This isn’t promising to be a good day. As a matter of fact it seems as if it might really be a day I don’t like at all. I can feel the anger building, the kind of anger where I imagine myself throwing a brick through my living room window just to hear the crash of broken glass, and the sight of the brick flying out surrounded by lethal looking shards of sparkling crystals. It’s how I feel inside. I’ve had enough. I don’t want to deal with another decision, another problem, or another minute of the suffering of my little dog.
His situation seems to be the culmination of a whole series of events that have added up to more than I have the resources to willingly carry right now. Of course another way of looking at this, and the piece I would point out to any friend talking to me about it, would be to think that I’ve finally reached a limit on the feelings I’ve been stuffing for years. I call it “enough,” but what am I really saying? Enough loss, enough pain, enough change, enough personal evolution for about three lifetimes and I don’t want anymore, ever. I want to throw the brick through the window, as if that would help. I want to stomp my feet and have a hissy fit.
I’m thinking instead maybe this is an opportunity for me to allow my own humanity and sensitivity to come to the fore and acknowledge that making a decision about what to do with my buddy, my little yellow dog, hurts. It hurts because I can’t seem to find a decision to make about him that doesn’t involve lots of pain for him in the form of surgery, or death.
The surgery might not even help. It looks like he needs one of the disks in his neck worked on or replaced. Otherwise he’s in terrible pain and just lies around the house, or in his bed, and does nothing. He tips his tail if I walk over and talk to him or pat him. There’s no easy answer. I’ll take him to the vet, yet again, later today. We’ll probably do another round of steroids, muscle relaxants and pain killers, and for a couple of weeks my dog will feel better and maybe act himself. Maybe not.
When I got him at the Humane Society almost three years ago, his name was Rocky. His disposition was so sunny and happy and full of joie-de-vivre, that I changed his name to Chipper. I call him “Chippy” for short. His delights in life were chasing squeaky toys and going for walks and leaping up onto the couch back every chance he got to look out the window at the world going by. Every time I came in the door to my house he was there, dancing on his hind legs in joy at seeing me. Now he stays in his bed, not even walking across the living room to say hello. He’s three and a half years old. He holds his head absolutely still, only his little brown eyes following me wherever I go.
Ten years ago, well, really ten and a half since it’s June now, my brother died a few days before Christmas. I was devastated. I had a German Shepherd/Malamute mix at the time that became semi attached to my leg after Jim was gone. She walked with me upstairs, or downstairs, or lay on the floor next to me if I sat. She put her big head under my hand and leaned on my leg whenever we walked anywhere. She put her head on my feet when I sat in my armchair. Without her my grief might have had no relief. I knew she sensed my pain. At Thanksgiving that year following Jim’s death, she was poisoned and died within a couple of days.
The next year my daughter graduated from high school and went off to college. True, her school was a state school and not that far away, but she was no longer part of my everyday life. We sold her horses and the arena stood empty in the sun. My first baby had flown the nest.
The majority of the following year was tough because my marriage was breathing its last gasps. No matter how much I tried to work on it, or talk to my husband about what was going on for me, there was no resolution. Add to that my mother, who lived in another state, was in failing health and struggling to keep living independently. She seemed to have lost most of her spark after her son died, shortly followed by the death of her last good friend. The next spring my mother died.
I’ll rush through the last five years…I filed for divorce, got divorced, my daughter moved to New Zealand and then Australia, my son graduated from high school and moved out, I had a hysterectomy, we put the oldest dog, Lucy (16), to sleep, and a bunch of other stuff, too. We put the other old doggie to sleep shortly after my daughter came back from Australia. She moved in with me while she finished college and then moved out again when she graduated. Not everything is bad, but even good changes require work to adust to.
The nice way to put this is that I have had a lot on my plate. Some days I lose patience with what I have to deal with, even though I appreciate the fact that my load to carry is much less than some. Some days I’m looking around for a brick.
Resilience, according to the Encarta Dictionary, is “the ability to recover quickly from setbacks…to bounce back quickly from challenges.” People who have had a lot of recent setbacks sometimes have a hard time being resilient in the face of challenges, like illness, or loss, or having your best furry friend have health issues.
Here’s my sense of my own “resilience.” Right now I don’t have any. I just don’t see myself as Tigger in Winnie the Pooh. I’m afraid I’m all out of bounce. I don’t want my dog to have an iffy, dangerous, expensive surgery with an unpredictable outcome. I don’t want him to be in pain anymore, either. Least of all, do I want to lose him.
Some days, no matter how much you might want to, you just can’t start over. You simply have to “Keep on keeping on,” as my grandfather used to say. I’m trying. The majority of the time I do fine. Today, however, I’ll be frank with you. Today, I’d still like to throw the brick.