Friday, November 9, 2018

My Disabled Dog

In July my family went on vacation. On the first day, my thirteen-year-old Yorkie was injured. More precisely, he stopped walking on his left leg and started hopping around like a little bunny. So we took him to the vet and were informed he most likely had a partially torn knee ligament. Anti-inflammatory meds and rest were prescribed, with the hope that the ligament would resolve itself. It didn't. So on August 24th, he had major reconstructive knee surgery. Turns out in addition to the fully torn ligament, he also had a slew of genetic knee disorders his arthritis and advanced age had exacerbated.

I thought his recovery from that surgery was going to be the end of both of us. My little dog came home pissed. He stood in the barricaded living room, with the cone of shame surrounding his head, barking at me incessantly. I didn't sleep for three nights. On the fourth night I slept a little. Until I got up in the middle of the night, tripped over one of his barricades, and face planted into a wall. That resulted in a black eye that lasted for two weeks.

Nevertheless, his progress progressed and he started slowly but surely walking on his left leg again. Until two days after his first physical therapy session, when he started hopping and refused to put pressure on his left leg in any way, shape, or form.

Back to the surgeon's we went, where she informed us the band replacing his ligament had come loose and the surgery had to be done again. It may have been something the PT did, but there was no way to tell for sure. All I knew was my baby boy had to go through that horrible, exorbitantly expensive surgery again. It was the worst possible outcome I'd have given anything to avoid.

So on October 10th he had surgery #2. Luckily this time his recovery was but a fraction of the nightmare. In fact, he started walking, slow and stable, on his left leg the day after coming home from the hospital. He did that steadily until Monday. That's when, again, the left leg went up and my little bunny started to hop. Again.

I have completely altered my life to accommodate my dog, who is much more of a son, in order to rehab his disability. In an effort to eliminate his jumping, I got rid of my box springs and bed frame and invested in a low platform bed. I also got a huge coffee table that blocks his ability to jump up on the sofa. When we walk, three times a day, he spends three-quarters of it in a stroller. Each night he sleeps barricaded between pillows at my feet in order to prevent him from moving around. He's on more supplements to support his joints and ease his arthritic pain than I've ever taken for mine. There isn't a damn thing more I could have possibly done to ensure these surgeries stuck.

Mentally I'm preparing to have a permanently disabled dog. It's heartbreaking, especially considering how youthful, energetic, and vibrant my puppy still is. He's in perfect health, save for his damn left leg. Putting him through another major surgery, considering the success of the other two, is the last thing I'm willing to consider.

But I'm furious. Outraged. I feel duped. And I can't believe that after all this, my dog doesn't have use of his leg.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

First Spark of Life

It was October of 2016. To say I was not doing well would be a monumental understatement. I was, in fact, losing it. Mind, body, and soul, I was sicker than I'd been in years. My CFS/ME was in full charge of my physical capabilities, major depression had taken over my mind, and I'd lost my faith in...everything.

My husband decided we needed to get away. He figured removing me from my environment might allow me to reset, gain some perspective, find some hope, who knows. All we both knew was I was in desperate need of serious help. But for people like me, there isn't any. Not from external forces. Any success I'd ever achieved in managing my chronic health issues came about because I found a resolve inside myself and fought like hell to get there.

We were driving up the 101 Highway toward Cambria. I was looking at Instagram. My husband had tagged me in a post. It was 2 side-by-side images of a former anorexic turned fitness competitor. He was impressed by her shocking transformation. She'd gone from a 68-pound girl who, quite frankly, hurt to look at and turned into to a sculpted and toned woman any chica I knew would've loved to look like. But it was a sentence in her caption that rocked my world:

"Life cannot compromise with death, the same way strength cannot compromise with defeat." That simple statement reminded me that I don't have the luxury of giving up. For while my fight for health may be insurmountable at times, it's still a fight I'm required to win if I want to stay alive.

My husband looked over and tears were streaming down my cheeks. For what he saw that inspired him to tag me was a girl who looked a lot better now than she did before. What I saw was a woman who had healed, in perhaps the most remarkable way imaginable. As a way to combat her eating disorder, she decided to embrace true health in every possible way: mentally, physically, and emotionally.

It'd be so nice to write about how I woke up on that fall day in 2016 and slowly but surely started to climb my way up. No, that took another year. I was severely sick, and it took quite a while longer before my physical illness settled down enough that I could begin to address what had happened to my life. Yet that day gave me the first spark that reminded me overcoming odds is not an impossibility. It's essential, in fact, if I want to continue to do this thing called living.

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