Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

12Apr/210

Grief’s Home

Since my Bedside Yoga training retreat in late 2018 I've been thinking about grief living in a room in the heart. All grief comes into this tiny room, large at first and new. It takes a while, but slowly the edges of the grief become less sharp. The grief grows smaller, possibly fainter.

Each time a new grief enters the room, looming and crashing and heavy and sharp and hard, it awakens all the grief that's come before.

The old welcomes the new. The integration continues.

I tried making art about this the past couple of days.

Not teaching the next two days. Catching up on rest, chores, and email instead.

Grieving.

Losing three companion animals in 10 months while trying to survive a pandemic and planning to leave the country while your sewer needs repairs and your wife has a mystery autoimmune disorder is too much.

6Apr/210

Vaccination Street

We got our first round of the Pfizer vaccine today. Gosh my arm hurts all the way through my jaw, neck, and head and down to the hand, even the ribs on the injection side ache. The redness went away, still a little swollen. Both of us have headaches too.

So strange to be in the Oregon Convention Center, in the space we last experienced as an OSCON vendor hall, getting a shot.

Surreal, beautiful moment; walking into the OCC on a sunny, warm, April afternoon with a steady stream of people. Everyone masked, us in our respirators with cloth masks secured over the exhaust. Cherry blossom petals floating on the breeze around us all.

I commented to CK that I felt like we were in some post-apocalyptic, Japanese anime movie. Only the apocalypse is present and we're all staggering forward together. Well, most of us are trying to anyway.

Dora does not have cancer. She does have extremely bad pancreatitis and needs special food. She's eating the special food though; the vet fed her some and she ate some more for me at bedtime. She also walked up the stairs!

And then I got an email that shares with us a generous gift. It arrives at such a fortunate time and will make everything that needs to happen the next few months easier.

I was so overwhelmed, "verklempt" CK reminded me of this word, that I couldn't articulate to CK what was in the email. She grew quite alarmed for a moment as I struggled to get the word "good" out of my mouth and thrust my phone at her so she could just read the email. Then I sat down on the sofa and blubbered incoherently for a bit. Then I managed to text our dear friend a jumbled message of gratitude.

Then I opened a special bottle of bubbly wine!

It's been a rollercoaster the past couple of weeks. I'm grateful to be on it, especially in my "half-baked" (1 shot in of 2, when you're "fully baked") state.

Petals float by us.
Steady stream of masked people.
We walk carefully.

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.

3Apr/210

Hoping for Pancreatitis

I took Dora to the vet before 8am this morning. She has "unremarkable" bloodwork and they can hear bowel sounds; making an obstruction unlikely. We're hoping it's only pancreatitis, which is manageable if we can get her over this flareup. She got more Cerenia and fluids and tablets of Cerenia came home with us.

That said, she still hasn't eaten anything. She's had some water, but is still clearly uncomfortable. I have reminders to give her medication at 11am so we stay on top of her symptoms.

I'm exhausted and the last thing I want to do is write poetry. I've also been failing at writing journals during the day. I napped, but then I stay up late to finish everything I'd wanted to get done.

I also realize we're coming up on the anniversary of Igal's death and I have this wave of spring sadness amidst the cherry blossoms. It's also this abrupt shift of my Mother's birthday celebration in Hawaii and a few weeks later Igal's death which seemed to trigger the rapid disintegration of her behavior.

April melancholy.
Cherry blossoms softly fall.
Tender memories.

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

Low

I felt low energy, sad, and a little angry all day. It isn't helped that I'm going through a period again where food isn't appealing. Making it feels harder than usual, smells ate hitting me harder, often leaving me faintly nauseous.

It also occurs to me to wonder how long it would take for me to notice if iron is low. I accidentally got the wrong multivitamins, without iron. I've been taking them so I get my B vitamins, but I tend to run a little low on iron normally, with supplements. Without, perhaps that could be it?

I also could be integrating the latest therapy session. It's been a hard month too. Today Dora threw up and was slow all day, extra pokey. It's been hard not to catastrophize given everything else this month.

Next month I'm going to try and train myself to write these updates during the day! Should help with the poetry too

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?

27Mar/210

Waiting for Bids

Monday I plan to get in touch with our home insurance agent. It was a thing that could have done Friday, but I was exhausted from working with contractors, 4 different people, in person, across two days.

I have another landscaping company to talk to on Wednesday. I expect the report on the sewer work early in the week, which I'll share, sans dollar amount, to get more bids.

I'm realizing that wearing the respirator, with cloth mask over the exhaust, is tiring. Especially when I'm talking so much. It isn't as bad shopping, I barely speak. My lungs just don't like working this hard.

Today we rested, played games, and read. I dozed under my weighted blanket again. I spent some time on the deck with Ursa and the dogs.

24Mar/210

The Lowest Bid

The water is flowing!

We also have rocks in the sewer line and STILL have Orangeburg pipe. I'm going looking for all three paperwork when we bought the house as I had thought the company that did work was to have replaced all of this no longer code plumbing.

I might be wrong, but it is still a mess that will be very expensive to have resolved.

There was a moment today when I was discussing how not to have a portapotty in our driveway!

"I'm a nearly 52 year old woman and I'm not going outside to pee at 3am."

What we're doing in the meantime is not flushing any toilet paper. Something that is standard in other parts of the world, Mexico being one place. I was making a couple signs to help us remember.

Ugh.

I spent some time being angry at the way we couldn't stop the prior owners from going with an excavation company with a lower bid. I'm mad because we didn't take the time and expense to have the line rescoped after the work to be sure it was all correct; this might have been caught especially if they were to have replaced all the Orangeburg pipe.

Onto bids.

I'm also tired of airing our house for 2 hours, getting cold.

Yesterday we got emails to get vaccines, Pfizer one. Today we got emails saying it was a mistake, but they we're trying to make it work. I'm not certain our doctor wants us to get this one, especially CK with the neuropathy we don't know more about yet.