a tale of the unexpected

For 10 days we did our thing, cleaning doggy eyes three times a day, with various levels of protest.

He stopped fighting with us, so we thought he must be getting some ease. But there was still a lot of junk. No sign of tear ducts being kick started.

I took advantage of his ease to snaek in extra hugs, and kisses on the top of his head.

I planned to give his stuff away, eventually. We considered what day would be best to do the deed.

I veered between denial and maudlin.

And we went back to the vet.

Against all the odds, wee Jake is much improved. The vet is delighted. I still had to check…

“No, no need to put him to sleep. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

Spurs Fan was driving, but I may as well have floated home. Phone calls, texts and FB updates nearly all before we reached the front door. Such excitement, delight and relief. Our ignorance didn’t kill him.

He lives to sniff another day.


image from http://offtheleashdogcartoons.com/



life saving duty

Jake was getting on and anti social when we got him, four years ago. He protected us from swimming pools and violence on TV, from passing strangers, and from Grandad. He guarded me against bookclub buddies, making sure that anyone who movedin their seat got a Very Hard Stare. He made it clear that approaching dogs would be eaten, and that he shouldn’t be let off his lead.

Now he’s properly old, and blind, and he doesn’t care about what’s happening on TV. Visitors can step over him without causing a stir. Bookclub buddies are ignored. Dance mates are warned about being inadvertently friendly. An unthinking pat can cause much aggravation, but Grandad may be permitted an odd pat. When he least expects it. Jake will approach and welcome displays of affection, but only when he feels like it.

And we’ve discovered that doggy health is more complex than we thought. He’s been drinking more and eating less. He’s either in a deep sleep or pacing about, as if there was a sausage somewhere he can’t find. We thought he’d probably need his insulin uptake boosted, so took him to the vet. Hmm, said Peter, bring him back in the morning for a blood test some hours after he’s eaten. Hmm, said Peter, I want a better look at his eyes. Hmm, said Peter, I may do a kidney function test.

We spent the evening reading about doggy renal failure.

We were not prepared.

Yes, we need to top up the insulin again. No, there’d not be a kidney function test just yet.

Instead “It wouldn’t be fair to keep him going like that. With his very bad eyes. They’re very painful. Never mind the diabetes, or the kidneys. The eyes are that bad.”

Whaty what what?

Jake has always had gunk about his eyes, which gets removed when he’s showered. The gunk got worse over the past few months. We noticed, but thought it was old age. We never considered that it could indictate something serious. Dry eye. No tears being produced to clean and lubricate his wee unseeing eyes. Now, scratched and painful eyes. “If I saw that dog out walking, with those eyes, I’d wonder about his vet.” And we, goofy people, had no idea. Our lovely grumpy pet is in so much pain that it would be better to put him to sleep, and we knew nothing about it.

So now, we’re in doggy ER mode. Superduper ointment in his eyes 3 times a day for 10 days to try to kickstart his tear ducts. I wonder if that’s even possible, or if Peter is giving us time to get used to the idea. Giving us something to do, however useless, to assuage our guilt. Giving us time to show our love to the boy by holding his muzzle tight shut, his paws tucked in, while we stick ointment in his sore eyes. (Yes, it’s a 2 person job.)

Giving us a chance to redeem ourselves. Giving us a chance to forgive ourselves.

because ‘coping’ is present tense

Life feels like pretending a lot of the time.

Pretending to be sociable.

Pretending to be capable.

Pretending to be healthy.

Everybody else is back at school and I’d hoped I’d be back in my volunteering routines, but it’s not happening for me. I have a long to do list again. I can’t get my head around making phone calls or talking to people I don’t know.

I went to a PSP support group this week only because Ditzy came to the door for me. I did the driving and it was a long enough day. There were giggles and gossip and hugs and sharing. Always exhausting. Always worthwhile.

The next day I left the house again, and I pretended. I had on a colourful top and red lipstick, and apparently that’s all it takes to seem switched on. I chatted about rare disease and advocacy and how people coming together makes a difference.

And I have been low and practically immobile ever since. I have been asleep or watching box sets (downloaded so no actual boxes involved anymore).

When I can’t do all that I want, I feel like I’m failing. That I’m letting people down. That I’m not contributing to any of the household activities. And then I feel bad, because I know better. I know I’m not failing, but feeling is a different thing. I cope better than I used to, but these days remind me of what I tell the medical students- that ‘coping’ is present tense. It’s present and active. I have to keep on doing it. My ability to do so varies.

Yesterday I read a fabulous essay by Melissa Broder, and much of it resonated. Not the open marriage bit (who’d have the energy?) but these words.

I don’t want to be defined by [his] illness. I don’t want people to ask me how he is doing when I see them. I pretend to people, especially to myself, that this isn’t hard. I don’t want pity. I want to be happy and have a good life. I don’t want to be sad. Or, I want to be sad about the things that I choose to be sad about. But I guess that is not how life works.

Sometimes I feel full of despair and cannot figure out why. Like I forget to equate the two things: the illness and the sadness. Then I wonder why I am sad. Then I get scared that my sadness is a free-floating sadness that will never go away. Sometimes I feel doomed.

And then I went back to watching Nashville and wondering when I’d fit in the world again.



what I know about make up- a short post

Before girls went away on their travels, Bookclub buddies wondered why I wasn’t going with them to Poland. Was I falling behind in my duties? Not, you understand, my mummy duties. My shopping duties. Think of the opportunities I’d be missing. (I’d rather be on the beach). Kileen, ever wise, said ‘I bet Poznan has a Sephora‘. Oh. I hadn’t thought of that. (Still, beach.) For the uniniatied, Sephora is a European chain of incredible loveliness. All the make up in all the colours. It’s a bit overwhelming, a temple to beauty products.

Needless to say, girls returned laden down with Sephora products and gloating. Look, Mummy, here I am with my Sephora mascara. Isn’t it lovely? Have you seen my Sephora bronzer?

Hmmm. My late mother, Herself, would be delighted at the interest her granddaughters have learned to take in their appearance, through doing a lot of performing. They have worked out foundation and fake tan and blending and concealer in a way that I have yet to do. It’s unlikely at this point that I ever will.

I did buy make up this summer. It came from another European chain- the discount supermarket Lidl. Nail varnish, mascara, lipstick and BB cream. BB cream, you wonder? I thought it was a fancy tinted moisturiser, but apparently it’s meant to be a wonder product, “promoted as an all-in-one facial cosmetic product to replace serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunblock.

Lidl beauty

I did have some fun playing the the bundle of cheapy products, and my expert reviews are as follows…

Lip gloss- too sticky.

Mascara (regular)- grand, but nothing special.

Mascara (waterproof)- horrible, stings.

Nail varnish- 2 coats needed. Red is fab.

Lipstick- good colours, doesn’t last for ages, but fine.

BBcream- needs a primer (or the Nivea after shave balm) to stop it from going all bally.

That’s it, chaps. That’s my make up reviewing done. Maybe I’ll get the girls to write the next one.


Sadly, this post was not sponsored in any way by either Sephora or Lidl.