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.

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.

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.

13Mar/210

Friday Night Blues

I am not teaching a workshop tomorrow so I'll have to find some other way to mark my pandemiversary. I suspect it will involve yard stuff and moving boxes of books into the van.

My friend was sent to the ER early this morning because she was so exhausted and having problems controlling her breath. After 3 hours she was seen and told she was still stick with COVID, not sick enough to need any other care.

I spent part of the day writing up notes asked making them accessible to her online. She said they were better post-visit notes than from her doctor. This is true because I could dedicate a couple of hours to just doing this work.

I also found out that I'm in the running to be one of the teachers for a yoga intervention study that's been funded! It's on fall prevention through yoga, targeted to rural older adults using technology to reach folks who don't have access to local resources. I'm so excited to be part of this and so anxious I won't be chosen.

I just feel so heavy tonight and continue to struggle with feeling like I get nothing done.

12Mar/210

Staggering Grief

I did a short session today for my friend who has been sick with COVID since January 12. Running a fever every day, a little bit. Quarantined in the bedroom, her husband has been sleeping on the sofa this whole time.

She's told me, "I'm too sick to do anything or be around anyone, but not so sick I get additional support."

Last night her husband held her legs, both of them masked, while she cried. It's as choose as he dare gets.

We talked honestly about the trauma she is enduring. She cried some when I told her that her life will be permanently changed by this. Even if her body recovers 100%, the emotional effects will need to be integrated.

She tries hard to let people distract her with news. It's too hard to be present to what's happened.

I told her as little bit about what I've been learning about Long COVID, no one has told her anything at all. I explained why yoga can help.

We did a tiny bit of breath work. My experience with folks with COPD helped me pick an approach right off that was accessible and helpful. She's coughed for so long now that breathing hurts because her muscles are exhausted from the spasms of coughing.

I'm going to put together a package with a yoga strap to send her. We're going to do 2-3 thirty minute sessions a week. Short because she's so quickly exhausted by everything.

Later today she's posted a video update sharing a little of how she's doing and mentioned that the breath practice helped.

After that I spent a little time painting and sat on the deck with Ursa and the dogs. We had an impromptu Zoom happy hour and saw friends. I'm glad I had all that to support me since I'm feeling a lot of grief about the world.

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8Mar/210

Pandimiversary Week

I can't believe we're finally here. A year since I looked carefully into what was known about COVID-19 and by the end of the week I told all my students and employers that I had to stop teaching in person due to concerns for not only my health, but my wife's health as well. Two weeks later both the sites I taught at closed.

One site has reopened somewhat, but I had a conversation with them this month that I was not planning to return to in person teaching for the foreseeable future. I heard there might be the possibility of filming content for the other site, but there's never been any follow up about that. I told students last week that I planned to be online for a while yet.

Saturday I've scheduled a workshop, although I've not had anyone sign up yet. It's my actual sad anniversary date. I both hope people sign up and hope they don't so I can just rest at home. It might be better if they sign up, grounding for me. Although who knows.

I'm grateful for a good weekend connecting with my art friends and our close friend. A game we supported the fundraiser for arrived yesterday and we've played quite a lot. It's fun, although we're supposed to be able to get to a point level to reach a "Bronze Award" and we've yet to make it. That's making it a little frustrating, but it's a lovely addition to our game collection.

CK made a comment today about not being able to sustain a constantly expanding game closet and I looked at her a bit aghast. It's true, we really should rotate out some games we've lost interest in, but it feels a little harder to consider than even books!

26Feb/210

500,000

It finally happened this week. The 500,000th person died from COVID.

We still don't know when we'll have access to one of the vaccines. Many of my students and friends have been at their wit's end trying to get an appointment. A student in Ohio got hers at a grocery chain pharmacy, no trouble.

Meanwhile I'm making progress on hard tasks. I sent a pile of 2018 paperwork to our tax people today and I already have a question back to answer tomorrow. I sent an email today that officially kicks off The Great Big Change; asking questions that help us know where to begin.

CK is still having numbness in her lower body. Still surface based, but persistent. I sent a detailed chronology of all the weirdness she's had going on the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, I have a telemedicine session with said doctor in the morning to discuss my heart and general health. It's all been good news, but it's a recap on everything with my doctor.

Managed to capture Ursa alerted on a "Sparkle Beast”, what I dubbed a reflection on the ceiling or walls that makes his prey instinct go off. The results were hilarious