Zoey’s Journey

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.

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Surgery in 3 Days

I can’t stop the thoughts. My mind keeps reeling through different scenarios, picturing that cold metal table she will be lying on as they shave the fur from the base of her spine down to her ankle and then make the incision in her skin. While she lies there, her breathing labored, her tongue hanging out of the side of her mouth. I keep imagining things that could happen. The surgeon slipping on the floor and accidentally cutting my girl in some random place on her body, blood pouring out of her. I keep thinking that the anesthetic is going to be too strong in her heart is going to stop. And never start again, ever. I just keep visualizing her lifeless body there on that metal table in that strange room, Without me there to comfort her. The thoughts. I just can’t stop these thoughts.

The feeling in the pit of my stomach is sour. Awful. If they call me with bad news and I answer my phone to hear your voice on the other end telling me that my baby girl did not pull through this surgery, I’m pretty convinced that it will be the end of me.

Please Accept My Apology

My dearest Body,

Oh, how I have treated you so unkind. Oh, how so unkindly others have treated you. Yet, you still remain intact, bearing the physical, emotional, and psychological scars of unpleasantry for so little to see. Body, you have carried my being for years. You are much younger than I am in here. For reasons not yet completely known to me, there have been times where I have pinched you until you bled, cut you until you bled, starved you, poisoned you, and exploited you. Through all of this, you still remain with me: A young, beautiful shell carrying an old, bitter being.

Depression has allowed me to do these things to you. I never meant to hurt you. Family history runs deep within the vile rivers of disparity and self-loathing. I greatly apologize for those times I lacked the emotional and psychological ability to stop forced hate upon you. I want to blame my family history for my own past.

Rightfully so, these thoughts and actions are learned at a young age and I do not believe I would have naturally turned out this way if it weren’t for everything I have witnessed since birth.

Anger, depression, addiction, lust, and selfishness: the list continues. I have always known anger. I have always seen physical anger. These learned actions and reactions have caused me to harm you in ways I would never harm another living being. I cannot even kill a cockroach without crying inside.

My dearest Body, you did not deserve any of those things. I have taught you to stay still while I transcended into deep meditation. I taught you to stretch and run. I nurtured you with medication to heal you even when my brain maliciously told me not to. You are so incredible. I don’t tell you this often enough, but I spend long moments just staring at you up close. I love the rivets in your skin and the olive hue it gives off under its paleness. I am learning to love your eye color and your toes. I am learning how to give you what you need when you need it instead of selfishly taking and keeping from you.

With all of that being said, there is nothing I would want to change about you. Your lips are beautiful. Do not listen when I tell you they’re too thin. Your nose is perfect. Do not listen when I tell you it’s too big. Your vagina is magnificent. Do not listen when I tell you it’s not. Your nails are exactly as they should be. Do not listen when I tell you they’re too brittle.

The only things I wish to change are of my spirit. I am bitter and angry, yet hopeful and happy. I’m sorry that my mind is a bit confused, Body. I’m so grateful for you! For you have not betrayed me once. It is I who has betrayed you.

Yet, you inspire me by continuing to carry me forward!

You give me so much hope!

Thank you, Body.

Submitted by Ashley Godwin

It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.

Methadone, Hospitalization and Surgery Are In My Future

Every time I get the injections in my wrist I have a 48 hour recovery. Where my wrist is pretty much unusable. First there is a day of complete numbness and then there is the next day where everything starts to come back to life and with that comes a lot of burning pain but I must say that this afternoon I have been feeling really good. 
But unfortunately my doctor told me that since the last time I saw him there has been some slight nerve damage done in my wrist that is irreversible. 
So what then proceeded to happen was an urgent referral was put in for the surgery that I am dreading so very much. He even went and got the surgeon who will be doing it and brought him back to the OR to meet me right then and there. we talked about a lot of things and have agreed that we will wait until the end of the summer to do the surgery because at least that will let me enjoy the summer without having to go through this lay up time. In the meantime that gives me a chance to figure things out and how this surgery and the recovery period is going to work. 
There are going to be some major medication changes in the future as well. Medication changes where he actually wants me admitted to the hospital in Grandfalls so that I am there under his care. Currently I take a combination of morphine and Percocet on a daily basis. Those medications over the past year have begun to fail me which means that my chronic pain condition has just been progressively getting worse and just basically ruining me from head to toe. He sat with me for a long time during that appointment and he was very understanding and patient and didn’t seem the least bit thrown off by my crying. 
The conclusion? 

Well I don’t know how much you know about methadone but pretty much all I knew of methadone at first was that it is a liquid that the pharmacy gives to recovering drug addicts and that in order to get it these people had to go to the pharmacy every day where the pharmacist gives them a drink of this methadone liquid and then that is their fix for the day. I was not aware that methadone is also used to treat cases of extreme uncontrollable pain conditions that have otherwise failed to respond to even the strongest of painkillers such as morphine. 
So right now my insurance is going through the process of approval and then my doctor wants to admit me to hospital for 3 to 4 nights so that he can take me off the morphine and Percocet and introduce me to the methadone treatments under his care. 
I will have to be monitored very closely during the morphine and Percocet withdrawals and also with the methadone introduction so that they can be sure I don’t have any sort of reaction to it. Especially with me being 45 minutes away from the nearest hospital he does not feel comfortable with me doing this at home on my own. I think I feel a little safer going this route. I trust Dr. Cole because he has been overseeing my pain management for several years now and he knows my situation he knows what works and what doesn’t for me especially with my bipolar disorder and overall mental health and I truly do feel like this dr genuinely wants the best for me. 
I am also very lucky in another way because he is the only doctor in Newfoundland with a license to prescribe this methadone. He said that there are people on waiting lists that wait months and years to get in for an appointment with him but I am very lucky because I am already connected and when I was leaving he put his arm around me as he walked me out and he laughed and said well I guess we are going to be joined at the hip for quite a while my dear. If you continue on with the methadone, then you’re going to be with me for a long time. I laughed and said I have a feeling that my husband is going to be OK with that because when I’m in a lot of pain he suffers just as much. A woman in pain is never a happy woman and I always remind my husband that a happy wife means a happy life so if it means that in order for me to be happy I have to be joined at the hip with you? 

Yeah. I think David will be OK with that. And then Dr Cole walked away laughing his ass off LOL

One in Five

Yesterday Kids Help Phone announced that 1 in 5 Canadian youth have seriously considered suicide in the past year. I’m neck deep in another project right now, but I wanted to take a moment to speak to this. Mental health must be considered on the same level as physical health. One step toward that would be having a kind of 911 number that is specifically for mental health emergencies. Toll free numbers are great but they fall short in that people can’t easily recall them. Having a easily recalled three digit number would be greatly helpful not just for mental health sufferers in crisis, but for the bystanders who might be able to effectively help if they had a number they could remember and call. I wrote a little piece about it. I didn’t have time to do a fancy video or put together music, but the subject is important to me and I couldn’t say nothing. Hopefully I can revisit it someday and properly dedicate myself to it. Audio is attached if you prefer to listen.

One in five

today one in five
wondered if being alive
was worth the cost
of another day
wondering if 2 in 10
wondered when
there was finally going to be
a 911 for mental health

4 in 20 wondered if the wealth spent on the self decided salaries of politicians
who claim the children are our future
could pay for it

maybe 1 of the 8
of the 8 in 40
quit wondering
and started making plans

maybe 3 of the 16
of the 16 in 80
feel like unrecycled cans
that are just easier to throw away

Maybe one fifth of 160
is easier to say than 32
because 32 is starting to sound like a lot

a toll free number is not enough
give us a number
everyone knows by heart
so the next time we see someone’s world falling apart
we can do more than just stand there

because the scars we can’t see
require different care than the ones left there by crime or by accident
sometimes there’s no hint
to tell you where it hurts
it just hurts

sometimes our minds are red alerts
you can’t see
even when you look us in the eye
sometimes we cry for what others would consider no reason
sometimes the treason we commit
is against ourselves

it’s hard enough
trying to find who we are
amid the overcrowded shelves of pills
meant to manage how we function

sometimes the junction box is broken
and we miss the connections
that others seem to make with ease

imagine
if you threw away the 1
of the 1 in 5 keys
that could open the door
to the room the world forgot we were locked in

if kindness makes us friends
let compassion make us kin
don’t let us get lost in the numbers again

illness is illness

sometimes the cost to heal it
is an ear willing to listen
sometimes a shoulder
volunteering to be a crutch

people are not a price to be weighed against your budget

1 in 5
is 2 much.

By Shane Koyczan

Anything But

To anyone who thinks they can’t do something because of their mental illness, I am here to say you can. Don’t let anyone tell you because of your scars you can’t do something. Don’t let anyone tell you your mental illness makes you “incompetent.” Because guess what, you are anything but that.
You are strong. You fight a battle in your mind on a daily basis. You are anything but weak. You are a survivor.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.