It’s been a bit harder than usual to come up with blog posts recently. Especially posts that are lighthearted and entertaining. Maybe you’ve noticed the change. The reason is a couple of scary and sad events that happened in April and which have occupied my thoughts. I guess it’s time I talk about them.
First it was the old dog. The Forbearing Husband and I arrived home close to midnight on the day we returned from the Big City Experience. Ella was happy to see us, but wildly disorientated. She kept staggering around in circles and falling over, looking for all the world as if she’d been on a whiskey bender. Favorite Stepson was vague about details, but we gathered she’d woken up from a nap earlier in the day and been off balance since. There was nothing to be done until we could get her to the vet the following morning, but I don’t think either the Forbearing Husband or I got much sleep that night.
The vet concluded that Ella’s brain had been compromised. She had impaired motor function on her left side, and was unable to control her eyes (this was what was causing the drunken gait). Most likely diagnosis: a stroke. He prescribed prednisone and said he’d review her in a week. Even as he talked about the gains some dogs can make post-stroke, we could both tell he was preparing us for the worst.
The second thing was staggeringly more awful.
A family friend died suddenly and unexpectedly. This was a kid our children had grown up with, battled in multiple games of Buzz, and eaten those ‘all you can eat’ Pizza Hut meals alongside. He was the boy who took extreme close up photographs of his nose with our family’s first digital camera, and whose growth is recorded on our family height chart alongside the measurements of his siblings and our own children. He was 20 when he checked out. The sadness of his death, and grief for his parents and brothers has coloured my thinking over the past few weeks. I want to say more, but there’s really nothing else I can find to tell you that doesn’t sound like a cliché.
After 5 weeks Ella is on what we think of as her ‘bonus round’. She has regained most of her motor and ocular function and, more importantly to us, seems happy. She has a plethora of daily medications now. So many in fact that I bought a pill organiser to keep it all straight. Pills are administered in half squares of Whittakers peanut butter chocolate. Both chocolate and peanut butter are poisonous to dogs, but at this stage we figure what the hell. One pill specifies it is to be ‘taken with a snack at bedtime’. A snack at bedtime! We assume this instruction is due to that old dog briefly but efficiently hyponotising her vet, Jules.
Our friend is still dead.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, because no life is all happy adventures and funny stories, and if this blog is to reflect my experiences it can’t be, either. The Forbearing Husband and I are taking more time these days to hug each other, our children and our animals. Especially that old dog. In the end it’s anticipation of death which motivates us humans to squeeze the juice out of life. We are all dying. Don’t forget it.
Off you go. Search out someone you love and hug them. Don’t wait another day.