much you love her.  I’m sure there are many people who have lost their mother or perhaps lost a child, or for those who have mother’s who are not someone you really want to thank….you know they are out there….and this holiday is very, very hard for them.  Just as it is for me.

This year, Mother’s Day is especially hard for me.  This year, I expected to be a mother, a foster-mother yes, but a mother non-the-less.  That dream was taken from me this past year, and it won’t be coming back.  I’m okay with this decision, but it stings right now.

Mother’s Day is also very hard this year because I lost my little baby girl….yes, I’m talking about Sandy.  I know many won’t understand because she was a dog, but she was my baby for 19 years.  She was more of a constant in my life than any human.  And yes, it may sound silly, but most Mother’s Days I got a card from her and Max.  (yes, I’m not delusional, I know Stuart sent the cards, but her little paw print signed it….and I was her mommy.)   Stuart would joke around and make a special breakfast for me saying that our children insisted that he do so.  Yes, this Mother’s Day will be very hard.

This week Sandy’s memorial bench arrived. It’s sitting on our front porch, but we haven’t been able to inter her remains yet.  Yes, that will probably happen this weekend.  Her ashes are in a little box, this will be sealed in her special box (where we kept her stuff), with her special blanket, sweater, collar, just little things we think she would have like to have.   All of these things will be sealed in an airtight container, then sealed in the bench.    In our will we have a provision, when we die we plan to have our ashes mixed, Sandy’s ashes will also be mixed with ours.  (Max’s too, but since he is still alive, I don’t want to say things like that.)

Are we strange for caring so much about how our dog is cared for after death?  Are we the only ones like this.  I hope not.

But I’ve wandered away from the point of this post.   For all of those who find holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and even Christmas hard, you are not alone.  For all of you who now someone who has a hard time during these holidays, reach out.  Everyone needs to feel a little love.