Days Like This

Having a hard day? Do you ever find yourself in a slump?  Mama said there’d be days like this…

No one certain thing can explain the feeling.  Looking around it seems, life is good.  “I have so much to be thankful for.”  And yet, it was one of those days.

Saturday I woke up to the vivid recollection of a terrible dream.  Bordered on a nightmare.  As I sat at the kitchen table that morning, I told my husband, “last night I dreamed that Gracie died”.  My eyes filled with tears, as they are as I type this now.  Of all the dogs we’ve loved and lost, it was the first time I’ve dreamed such.  It was a sweet comfort, upon my waking, when she snuggled up to me that morning, kisses, and tail wagging to my hugging her around the neck.

Sometimes you can’t shake a dream. This one stuck with me.  Knowing the day would come when we’d have to say goodbye.  If you are a dog lover, life with them is never long enough.  And, often once the good-byes come, the next thought is “I can’t possibly go through this again.  It hurts too bad.”  And before you know it, you find yourself welcoming another into your heart.  The love outweighs the loss. 

This is the lamp. (He is obviously rearranging blankets when photo was taken.)

When Jacob’s Mamaw passed away in 2020, we brought some of her belongings into our home.  One was a lamp and I found a perfect spot for it in our living area. It reflected her personality and made me smile thinking about it being on her end table for many years.   The only problem was, the new place was in a space that Jacob passed by daily, and more than once, I saw him sliding the lamp or moving the table it was on.  His dad mentioned that I needed to find a new spot for the lamp.  That one day, it would get broken.  I knew it could happen but there wasn’t another spot that seemed just right.  I took a chance to enjoy it as long as I had it. 

It was always baffling to walk in and discover that Jacob had moved the table.  Sometimes a good 12 inches. It wasn’t all that large, it WAS heavy.  My dad made the one-of-a-kind tabletop.  He secured it to something that, if I remember right, was used at service stations in the tire changing/repair business.  HEAVY metal.  For some reason, Jacob enjoyed moving it.  Maybe testing his muscle strength. 

It was Sunday afternoon and I was engrossed in a book and heard Jacob playing in the den.  I had looked at him on the monitor and watched him chilling on the loveseat with his MP3 player at full volume.  Not a minute later, I heard a crash.  Jumped up to discover this:

My heart sank.  I didn’t yell. I didn’t fuss.  I got both dogs out of the room.  I took his loud MP3 player and calmly walked back to Jacob’s bedroom telling him to follow me.  He did.  Without a word about it, he knew I was upset.

My eyes filled with tears.  The day had come that Mike warned me about.  It was beyond repair.  I grabbed the broom, dustpan, and vacuum cleaner.  Slowly cleaned up the broken pieces. While I still had the memory, the lamp of Mrs. P’s would go in the garbage.  I enjoyed it until its unfortunate end.  Scolding Jacob would not have done one thing to help the situation. 

My mood was going downhill fast.  “This is why we can’t have nice things.  Jacob destroys them.”  “This is why we need leather furniture so spills can be wiped up easily.”  “This is why any carpet we have needs to be the color of dirt.”  blah, blah, blah

Days like this hit us all, I know this to be true.  The next day I was in the mood to rearrange, hoping to have Jacob’s approval of a new spot for the table.  One he wouldn’t be tempted to test his strength.  He walked through the room and studied the change.  For now, he seems to accept it.  I did quietly tell him that I was sad that he pushed the lamp off and to please try harder not to break things. 

I love this table made by my dad’s hands. It has nicks and is more distressed than it was years ago. It is a treasure and makes me appreciate the gift of memories and making new ones. 

A couple of days before the dream about Gracie, I had a dream about my dad. It was the first one that I’d had since he relocated to heaven. We were in a room that looked like rehab. He appeared to be doing great. He was telling me and my sister to remember something and she assured him we would, because she was recording it. Upon waking, I had no idea what I was supposed to remember. The memory was fleeting and I wondered and wondered what daddy was saying.

It could have been something like this: there will be good days and there will be hard days, always remember, God cares for you.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7

I hope you know the truth of God’s care.

Doctor, Doctor

Jacob’s sore toe needed medical attention. It’s not the first time we’ve been through this but it had been years.  I started ‘treating’ it with a prescription ointment that didn’t help.  Then switched to an over-the-counter, again, to no results.

I had noticed some redness around the nail and then a couple of days later, he was bruised and had a cut. Obviously had dropped something on his toe. That is one of the hard parts, not knowing what happened. But knowing enough to know it hurt. After several days, I realized, we needed his doctor to take a look.

Going to the doctor with Jacob is always a hassle.  It. Just. Is.  His long-time family physician is accommodating, kind, and does all the right things.  But, Jacob would rather not be there.   Fortunately for us, depending on the case, there have been times where a reply to a simple portal question we submitted was sufficient. 

Covid has brought some changes that have sure helped us.  One of those, that we took advantage of recently, was a video appointment. 

None of, getting Jacob ready and into the van.  Then convincing him to sit in his wheelchair to go into waiting area.  Standing on the scale for his weight is always hit or miss.  Taking blood pressure works sometimes.  It required both of us to be present which makes for a crowded exam room when it is the three of us and his doctor, plus sometimes the nurse and/or a resident shadowing. 

Instead of going through all of the above, Mike got a text when it was time to connect.  We Facetimed with Jacob’s doctor and he got a good look at Jacob’s toe.  He made a diagnosis and gave us instructions along with a prescription med to start. 

1) Daily, soak Jacob’s foot in a bucket of Epsom salt water for at least 10 minutes a day.  I smiled as the doctor was saying that because I knew there was about a 0% chance of accomplishing that simple task.  So we went with the nice soak in bathtub approach instead.

Then this happened:  I was running water in the tub and calling Jacob to come get in.  Our male golden heard the water running and hurried to the bathroom to join the party.  Before I could stop him, Lucas stepped right over into the Epsom salt bath.  Yes. He. Did.  Silly boy.  He didn’t want to get out but finally did with clean paws. 

You would have thought it was torture for Jacob to soak in the tub. Rather than relax and enjoy – some soaks he would just stand the entire time. Fine with us, mission accomplished with the toe. Other times, he’d decide to sit and enjoy. We’d have a timer to be sure we got at least ten minutes in. One evening, I texted his dad, ‘thirty minutes in tub and still chilling’. By then, he probably was as the water sure wasn’t warm anymore!

2) Continue to apply over-the-counter ointment I had already started.  Cover with band-aid.  Jacob wasn’t going to leave a band-aid on so we could either try to keep socks on him (which was unlikely) or take a chance that ointment would get on things around the house.  We took that chance and reapplied frequently.

I had to work fast to get medicine on the toe.  He would willingly put his foot in my lap but as soon as I’d move toward the toe, he would jerk it away.  Over and over and over.  I know he was afraid of pain. 

And, 3) Start on a 7-day round of an antibiotic.  A capsule big enough for a horse.  Jacob cannot swallow a capsule.  So, I emptied the contents into a spoonful of applesauce.  First dose, he took it pretty well with his regular cup of apple juice washing it down.  Second dose, he remembered how unpleasant the first one was so he ran from me.  And tried hiding in the pantry. I switched to sprinkling in a small amount of juice.  Cooperated but not well and worse the next time. 

Then it dawned on me that he LOVES chocolate milk but we do not have it often.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Trip to the store and we were good to go!  Next dose came in the form of antibiotic sprinkled on applesauce with the promise of chocolate milk and it was the winning combination.  We completed the medication with total compliance! 

After 7 days, there was definite improvement. 

So thankful for technology and a willing physician that made this much, much easier for us. 

And for chocolate milk.