Monday, February 18, 2008

Old Nurses and Old Dogs

The first day of the week, most people are back to work. I'm weaning off of muscle relaxers wondering how long a back can stay in knots? It feels like a pile of rocks is under my skin. Have you ever noticed what kind of shape old nurses are in? In general they are a worn out mess, bad backs, decrepit knees, aching feet, not to mention what years of stress does to them mentally. I cringe whenever I hear someone say, " I want to be a nurse and make the big money". For Pete's sake, if you want big money go into marketing. Nursing is a calling not a job. They can't pay enough to have you work nights, weekends, holidays, and under every type of lousy situation. "Sorry we are short you'll just have to make do", is the mantra of management. Translated for the non medical people that means your patient assignment is too large to give good care, you'll be lucky to pass all the meds. Their probably aren't enough aides to go around so your shift is going to be full of total care patients and heavy lifts. God forbid someone actually be really sick and need extra help; what are they thinkin that this is a hospital? We've actually gone back to the days when people were afraid to go to the hospital because you got sick and died there. The super infections are here along with a whole host of folks who think they don't have enough time to wash their hands. If you are a a hand washer you notice the folks who pull off their gloves and move on, nary a sink between them. The media is talking about MRSA Methicillian resistant staff aureous. It's been around for about 25 years that I know of maybe even longer. That's nothing new. The new bug is VRE vancomycin resistant enterococcus, now that devil is really bad it's usually fatal. People seem to live with it if it's just in their urine, but if you have it in anything else you better go shopping for a 6x6 piece of property.
If I can digress for a minute, my husbands daughter bought a burial plot next to ours when we first moved here. Would you believe we purchased them for $100 each? His mother has a headstone and everything in a pretty little church yard north of here in a small town. What a deal. What was funny is that after she bought it, she called her mom and told her she was a landowner, she bought a piece of property. Well I laughed.
Back to dogs. What is it about dogs that get so close to us? After Rasmus died my friend kept pestering me to read a book named, "A Dog Named Merle". I didn't want to read it. I knew that if it was about a real dog that the story wasn't written while he was alive. Nobody writes a dog biography while their dog is living! John Steinbeck wrote about Charlie. There are all kinds of dog biography's, all of them post mortem. I just didn't think I could stand to read about someone else's dogs death. It almost killed me to put my dog down. I knew it was the right thing to do. Any more time and he would start to really suffer.
He was still in pretty good shape, he ate and drank and enjoyed his walks. We have a pretty lake nearby and we walk around it. I would let him off his leash there and watch him. He was so beautiful when he ran. He looked like a little horse with his proud head and prancing gait. He could run like the wind and he didn't know he was an old dog now with gray hair in his beard. He had a malignant melanoma in his eye, palpable tumors on his head and in his mouth. He had a history of seizures. We hadn't done a lot of tests but there was a good possibility that he had mets all over. This was a very aggressive cancer one of the worst kinds a dog could have.
As I stood in front of the emergency vet on that dark night, saying all this; he nodded and said, "your right". The day we took him in, his tumor had doubled in size and started to bleed. He kept rubbing against me trying to get it out of his eye. It was horrible, my beautiful, beautiful dog.
I live to be right. I love to be right. I usually don't say anything unless I am sure I am right. But this time I desperately wanted to be wrong. We had to wait for a long time to see the vet. Rasmus knew, he stood at the door in full attention saying "take me home let's get out of here". When I voiced the hell of it to my husband he just started to cry.
Rasmus wasn't ready to call it quits, he wasn't a quitter. They picked him up and set him on the table. The vet put a tie around his mouth. We were weeping. "He won't bite you"' I said. "It's just in case it hurts a little when I stick him". My husband began to sob loudly, we clung to each other weeping with a depth of grief saved for those you love the most. Believe it or not I wondered what every one there thought, but it didn't make any difference. Rasmus simply bowed his head gracefully and he died, immediately. There was no taking it back, it was final and he was gone. I couldn't even really accept what I had just witnessed. MY DOG!! How can a human grieve for a dog like that? I thought I would die. Where was a hole to throw myself in? My whole being felt the loss, wherever I went he was there by my side. That he had become Jimmy's dog didn't matter, he shared his love with anyone who loved him. Everyone who came to our home for a visit came to see him right? At least that seemed to be what he thought. As we packed our beloved friend home in a black garbage bag, the world seemed to have gone totally dark. It was night and it seemed very appropriate that the sun didn't shine. We left him in the van that night to grief stricken for anything else and went up and cried ourselves into a fitful not restful sleep.
Jimmy buried him in our flower bed under the oak tree. The dirt was so hard he had to use a pick ax to make the hole. We buried him and didn't say anything, neither of us could talk. It seemed like such a nonchalant ending. To just dig a hole and put him it. We couldn't do more our grief was too great. We planted a rose bush over him and went in the house. We had this friend for 10 and 1/2 years and our home felt empty. I cried for weeks.
I finally checked the Merle book out from the library. It had a lot about evolution that I skipped over. It takes more faith to believe all of that accidental, order out of chaos stuff than I can muster, so I skipped those parts. The unfolding relationship between this man and his dog was healing my heart. I fell in love with his dog. Even better he was claiming the intelligence and emotional connectedness on a higher level than is generally accepted, and I was in his Amen corner. I knew my dog understood everything we said. I knew he even knew why we were at the vet in the middle of the night with his bleeding eye. I knew, he knew we were crying for him. and with all the dignity in him he simply bowed to it with graceful acceptance and trust.
When I was reading about Merle's death I was bawling again. I couldn't even talk. Jimmy and the girls would walk by my chair and ask me why I was crying. All I could do was point to the cover of the book and blow my nose.
I could hardly stand it. That dog was one of those cool dogs like Rin Tin Tin, or Lassie, or Ramsus. I knew I couldn't go on without a dog. I guess I am just one of those people who needs an animal at their hip. At least it's easier than kids. Some women need kids, and to always have a new baby in the house, they have energy. I like to share the love with someone who lies at my feet and groans a little now and then, laid back. Get a back rub and relax, go for a walk, listen to my day without interruption, you know a dog.
I started surfing the Internet looking at puppy pictures and the begging began. My husband didn't want another dog. He didn't want Rasmus either but they were best friends. Finally I said I'd give up and Jimmy said he'd do his best to get along with a new poodle. I gave him a chance to change breeds, nothing doing. The girls don't seem to have the sensitivity to animal dander they used to have, as evidenced by 3 cats in the house. Piglet has a pooch with long hair that sleeps in her bed. We could get a golden retriever if we wanted to. Jim wanted another black male, I couldn't do that. That's how Lulu came to live with us, her name should be Miss Piddles with the way she pees but she'll eventually get it. I know how it's going to go. For the first 5 or 6 years she'll be mine. I will train her and clean up after her, and talk to her so she learns English. When she is a wonderful adult full of poise and intelligence, my husband will steal her. She'll change to his side of the bed. Been there and done that. I won't mind a bit, I understand.


MaBunny said...

Hiyas Karen! Thanks for visiting my blog:)) Thought I'd check yours out and I'm sorry to hear of the loss of a beloved pet. I have experienced the loss of a family dog that I'd had for near 13 years, it was hard.
Also, I know what you mean about handwashing... I'm a closet germaphobe. I wash my hands every chance I get and have taught my daughter to do the same. I cringe when I'm in a bathroom and hear someone flush and then leave, with no handwashing in between the two.. EWWWWW!!!! and they wonder why stomach bugs and other, more serious illnesses spread so fast.
Take care and I will check back in with you soon:))


Anonymous said...

I so understand.