I wish the bar on what constitutes a "bad day" would quit moving on me.
Six weeks ago, a bad day was listening to my paralyzed, stapled-shut dog sob for hours on end. Locked in a cage, unable to move his legs, drugged out of his gourd, and snarling and snapping at us whenever we tried to take him out to squeeze the contents of his bladder onto a pad on the kitchen counter.
Now that dog can darned near walk, he can wag his tail and play with toys, and he has even started to pee a little bit on his own. So how can things possibly still feel miserable?
Well, it turns out Chickenbone's progress somehow makes this situation feel worse. For one thing, while he can sort of manage a very wobbly walk on our big rugs, he slips and stumbles on the wood floors. So whenever he wants to go anywhere in the house besides the living room, he sits at the edge of the rug and barks for someone to come over and "tail-walk" him to his destination. (He moves his front legs, and you hold his back end up by his tail. After awhile, this feels REALLY great on your back, especially when you are hefting a 12-pound infant in your other arm.)
Also, now he wants to jump back up onto his beloved couches, where he spent 90 percent of his days before his injury. Uh, Chickens? Hate to be the one to tell you this, but you're still crippled. You ain't jumping anywhere. Plus, even if he could physically jump, we simply can't let him do that ever again. Never, ever again can he get on the sofas by himself because the risk of reinjury when he leaps to the floor is just too great.
But today, with Sal back at work after his 10-week paternity leave, I was sitting on the couch when Chickens got out of his doggie bed, wobbled over to my feet, and started trying to come up for a cuddle. We can't even let him ATTEMPT to jump, so I had to stop him somehow, but I was nursing Mia so I couldn't do anything but yell at him. It felt awful! He is like the kid who had to stay home from school with the flu, only now he feels all better and he doesn't understand why he still has recuperating to do. He just sat there giving me his pleading eyes, and moving his upper body pathetically up and down in an effort to jump. It broke my heart.
Meanwhile, breaking my eardrums today was Mia, who was suffering some tummy and sleep issues. For four hours, she wouldn't nap, wouldn't eat, wouldn't do anything but squirm and wail in my arms. A couple of times, thanks to wild swinging and shushing and pacing and singing and bouncing, I finally got her to doze off in my arms. JUST IN TIME to hear Chickens sitting at the edge of the rug barking for a "ride" to his water dish, waking the baby and making mommy cry.
Folks, life is not easy around here.
I guess I just got used to Sal being around all day to help with the Chickens stuff. He had his baby, I had mine. At least we could divide the work. But one person dealing with both Mia and Chickens is very, very hard. If you're not neglecting one, you're neglecting the other. Neither one of them appreciates this very much, and they aren't shy about telling you so.
And then there's the pressure of all the stuff I want and need to do. There are basics, like taking a shower, doing a load of laundry, eating lunch. When I'm lucky, I get to a couple of these things. But there's a second to-do list in my head, one that every single day I intend to tackle. And every single day ends with absolutely no progress. Answering 800 e-mails. Writing in Mia's baby book. Digging my non-maternity work clothes out of storage and pressing and hanging them. Uh, BLOGGING. Putting away Christmas. Going through Mia's drawers and removing clothes that are too small, which is, like, everything. And don't even get me thinking about the third-tier list, stuff I'd just really like to do, but since they aren't necessities, they flat won't happen. Like going to a yoga class, cooking a fun meal, or reading a book. The hours just seem to slip right through my fingers, and it seems nothing gets accomplished except getting through the day.
That's a lot of whining, I know. Sorry. We just really need to get to the next part of Chickens' progress soon. So much of this will be solved when he's strong enough to walk through the house on his own. To that end, next week we are going to have a real physical therapy session at the hospital where he had his surgery. And we'll keep working on the pee thing. We take him out for a sling walks now - me holding the regular leash attached to his collar, Sal holding up his back end with a homemade sling (made of a leash, an old sock and rubber bands) and Mia in the baby Bjorn. We're quite a sight! And during these walks, we have seen many little spurts of pee come out, meaning there has been some neurological healing with his brain and bladder. (And can I just say, I never in my life thought I'd spend this much time squatting down to stare hopefully at a dog's penis. Not my most glamorous moments.) We still have to manually express most of his urine four or five times a day, but that's still improvement.
I guess I just need to dig a little deeper and find a lot more patience, because that's the only thing that's going to get us through to the other side of this mess.
Here, let's look at some fun pictures. Here's photographic proof of Chickens walking. He was eating a sardine (he gets one per day - they contain lots of good vitamins that can help with things like a back injury) and every time he licked the bowl it would move, so he'd walk to follow it.
Here is Chickens during his bathtub therapy. We plop him into the tub and wave treats back and forth across the water, and he walks trying to get them. He finds this setup terribly convenient, since if he gets thirsty, he just sticks his face in the water and drinks!
Speaking of baths, here is Mia's favorite time of day: bathtime with dad. Even if she is screaming her face off - as she often is at night - stick her in the tub and she's all coos and smiles.
Obligatory mohawk shot.
I love this one. I just wanted a picture of the cute outfit Mia's nana gave her. But it ended up being such a perfect snapshot of our life right now. Check out my messy, unwashed hair, and that big, wet spit-up splotch on my shoulder. And in the background, you can see the sad dog watching all the fun from his cage. Oh, poor everyone!
Christmas morning, Mia surrounded by a bunch of her presents.
And here is an exhausted husband and wife, staying home on their favorite holiday of the year. After Mia went to bed, we had a party for two, sitting in the back yard listening to a live mariachi band that was playing at a party down the street. We made it to midnight and well beyond, enjoying champagne and cocktails that resulted in my first hangover since January 2009. And that little Mia, she decided to sleep for 10 hours straight that night. So I guess life isn't all bad!