Monday, August 31, 2015

Sitting on the floor of the (garage) bay

I have been informed by one who knows me well that one sentence in my last post makes me sound like a "selfish asshole."

The line in question:

And part of me would not want to take any steps to get better but would just want to quit, blow my retirement and die.

I assure you my intent was to show neither selfishness nor asshole-ness.

As I was sitting on the floor off the garage yesterday, waiting for my sister to come home and help me up, I had time to consider this opinion. My bike moved as I was transferring out of it with Mom's help.

The point of the post is that I am feeling crappy, which maybe explains this feeling.

But maybe not.

My sister (who else would call me an "asshole") also threatened to make me watch Dangerous Minds to hear Dylan Thomas' "Do not go gentle into that good night." I do like Michelle Pfieffer, though I prefer Rodney Dangerfield's performance of the poem.

The post points out that only a part of me feels like giving up, and I am not sure that even Ms. Pfieffer's Cat-Woman could get that part of me to regret feeling this.

I rage just about every second I am awake.  It wears you out.

So while I will never, ever, ever give in to this part of me, I am not sure I'll ever not feel it.

Oh, OK, if Cat-Woman asks.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What is my damage?

Writing is hard for me these days.

I don't know if it is Claren's fault (or how long I am allowed to blame my dead dog for things?).

It might be work, which us a little hectic at the moment.

I suppose summer's end is weighing on me, too.

Other issues, too, of course.

When I was waiting to see that GI doctor, I was reading FaceBook and learned a former colleague and friend's husband has colon cancer.

I admit I am a little worried about what they might find in their look from the top and the bottom.

And part of me would not want to take any steps to get better but would just want to quit, blow my retirement and die.

I seem to be coughing more, too, or at least am noticing it more. It happens at work mainly, so I suspect it is because I am eating and drinking while doing something else.  But still ...

Dang that Claren!

Monday, August 24, 2015

I go to the dentist

I went to the dentist Friday, and ever since I have tried to determine if my childhood dentist was the best dentist ever or a sadist of the Marathon Man variety.

I would generally opt for sadist, but he helped my brother through a sledding accident with his teeth, so ...

I grew curious because pretty much every dentist I have had since has kind of glided the pick over my teeth, maybe poking at key spots but nothing major.

Dentist #1 would roll up his sleeves and do his best to find a cavity. And it he found a tiny pit, he saw it as his duty to dig in it until it needed filling.

If he failed to widen it the first time, he also was not ashamed to try again, coming back to a tooth he regarded as questionable.

I guess it worked. I have had few cavities. But if not a sadist, a meanie.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The hard part

I was walking up rolling up the driveway the day we buried Gram with Mom's first cousin the priest. He was saying that now the hard part begins.

He meant that as the adrenaline of the funeral passed and well-wishers went home, the real world would intrude. We would no longer hear Gram asking for dessert ... but just a little piece or utter her little sayings -- I remember mon dieu seigneur.

That is where I am with Claren.

I am no longer saying good night to someone sleeping in my shower, no longer constantly run over and spill her water bowl, no longer tell an impatient someone I'll feed her in a minute.

It doesn't make me feel awful,  just a little sad, and I remind myself that any depressing thoughts are probably because Claren's gone.

PS: I know I sound a little one-trick ponyish lately. I'll get back to falls and jerky people soon.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Blue 2 the rescue

In that main photo of me and Claren a few days ago, you may have noticed stuffed animal Blue 2 adorning the back of the couch. Blue 2 was a gift from my nephew years ago. And he is again taking center stage.

Mom and I removed Claren's medicines from the shelf under the TV, but it left an empty spot. Blue 2, now wearing my CCI hat from the Inauguration, fits well.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Claren, my service dog and partner, died today -- it still hurts to breathe.

Let's be real, though, we were only partners like Batman and Robin are partners, Not the cool, kick-butt Robin either, but the one from the TV show who was a goofball at best.

I was definitely the dorky sidekick.

Claren is the one who danced with my friend at her wedding. She is the one strangers would stop and marvel at. Even today, one of the receptionists came out to the car crying and said how special Claren was and how everyone loved her.

But even much-loved dogs get old. Their bodies work less well. The allergy that they once ignored becomes overwhelming.

And such it was with Claren.

She was drinking a ton, her legs were weakening, and her skin allergies had become unbearable. She was one big sore.

So we made an appointment at the vet to end things. My vet was off today, but she came in anyway. Claren got a huge breakfast, topped off by a plate of whipped cream from my nephew and niece. Then my sister and I headed in.

The vet had a room set up with a table that raised and lowered all ready, so I didn't need to get out of my chair. Claren got right on, and they raised it to my level. The vet explained what would happen, and we all patted Claren. Some techs came in and put a catheter in. Then the vet came back, and when I was ready, gave her a sedative and then the final shot.

Claren hardly moved throughout.

It was the sedative that did me in, just seeing her eyes close and knowing they wouldn't again open.

And she died.

We sat for a while longer.

When life was hard for me, I'd go outside, get Claren to put her front feet on my lap, and press my head against hers. I imagined her taking the crap on herself and it made me feel better. I did that once more, then we left.

I can't overestimate how much Claren has meant to me. She helped me become more like the person I want to be, and I will always be indebted to Canine Companions for Independence for giving me this wonderful being.

But it doesn't stop with CCI. Someone took care of her Mom; Claren's puppy-raisers, Mary-Ann and Charlie, molded her into the loving dog I knew; the hundreds of people I met through CCI taught me so much about dogs and life; the cadre of walkers, water-getters, poop-picker-uppers and friends at USA TODAY gave their hearts freely; vets in Falls Church (Falls Church Animal Hospital), Herndon (Herndon-Reston Animal Hospital) and elsewhere treated her ailments; Dominion Pet Center (my first job!) kept me well-supplied; the folks at my new job welcomed her for the two years she was there; of course, my family helped so much; and it goes on and on.

Thank you.

I won't get into the theology of whether dogs go to heaven, but I know Claren is running, itchless finally, somewhere with her many friends, including Jack, Cleo, Sajen and Tanner, rolling in poop, diving into lakes and eating 73 meals a day.

I will get a successor dog, no doubt about that. But for now, I will be sad and miss my girl. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

GI Matty

I blame Dad.

As my kidney-stone issues keep improving, I turned my attention to a gastroenterology appointment. I have wanted to see a GI doc for a while to make sure stuff was OK. I had a note from my FA doctor and found  someone who sounded good.

I went in, hoping to weasel out of a colonoscopy.  I'm not 50 yet and the prep is so miserable for a wheelchair user, I thought my chances were good. Plus, stress.

Until she found out Dad had been diagnosed with colon cancer in June. It didn't matter that he is 78 or that surgery on him was successful.

"You definitely need a colonoscopy," she said. Not only that, but I need to start now, not 50, and have one ever five years because of my medical history, not every 10 as is normal.

On Oct. 7 I don't just have a colonoscopy either. I have an upper endoscopy. As Mom said, "They start at each end and meet in the middle." She is so funny.

Fair warning: If anything turns up in these tests, the bitterness in this blog so far will seem sweet as sugar.

And Dad probably isn't to blame.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sing out loud

My doctor thinks my voice has gotten more slurry over the past year. I was actually thinking the same thing recently.

We discussed whether speech therapy might be in order but decided the thing to do was exercise my vocal cords.

I am not sure how to get away with reading out loud here. But my doctor suggested singing in the shower, which might be weirder.

Monday, August 3, 2015

This is your life, Matty

I looked into the mirror this morning and thought, "This is my life."

I had taken a shower the night before, but through no fault of my own, my sheet and boxers had urine on them in the morning. A urinal leaked a bit, meaning I had to call my sister to help me before I got up.

So, the "This is my life" look was not a positive one.

But then I got to work.

The friendly maintenance man smiled broadly to see me. I got to my cubicle to find it festooned with Avengers streamers. A friend left a lovely card, too. Then I got another card from my department. Then the friend who gussied up my cubicle brought me brownies.

I decided "That is my life," too.

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