Canlis book celebration 2013 6As of Sunday, I am 29 years old. This is it. The last year of my twenties. Starting Monday, every day will be an opportunity to put a cap on an action-packed decade that, among other things, held the following events for me:

  • I got married.
  • I bought a house.
  • I got a dog (whom we still miss every day).
  • I had two babies.
  • I wrote six novels.
  • I curated and edited a cancer memoir for a friend.
  • I visited four countries.
  • I realized one of my huge life goals in getting published for the first time.
  • I gained and lost over one hundred pounds.
  • I shook Anne Rice’s hand.
  • RL Stine told me I turned out okay.
  • Paid off two student loans.
  • Graduated college with honors.

All this, and I’ve still got one more whole year to go out and do stuff with. The twenties were a great decade for me. I mean, not universally. There was the year where Wes and I both lost our jobs within a week of each other. We had to give up our beloved dog for medical adoption when his medical expenses got to be too much. I lost my dad in my twenties, a heartbreaking loss just a few months before my son was born. I’ve survived two surgeries, found out my knees aren’t terribly reliable, and gotten plenty of writing rejection this decade. It was, like every other decade, full of things from both sides of the emotional spectrum.

And yet, it was great. It was the decade that lasted forever, it feels like. As of next year, I’ll have been married for 1/3 of my life. Wes and I have crammed a whole lot of living into that decade, and I’m optimistic we’ll do the same for the next. And the one after that, and the one after that.

So here’s to 29. The bright red cherry on top of the huge, intricate, tasty, and probably fattening sundae that was my twenties.

Fond Farewell to a Friend

Wait!  Before you grab the tissues, let me just preface this post by saying that we did not have to put down Doc Holliday this weekend.  That said, he’s still gone.

When Wes decided we were ready to give Doc up, he investigated a whole herd of dog rescue groups in the area, leaving messages and hoping someone would call him back and offer to fix Doc up and find him a new home.  No one did.

Doc continued to deteriorate, and we made the grim decision to take him to the Humane Society to be euthanized.  Just as a precaution, I called them first to make sure they would actually assist us with this as he was neither extremely old nor extremely ill.

They surprised the pants off me by saying they were willing to take responsibility for Doc, get him the surgeries he needs, and then find him a new home.  When I told this news to Wes, I could visibly see a weight taken off his shoulders.  This was the best possible scenario, and it was staring us in the face.

We made an appointment, and we’ll be dropping him off this afternoon to start his road to recovery.  The conditions of the Humane Society taking him stipulate that he goes to a different home after the surgery, but we’re honestly fine with that.  He’ll likely need more vet care in the future and we’re not in a position to pay for that for him.

So that’s where we’re at.  I’m standing at the precipice of my second big goodbye of the year, but this one is entirely different.  It’ll definitely be strange coming home to a dog-less house, but this is the end of our journey with Doc.

We watched him run…

Doc 6 Months 3

We watched him grow…

Doc Holliday 7 Weeks 4

And now it’s time to watch him go…

Puppy ShenanigansWe’ll miss him a lot.

The Good With the Difficult

Strange days here at Casa de Mitchell.  We have so many wonderful things coming up that we’re looking forward to, namely:

  • Our 4th wedding anniversary is this Thursday!  We’re celebrating by going to a Seahawks game on Sunday and then going to see Avatar later in the week.
  • Christmas break!  My job gives us two weeks off for Christmas!  Do you have ANY idea how many naps I can take in a two week period?  Glorious.
  • Christmas!  We LOVE Christmas.  We love singing the songs, we love the decorations, we love hanging out with family, and for the first time in two years we can actually afford to give gifts to each other.  Yay Christmas!
  • Ultrasound!  We have our final ultrasound the Monday after Christmas.  The last time we saw Squishy, I was 20 weeks along and by the time we see him next I’ll be 32 weeks along.  We’re SO excited to take a peek at our vibrant little boy.
  • Baby shower!  My very pretty and talented friend is throwing me a baby shower in early January.  We’ve invited a whole bunch of really neat people and I can’t wait to see every single one of them.
  • Baby!  We’re getting close now.  Very close.

As you can see, Wes and I extremely blessed.  Our life is full, rich, and exciting.  That’s not to say, however, that it’s without difficulty.  We have some challenges coming up.

Wes will be starting his job search in January.  He finished school and has been studying like a mad man to get his certifications so that he’ll be more hireable.  He’s got a huge test coming up next week and it’s the biggest hurdle he’s had to jump over so far.

His friend from school has taken it twice already and still has yet to pass it.  To say Wes is taking this test seriously is an understatement.  When he passes it, we’ll be celebrating with dinner and a movie.

With this certification on his resume, he’ll be able to start searching for a job as a software developer.  Not that there’s any pressure for him to find a job, what with our baby being due in ten weeks.

Can we all take a minute to cheer for Wes from the sidelines as he toils in studying, attempting the impossible by finding a good job in a recession?

We have also made the difficult decision to put down our beloved puppy extraordinaire, Doc Holliday.  His appointment is this Saturday.

Fret not, Wes made this decision, not me.  Doc is just ready.  He’s given us the signs we need to feel comfortable that he’s ready to go and so we’ll shower him with love, attention, and treats this last week and then we’ll load him up in the car and take him to his last appointment.

It sucks.  It’s something difficult that’s looming over our heads.  We know he’s ready and that it’s time, but that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier.

That’s all for now from Casa de Mitchell.  We have so much to look forward to, but to get to some of those things we just need to keep pushing forward even when it’s difficult.  But that’s life, isn’t it?  We’ll take the good things, do our best with the difficult, and in the end as long as we end up with our little baby and maybe some eggnog I reckon we’ll be just fine.

Focalized Numbness

This sounds really dumb but I really freaking wish tough decisions weren’t so freaking tough.  Wes and I spent all weekend discussing what to do with our beloved Doc Holliday and are no closer to a decision today than we were last week when I wrote about it.

You all wrote in with some lovely comments about how he’ll let us know when he’s ready to go, and how I shouldn’t make any big decisions while insane pregnant.  All valid points, but that doesn’t make the situation any more bearable.

He’s still the same old Doc, but he’s shown us twice in the last two weeks how this injury is different.  He’s re-injured his leg twice and each time sets him right back to where he started, obliterating any and all progress he may have made toward healing.

Wes and I are handling the situation as best we can, though in diametrically opposite ways.  Doc’s injuries seem to draw Wes closer to the dog, giving him a desire to spend time with Doc.  My heart, however, bruised and battered as it is, seems to have shut itself off from the dog.  Kind of like an emotional circuit breaker has been thrown and my brain has taken my mind out of the running.

It’s un-nerving.  I feel a vague numbness toward the dog now.  When he falls, where my heart used to wrench painfully I can no longer feel anything.  I still feed him, and I’ll pet him if he asks me to, and continue to fulfill all my pet owner responsibilities, but my heart has decided it’s had enough.

It leaves Wes and I in a curious place.  He knows all about this of course, and while he doesn’t understand it he doesn’t think I’m a horrible person because of it.  We all have our breaking points, and I suppose losing my Dad while pregnant and then watching my dog slowly fall to pieces is mine.

Everyone handles the breaking point differently.  When I used to feel the numbness as a teenager, my reaction was often to cut myself or partake in something similarly self-destructive (I had a particular affinity for cigarettes).  Now, I see it for what it is and I know it won’t last (meaning no cutting or cigarettes or anything self-destructive).

It’s a focalized numbness.  I grow more in love with my son every day, and my love for Wes continues to burn bright and steady like a lighthouse.  It’s just my feelings toward the dog, this dog who has brought us laughter and light and heartbreak and gigantic vet bills, those have changed.

We still don’t know what we’re going to do about him.  Wes has given himself a self-imposed deadline of one week to make a decision.  In all likelihood we’ll wind up keeping him around until he outlives us all, and I’ll just have to break out all the nifty tools I picked up in therapy to cope with my emotions.

I’m just tired.  Very, very tired.  Tired, and heart-sore, and weary of crying about my dog.

(St)wrung Out

I’ve kind of dropped off the grid the last couple days.  Sorry about that, it’s not really typical for me to skip posting two days in a row (unless I’m traveling or it’s the weekend).  We’ve just been dealing with some stuff over here at Casa de Mitchell and there’s not been much left in me to type out.

Doc hurt his leg (y’know, the bad one) getting into the bathtub for bath time on Sunday.  This is not atypical, jumping into the tub has always been a strain on his legs and hips.

He followed up the mild injury by taking a bad fall while trying to make it up the stairs.  This compounded the problem, changed it from a limp to a disability.

We kept him in his crate all day Monday and yesterday, letting him out for stretches, water, and bathroom breaks, but he struggles.  A lot.  The wood floors are challenging for him, and he’s so scared of slipping on them that he just stands in fear and refuses to walk on them.

His other back leg is in no great shape either, and the strain of supporting the weight of his back end on its own leads it to shake and tremble before betraying him and making him fall.

Wes and I spent half an hour trying to coax Doc out of his crate last night.  We wanted to take him out to the bathroom one more time before bed, but he wouldn’t stand up for us.  We tried enticing him out of his crate with treats and peanut butter but he wouldn’t.  He was more scared of falling than he was desirous of peanut butter.

We finally had to dismantle his crate around him so that Wes could lift him out from above and help him make it outside.  We’re keeping him out in his kennel now because the floor there is concrete and not slippery at all.

This whole episode has really thrown me off my game.  It tears me to pieces to see him struggling like this.  It’s not like this all the time, which is why we haven’t put him down yet, but knowing that this kind of injury is always just a bad run up the stairs away, well, quite honestly it makes me not want to do this anymore.

I’m not sure whether this makes me a bad person, or a bad pet owner.  Is it wrong to say I’m tired of watching my dog struggle?

Wes says Doc’s quality of life is normally very good, that he still plays with his toys and eats and gets affection.  I can’t quite see it that way.  When I look at Doc, I see a dog who loves being with his people but who otherwise has nothing else to look forward to in life.

I see a dog whose opportunities to run, play with other dogs, fetch, and swim were taken away by a freak leg injury that happened when he was less than a year old.  Yeah, he’s still happy to be around us but that’s the only thing in life he’s able to enjoy anymore.  The best it gets for him would barely even register for other dogs.

Especially coming off watching my Dad’s health decline, hating the cancer for every pleasure it took away from him until the only thing he could do that brought him enjoyment was use the computer and watch TV, I just feel spent.  Doc got injured right around when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, so their health declines have thus far been eerily matched.

I really do wonder if it makes me a bad person for not wanting to do this anymore with my dog.  My heart, still so tender and raw and pained, rebels at the prospect of watching Doc get marginally better again, better enough to hobble around anyway, only to know with sick certainty that his next injury is simply a matter of time.

Wes argues that until Doc doesn’t want to live anymore we should continue to keep him as safe as possible, and that we’ll know he no longer wants to live because he’ll grow lethargic, unwilling to play, and unwilling to eat.

I argue that there’s only so much I can take, and there’s only so long I can keep watching my dog struggle to do normal things.  Like stand up.

Does this make me a bad person?