In the space of one week, both my dog & I have had surgery on our right knees. Hers - a TPLO for a torn ligament - is much more serious than mine - an arthroscopy for a torn meniscus. Chloe's procedure involved a long incision, a controlled fracture, a metal implant, & multilayer sets of stitches. Mine was a stitch-free three-hole Cousteau affair, using the microscopic 2015 equivalent of la suçeuse to extract the offending bit of gristle with minimum fuss. Now, I'm mostly comfortable, while Chloe is racked with pain, anxiety and desire to bite the fuck out of her knee. Here's this morning:
Chloe went to town last night, destroying stitches & staples, despite Cone of Negotiated Non-Licking. Mid-night terror, new 3AM hospitalization, whole new set of stitches, new Very Large Array version of the Cone. It is hard being a dog. It is hard loving a dog. She is resting & I am finding my way to my feet like an old new colt.
And here are two extremely helpful things my friends Larissa and Annie posted back:
Sorry your pup is wearing her Hell Toupee!
It IS so hard loving a dog, or anyone who is suffering.....
So, yes: Chloe IS wearing her Hell Toupee. We have gone through three rounds of bigger and bigger Toupees, because everything we have tried has failed. At this point, her headgear is picking up messages from outside the Solar System, which she translates into high-pitched whines and growly snores, to the intergalactic enlightenment of no one.
Yes: it IS hard loving anyone who is suffering - basically everyone, including myself. I don't have any children: no right-path-treading children, no heroin-addicted children, no children in jail, no children in medical school. But I DO have this furry being in my life taking on the role of Child Understudy, and right now, loving her is hard. A few days ago, after the first trip to the emergency hospital, when new staples had gone into Chloe's leg to replace the first round of stitches, and we were feeling pretty giddy with relief, we took a joyride up and down the streets around our neighborhood. Chloe stuck her head out the window in Toupee 2.0 , tongue flippy-flapping, and I dubbed our ride the March of Folly Victory Tour. Right on cue, a lady in a white minivan just pretty much stopped right there in front of us at an intersection, and quit driving. The little boy biking nearby executed some loopy maneuver of his own. I realized we were all in this together, flailing and winging it.
Today is more like the March of Folly Survivors' Hall. My mother & husband are dead-beat from their expedition to the hospital in the middle of the night (I stayed home, crutchily). My husband's back is killing him from hefting Chloe like St Christopher and the Good Shepherd rolled into one. My mother's hip hurts. Chloe is zonked from her new pain-killers and the trauma of re-opening the wound in her leg & having it re-sewn. I, helpfully, am adding stir-craziness, reflexive mother-daughter dynamics, and post-surgical paranoia (is it supposed to feel like this?) to the mix.
Last night, I could feel a moment when I honestly wanted to lose it, but I found I couldn't, which was interesting. I was gearing up for a big old self-pity, dog-pity cry-stravaganza, but what came out instead was blessing chants and the Fire Sermon. I heard my friend Sid's voice asking what's the benefit? - and since I couldn't actually see the benefit of wailing, the March of Folly Victory Soundtrack arose instead.
I don't know how this resolves. Chloe's nuts right now, weaker physically and even more maddened by the new-new Toupee than she ever was by the previous ones. Did we do the right thing, following numerous vets' recommendations and getting her an expensive & complicated surgery, in the belief that she would suffer less as a result? Who knows? It's not within our control. We'll keep taking wobbly steps in the direction of what seems good & true & beautiful, and there will be blood and pee along the way, but we'll be in this together.
Pray for us, and we'll pray for you.
108 Names of Now