Let's continue....I think I stopped my story someplace in 2011. Maybe we can have an abbreviated version to run thru a couple of the next years.
During all of this healing for my dear hub's, my spine decided to take a vile turn in the same direction. I mean, like holy shit (I was thinking at time) when will this end. They did a spinal fusion on me two years later to the exact day of his. Different hospital - excellent neurosurgeon - excellent result. Still downtime - physically and mentally. For the next 6 months we nursed each other and I kept blogging and I got to participate in Jeri Warhaftig's book, Creating Glass Beads. What an enormous bright spot that was for me during all of this healing.
Also during the time that I was healing the State of Michigan, in its infinite wisdom, decided to save money by closing the facility that I worked in. We had the best recidivism rates in our juvenile system. But, politics being what they are with so many things "going private" and with sending our children out of state to cheaper facilities - away from their families - it seemed to make sense to them. I loved that job - but luckily I had enough seniority to take a reduced retirement package. I could have transferred to a different facility - I was the most senior person in my classification who wasn't planning on retiring but the hub's was still needing assistance and I decided I'd stay home and take the retirement as long as our medical insurance remained intact. And in two years I could apply for early social security and did. Not optimum but better than a kick in the butt.
What losses, huh? Three spinal surgeries, DH's career and now mine. We were so NOT prepared for all of this to happen at once. And darned if we were done yet either. Our oldest Golden Retriever at the time - Miss Whoa Nellie developed some issues. I mean why not - everyone else was getting surgery. She was 12 but developed this huge benign tumor on her leg that was interfering with her walking. It grew to grapefruit size quickly. We decided that she most certainly deserved to live out the rest of her life without discomfort (she had dealt with massive allergies all her life) so we scheduled surgery and had the tumor removed. Whew - she had about four good months (we had certainly expected more) and developed a severe bloating issue with her stomach and the only humane course was to put her to rest. Broke our heart - she was our first Golden. Her little sister Gertrude Jean (our second retriever we call Trudy) was emotionally lost....so were we.
Miss Whoa Nellie - Our prim and proper lady retriever.
Following all of that and some healing we took a trip to North Carolina to visit our children who live there. In the midst of all of the past couple years - My son had worked with me also lost his job - so, to find new positions in their field they had to move out of state. Chalk up another loss. We miss them terribly. My last bit of my Mom lived with us - her Chihuahua - named Che Che Rodriguez. On the trip to North Carolina with her and Trudy when we opened the tail gate of the car she decided to do something that she had NEVER done before.....jump. She hit the cement hard before my husband could get his hands under her - she rolled but had landed on her neck. Thank goodness for cell phones with search engines. We found an emergency vet in Dayton Ohio. We spent the night there - lots of x-rays and so on ensued as she spent the night there too. We picked her up the next afternoon. The prognosis - lousy. But, they said to watch her (she could not walk easily and we were to watch for progress as the inflammation reduced). It was a drive either way - home or forward with a vet on either end. We opted for NC and an appointment there and have her rechecked for improvement. Our children were right on it and had the appointment all ready when we arrived.
They were wonderful - the vet did more x-rays and so on (now that the swelling was subsiding) and explained that she had a subluxated disc in her neck and this was causing the semi-paralysis in her legs. We could take her into Asheville for a second opinion to a neurosurgeon for canines but with her enlarged heart (something we had known nothing about) - and age - she was 13 - that they would not consider it a good risk and she would likely die in surgery. It didn't seem fair to put her through that for nothing. He was kind and reassuring and said it was best for her if we let her go. And so we did. Some vacation - my heart was broken and I felt like I had let my Mom down. I was also beginning to wonder what it was the universe had against us. And if it couldn't deter us personally why had it turned against our precious animals.
It felt like I wore a permanent weight tied to my shoulders that I couldn't shake. You know how it is. You are carrying this weight, it's hard to breathe, you withdraw, don't smile as much - you begin to go through life by rote because any change in routine seems to upset the apple cart. I was so there. One foot in front of the other - trying hard to fake it until I make it...not much joy.
Well, railing against the universe and the powers that be wasn't exactly getting me anywhere. I figure they took the tactic, "We'll show her". That was when the arthritic knees decided they'd had enough and damn if I wasn't back at the doctor - now that I've written about in the blog. We all know I have fresh bionic knees. I needed them - they work good - but it's another one of those emotional and physical drains. Again - - - - - - back in PT - recovery time. Although it was a great surgery the fog didn't seem to lift or my spirits improve to any great degree. And in between the knee surgeries there were 6 months of eye appointments because I could not get glasses that seemed to sharpen my vision...and whammo, they decided that there were cataracts in both eyes and they had to come out. Okay, add surgery number 4 and 5 to the mix. Yikes!! You just keep putting one foot in front of the other, right?
On the other end of that spectrum Trudy (the remaining last fur baby) was developing a case of the "sads" all her own. Normally an independent girl she became sullen, wanted to sit by us all of the time. Certainly not a problem for us but definitely a change in her usual independent happy behavior. She didn't want to play or go to the post office. She was the dog who had never been an only child before. She has always had a "pal" and belonged to a pack. Finally Brian and I decided that perhaps we ought to consider adding a puppy. We considered it - and considered it - and thought about it some more - juggled some financial numbers. Two dogs is expensive. Vets are not cheap. We are getting along okay on retirement and SS but it's not like there is oodles of $ sitting around. Any chink in the armor like a crisis sends the budget on plunge. We were not expecting an early retirement. And without work how you recoup extra expenditures is "iffy". We were still feeling like we were in a constant state of trying to recover from whatever was the newest crisis thrown into our arena. Plumb tired out - tired of the challenges and emotionally raw from the losses and "new normal".
Looking at Trudy for about a month changed our view point. She didn't bargain for this either and it was showing on her as much as us. It brought us back to thinking about when we brought Trudy home for Nellie. Life changed dramatically for Nellie. She had a friend and she was so happy.
Happy Girls - Trudy and Nellie
After a lot of discussion we decided we could swing it (you know - do without this and buy that - eat more hamburger) and began looking for a new puppy. It was Spring and we were hoping to lift not only Trudy's spirits but our own. I mean "Hello, life doesn't stop even when you've had crap up to the overflowing point." Maybe a new life in the house would reverse this spiral. Looking back at the past 7 years I am knocked over as I write it out. If bad luck were a bowler they'd of had a 300 game and we'd of barely broke a hundred - and it certainly wasn't for lack of trying and a good attitude. We weren't sure if we could handle a puppy - neither of us were dripping with enthusiasm for anything (the weight I was carrying took care of that) and we wondered if we'd ever get any of the old mojo back. Yes, we did okay at daily life but this surround sound kind of sadness was always hanging in the air and just permeating everything. There are charts out there for the number of life stressors that anyone should consider taking on during any period in their life. We were way past that and I ignored it. No, it's not like we frowned all the time, absolutely not - but you know how it is, you are off kilter and something just doesn't seem right, you know?
All I could think about was what I used to tell the teens I worked with, "You fake it, till you make it." Get one foot in front of the other and keep moving - it's going to feel better soon you just have to keep moving. That's what I did - live - and it's what I believe. They (whoever they are) generally can't hit a moving target so just keep moving forward and eventually with doing that and the right thing are going to come those feelings of normal and happy. Sometimes you have to hang on and do that a long time and I practice what I preach. Is it easy? NO But, it works and you have to be prepared to go the distance. For the teens we broke it down into manageable goals, palatable small pieces. You want them to experience a win (get a reward) move on to the next step (whatever the step may be).
I thought we had. I thought my feet were firmly moving again and we were over the hump. Our reward for that - Daisy Mae. You've all met Daisy - her photos have appeared here before but incase you missed them here is a reminder: