Monday, March 17, 2014

A weak finish...

So, I may have gone a little crazy with my last post…maybe I was a little ahead of myself.  So, the book was good, but not as great as I thought.   A couple of the chapters (8 and 9) were a little too macro for me…they felt disconnected to the "real life" points that I THOUGHT the author was making.  They talked about financial considerations and the environment.  Unless she was trying to convince everyone to have only one kid on order to save the world (which is just as stupid as trying to convince everyone to have an army of children), I think those two chapters could have been left out, or at least presented differently.

So, I remain in search of some type of solace, not so much in my decisions but in not letting others "get to me" in their horrible, negative, mean comments.  I suppose that needs to come from within, not from someone else's work.  Nonetheless, many of the points in the book did express my thoughts and feelings.  Here is the review I wrote on Good Reads:

I enjoyed this book, though chapters 7 and 8 felt disconnected with the macro-level approach. I suppose I was really hoping for the justification I need in having an only child (especially being an only child myself). Of course, the book fell short of that as that is a ridiculously lofty goal--especially for someone else to provide FOR me. ;) 

I definitely recommend this not only for only children and/or parents of only children, but for anyone. The horrible, mean, degrading things people say to me have cut me to my core and I would love for others to shatter their negative "beliefs" about families of 3.

I also think this book is missing some important points, at least from my perspective. The term "choice" needs to be more broadly defined. Sure, it was my "choice" to have only one child, but it was not strictly economic, nor was it anti-religious or selfish or freeing (as I feel like this book may come across as suggesting). For me, it had a lot to do with (physical) postpartum complications and a husband who was at war for 3 years following our daughter's birth. It had a lot to do with perusing a career that I feel contributes to motherhood--not at odds with it. It has to do with nurturing a marriage and respecting the opinions of my husband on the most important decision we can make as parents. 


But, ultimately, I hope that people outside of the only child world read this to understand we are still people...us onlies and the parents of "only" one child. We have the same triumphs and challenges as anyone else. I loved the point that, though we are the same, we do tend to experience live with more intensity. I also like that this book isn't a ploy to get people to have only one child, but rather an argument that families are not one size fits all, and that it's time to stop stereotyping only children or looking down on their parents, as there is no basis for such. We don't fit into a categorical box any more than anyone else.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lonely or Free?

Oh.my.goodness.  I've found it.  The book…I mean, THE book I have been looking for at least for the past 6 years, possibly my whole life.  It is not often that I am truly amazed by someone's writing (unless it's academic…nerd alert).  But it.has.happened!  One and Only by Lauren Sandler (2013, Simon & Schutzer) both says everything I want to say and tells me everything I have been longing to hear (and she's done her homework…it's not just lip-service).  I just started the book and it's already on my top books of all time list.  I was wondering how I was going to document all of the quotes I don't want to forget…so I decided to do it here.

I've been open about my struggles being an only child and the tough decision to have only one child (which I still struggle with on a regular basis)…I've even touched on the subject here.  It IS a continuous struggle.  As my parents grow older (and have life-altering "health events" like my mom's multiple joint replacements and my dad's heart attack and bypass surgery), seeing my friends lose their parents, witnessing my friends with siblings share in parenthood and become friends, hearing my daughter talk about being singled out (no pun intended) for being an only child, wondering how K's life  would be different if she had a sibling, hearing the evil/rude/disrespectful/ignorant comments from others about my decisions (both crushing me and insulting me…families are not one size fits all, people!)…. It's a constant internal battle for me.

I've known, pretty much since I got pregnant, that I would only have one child, despite my CERTAINTY I wanted a big family before I actually created a child.  I was not a good pregnant person.  I felt like crap.  I had a c-section that went all kinds of crazy (resulting in a postpartum hemorrhage that went undiagnosed, but that's for another time).  Buzz never wanted another child.  I did.  He didn't.  I "gave in" to "only" having one because I figured one child was enough strain on our marriage and he wanted that one.  If we had one only because I forced the issue, and our marriage went really south, that would not be good for K or her hypothetical sibling.  Plus, I wanted a career.  I HAVE an amazing career--but I was still able to spend the years before school exclusively with her, and now I have a schedule that compliments her school schedule so I still have the mommy time she needs--I need.

People call me selfish, but working is something that I need to be a mentally healthy person.  I feel like being "together" as a mom (well, as together as I get) is of the utmost importance to being a good mom--and I don't think that is selfish.  People tell me K is only as good as she is because I "only" have one--implying my life would be a total disaster and K would be a terrible person otherwise?  People have accused me of "not liking" mothering.  ON THE CONTRARY!!!  Being a mom is my most favorite, most important, BEST part of my life.  But, there are still other parts of me--and I think those parts help me be a total person, a better mom.

When I really looked deep at why I wanted another child, it was more of a longing for more of each stage with K (rather than wanting another human in my womb or in my home).  I found this blog post recently, which sums up my thoughts on that.  Looking back, though I sometimes "wished" time away (mostly because I was single-parenting with a husband in Iraq), I NEVER neglected to stop and soak up the moment.  I held her.  I watched her.  I held her some more (and was criticized I was making her too dependent--people really do need to mind their own business).  I cherished every day…I felt (and continue to feel) like the most blessed mommy on the face of the planet.  And seeing her grow up warms my heart and breaks it (a little) at the same time.  But having another child will not change that…  My family is complete.

So, back to the book…  Lauren Sandler (who I fully intend to email myself once I am finished with her work of excellence) is both an only child and a mother to an only child.  She is a journalist who cites personal experience and research on only children (and the mothers of them).  For the first time, I feel like someone gets it…gets me!  She does not preach that having an only child is THE thing to do, but recognizes that, as I have said before, families are not one size fits all.  She works to debunk the old, OLD (and stupid) myths of the only child.  I highly recommend this book not just for only children, but for anyone…it offers a unique perspective to a group of people who have been put down for far too long with zero foundation for the negative arguments.  Thank you, Laruen Sandler!  :D

Here are the paragraphs that pulled me in (and I am sure I will be back to share more), from the Introduction pages 7-13:

"In surveys that ask young women how many children they'd like to have, ultimately and ideally, no one says they'd choose to stop at one child, he [sociologist Phillip Morgan at the Carolina Population Center] tells me.  To me, that's like asking a tween girl what her perfect wedding looks like… Our ideals change in concert with our emerging realities--even more so if, as we develop, we opt to interrogate what we thought we wanted, and why we thought we wanted it.

Here are some things I want:  I want to do meaningful work.  I want to travel.  I want to eat in restaurants and drink in bars.  I want to go to movies and concerts.  I want to read novels.  I want to marinate in solitude.  I want to have friendships that regularly sustain and exhilarate me.  I want a romantic relationship that involves daily communication beyond interrogatives and imperatives--I want to be known.  And I want to snuggle with my daughter for as long as she'll let me, being as present in her life as I can while giving her all the space she needs to discover life on her own terms.  I want full participation:  in the world, in my family, in my friendships, and in my own actualization.

In other words, to have a happy kid, I figure I need to be a happy mother, and to be a happy mother, I need to be a happy person.  Like my mother, I feel that I need to make choices within the limits of reality--which means considering work, finances, pleasure--and at the moment I can't imagine how I could possibly do that with another kid…

Still, I agonize every time I see my daughter doting on a friend's baby, just as my own heart has a tendency to devour itself when I take a new tiny person in my arms… When my daughter was born, after all my anxiety about how I'd never changed a diaper…--well, I held my girl, just moments old, and I simply knew what to do.  My confidence and capability stunned me... And yet when I try to imagine doing it again, I feel even greater doubt than I did the first time…

…We need to be more assertive in questioning why exactly we believe our children need siblings.  Because if I am going to choose to have another one, while billions of other people do the same, I should be able to know the reason.

And if it's not because I want to--I mean, really want to--have another child, there's a body of supposed knowledge I need to start questioning.  For myself.  For my daughter.  And for the world I brought her into.  Instead of making a choice to enlarge our families based on stereotypes or cultural pressure, we can instead make that most profound choice our most purely independent one.  It might even feel like something people rarely associate with parenting:  it might feel like freedom."

Yes.  Just, yes...


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Will run for ice cream

Wow!  This past year has been another whirlwind.  I just signed on to my blog so I could follow a friend's blog and…I totally forgot I was going to start chronicling my racing journey!  Ha!

Well, in the past nearly year since I've visited this little site, I have kept running.  (Other than healing time for a few injuries, one which landed me in a cast and another that now requires me to wear more specialized orthotic inserts.)  Despite the fact that I now have a podiatrist, I am faster and stronger than I have ever been...but I still continue to worry about everything.  Thank goodness running is my medicine!

In keeping with the ongoing theme of the blog…ICE CREAM…I would just like to say that running makes me feel less guilty about indulging in an occasional sundae, warm apple pie with a scoop of vanilla, or huge bowl of Moose Tracks in my comfy pants on my couch.  And, maybe I'll be back here more often with my continued adventures of running.  I just finished my first race of the season (Sweethearts 4-ever 4-miler in Fredericksburg).  I came in at 35:02 (a bit faster than last year, but not much)…117 of 323 total runners, 37 out of 168 female runners, and 8 out of 27 in the women's 30-34 division.  In the couple's division, Buzz and I were 15/44…he finished in 31:13, helping our average out a bit.  :)  In a fit of stupidity, I have registered for the Blue Ridge Half Marathon…where I get to run up TWO mountains.  Should be interesting…  Also hoping to complete the Historic Half again, along with a few additional races this year.  So, stay tuned…perhaps I will chronicle my misadventures, foot pain, and hopefully triumphs over the miles of pavement.  Either way, you are likely to find me in some comfy pants enjoying a bowl of ice cream.  :)
November 2013, my first run after a 6-week recovery from a partially ruptured foot tendon 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Journey to Runner Status: 50 Shades of Purple?


Since I was a teenager, I have regularly run—other than a few “breaks” for things like pregnancy and a bad ankle injury.  But, for the most part, running has been my main mode of exercise.  It has been my “medicine” for anxiety, sadness, to help me achieve health (even though my health is my biggest source of anxiety)… I like to run.  No, I love to run—especially after the run is over. 

Despite my individual participation in the activity of running, I have always been hesitant to call myself a RUNNER.  I mean, I ran around my neighborhood in old t-shirts and shorts.  RUNNERS run competitive races, keep track of time and distance, have nice running clothes, special running shoes, and they have those amazingly sexy toned calves.  I’ve never been a REAL runner.  But that all changed 2 days ago…

But my journey to runner status really began about a year and a half ago.  I hurt my ankle and couldn’t run.  I tried biking and walking and the elliptical machine—nothing was the same as running.  I decided once I could run again, I would RUN again.  I wanted to run a 5k and not be embarrassed.  Last summer, I started timing myself and seeing how far I could run.  I couldn’t even run a 5k after that stupid injury!  But I was setting a goal.  Physical goals are hard for me.  Though I had run, I wouldn’t push myself or anything like that.  So, my goal was to, by this spring, run a 5k and not be embarrassed.

Then, Buzz ran the Marine Corps Marathon last October.  He did it without training and made mistakes a real runner would never make—like buying new running shoes the day before the race.  I mean, even I knew that was a no-no.  I made fun of him—a lot.  But, on the day of the MCM, something inside ME changed.  I obsessive-compulsively checked the live updates to see how he was doing.  I was so proud of him.  Maybe he wasn’t a REAL runner, either (though hands-down he was way closer to one than me)…but that didn’t matter.  He was out there pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles like every other RUNNER out there.  I was inspired.  That day, I ran 5 miles under a 10 minute pace.  That was the longest distance I have ever run, at least since college.  When Buzz got home, he was sore to say the least.  But within a day, with the pain still present, he said he wanted to do it again.  What was wrong with him?  Was he a real runner?  Only a real runner would subject himself to that kind of torture, I think. 

Then, we signed up for the MCM series Turkey Trot 10k.  I “trained.”  My goal was to finish in an hour.  I was nervous.  Buzz and I ran the course prior to the race, since it was here on base, and I made it under my goal time.  Still, race day I was really nervous.  But I came in under 55 minutes!  I felt great!  I couldn’t wait to do it again!  Maybe I COULD become a runner.  We signed up for a 4-mile race in February.

I bought real running gear, not so much because I wanted to LOOK like a runner, but because I realized that that gear is more comfortable and necessary when you are running long distances outside—especially when it’s too cold to be outside to begin with.  I considered starting a blog called “50 Shades of Purple” to chronicle my quest to become a runner—turns out I really like the color purple and this is reflected in my running clothes, even though it must be impossible to match shades of purple among various articles.  Plus, it fit with the whole 50 shades theme as I became obsessed with running and developed a new relationship where the running dominated my mind and body.  But, I opted out of the blog idea because I was scared I would fail and then I would have these deep desires out there for people to see…and everyone would know I didn’t achieve my goal. 

Then came THE injury.  It was some strange-name condition that is worse than shin splints and not as bad as a stress fracture (which they thought it was but was ruled out with an MRI that diagnosed the strange-name-thing).  I only had to take a few more weeks off from running (yay!) and get some orthotic inserts for my running shoes.  I felt old and anyone who needs orthotic anything is certainly not a RUNNER.  Nonetheless, the day after I got the diagnosis, I signed up for the MCM Historic Half Marathon—about 4 months away, even though I had still not run more than 7 miles.  Ever.  My goal:  13.1 miles in less than 2 1/2 hours.  IF I could do that, I would feel confident in calling myself a RUNNER.  That race became more than a goal.  It began to define who I was—or who I could be—or who I wanted to be.  It consumed my thoughts.  Running was always on my mind.

So, I “trained” again.  But this time I knew I had to start out slowly, despite reaching the 7-mile mark before my injury.  I had to start out at 1 mile, slowly, and then work my way up.  That was frustrating but I didn't want to risk another injury.  I remember my sense of accomplishment when I completed my first 8-mile run without a struggle.  I stopped getting gastrointestinal distress (as Buzz and I embarrassingly call it) after my longer runs.  I started recovering faster from the joint and muscle pain and stiffness.  The first time I ran 10 miles (with hills) the pain was intense but the sense of accomplishment was bigger than the pain.  I was soon able to run 8 miles with no problem.  Then, one day, after my 8 (planned) miles, I just kept going—to 13.1!  Yes, there was pain—but it paled in comparison to the goal I had just reached—in less than 2 hours and 10 minutes (with minimal hills). 

I started researching my big race.  Hospital Hill scared me to pieces!  Hospital Hill refers to the hill next to Mary Washington Hospital in the final miles of the half marathon.  There are stories…this hill is a legend around here and among those who have run the course.  Running groups (with real runners) started training to tackle THE hill.  I started training to run more hills on base, since I wasn't part of a real-runner club.

The day before the race, I cried on the way to pick up our race packets.  Buzz didn’t understand.  Of course I could do it, he said.  But what if I couldn't?  What if I stopped/didn’t finish, or got hurt, or passed out, or died?  (Yes, those were real thoughts.)  We drove hospital hill.  It didn’t look THAT bad in the car…except I would have to run 9+ miles before I tackled it on foot.  My response:  at least the hospital is right here.  All I wanted to do was finish under my goal time and that hill was standing in my way.  But, if by some chance I could actually achieve that goal even with the evil hill, then I would have done it, I could call myself a runner, and I would never do it again.  I would stick to 10k’s and finally run that 5k I talked about this time last year. 

The night before the race, I carb-loaded with Moe’s and mac and cheese.  I only slept about 4 hours.  I was so nervous.  When the alarm went off at 4:45 I was exhausted, but jumped out of bed easily thanks to my nerves.  Real runners aren’t nervous before a race.  And they probably aren’t that tired.  Plus, real runners probably train when they were tired.  I didn’t.  I waited until another day to run if I was tired.

I got dressed—I had put aside my race day outfit (with 4 shades of purple) a week before, down to my underwear that I knew wouldn’t give me wedgies.  I made my old-faithful long-run breakfast—a peanut butter and banana sandwich.  But I couldn’t finish it because I had a nervous stomach.  Real runners didn’t get that—I bet they were able to scarf down their breakfasts.  I took my vitamins, kissed K (the babysitter spent the night so she would be there when we left), drank lots of water, and headed off.

We parked.  After 2 pee-pee stops (at Wal-Mart and a porta-john) we were off to the start line.  While waiting for the porta-potty, I saw people—real runners—running to warm up.  I couldn’t do that.  I had to save my “juice.”  The first 2 miles was my warm up—plus I was already warmed up from the heart-pounding anxiety.  But, back to the start line: It was real.  This day I had dreamed of—choked up about envisioning myself crossing the finish line—was here.  It was real and surreal all at the same time.  I bet real runners didn’t think it was surreal. 

I almost cried during the national anthem.  There I was, among Marines and real runners—at the same start line on the same course.  It was happening.  Deep breath…the gun fired.  And we stood there.  With that many people running, it’s not an on your marks, get set, go sort of thing.  It takes a while to get to the actual start line and then some more time to really get going as you wait for the pack to disperse.  But, soon enough, we were off.

I remember running under the huge flag in the air right after the start line—hoping in less than 2 ½ hours I would be looking at the same flag from the other direction with a huge sense of accomplishment.

I was so excited, but told myself to settle down.  I had 13 miles ahead of me.  Then came the rain.  I realized that I hadn’t trained in the rain.  Real runners do that, but not me.  Oh well, it would keep me cool, I thought.  It did.  And one of my shades of purple was a new armband I had bought at the expo the day before (a not-real-runner move, I'm sure--to get so excited at the expo and make irrational-type purchases) and it was perfect for keeping the wetness out of my eyes.

In all of the excitement, I am so proud of what I did the entire race: I took it all in.  ALL of it.  I looked at every person cheering that I could.  I high-fived the people on the side lines.  I read the signs.  I looked at my fellow runners—fellow runners?  If they are fellows, does it mean I am among their ranks?  Anyway, if this was going to be my ONE and ONLY half marathon, my one experience that would help me become the runner I wanted to be even if I would never do it again, I had to take it all in.  I had to savor all of the information my senses fed me.  And I did.  When I got tired, I danced to my music on my iPhone, just like I do running at home.  When I hurt, I reminded myself that it was just pain and the race was really run in my mind.  When it got tough, I took the advice from real runners—it’s just me and the road.  When I had to, I looked at my feet, saw I was still moving, and reminded myself this was about ME and I COULD do it.  And the only person I had to prove something to was ME.  It hurt toward the end.  I remember telling Buzz that every step hurt right after Hospital Hill.  Hospital hill was a beast, but I conquered it with flying colors, with Buzz by my side.  I loved the sign that said “What Hill?”  I loved the clapping and cheering.  It makes me want to go be a spectator at a big race and cheer on all of the runners…maybe I could be that person with a sign that pushes the person who "wants to be a real runner" toward their goal.

Buzz and I held hands as we crossed the finish line.  The pics and video show a big smile on my face.  My time: 2:12:44.  Maybe it wasn’t the best time for a real RUNNER, but it was AMAZING for ME.  The pain didn’t even bother me.  I was on top of the world.  I did it!  And I loved it.  I took it all in.  I lived each moment.  I RAN each moment.  And it felt good.  It still feels good—amazing!

The pain has subsided for the most part and, yesterday, I signed up for another half marathon later this year…and the Turkey Trot 10k again.  What’s that?  I signed up for ANOTHER half?  But the one two days ago was supposed to be my one and only.  The only explanation…I AM a RUNNER!   (And I’m writing this down because I never want to forget this feeling when I made that transition…or maybe I’ve been a runner all along, but that was the moment when I recognized it for REAL.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Closure?

I've been trying to work up the guts to come back here...to say that I lost my best friend.  Yes, my best friend had 4 legs...and he's been my BEST friend through the thick and thin of the past decade.  I am so glad I have chronicled my relationship with my pups here on this blog.



Here is what I wrote on my Facebook page the day after I said goodbye...


We said our final goodbyes to Sampson last night.  Hardest thing I have ever had to do.  He was my BEST best friend over the past decade--better than I could ever have imagined when I picked up that little puppy nearly 10 years ago. I could write a dissertation-length eulogy, but the song I am posting (My Old Friend) says it better than I could right now.  So I will just say, while I have no peace and comfort now, I hope to find those by knowing his struggles are over and by remembering all of the love he received from and gave to so many others.  He taught me so much and will always be a part of me.  

"The love and the laughter, will live on long after, all of the sadness and the tears..."

Since then, I have worked through what I imagine are the stages of grief--intense anger and guilt (directed at myself), intense sorrow, and I've moved on to acceptance.  I accept that he is gone.  I accept that he lived a good life.  I accept that I did all I could.  What I can't accept, is that life really will be "okay" without him.  I'm still struggling to figure out my way and navigate adult life without my sidekick.  

I have since found comfort, as well.  Comfort from my friends and family, comfort from his medical team (yes, he had a team--a great one).  I have found peace knowing that his sweet soul will forever outlive his body.  But I still am not at peace with my loss.  I'm getting there, I think.  I started to go to a support group. But, as I told one of my dearest friends (who I met through Boxer Rescue when we were adopting Angel) that I couldn't go because I could never believe that anyone else loved their dog--their friend--as much as me.  Her response was priceless.  Mind you, this friend is the biggest animal lover I know--her house is literally dedicated to fostering homeless animals and finding them good homes.  She, herself, has lost some dear pets, including a boxer, in the past year.  She said, "I'm not sure anyone ever has loved a dog as much as you loved Sampson."  I suppose that, on top of the huge outpouring of support I received, helped me to know that Sampson knew he was loved beyond belief--and that's what truly matters.

In the time that has passed since Sampson's passing, I have also found some great outlets for my energy--including getting involved in a great organization that helps people pay for life-saving care of their pets.  I always felt one of our gifts to Sampson was the ability to handle all of his health issues.  He had the best of the best medical care--even if that meant sacrifices in other areas of our financial life.  He was worth it!  And I'm so glad that was not a guilt I had to grapple with through this process.  I am always searching for ways to share his story--to keep his memory alive.  This will get me through.


We also welcomed a new boxer boy into our home, Claymore.  I was hesitant at first, but as Buzz said, "This is just want we do.  We are dog people.  And if we're not dog people, I don't like us."  True, true.  Even after that, I was not sure I could manage another boxer.  But Sampson was partial to boxers--could pick one out of a crowd.  So we got a boxer, but one whose looks do not resemble that of Sampson.  He's a good boy.  He came from the same Boxer Rescue as Daisy and Angel.



So, today, I'm searching for closure.  I know that can't totally be achieved, but at least I can get it out here...on this blog...so I'm not "scared" to come back to it.  I am so lucky he spent his entire life with me.  He was the best.  And I carry him with me in my heart and my soul.  


I miss my Old Man...My Old Friend.  As I said in my Facebook note when I was at a complete loss for words, this song says it all...  As I told Sampson every night during our cuddle time before he drifted off to sleep, and as I told him the night I said my final "goodbyes" and "I love yous," 



Good Night, Sweet Prince.


"The love and the laughter will live on long after all of the sadness and the tears..."



Saturday, February 4, 2012

Maybe?

So I'm working on positive thinking...I'm ALWAYS working on positive thinking, it just doesn't always work for me.  ;)  But looking over these old posts last night brought back some memories and have given me a better sense of time in terms of Sampson's progression.  And MAYBE, just MAYBE, things aren't AS bad as I have made them out to be...  Let's take a trip back in time...

You can chronicle Sampson back to 2002, but let's start with his back problems.  It was early in 2010 when we first became aware of his spondylosis.  He was exhibiting some crazy symptoms, including some trouble with mobility.  We found that disease on x-rays--the same disease that took our Angel-girl--and we found it the same way, with x-rays for strange symptoms.  We made some adjustments--crate downstairs, better attention to gentle exercise, etc.  Because of his crazy tummy problems, we couldn't go the long-term pain meds route.  That's when we started acupuncture.  It was AMAZING.  He literally went from not being able to go up and down stairs, to RUNNING all around the back yard like a crazy man.  Good times.

I can't believe that was two years ago...

He started to regress a little bit last year--maybe springish timeframe.  I was worried.  I even had family portraits taken at our house because I began to fear if I didn't do them soon, we may not have the opportunity to take them with Sampson.  Then, all of the sudden, at the same time his left foot began to drag to the point we needed his "boot" to keep his toes from bleeding, he perked up.  I didn't get it--but I loved it.  He went back to playing like a crazy fool in the mornings, talking to me when he woke up, kidney bean dancing better than any boxer, running laps around the yard, taking steps and jumps with no problem, and kissing me with his big sloppy boxer mouth.

Until now, I didn't make the connection...

The degenerative myelopathy (DM) is what causes the foot to drag.  It is indicative of his spinal nerves "dying."  Without nerves, there's no pain.  It's painless.

This horrible disease that I curse on a daily basis, that makes my old man wobble, that makes his legs drag and cross, that renders him unable to run has taken away his pain.

Now, I'm not going to go so far as to call DM a blessing in disguise, but I will say that this connection now makes sense.  Unfortunately,  it's progressed to the point that he can't kidney bean dance for me...or run...or walk normally.  But, for a moment in time--MONTHS of time--I now believe that it gave me my Sampson back--in full strength.  It took away his spondylosis pain--pain that can be excruciating--pain that can make a dog suffer to the point that no responsible human would allow.  Maybe, just maybe, DM gave me more time with my Sampson.

Sampson in the sun, Fall 2011
On his last set of x-rays, it showed his spondylosis had progressed beyond any stretch of the imagination.  Yet, because of the DM, he can't feel it.  His spondylosis has progressed beyond the extent that Angel's reached, yet we had to let her go because of the damage it had done.  Again, I can't call DM a "blessing," but I will be thankful--putting on my positive thinking hat--that he is still here.  And he is not in pain.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Scoop of Moon-Flavored Ice Cream?

So, I'm back.  I've been here, just not *here*-here.  My writing time at the computer has been spent dissertating.  Dissertation is a dirty, dirty word to me right now.

But blogging fell by the wayside.  Lots has been going on, but I'm going to keep it short and to the point right now.  This blog started out in the "old days" of MySpace (ha!) as a place for me to write about my dogs.  Writing has always been therapeutic for me--not writing in the dissertation sense, but in the journaling sense.  And now, more than ever, I need some therapy. Sampson--my old man/my best friend--has degenerative myelopathy--more big words I have learned through Sampson's health issues.  It's not good.  Basically, the nerves in his spinal cord are dying.  (Here's a good, quick summary via the American Boxer Club: http://americanboxerclub.org/purina1.html .) He is becoming paralyzed.  He has lost almost all control over his left, back leg.  But he is holding on.  He has some good times and bad times.  I think he's still happy--getting joy from food, treats, and love.  We have made some adjustments to daily life.  My heart remains heavy--in all likelihood, his spine is going to give out before the rest of his body--and that means a tough, tough decision for me.  But I know it's the right one--I just hope I know when it's the "right" time.

I found this great blog today while Googling Sampson's disease.  Great, because 1.  It made me feel like I am not alone and 2. It reminded me that maybe blogging shouldn't fall by the wayside.  I came back here...my Moon-Flavored Ice Cream--the things that make me smile and give me the warm and fuzzies.  And I read about Sampson over the past few years.  I am glad I have a place where some of his life up until this point has been chronicled.  Maybe I should get back on that routine?

So, here I am...and I think I'll be back.  I can't promise when, the topic, or the tone.  If there is one thing Sampson has taught me, it's to be happy and enjoy the here and now.  Whether it was during a deployment or just a plain old gloomy day, he was there to make me smile--to bring me joy.  And that's the meaning of the crazy title of this blog...so, I *think* I will be able to make time for my writing therapy, with a scoop of Moon-Flavored Ice Cream.