Cody

Yesterday was a hard day. Seems there have been a few of those lately. Yesterday another beloved pet had to be put to sleep.

Cody came into our lives a little over 12 years ago. He was three at the time. It was my youngest daughter's 16th birthday and she'd been asking for a dog for ages. We went to the animal rescue league (the pound) and saw this schnoodle (schauzer-poodle) that was a bundle of energy. He was there because he'd kept digging out of his owner's fenced-in yard. We lived in the country with plenty of running room, so thought he would work out okay. After a couple of days, daughter thought he was a bit toooo energetic for her, but her 14-yr-old brother had fallen for him, so we kept him.

From then on, they were pretty inseperable. Our son and the dog were very like-spirited. Very active, and had "bad habits"… but we loved him. The first thing we learned was if he got off a cable or leash, he headed right for the busy road out front. That was cause for extreme anxiety more than once when we'd have to round up the kids and chase him down – and let me tell you, he was FAST. That dog could MOVE! He could zig and zag quick as a bunny rabbit and you had no chance of catching him. We finally figured out if we would make our german shepherd bark, then Cody would come up to find out what he was barking about – and that was the moment to grab him.

When our son got a bit lax in taking care of the dog, as children often do, I threatened to return him to the pound. (Trust me, it was only a threat). When son didn't seem to find that a possibility, I tricked him by boarding the dog overnight at the vet office… and, yes, telling him I'd returned the dog to the vet. Tears were shed and I was probably deemed the meanest mom on the planet  – you are probably thinking it even now – but when I "went to the pound and got him back the next day before he was sold to someone else"… there were more tears shed of happiness and the lesson was learned.

After a few years of not being able to trust Cody off of a cable, I finally was able to coax him into staying within sight of me and not running for the road – as long as I stayed outside with him and watched him. He became used to the farm and was able to be free to roam a bit without worry he'd go out on the road. If someone pulled into the drive and opened the car door with Cody there… watch out! You'd have a 12 pound bundle of energy in your car before you could say "wha?"…

As quickly as he would jump into a car, he hated to go anywhere. When we had to take him to the vet he'd yip and bark and whine the whole way… standing up on the seat and looking out the window trying to see where you were taking him. Interestingly enough, when you came home, he would sit quietly, just as he knew you were all done and home was waiting.

When we moved to our new house about five years ago, our son moved back into our old house. Because Cody had learned his limitations, we decided not to make him learn a new area and a new routine and we left him there. Our son was happy to have him back with him as well… not that he'd been out of the house all that long himself, but the few months he'd been living out on his own he'd missed that mutt. 

A couple of years ago, some health issues started popping up. He tore his ACL and spent several weeks healing up from that. Never really did get all his muscle tone back, but he managed to get along pretty good with a limp. Then a couple of months ago he started slowing down. About a month ago my daughter-in-law took him to the vet to be checked out and at that time they were considering some explority surgery to see what was going on with him, but with his age they didn't even know then if he'd survive the procedure. The decision was made not to do the surgery and just to make him comfortable and send him home. The diagnosis was cancer.

A couple of weeks ago Hubs and I drove over to pick up my daughter-in-law to take her to the races with us. The dogs were outside (they have another dog, too, a young huskie). Cody slowly, slowly, walked across the drive to the car. Hubs opened the car door and he slowly put his paws on the running board of the car. I went around and picked him up and carried him back to the house – he was light as a feather and his paws just shook with palsy. I could tell he wasn't going to last long.

Son was hoping he'd go in his sleep. On Thursday evening when he got home he said Cody just lay there… and when he gave him a treat, he just dropped it. He hadn't eaten since Monday, only had been drinking water. He was so weak, when he stood him up, he would crumple and fall to the floor. He put him on the sofa, wrapped him in a soft blanket and sat softly crying as he called his wife at work. He'd told us a long time before that he didn't think he'd be able to take him to the vet… he just couldn't do it. His wife is a nurse and a little more used to those "life and death" things. She called the vet, but they couldn't get him in until morning. Hubs and son were going to a race, so I went over and sat with Cody until his wife got home… for about 90 minutes he lay on the sofa, barely moving… I pet him and talked softly to him, telling him what a good dog he'd been, what a good friend. The husky was confused, I'm sure, but they say they know more than we give them credit for. Usually she is a pretty active dog as well, but this night she just climbed up on my other side and lay her head on my lap and let me rub her tummy.  When my daughter-in-law got home we talked about the morning and I told her I'd go to the vet with her. She said she would be surprised if he didn't pass during the night, but she'd let me know if we didn't have to go.

Morning came and I got a text "We still need to go". I was already on my way to pick them up.

Son was so upset he could barely speak. I hugged him and we took Cody and headed to the vet. When we arrived, his wife got a text… would we wait for son to come? Of course we would. A few minutes later son walked in … he'd been afraid he wouldn't get to say goodbye and decided as hard as it was for him, he needed to be there for Cody. It is so hard to watch your children suffer…no matter how old they are. Cody had been his companion for half his life. If he was home, Cody wasn't more than a foot away from him at any time. He never got over some of his bad habits, but he had a huge heart and he loved my son to pieces…and the love was returned. To lose Cody was a terrible sadness. He was an "old man" by doggie standards and had led a much better, fuller, more loved life than he ever would have had we not adopted him. This I know. He went peacefully… and is chasing bunnies with Benny, as bright and busy and crazy as he ever did. We'll miss you, psycho dog…. 

OCS

Those of you who have been around for awhile know what that means. It is shorthand for “Only Child Syndrome”. I'm not sure it is anything that actually exists in any medical journal, but it certainly exists in me. My husband is the one who first pegged it and gave it the name and it has grown from a small joke to a large reality. It covers a wide range of “symptoms” including

  • The ability to totally entertain myself – I actually have more interests than I have time in the day, hours in the week, weeks in the month, etc.

  • I can stay at my home for an indefinite amount of time as long as I have food, water, electricity, heat, and either reading material or my computer with an operating internet connection.

  • I don't like to share. Not even with the people closest to me. This means sharing food, property, or feelings.

  • I am a deep thinker… but it mainly all stays in my head.

  • Yes, I talk to myself. Yes, I also answer myself. I know that is supposed to mean something. Deal with it.

My husband teases me that he is lucky I even let him hang around. He's more accurate than I think he even realizes. I've spoken before about being a bad friend. I've tried to analyze that about myself at some point I made at least one connection into a truth about myself. When I was young my parents and I moved a lot. I was a very shy child (am still a shy adult) and although I was bright, it was difficult to make friends in new schools and new neighborhoods. I had no older siblings to pave the way or younger ones to protect. I pulled the shell around myself and kept the walls up, just doing the work and moving through life alone.

The few times I had friendships as a child, they were rocky relationships at best. One of the closest relationships I had was when I was in third, fourth and fifth grades. We lived in a fairly small town and at that point my parents were still “normal”… they hadn't gone into their psychotic phase yet. I had two girls who lived on my block who were my age, one living right next door. Well, you know what happens when there are three. There is always one on the 'out'… and it always seemed that there is an alpha female who is always playing the second friend off against the third. We were no different. As close as we were, it was a painful situation at least a third of the time.

Now as an adult I've had some friendships that I consider good, but for one reason or another they've gone south. When I watch movies or shows where women have such good friendships, ala “Sex in the City”, I wonder why I don't have those types of friends. Then I remember that I don't put up with a lot of b.s., prefer to say what I'm thinking, have a hard time playing the “part”, hate mind games, don't like shopping without a goal, prefer my family's company to others. See? It even sounds bad when I put it like that, doesn't it? I don't dislike the friends I've had, I just don't cultivate it. I don't nuture it. I don't grow it. Friendship takes work. Any relationship takes work. My husband is my best friend, my kids come a close second. I haven't found anyone else I have been able to trust and love with all my heart enough to work at the relationship. I always feel like I'm wearing a mask when I'm with other people – that people aren't seeing the authentic “me”.

As lucky as my husband says he feels… I feel I am the lucky one. Lucky to have someone who has the love and patience to put up with me, quirks and all. Someone who has learned to live with my OCS and love me in spite of it. (Thanks, honey.)

Chasing the Darkness

Unless you are new here, you know my eldest daughter has been struggling for quite some time with agoraphobia, depression, and anxiety. About a year ago she had several ECT treatments and it seemed to take care of the issues – for awhile. Unfortunately, our sweet girl didn't get a lasting peace that she needed and for the past several months she's been struggling again with her demons. The doctor has been perscribing and adjusting medications in an effort to chase the darkness away… to no avail.

Later today or tomorrow she is going back into the hospital to have more ECT treatments. Right now the doctor is predicting 6-10.

Say a prayer, please.

One Foot In Front of the Other

That pretty much explains how I'm doing. Just taking it day to day. I'm good. Happy, even. Just can't seem to get real excited about much of anything… at least, not enough to blog it. I feel I'm letting down my blog. I think of several posts a day, but they never seem to make it to the page. Not even to the draft stage.

It isn't as though I've abandoned it for some other means of communication. I don't Twitter, and although I've got a Myspace and Facebook account, I rarely pop in to do anything there. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've done a thing on Myspace. Just set up the account so I could view someone else's page they wanted me to see. *shrug* I did more with Facebook when my dad was in the hospital, just because I have many relatives on there and it was a quick way to keep them all updated on what was going on with him. Now that I don't have that responsibility, I can't seem to get very enthusiastic about it. I hear people talking about Mafia Wars and Eggs and things and I think, "oh, that sounds like fun"… then never get around to actually participating.

I've been in my head a lot lately as well, it seems. I've had some long talks with my kids and my hubs and I'm trying to think of ways to get those things out of my head and onto the page. Some days I wonder if that isn't how a person with some disabilities feel… the knowing what you want to say, but just not being able to get it out of you in a way that is understandable by others. How frustrating it must be. Me? I'm not exactly frustrated, but am having that experience where it is just on the tip of my tongue, but can't seem to make it from there to my fingertips to the computer to the page. Okay, are you completely confused now? If so, then you know EXACTLY what I mean…

From Bad to Worse or The No Good Very Bad Day

Monday started out with a little bit of hope. My mom, myself, and my dad's youngest sister and her husband were meeting with a rehab facility to see what they could do for dad. We'd been told they had a couple of "coma" beds where they worked to wake people up. After meeting with them, it was decided they couldn't help us. Dad had to have a minimum response and at this time, he had none. We were disappointed, but were meeting on Tuesday with his trauma nurse and a social worker from the hospital. The trauma nurse was present at the big weekly meeting of all his doctors and caregivers and we would find out the latest prognosis. The rehab facility thought our next step should be to look into a skilled nursing facility.

Tuesday things went downhill fast.

The trauma nurse and social worker had dad's chart with them and the jist of the information was that dad was not coming out of his coma. They could get no response from anything exept pain and when they'd tested him he had actually decreased a little in his response. When we'd first seen him after surgery he would hold our hands if we put ours in his, now he wouldn't even do that reflective act. The consensus was that even if he was to wake up the next day, he would never have the quality of life he had before. He would never go home, probably never be able to dress, feed or care for himself. In my eyes… knowing how independent my father was… it would be hell on earth and he would probably try everthing in his power not to participate in any rehab and would try to end his life as soon as he could possibly manage. On the other hand, if we continued to care for him in a skilled nursing facility, he could last for years… virtually taking my mother into poverty without any improvement. That, too, would make him upset. He spent his whole life trying to provide a good life for my mother and to see her have to give up everything to keep him in that state wouldn't be what he wanted.

After listening to all of this and watching my mother quietly weep and my aunt and uncle sit in stunned silence, I finally broke the ice. "When I get done saying this, you all may think I'm a hard, cold bitch… but my personal opinion is that dad would not want to continue like this. I feel we should discontinue the gastrotube feedings and put him into a hospice setting and allow him to go. At this point we are keeping him here for us, not because it is what he would want or on the chance he will come back the way he would want."

As soon as I said it, my aunt then said that when she and my dad's brother, other sister, and their spouses had discussed things before they had come they felt this was probably going to be the outcome and that they supported our decision to do it. Mom was quiet, but nodded her head and agreed this was for the best.

It was a rough day.

About an hour later the hospice admitting person came and talked to us and answered all our questions – putting any of our fears to rest. It was difficult to see my aunt and uncle breakdown when the time came to go tour the hospice because they were going home to Missouri and she felt this would be the last she would see him alive.

Touring the facility, it was confirmation of how right the decision was. Yesterday, they had a bed available and moved him in the afternoon. We are currently spending days… and maybe nights… until the end. It is a beautiful facility, totally covered by their insurance, and everyone we've met has been so caring and warm and compassionate. They also have counseling and after-care for the families for 13 months after. I brought in a cd player and have been playing dad's favorite irish songs and trying to keep him as comfortable as possible. Mom is in a recliner near his bed and is still in a lot of pain…going to her first doctor appointment tomorrow afternoon. She wants to stay overnight, but I won't let her until she goes and I find out if she's well enough to. She's not sleeping well and is still in a lot of pain, having a lot of trouble remembering when to use her oxygen and when she can go without. She keeps saying "Okay mommy" in a derogetory tone, but I know she's under a lot of stress so I just let it go.

The hospice people say it will most likely be two to four weeks. Mom and Dad's wedding anniversary is in about six weeks, so I hope he goes quickly. I can imagine how extra painful it would be for her if he would go near their anniversary.

I'm having lots of support from my husband (who came to stay a few days ago) and my youngest daughter (who is staying at our house taking care of the critters) and the rest of my family who are so loving and supportive. I've gotten so many nice emails and comments and I thank you all for the good wishes, the support and the caring. It touches my heart more than you know.

On Being an Only Child

The day I dreaded for years has come. The only child syndrome has expressed itself in new and so un-exciting ways.

Happy New Year.

Since I wrote last my mother has gotten to come home from the hospital (New Year's Day). They put a tube into her lung to let it re-inflate and it has now healed and she's on oxygen for a few weeks. Besides the injury and being on pain medications (let's just say she doesn't have my pain med resistance…) she's a bit worse than usual in the mental department. While in the hospital, her family doctor came to visit. I happened to be there and in the course of the visit he said, "I realize you have been under some stress with your husband and now your own injuries, but when this is over I'd like to talk to someone who has been around you for a bit. I believe we have some memory issues that are ongoing." In the next breath he says, "I also believe there have been some issues with alcohol." My mother then proceeds to get defensive, saying she hasn't drank in two years. Oh, but she's been having a glass of wine in the evening…and she will probably have some when she goes home?

Uh. Hello? Since when is wine not alcohol? …and, no, mother, you can NOT mix wine and pain meds. Then I go home and find five used wine glasses in the dishwasher, a big bottle of wine in the frig almost gone, and another in the cupboard. Needless to say, the open one got dumped.

She is also on oxygen now and we have to carry a tank back and forth to the hospital – or when she travels. If she is just sitting still she doesn't need it, but sleeping and walking around she does. So she also has oxygen at home that they came and set up – it is a converter that takes oxygen out of her home air and it keeps her from having to have a tank at home. Okay. No problem. Except. They asked before we went home if she has a gas stove, etc. No, but she does have a gas fireplace. They say, "Do not turn on the fireplace unless you stay 25 feet away". The livingroom isn't even that big – she'd have to be in the far bedroom to turn it on. So… I say, "We'll just leave it off". The guy comes to the house to set up the oxygen. I ask about it and make sure it is okay to have it off, but if it is okay to have th pilot light on. "Yes, as long as you don't turn it on unless you are 25 feet away."

The fireplace turns on with a light switch. A light switch that is next to the kitchen light. I swear, not 5 minutes after the oxygen guy left, my mother flipped the switch to turn on the fireplace as she was fumbling for the kitchen light. Luckily, I was standing right next to her and threw it off before it could actually go on. I had already mentioned to my husband I was going to tape it down so she wouldn't do that, but I didn't know what switch it was. Needless to say, it got taped down – immediately.

So, now I not only have my father who is still in an unresponsive coma (he is breathing unassisted and did get moved out of the ICU into a room) and who the doctors are now starting to ask about "DNR" orders  – but I have my mother who, silly me, I thought just was annoyingly repetative and forgetful to me, but who as it turns out is evidently bad enough she has caught the eye of her doctor.

I packed my bag and am staying at my mother's for the time being, much to my husband and childrens' dismay. They had a birthday party get-together supper last night for my grandson who turned 11 and I couldn't go because she can't travel that far and she certainly cannot be trusted to be home alone. I was disappointed not to be there, they were disappointed that I wasn't there and my husband goes back and forth between being supportive and grouchy. Can't blame him, but can't change it. Seriously, they've all been terrific. Makes me glad I didn't make any of them "only children"… lol.

I have some extended family coming on Sunday (my father's sister) and we are meeting monday with a rehab facility who specializes in head injury. No idea what the outcome of that will be. Right now I feel like I've got most of the weight of it all on my shoulders. Hopefully we're going to get some insurance stuff figured out and I finally got mom talking about finances today. Babysteps. Bad thing is, Dad did it all… every bit of it. Obviously he's going to be no help figuring it all out. Arggh.

I once more want to thank everyone who has commented on here, on Facebook, or sent me emails. I appreciate it more than you know. It feels so nice to have such good friends – be it in real life or the cyber world. I hope all is going well with you as obviously no time or energy to be checking out your blogs. If anything big happens, please let me know in comments or send me an email. I want to know what I'm missing, even if I don't come look. I may actually get caught up sometime in the near future. I found out the hospital has super-fast wi-fi and my laptop is very happy with it. Now if I ever get my work caught up I may actually find myself reading blogs and WoW-ing from the hospital… Well, I can hope, can't I?

…and the Other Shoe Drops

I was awakened this morning by a phone call from my mother. "I've fallen." With those words, my day changed drastically. I now have two parents in the hospital. My mom has cracked a rib and punctured her lung, collapsing part of it. No change in Dad. One on ninth floor, one on first… I'm getting to know the hospital pretty intimately. More than I ever wanted to.

I also got a phone call as I was getting ready to race for the hospital. My boss called to tell me a co-worker committed suicide. Yesterday. I am so saddened and upset by this. We worked closely together and he was a really nice guy. He had four kids, ages 16 to kindergarten. My husband and I also knew his family and his mother. I guess his wife moved out last week, but they were in counseling and I have no idea what happened yesterday to trigger it (no pun intended). I'm angry that he did it on Christmas – forever to be remembered by his loved ones as the day he did this.

It can all stop any time now. I'm getting my fill…

Counting my blessings that my parents don't still live in Arkansas and I still get to come home to my loving family every night…. and that all my children and their families are safe and sound.  Thanking all of you who have commented and are keeping good thoughts for my family. I haven't been able to thank you individually so hope this will do. I appreciate all of you. 

Thankful

Hi to all five of you who are still coming around…  

I just wanted to mention a thing or two then you can get on to what you were doing.

Another friend has died. He was 54 years old and had been battling a cancerous tumor for awhile. I guess they thought he was doing better when he got up the other morning, coughed a couple of times and evidently ruptured the tumor or some part of it that was on an artery, causing him to bleed to death.

Then, i was home today making coffee cake, pies, and the turkey for tomorrow and as ususal had the holiday music going. Dan Fogelburg's "Auld Lang Syne" (sp?) came on. I realized once more that he was no longer with us either. He was taken by pancreatic cancer way too young. Such a talent, snuffed out early.

I didn't blog today to bum you out, I'm sorry if I have. I just want you all to remember how short life really can be and to take a few minutes on this Thanksgiving day to truly give thanks for what you have in your life. Not the 'stuff', but the people… the relationships all around you, be it a mere acquaintance or your children or your life partner. It can all be gone in a flash.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone… ! 

Campaign Promises

Did your candidate win? Congratulations. Now comes the "fresh start"… the "new administration"… the "change". Or does it?

I don't care who you voted for or how good a campaign they put on I will guarentee you one thing. Promises will be broken. I don't think candidates do it on purpose. I think they really mean *most* of what they say. I think they each and every one thinks they have an answer. They think they have a plan for how this is all going to work.

Personally? I don't think they have a clue.

I think there are so many secrets kept in Washington that even the highest members of congress, of legistlature… none of them have privy to. I think the day the new president takes office and the passing of the baton from one administration to another begins, then and only then will they truly see the monumental task they've taken on. When the top-secret advisors to the president start laying it out on the line what things are going on in the "background"… or, if you will, so deeply "underground"… that only the primary leader of our land can know it all.

Then they will understand, perhaps, what the hell they have just gotten themselves into.

Did your candidate win? It doesn't matter now. Good luck, Barack. Here's hoping you can keep at least some of your promises…