It’s Been a Year Already!

•May 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Today marks the one year anniversary of Rosco’s paralysis.  I remember the day it happened as though it were yesterday.  In a matter of seconds, our lives would change drastically.  We have both adapted well to such a dramatic turn of events.  We have also learned a lot along the way.

Rosco has learned that when I put his harness on, we are going for a ride in the truck.  He has learned that I have to move my truck closer to the door and then I’ll come back and load him up.  He also watches to see if his wheelchair goes in the back of the truck.  That means we’re going for a walk or hike somewhere.  He has learned that when he flips himself over in his wheelchair (which doesn’t happen often) I’ll be there to help him up.  He has learned to upright his front half while I upright his back half.  He has learned that when I say, “I’ve got ya”, that I’m supporting him in some way so that we can proceed with whatever it is we are doing.  He has learned that when I count to three that we go on three, whether it’s jumping into the truck or crossing the street.

Rosco 20170311 3026_

I have learned more about dog anatomy than I ever thought I’d need to know.  I have to assist him with his bodily functions since he has no muscle control in his lower back and back legs.  I’ve learned about bladder infections and bowel infections.  I’ve learned to notice the smell of blood when a bowel infection begins.  I’ve learned to better read his cues when he lets me know he’s hungry or distressed or simply wanting to go sleep on mama’s bed.  I have learned to have much more patience than I’ve ever needed.  I’ve also learned that my dog now trusts me and depends on me more than ever.

Hiking isn’t as simple as it used to be.  Now I have to make sure the trails are wide enough and not rough enough to turn his wheelchair over.  We can’t simply cross streams or rocky terrain any more.  Whenever I plan a hike, I basically have to make sure it’s wheelchair accessible so I know Rosco can make it.

rosco-walk

We’ve been walking every day again.  We’re now up to two miles a day.  He loves walking in the neighborhood and the kids always come up to pet him and ask questions.  When we walk on the shared access trails around town, people have mixed reactions.  Some people look at Rosco as if he’s some freak and have actually made comments about how he’s disgusting when they see he wears a doggie diaper.  Others come up to pet him, ask what happened and say how lucky he is.  They are the ones who take a moment to meet him and remark about what a good dog he is and how he seems very happy.  I often think the former group of people probably respond to disabled people in much the same way they respond to Rosco.  Some people have told me I’m crazy or overly attached to do the things I do for him.

It has been a little bit of a rough year, learning all the things we had to learn; but we have both learned quite a bit.  We are both very happy and that’s what matters most.

 

Third Date

•May 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

He made it to the third date.  Surely this must be a good sign.  Most men don’t make it past the second date, if you can even call it a date.  Dates, for some reason, seem to consist of  a guy trying to get you to sleep with him nowadays.  Getting to know you isn’t high on the list of priorities any more….at least not with what I keep running into here.  But this time, the third date was coming up after work.

The last two weren’t very interesting so here’s to hoping things will improve.  The last two dates consisted of playing Yahtzee at his kitchen table and listening to him talk about himself–his accomplishments in his hometown, how he was a basketball star in high school, how he recently lost his mother and listening to him read the eulogy he wrote at her funeral, how much money he’s made, his higher-than-average IQ, etc.  I hoped for a more two-way conversation and attributed his chattiness as a bit of nervousness combined with feeling as though he had to impress me immeasurably.

We had a crazy snowstorm that day while I was at work.  The roads were a mess and there were accidents everywhere.  I called him to let him know that I was almost home as I had to tend to my dog before I came over.  I explained to him that the roads were horrible and it was pretty slow-going.  He said that was fine and to drive safely.  I told him I’d give him a ring when I was on my way so he’d know to watch for me.  I made it home and took care of the dog, tending to him and making his dinner.  I then called to say I was on my way.  He said he was patiently waiting for his “beautiful queen bee”.  I chuckled and said I’d see him soon.

When I arrived, the door was unlocked so I walked in as I normally did.  I had taken off my coat and set my purse down and began untying my shoes.  As I slipped off my shoes, he looked in my direction with a sneer and angrily spit the words, “You’re late.”  I was caught off guard with his reaction and calmly stated that he knew I was going to be late.  “I’ve never started a date this late EVER!!!”, he spat at me.  I then explained that I didn’t consider this a real date since we weren’t going anywhere and that the road conditions were out of my control.  I then calmly but simply said, “I can go home if you prefer” and picked up my coat while slipping back into my shoes.

His demeanor suddenly changed and he asked me to stay.  He apologized for being so short with me and then stated he had been waiting for me since 3:30 that afternoon.  I reminded him that I was at work and that he knew I didn’t get off work until 5:30.  He said he didn’t like being made to wait for hours.  I again, calmly, stated that I’d just go home and we could discuss this tomorrow.  He took my coat and set it on the chair and began to hug me, telling me he didn’t want me to leave and that we are going to start fresh.  Once again, we sat and played a couple games of Yahtzee and I was subjected to the occasional lecture on the importance of not keeping someone like him waiting because he could have made other plans with any number of women who would give anything to be in my place right now.

By now, I’ve had about all I can take.  I had originally planned to stay a little later; but at this point, I decided it was time to go home.  (He had also taken the time to explain to me that I’m not as pretty as the women he typically dates and that he typically dates women with “model” figures. )  After the second game ended, I announced that it was time I get home as I had to work in the morning and it was going to take longer than normal to get home due to the road conditions.  He seemed a little disappointed, but said he understood.  He kissed me good night and went to watch TV on the couch.  I detected a bit of anger, but wasn’t going to feed it.  I put on my shoes and coat and went home.

By the time I got to my house, he had tried calling several times and then began texting.  I didn’t bother reading his text until I got home where I could safely read them.  He accused me of treating him worse than he’d ever been treated and that he doesn’t put up with that.  He wished me good luck and said I wasn’t a nice person, accused me of having better offers and have a nice life.

His text infuriated me.  How dare he accuse me of treating him so poorly?  How dare he take the tone of voice he took with me earlier in the evening?  How DARE he!!!  I texted him back and told him that I have explained to him before that I have little to no time during the week because I work 10-hour days, have to tend to my dog (he’s paralyzed), prepare lunch for the next work day, lay out my clothes, try to grab dinner (if I have time), shower and get to bed by 9pm so I can get up at 4:30am to start all over again.  I told him I made an effort to make time for him and that the road conditions were beyond my control and that if THAT made me a bad person in his eyes, then I’m sorry for him.  I wished him luck and said that I know he has far better choices than me, since he has made it a point to remind me of that “fact”.  I told him I’m sorry that he feels the way he does but I accept it and wished him well.  He texted me back to re-iterate what he had said and I refused to answer.  I shut the ringer off and went to bed.

When I awoke, he had texted during the night saying he wanted to talk tomorrow because he didn’t want things to end the way they did and that he missed me.  I didn’t answer.  He continued to text and call every day for at least two weeks.  The last text I received from him stated that “once again” I wasn’t answering his calls.  It made me laugh because I hadn’t answered a phone call since the night he went Sybil on me.  I texted him back to inform him that he drinks too much which makes him volatile and that I don’t need volatile people in my life nor do I wish to have a relationship with that type of person.  I told him I didn’t appreciate that he expected me to date him exclusively while he did what/whoever he wanted.  I told him that he was a classic example an abuser and I wasn’t interested in that type of relationship either.  I ended it with, “I deserve MUCH better than that.”  He asked me to call him.  I didn’t respond.

He has tried to call a few times since only to find that I will not ever answer.  I thought I might have to change my number; but the calls have stopped.  I’m sure he’s found himself a new victim to terrorize.  That’s what he needs: a victim.  I’m a survivor and survivors have a whole different mindset.

 

Friday Night Adventure

•April 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

My biggest hobby is photography.  I love to shoot the northern lights but also shoot landscapes and wildlife.  Last Friday, the northern lights were going to be very active.  The predicted light show was going to be amazing, and I wasn’t about to miss out!  I had taken the week off work since it was my birthday so I was rested and ready.

I loaded up my camera bag, made sure my batteries were charged, fueled up my truck, gathered my many layers of clothing in case the weather got colder (or windier) than expected, and off I went for a night full of excitement.  I get pretty excited when the lights are very active.  One might say I’m like a child because I’m always in awe when watching the lights and taking pictures.

I decided that this would be a good night to go out to the nature center to take my photos.  I like to find different spots so I can have a variety of foregrounds.  It’s also quite dark there – something that’s a basic necessity to avoid light pollution from the city lights.  As I drove the road leading to the nature center, I realized it had been a number of years since I had been there.  The road was now wider and there were nice large turnouts to park in.  I found one near the river and decided to park there.

I surveyed the area and chose the perfect spot in my turnout.  The river was about 30 feet away from me.  Beyond the river were the mountains reached toward the sky.  This would be a beautiful foreground for a picture.  The northern lights would cut across the night sky just over the mountains and reflect off the river.  “Perfect,” I thought to myself as I backed my truck up.  I like to park my truck in such a way that headlights from oncoming traffic won’t interfere with my picture-taking process.  It also helps hide that I’m a small woman out in the dark alone.  Even though I am armed, I prefer not to invite possible trouble.

I set up my camera and tripod and took a couple of test shots to make sure my exposure and settings were just right.  It was now time to wait for the show.  As I was waiting, I leaned up against my truck to watch the sky and listen to the sounds of the night.  The stars were bright and beautiful.  Without the city lights, you could see millions of them.  I could hear the river gurgling away even though it was still partly covered by ice.  The owls were hooting in the distance.  I remember thinking how peaceful and beautiful the night is.  I decided to light a cigarette and relaxed against the truck again, taking it all in.

I heard a “kerploop” in the river.  “What the heck is that?” I thought to myself.  I decided it must have been a chunk of ice falling into the water and went back to losing myself in the beauty and stillness…….and then I heard it again, and again, again, and realized it was moving past the back of my truck.  Listening to it, I could tell it wasn’t a moose moving through the water.  There wasn’t enough splash to the “kerploop” noise I was hearing.

I always carry a small flashlight on me so I can see the back of my camera to adjust settings if need be.  I decided to flash it toward the river.  The light was too weak and the darkness too thick for it to do me any good.  About that time, I heard the river traveler leave the river and go into the brush and trees to my left, still about only 40 feet away from me.  Quiet……whatever I heard was now just in the brush and trees, no longer moving.  I opened the door of my truck and picked up my large flashlight and shined it in the direction of the brush.  Still, I couldn’t see anything but brush and trees.  Then I heard a stirring over there.  Whatever it was wasn’t walking.  It seemed like maybe it was looking at my light.  I strained to see but nothing still.

Then I heard it.  That wuffing sound.  It’s a warning sound.  From a bear.  Knowing that a bear can clear 40 feet faster than I could get into my truck, I heeded the warning.  I grabbed my camera, tripod and all, shoved it in the front seat of my truck, and climbed in right over it.  I wasn’t going to chance shutting the door and walking around to the driver’s side.  I pulled the door shut behind me and stood in a contortionist position so I was able to shorten the legs on the tripod and climb over to the driver’s seat.

Good thing I have a healthy heart because I could feel it pounding so hard that I was sure it was going to jump right out of my chest.  I decided now would be a good time to vacate the area and find a new spot, hoping the lights wouldn’t come out before I settled again.  I ended up driving an hour north and found a turnout near another river.  There are bears in this area as well, but they tend to be on the wooded side of the road and are normally up higher.  This river was below me and is much wider so the chances of a bear coming up the bank would be slim to none.  Knik River Lights 20170419 3338_

It ended up being a good thing, that bear running me out of the first spot.  The lights were low on the horizon that night and the mountains would have most likely blocked most of my view.  I still got a few good shots and was much more relaxed there!

Knik River Lights 20170419 3254_

Cheers to living in Alaska and all the excitement that goes with it!

Hiatus is Over

•April 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It seems like the older I get, the faster time seems to fly.  I kept meaning to sit down and write something and kept saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”  Problem is, you keep saying that and “tomorrow” never comes.

I’m turning 50 this year.  Part of me dreads that I’m going to be that old.  Part of me says I should be thankful I’ve made it this far.  Part of me says there’s no way I can be 50 because I don’t feel like it.  People tell me I don’t look 50 so I’d like to believe I don’t look my age; however, I look in the mirror and think I look old or have days where I feel much older.  Everyone wants to make a big deal about it being the big five-O; but I’d rather just let it slide by without notice.  I took the week off work so I could sort of “vanish” around my birthday.  I’ll probably spend it alone with my dog out in the middle of nowhere taking pictures of whatever I can find.

Now that I’m basically halfway through life, I can’t help but wonder just how much time I have left.  I’ve had thoughts where I wonder just what my purpose in life is, aside from taking care of my paralyzed dog and working all the time.  I can’t seem to find a decent man who is worth putting forth the effort for a relationship so I’ve given up on that all together.  I’ve been on my own from the age of 17 and figure if I haven’t found anyone in that amount of time, then I probably never will.  So I choose to enjoy my life by myself even if it means little bouts of slight depression here and there.  Being alone all the time does tend to get to a person.

One thing I have learned about myself is I am now at that age where I have no problem deciding who I don’t want around me or in my life.  At one time, I would be more concerned about someone thinking I was mean if I didn’t remain friends, keep in touch, or put up with drama that they were dropping on my doorstep.  Now, if I don’t want to be friends with someone, I just don’t remain friends with that person.  I choose to keep in touch with those whom I consider close friends or family.  And, as for the drama, I have no problem sending someone packing now–bring me drama, watch me walk away and not look back.

Over all, I’m basically happy with my life as it is.  I still think it would be nice to have someone with whom to share things; however, I’m not going to wait around for him.  I’m going to enjoy my life to the best of my ability and do the things I want to do.  I’m concentrating a lot on my photography and the photography classes for which I’ve signed up.  I spend a lot of time with my dog as he’s older now, and I suspect the paralysis will probably shorten his lifespan.  I decided we’re going to make the best of what time we have left.

I’m going to make more of an effort to blog more consistently.  I’ve set a goal to try to write something at least once a week – no matter the subject.  So look out world……..here I come!

 

 

My Best Bud

•October 30, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This has definitely been a rough summer for me and my fur baby.  Rosco will be 8 in January and has always been healthy, full of energy, and a wonderful companion.  I can honestly say he is the smartest and best-tempered dog I’ve ever had.  He’s a lab/Great Dane mix and seems to have the best traits of both breeds.

In May, he was stricken with FCE.   A piece of cartilage broke off in his spine and lodged in the spinal column, rendering him paralyzed from about the waist down.  He has no use of his back legs, and is incontinent.  Initially, we were both in a state of confusion:  he was trying to understand why he couldn’t walk and I was trying to learn how to care for him and keep him healthy.  It has taken several months, but we have both adjusted and learned new routines.

People of varying opinions because of the work involved in caring for him.  I often hear people say how lucky he is to have me or how they could never do it (or wouldn’t).  He’s not in any pain and once he adjusted, his personality began to show through again.  He has a wheelchair so we can go walking.  Hiking is a little more difficult because I have to make sure trails are wide enough to accommodate him.  My living room is decorated with doggie beds so he can lie down in different areas since he often likes to lie near me.  One dog bed serves as our “changing mat”–he will actually lie on it and whimper when he can feel he has to potty.  (He can feel it coming but can’t control it so I have to help him.)

When we are out and about in his wheel chair, most people will stop to ask what happened to him and ask to pet him.  Of course, he’s Mr. Social Butterfly and is always open to getting pats and hugs and kisses.  Kids are often fascinated by him as are most adults.  I’ve also had people look at him with disgust.  I imagine they do the same thing to people in wheelchairs.  I know he’s “just a dog” to some, but I still find that offensive.

While some things have changed, many things haven’t.  He still goes along for the ride when I run errands.  He comes with me when I take road trips or chase the aurora.  He’s my best friend; and as long as he’s not in any pain, we are still going to enjoy this life together.  He will always be my sweet baby boy.rosco-walk

Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away

•August 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I find it rather amusing when someone (namely a boyfriend) gets all bent out of shape when you call them on their shit.  You catch him at his game, call him on it, and you’re the bad guy or mean or bitchy.  It gets even more amusing when they try to make you out to be something you aren’t.

I called someone out on some stupid childish BS that he pulled.  Ever since, he’s made me out to be the bad one in this ordeal.  Yes, I was po’d when I called him out.  He asked for it though.  I had been lied to and misled for months.  I had point-blank asked about certain things and he flat out lied to me.  If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s a liar.  When I discover I’ve been lied to, I can become the most sharp-tongued, cold-hearted bitch you’ll ever know–and I won’t care.  I even warn a potential partner about this.  I don’t want it to be a surprise.

I won’t accuse you of a lie.  I’ll wait til you tell enough that you hang yourself with your own noose.  Once hung, I’ll watch you swing in that noose while I fire off every little lie you told.  If that makes me a bad person, then so be it.  I really couldn’t care less.  Once I’m over that short spell of anger, I’m done with the liar.  Forever.

I’ve been called unforgiving for that particular trait.  I’m not unforgiving by any means.  I just don’t allow myself to be a doormat and fed a constant load of crap.  I’m one of the kindest people a person could know until that person crosses me.  Once I’ve been crossed, that person no longer exists in my world.  Simple as that.  Hatred, bitterness, meanness….these things will eat a person alive from the inside out.  They cause stress and wear a person down.

By putting that person out of my world, those stressors are eliminated.  I can see that person on the street and look right through them.  I won’t acknowledge their existence.  It drives them crazy.  It amuses me even more when people come back and tell me things that person has been saying even after a significant amount of time passes.  I just smile and say, “Well, he dumped me for what he thought was better.  Funny how he’s still looking for that something better.  I’m quite content in my life and don’t feel the need to find someone.”  And I honestly don’t.  If I allow someone into my life, it’s because I want them there, not need them.  And if I choose to disallow them into my life, it’s because they didn’t deserve to be there in the first place.

So to the guy who continues to think of me, I’d like to say thanks for thinking of me so much.  I hadn’t thought of you once until someone brought you up.  Funny how that works.

Goodbye to a Friend

•March 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I got word a couple of days ago that a good friend of mine committed suicide.  We’ve been friends for probably close to 11 or 12 years.  When we first met, we used to go out with a group of friends to go dancing.  Neither one of us drank more than a drink or two so we tended to hang out together.  We used to call ourselves a “token couple” because we would save each other from advances made by the opposite sex.  We’ve always laughed about that.

This is hard for me to deal with because I don’t exactly know how to feel.  Of course, I’m sad.  I’ll miss my friend.  My heart breaks knowing that he felt there was no other answer.  Knowing how he died breaks my heart even more.  Part of me is angry because of this choice.  I feel some anger toward the things and people that I’m sure he felt pushed him toward that decision.  I feel anger toward a system who let yet another of our vets down.  Then there is the anger I feel toward him for not feeling he could talk to me.

I feel compassionate toward him because I do know of the demons he was fighting.  It was something we had talked about a number of times.  At one point, I spent the majority of a week in the hospital at his bedside while he fought one of those demons-an addiction that would eventually overtake him.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to help a friend through.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t help him much more than that.  He had to want help in order to win this battle.  His stint in the hospital wasn’t due to wanting help; but rather needing help due to some of the physical ailments caused by his addiction.

He made a plea for help at one point; but the system did little for him.  He was admitted for probably a one-night stay and let go.  I personally feel, at that point, he should have been kept longer, been given treatment for his physical and mental issues.  But that didn’t happen.  It was just a matter of time before he was successful.  You want to step in and force them to get help; but you can’t make a person do something they don’t want to do or don’t feel they need to do.  Treatment is also expensive and hospitals and treatment centers don’t help much if you don’t have enough insurance or money.

I wish I had known you were so close to your breaking point.  I wish you had felt you could talk to me and that maybe I could have helped.  There’s nothing that can be said or done to bring you back.  You can’t hear the words I’d say to you right now.  I only hope you are finally at peace, my friend.  You will be missed.