On Falls and Dogs and Life

Border Collie-Levi

Poor Levi.  He had a bout of “poopy butt”, which meant midnight visits to the back yard and a rank odor hanging over him.  A trip to the vet for tests revealed a diagnosis of Clostridium, an intestinal bacteria overgrowth.  The prescribed drugs gave Levi twenty-four hours of relief.  But the vet said if Levi started throwing up I should bring him back immediately.  Sure enough, within forty-eight hours Levi was barfing up his guts.  He couldn’t run around the yard and he looked miserable.  Was he dying, I tearfully wondered?  Since it was after hours I decided to monitor Levi through the night rather than drop an easy grand at the emergency vet’s office, always a hard decision.

The next morning, a Saturday, was sunny and warm.  But all I could think about was the possible loss of my old boy.  All the dogs went outside to potty and returned inside, except for Catcher. In spite of his heavy Border Collie coat, he preferred to stay outside and sun himself on the concrete.

It was soon time to load Levi in my Subaru.  But Catcher wasn’t giving up his self-imposed sauna and gave me “the paw” when I called him to come inside.  I stomped down the back steps toward him.  He calmly watched me, a test of wills.  Then as I circled behind him my legs tangled and I started to fall.  Some part of my brain said, “Use your middle finger to hold up your body weight as you fall.”  I felt the pain in my middle finger as it started to bend backwards.  Again my brain said, “Bad idea.  Fall imminent”.  I collapsed harshly on the unforgiving white cement driveway, on my left side, the side where my heart resides.  My left boob took the shock of the fall.  I could have used a pair of double E boobs but what God gave me was enough to absorb the crash.  I screamed in shock then looked around.  There was no one around, no neighbors, no solicitors, not a soul.  My brain finished its computer-like reboot and then did a five second, twenty-point hard drive check.  There was pain but I was alive, so I slowly got up, to again convince Catcher to come inside.

s a i dog

Getting behind the wheel after a traumatic health event was probably not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. But I put my life on hold to save my beloved Levi.  Trembling, stiff and sore, my finger and my side hurting, I drove Levi the short distance to the vet’s office.  He received an exam, more healing medications, special food, nausea medications and a list of life saving instructions.

Should I then deposit Levi at home and go to Urgent Care to have x-rays on my side and finger?  It’s been ten days and I’m still completing that decision.  My maternal grandfather believed exercise cures everything.  His philosophy has usually worked for me too.  The finger swelled up and turned a nasty black and blue and then quickly healed.  But the trauma to my side still plagues me.  Obviously nothing is broken though.

My life is like the circus character that has several sticks in both hands which hold up multiple spinning plates.  My dad is in a Memory Care facility.  I control his “estate”, a big house, two acres, maintaining all the associated bills, not to mention the sole caretaker of four Border Collies and a cat.  There was no way, I decided while laying on that cold cement, that I could be loaded into a screaming ambulance, endure weeks of bed rest, x-rays and drugs.  The same brain that ordered me to use one finger to keep one-hundred plus pounds from falling made the decision at that moment to “cowboy up”, endure and survive.  There are lives that depend on me.

The pain in my left side and boob reminds me I’m not infallible or immortal, that the human body has its limits.  The pain angers me.  It’s interrupting my plans for tomorrow and the next day.  I’m mad that I may not be able to mow the lawn or plant flowers and vegetables, things that need to be done right now.  It angers me that falls mean I’m getting older and need to be careful.  How dare life give me this opportunity to stop and rest and grow and ….  Oh, yeah, a lesson.  I get it.  And don’t forget Levi is alive, vibrant, running and barking and Catcher spent yesterday morning basking in the sun like a Florida beach bum.

Life is good.  I’ll heal physically but this is a reminder that life’s lessons are sometimes harsh and abrupt, that I perhaps need to slow down.  The pain reminds me that I do not control the universe.  It controls me.  Stop, breathe and hug the dogs.  Ouch.

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