Past Present

As promised, here’s my blog post for the day. It actually covers something that happened just a few days ago, on Wednesday evening. I was wandering the internet, and decided to head over to Buzzfeed Animals, home of some of the cutest and funniest pictures, videos, and stories about animals that I have found. I started going through a few articles, mostly puppies, because I’m a dog person. Then I ran into one that involved Newfoundlands, and so, on a tangent, I started searching for more on Newfoundlands. Buzzfeed didn’t have much, so I looked on YouTube.

On YouTube, there are quite a few videos of Newfoundlands, and I found myself watching a series of videos about a Newfoundland named Gizmo. He seemed like a great dog, and so I kept watching another video of him, and another, and another…and then I hit the wrong one, and my day went plummeting downward. It seems Gizmo died this past December, and the video I clicked on was a slideshow of pictures of his life, set to exceptionally sad music (I won’t be linking to it, because it’s just that sad). It only took 30 seconds or so to make me fall apart.

See, my last dog was a Newfoundland named Merlin. My family got him in 2002, largely to keep me company because I was lonely, having just graduated college and moved to St. Louis, a place where I knew nobody. Merlin and I were close; for many years, he was my closest friend in St. Louis. So in 2010, when he had troubles walking and we took him to the vet, we got some truly bad news. It turned out that his walking issues were one of two things – one was a nerve issue they could correct with surgery, but the other was uncurable. To find out which it was, they would have to put him under anesthesia and operate.

The problem there was that a heart defect of Merlin’s made putting him under anesthesia tricky – I think the vet said that there was a 25% chance he would never wake up. And even if they put him under anesthesia, it was only exploratory – if it turned out to be the surgically viable option, then they wouldn’t be able to do it then – so he would have to go under again at a later time, with the same odds. And even with the surgery, there would be a long recovery time, where Merlin wouldn’t really be able to walk. As the vet told my mother and I this, I called my father to see what he thought; he was in favor of the surgery, but after going through the odds in my head, I didn’t think it was viable – it would be a lot of suffering for a very small chance. I had to convince him that I was right, which was hard because all I wanted to do was cry. And so the vet let us say goodbye, and then started the process to put him to sleep.

I feel guilty about that, because Merlin was my friend, and I had raised him from a puppy. He had such trust in me, and I made the choice to put him to sleep – even if it was to save him a lot of suffering. And so watching those videos, I was reminded of what, and who, I had lost. So I fell apart for a few hours; it felt like the day Merlin died. There was a lot of crying involved, and it was not pretty.

But eventually, it passed. I stopped crying, and sat with those feelings. I may not have been totally sure I made the right choice, but I think it was the best I could have made with the information I had available. I’ve never had a dream where my dog came to me and forgave me and said he was alright, but then I don’t tend to remember my dreams, so I may have and not remembered. I knew that though I was feeling terrible, that it wasn’t forever, and it was just a memory of things past; it had no real power over me except what I gave it. So I dried my eyes, I got up, and I started to try to make myself feel better. Of course, the first step of this was to order pizza. Then I started playing a video game I hadn’t played in a while, but had enjoyed, and that took my mind off things. At the end of the evening, I was full of pizza, I was satisfied with my video game, and I was glad that even though I had fallen apart for a while, I had put myself back together.

So, that was my Wednesday night. My last Family Connections class in tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to that, as well as Calla’s return to Houston – 9 days left, now. I’ll try to put together my second post on DBT language, but I thought this was a better look at what was going on in my head.

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