I Can’t Keep Up, But I Won’t Stop

My days often go by very slow. It takes me a long time to do things. And this makes me feel less valuable in this world. I can’t “keep up.”

I grieve. There is very real loss in this. This world’s value system discards those who can’t keep up, can’t produce, can’t be productive, can’t offer anything useful. There is such a great loss.

But I have decided I am good with letting this go. I am okay with this.
And that there is even great relief in this. Because it is my life and I want to be here for it. Just as it is. In reality. Not as I am told it should be, but as it truly is lived.

With all its wounds and rough patches. With the vacuum cleaner that is falling apart and the notebooks that are scattered around most every surface full of hopes and broken dreams and pages of lists full of things I need to do that often get pushed aside when the mood strikes to throw a kitchen party and the volume is set to maximum and me and my dogs dance and sing as if no one is watching.

My days, with these very slow stretches of time through more hours of darkness than light, and the increasing coldness which brings with it a deep, crushing bone pain.

In these times and days when everything can hurt and when the world is freezing and they demand we give everything, it is useful to just breathe. And go slow. One thing at a time. And another. Then another. Slow enough to feel your own heart beating.

Yes, I am slow. I can’t always keep up and I sometimes don’t get things finished in time. I often feel useless and of no value. This is my reality. And I will continue to be here for it, one breath at a time.

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Confinement

My day? Not too good. I haven’t gotten out of bed other than to pee and feed the puppers. I’m in excruciating pain in all my joints. The soles of my feet and the front of the legs are crimson red and hot and the blankets even hurt me. Having a flare up of CRPS. Not fun.

Where’s My Bedding?

It’s been such a dreary old day. I haven’t had enough energy to even get out of my own way. If my dogs had not insisted I get out of bed at 10:30am to feed them I could probably have stayed asleep until mid afternoon. But that would have only made me worse, ashamed of myself for wasting a perfectly good day and not accomplishing anything.

I still didn’t accomplish much even though I actually got out of bed before noon. Cleaned our bedroom to get ready for our new comforter set. I ordered an 11 piece set almost 2 months ago on amazon and it still hasn’t arrived. The longest I’ve ever waited for an Amazon order and I’m getting anxious now.

Patience is definitely not something I’ve been blessed with.

Hopefully my new bedding arrives in the next day or so. I need my bedroom to look bright and summery.

Another Update On Zoey

February 28th, 2018 Day 24 I’m totally exhausted. Dr. Bailey said that we would have to devote ourselves to Zoey’s recovery if we wanted this to be successful and she wasn’t kidding. For the past 24 days my life has been dictated by the clock. Potty time. Feeding time. Medication time. Therapy time. Play time. Massage time. Vet appointments. Cuddle time.

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March 1st, 2018 Day 25 I never thought that we would have to face something like this with Zoey. Unfortunately, torn ACL’s are very common in dogs. The ACL ligament helps to stabilize the knee. Active dogs, sedentary or overweight dogs, and dogs who were spayed or neutered before puberty are all at increased risk for ACL injury. If you think that sounds like a large population of dogs, you would be correct. It’s also a known fact a high percentage of dogs (somewhere between 30-60%, depending on the study) that tear one ACL will tear the ACL in their other leg within two years of the initial injury. Ouch! Zoey ended up with both of her legs being affected. Double ouch! I wanted to give our girl the best care so I did a lot of research before the surgery and I still do some reading on it every day. I keep learning how other families have dealt with this and I find it so interesting. One of the best resources I found online was actually a free one. It was TopDogHealth.com, run by a licensed veterinarian, Dr. James St. Clair, who has dedicated his professional career to helping dogs recover from the type of condition that Zoey has. I signed up for his newsletter and printed out a long, detailed guide to TPLO recovery. I gotta say that I was pretty impressed with it. Week by week it outlines exactly what Zoey should be able to do. It talks about what physiotherapy we should be doing with her and includes diagrams to show us how to do each thing. I’m really grateful that there are resources like this online.

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March 2nd, 2018 Day 26 Well we are almost half way through the first 8 week period of Zoey’s recovery. Keeping her calm and quiet for the first eight weeks is critical in this recovery process, because she is basically healing from 2 broken legs. But weeks 9 through 16 are also just as important. If a human being had a leg injury of this kind, you know what would happen. Surgery, yes. Then what? Physical therapy. And finally, a lot more hard work that eventually leads back to full activity. Limited walking, slow walking, normal walking, short jog, longer jog, and then, and only then, back to a full run or quick sprint anytime you feel like it. Zoey started walking on her legs within a week. It has been getting progressively better, and now at almost 4 weeks post-op,  Zoey is stronger on her legs than she he had been prior to surgery. But she is still far, far from truly recovered.

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March 3rd, 2018 Day 27 It’s been a rough day. Zoey has been inconsolable. She has paced the floor. She’s tried to lie down on each dog bed. She’s tried to sit but she couldn’t even seem to lower herself far enough to do that. She’s had Tramadol this morning, which is an opiate pain medication. She had a dose of Gabapentin, which is a nerve pain medication. And this evening we had to give her Trazadone, which is a sedative. She cried and we have felt so helpless. David eventually picked her up using the harness and laid her on our bed and I laid down next to her and just held her. I wrapped a blanket around her for more comfort and I sang to her. Eventually she fell asleep and slept for a solid hour and a half. I really hope that tomorrow is a better day.

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March 4th, 2018 Day 28 Zoey has had a lot of energy today and has tried every way possible to make sure she’s heard. She’s pouting and whining and reminds me of a toddler seeking attention. And she made every pee break last as long as possible. Walking slow, sniffing EVERYTHING, digging her head in whatever pile of snow she could find. So yeah. Easy to say that she is feeling good today.

March 5th, 2018 Day 29 So Zoey is now able to have 3 walks a day. She’s graduated from using the short lead to a slightly longer leash that allows her to walk a few feet ahead of me and I don’t have to hold her harness when she’s walking anymore. She’s loving the freedom!

March 6th, 2018 Day 30 One month down, two to go!  She is walking well and using her legs more and more, but he is definitely stiff for a bit after a long period of rest. The first 8-12 weeks of recovery is so important to her overall success of the procedure. Over- activity can be disastrous, so limiting her activity while the bones heal and fuse with the plates, and keeping them stable (so as to not injure their other bones due to weight compensation) is crucial. However, insufficient activity can also leave her weak and set her up for additional injury down the road.  It is all about balance and we hope that we make it to the end of Zoeys Journey Through TPLO Surgery and have her come through with flying colors!

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March 9th, 2018 Day 33 Today was Zoey’s 4 week post op appointment with Dr. Goucie. It has been a long, painful day for her. She was sedated at 8:30am and at 2pm we picked her up. She was still very lethargic and her eyes were extremely bloodshot. My heart broke the minute I saw her. I climbed into the backseat of the car with her and she slept with her head in my hand during the full 45 minute ride home, only lifting her head several times, long enough to look at me for a minute and cry. Over all she got a good report but we have to be more strict with her. She’s having too much activity and she has some inflammation around the plates but nothing too serious. Seven days of an anti-inflammatory medication called Onsior again. She showed us the x-ray’s on the computer and what her legs look like today. It’s hard to look at. Reminds me of something from a horror movie. The plate is below her knee and almost to her ankle and there are seven screws in each leg. So much metal attached to her little bones. The bone has only just started to fused together so technically she still has two broken legs. It’s healing well but she still has a long road ahead of her yet and we were told that we have at least another four to six weeks of having her on leash. On the x-rays you can clearly see where the bone is broken in half. It’s starting to join now but Until we get x-rays that show absolutely no break in the bone then she has to be resting all the time. It’s frustrating for all of us. She wants to play and run and go outside by herself so she can go explore the way that all dogs like to do. But instead she is attached to a leash and is not allowed to go running around playing with her toys. It’s so hard to say no when she finds a toy and brings it to you so you can either throw it or play tug of war with her. But this is how it has to be for another 4-6 weeks. It HAS to. If not she will end up back in surgery to repair a slipped plate, a loose screw, or a freshly broken bone. It will be worth it in the end because when we DO get to open the door and let her run outside on her own, she will be able to run normally, without a limp, and without any pain. We are giving Zoey her life back by doing this. I wish I could could explain that to her though.

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March 10, 2018 Day 34 It feels like we are right back to square one after yesterday’s procedures. She’s been crying all day. She’s exhausted and really drowsy from medication but she’s fighting against it. You would think that feeling as groggy as she does, she would just be sleeping. But she won’t lie down. I feel like she’s scared to let herself give in. Afraid that something may happen to her again if she falls asleep. Right now she’s sitting up on her bed, leaning against the wall, and she’s swaying. Her head slowly goes down and once it hits her chest she instantly sits up again. It’s painful to watch this and it reminds me of the intervention shows that portray individuals addicted to opiates, so high on the drugs that they can’t keep their eyes open or hold their head up. Thankfully the effects of the sedation from the vet appointment should be wearing off by the end of the day.

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March 11th, 2018 Day 35 It’s been 35 days now since we began Zoey’s journey. 34 days ago she was diagnosed with Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease. Zoey was admitted to VSC Hospital in St. John’s and underwent what’s called a Bilateral Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (BTPLO). The complete ligament was removed and then they cut right through the tibia bone and rotated it 90 degrees. A metal plate was then screwed into her bone to secure it together and to make her knee strong and sturdy. This was done on both of legs. Leading up to this, Zoey was basically walking on 3 legs because she couldn’t bear weight on the 4th. Now she is walking on all 4, the way that she was meant to do. And as her healing continues I long to be able to watch her walk on her own without our assistance and then run. I hope this summer is great weather wise because I plan on celebrating Zoey’s recovery every day with lots of fun and activity!

March 15, 2018 Day 39 So I hand feed my dogs. I always have and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Some people do not agree with hand feeding but that’s ok. In my house we hand feed. For several months now Zoey has not been able to stay seated in one position throughout her meals because sitting upright on her bum is too painful for her because she can’t stretch out her legs or bend them up very well. Today, when it was their dinner time, they both sat and Zoey was able to stay seated long enough to eat all of her dinner. That is an amazing sign of improvement and I was so freakin excited when she took her last bite. Today she had her first comfortable mealtime in

Zoey Is Shufflin’ Along

February 15th, 2018 Day 11 – Morning Its so nice to see the sun shining today. It’s an instant mood booster. It was also really nice to be able to take Zoey outside to do her pee and not be standing next to her, shivering in my boots. The cold temperatures these past few days have actually been painful. I think Zoey is finding this nice switch in weather encouraging as well because she ate a decent sized breakfast and drank a half a cup of water without me having to push her. I couldn’t help but sigh with relief. It’s not easy trying to force a dog to eat! We walked all around the garden and I’m pretty sure she had to stop and sniff after every couple of steps. When we got back inside she just collapsed on the porch mat. Her strength comes in bursts and doesn’t last long so sometimes she isn’t able to got any further than the porch so I let her rest for a while before walking her back to her bed in the living room where she’s now sound asleep. And since Buddy is also curled up napping I think I just might take advantage of this and take a nap myself.

February 15th, 2018 Day 11 – Afternoon Zoey had 30 minutes of ‘freedom’ today. I clipped her leash on and let her sit outside since it was so beautiful out. But I’m really regretting it because she got chilled. I guess with her fur being shaved and the fact she was lying on the bridge without a blanket, she got cold. I really didn’t think it was cold enough to be concerned but I was obviously very wrong. After she came in and was back on her bed her entire body began to shiver. I wrapped her up in a big fleece blanket and she immediately started to pant. I got down on the floor with her and held her as her entire body was having spasms. Of course I panicked and started crying because I felt so guilty. I had caused this to happen. I should never have let her spend that half hour lying on the patio. She’s not up to that yet. I should have known the difference!! I let a bit of sunshine go to my head. The shivering caused full body muscle spasms and it was painful, which caused the panting. Dogs pant for many different reasons and anxiety and pain are among the top ones. Which is why Zoey was shivering and panting at the same time. It was actually painful for me to watch it and knowing that it could have easily been avoided has made me feel like the worst dog mom out there. After being wrapped in the blanket and me rocking her in my arms for a while she relaxed and fell asleep. *sigh*

February 16th, 2018 Day 12 Not the best of days by any means. Zoey decided to go into full blown starvation mode and refused any and every ounce of both solid food and liquids. I had calls with an on call emergency vet from the VSCNL hospital as well as with the Gander veterinarian. If her intake doesn’t improve over the weekend she may be admitted to be hooked up to an IV. She has had 2 episodes in the last 2 days that has scared me so much that I’ve got myself convinced that she’s dying. She starts shivering so I cover her up and then she starts panting, as her entire body continues to spasm. I’m so scared at this point that I’m afraid to fall asleep because I don’t want her to die alone. I hope im overreacting …. ? Her sugars may be dropping from the lack of steady nutrition. Panting is also a sign of pain so the shivering may be painful for her which is why she pants at the same time. We also discovered a couple of reddened areas which are of concern so that’s something else we have to keep a close eye on now. Thankfully I did manage to get some food into her by supper time. Chicken broth and water (half and half) poured over some shredded chicken. All together she’s had 2 cups of fluid. Not as much as I want her to have but it’s better than nothing. I’m concerned that she’s getting depressed now too. She reminds me of eyeore. Even the way she walks is similar. She’s bored. You would be too if you were lying down all day long for 12 days straight! I’ve tried to get her to chew on bones but she turns her head. Buddy brought her a toy this evening and laid down in front of her and it broke my heart. He looked back at me as if to say “Mommy why won’t sissy play with me?” Seriously. I don’t know how much more my heart can take.

February 17th, 2018 Day 13 Today was a good day. Zoey still needed a lot of encouragement but finally managed to eat a bowl of chicken broth, water and pedialyte with shredded chicken and a spoonful of rice added to it. And we discovered that in the midst of the excitement of playing in the snow she was willing to eat a pocket full of dry kibble with no hesitation. If I have to take her outside to feed her then so be it! She was also the most relaxed I’ve seen her yet. While lying on her bed this afternoon she turned on her side and actually stretched her legs out. Big step towards her recovery!

February 18th 2018 Day 14 David was off today so it was really nice to have him home all day. Zoey loved having her daddy home. They even had a nice nap together on the living room floor. One of my favorite sounds ever is of Zoey snoring. It warms my heart because I know she’s resting and she’s content. She ate dog food for her dinner. Her regular kibble that she hasn’t eaten in a long time. And she actually seemed to enjoy it! Except she threw up afterwards. I’m guessing that it’s because she hasn’t been eating much solid food and it may have been too heavy on her stomach. She took her Tramadol (pain medication) wrapped in a piece of cheese without any hesitation. She has always loved cheese and thankfully she still does because it’s great for wrapping her pills in. Zoey has been doing really well on her legs. She can stand up from a lying position without having to be lifted by the harness. At first she had to be lifted up and then held in order to walk but now she can walk alongside of me with having to be supported. I take her for walks out around the yard and she’s doing fantastic. She walks very carefully because she’s still really unsteady but her tail wags like crazy with every step she makes. She often looks up at me looking for that bit of reassurance and when I smile at her and say “good girl” she looks so proud of herself. And so she should! She has so much to be proud of! She has suffered and survived so much pain in the past 2 weeks. She is doing amazing despite how awful she feels. And I am beyond proud of her. She’s mom’s girl!

February 19th, 2018 Day 15 Zoey continues to amaze me every single day. She continues to get stronger with each passing day. There is no doubt in my mind that this surgery was a success because she is already walking better than what she did before having this done. Her limp is completely gone. She is still very weak and her legs shake when squatting down to do her pee but thanks to her harness we are able to hold on to her so that she has that security in knowing we won’t let her fall. I’m glad Zoey feels safe with me. I’m glad that she feels secure and trusts that I won’t let her fall. I want my dogs to know that I will always protect them and that they can always lean on me whenever they are scared. Buddy has been very confused about everything that’s going on. He doesn’t understand why we are doting on Zoey so much. Why we often have to push him away when he tries to get Zoey to get up and play with him. How do you explain something like this to a dog?? God knows I’ve tried. If you only knew how much I have talked to both of my dogs during these past few weeks. I’ve sat with Buddy on my lap and as I scratch his ears and he stares at me I tell him things. I tell him how incredibly proud of how well he has behaved lately. I tell him that sissy is sick but she’s going to get better really soon and they are going to have so much fun this summer. And I swear, as Buddy listens, he is understanding. Intelligent would be an understatement in describing Buddy. Same with Zoey. She wants so bad to get up and go. She wants to jump up on the couch. And having to say no to her is so hard because she wears her emotions on her face. She is the saddest looking dog I’ve ever seen. Her eyes tell it all. But I talk to her. I tell her everything that happened in the hospital and what Dr. Bailey did to her legs. I tell her that all the pain she is in now is going to go away. And when it does she’s going to feel better than she has in a very long time. And that I am going to fill the backyard with more balls than she has ever seen before for her and Buddy to run around and play with. Then I smother her with kisses. Yes. This has been one hard road. But to be able to get to a place where my girl can walk and run and play again … that is our ultimate goal for Zoey’s Journey.

February 20th, 2018 Day 16 It was 2 weeks ago today that Zoey had Bilateral TPLO surgery and we had her in to the vet for a check up today. Dr. Goucie was very impressed with her current state. She said that many patients that come in for their two week check up and end up going home with her antibiotics and have to get some extra tests done because they aren’t healing properly. She said that many dogs that have this surgery, especially when it’s done on both legs at the same time, usually have some sort of complication along the way. She said that she has seen very few incidents where a dog gets this surgery and are able to make it through eight weeks of recovery without having some sort of bumps along the way. She was very pleased with how Zoey was able to stand in one spot for a minute without her legs giving out on her. Zoey’s ability to go from a sitting position to standing position without having to be lifted is an amazing accomplishment for the two week mark. Her fur is growing at a healthy right and all of the itching that she is currently experiencing is quite normal because as the hair grows it’s irritating her. Her ears look great. Her eyes are slightly bloodshot, which is due to her crying. Her teeth look fine and the colour of her gums is nice and pink, showing that she is not overly dehydrated. Her nose is also a healthy color.Dr. Goucie was sitting on the floor with Zoey while we were chatting and Zoey sat in an upright position almost the entire time. That is huge because it’s a position that puts more strain on her legs but yet that’s the position she chose. After about 5 minutes she laid down and the dr. looked at us and smiled because she lasted five minutes sitting up on her own. Then as we kept talking the doctor was massaging Zoey’s legs and she was pushing and pulling and examining her incisions and Zoey just laid there, letting her do it all, without showing any signs of frustration. Before getting the surgery, Zoey had to be sedated in order to be examined because she would not let anyone go near her legs. But now here she is two weeks after a major surgery, with big incisions running down each leg, yet she just lay there and let the doctor poke at her. Nothing in the world could ever made me feel any prouder than I did this morning sitting in that veterinarians office. She asked us how we were coping with it all and she shook her head and said that it looks like we are taking it harder than Zoe is. And she said that many times this is what happens. The owners suffer more than the pets do. She told us that we had to take care of ourselves and she told us that we are doing a fantastic job. She said that the proof that you are doing a great job is lying right there at your feet. She said that despite the struggles that we still have with her eating and drinking, being up all night crying, the episodes of panting and anxiety during the day, etc. We are at a place that is perfect for two weeks post op. So we left with an increase in pain medication, and 20 day supply of a probiotic to help her with some stomach issues, and another appointment to go back to get X-rays (which requires sedation). So needless to say we are really pleased here tonight.

Just Keep Swimming

My life has been so crazy this past week. I’m too busy and worn out to function now. I’m trying to take care of myself. I’ve actually forgotten to eat a couple of times because I’ve been so focused on getting my dog to eat. I did make a pot of homemade soup though and it turned out great. I could eat soup every day of the week if necessary. It’s my go-to food for everything.

My dog is healing well from her surgery but we’ve got a long road ahead of us yet. In saying that, week one has been a success. I haven’t killed anyone and I’ve only had a few fairly minor meltdowns.

To be quite honest I think I’ve done pretty good.

Week 2 Of Our Journey

February 13th, 2018 Day 9

It was one week ago today that Zoey had Bilateral Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy surgery. She has successfully completed week one of her recovery, 7 more to go. This has been one heck of a journey so far. An experience I will never forget as long as I live. It has been incredibly draining in every way possible. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. You may not think that your pet having surgery would be such a big deal as this but when that pet is your entire world and every aspect of her recovery depends solely on you then yes, it is a big deal. Today has allowed us to feel a small glimmer of hope. She ate some canned dog food. She drank a little water from a small glass. And we were able to push her Tramadol (pain medication) forward by 3 hours. She also graduated from ice therapy to heat therapy today. 15 minutes of a heat wrap that was followed by 13 almost perfect repetitions of range of motion exercises. After that my mom and stepdad dropped by to visit and in the moment of excitement over seeing them come in she banged her neck collar/cone off the wall and split it right down the side. It’s so big and bulky and awkward and it’s always in the way but without it she immediately resorts to licking her incisions. The LAST thing I want right now is for her to develop an infection. Sorry baby girl but you have to keep wearing that ugly plastic bling for another little while yet.

February 14th, 2018 Day 10 Valentine’s Day. We’ve been so caught up in everything that’s been going on with Zoey that David and I both completely forgot about Valentine’s Day. I happened to see someone’s post on facebook and I called out to David and asked if he knew what today was. He said Wednesday lol I was like no! It’s Valentine’s Day! We both felt awful because we didn’t have anything for each other so while I had a nap my amazing hubby made me the most beautiful valentines cake ever! And I must say that overall it’s been a really good day. Zoey has been calm and relaxed. She starting to get a little more courage in herself now and is sitting up on her own. She very rarely stands up without assistance because she’s very weak and wobbly. But once she’s up and she shakes herself off a bit she’s ready to go. She’s had several walks around the garden with David. It’s been such a huge blessing to have David off the past 2 days. He’s been taking her outside because our yard is nothing but ice and I’m dreading the upcoming days with a passion because it’s really hard to try and keep my own balance and handle Zoey with one hand as well. Good grief. If I fell down … no. Not gonna go there! Today Zoey also had her last dose of antibiotics. Her chances of fighting off infection are much better now going into week 2. Fingers crossed we can continue forward with the strength and determination she’s been showing today.