Have you ever woken up in morning filled with nervous anticipation – wondering what the day ahead would bring? Ever had doctor appointments scheduled in the hopes of providing answers – possibly answers you may not want to hear? You wonder how to brace yourself for potentially bad news. And you try to think positive, because of course you believe in the power of positive thoughts and all that. But you wonder, when you crawl back into your bed at the end of the day, will your life have been changed? Will you have shed tears? Will you get to continue on down the path you were on? Or, will you find that you are being forced led down a different one (a path no one chooses to explore)?
I have a vet appointment this morning and a Doppler study to go to this afternoon. The former is to examine the lump I found over the weekend on my 13+ year-old dog. The latter is to do an ultrasound of the carotid artery on my 89-year old mother to determine if there is a blockage there. Both appointments should provide useful information. Yet each has the potential of taking me down a road this Zen Mama Wannabe really does not want to go down…ever yet.
Dog owner or not, you probably know that 13 is considered old for a big dog - even one like mine who is in great shape. People are shocked every time they find out how old she is. She really looks great. But…she doesn’t hear very well anymore. She has arthritis in her hips, and moves slower these days (more regally I like to think). She doesn’t run or play anymore, and the bulk of her days are spent sleeping away on her dog bed. Yet, she still likes to be where I am, will still make her way up the stairs if I am upstairs and lay down near me in whatever room I am in. She still pops up immediately when she sees her leash, eager to go on a walk (which are definitely more like leisurely strolls these days). She is still a big sweetie pie and has truly been the best dog you could ever ask for.
That being said, I know 13 and a half is old. Some big dogs live to be 16 (because I seem to meet dog owners who, after being so surprised mine is so old, proceed to tell me all about their big dog and how long he or she lived – and we all stand around and marvel at their good fortune). But chances are we won’t make it to 16. At least I think that every time I walk in the house and no longer get greeted at the door. For about 30 seconds I am convinced she is lying there “stone cold dead” and my heart drops to the pit of my stomach until she FINALLY hears me, picks up her head and then slowly staggers to a stand.
Of course, one day, whenever it is, she is going to die. I know that. I’m just not sure I’m ready for that. I’ve had her ever since she was a 8-week old puppy that fit in my hands. She was with me BEFORE I had kids, before I even knew my husband….SHE was my baby, my one and only. And even though I have demoted her to a much lower spot on the family totem pole than where she used to be or deserves to be, she is still my sweetheart -- which is why finding the lump on her filled me with dread.
Ditto all of that with my mom – but add to it because she is MY MOM. Mama. My last living parent. Even though I feel I haven’t had enough years with her, she has lived a long time. If she died tomorrow, everyone would tell me that she lived a good, long life. Thankfully she is, relatively speaking, in very good health. She could have many more years on this Earth. And yes I know, every day people die -- young AND old. It can happen to any of us. But when you get to be 89, death becomes a little more prevalent in your life. It is something you think more about. It is the white elephant in the room that gets too big to ignore.
Her appointment today up in the Radiology department of a nearby hospital could go just fine. Or, they could discover something – which would propel us down a different path entirely. One I am hoping we are not meant to go down.
I feel like all I can do this morning is wait. Wait for each appointment. Wait as I hold each one’s hand (paw) for the testing to be done, for the results to be given. Wait and see what door we are going to open, what path we are going to walk down. Sometimes the NOT knowing is the hardest part of all. But only sometimes.