Call your mom. Call your dad. If you are blessed enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, then call them. Don’t text. Don’t email. Pick up your phone and call them. Tell them you love them. And thank them. And listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.
I want you to know that writing this letter did not come easily for me. There were definitely times in my life that I wished you were there but now that I’m an adult I can say that growing up without you was the best thing for me.
This isn’t about me expressing bitterness, but rather my thanks to you for not being there. I want to be mad at you. I want to yell at you and tell you that you ruined my life. I want to crumble and fall apart, and through my sobbing I want to tell you how many tears I’ve shed over you. How much I needed you to hold me when I was a child and tell me that you loved me. I want to throw something at you and yell about how my life has been ruined because of you.
But that simply isn’t the case.
Growing up without a biological father was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. I want you to notice that I said BIOLOGICAL. I had many people take your place.
My mom, my grandparents, youth group workers, teachers, etc. And the list goes on and on. I had lots of people looking out for me. You were simply not needed.
Not having you in my life has made me strong, powerful, careful, and happy. I was able to experience things differently than my friends who had a two parent home. I was able to experience an overwhelming amount of love and support from all different angles.
I was able to have my mom take on a double role and so she was my mom AND my dad. I built a relationship with my mother that is twice as strong as it would be if you were around. I hope that one day I’m at least half the women that she was and twice the parent you could ever be.
Most importantly though, I’m proud of myself. I’m proud that I made it through school and that I did it without needing your encouragement. I made it through some of the hardest, darkest times that a person could ever experience, and I did it without you holding my hand. I was almost killed in a car accident but I made it through without you there to stand by my hospital bed, holding my hand while I was clinging to life.
I’m proud of myself that I finally understand that my life is fine without you in it, even though I spent years trying to figure out why you weren’t a part of my life. I have family who supports me, a husband who loves me, and friends who encourage me. I’m proud that I was finally able to realize that I did not need a biological father because I had many father figures around me.
Blood does not always symbolize family and sometimes water is actually thicker.
I wish nothing but good things for you, and since you have decided that you want absolutely nothing to do with me even though I am a child that you helped create, I’d like you to know that I’m better off without you anyways.
When my Nan got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease a little over a year ago, our entire family took it very hard. Both Nan and Pop are in their 80’s and live in a retirement home. Its a place where high functioning senior citizens can live when cooking and cleaning and regular upkeep of a house is just too much for them. They meet with other peers in the dining room each mealtime. No worries about having to wash dishes. They are free to come and go as they please. Some of their friends living there still have a car and drivers’ license. Its not a place where you will find people with severe dementia. Nor will you see people being hand fed their meals or wheeled to a room to be bathed. The people there are all able to do these things on their own.
So when Nan got diagnosed, our immediate thoughts were related to her home. Will she have to move out of her current place? Will we have to move her into a long term care facility? And what about Pop? How will this affect him? Thankfully, when she got diagnosed last year her main symptoms involved some minor short term memory loss here and there. Aside from that she was fine.
Oh yes. I failed to mention that Nan is also legally blind. Sometimes I forget that part because she’s been blind for the majority of my adult life and I’m so used to it now. Despite her blindness, Nan continued on with her life, doing things no one ever thought could be possible without your sight. But she did it anyways. As they’ve gotten older both my grandparents have come to depend on each other more and more. Just recently Pop began using a walker to help him get around because of extreme weakness in his legs. Nan holds on to one side and off they go together, side by side.
But this diagnosis has changed things. At first it was ok because there were no big symptoms. But over the past 3 weeks its like a switch went off in Nan’s brain and she is going downhill. Fast. The family has been called in several times because she became so upset and no one could get her to calm down. She is hallucinating now. Today my aunt and uncle are there with her. She says she keeps seeing this group of women who keep standing around her, crowding in on her, standing over her. And they are laughing. She said that one of the women has a flashlight that she keeps shining in her eyes and she randomly covers her face with her arms to block it out.
This is absolutely heartbreaking. I can’t for the life of me imagine what this is like. The fear she’s experiencing is so real. Its paralyzing.
And its only going to get worse.
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.
February 5th, 2018
Day 1 of this new journey.
Heading to St. John’s to meet with her surgeon, Dr. Bailey, at the VSC hospital. She’s hungry and in pain as she fasting and her morning pain medication was withheld. Struggling to get comfortable in the car. I’ve been sitting in the back seat with her and she’s been resting on my lap but now, an hour into our trip, she’s restless, uncomfortable, and panting, which is one of the signs of excessive pain in dogs. I really wish we could have given her medication to help with this trip. But we have to follow the dr’s orders strictly because the last thing we want is something to go wrong.
February 5th, 2018
Day 1 – Afternoon
So it looks like Zoey’s leg was in even worse shape than we thought. Her CCL ligament is completely ruptured, she has a torn meniscus and her knee is completely non-functional. And to make matters worse, her right knee is also full of inflammation and fluid and has a partial CCL tear as well. So what does that mean? She has been diagnosed with Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease. The rupture is something that has resulted in a slow degeneration over time, not an actual injury. The only way to fix it and prevent her losing all function of both hind legs is surgery. A very big surgery.
At 7:30 tomorrow morning Zoey will be admitted to VSC Hospital in St. John’s to undergo what’s called a Bilateral Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (BTPLO). The complete ligament will be removed and then they will cut right through the tibia bone and rotate it 90 degrees. A metal plate will then be screwed into her bone to secure it together and make her knee strong and sturdy. This will be done on both legs.
They tell me that things have to get worse before they get better. But how do you explain this to your baby girl when she’s looking deep into your eyes, questioning why her mommy and daddy are crying so much?
February 6th, 2018
Day 2 – Morning
At 7:30am we left our baby in the care of the professionals. Lots of hugs and kisses and many tears were shed as we told her we loved her and that everything was going to be ok. She licked our tears away with such strong confidence, as if to say ‘yes, I know Mom. Everything is going to be fine.”
Her level of communication and her ability to show compassion exceeds any level that I’ve ever seen in an animal.
Now, we wait. For calls, texts, pictures etc from Dr. Bailey throughout the day. First she will be given a bath with a micro-antibacterial shampoo to cleanse her skin to reduce chance of infection. We certainly don’t want infection to get into the implant. Good luck, baby girl. We’re right here waiting.
February 6th, 2018
Day 2 – Evening
Zoey’s Bilateral TPLO surgery was a success. It’s been a very long day on all of us. We spent 4 hours just wandering through the Avalon Mall because we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We went back and forth to the hospital 4 times to check with the staff and get updates despite the fact that they promised to call. I just needed to hear it in person. And she’s ok! She’s awake and doing well tonight. She’s in pain and uncomfortable so they’re giving her some more sedation and gravol and keeping her in the icu tonight. They said that despite her being so miserable she is still very friendly and gentle with the staff and all the technicians have fallen in love with her. Both legs are bandaged now and will be changed in the morning. She’s being watched all night by her very own personal aid.
Personally? I’m completely exhausted. I’m worn out both emotionally and physically. My feet are aching from so much walking today and I’m having a lot of phantom pain in my shoulder. But it’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before! I am definitely looking forward to a nice hot shower and a chance to lie down with David beside me. He has been having a hard time as well. To hold my husband in my arms as he sobs is a very humbling thing. We are in bay Roberts at my mother in laws for the night. We will be going to St. John’s tomorrow afternoon to visit my baby girl and we are allowed to go and sit with her and feed her supper if she is awake and able to handle the excitement of seeing us! One of the technicians just text us this picture, of the aid sitting on the floor giving Zoey some cuddles. And anyone who knows Zoey knows that no matter how miserable she is feeling she always wants to be cuddled.
February 6th, 2018
Day 2 – night
Her bandage on her knee is starting to slide down and they were just getting ready to take it off and re-bandage it. She’s quiet. Haven’t barked or whined much at all. She’s on a morphine drip, Onsior, Tramadol and Gabapentin tonight. Sweet dreams, my precious angel. We love you to infinity and beyond!
February 7th, 2018
Day 3 – Morning
Zoey had a good night. She ate a little chicken and a few sips of water. She was on IV fluids until 3am. Unfortunately she hasn’t done her pee since yesterday so they are a little concerned about that. They are thinking it’s because she still recovering from the epidural so they are giving her a little more time And if she doesn’t Pee soon they are going to express her bladder. When Dr. Bailey took her bandages off this morning one of her legs is oozing fluid a little so that is another cause for concern. They are going to put her on some antibiotics to make sure that she doesn’t get a full blown infection in the incision. She has also been trying to pick at the bandage on that particular leg so she ended up having to start wearing the cone. I hate those big plastic cones because they look so uncomfortable on her so we went and purchased a Kong E collar which is like a doughnut and it is inflatable. It will be a lot more comfortable for her and it’s much less awkward for her to turn her head and to see things around her. So we are bringing that in when we go visit this afternoon. During the night the staff had her standing on her legs and she is bearing her weight which they are very pleased with. Of course they have a support harness on her so someone is holding her at all times. So even though she can stand she isn’t bearing 100% of her weight on her own. They also had her outside to get some fresh air three times now. And she loved that. I am very impressed with the care and attention that’s always getting at this hospital. And they have been very patient with David and I as well. David jokingly said that Zoey is getting better care than most people do in our regular hospitals! They have been very patient with me and my anxiety over all of this. They have been texting us with pictures and updates and throughout the night we text them several times because we couldn’t sleep, wondering how our baby was doing. And within five minutes of sending a text to them they always responded with an update and a picture of her at that particular time. I am so incredibly grateful for the people that work at the VSC hospital. I really could not ask for anything any better for our girl.
February 7th, 2018 Day 3 – Evening
We just left from visiting with our baby girl. She’s hurting. A lot. We had the family room to ourselves, which was really nice. Both David and I got on the floor and lay down with her. I was wearing a black shirt and I didn’t care how much dirt and dust and fur covered me, I just wanted to be on the ground on her level. We laid with her on the floor and as she cried we cried. A lot of tears were shed in that family room today as we wrapped her arms around our baby girl and listen to her crying. My heart is so heavy that it feels like my chest can’t hold it in place. My shoulders are aching and my head is throbbing. But this is completely insignificant compared to the pain that Zoey is in at this moment. Her eyes are getting matted from tears. After 15 minutes with us she began hyperventilating and Dr. Bailey came in and gave her a morphine injection. She’s back in her kennel in the ICU now and they said she should be asleep very soon. She did her pee so they didn’t have to express her bladder after all. She hasn’t eaten all day though. Had a mouthful of chicken overnight. We brought her food but couldn’t get her to even taste it. She is trying very hard to lick her legs and ended up scratching herself with the edge of the cone so they are going to put an even bigger one on her. She’s very confused and I think seeing us just made her worse because she wants to come with us. So we had to leave. She was too upset. It broke my heart. I wanted to scoop her up and take her home. But she’s not ready for that yet. Dr. Bailey is very proud of her though because she’s able to stand and bear some of her weight. Some dogs are fearful and take much longer to make their first step. Zoey is a true fighter. She is extremely well behaved and obeys every command she is given. Keep fighting my angel. You can do this!
February 8th, 2018 Day 4 – Afternoon
Zoey isn’t doing as well as Dr. Bailey was hoping today. So they want to keep her in another night. Not the positive update I had been hoping for. Her incision on one leg is oozing and they don’t want to release her until they make sure that it’s not going to turn into a full-blown infection. And she’s also not eating much of anything other than a few bites of chicken. They have her on antibiotics so hopefully that will catch any infection there may be. She’s much more alert today and was very excited to see Dr. Bailey when she went in this morning, tail wagging and lots of kisses. She’s a little restless which is actually a good sign because she wants to move around now. So we are here now for another night, staying at David’s mom’s place in Bay Roberts. David had to call work as he was scheduled to go in tonight and he had to cancel his shift for both tonight and tomorrow. So that’s a full week now off work. But what else can you do? We are not taking Zoey home until she is well enough to do so.
February 8th, 2018 Day 4 – Night
Zoey is doing really good tonight. Ate a little bit more, dog food this time. Still no poop but the pain meds are probably constipating her. Hasn’t been eating much or moving around so Dr. Bailey isn’t too concerned. They are giving her another day and if she still hasn’t had a bowel movement then she will be prescribed something to help move things along. When we go home, I will start giving her a 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin 2x a day. It acts as a stool softener. As long as she’s not active we will keep pumpkin as part of her daily menu. They started her off with no cone around her neck to see if she would be OK with not licking her legs but that didn’t last. They put a cone on her that was a size large but discovered that she was still able to get access to the bandages on her leg so they removed that one and put an extra large cone on her. Then earlier this evening when I got a call from the doctor with an update she started to laugh. Apparently Zoey is incredibly smart and very flexible because despite wearing an extra large cone she still managed to twist her body in a way that allowed her to still be able to reach her incisions. So now she has graduated to what they call the satellite dish! It is the largest cone that exists and it is usually only use on the large Newfoundland breed dogs, which are at least twice her size. She’s going to have to wear this for at least the next three weeks because it is very important that nothing happens to those incisions. If she pulls out her stitches then it could possibly result in them having to do another surgery. I can’t imagine what is going to be like to have her going around our house with that satellite dish on her head. It’s going to be quite a challenge, that’s for sure! I was told tonight that Zoey has made quite an impact on the staff that have them working in the ICU section these past few days. So he has such a unique personality. The doctor said that a lot of animals come and go through that place and OK usually you’ll get one that really makes an impact on them because their personality is so unique. And Zoey has done exactly that. Whenever someone walks by her kennel she wags her tail and gives them her famous grin. She is getting her legs iced several times a day and when they do it the staff sit on the floor with her. They wrapped her legs with the ice packs and they spent some time talking to her, giving her lots of hugs, scratching her ears, and just spending one on one time with her. She pays no attention to the fact that there is ice on her legs because she is too busy giving those sloppy kisses. When you talk to her so he listens to your every word. She makes direct eye contact and it’s as if she understands every single word you say. You could sit and tell her your life story and she will sit and look at you and listen to your every word. I am positive she knows exactly what you are saying. The staff have grown to really enjoy these direct one on one sessions with her. Can you imagine having a job like that? Getting to sit on the floor and cuddle with all of these amazing animals? I would love to be able to do something like that all day and get paid for it! But anyways, Zoey is there for one more night with the staff at VSC hospital and at 9 AM tomorrow morning we are going to be getting our baby girl! We are having an information session with Dr. Bailey where she will teach us exactly how to work with Zoey and use the harness that she will be wearing for the next several weeks. I have been very upset and anxious about how I, personally, I’m going to be able to handle all of this with just one arm but Dr. Bailey promised that when we leave with her tomorrow morning I will be able to handle her on my own. She is going to show us, not just tell us, but actually show us how to walk with her and use a harness to assist her. There’s going to be lots of physical therapy to be done with her every day which we will be learning about tomorrow. The surgery part maybe don’t but it’s real journey is just beginning
February 9th, 2018 Day 5 – Morning In less than 2 hours we will have our princess in the car with us, heading home!! There are Many mixed feelings floating around in the air between David and I here in the car. We are both sitting in silence, lost in our own thoughts and fears about this next part. What if we hurt her? What if we do something wrong or forget to give her all of her pills? Or what if our other dog, Buddy, accidentally hurts her? That poor little guy …. Right now he thinks he’s on vacation lol He has been staying with my aunt and uncle in Comfort Cove and by the sounds of things he’s having a wonderful time! Yesterday they even took him in the woods with them! He has been doing good while away from us so for that I am beyond thankful. But inside, my heart is aching to have him with me. I miss him. His cuddles, his sneaky ways, his bark, his body against my chest. My biggest fear is that he thinks I abandoned him
February 9th, 2018 Day 5 – Night Reality has hit me like a slap in the face. Yes, we are overjoyed to have her out of hospital and home with us. But that means it’s OUR responsibility to care for her now. There are no doctors or technicians. There’s no one. Here we are now with a bruised and battered creature that we are afraid to touch for fear of hurting her or doing something wrong that could cause more damage. Me and David sat on the floor in our living room with her and iced her legs, one at a time. We cried our way through the range of motion exercises with her because we had no idea if we were doing it right and we knew we were causing her discomfort. But it’s done now. Meds have been given. And she’s relaxing again. Tomorrow is a new day, and David is back to work. Am I capable of doing this??
February 10th, 2018 Day 6 – Morning First night home was … interesting. Zoey slept comfortably on her bed next to us up until 3am, when we woke to her crying. She was restless and uncomfortable and we didn’t really know what to do for her because she wasn’t do any medication until five hours later. David ended up sleeping on the floor for a few hours with his head on her bed next to her and after that I took over and laid on the couch with my hand resting on her as she lay on our bed right next to me. That got us through until 8 o’clock this morning when she woke again. Getting her to eat is difficult because she doesn’t seem to have much appetite. I wouldn’t be trying to force food so much if she didn’t have to eat with the medications. Her breakfast consisted of two spoonfuls of wet dog food one spoonful of a peanut butter and banana mixture and one small piece of cheese, all with pills hidden inside. It was a long morning, but I got through it.
My beautiful brown eyed girl loves snow. Her outdoor playtime has been limited this year though because of her injury. But this time next year our hope is that she will outside, frolicking in snow, as happy as can be. But that’s a long way away yet though.
So right now I’m slowly gathering together what we need to bring to St. John’s with us next week.
At 7am on Monday we will be leaving to make one of the most nerve racking road trips ever. Zoey will be seeing her surgeon, Dr. Bailey, at 1:30pm at the Veterinary Speciality Hospital.
Monday night we will then stay in a hotel. Zoey will be with us that first night. She will have to fast in preparation for Tuesday morning, where she will be admitted to the hospital and will undergo major surgery.
My heart is breaking 💔
No one wants their baby to suffer, especially not me. It’s going to be so hard to leave her in the hospital on Tuesday and walk away from her. It’s going to crush me. I’ve been trying not to think about it because I cry every time.
But this is necessary. Many people have expressed their opinions about the expense of this. That they would never in a million years take out a second mortgage on their house just to get surgery on their dog.
But we aren’t your average family. Zoey is not JUST a dog. She’s my therapy dog. She works well with me to keep me functioning as I struggle to manage life with Bipolar, PTSD, CRPD, and an amputation.
If you found yourself in my situation, what do you think you would do? Be honest now. Would you be willing to go through with a $7,000.00 surgery for your dog/cat?<<<
For the first time in a while I was able to get out of bed and face the day today without the heavy cloud of doom hanging over me, crushing down on my shoulders with the weight of its darkness. Its been a very rough couple of weeks. Buying a house has become quite the experience. And something I hope I never have to do again. I hope that this will be our forever home and that there will never be any reason that we will be forced to pack up and move. We are all packed up here in the apartment, have been for several weeks now. But every couple of days something comes up and the lawyer is calling me to say there will have to be another extension for the closing date. But I think the end is actually in sight and if all goes well, we will be moving sometime this week.
But I need to get a handle on my mental health. The bipolar highs and lows have been more extreme during the past month. I’m blaming it on the excessive amount of stress I’ve been under and hoping that this episode/flare up will work itself out without requiring intervention. So whenever I seem to have a moment where I can think straight without being bombarded with the nonsense of intrusive thoughts, I try to grab a hold of whatever coping skills I can.
And I believe that today was probably one of the best days in ages. I was alone all day but I feel good. I will soon be going to bed and I can think back over this day and smile because I know I did good. I got caught up on some chores around the apartment, washed my guinea pig’s blankets and bedding, watered all of the plants, had play time with my piggle wiggle and then I ended things with a very romantic supper prepared for 8pm, when David got off work. I had candles lit on the table. Food cooked, ready to be put on the plates. Music playing down low. And I greeted him at the door wearing my (only) dress (he always that I am his beautiful angel when I wear it). It was fantastic! I’ve never prepared a candle light dinner for us before but after sharing this incredibly romantic time with my lover tonight, I know that there will be many more to come.
I have a future. With David. With my little furbaby Toby, A new home to settle into and make it my own. We have a new addition coming to our little family next month – a 6 week old yellow Labrador puppy. And many more things in the upcoming weeks and months. So I have to get a hold of this depression. I cannot let it keep its hold on me. I ain’t got time for that!