In the weeks that have passed since I’ve learned that Colorado, my beloved Queen of Spazmania has cancer I’ve shed a lot of tears.
I took her to the vet after my housemate found some swelling around her neck that came on quite quickly.
Colorado is 9 years old. She’s a senior lady. The vet and I both agreed that it would be cruel to subject her to tests and treatment.
When she is no longer comfortable, and happy I will let her go. Oh I wish I was truly as dispassionate as that looks on my screen
Most days she’s fine. She doesn’t appear to know that she has cancer.
A few days ago she started becoming lethargic. She wasn’t eating much, but drinking lots of water, and having accidents in the house.
She’s better now. I didn’t get a chance to get to Costco to get the dogs their usual food, and it seems that Colorado didn’t care for the Pedigree. She chowed down on canned food, meat, and even some ice cream.
I’ve been giving her a Cranberry additive to help with the UTI, so she’s actually been great the last couple of days.
I am hesitant to talk about this, as I know that it might hurt some feelings. There’s no animosity, but I really need people to stop pointing out things that remind me that Colorado’s life clock is ticking down.
There are no hard feelings, there’s no animosity as I know everyone was doing their best to be helpful in a difficult time.
I wasn’t even going to mention it, but several times innocent conversations turned into hours of tears for me.
So understand that I need to do this.
Only those who know me well, and see me often know that I am under an enormous amount of stress. I have things going on that I won’t talk about here….but these things are cumulative.
I’ve been unable to detach emotionally, to throw up the barriers, and slip on the “I’m OK” mask that I’ve relied on this past…(yay therapy)
If I do talk about Colorado, please keep the following in mind:
I know the lumps change, and I know how bad/good they are
They are completely beyond my control
and yes, I know they are likely tumours
I know she will have good days and bad
Please for the love of all that is holy let me enjoy the good days..okay? Please?
stop reminding me that there will be bad days…I KNOW THAT!!!
Yes, I know when the end comes it will be a difficult decision
I don’t have to “brace myself”, I’m already doing that
No, I won’t let her suffer a single moment longer just because I don’t want to let her go.
Remember I did that for Shelby, even though it was sudden and I wasn’t ready to let him go
Yes, I know she might go to sleep and never wake up
I feel guilty because I hope that’s how she goes
How well do you think I’ll sleep with that on my mind?
Yes, I remember that she saved my life
How do you think I feel knowing that I cannot save hers?
Yes, I know she doesn’t care about these things..
Yes, its annoying when she has an accident in the house
But so fucking what?!!
If I start to cry when talking about her, don’t make a big deal of it.
I wish I could say how people could help. The truth is, I don’t know.
I talked to my dad on the phone yesterday. We talked about the stuff that’s going on, and Colorado. They were things I didn’t want to talk about, but after that brief conversation with dad I felt a lot better.
Dad always seems to know the right way to say things.
I think I’d ask that if I don’t want to talk about it, please don’t push. If I do, follow my lead…I might need to vent, or just tell someone how I’m feeling.
I’ve noticed that Colorado’s vision has been getting worse.
A while back I noticed that when I would throw her ball for her, she’d often go right by it several times as she excitedly searched for it. I knew she had cataracts, but honestly, I wasn’t sure if she was just too excited to see it.
Then, a few months ago she started bumping into furniture in dark rooms.
A couple of weeks ago, I gave her a treat and even though I was holding it right in front of her, she didn’t see it until I moved it slightly to the her right.
I imagine that many human beings in this situation would despair at the loss of their vision.
Colorado is not bothered by it.
Several times I’ve witnessed her come barrelling through the livingroom, only to run into something.
Each time, she picks herself up, and continues on whatever quest she is on.
She does not stop and think, “WTF?!”
Thoughts of a life without vision don’t seem to intrude.
This became evident when I was throwing her tennis ball for her. Normally I throw it from living room to dining room. It is not a rare for her to lose track of it and end up weaving around the dining room table in search of it. She likes that game, she is always very excited and happy and when we play.
This time she couldn’t find the ball. It was in the middle of the floor. I pointed at it and she still couldn’t see it…..until I put my finger on it.
Her reaction…..”OMG! I FOUND THE BALL!!! YAY FOR ME!!!! AGAIN!AGAIN!AGAIN!!!”
The fact that she needed help didn’t diminish her joy one bit.
She didn’t become consumed with what would happen when the time came that she couldn’t see at all.
She rejoiced in the moment. Nothing else mattered.
…and that is the purest example I can think of for “Living in the Now”
It is something I’ve struggled to achieve since the concept was introduced to me years ago by my then therapist Roberta.
Essentially, Living in the Now means not worrying about what could happen in the next moment, or obsessing over what happened in the last.
In the example Roberta gave, imagine the van you are driving is stuck in the mud.
Worrying about what will happen if you don’t reach your destination in time, or obsessing over the circumstances that got you stuck will not get you unstuck.
I will point out that this doesn’t mean shirking responsibilities or not learning from mistakes.
In the past year there have been many changes in my life. Happily I’ve made great strides toward this whole living in the moment thing.
I am better at taking each day as it comes. But there are things that I still need to work on.
I think fear is one of the strongest forces in nature. Especially when the fear is one of the biggest an individual faces.
That is why this lesson on Living in the Now is a hard one for me.
Both my dogs are getting older.
Even though it is an unavoidable aspect of nature, the thought of losing them terrifies me.
It is not that the fact that they will someday die that worries me.
The darkness that looms large and often makes me feel small and helpless is that when they are gone that I will be alone.
And that my friends, is my biggest fear.
It might surprise a great deal of you because I often seek solitude, and am well known for not being able to stay in large gatherings for very long.
But, that solitude has always included my girls.
When these musings are coupled with depression, the thought of not being able to reach over and run my fingers through canine fur reduces me tears….even when I’m actually doing just that.
It was a week before I could return to work, and nearly 6 months before a day passed without me crying over his absence.
That was during a difficult time in my life. I wasn’t ready to let him go, but he was ready, and I made him a promise. And I keep my promises no matter how badly they cut.
In the immediate time after. People kept their distance. Close friends and family told others that I would want my space, and to grieve in private.
I appreciated it, because that’s what I thought I needed.
It was only years later that I realized how very wrong that was. My isolation exacerbated the pervasive emptiness in my life.
Now, even though both my girls are healthy and happy, that fear is back.
While most of the time I enjoy the time with my girls without any thought of what happens, there are times when the future intrudes and cannot be pushed away.
My life is much better now. I have more friends, and am better at being social.
I know in my heart that my friends and family will be there whatever the day brings.
But one of the things about mental illness is that your head sometimes injects false and terrifying realities that are not easily banished.
Post-script: I’ve been working on this for awhile.
A bought of depression sprang up sometime after I first came up with the idea for this post. I don’t know if working on it is what caused my current bought of depression. It was very difficult to finish….
We, your loving canine companions, and security force are writing this note to alert you to a grave threat to the safety of the Den.
You are likely aware that we both enjoy looking out the window at the things that wizz past the den day and night. We especially like the ones with the bright flashing lights and the funny howling.
However, there is one of these things that stops frequently, and we are both extremely worried that you seem oblivious to the threat it brings to the Den!
We believe the human term for this thing is “BLOODY HELL, CALM DOWN! IT’S ONLY A BUS!”, as this is what you bark every time we alert you to its presence.
As you know, when we hear the squeak the BLOODY HELL, CALM DOWN! IT’S ONLY A BUS! makes when it stops, we will stop whatever we are doing and run to the windows to bark as loudly as we can in order to let the murders it brings to the neighbourhood that the pickings are easier at other dens.
You’re a pretty relaxed human, but its reached the point where we wonder if you are taking the threat seriously!
We are worried that you won’t recognize the danger as the murders who climb off the BLOODY HELL, CALM DOWN! IT’S ONLY A BUS! all look different! Some of them are small humans. Maybe not a big threat when alone, but they often travel in packs!
You do realize that these murderous bastards arrive very close the Den, right?
We also want to point out that this has been going on for a very, very long time!
The implication should be obvious!
There are likely very few people in the area left to murder, so it won’t be long before our loud and viscous barking won’t keep them away!
We’re worried that you keep answering The Door when someone knocks, despite our warnings and constantly getting in your way when you try to open it.
And seriously….do you think holding us back is a good idea?! You could get murdered while holding on to our collars and we’d be helpless to defend you!
If you get murdered who would bring us food and throw our balls? The cat???
In short, we hope you smarten up, and start taking the security of the Den seriously.
I just re-read that and wow…how things have changed, and yet remain the same. I didn’t realize it until now, but the exact same situation that I was meditating on then was what was on my mind last night. Seriously….that faded away, but is now back and more promising. I still won’t say what it is…
Anyway, just over a month ago, I got a new dog….Kharma, a 5 year old Great Dane. I didn’t name her, and I suspect that her original owners wanted to say “Kharma’s a bitch”, because Kharma is female.
Kharma’s an alpha dog and quickly asserted herself as Queen of the house. I’m still the boss…make no mistake. Colorado defers to her…to the point where a friend came to visit on Friday night. I heard the dogs barking and recognized Colorado’s frantic “Take One More Step and I’ll Fucking Eat You!” bark. I went out to see what the issue was and saw Corey standing by the back gate, waving.
Kharma’s never met Corey, but Corey is one of Colorado’s favorite people (Corey is the only person who can walk her without me)….but Colorado took her cue from Kharma.
Anyway, I’m digressing again….
Last night, after Game of Thrones, and before sleep I sat on the bed and folded myself into my usual meditation position. I folded my hands (Wisdom and Compassion) and tried to drop into meditation space.
Kharma was in her usual place beside me. I felt Colorado jump on the bed, and then her wet nose probing my hands so I could pet her. I was going to push her away, but thought better of it, as I’ve often described petting her as a form of meditation…so I sought to include her.
Just as I was settling, I felt Kharma’s massive head drop onto my lap….she too wanted to be included. It worked for a bit, but then I felt an energetic pulse from Colorado.
Suddenly, she was sitting up right, her paws on my shoulders and licking my face. I tried to push her away, but she persisted.
I thought this unusual as I was in a good place….but Colorado has done this before.
I’ve noticed that Colorado is very much in-tune the rhythm and flow of my Bi-Polar fluctuations. Even before I realize I might be a bit off, I can tell from Colorado’s behavior if maybe I need to pay more attention to my brain and get things back on track.
I haven’t told many people this, but late last year I was in trouble. My mood slid downward, until one night, it hit bottom and I found myself in a dark place. I don’t recall that much about it…just random flashes and memories of thoughts.
It was to the point that I didn’t care if I ever came out of it…existence was pointless.
It was then that I realized how valuable a friend Colorado is to me. Suddenly I found myself pinned to the couch (literally…she came at me so hard that she knocked me over), paws on shoulders and licking my face frantically.
I pushed her off several times only to have her bounce back…..she only stopped when I started laughing….I got up, took my meds, gave my friend one of her favorite things in the world (raw steak) and called a human friend.
So, I’m not sure what brought on last night’s affection as I was in a good place. But then, this morning, I found out that my friend was admitted to hospital last night….so maybe I connected on that level and didn’t notice.
I said that when you have cats, if they deign to pay attention to you, that you are never alone, even if you want to be.
Note: I started writing this shortly before Shelby’s rapid decline in health that led to his passing 1 year ago today.
I finish and post it today to honour his memory. I know its lacking, but that empty indelible space his passing left in my heart is especially noticeable today.
I know…its pretty shocking…but I’m afraid that the evidence is overwhelming.
Yesterday morning my iPhone alarm thingie came on. My “Divas” playlist was on and Lady GaGa’s “Monster” was playing.
Then it hit me…
“That boy is a monster…”, “then he ate my heart and he ate my brain“!!!!
Zombies would be considered by some to be monsters, and its a widely accepted fact that zombies prefer brains over anything else!!
OMG…I had always thought that this song was about an encounter with..ummm…hmmm…okay, let me tell it this way…
One day in the boardroom where the IT department gathers for lunch I was telling my co-workers of an incident where I was banging along with Rage Against the Machine’s “Know your Enemy” when I glanced up to see a guy from Finance staring at me in horror.
I don’t particularly give a rat fu….fornicate what anyone thinks of me with very few exceptions, so I wasn’t particularly bothered by his look of horror, I waved and went back to programming.
So sitting down I mentioned this, and the finance guy’s reaction. I mused that perhaps it wasn’t a big, burly middle aged guy singing along with his iPhone, but maybe he wasn’t a Rage fan (because, well….they are a protest band). I put forward the idea that perhaps I should try someone else, like Lady Gaga. My co-worker looked and asked, “Bad Romance?”, I thought for a moment and said, “Naaa…Monster.” She did this humorous sort of combination spit take, choke on her food thing that would’ve been great for YouTube.
When she recovered she said, “People will think you’re gay.”
I pointed out that I have a collection of fairies in my office, and a pink lunch bag, so people probably already suspected that.
“Good point”, was the response.
Umm…what was I talking about?
Oh yeah, Lady GaGa….”Queen of the Zombies” maybe?
As I lie in bed pondering this realization, Shelby the Pro-Zombie Cocker Spaniel realizes that I’m onto his compatriot and tries to distract me by telling me he needs out…like RIGHT NOW!!!
They say time heals all wounds, but today I’m calling bullshit on that.
One year ago my friend, my little buddy, Shelby the Pro-Zombie Cocker Spaniel passed from this mortal coil to the next. Right now, as I type this the pain in my heart is as fresh as the day it happened. It makes no sense I know for my brain to be wailing, “I MISS MY DOG!” with my sweet princess, Colorado, Queen of Spazmania sitting not 4 feet away looking at me as if I’ve lost my mind (oh how diametrically opposed that happy crappy is right now).
But I do, I miss him. Shelby’s quiet, stoic companionship filled a void in my life. I can’t describe it…but as I explained to my shrink one session not very long ago…its like with any good friend. They can be in the room with you, not saying a word, not even in sight, yet you know they are there…..and you know when they are not. The realization that presence will never come clattering in, announced by claws on hardwood again is painful.