Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Failure.

Do you ever feel like a failure?

Most of us do, at least once in our lives. I've felt like I've failed at things before. I've failed at losing weight. I've failed at keeping weight off. Hmmm.... Although; I can say I've never failed to gain weight. I'm pretty sure I've failed a test. Math was always my nemesis. I'm sure I had to have failed a test at some point. Never a class. But a test? I can't say for certain, but I must have.  I've tried new things and I've felt like I've failed. Last night I followed a new recipe (although it wasn't really a recipe or all that new...) and I failed that, which really bothered me because I'm a really good cook. Usually.  Apparently the recipe I read that said 30 minutes at 425 degrees was meant for other stoves.  Not mine.  My lovely creation burnt.  Some might be salvageable if I eat around the burnt part, but that really takes away from the enjoyment of the meal. And I'm really trying to do that with things... Just be more mindful.  Apparently that helps with how much people eat. I'm pretty sure one veggie in my mouth and I'd have been super mindful of he fact that it tasted like a charred nightmare.  Seriously... WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY STOVE? All those colorful, gorgeous, healthy veggies.... Burned -- almost beyond recognition.

I don't feel like a failure at blogging which is interesting since I used to blog just about every damn day and my last blog post was roughly five months ago. But, nope, not feeling like a failure over that.  I think I've said more than once that I when my weight gain started, I got away from blogging. It's fun to blog when you are successful and feel great. It's harder when you're not. I mean, just look at Facebook. A lot of posts are bragging. Social media has made us (as a whole) more self-centered than ever. I honestly fear for our future... And it's not the fault of kids. They only know what they learn. Who's teaching them? Just think about that before you blame the younger generations.

ANYWAY... I have felt the pull to post a couple times but I haven't. I think I needed a big break and time for self-reflection. I needed to do some self-evaluation and self-discovery. I've had moments along the way, but honestly, I haven't done much of that until now. That's probably why I'm writing this. I've hidden the more vaulnerable things; the ugly truths. I realized, a few years ago now, that people were reading what I wrote and using it against me. I've posted about that and at that time I was angry about it. I am pretty sure I said I didn't care, but I think I did. Now, I can honestly say... I don't freaking care. I suppose that enough time has passed that I feel like if any of those people are still concerned with me, they've got bigger problems in life than I do. I'm past it. And you know what? There's always going to be someone who has something to say. I guess it was the using it to hurt me part that really bothered me. And hurt. Clearly.  I suppose they accomplished their mission. I suppose they must have had a really good laugh at my expense, and hopefully that laughter and negativity gave them the release they needed and made them feel better.  Oh my gosh -- I gained weight!! HILARIOUS!!

I guess?

The last year and (almost) four months has been hard. My Papa died August 19, 2016. That was hard. I've lost Grandparents before but this experience was different. I was younger when each of my Dad's parents died.  I hadn't had years of experience working with older people. When they died, hadn't yet been there with people, telling them that it's okay to let go.  Fast-forward several years, to a living room, with a family gathered around a hospital bed.  My Mom and Dad, Grandma, Uncle and Aunt, and me... Actually my Aunt and I were outside when my boyfriend came out and said "they need you to get in there; they think he's dying."  My Aunt and I moved so fast we nearly flew to his bedside.  He seemed to be choking.  He was awake and alert.  He struggled to breathe. Out of my mouth came words that I'd said, more than once, during my career; "it's okay to go." This time it was more personal. I remember saying "We love you Papa. It's okay to go. We'll take care of Nonie." It wasn't said so much as it was sobbed through tears.

For a while I had some guilt.  Guilt over my sweet Grandpa, who had been declining, dying.  It's a natural process. It absolutely sucks. I'm not good at death. That has been clear to me.  Shoot, that was clear to me last Christmas when I opened a gift and burst into tears. It was a sweet gift from the heart. It was a decorative pillow with a photo of my Grandparents and I on it. Honestly my reaction surprised even me. I was definitely bummed about Christmas but I didn't think I'd have that reaction.

But.  Back to my guilt.  Why did I feel guilty over something that was happening in front of me? Something that I didn't have anything to do with? At the time, I thought I did. Even though I knew what was happening, I thought it was my fault that he died when he did. I don't think I've shared that with anyone. And now, it sounds kind of silly.  Papa was restless and we (my Mom and I) were talking about his Ativan.  I said "just give him the Ativan; that's what it's there for."  This was a sublingual medication, meaning it just goes under the tongue and dissolves. It doesn't require chewing or swallowing.  I think he must've tried swallowing it and my Mom gave him a little water.  It was during that time that he started to choke. I felt like it was my fault because I said to give him the Ativan.  I thought that had I not said that, maybe that wouldn't have been the time he died.  Looking back in a rational frame of mind, I realize that it was not my fault.  I also remembered that when he did take his last breath he wasn't choking.  He wasn't restless.  He was alert. I looked him in the eye when I told him he could go.  One thing I'll never forget is that just before he closed his eyes, I saw a tear roll down his cheek. And then he closed his eyes and left this life behind.

I believe a lot in signs and symbols; whether they're just a comfort or the stories behind them are true. I believe in them. Maybe they're just stories to make us feel better. Maybe I've just noticed since he died, but I've seen a lot of cardinals in the last year and four months.  I'm pretty sure the same one, sometimes two (I'm pretty sure that's his buddy Father Toolis with him). Every time I see him, I call him Papa.  We never "get over" people. We get through death; as time goes on we begin to adjust to our new normal (and that can be a long process that some never truly adjust to).

And then came February and the scary experience with Buddy when I was in Florida for the Princess Half.  I briefly mentioned that in my previous post, but didn't go into much detail.  After an unexpected medical emergency (a tumor on the spleen which then ruptured - and more than one surgery due to complications), Buddy was on the mend. He was full of life and he was even running around playing like a young man again. Then May happened and I lost him. Quickly.

It was a Wednesday that it started. He was having trouble getting around; was falling a little and just seemed a little weak.  This was pretty standard for him after his arthritis diagnosis the summer prior. I did what I usually did and gave him a pill, thinking that he'd feel better.  He didn't. In fact as the day went on he seemed to have a little more trouble.  I may have even given him a second pill later that day. I can't quite remember.   In he evening, I noticed him falling more. He laid on the ground with his front legs stiff, straight out in front of him.

When we got up in the morning, he needed some help getting up. He would walk a couple feet and then take a header into the ground. His little legs just did not want to work. The front legs were stiff and seemed paralyzed; he didn't seem to have that connection between his brain and legs.  He fell another time and just couldn't do it; he couldn't get up and couldn't walk. I picked him up.  I carried him in and out of the house and car that day.  I called the vet as soon as they opened and said that his arthritis seemed to be really bad even though he had medication.  I took the first opening they had and cancelled my clients at work.  My Mom came over and helped me get him into the car and take him to the vet.  My Dad was leaving a dentist appointment as we were on our way there, and pulled out right behind us.  He followed us to the vet and carried Buddy in for me. There are two vets in the office we go to and we see both of them.  The doctor who cared for him throughout the surgery in February saw him and asked, "what's wrong with Buddy?" and he genuinely looked concerned.  My Dad later told us that he'd seen him at the store a week before and he asked about Buddy. My Dad told him how well he was doing. We were asked to leave him for a couple hours for some testing. So we did.  Talk about nerve-wracking. Also, Buddy has never enjoyed being left at the vet so I apologize to anyone who's ever encountered his crying.  He was so bad as a puppy that after he was neutered, I was called and asked to pick him up early because he wouldn't stop crying no matter what they tried.  That was always him - really good at crying when he wanted something.

I got a call that afternoon that we could come
pick him up. The doctor said that they did x-rays and nothing showed like it did when he had the arthritis flare up (which also effected his back legs not his front). He was given a med there and I was given two more tabs to take home. This medication was strong enough that by the time he had three doses progress would be evident. If there was no change, it would be time to make a decision on his care.  One was that we could’ve taken him for an MRI. A brain or spine tumor was suspected since he had already had the episode with the tumor in the spleen. 

The next day came and there was no change. I spent all day on the floor with him. I got him his favorite treats; a donut, a Happy Meal. He could no longer hold himself up so I held his bowl up to him. I tried to do the same with water but also used a medicine dropper to give him water. Most of this started the night before. We all spent the night in the living room. I had a garbage bag over his bed, a blanket over there, and puppy pads over the blanket. He cried to go out but I encouraged him to go potty where he was. And he did. I had warm soapy water and warm water in bowls. I gave him sponge baths after he peed.

He was alert and pain free. But he was paralyzed. Had I chosen the MRI, I’d have had to continue the same method of care at least until then. He didn’t have a good quality of life. I had to let my baby go. With no change, we went to the vet knowing that we would have to say goodbye. Looking into his eyes, telling him I loved him (through sobs), and saying good bye was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

I’ve questioned myself since then. What if I had done the MRI? What if it wasn’t a tumor? What if it could’ve been treated? Had I made the wrong decision? Had I failed as a dog Mom? 

I still struggle with that. 

Belle has been showing those same signs. Several months ago she started a med and the vet said it’s something neurological. I don’t know if the med does a lot of good but until recently it seemed to help. She fell and couldn’t get up yesterday. It took her about 10-15 minutes to recover. My Dad was watching her and called me. I called the vet. He said that it could be a slipped disc. It could be something in the brain or spine. She falls and needs help getting up. She stumbles and trips. The young boys knock her down (crazy puppies, I tell ya!). 

I don’t have a lot of hope. I’ve read up on it and it sounds like what Buddy had. If it is, the only confirmation is via autopsy. Here I am six months later, watching her decline. I’ve not fully worked through my grief from Buddy. I can’t handle this. My Birthday is coming up and I pray that’s not the day. Or Christmas.

I’m stressed (some other things too but that’s the main one which I think makes everything else seem worse). And I’m depressed. I’ve been depressed since I lost Buddy. It was 9 months to the day since we had lost Papa. 

My weight loss slowed.  Then stalled. Then I gained a little back. I’ve been losing again and have been working harder. Well until yesterday happened. I haven’t binged but I’ve done some emotional eating. And I do not care. Zero. I
Just want to stay home with my girl. All the time. I don’t but inside I want to. Work is good. It’s an escape. 

I’m scared. I know what’s coming and I want to enjoy every moment I can with her. Or sit on the couch and cry. I cry every time she falls. I want to enjoy her but my God it’s hard. It is SO damn hard. All I feel at this moment is sadness and fear. Maybe a little agitation. I actually yelled at the puppies (Wrigley and Rocky) for accidentally knocking her down. And then I cried about that. 

I’m still deep in my grief from Buddy and now I’m (prematurely) grieving her. She’s right beside me now but I can’t stop being sad about what’s coming. Then come the questions. Have I done enough for her? Could I be doing more? Did I see the signs early enough? Did I act fast enough? Did I get her to the vet when I should have? What do I do know? Should I try the MRI with her? Have I failed her? Have I failed as a dog Mom? Again? 

Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning. I can see signs of depression, obviously related to grief. Then I think of people with other things happening. A Father lost a son last night. A little girl lost her Daddy last week. Are my stressors really that bad? I feel guilty for hurting when others are hurting too; maybe more. It’s all different hurt but it’s also very similar. While situations are different, each heart is hurting; maybe broken. Some
people view dogs as “just a dog.” I see souls
of the sweetest living beings. I see unconditional love in their eyes. I see innocent creatures who need to be cared for. I feel love; real, true love. I couldn’t love them more. 

These dogs are my babies. My heart hurts. 

XOXO

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