Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 9

Peanut had abdominal x-rays today and there are no tumors or masses on his kidneys or liver. His liver is enlarged, but that can be a side-effect of his kidney disease, some over compensation on behalf of his liver working overtime. If he was a person he would be on dialysis immediately, but that's not something they do for dogs. It's a Freudian thing, but when I mean to type "dogs" I always type "gods" by mistake! That will tell you how highly I think of our canine companions...especially my Peanut Butter. His middle name is Butter - it's on his medical records and everything.

I am so exhausted. It's been back and forth to the vet at least twice a day since Monday and now that most of the diagnostic work is completed, I feel like I can exhale. I bet I sleep like a rock tonight. I prayed so hard for there not to be any tumors on his internal organs...big thanks to God for that being the case. I believe in prayer. And that faith without works is dead. To me, that means that I can have all the faith I want, but unless I do the footwork of what I can do, my faith isn't worth a hill of beans. I do what I can and leave the rest to God. I struggle so hard with that sometimes because I want to yank back that control and do it MY way damn it, most of the time. Well, some of the time.

Since I've been feeling so low emotionally lately, my faith has fizzled. It's not gone by any stretch of the imagination, but I used to pray twice a day, every day. Today was the first time I've prayed in at least 2 weeks. I feel like I'm the walker in that parable, "Footprints in the Sand." I feel like I'm walking alone when I know God is carrying me...but I don't feel like I'm in anyone's arms right now. I feel alone.

I saw my MD today and he's not up for switching my anti-depressant right now. He thinks I need some serious therapy time and I don't have a lot of faith in my current therapist. I am out of mental health benefits for the remainder of this calendar year so I've been seeing an intern (student.) And there are a lot of great interns out there, I know because I plan on being one in about a year, but this chick and I just don't mesh. I feel like I have to come up with things to say. There's no direction at all from her and I need someone way more involved. Don't get me wrong: I can talk about myself all day, but when I start to go into past issues or situations, she wants me to talk about what's going on here and now. I don't have a problem with that either, but she's too stuck to the theory of DBT and not everything fits into that one bag of tricks. I'm not going to go into describing the theory of DBT because I wrote a 7 page paper on it recently for my Theories class and I'm kind of sick of it. I should get that posted somewhere on my blog. I need to look into how to do that because I have some poetry that I want to post as well. Anyway, I have an appointment with this therapist intern tomorrow. My MD sent her a note today giving her some direction on what to work on with me and one of them is marital counseling with my husband (which neither of us have any issue with.) I know she doesn't do couples therapy so I'm hoping to get a referral out. If not, I need to be honest with her and let her know it's just not working. We don't even fill an entire 50 minute session because SHE WON'T SAY ANYTHING. I'm glad I got that out. :-)

So I plan on watching the two episodes of The Simpson's "Treehouse of Horror" V and VI tonight from 6-7pm. Then I plan on having some pleasant dreams for once. Right after I pray.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 8

Not too much has been going on today, which is actually a nice change of pace.

Peanut's got to have some x-rays tomorrow of his abdomen and they're going to teach me how to administer the sub-q fluids myself which I have no problem with. I just stick the needle in the back of neck and let it drip at full bore. It's in the same spot where they give him his shots. I'm just praying that there's no masses or tumors on the films tomorrow. Ugh.

Class went well tonight. We actually got out an hour early due to illness - there were supposed to be three presentations by students and only two groups actually presented. The third group had someone out sick so they will have to present on the last night of class which is only two weeks away. I got a perfect score on my autobiography. That's the odd thing about counseling programs, before they ready us to counsel others, they make us expose all of our secrets so we're aware of them. There's no point going to see a counselor if the counselor is more in need of therapy than the client.

I made some excellent meatballs from scratch for dinner tonight which my husband really liked. I also scrubbed the bathroom raw. Man, how can two individuals create such a mess? It's just the two of us and that bathroom was gross. And it's not like I don't clean it regularly, but this was super-duper-extra cleaning in preparation for Thanksgiving when my mother will be here. Who knew a bathroom could get so dusty?? I had to use Windex on the tops of candles I have in there for decoration. I'm coming to think that decoration of any kind in the bathroom is just a waste because everything gets so dusty!

I have an unexpected hour of free time tonight and if you do too...


Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 7

Peanut's appointment at the vet this morning didn't go terribly, but the news isn't exactly uplifting either. His kidneys are failing pretty severely. His Creatinine is 3.3 and normal limits are .5-1.8, his BUN is 103 and normal limits are 7-27, and his Alk Phos is 873 and normal limits are 23-212. The first two are kidney functions and the last one is a general liver function. They wanted to put him on doggy-ibuprofen and medicine for doggy-Alzheimer's but not with his kidneys and liver in such bad shape. His thyroid has been out of whack for a couple of years and he's been on doggy-Synthroid since, and the thyroid test results will be back tomorrow. If that's abnormal that may explain the liver function being high, but I doubt it. His thyroid's been pretty well controlled with the doggy-Synthroid. I think his liver is just aging. I think (actually, I know) that he is aging and it breaks my heart to watch. It will be 14 years this weekend before Thanksgiving that I brought him home as a baby 10 week old puppy. He was so funny on the ride up to Appleton from Milwaukee: he sat all curled up in the backseat of my Nissan Sentra, minding his own business, not really sure what to think of me yet. Then on the way back to Milwaukee on Sunday he crawled from the backseat onto my lap and made himself to home, and that was that. He literally crawled his way into my heart and has been there solidly for 14 years. Some people don't understand my devotion to Peanut, but in my mind he's the only child I'll ever have. If he were a human he would have started 9th grade this fall: that puts it into perspective for a lot of people instead of saying, "Well, he's 14 years old." The vet is confident we're talking about a matter of weeks or months in terms of his quality of life and his life expectancy. She gave me some signs to look for including him not being interested in his food, vomiting, and pulling away from the family. Somehow I always thought that I'd know...I'd just intrinsically know when it was time...that he'd look into my eyes and would say to me, "Mommas, it's time." That hasn't happened yet, but now I have to be on the look-out and ever vigilant for those signs. I still think he'll tell me in his own way. Until then, I'll just love him the best that I can.

If there's a dog in your life...


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 6

A Packers win is always a good thing! And on top of that, a Vikings loss is even better!! I'm trying to get Mark to teach me how the announcers know when a defense is "showing the blitz" and he sort of mumbled something about "the receiver in motion...if they let him go...there's gonna be a blitz," and I said, "That's it?!?" and that was pretty much the end of the conversation. Honest to God, I don't think he really knows. He says there are a lot of ways to tell and that it's complicated, but I have my doubts. He also said that when the entire defense is on the line of scrimmage it's going to be a blitz - well, duh, I could have told him that! The entire defense is always lined up on the line of scrimmage...aren't they? We haven't been to a Packers game since the preseason game against the Buffalo Bills and I would like to go to at least one more home game this season. This doesn't take into account the Packers/Steelers game we are attending on December 20 in Pittsburgh. I'm a little scared of going to that game to tell you the truth. I've heard not-so-kind things about Steelers fans. I don't want to get hurt just for wearing my HUGE Packers parka and floppy green and gold knit hat, man. Just let me out alive and I'll be happy. Last October (2008) we went to the Packers/Seahawks game in Seattle and I got harassed while in line for a soda. And the Packers won! Some drunk guy slapped my shoulder and started talking crap about the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. Hasselbeck was hurt at this time and I asked him, "Who's your next quarterback after this loser?" and he didn't take it very well. Well, actually he did because he left me alone after that. My shoulder hurt for the rest of the weekend though.

I don't like going to Packers game in the dead of winter. Call me a wussy, I don't care. I have no desire to sit on a metal bench with my feet on solid concrete, in the snow, when the ambient temperature is negative 4 degrees. My husband and I went to the Packers/Lions game last season in December and honest to God the temperature at kick off was 4 degrees above zero. We stayed for the entire game, but that was the only time I'd have happily walked out of the stadium at half time. We won, the Lions had an 0-16 season and we all knew that outcome at half time.

And to make today's victory even sweeter the Vik-queens lost! Gotta love those Favre interceptions we had to deal with for 16 seasons! The whole "Brett Favre playing for the Vikings" thing made me sick at the beginning of the season. But, after today's loss, my hunch is he will complain this week that he's hurt or sore and won't be there for practices. Then, with hope, the adrenaline of next week's game will wear off quickly and he'll stink up the place. It's going to take many years of actual retirement (when one no longer works in his/her given field in case he's not familiar with that term) before the sting of this move will deaden in Packer Country and the team will be able to retire his number with a nice ceremony and loving fan-fare. And that is due him, don't get me wrong. We would have been in dire straits without him in the '90s and for most of this decade, but a move to a divisional rival is just too much to take. And then he didn't want to partake in preseason practice so he signs on at the last possible minute. Not cool, not professional, not worthy of the legacy player he is. The Packers and their fans will move on, we already have for the most part, but he has to live with himself and if he can skate around protocol and still look at himself in the mirror at the end of a day...well, let's just say that's a skill most of us lack.

There's a lot of football left this season! Let's grill some brats, have some potato salad and...


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 5

I just started reading the cover story of November's issue of O Magazine and I'm really liking it. It's about becoming the person you were meant to be. That's a heavy question, but it doesn't really have to be. We've been talking about this a lot in my Career Counseling & Development class and this idea that each of our lives has an intrinsic meaning, bestowed upon us by a power greater than ourselves or from something deep within us, is very Logotherapy, Viktor Frankl, based. Frankl is one of the great theorists of psychotherapy and if you ever want to read an inspirational story, I highly recommend his "Man's Search for Meaning" which chronicles his life in a German World War II concentration camp and how he finds his meaning through suffering...that there is meaning in suffering. That's an idea I've latched onto lately, given the current mental health crap I'm working through.

So one of the writers in this issues says, when trying to direct people to finding their authentic selves, "You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren't. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don't think yourself into becoming yourself." Truer words were never spoken...or written, rather. I may not know who exactly I want to be, but I for damn sure have some ideas of who I don't want to be. I don't want to have a job where I have to lie. I lie a lot at work: to owners, customers, suppliers, whomever is asking a question of me that I have been instructed not to honestly answer. Ever work in customer service? Then you've lied too. It's sort of a game because the people I talk to know I'm going to lie to them and they laugh it off as an answer they expected to hear. We all know the rules and for the most part we all follow them; it's called "being polite." Maybe that's it? I'm sick of being polite? Not in the "if you don't have anything good to say, keep your mouth shut," sense (I'm actually a big believer in that phrase), but in ALL the phoniness. I'm sick of having to talk to people I don't like. I'm not just talking about the people on the phone at work, but some of the people I work with, people I know socially, people I don't spend a lot of time with and don't know well. Why all the fakeness? Is that what gets passed along as "polite society"? I can't answer that question because part of me thinks it does. If I go through a fast-food drive through I always say back to the employee that hands me my bag of saturated fat, "You too," when he/she says to me, "Have a nice day!" I don't think that's phony; they wished me a pleasantry and I respond in kind: that's the type of person I want to be and, I guess, am becoming if I'm already saying it. I'm so looking forward to graduating from graduate school because when I'm a mental health counselor it would be unethical for me to lie at work, at least with clients. The truth doesn't have to be brutal and problem-solving doesn't have to be painful and I believe that we carry our own answers around inside of us, sometimes we just need assistance in pulling them out into the open. That's honesty, that's not phony.

On a completely different topic, things are getting better here on my home front. As I said in an earlier post, we seem to be better together on the weekends, when my husband doesn't have to deal with work. We argued a bit this afternoon about who is to blame for wrapping this blanket of misery around our house; he thinking it was entirely me and me thinking he has a large part in it too. Logically I think we both know we both play a role, but blame is so much easier, isn't it? So we sort of got over that without any resolution, and now we can at least acknowledge the fact that we're not really happy as a couple at the moment. We can move on from here. This is just one moment, not my entire life...but sometimes moments can be very very long, can't they? We'll talk more tonight or tomorrow, that's our way. We've become accustomed to these patterns in each other, knowing in the end it will all come out and to some resolution. It always has before and will this time too. If there's one thing I have complete confidence in it's our love and our relationship. It's not always glamorous or perfect or even easy, but it's real and something that we are both committed to. I love him entirely and he loves me completely, so we're a good match that way.

It's Saturday evening and it's time for me to watch my favorite TV program, "As Time Goes By" on PBS. Have an authentic evening.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 4

I had a great lunch today with an old friend I've known for over 20 years and a friend of hers from their work. It's was great to be laughing again, especially because the weather is so lousy today. The high was 45 degrees and it rained. At least it didn't snow - it did about 45 minutes north of here and it's sticking. This fall has just been horrible - it has rained on over 1/2 of the days in October and we were over 60 degrees just once I believe. What kind of fall was that? September was unusually warm and it's just been downhill since then. And November is the cloudiest month in WI, closely followed by February. I'm not looking forward to it. Although my mom wants to go shopping for some winter boots and snowpants for our trip to Pittsburgh in December so maybe I should take her up on that sooner rather than later.

Peanut's health is steadily declining. I shouldn't say it's his health: he doesn't seem to be in any pain, however he sleeps the majority of the day and will only eat his canned food and won't eat his hard dry kibble. It doesn't sound that appetizing to me either as I write that. And it doesn't really smell all that great either, so I don't blame him on that one. My husband keeps talking about his quality of life and I am well aware that it is the biggest factor in all of this. I called the vet today and set up an appointment for Monday morning just for them to take a look-see and run some blood work. I want to see how his kidney functions are doing because he's been drinking an insane amount of water this past week too and he's currently got some small issues there. His BUN was elevated at his annual physical in September but his Creatinine was fine and the Creat. is the more concerning of the two. My 9 years in human healthcare has proven to be very valuable when dealing with the health of my four-legged babies. Or, BWTs as I like to call them: Babies With Tails. The vet tech that I spoke with was incredibly reassuring. He's not on any pain meds right now and she said that is certainly an option. I'm a big believer in the therapeutic value of analgesics, trust me. I was very teary - ok, I was balling - this morning, but she helped put some things in persective. So on Monday's appointment I'm not anticipating good news, but I'm not thinking it's going to be over and done with right at that moment either. My guess is we'll now be moving into hospice stage and I'm alright with that. He's been alive for 14 years and 2 months...I was hoping to get through the holidays because it will be 14 years on the weekend before Thanksgiving that I brought him home with me from that farm in a very small WI town and I fell immediately in love with him, and he with me. I've been his mommas ever since. In human years he's 98 years old and that's a frickin' full life man, you can't argue that. And he's had a good life: he has loved and been loved and that's the litmus test for me. Ooh, I'm getting a little teary again. :-)

I'm going to have a smoke. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 3

I just got home from class and almost forgot to log in today...but I have my reader to consider so I will make an entry today. Yes, you read that correctly: I said "reader."

My first class of the semester ended tonight and I'm currently pulling a 94 so I'm feeling very confident about the whole thing. I turned in my final project and I think the instructor felt a personal connection to it, so I'm sure I'll do well. It's nice to be that confident because in my on-line Career Counseling & Development class I have no friggin' idea where I stand grade wise. I've turned in 2 assignments that haven't been graded yet and that drives me a little crazy. If I have to have it done on a certain date, the least I would expect is a quick turn-around on the grading process. That's all I ask, really.

Oprah had a good show today. Although some vegan chef made some creamed soup that looked a lot like toddler vomit if you ask me. The whole group dance thing with Black Eyed Peas was pretty cool though.

My husband is being a total and complete dick. I can't put it in any other words. He comes home from work in a lousy mood and sulks until I leave for class. Now that one of my classes is completed, we'll be staring at the TV in the same room 6 nights out of the week instead of the usual 5. It's been this way for so long, I wonder where we start. It's so stupid because when he wants sex, then he'll come home in a chipper mood and actually talk to me. It's not abusive in any way, but this sort of smacks of my previous marriage and that scares me because that was abusive and horrible and ugly. I thought about writing him a note tonight because we often do that for each other since he leaves for work at 5am, but I don't want to lay all of this on him right before he goes to work at a job he hates for 8 hours. I tend to express myself better in writing though, so maybe I'll write the note while he's at work tomorrow and give it to him when he gets home. I know he's got a late meeting tomorrow and will come home in a particularly glum mood. I love him and I know he loves me...we just don't like each other a whole lot sometimes. Isn't that the way with most relationships? All except for the relationship I have with Peanut. The best part of his day is whatever part I spend with him and that's amazing.

Get some sleep. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 2

My computer was out of commission yesterday and I feel completely out of touch and somehow "behind" in the world. How dependent am I on technology? It fills my free-time because yesterday I actually did the dishes out of sheer boredom. Then of course there's the school work that I'm a day behind on.

I'm taking an on-line class for the first time ever. It's Career Counseling & Development which doesn't interest me a whole lot in terms of my future career, but I understand that there's a lot of career development questions on the National Counselor's Exam and it's a required course for graduation. One of the requirements for the on-line class is that I log in and comment on other students' posts at least 3 times a week which is odd to me since I've never met any of these people face-to-face. I feel like a voyeur a lot of the time...but that's the whole idea of Facebook and blogging, isn't it?

Maybe it was due to the lack of access to technology yesterday, but regardless, my anxiety was out of control. It felt like my hair was on fire. I didn't actually have enough energy to start cleaning the basement, but my mind was spinning for a good hour. Once I latch on to a thought, I can't let it go. I know there are skills from various therapeutic theories that I could practice, but when my world is turning off its axis I can't seem to pull myself out of that in order to do a Thought Record, though challenge, or whatever other skill I could be practicing. I guess that's really where the rubber meets the road in terms of deciding what I want to do: Do I want to watch myself go crazy or do I want to stop it and try something else? Obviously today is a better day because yesterday, in the midst of the storm, I couldn't see any options. It feels incredibly restricting and feels like I don't have any options. Then I have a better day like today and I feel frustrated for not making a better choice yesterday! It's a never ending circle of helplessness and despair.

But today's a better day. Enjoy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today's the first day!

Hello -

I've been thinking about starting a blog for awhile now. I'm in graduate school, married, struggling with a few medical issues, and trying to figure out the meaning of life. Well, not the actual meaning, but I'm trying to prioritize what I want to be doing right now and what I need to be doing right now. I'm off of work on short term disability and really don't want to go back. That's not entirely my choice; my MD has a bigger say than I do. I'm dealing with chronic depression: I'm not suicidal or anything, but it just seems that no matter what I do, I feel "gray." Nothing really has any color anymore and hasn't for some time. I've been off of work since 07-28-09 and was doing better in August when I was going to a local hospital for daily outpatient therapy and skill building, etc. It's a great program but now that I've got all of this unstructured time, I'm slipping. I was getting up at 8am to be at the hospital by 9:30am and today I got up at 9:30am. I'm compliant with all of my medications and get tasks done around the house (including all of the homework I have to complete) but I don't feel any "umph." Sometimes I feel that if I just slipped away no one would notice. Of course I know my family and friends would notice - not to mention my dog Peanut whom I adore and who adores me right back. (Check out his photo on my blog site.) PMS doesn't help matters any. I would kill for a good referral for a hysterectomy. I don't have any kids and have never wanted any so take my uterus please!! My husband doesn't believe me when I tell him any OBGYN worth his/her reputation won't take out perfectly good organs; he thinks because we have insurance and this is what I want, the doctor should do it. He's naive that way.

So today is installment one. Since I have the time, I might as well put my thoughts down in cyber space for all of humankind to read.