A Xanax Diary, Indeed
My life lately–more than usual–is very dog-centric. Kallie had surgery on both knees on June 26 to alleviate stress on her tearing crutiate ligaments. It’s a serious procedure, but one that my surgeon commonly performs on dogs. I think one of the most challenging parts is the recovery time: 10-12 weeks of low or little physical activity so as not to damage the healing knees. But the light at the end of the tunnel is pretty close to a 100% recovery.
Though almost two weeks out from surgery, her recovery is already making me marvel. But the first night home after a one-night stay in the hospital after surgery was…horrid–for both of us. And it left me feeling despondent, alone and completely submerged in memories of my life with Ken when he came home from the hospital from his hemipelvectomy. Lack of sleep, an anxious, whining pup and the prospect of the same every night for the foreseeable future left me with desperate thoughts. They cut through the haze of my clouded and tired mind like a razor blade:
Ken was your home. Now that he’s gone, so you don’t have one.
You don’t belong anywhere.
Your life is a purgatory of your own making.
It was almost like another person was saying these horrible things to me, convincing me of their truth. And worse, my sleep-deprived self was believing it. I was shuffling around the apartment, dispensing meds and comfort to Kallie, weeping on and off throughout the night and morning. It was completely ridiculous–even I could see that as dawn approached. And as the new day began, another thought occurred to me:
I’d had enough melancholy and self-pity, and picked myself up with a little nudge from this blog’s namesake to get me moving in the right direction. It wasn’t long before I was back in the driver’s seat of my life as I tended to my helpless puppy for the first couple of days. It was an unexpected detour for me, having felt pretty secure that I’ve done my best to deal with grief and change and life. Maybe it’s a reminder that in times of great distraction or stress, doubts can always slip into the little cracks that can form. More than anything, it was surprising for me. I was so focused on Kallie’s condition, the negativity about life after Ken side-swiped me from left field, and knocked me on my ass before I got a handle on it.
Caring her Kallie post-op would have no doubt been easier with Ken. Everything in general is easier with two–and more specifically with Ken. And caregiving was one of things he did expertly. I remember our first winter back in Chicago from LA, we got the flu at almost the same time. I took care of him until I couldn’t. Luckily, as I felt worse, he felt better. It was the perfect metaphor for our relationship.
In terms of taking care of Kallie, we would have kept each other from stressing too much, and taken great comfort in the team we comprised. As for now, I try to remember to take great pride in the team of one I’ve become, carrying with me all the goodness I learned from Ken and from our life together.
2 weeks down. 8ish more to go.