Catching Up With Everyone
I haven’t had much to say for awhile, mostly because I’ve been crazy busy. As you know, my dad died in January and so I’ve been helping my mom a lot. She moved into assisted care to be with Dad, but then he died the day after she got there, and her memory has been really bad. I’m thinking it has everything to do with all the stress of his illness, death, moving out of her house, being in a place she doesn’t like, and some other complications. The day my dad died, we learned her dog is dying, which is going to be really awful. So we’ve moved her up here to a retirement community and that’s been rough for her. It’s what she wanted, and we’re spending a lot of time with her—which has been super nice for me and my family—and I’m hoping she’s going to settle in.
There’s been a lot of work with all of her bills and etc, and taxes for us and also for her, plus a ton of other stuff. It’s freaking me out a little because I am not all that sure I’m capable of all this, that I’m not overlooking something, that I’m not doing it right…. So I’ve also been a little anxious.
I did finish Putting the Chic in Psychic, which will be coming out in July in the Dirty Deeds 2, which you can preorder if you’re in the mood. It’s a fun story (if you ask me) that involves Beck and the girls and a ghost, a psychic, and some annoying men. I’m calling it Everyday Disasters 1.5. I’m working on an outline for the next one, but there’s so much I can do that it’s hard to choose! I’m contemplating calling it Putting the Anger in Danger or Putting the Harm in Harmony. Maybe Putting the Rude in Prude. I’m just not sure. I made a list of all the things it would be fun to right about, and it was so long, it wasn’t helpful. Ha!
I’ve also been painting a few horses this last week. I haven’t had a lot of time since January. I also went to my annual writing retreat on Lake Quinault. I wrote 30K words in 5 days, which is crazy for me.
I’ve always wanted to work on a romantic suspense of a non-magical/paranormal variety. I’ve actually been working on one for awhile as a little fun side-project. It’s making progress, though it may end up being more romance than suspenseful, which isn’t where I was going. Oh well. It’ll be what it’s mean to be.
So about my mom’s dog. He’s the litter mate of my two boys—Voodoo and Viggo—who died of cancer a little while ago. Both of their cancers were inside. We had no idea until we took them to the vet and learned that they weren’t going to make it. I started hating taking my dogs to the vet, I can tell you. I’m starting to cry right now. It just never stops hurting, does it? Anyhow, Gus’ cancer has shown up as a large tumor on the side of his leg. It’s grown a lot larger and there’s no way to treat it. What we don’t know is how long before we need to put him to sleep. He’s twelve and a half. So when he stands up and limps a little, I don’t know if it’s age or not. He seems to stop limping, but does have trouble jumping into the car or going up stairs. We got him a small set of stairs that helps him go in and out of the car.
He seems happy and energetic sometimes, and then sometimes he seems to go sleep in a corner in a way that makes me wonder if it’s like when my dog Sierra had cancer and sort of withdrew. I also don’t know if he is in pain otherwise. So I’m in a serious dilemma. I don’t want him to suffer, and yet I don’t want my mom to lose him before his time. I don’t want him to lose her. He’s so attached to her. And I know that last doesn’t really make sense, but I can’t help thinking it.
I wish I knew how to make the decision.
I am so sorry you are going though so much. I went through very similar experiences with my Mom and my cat several years ago. It isn’t easy, but you will get through it. And try not to stress so much about your decisions even though I know it is hard not to. You will make the right decisions whatever you decide because you are making the decisions out of love.
I saw this post only today. I have followed this particular part of your narrative — on loss of people and dogs — attentively. Your expressions of grief and puzzlement deserve attention. You write for all of us because it is a journey we all take, and one we all take alone. I like to think that your writing it out and sharing helps you. I can assure you that it helps those of us with whom you share.
With respect to the last question: “I wish I knew how to make the decision”. First, the initial conundrum is the one you focused on: not too soon — “I don’t want him to suffer, but I don’t want my mom to lose him before his time.” Generally, you’ll know if the dog is ready: if he’s eating with alacrity, if he’s eliminating on his own, and if he spends some of his waking time scenting and exploring his (your) yard, then generally speaking he’s got quality of life. Pain will manifest itself; you’ll see it, and you may even hear it (e.g., crying, especially at night or in his sleep). Some drugs may help, but if not, then it’s time.
It’s also time if the dog is passing the three tests above, but just seems to be going through the motions. That’s harder to interpret so you have to ask every day: is he living or is he simply existing. Sometimes, you just don’t know. I experienced that with the last death, the aged Cocker Spaniel. Fortunately, she had a very compassionate and attentive veterinarian who was my other pair of eyes. Yes, she passed the tests but she was never going to get better, and she was going to have increasingly bad moments and bad days; she had entered “existence” mode. It’s metaphysical, but if you watch the dog, you will know.
I never want a dog (or a person) to toddle off before their time; life is short and death is forever. But, whether dog or person, existing is not living. Bella went out peacefully, on a good day, with no physical and, especially, psychological pain. That seems to me the gray line you look for.
You are in the thoughts and, for the religious, prayers of your readers, certainly mine. Thank you for your writing. Be well.