The boot is off! I am a free woman. Oh what to do, what to do? Now I can do all the things that I have put off for nine weeks. Now I can go get a pedicure, go shoe shopping, do all those mundane glorious chores that I haven’t done for the last nine weeks. I can get back to hiking, working in the yard and walking the dogs among all of the other things on my to do list. Right now even vacuuming sounds fun, sick huh?

After a two hour surgery, five screws and a plate, thirty-six stitches with bones moved and removed and nine weeks of recovery, I am finally completely healed. My doctor said I did awesome on the healing and recovery. He asked if I brought a shoe and I pulled out a pair of three inch strappy sandals and said that I was planning on wearing them home. He looked at me like I was nuts, and I said that it was a joke, that I had brought many pairs to try on. We settled on the mate to the one I already had on

What I couldn’t believe was how weak my leg is and how tender the bottom of my foot is. I went to stand up and my left leg almost collapsed from the weight and pressure. My foot is still a bit swollen and my toes sort of jut upwards, but the doctor has assured me that they will lie down as I walk more. Toes pointing towards the ceiling, cute huh? I have been walking around in a walking boot for seven weeks and thought that shedding the boot and going back to shoes would be a piece of cake. Not so, this is going take bit of time getting back to a hundred percent. I guess this means I’m not running in a marathon next week.

Poor Frankenboot, what should I do with him? Maybe we’ll have a giant bonfire and burn Frank in effigy, Viking style or have him bronzed like parents used to do to baby’s first shoe. Or on a more practical note, maybe I should save him for future use. At the rate I’m going, I’m pretty sure I will probably break something in the future that would require a walking cast. I could even sell it on EBay and maybe get ten dollars for a slightly used black neoprene walking boot.

You have no idea how excited I am to be mobile again. I feel like I’m coming out of a kind of suspended state where most of my life has been on hold and in reality I guess it has, I’ve spent most of my energy healing. Now I’m ready to get back to full steam ahead, even if I have to take it a little slower than I originally planned.

The Long Weekend

If I survive the weekend, it will be a miracle.  Friday started off with great promise.  I had an appointment to get my stitches out, woo hoo!  That meant a real shower in my future.  One that doesn’t have my foot and lower leg triple bagged to stay dry.  A shower that I could luxuriate in letting hot water wash over me with a wonderfully scented shower gel that I could lather up all over.  Ah, heaven.

But no, that is not in my future, not for another week.  My doctor unwrapped my foot, poked at my toes and wiggled them around to show me that everything is healing nicely even though my foot was very swollen.  After the sharp intakes of air and scrunching my face into grotesque masks of pain, the doctor left to get some contraption he said would help bring down the swelling.  Mitch told me how proud he was of me.  I asked him what he meant and he said he was surprised I didn’t start swearing.  I said that it was close, but I controlled myself.  I didn’t want the doctor to run fleeing the room in fear for his life.

He came back in with a compression squeezer that I have no intention of putting on because it was terribly painful when he slipped it on and dragged it past my stitches.  The doctor then pulled at two of my stitches and explained that though the incision was not gaping, it was not healed enough to remove the rest of the stitches.  Did I mention how much it hurt to have the two stitches removed?  Anyway after all of the manipulation, foot squeezing and stitch pulling, I was ready to go home and lay down for a while.  Plus I was so bummed out that I didn’t get my stitches out.

After resting for a while, I got up to get something unimportant, lost my balance and fell backwards hitting the back of my skull on my nightstand.  God that hurt so bad.  Crying and grabbing the back of my head to feel for blood, luckily I didn’t split my skull open but there was a huge lump already.  I dragged myself over to where I could reach my cellphone and called Mitch who was walking the dogs, because I wasn’t sure how bad it was and I was scared.  It was this awful stabbing pain that felt like a thousand needles in the back of my head.  All I could think of was that I had fractured my skull.  Mitch rushed back, helped me off the floor and put me back in bed.  He examined my head and got ice packs to help bring down the large knot at the base of my skull.  I think I scared him as much as I scared me.  No blurred vision, no nausea and my pupils worked so we decided not to go to the emergency room.  Just rest and watch me.  Sorry not this time Aflac.

Saturday I woke up, surprise I didn’t die in my sleep.  I’m really glad for that.  We went to the grocery store, my first outing since other than work and the doctor’s office I’ve been pretty house bound.  The day was pleasant, clear skies and mild, Mitch was going to mow and weed eat the yard.  This is my job because when Mitch mows or weed eats, he mows and weed eats everything growing.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  It’s in the way, so it has to go.  In order for that to not happen, Mitch set me up in a chair on the porch and with blue flags he walked around the yard pointing at various plants waiting for a mow or no mow sign from me.  If I gave the no mow sign he planted a blue flag next to it.  The grass was terribly tall, so mowing would take a while.

The dogs and I decided to go back in the house while Mitch slaved away.  I opened the kitchen door let the dogs in and started in myself.  I hopped in got the left crutch planted when the door closed on the right crutch throwing me off balance.  I started to fall forward and accidentally put weight on my left foot.  As soon as I realized what I was doing I lifted my foot which caused me to fall forward to my knees.  There is no way I could stand up from that position so I had to drag myself to the bathroom and pulled myself up on the toilet.  I am so graceful.

Please just let survive this weekend.

My Poor Charlie

Poor Charlie, he’s having a bit of a struggle getting used to this total disruption into his world.  Most dogs prefer a routine.  They like a schedule, getting fed at a certain time every day, taking their walks at the same time daily and knowing that you’ll be there for loves are their whole world.  Charlie is the poster dog for routineness.  So these latest events, my surgery, Mitch walking the dogs alone in the evenings and our close friend walking them in the mornings and not at the usual 4:30am pre-surgery routine has thrown Charlie for a real loop.

He’s become clingier, staying very close to me or if I’m not in bed, laying in my spot.  He has started growling at all of us.  Charlie has always been a bit psychotic, but now he’s going round the bend.  He was lying in his bed by the bedroom door when Orso walked in from the living room.  Charlie growled at Orso and wouldn’t let him in the bedroom.  Orso sat in the living room looking very pathetic waiting for me to get out of bed and crutch over to the doorway, blocking Charlie so that he could come into the bedroom.

Last night I came into the bedroom to find Charlie lying in my spot all cozy and had no intention of moving.  I told him to go and nudged him, he responded by growling at me.  I looked down at him and thought, “Are you kidding me?  Not me! Huh uh!”  So I told him “off” in no uncertain terms and gave him another nudge, to which Charlie responded by getting up, giving me a deep open throated growl, jumped off the bed and when to sit in his dog bed looking very unrepentant.  I’m pretty sure that he was thinking, “How dare she make me move.  I was there first.”  I think he was plotting to eat me in the night while I slept.

Charlie doesn’t handle change well and this is clearly apparent with his behavior.  When we brought Orso home for the first time Charlie wanted to kill him and tried a few times.  That took hiring an animal behaviorist to get back to a harmonious house.  I’m not sure how to fix this new wrinkle.  I’m at a total loss.

Short of tranquilizers, for him not me, I am not sure what to do.

A Love Story

How do you write a love story without loss and tears?  I don’t know of any love story ever told where there is no loss, no tears.  This one is no different.

When I first looked into his soft brown eyes, I fell in love.  I felt an over whelming urge to stroke his head and keep him safe from all manner of threats.  I first met AJ, our black lab, on a hunting trip ten years ago, when I began a quest to find a hunting partner for our aging yellow lab, Buddy.

AJ was 2 years old at the time and afraid of just about everything that didn’t pertain to hunting.  He was and still is the most beautiful dog in the field I’ve ever seen.  He moved with grace and speed in search of the elusive scent of a pheasant.  He was truly alive and in his element in the field.  When he locked on the bird he would go on point and hold the bird until we could get set for the shot.  We didn’t deserve such a magnificent hunting dog.

We soon learned that when not in the field, AJ was terrified of most everything else.  He didn’t know how to go up or down stairs had never been inside and had no idea how to walk on tile or wood floors.  Mitch had to carry him down the steps the day we brought him home and I had to run a path of throw rugs and towels through the house in order to get him to go to the kitchen.  AJ suffered from severe separation anxiety to the point of mass destruction throughout the house when left alone.  Storms and fireworks would send him into a panic.  He would tremble and shake violently; the only relief would come from touch.  As long as he could touch me, he would find some comfort and sense of protection.

Looking in those soft hooded brown eyes, I always saw total trust and devotion.  AJ became my constant companion, looking to me before listening to anyone else, Mitch included.  Mitch constantly complained that he was chopped liver when I was around. 

AJ seemed ageless until this year.  He had an eternal youth about him, ready for a wrestling match or a game of tag with Orso and Charlie.  This year at twelve years he started feeling his age.  First it was his eyes, his peripheral vision starting to fail.  He struggled with dark rooms and doorways.  Going from the bright light of outside or another room to the dimmer room became a challenge.  Depth perception was the next to go.  AJ would linger at doorways not sure if the floor was really there.   He started becoming tired quickly not able to stand for very long, preferring to lay down on something soft. 

The heartbreaking next stage of aging came rather suddenly with his sudden refusal to eat his usual diet of Science Diet dog food and carrots for snacks.  When he first starting to refuse carrots, I thought maybe the carrots were too hard, maybe he had a broken tooth.  But a quick inspection of his mouth revealed perfect teeth.  I even soaked his food longer to soften it more, but he just turned away and refused the food.  This from a dog that we had to put a rock in his dish in order to slow down the hoover vacuum force food inhalation.  He even turned away from pumpkin.  Now I was getting really worried.  I have never known a Labrador retriever to turn away from food.  Especially our dogs.

I was able to deal with the eyesight problems and I could rationalize the tired bones.  My brain understood that AJ was growing old and had lived a wonderfully long life, but my heart was breaking watching the rapid physical deterioration.  Not knowing how it would turn out, we took AJ with us on our hunting trip last weekend.  He seemed like the AJ I’ve always known doing what he was bred for, most alive in the field searching for the ever elusive scent of the bird.

Once we got back from the trip he became shakier in his stride and refused almost all food, even hamburger.  We took him to the vet for tests, hoping for the best and trying to prepare for the worst, but you never do.  The test results and X-rays showed a massive tumor the size of a football in his abdomen pressing against his ribs.  Considering the surgery was high risk with a very slim chance that the vet could even get it out and his age, we made the decision to have him put to sleep.  My head knows that this was for the best but my heart is broken, knowing that I will never know the absolute love and devotion from a dog ever again. 

AJ was special and has gone to a special place that only the great dogs can go to.