Harder to Kill: 2nd Quarter Already?

It’s true, you know. Time DOES go by faster when you’re old. Well, each day is a smaller percentage of the days you’ve lived, so if it feels that time is accelerating with the passing years, there’s good reason for that.

In my quest at self-improvement, i’ve tackled another round of resolutions and accountability. This year, focusing on becoming harder to kill, while preparing to die. After a reasonable start in the first quarter, including a micro-backslide, i’ve continued the quest.

Blogging? There’s so much i want need to write – a three part series in draft from another round of festivities in the Trailer Park, a postscript to last years ‘bridges’ that came at me out of the blue, new volunteer work that has changed my life, and wrenches in my plan to simply tumble toward retirement without working too hard… A visit from a blogmate reminded me that the connections developed over the past 8 years are deep and meaningful, and i’m a fool if i let these friendships slide into the superficial realm of “Facebook likes”.

But i’m living hard, taking care of what needs to be cared for, so for the moment, i’ll likely stay on blog hiatus until i have a chance to come up for a little more oxygen.

The TL:DR version – Still fat. Not dead. If you’ve got a short attention span, don’t bother to read the rest of this post…If you’re having trouble sleeping? Feel free to tough it out!

Harder to kill: My weight is mostly stable, down about 15 pounds for the year, with no additional significant loss this quarter. But i’m working out a lot and seeing muscles i had forgotten i had… Added some bicycling to the mix, as Studley and i are training for a 2 week European ride in the fall. i’ve finally realized that even if i’m not in optimal cycling shape when we start the tour, i will certainly be in decent shape at the end of the holiday. Probably one of the few vacations where i don’t gain weight, since we’ll be riding 30-50 miles each day.

Preparing to die: Minor progress in getting rid of things and getting organized. Continued conversations with my children regarding the future of my old doggie, who is doing pretty well considering he’s about 100 in dog years, with an over sized heart and debilitating arthritis.

Keeping him comfortable so that the kids can visit with him again when they’re home in July has taken a good deal of my energy. He’s got some gastric issues and i am spending more time than i’d like cleaning up his accidents. Continually thankful that i decided to put in vinyl plank flooring during the kitchen renovation last year, i’m in a constant state of angst, trying to get him out before he explodes with another canine Jackson Pollak piece. If he had thumbs? He’d do the same for me, so i soldier on with a case of paper towels and bleach…

i found a decent reference piece to help guide me. Assessing the HHHHHMM Quality of Life scale is a means to quantify quality of life for a pet… or i suppose any creature. Hurt, Hunger, Hygiene, Hydration, Happiness, Mobility and More good days than bad. i’ve not gone off the deep end charting these items, but i am increasingly mindful of them. It has also forced me to crawl inside his little doggie brain, and consider it from how HE is doing, not how I am doing…

For the moment? He’s wagging his tail, plays with toys, is eating and drinking, and can get around reasonably well on his own. Pain is managed through medication and massage (yes, i’m massaging those bony old hips… it seems to help).

The month ahead of me will be a blur – my daughter arrives soon, her husband to follow, and then a whirl of travels, and visits begins. We’re going to see The Boy for the long holiday weekend, and he will then come back to the roost for a few days before the end of the month. Throw in a west coast business trip for bonus miles. i’ve had to post a calendar to track all of the airline connections – not that i’m counting, but there are 32 flight segments for six people to manage in just about 30 days.

My exercise (and diet) are likely to suffer significant set backs for this month, but i’ve got August and September to get back on track before the next report at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Hope you all have been well – i’ll be out and about trying to catch up some as time permits. In the meantime? Onward!

 

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End of the Season

At the end of the season, our communal pool is opened up for a Doggie Splash Day.  Residents can bring their pups and they get to fart around in the pool before the final cleaning before closure for the winter months.

This has been one of Mr. Pickles favorite things – and this is a dog whose favorite thing is generally whatever he is doing at the moment.  Today was a storybook perfect early autumn day – blue sky, wispy clouds, and warm, dry air.

Because of other commitments, i took a few hours off work today to make sure he had a chance to enjoy it.  Arriving promptly at 4:00pm, he wasted no time jumping in to steal a toy from another dog, Morgan – an elderly Chesapeake Bay Retriever.  This has become something of an annual tradition.

Devil DogMr. P, having more heart than brains, threw himself into the water with reckless joy.  He’s not always cognizant of where the steps are, so this meant i had to throw myself into the water to guide him back to safety on a few occasions.

He played.  And he played some more.  Other residents – even those without dogs – were entertained by his spirit.  After about 40 minutes, he was getting tired, and i repeatedly had to shepherd him to the steps to rest, but he would have none of that.  i very nearly had to carry him home, because…. well…. DOGS!  WATER!  BALLS!

It was hard to leave, but i was worried about him.  He’d jump in, completely submerge, pop to the surface and snag the tennis ball – but he was starting to gasp to catch his breath.  There is a fine line.  He might push himself too far… But, he’s thirteen years old.  It’s entirely possible that he won’t be alive next year for the Doggie Splash Day.

As i was walking him home, i got a text from my niece, DQ.  Mom has been feeling pretty rotten this week, and has been mostly bedridden with fatigue.  Earlier this week, she told my brother-in-law “I’ve lived a good, long life.  It may be my time…”

When i talked to her last night, her mind was firing on all cylinders, and she was ready to give up.  Given her symptoms, i was pretty sure it was an infection of some sort, and encouraged her to let DQ get some blood work done… Maybe even go to the emergency room if necessary to get checked out.

The text message from DQ was to let me know that Mom has been admitted for pneumonia, which is generally treatable.  She’ll also have to have fluid drained from her lungs – the last time this happened was in early July.  It has come back just a few months later.  Untreated, it will kill her.

Another fine line.

Ultimately, it is Mom’s decision.  i am hopeful that 24 hours of antibiotics will have her feeling less miserable, and perhaps in a better position to sort out her chosen path forward.  i will support it, whatever she decides.

Fingers crossed that she still has some enjoyable days ahead, even if the longer term prognosis sucks.

Happy Pup

The Perfect Day

The dog was dying.  His owner decided to give his pet a perfect day.  i’d read this sweet story of how one man prepared for the loss of a beloved companion a few years ago.

Since then, i’ve given this some thought, and have planned to do something similar for my old pup, Mr. Pickles.  Rather than wait, i’ve thrown in elements of ‘perfect days’ for my dog as we go about the business of living – why give him just one?  Three weeks ago on a hot June day, Studley and i decided Mr. P needed to go out for ice cream…

He loved it…

Mr. P gets ice cream

Having a dinner of Mexican food and killer margaritas with my children, Studley, and his daughter, we discussed the elements of Mr. Pickles perfect day.  Discussing all the things he loves, we tried to lay out the things he most loves… Cheese.  Chasing a ball.  Chasing the cat*.  Naps.  Splashing in water.  Riding in the jeep.  Eating his own turds.**

i was interrupted during dinner by a call from my niece, DQ.  Mom had been admitted to the hospital earlier this week with fluid in her lungs.  Stepping out to take the call, i got some fairly grim news.  The lung cancer is probably back, and not treatable.  Mom was feeling rotten, also battling a staph infection in her blood.  We made plans to meet with a counselor from hospice.

Returning to the table, i kept the news to myself for a bit – not wanting to take a steaming shit on a really good time.  i filled my children in on the news from The Park when we got home.

The Boy:  Maybe it’s time to craft a Perfect Day for Granny…

daisyfae:  i’ve already done a bit of that… but yeah, we could do more!

In January, i brought Mom to visit when my sister, T and her partner came to town for a long weekend.  We spoiled Mom with attention, and food and entertainment.  Not to mention blessed quiet, which is in short supply in her current living arrangements.

Last May, i had her up for another fun-filled weekend!  Cooked steaks on the grill on a Friday night, then went to a local women’s league luncheon the next day, where she was showered with attention amidst a great deal of silliness.  Putting on two ridiculous Derby hats that i’d crafted, we went to a bourbon tasting – where she enjoyed a perfect mint julep.  Sunday morning, we brought her to the horse show, where she got to see her “baby” compete in the arena with all the other kids…

The prognosis for Mom isn’t great, but it seems the cancer is slow moving.  She’ll need more in-home skilled nursing care in the future.  But she’s not quite dead yet, and finding ways to give her elements of “The Perfect Day” is deeply embedded in my brain.

Derby Day

 * The Boy thought it would be most fun if we tape the cats back legs together, allowing Mr. Pickles a better chance to “play”.  Although Huey is a team player, i’m not sure i’ll go that far…

** Nope.  Not gonna happen.

Lessons of old dogs

“Do you think your pup needs to go outside?”

“Nah! i took him out a couple of hours ago! He’s just being a pest!”

Studley and i went on about our project du jour, while my ancient dog continued to try to join the game. He eventually wandered off to the living room and we went on with our adventures. Only to be interrupted a few minutes later by the unmistakable sound of a torrent of urine* being unloaded onto carpet.

Rushing toward intervention i got him hooked to his leash and opened the front door so he could take the remainder out into the bushes. We came back inside, and the poor fella looked rather forlorn, knowing he wasn’t supposed to paint the rug.

Giving him a pat on the head, i assured him that it was ok, as i set about mopping up the mess.

“It’s ok, Buddy! You tried to tell us! Nothing more you could have done!”

i got out the SpotBot to do some extraction.  Mr. Pickles sheepishly wagged his tail and looked a little less grim.

“You know, at his age?  There really isn’t anything he can do to piss me off…”

i stopped dead in my tracks.

“Why don’t i feel the same way about Mom?”

Turns out?  i do.

When i launched the blog back in 2008, one of my primary demons was my relationship with my mother.  i was angry and resentful at her for the way she treated my father.  i was frustrated by her history of ‘one bad damn decision after another’ – primarily in the arena of enabling my siblings to continue to make ‘one bad damn decision after another’.  i could not comprehend her bitterness with life, given that the last half with Dad had been far better than the first half – and she never seemed to demonstrate gratitude for the gifts around her.

But i’ve since realized that her relationship with my father was/is none of my business.  He understood and accepted her.  Who am i to weigh in on that?  Every decision she ever made regarding my siblings was made with love – she wanted to help.  She was born bitter, and will die bitter, and there’s nothing that can change that.  Her heart is generous, it just has a really thick crust on the outside.  She’s done the best she could with what she’s been given.

i can honestly say – “At 84 years old, there is nothing my Mother can do to piss me off.”

mr pickles sez

* My dog has a phenomenal capacity for piss. Through the years, he has developed the ability to hold onto it for many hours.  When he lets go? It’s Victoria Falls. In yellow…