Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

5Apr/210

My unemployment benefits claim expired yesterday. I filed today anyway; I guess I should have made sure to do it yesterday?

Now we begin cancelling things we don't really use or need. My Audible monthly credit, cable premium channels since we've switched out of watching most of those. Rather like going through boxes and getting rid of things so we don't have to move them, cutting down expenses to support our new life.

CK's company has started the process of relocation. It begins with an offer package being prepared for what she'd get in Canada. Once that's ready we'll have some meetings. It's most likely I'll then have my contact to manage this project.

Suddenly late autumn seems very close.

And Dora is not better. She's drank a little on her own today, but still won't eat. I steamed a yam up and we tried that. She thought it smelled better, but still won't eat.

It's misery to watch her like this. If I look for too long into Dora's eyes I just start crying. The dog who will always wag her tail if you ask her is listless and barely responsive. When we told our vet all this today she was disappointed that Dora hasn't rebounded more. In the morning I'll take her back to the vet for an ultrasound to try and understand what's going on.

We discussed if this is even the right thing; if we should instead be planning her death. Neither of us has experience with dogs in this regard and if a cat was behaving like this, it would be a sign they were done living, much like Obie did this past November.

Our vet is very direct with us and she thinks there is a chance it could be pancreatitis, very acute and bad. Fluids and appetite stimulants might her her back on her feet. We also could find out she has intestinal tumors or another cancer that would be treatable, like Obie was, for many weeks.

We're preparing ourselves nonetheless and honestly reflecting on how it will be easier moving with one less animal companion. We're going to be renting for at least a month; 2 companions will be easier to negotiate than 3. Bertie has Ursa to keep him company and once we have vaccines, perhaps I can take him to bulldog play dates again.

The unemployment, the COVID, the moving, the dog, the cats we lost; it's all just feeling like so much. I allowed myself to not do today's planned chore. I've just felt heavy and miserable much of today.

The positives; the beautiful, Spring sunshine shining on and through flowers outside the window while I teach. The tender email from a friend about making our "bubble" really official and what that means in terms of keeping CK safe.

When grief is loud, large,
Delight is almost hidden.
Small wonders break through.

4Apr/210

When Nothing Feels Right

Dora has eaten a little today. A few tablespoons of boiled chicken breast and white rice mixed together. She went poop too, she's just been going out on our deck which is honestly easier on both of us than my carrying her up and down the stairs.

She's still really out of it, but the little bit of change is an improvement. She's sleeping in front of me at the moment I began this, in one of the dog beds in the living room. She stayed there much of the day, I'll lift her onto the bed when I go to bed soon.

I had a moment of grief overload this morning kicked off by a moment's reflection on the lousy way my first ex-husband behaved. It's something I'm really over, but just the reminder of it as Dora wasn't eating on top of the COVID fatigue and Igal's death anniversary soon upon us. It was all just too much for a moment.

I've also felt really down on myself today, like I can do nothing right. Earlier, after lunch, CK told me an idea for an easy dinner. I totally missed it and kept on trying to make something that took considerably longer and by the time it was done I then realized it wasn't sounding very good to her at all.

I'd made fried rice, but we've both been trying to get Dora to eat rice and chicken all day. Having had sticky rice on her hands all day, trying to have rice for dinner just wasn't working for her.

I'm feeling exhausted and dejected, but that wakes up a ferocious round of "the Whinnie" in me and I feel like I can do nothing right.

Trying to honor my desire to do my 30-Poems-in-30-Days by once again writing haiku. In the past I've tried to write them about nature, the seasons, the moon; more traditional topics. This year, inspired by a sympathy card a dear friend sent after the death of one of our cats, which contained a haiku from Massahide, I am trying to write them about the inner landscape.

Anger boils over,
Seething volcano fury,
Inside I am ash.

2Apr/210

Grief Arrives

Last night we had some hope for Dora, the fluids and Cerenia had lifted her up so much that she was wagging her tail, eating, and drinking. It felt like we made the right decision bringing her home without the excessively priced blood work and x-ray.

This morning she once again refused food and really didn't drink water all day either. CK started giving her water from a dropper and Dora then decided she'd drink about 1/2 cup of water. Thankfully we did get through to our vet and they're seeing her tomorrow.

I carried her outside to pee tonight and upstairs to the bed afterward. She walked around outside and went pee alright. We're still kind of hoping she's got some kind of infection, since she had a mild fever, and will rebound back.

We're also painfully aware that we have a 15 year old dog and there's a good chance she might just be at the end of her life. CK and I have talked through our belief in not pursuing treatment for things like cancer requiring surgery, particularly in our older companions. As painful as it is, we both realize that often intensive care for companion animals is much more about the "parent" than it is about the happiness of the animal.

Being in this state of urgency around a companion's health for the third time in less than 10 months feels pretty wretched.

Grief Train

Grief arrives
Like a train.

Sometimes expected.
We're sad, but
Life was long,
Or
An illness made
Life a wretched thing.
The expected train arrives
Bearing the grief we
Were already grieving.

Other times, grief is a
Monster of steel that
Jumps the tracks
Right into your
Livingroom
And
You are lucky
If you avoided
All the flying
Debris.
Lucky to have
Survived yourself
Even if
Your life is
Forever changed.

Gentle, on time, expected
Or
A cataclysm.
Grief arrives, and
Arrives
For us all.

1Apr/210

Bumpy April Start

We'd like to go a month without something terrible happening, but April will not be the month.

Today I spent a bunch of time sitting in the parking lot of the emergency vet waiting to hear what was wrong with Dora. She didn't want to eat and was very lethargic, this after throwing up yesterday. We still don't know, she had a low fever, mild dehydration, and nausea. She doesn't seem to have pain in the abdomen nor did the vet feel anything.

We're going to follow-up with our regular vet, which won't be as expensive as the emergency vet. She also was released to me more quickly quickly.

They have her subcutaneous fluid and a shot of the great antinausea medication that was so helpful to Obie. She was interested in eating the bland diet the vet prescribed for a few days (boiled chicken breast and rice mashed together).

I'd had a plan to start doing these journal entries during the day; a daily habit goal. It didn't even occur to me to do it while sitting in the parking lot, despite that being a perfect time.

This is a poem about trying to write poetry after a long break and a difficult day.

My words feel sticky.
Each syllable piling up.
Drawing from the depths.

31Mar/210

Insomnia (Poem)

Hey, I'm up way late because CK had neuropathy pain in her feet making it hard to sleep after I'd already stayed up a little too late wanting to just comfort read with a hood up after eating ice cream.

It was a Trauma Therapy Tuesday and I did something new; I took my friend's online MELT class instead of having a float after the session. I relearned the hand treatment and my hands do feel better, but there's always some intensely painful moments in even the most restorative version of MELT. That kind of intensity post therapy, when I'm already tightened up, well, a float is really the best trauma therapy follow up.

The more you know, etc.

Anyway, I also ended making dinner at home today instead of takeout on my way home. Takeout on Trauma Therapy Tuesday serves a dual purpose; no cooking, but also NO major cleanup. Tonight we both wanted comfort food, mac & cheese. This is more complicated given that we both get our own version so there's a few pans involved.

Then I really needed a hot shower, usually I've had one after the float after therapy. Which is fine, I feel better, but also really still wide awake.

It's because my brain cannot decide what to catastrophize first! Honestly, I think my brain is focusing on getting us moved to Canada because it's the least horrible of the pile of things. I'm juggling bids from contractors AND I made an appointment for CK to be seen by a neurologist in late April. That's the worst one.

I'm keeping focused on the fact that all the blood and urine samples thus far have ruled out a good handful of really scary things, some of which were potentially deadly right away. She got a good referral and she's being seen in less than a month's wait. We're scheduled to get our first COVID vaccine in less than a week (given how late it is).

And on that note, it's officially April and National Poetry Month. I'm going to attempt another Month-o-Poems, writing something each day. Here's a poem about the fact that I'm up at nearly 2am writing poetry and blog posts.

Insomnia

Sleep beckons me in the
Bright and busy, middle day
And I
Only
Stop for a moment
When it calls.

Late though, deep in the
Night,
When sleep is
Expected,

Then Sleep offers
A game
Where I tally
All I have done
Today

And, like
Anubis,
Sleep weighs
Out
My
Worthiness.

My eyes follow the
Swinging scales,
No longer
Sleepy.

Have I done
Enough
To deserve
My rest?

30Apr/200

60,000 and Rising

Why have I been making ragey art tracking this number all month? It feels like I'm cleaning a wound. I feel the need to bear witness to this number.

I wrote 30 haiku those month too. Generative, even just silly things like Animal Crossing, have offset the rage art making. I'm getting some rhythm to this new, unchosen schedule.

‪There's been good in this month. It's precious to have meaningful connections when the news is so dreadful. Next month I might try to make art about survivals that weren't expected. Celebrations even if I'm still ragey.

‪Day 30 Haiku

‪Beginnings. Endings.‬
Neither coming nor going.‬
I am always whole.‬

29Apr/200

Revealed Self

Today I told students that teaching online is more about supporting my mental health than recovering the income I‘ve lost teaching for the City. It came up because students were asking about ways to pay me and if I’d contacted the Silver & Fit organization about getting registered with them and paid forth my classes.

I told them I hadn’t had the bandwidth for it, and this week I’ve been dealing with pharmacy stuff and had therapy. My cortisol brain can only manage so much in a day.

I told them to just come. To email me pictures of flowers in their yard or paper notes, which I treasure. These are all perfectly good payment options since teaching online is helping my mental health.

It felt highly vulnerable and like I was doing something wrong. Which probably means it was the right choice. This is a crappy method of figuring out what to do, but here I am!

Daring to reveal.
Vulnerable to be seen.
No more hidden Self.

27Apr/200

Restraint Keeps You Safe

Today, to contrast yesterday’s despair waiting in and out, I was anxious all day long. I felt like a failure, despite all we got done on the weekend. Tomorrow’sa therapy day, so it might well be more of the same.

I'm still thinking about language, this selection from Lao Tzu, translated by Ursula K. Le Guin, has been one I was reflecting on before the pandemic. Now it feels especially apt.

Fame and Fortune

Which is nearer,
name or self?
Which is dearer,
self or wealth?
Which gives more pain,
loss or gain?

All that you grasp will be thrown away.
All that you hoard will be utterly lost.

Contentment keeps disgrace away.
Restraint keeps you out of danger
so you can go on for a long, long time.

Now for today’s haiku! I didn’t set put to write a month of haiku, but at some point my heart just decided to go for it. Haiku is the first type of poetry I learned about, learned to write, so it feels fitting.

Distant for safety.
We find new ways to reach out.
Connection endures.

26Apr/200

Despair and Roses

Rounds of yardwork, laundry, and bouts of despair; there it was, raw despair about pretty much everything. Set off by trying to sort out our dinner, but truly not related.

We've not eaten a meal out our take away in over six weeks. This may be the longest I've ever done since I was a child and Mom and I lived on food stamps in low income apartments. Not counting free meals at school.

My Mother liked eating out. Liked fast food, convenience foods. After marrying my stepdad this was all more accessible and became part of every week.

It is so hard when at times neither of us wants to eat and we need to. This is an area that's especially hard for CK, her medications exacerbate her sensitivity about certain foods/textures and that's all aside from gluten intolerance.

Usually it isn't too hard. Today though; despair for a few minutes.

And then there are these roses making our back yard smell glorious. I'm so grateful for this and the gardening I could do today, plus all they laundry done!

Sunlight on roses.
Warm, heady scent fills the air.
Linger this moment.

25Apr/200

Fifty Thousand

I was trying to think about what to write when I did my nightly check of the CDC’s website. The site is a day behind, but it is where I started to check this month.

It’s a grim ritual. I feel the need to bear witness in this small way.

Shopping today, a pharmacy pickup, exhausted me. Fred Meyer is the least safe feeling space to shop; they aren’t making efforts to limit the number of people in the store at a time.

That we managed any yard work amazes me.

Grief, a heavy stone.
Each number another stone.
We are diminished.