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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Our Family Grows

On Sunday, September 7th we walked into Pet Supermarket to get Max some cat food and met this little girl:

10635901_10203173624444748_2641088124266372651_nShe was very scared and shy.  She wanted me to pet her, but wasn’t sure.  Then she looked at me and I think she suddenly she realized, I was a good one.  I bent down to her and she came up to my face and gave me the tiniest lick on my nose.  Tears welled in my eyes.  I knew this dog needed me.

Her name is Kiki.  She is about 2 1/2 years old.  She is a Terrier mix.  Looks like she is probably a Rat Terrier, with maybe some Chihuahua in there?  She is a little thing, she weighs about 13 lbs.  One of the first things you will notice about her is that she has a crooked front left leg.  This is part of her sad history.

Kiki has had a rough life so far.  We know she was in an abusive situation, that is where the broken leg came from.  It healed without being tended to.  I can’t imagine the pain she had to have been in.  She then ended up in a shelter where she was adopted by a lady who had 11 dogs.  She was a hoarder.  The dogs were not house trained.  They were not socialized or exercised.  Her neighbor had adopted a cat from the agency that ended up with Kiki, the Tasha, the founder of the agency, tried to talk the lady into letting her find homes for some of the animals but she wouldn’t let her.  The lady was subsequently evicted and that is when the Tasha got Kiki.  She had her for a month trying to get her socialized, at least partially house trained, and just calm before trying to find her a forever home.  Kiki has been with her for about 3 months and has really shown what a wonderful dog she is.

When we first met Kiki she would growl at Stuart sometimes.  Actually, she growled here and there at anyone.  Stuart said she growled at me a couple of times, but I never heard it. (the wonders of being deaf, huh?)  We talked to her Tasha and asked about fostering her for a little while before deciding about adoption, explaining that we weren’t sure if our big old cat would accept a dog in the family.  We did foster a dog for a little while once before and Max did not accept him at all.  However, he was a big dog, and a puppy.  We were hopeful that this situation would be different.  Kiki is smaller than Max, and she has lived with cats before so she is used to them.  Tasha understood and said she was willing to let us foster her for a few weeks before we adopted her.  We took an application with us to talk it over and get things started.

On Thursday of that week, right after I got my hip injection, Kiki arrived at our home.

Kiki’s arrives.

She was not too sure she really wanted to be here at first.   I felt so bad.  She was very attached to Tasha.  Kiki cried and cried when she left her with us.

IMG_20140911_200349

After a few hours she got a bit more settled.  She did play some with me that night, and slept curled up beside me.  It became apparent she was going to bond with me, but it was going to be a little bit harder with Stuart.   So I had him give her treats, and spend more time with her and suddenly I came out to find….

Stuart getting kisses from Kiki!
Stuart getting kisses from Kiki!

They are best buddies now!  She is still wary of him when he has on his work clothes, but she warms up fast as soon as he puts on his every day clothes.  I guess she just doesn’t like a man dressed up!  She used to get very upset when she got crowed.  We live in a small place now, if two people pass in the hall, it is crowded.  Kiki would often growl and cower if we were suddenly over her, she has gotten used to it now.  She is adapting so fast, I’m so very proud of her.

IMG_20140914_185351IMG_20140914_185320In these two pictures you can see how her leg healed when it was broken.  We still have to take her to see a vet to see if she is in pain, or if this will affect her in her later in life, or if there is anything we should do about it?  We know we can’t afford to pay for her to have major reconstructive surgery at this time, but if she needs to have surgery, we can start to save for it now.  She does not act as if it hurts.  She runs and jumps without favoring it.  In the photo it looks as if she is favoring it, but when she walks she puts her weight on it.  It breaks my heart to know someone hurt her like that.  I can only promise her that I will try my best to make sure no one ever hurts her again.

We were asked if we would keep her name.  We thought about it….should we change it?  Truthfully, we wouldn’t have named her Kiki, but she likes it.  She listens to it.  We thought about changing it to Mini, it sounds close so I’m sure she would get used to it.  We thought it would be cute because we have a Max.  But she’s Kiki.  Stuart often calls her Kikster!  He has also called her Yoda because of her ears.  She does have Yoda ears.   A friend said she could have multiple names, Kiki Mini Yoda…now we keep playing around and singing her songs every night adding names on to her.  hahaha  However, she is Kiki.

We knew it was a good sign between Kiki and Max when they didn’t chase each other.  They were a little curious, but mainly stayed out of each others way.   Then on day 3 I was lying in bed reading and Kiki fell asleep on one side of me, and Max came up and went to sleep on the other side.  I was in a pet sandwich!  Wow!  I was amazed! Then yesterday I walked in the living room and saw this:

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Max and Kiki

They had both taken my seat!  Most importantly though, I think they are pretty comfortable with each other!  Every once in a while they will chase each other.  I’m not sure if they are really chasing each other, or playing.  I think they are playing.   When they catch each other, they just stop.  It’s kind of funny.

We haven’t officially adopted Kiki yet.  However, we do plan to.  We just want to have her checked out by the vet first.  I can’t imagine what they could possibly say that would make us not adopt her.  We just feel it would be irresponsible for us to go into this adoption without knowing everything.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while know how much the loss of my dog Sandy left a huge open hole in my heart.  It has been about 2 1/2 years since she died.  We feel it is a good time for us to add a new member into our pack.  We think Kiki is a good fit.  I also feel Sandy has had a little paw in selecting her.  There have been a few little things that she does that are just so “Sandy”.  Suddenly I can talk about Sandy without crying.  I feel this sadness lifted.  She has not been replaced in any way, I feel she wanted me to help another dog the way I helped her.  I feel like I’m fulfilling a promise, and her memory is living on in this new little furry baby.

Sandy
Sandy

This has been a very joyful time and a very hard time for me.  People who are going to adopt a pet have many things to consider.  Chronically ill people have many more things to consider.   This is a huge responsibility.   I have been doing so much better recently I thought I could take care of Kiki mostly on my own.   I was writing stories of the future.  Just as worrying does no good because we can’t do anything about the future, expecting the future to be as the same as it is today is also fruitless.  Everything changes.  We have to remember, we can’t predict the future.  When things hit us from out of the blue, we have to make room for it and adjust.

I’ll explain in my next post.    …..teaser……my hip condition is complicated so, I suddenly have a dog and can’t walk her, at least not right now………

Me and my blog…..it just is.

hearts gray scale
w. holcombe’s heART

After more thought, and feeling much love, I realized hearing the “criticisms” about my blog, and/or me, hit home because I was feeling critical about myself.  I don’t think of myself as a negative person, but I was feeling it, and didn’t even realize it.  My life has changed drastically over the last 4 or 5 years, and the one thing I felt I held on to was my ability to see the best of the situation.  I never asked “Why me?”  I said, “Why not me?”  This is very important to me.  This is a part of my very essence.   I was afraid I was losing me.

Let’s face it, the past couple of years have been very challenging for this household.  Yes, we’ve met these challenges head on, but they just kept coming…..and coming…and coming……..often the solutions have not been as easily forthcoming.

It has been wearing me down.  Much more than I realized.  Not one to dwell on things, I normally allow myself to feel the emotions that go along with a challenge then I make a plan, and deal with it.  “How do I handle this?”  “What can I do?”  “What’s the best way….????”   Unfortunately, many of the challenges I’ve had to face recently have been completely out of my control, or the resolution is not easily obtained.

  • My husband lost his job…..what can I do?  I asked myself that often.  I felt guilty that I couldn’t work.  I tried to get disability and was denied.  (yes I’m appealing, but it’s taking a long time.) Totally, out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • Sandy died.  My best friend.  My constant companion.  I felt lost.  In many ways I still do. I felt guilty.  I felt I let her down.  I know that’s not the case.  The grief has taken a lot out of me.  Out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • I’ve had added health issues.  Out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • My health issues have gotten worse.  Out of my control.  No easy fix.
  • My father was diagnosed with cancer.  Out of my control.
  • ect…ect…ect…….

Yep, I was having a hard time being me.  I’d look in the mirror and think, where are you?  I know you are in there somewhere….come out!   I was ready to hide.  After everything, I felt broken.  And I could not admit that, not even to myself.

I talked on here about my fears, my pain, everything.  I’ve been honest.  However, inside I could not wrap my head around the fact that I was really and truly scared that things would never get better.  No matter how many times I might have said it, and wanted to believe things would get better, the fact that they may not was driving me crazy.  The thought that things would not get any better…..that was just not acceptable.

Then I realized, I’m looking at this all wrong!  I’m thinking too much in the future.  I don’t know what the future may hold.  I have been freaking out over what has been happening, and I have been building up these stories in my mind about how my future might unfold.  These stories have not been great.  This is not a healthy way of thinking!   I cannot live in the future, no more than I can live in the past.  The only place I can live is in the present.  Yes, that sounds very Zen.  Yes, I’ve been reading a lot about this, but it makes sense.  If I’m constantly thinking about what tomorrow might bring, good or bad, I’m going to miss out on today.  That doesn’t mean I can’t make plans, but it does mean I’m not a slave to them and I’m not going to get all bent out of shape if something happens to change them.  It also means I’m not constantly looking back thinking, “I just want my old life back.”  that’s not going to happen, I’ve known that for a long time.  Focusing on the present gives me the opportunity to enjoy my life as it is, without disappointment about dreams that didn’t happen, or romanticizing about a past that I can’t have anymore.

In short, my outlook is changing.   Luckily, so are things around me.  Would my outlook be changing if things were continuing to be spiraling downward?  Yes, I think it would.  I think it has been, I just haven’t been writing about it here as much as I probably should have been.  It’s a work in progress, or to put it more correctly, I’m a work in progress.  I always will be.  So will this blog.

I want to share with my readers, my friends, this side of me.  It is time to share more of the side that is brave, positive, compassionate, and thankful!

Yes, I will continue to come here and speak open and honestly about everything – all of it!  I can’t help it, it’s who I am.  If you would have suggested that I close the blog, I would have turned it private and continued to write, just for me.  This stuff has to come out somewhere!  However, I want you to see how I am handling the rough patches,  how grateful I am for all the little things in my life, and how much I really do enjoy my life….”ants” and all.   But there will be times when I don’t handle things well, and you will continue to hear about that too.  It’s all part of living with chronic illnesses!

I’ve decided to challenge myself a bit.  Each week I plan to write a post called Attitude of Gratitude.  These posts will include things I’m grateful for that week.  These posts may include pictures, drawings, stories, words…..or some times it may just be one word….who knows.   I want to make sure I never let a week go by that I don’t think about things for which I’m grateful.  I try to do this every day, but we all know some days we just get a bit overwhelmed.

You are welcome to join me in this challenge.  We can make it an official challenge if people are interested.   I’m going to do it, for me, and hopefully to inspire others with chronic illnesses to look around and notice the little things that they can still be grateful for.

Thank you all for taking my Poll!  It was an overwhelming landslide that I should continue to write as I do.   I promise I will continue to write as open and honest as always.  I will continue to show the bad and the ugly sides of my illnesses, but I want to even it out and show the more positive sides too.  Yes, there really are some!

I’m so very grateful to have such wonderful friends!  (many who I have never met in person)

The comments and emails I received after my last post amazed me!  Thank you all so very much!

What’s up and on my mind…a Free Write…

Please note…I’m just going to write and not pay too much attention to grammar or spelling or anything like that, I’m not going to re-read because I don’t want to filter what comes out.  This is an experiment, something I sometimes do in my journal….let’s see what comes to the surface….

Acceptance is not the same as giving up, but if I’m not careful it can slip into that.  I’ve accepted my illnesses, especially Meniere’s with hearing loss, for a long while now, and I’m really ok with it.  I realize things aren’t going to get much better, and my not get any better….now is that giving up?  not saying I’m OK with it, but saying it won’t get better?  When my husband was worried because I had been feeling worse for a while he wanted me to think about going to the doctor and he said, “I just want you to get better.”  I got so mad and upset.  What?  Get better?  What delusional state are you living in?  Do you really think I’m going to get better???  I felt like he didn’t understand….then I realized…after a long discussion that he meant he wanted me to feel better than I had been for the past month, he felt something new was wrong and wanted me to check it out.  Then I thought….could I get better?  Have I given up?  and decided, yes, to a certain extent I had given up.  I was so determined to accept my life as it was, I had given up that it could be better.  Maybe the hearing can’t get better….well, the doctor has told me that much.  And possible the vertigo will never get better….but who knows for sure, I accepted my fate.  I’ve also accepted living in pain.  Hip pain, pelvic pain, Vaginismus, neck pain, arthritis pain….and my other illnesses….I accepted my fate, I’d live with these forever, but really, do I have to?  Yes, I’ve put these issues on the back burner because the Meniere’s, Hearing loss, and Migraines have taken over my life, but as I’ve found that my Migraines can get  better, I can hear better (thanks to the computers in my head) maybe not the same or as well as i once heard, but I can hear….why should I not believe some of my other issues can be helped.  No, I’d given up.  I’d given up on having a normal sex life, given up on being able to walk for any distance without being in horrible pain, given up on so much….  I feel better that I’ve accepted the things I cannot change, but I’m ticked off at myself for giving up on the things I could.  This has changed!!  I’m not giving up on getting better…the things that can get better….I’m not giving up on me.

I had a realization the other night.  I’ve been having full blown panic attacks lately…yes, feeling like I can’t breathe, my chest tightening….everything.  I realize most of these have been triggered by the loss of income in the family, then me being denied my disability claim, and I’m still mourning the loss of Sandy.  (yes, it’s been over a year and an half)  Losing a friend who was so close to me for 19 years has taken it’s toll on me.  I can honestly say I have not grieved for anyone more than Sandy except for my mother.  Maybe it’s because of everything else that has happened in the past couple of years, everything just building up on it…but I don’t think so…my Sandy girl was just so special.

I HEARD MUSIC!!  Yes, that’s right!  I actually heard music for the first time in at least 3 years!  Stuart was out of town for a job interview, and I was watching a movie, they started playing Credence Clearwater Revival’s Have You Ever Seen The Rain?  And I actually heard it!  I understood the words, I heard the music!!!  This new CI likes music.  I still can’t understand many spoken words on TV, but I heard music!  I didn’t realize I missed it so much.

Well, I think that’s all for now.  I’ve been having a hard time keeping my CSF pressure stable, and today is a bad day.  My doctor raised my dosage, and I need to take my meds.  I also have to see a neuro-opthomologist.  (Yes another thing I had accepted, and felt like it wouldn’t get better, I know it won’t go away, but hopefully, it will get better)

My asthma symptoms were much better but not great, my doctor added another medication, and now I’m much worse.  Bah!  Hoping this will get better.

Oh, Stuart’s interview in Las Vegas went well.  We are going to go look around soon and then he will make a decision.  Lot’s to do…well, not as much as I thought, they said they will pay for the move.  : )  But selling the house when we aren’t here, that is a scary thing….at least to me.

Keep meaning to take pictures of my new Cochlear Implants…I want to take a photo of the new beside the old, so you can see the difference.  It’s amazing how much it changed in just one year….but I don’t think it will change that drastically again for a while.

More soon….thanks for putting up with my babbling.  AT least this has some coherent thoughts some of my journal free writing doesn’t.

I have a confession…

For over a year I have been clinically depressed.  I have had some small doses of mania in there, but mostly I have been shrouded in a black cloth with no hope of seeing the light.

photo by click tongue, at deviant art.com
photo by click tongue, at deviant art.com

I realize now that my psychiatrist was going through some issues of his own, and didn’t pick up on the fact that my depression was more than what I should have felt.  At one point he told me that he felt like he had done all he could for me and I should see someone else, I could not hear that he was looking out for me, I only heard that I was losing something else in my life.  He had been my doctor for close to 12 years, I felt I was just being tossed away.  So, I ended up staying with him.  It eased my mind, but didn’t make me better.  Yes, I had many things happen that gave me a reason to be depressed, but not as depressed as I was.  I wasn’t acting like me.  I really don’t remember much about 2012, I remember some horrible highlights, but not the good moments.  We all know, that is not me.  I normally cherish every moment I can, and look at things realistically, not escalate them to the point that I can’t see past the hurt.

The mania manifested itself as anger.  I was so angry at times, and I had no control over it.  I hate that Stuart was the one who had to be on the receiving end of all this emotional turmoil.

In 2012 and part of 2013 I cried every day.  Yes, part of it was losing Sandy, but it started before that.  I think the catalyst that started all of this was my diagnosis of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH).   I finally knew I would never get back to the point I was at the year before.  I would never feel “normal”.  There were a lot of emotions that went with this, a lot of realized loses.  I never expected to become a completely “healthy” person.  I’ve never been one, why would that change now?  But something snapped, and I no longer felt as positive as I had.  My new psychiatrist thinks my medication had not been working as well as it should even before then, but I was handling what was coming my way.  The diagnosis just pushed me past the point of helping myself.

I won’t go into everything that happened to me last year.  I will say there were some major things that I simply could not deal with.  However, I didn’t realize it then, I thought I was doing rather well on most accounts.  I knew there was one thing that was eating me up and sent me spiraling out of control….  I posted a poem about family.  How I wasn’t very close to my biological family and I was so happy I had a family with Stuart.  I was not saying it was anyone’s fault that my family and I don’t see eye to eye, it was really more about my love for my chosen family.  Well, a member of my family saw it and sent me a comment out of the blue.  This is someone I used to be VERY close to, but now she hates me and slanders my name to anyone who will listen.  I have not heard from her for about 10 years, yet she says my friends here don’t know me.  She says I’m evil….ect.  I never expected to hear from her again, but there it was, a comment from my niece.  She is 3o years old and still holds a grudge over something.  I don’t know what, and no one will tell me.  I have a feeling it is something from my very unstable Bipolar days, but I don’t remember most of that.  I was literally a different person while that disease had hold of me.

Now I have a new psychiatrist, and after one visit I felt like a weight had been lifted off of me.  I felt validated.  She understood my illnesses without me having to explain them.  She saw I have IIH and immediately said, “You can’t even exercise.”   THANK YOU!   Other doctors have said, “if you could exercise”…..blah, blah,blah.  It makes it sound like I choose not to exercise.  Not that I really can’t.  I will have excruciating pain, and will pass out.  I have figured out ways to do some weight-bearing exercises.  But I have to go slow.  I cannot do cardio, if my heart rate gets to high, I’m out.  She increased one of my medications.  And I am feeling better, but I think it needs to go up a little bit more.

However, I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Right now it’s just a little candle, but it’s leading me out of the dark.

light at the end of the tunnel....photo from deviantart.com by zoop zoop
light at the end of the tunnel….photo from deviantart.com by zoop zoop

I have good thoughts again.  I am not crying every day.  My anger is much more under control. (I know my husband is very happy about all of this.)  In short, I’m feeling more like me.

I appreciate what I have.  Even when I’m stuck in a dark, silent room because of my migraines I am grateful I can get out of the light, and have a roof over my head.  When the world is spinning and I feel like my stomach is going to come out of my mouth, I am grateful I have a safe place where I can ride out the storm.  I may not be able to walk unaided most of the time, so I’m very grateful for my spiffy red walker, that is also a seat.

I’m grateful for my dear friends who read my rantings and support me so much.

This past Tuesday was my birthday.  I received more birthday cards than I think I ever have since I’ve become an adult.  Some made me cry (in a good way), some made me smile and feel all warm inside.  One I don’t believe the sender was thinking, or perhaps they don’t realize my hearing limitations, it played music.  I can’t understand music.  Stuart had to tell me it played Happy Birthday.  *funny*   He thought it was rude, I really think it was just a matter of not understanding.  Or wishful thinking.

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.)

My dear Sandy…I will miss you so.

Dear Sandy,

From the moment I saw you as a gangly little dog who had been abandoned in a dumpster you stole my heart.

It has been over 19 years since that day, and I’ve loved you every moment.  You have listened to me in good times and bad.  You gave me a reason to live when I thought there was no other.  I knew you depended on me, and many times I depended on you.

You have always been much more than a dog in this family.  From the moment Stuart first walked in the door, you gave your approval.  You met him at the door, this stranger, as if you’d known him all your life.  It was love at first sight, and he instantly loved you.  I knew from the way he greeted you with such affection, this man might just be a keeper.

When were got engaged, you were part of the celebration.  We had pictures taken, of course you were a part of them.  You would have been in our wedding if it hadn’t been so far away.  However, you were not forgotten.  My maid of honor gave a most touching speech mentioning how she was so lucky to be present when I met my first true love – you.  Yes, you came before Stuart in our wedding toast.  My dear, dear Sandy you are so very loved, and always will be.

Over the years we’ve been through a lot together, you have persevered through so much.  But this last attack on you was more than your little body could stand.  Since Friday you have had such a hard time.  The seizure was hard on you.  You seemed to be better when we brought you home.  The next day you were tired, but seemed to be coming around, back to yourself.  We started you on the seizure medication, and you got worse, and worse.  For the last 2 days it has been very hard on all of us.  It seemed you didn’t know us, or know where you were.  You had to pace, fast, you kept running into things….it was a pitiful sight.  We tried to calm you, but it made you more anxious.  After 3 trips to the ER Vet yesterday we decided to stop the seizure medication, hoping you were just having side effects.  You had a peaceful night at the vet’s office, and this morning they thought you looked much better, until you got home.   The pacing started again.  You had no idea who we were.  We took you to our vet, hoping for some help.  We didn’t know how long it would take for the medication to get out of your system.  We were heart-broken to find out it was already.  We knew then that it was time.  Your quality of life was not as it should be.  You couldn’t go on as you were.

They don’t know if the seizure caused your temperature to go too high, or if the cancer had metastasized in your brain possibly causing the seizures in the first place.  All we know is your brain wasn’t working properly.  You were not happy.  You were miserable.

I hope it helped that we were with you, holding you as you drifted off.  I hope you could understand just one last moment how much we love you.  How much we hated to see you go, how much we will miss you.  Both of our hearts are breaking.  But we thank you for bringing us together.  If you hadn’t approved, Stuart and I wouldn’t have lasted.  But you accepted him in our little family.  He was one of us.  Thank you for making sure I wasn’t alone.

You have been my friend, my first true love, and my constant companion for 19 years.  You have been a special part of Stuart’s life for over 11 years.  I hope you will always know how much you are loved, not just by your family, but by everyone you met.  You are a special dog, who will be missed very, very much.

Goodbye my dear sweet puppy dog, there will always be a place in my heart that will belong to you.

April 18, 2012  11am

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A Night at the Emergency Vet

Triangle Emergency Vet. http://trianglevec.com

Night before last I didn’t sleep well.  By 7pm last night I was ready to go to bed.  I couldn’t sleep.   We decided to watch a show on the computer curled up in bed together.  Then about 9pm, it happened.

Stuart jumped up, “Oh no, Sandy!  Wendy she’s doing her thing again!”  I was very confused, what is “her thing”?  I jumped up and turned the light on, she’s having a seizure.

No coughing, no signs anything was going to happen, nothing.  She’s lying there with her back straight, legs straight out, and mouth tight.   She has already wet herself.  But she’s breathing.  Hard.  I keep talking to her, no response.  I keep petting her and talking to her, and trying to get her to respond, nothing.   I’m very good in a crisis, when I can do something, I started to panic a bit this time.  What am I supposed to do to help?  Finally I did get a little bit of a response by touching her tongue.  She moved her head a bit with that, annoyed, but that was it, but it was enough to show me she was still in there.  Stuart’s calling the Emergency Vet telling them we’re on our way, and getting dressed.  I’m not leaving Sandy’s side.  He’s all ready, I’m going in what I have on, sleep pants and an over sized t-shirt.  I grabbed a sweat shirt because it was chilly, and threw on some sneakers.  Out the door.  I was a mess and reeked of urine, and did not care.

Sandy on the couch.

We get there, and were so sad because they were a bit busy.  Not something you want to see at an Emergency Vet on a Friday night….a lot of people, most of them crying.

Sandy was acting a bit better, but she was still very lethargic, and confused acting.  They took her right back.

This was the worst seizure she’s had, and they seem to be getting closer.  They did blood work, but couldn’t get a urine sample.   (I don’t know why, but Sandy hates to pee at the Vet’s office.)   She was dehydrated, so that could have been the reason for no urine.  They give her fluids, but wanted the urine to be before they diluted it.   The blood work showed signs that she was dehydrated (this is typical after having a seizure), but it did have a couple of red flags about her kidneys.  However, her potassium was normal, and the vet said if she was having major kidney problems the potassium would not be in the normal range…..whew.   She thinks most of the tests that were out of range were because of dehydration.  They monitored her body temperature.  When dogs (I don’t know about humans) have a seizure their core body temperature rises.  Since Sandy’s seizure lasted so long, or at least her coming out of it lasted a long time (it’s very hard to tell when her seizure’s stop and her recovering, but not being able to move, starts), they were concerned her temperature was too high for too long.   Soon they gave her a lot of fluids and sent her home with the instructions….”Keep her calm tonight and keep an eye on her.”

At 12:30am we were back home, Sandy was so excited!  You never would have known anything was wrong with her!!!   She wanted to run everywhere!  “Keep her Calm”, when a vet tells me that I really should ask, “how?”   We did out best, but she had to see every inch of the house, and tried to run everywhere!  Normally, if she’s excited we can go outside for a little bit and she will calm down.  She starts getting all those good smells she has to slow down for, but last night?  Nope.

Sandy playing in her bed.

Today, she’s acting fine.  It’s so hard to believe I was sitting with her last night in tears telling her I understood if she had to leave us, that I never want her to be in pain.  I kept telling her how much I love her, and that everything is alright.  Trying so hard to sound calm.  But just dying inside.

We talked to our vet today.  She is starting Sandy on a seizure medication, and a special diet for renal function.  She does have bladder cancer, we need to keep her urinary system running as smoothly as possible.

Watching someone you love get older and change is so hard.  There is so much about her that is different from the Sandy she used to be.  I’m glad the Alzheimer’s medication works, but it hasn’t cured it. She paces a lot.  Around and around the house.  Since the first day I got her she hasn’t wanted to be in a different room from me when I’m home, that’s different now.  She often will go to bed in the middle of the day.  Just leave us, and go to bed.  She is much more of a loner dog, I’ve wondered if she is trying to prepare us in her own little way for a day when she won’t be here.

Last week, I was looking at her and thinking….she’s not the same dog.   Don’t get me wrong, I still love her dearly, and she’s still MY dog, but there is so much that’s different.  I miss my Sandy.  I swear she knew I was feeling this way because she started to do little things that were more from her normal personality than she has in a long time.  Cuddling up with me, and I’d love on her and when I’d stop she’d jerk her head back to look at me, “why’d you stop?”, it is such a cute move….so Sandy.  She’s been more affectionate, and lying in the sun more….. oh just young Sandy things.   Not old dog, Sandy things.   I love them both, really!!!  I’ve just missed my young Sandy a bit….because let’s face it.  She’s 20 years old.  That’s 100 years old for her.  She can’t live forever.  (but don’t tell her that!!!)

Too much Stress & A Headache ranking in my all time top 3.

I have been feeling somewhat better, on and off.  So we have thought the medication has been working.

However, I’ve been under a huge amount of stress, not just my illness…so much more. I could probably do a bullet list, but I’ll share one big one.  (Please if you are sensitive to pet issues, do not read this.  Or if you do, please know ahead of time, it has a happy ending – as much as it can be for a very, very old dog.  But she’s happy and fine, don’t worry.)

Last Saturday, we decided to go for a ride, just get me out of the house.  It was a lovely ride.  We had a nice lunch outside, and came home.  We weren’t gone over 2 hours.  When we got home, our dog got very excited, as usual.  You know how dogs can get.  It’s precious.  Unfortunately, Sandy is a small dog and has a collapsed trachea.  It’s common in toy breeds, but Sandy’s about 22lbs, so not that small.  However, she has it none the less.  When she gets excited, she breathes fast, this causes her trachea to close, literally choking her.  She started to cough.  We tried to calm her.  She staggered while coughing to her pad to pee.  She fell down.  Went rigid, threw her head back and yelped a few times…she was seizing.  Then she stopped, everything.  She stopped breathing.  I started to breathe for her.  She didn’t start breathing on her own.  She voided her bowels.  We really thought we’d lost her.  I couldn’t find a pulse, but that’s really hard for me to do anyway.  So I started CPR.  After about 5 -6 rounds, she stuck her tongue out and licked, took a deep breath, and started to groggily move her head.  She came back to us.  We took her to the Emergency Vet.  But now we have to try to keep her calm.  She can still show she’s happy, but no running, so jumping, not getting overly excited.  I feel like we are being forced to take a little bit of her personality away.  But she is 19, and she still seems happy.  The vet says she’s in no pain, and she shows so much love.  We do have a huge problem with incontinence, and realize we will have to replace all the carpet in the house at some point.  But for now.  We have our lover dog.  She has bladder cancer (but they can’t even feel the tumor), Alzheimer’s, cataracts,  hearing impairment, and well she’s just plain old.  But she’s happy, she loves us, and she is in no pain.  So for now, all is good.

Our Sandy Dog.

However, a big stressor!  And this isn’t the only one!

The more stress I have, the more I can feel my symptoms increase.  I’ve never been a big believer when doctors say,”you’re just under too much stress”.  I’ve often felt that was a cop-out.  And sometimes I still think it is, after all. life is stress.  There is no way around it.  But recently, I’ve had more than my share I think.  Way too many tears have been shed, and I’ve been way too tense over situations I have no control over.

I can’t help but wonder if what happened on Thursday had anything to do with the culmination of stress I’ve been under.  On Wednesday night I couldn’t lie down to sleep without having a very bad headache, so I attempted to sleep sitting up.  Not the easiest thing to do.  Needless to say, it was a fitful night.  I woke in the morning, still needing more sleep, but feeling pretty decent.  I decided to travel downstairs and surprise Stuart by making some rolls for breakfast.   Just a mix, nothing fancy.  However, I never made this mix before, and it was the most annoying thing.  It may as well have said, we give you the gluten-free flour, you provide the rest.  Then it said to roll out gluten-free dough!  What?  If you’ve ever worked with GF dough you know you get a very sticky mess, try to roll it out, and you get a glob on your rolling-pin.  I knew this and tried different things.  I have a short temper these days, I get very irritated easily, and then cry.  So I decided to just spoon the stuff in muffin cups and bake it, if it tasted cinnamony, then we had a success….I did not care what it looked like.  That was a very good thing.  They were very ugly, but okay.  Not a mix I’ll buy again, and very glad it was not expensive!  But a nice surprise.

Then I took it upstairs to Stuart, still asleep. As I was climbing the stairs my headache began to get worse.  Bu I was so proud of my ugly cinnamon muffin thing.  I crawled in bed and laid the muffin thing beside Stuart and he woke up with a big smile.  He loves cinnamon.  He looked at me, “You made this?”  I smiled.   “Wow”  I felt good, and proud…and then the headache got worse.  I took something, and Stuart went to make more for breakfast.  He came back, I ate, and took pain and nausea meds.  I took migraine meds.  I’d already taken the medication for the pressure.  The headache climbed rapidly soon I couldn’t focus, I was gagging but nothing was coming up.  I had ice packs on my head.  My headache had risen to a category 10 – go to the ER.  But I couldn’t go.  I just couldn’t.

Severe headache with ice on my head. 3/22/2012

It scared me so much the thought of strange doctors treating me.  With everything that’s going on and my confusion…I just couldn’t think clearly, I couldn’t go.  NO.  I was screaming from the pain, and the fear.  It took over 2 hours to get the pain level down to a tolerable level.  During this time I was panicking, feeling claustrophobic, confused, paranoid….ect.  It was a horrifying afternoon.  My head hurt so much for the rest of the day.  But as long as we can get it to a category 8 or under I can handle it.  Truthfully, I’d rather take the medication I have at home, and not go to the ER and have them give me other medications which I am not familiar with.  Who knows what side effects they may cause.  So many pain medications make me throw up.  I just don’t want to go through it.  And I do not want anyone to ever accuse me of drug seeking.

So, we’ve been playing tag with Dr. Gray for a few days.  We’ll get in touch soon I’m sure.  The headaches are better today.  But still constantly never under a 5.  The medication is working to a certain degree.  The side effects, are not comfortable.  I think we need to figure something out.  Unfortunately, there are only 2 medications to treat this disorder.  If they don’t work you get a shunt.  That’s it.  It’s a rare, not a lot of research money spent on it.  I hate being on this part of the journey…wait and see.  Increase the dose.  Add this drug, adjust this amount…ect….wait and see.  Dang it all, I want to feel better.  Remember when you were little you got sick, you went to the doctor and they gave you some medicine and you felt better. Why isn’t it that easy any more?