Tag Archives: dog

Days go by

25 Jul

5:05 pm

Days go by, and I keep plugging away.

There’s my job search, which is going well. I’ve got a great lead on a great company/gig, and I have what I believe might be my final round of interviews on Monday. I am trying to not overthink it, as in, wonder all sorts of things about the industry, full-time vs. freelance, my own emotional and/or mental investment… However, here and now, in the midst of a pandemic where over half of my own organization was furloughed; where jobs in THAT space are few and far between; where a TON of people are without work and I should be thrilled that this job even exists, let alone that I have the potential opportunity to be offered said job–I am trying to not overthink it, keep an open mind, and focus on the task at hand.

Which is definitely being helped by me being off Facebook! I actually went on last night–and, of course, I got sucked in for a whole hour, from 2 to 3 am! The good news is, I didn’t really obsess about anything or anyone’s posts; I didn’t let much affect me–that felt good; it felt good because I was able to check my groups (which I miss), read a few people’s updates (I miss keeping up with some friends’ lives, more regularly that I would in person), and then…log off. I will probably continue to go on periodically, but I don’t have a desire to get hooked in on a daily basis.

Speaking of my 3 am bed time, um…yeah. I am trying, but it’s hard for me to get to sleep before 3–especially when I don’t have to go to work the next day. I mean, I have always been a night owl, but I actually want to see if I am waking up after three hours (so, 6 am) every night because I went to bed too late and it’s sunny as shit by then or because, well, menopause.

I started on the estrogen patch this week, so, I’ve been off the birth control pill for two weeks. I have to admit, I think I’m actually having daytime hot flashes/flushes now, and I never had those before on the pill. Hmm…maybe it’ll just take a while for the patch to start working? Or, maybe I’m just hot (it is really hot here right now; 90 degrees in the shade, lawd knows how humid)? Maybe I need a higher dose? Who knows? (I’ve stopped trying to figure it out…because, well, menopause! WHO KNOWS what’s going on? I don’t, and I majored in physiology!?)

Maybe I’m hot because I am taking care of our dog all day long? It’s like a crossfit workout, taking care of her! My girl hasn’t been able to walk for oh, three days now. Her hind legs are just so tired–atrophied , crossing each other (it’s like, her left hind has lost all tension). She’s struggling. We spend a lot of time helping her get up, walk across the room and outside, go for walks on the harness. I say, it’s a crossfit workout, taking care of her, what with the bending and kneeling and lifting. She’s been pooping on her bed for months now, but recently started losing control of her bladder, SO…lots of wiping and washing and drying, spraying and folding and moving and tucking in… I love her, but we’re all getting tired.

I was thinking of how much of a higher power she was to me when I was getting sober. I’ve written about it on my blog before, how she and our other dog (RIP, sweet boy) were my higher powers. He taught a newly sober me how to love others; she taught me how to love myself. That’s all I can say. They were such a huge part of my early years here, on island; such a huge part of my sobriety–I know, I know, they’re “just dogs,” but, to me, for me, they were so much more than that; they helped me more than most humans could have helped me. I just can’t imagine life without her, her not having life–it’s too hard to contemplate. She wants to live, and until she lets me know otherwise…?

What else? I swear, my chikungunya is back. It usually resurfaces to a degree when either I am infected with another virus (the flu, for example) or my immunity is low (when I work out too hard, for instance). Past few days, I’ve felt achey all over, especially in my ankles and wrists and fingers, and like, have had this familiar internal burning feeling in these areas; just blah–“chikungunya-y.” I hate to say it, but, maybe I’ve contracted the COVID? Hopefully not. I’ve been reading about the chronic nature of COVID for some patients, and it reminds me of the way chikungunya virus can hide out for a long time in some people (apparently, me; I got it in 2014, and I still have symptoms once in a while). Yipes. No, thanks!

On that note, I’ll sign off.

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down/into the blue again, after the money’s gone/once in a lifetime…

Quarantine things/doing nothing

22 Apr

3:55 pm

Well, I’m not necessarily in quarantine, but, I am still social distancing to the point of feeling like I’m self-isolating.

Our dog continues to have trouble walking at all; she hasn’t gone on a walk since Saturday, so, that is not good.  After re-reading my journal (I keep a pretty detailed one), I remembered that she had a hard time on her walks last week, more difficult than usual.  She was sort of stiffening up to the point of being unable to move forward or turn on her heel, and she didn’t want to go as far as she has been going lately.

On Sunday, she had her big crisis–panting like crazy, her front and back legs seemingly seizing up as she tried to walk from doorframe to bed–and since then, she’s been basically sleeping all day.  She’s managed to get up and down, and stumble a bit outside to pee, but otherwise, she seems a bit worn out, defeated, frustrated, done.  I made an appointment with the vet for Friday; I have no intention of putting her to sleep on Friday–I guess she still has time, albeit, painful time–but, what will be, will be.  I am angry, is all:  I hate seeing her in this much pain.  She has always been such a happy, grateful dog, and to see her so tired and defeated is heartbreaking.

On a different note, I trolled Indeed this morning, and I actually found two jobs that I “should” apply for, in that, I have a good chance of being at least flagged (they are both jobs with friends–one would be working with an OLD friend from college, the other would be working with a former boss).  Most often, though, by the time they are listed on sites like Indeed, an internal candidate has already been selected and the company is just posting for due diligence reasons.  You never know, though.

The thing is, while I AM grateful for the nonprofit job I’ve had for the past oh, year-plus, things are SO uncertain right now that I don’t actually believe I’ll get my job back after furlough.  And, to be perfectly honest, I am OK with that.  I just have to get on the job search sooner rather than later–money doesn’t grow on (palm) trees, and even though I have savings, those were HARD-won after paying off my graduate school loans and spending years making peanuts as a freelance science writer and journalist.  As it stands, I’m going to be extremely grateful to not burn through my savings by the time this COVID-19 stuff is over.

I don’t know, I am just chillin’ today.  My social media aversion is still going strong; I haven’t logged into Facebook for an entire week, but, I quickly jumped on LinkedIn this morning out of necessity.  Today, I want to go for a walk and bake a cake (I found this yellow cake recipe that makes something actually edible in the yellow-cake-from-scratch department!); we were supposed to hit the beach today, but, it’s getting late, soooo…I think I might just sit here for a few minutes and do nothing.

Feels good.  It really does just feel…better than good to just.  Do.  Nothing.

Being grateful and staying present

31 Dec

3:33 pm

So, as you know, we are about to embark on a new year, a new decade, a…blah blah blah.  For some reason, I just can’t this year.  I can’t try that hard to have a “memorable” New Year’s Eve this year.  Granted, just being sober will make it 100 percent more memorable than a lot of my past New Year’s Eves.  Kidding aside, I’m just kind of burnt this year, and tired of trying to coordinate and make it happen–in spite of my own resistance, fatigue, and other people’s inability to commit.  Frankly, I kind of want to spend it alone, with my dog, watching TV (my boo has to work).  I have never wanted to watch television on NYE, but this year, it sounds perfectly acceptable!

What I want for myself for this new year is to stop taking people–their actions, my thoughts about their actions–personally.  I think that will go a LONG way toward being grateful and staying present.  Lately, I’ve found myself spiraling down my mental rabbit hole by forgetting to be grateful for the BAZILLION things that are important–my sobriety and all the past and present struggles that have come with it; our moves and moving around, which have taught us some serious lessons about who we are and what we want; my relationship; the handful of meaningful friendships that I do have in my life; my sweet dog, who is ailing and probably won’t see another holiday season, but for which I have to be grateful, and for whom I have to stay present.

Today, my big outing was taking my girl down to our local “dog beach,” which isn’t an actual public beach so it makes for a quiet setting.  There is an inlet protected from the swell where she can go swimming.  It was sad watching her, and I cried.  I mean, I cry a little inside every time I have to carry her up the stairs, help her get up, pick up her poop on the carpet inside because she can’t control her muscles back there that well; but I don’t “cry” cry.  This felt good, and I needed it; I need to start letting go.

I am not sure what is worse:  having a dog that gets cancer and goes fast, or a dog who has this horrible, progressive arthritis that gradually transforms her into one that barely resembles the pup you once knew.  I know, I know, she’s a dog; but, it’d be the same emotional rollercoaster with a person (it IS the same, watching my mom), only the progression would take 20 years, not two.

I was angry for a bit, like, I am never getting another dog, why bother, I don’t/can’t go through this again.  But, it got me thinking, well, that is so depressing and cynical–if I lost my partner, would I choose to spend the rest of my life alone, choose to be angry and antisocial because…life?  This is life, the coming and going.  This is life, and it hurts, and it sucks, but…the anger and frustration is life, too.  And it all passes, sooner rather than later.  What can you do but choose to accept, embrace, process?  What can you do but decide that you will NOT fall into the self-defeating trap of black-and-white thinking?

This year, I want to start getting past my anger and frustration regarding this general aging shit–myself, my dog, my mom and my dad, both of whom are struggling immensely with physical and mental decline.  To not let perimenopausal night heat and insomnia (though, lack of sleep is its own mental health disorder) overturn my world; to not let my mom or dad’s decline influence my emotional state so much; to just love my dog and try to let it be, accept it for what it is, let it go, let HER go…  I can’t live in this state of resistance all the time, but, I also don’t want to lay down and let the world run me over, like a huge ocean wave; that might lead to me giving up.  I don’t ever want to give up; I don’t ever want to stop listening to the radio (Walking Dead reference, folks…!).

Sometimes, I want to drink; most times, I think, why bother?  I know it won’t change anything–it’s not going to stop time, and it’s not going to change how I deal with the passing of time and aging.  So, I won’t, and I’ll keep plugging:  be grateful, stay present.  Cry.  Whisper-scream (oh, all right, just scream, but no banging on the thighs in the middle of the night as you whisper-scream).

How hard can it be?  Hahaha…

Inhale, exhale, and remember:  drinking only makes it better for a split second, and then it makes it much, much worse.  I tell myself that every time I have recently thought, eh, maybe this is the year I start drinking in moderation, I’m ready, why not?  Um, because, it won’t make anything that is good better, and it won’t fix anything that is bad–it will just make it more bad.  That is logic that Wolfie-boy, drinking-brain does not like because it makes drinking seem illogical and irrational–which is what it is and why it’s so cunning and baffling; and small and ridiculous and empty.

Aight, off my box.  I wish everyone a wonderful eve, spent here, there, everywhere, and nowhere–it’s all good.  Be grateful and stay present.  The stars keep shining, and if you let it, your head does keep wanting to look up to see them (though, we might not see Betelgeuse soon!).

Happy 2020, friends, and we’ll see you on the flip!

Our bear passed on…

21 Mar

10:58 am

On Saturday, March 17th, our “son” (beagle mix, almost 10 years old) passed on to the next realm, or whatever you believe exists after our brain turns off and we take our last breath.  We were beside him on the bed as the house-call vet (who happened to have gone to vet school in the islands, which was actually quite comforting–we just moved here, and it still feels quite foreign) stabbed some “feel good” drugs into his heaving frame, and then followed that with barbiturate.  I have had people and pets die, of course, but I have never been in the room as the creature took its last breath.

I almost took my last breath as, a moment later, our dog stopped breathing and his eyes went glassy and still.  It was heart-wrenching, and it was seared into my brain.

As I’ve written, he was such an intimate part of my island life, and was everything to me for the 6 years that I knew him:  coworker (I work from home), confidant, best friend, higher power.  Once, when I was still drinking and had just arrived on island to visit the man who is now my fiance, I drank and blacked out and yelled; and our boy was so scared he hid outside under the truck.  That was before I knew what a gentle, sweet soul he was, apt to cower at even the slightest expression of frustration, the smallest rise in voice.  I vowed never again to scare him like that, and it was that memory, along with so many nights of love, comfort, and simply his presence that kept me from uncorking a bottle of red wine.

As my mind, however, begins to do what I could not imagine a few days ago–accept the unacceptable, normalize the horrific, move on from death–all I’m left with is a sense of awe and anger:  the mind is an amazing, if not entirely effed up, place.  Haha.

As we moved through the first hours without our little man, I couldn’t help but recognize in my actions the similarities between coping with death and dealing with a hangover!  I spent the day clinging to “micro-goals,” like, breathing, like thinking about my next breath without having a panic attack; putting some food down my throat; paying my bill; rearranging the pillows on the couch; forcing a smile just to know that my face was still there.

And I gasped when I suddenly realized that EVERY one of my hangovers was a small death–a little death, but a death all the same.  And, of all the horrific events of the last few days, that realization was kind of the most horrifying–that we, as alcoholics, put ourselves through a death every single day, for months, years, decades.  How cruel are we to ourselves!  Our bodies, minds, and souls deserve so much more; we deserve to be sober, we deserve to live.

I have wanted to smoke a cigarette the past few days, when my heart has felt so tight I could barely think; but not drink.  I can’t imagine going through this trauma and being drunk or hungover.  I still think about my old drinking buddies, some of whom are still using booze to coat, soothe, forget; and I wonder, how is it that I got here, that I GET to be free, to actually live through this pain alcohol-free–such that I can, again, transform it to something else, something positive, something light?

It was interesting to watch our other dog sniff at death and then immediately move away; it was saddening but also interesting to watch myself caress my boy’s corpse right after he stopped breathing, check his eyes (I was like, Is he definitely gone?) a couple times, and then…move away.  We instinctively move away from death.  Likewise, eventually, we instinctively move away from drinking alcoholically; drinking alcoholically is death, and we move away from it to life, to light, to clarity, to actually processing our reality.

I miss him, but I know I have to be grateful for all the life he gave me, the love he allowed me to see in myself, the thing that we conjured together by loving each other–that lives on, I have a strong sense.  And for that I am grateful.

Emotional support animals for alcoholism

15 Dec

3:21 pm

This past week has been rough, and Monday, especially.  I think it’s all just hitting me now.  And by all, I mean the two hurricanes and the aftermath that has changed entire lives, some in the forever sense.  We are recovering, and things are starting to settle back down…

And then…a few weeks ago, we discovered a couple swollen lymph glands on one of our dogs, took him to the vet, and the vet was like, Oh, Wow, and scheduled him for a biopsy.  Our little man had his biopsy yesterday, is wearing a cone, and is still sort of out of it.  (While the vet did prescribe him the usual course of antibiotics, which I think covers a number of different infections, they haven’t seemed to significantly lessen the swelling.  I am more optimistic than I was on Monday, and I am not sure why–he could have swollen lymph nodes for many reasons, but of course, we can’t help but jump to the worst possible conclusion.)

My sweet bear.  He has been with me these past 5 years through it all:  love, addiction, aging, hurricanes.  I honestly cannot imagine a life without him!

I have written (with my science journalist’s cap on) about emotional support animals (ESAs) for recovery from alcoholism and substance use disorders, in general.  There is no doubt in my mind that my recovery was helped by my two dogs–having them to care for and love helped to negate the triggers, lessen the cravings, and simply kept me from drinking when I really wanted to drink.  Did they understand my mental health crises far better than I, in terms of how to manage them?  Probably.

Walking the dogs–in the morning sun, through the heat, with the gleaming blue water reflected off every green leaf, decaffeinated coffee in hand–was something I LOVED doing when I first got sober.  It was something I relied on to start another day, sober; something that served as a touchpoint to both staying sober and then, growing emotionally and psychologically; to becoming a loving human being again.  I loved all of it–that I could get up and feel so good in the morning, that I had “someone” to care for, to not let down (dogs don’t understand hangovers).  These two dogs were my higher power, my pink cloud.

Both my dogs were my emotional support during my PAWS period, too–a post-acute withdrawal that lasted 18 months.  They quelled my fear of “what now?,” eased my anxiety, helped to block the triggers and numb the cravings with their physical (soft fur, dog scent, warm presence) and psychological support–unconditional love.  My boy was strong for me when I could not be, and did not want to be–if I drank, I would yell, and he would hide under the car, and I NEVER EVER wanted to scare him like that again.  So I did not drink when I really, really, really wanted to.  He was there for me when work frustrated me, or I was (am) beyond frustrated at the pace of my writing life/career–one whiff of his odor was like a hit, one touch of his soft ear like a balm; a belly rub, a roll, and his dog laugh and furious shaking it all out before jumping up on my knees for more.  I adore him so much, and I love what he has meant to me, through my recovery–what he means to me, present tense.  No one knows this but me; even he might not know it, but I truly believe he does.

Now, to imagine the possibility of my boy going down is just…very saddening.  When I watch him struggle a little bit on the walk route he used to BOUND along, tears come; when I obsessively feel his lymph nodes, hard and nodular and big under his neck and behind his legs, and notice they aren’t any different than yesterday, I tremble a little inside; when I kneel on the floor in front of him sitting on the bed, and tears rush down my face, and he licks them away–there are no words for this growing fear.

GAH!

I cried all day Monday, which is not something I want to repeat–too draining, and not helpful to anyone.  I have since started to feel better, optimistic, even.  He’s had his biopsy and all we can do is wait for the results, and then go from there.

One step in front of the other, that is how this is done.  What will be, will be.  I want to accept the things I cannot change, but sometimes I feel so very helpless amidst all this “breaking down,” all this ending, aging, dying–in essence, renewal, but I can’t see it like that through my self-conscious ego.

Maybe I am overreacting–I think I’m just bracing for the worst so that I’m not floored when the worst happens.  Life goes on and things will get better, but why does it feel like we’ve lost SO much of our lives here over the course of a few hours of hurricane activity?  The storms took so many of our physical landmarks and mental and emotional  signposts, all of which are now only memories; why do they have to take my boy, too?  And, at the very moment that we are planning to move on, start over someplace new?  I want to show him the world…  We have SO many more walks to go on…

 

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