I began the year with a trip to Charlotte for the annual reunion of my college roommates…It just so happened that two of our daughters were there for different sports competitions. I was so grateful to my friend, who drove me to my daughter’s four games and even stood out in the freezing cold rain with me to watch a little. Now that‘s truly a good friend!
A few weeks later, our oldest headed back to school in NYC.
I went to New Jersey to visit my sister and her faithful dog Daisy.
My friend Katherine and I woke up at an ungodly hour to board a 6 am flight to NYC to check in on our kids, who are both studying there…
We stayed in a hotel at Hudson Yards, right next to The Vessel.
Our hotel bathroom must have been three times as large as the one in my son’s apartment…
On Saturday we went to Chinatown for dim sum and found ourselves wading through huge crowds that had come out for the Chinese New Year parade:
This last Sunday my second son gave a sermon during the youth-led service at our church…
So proud of him. So not ready for him to leave for college next Fall.
Meanwhile, Gingersnap continues her ruthless and devastatingly efficient campaign to conquer the universe with expressions like these…
At the dog park today…
I will remember that CHLOE is the alpha dog and will show her the respect she is due.I will develop a modicum of bladder control.
I will use my extraordinary power to charm with my cuteness for good not evil.
The other day I had my final phone session with my “Be Well” health coach. This is a well-intentioned employer-sponsored program, which encourages you to scamper on a hamster wheel for a tiny handful of (taxable) hamster pellets. You are supposed to set two goals for the year – a health goal such as: “I will exercise for 30 minutes three times a week,” and a more holistic “fun” goal such as: “I will read three books a month.” My coach and I had been in touch throughout the year. He always seemed to call when I was in the midst of a catastrophic crisis. I suppose this isn’t so surprising, considering the fact that there seemed to be a fresh disaster every other day this year…In any case, he was well aware that I was far from meeting any of the goals we had made together.
“So, obviously I didn’t meet any of the goals I set back when I thought ‘working on music’ was something I was going to have the luxury to do this year. But I helped my sister weather a serious health crisis; I lost my beloved dog; I got diagnosed with cancer; I had two major surgeries; my kids got in a scary car accident on their second day of school, which totaled the car; and my dad is now facing his own serious health issues.”
There was a triumphant quaver in my voice as I concluded my speech: “But I still managed to be productive at work, to take care of my family, and I didn’t fall apart. Given the circumstances, I think that’s far more impressive than expanding my musical repertoire.”
I still didn’t get my handful of hamster pellets.
By March I was back home…
Our sweet dog Tallis had been sick for quite some time. We finally had to say goodbye.
Over spring break, we took a sleeper train to Chicago with our son.
In May I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In July I had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.
Happy New Year, Everyone! Be well!
My son recently sent me a photo of a pile of slimy dog poop in our mudroom with this caption:
“Mom in 2016 – WHY DO I LIVE IN A WORLD OF POO?!?!”
I’ve never lived down the moment I let rip that primal yawp of anguish after finding yet another pile of feces in the house. My children still mock me from time to time for it. They imitate my manic rage by goggling their eyes, overenunciating each word, and gradually crescendoing to the final, thundering “POO” before collapsing into hysterical peals of laughter at their mother’s expense.
Back in the good old days, my dogs would mostly do their business outside. With increasing frequency, we began finding little bombs left around the house. I had to start buying Nature’s Miracle in gallon size bottles. At first I didn’t understand that Tallis, our Shih Tzu (pronounced just as you might expect), was not trying to punish me with his fecal indiscretions. It was the first signs of illness.
Our dog has been suffering from constipation for years, and this has eventually led to his current diagnosis of “megacolon.” The silliness of the name belies a rather serious condition. When I first mentioned the constipation to his vet, my concern was lightly brushed off with a recommendation to add a little pumpkin to his diet. We tried this for a few weeks to no avail. It was clear that the situation was becoming critical, and I insisted that the vet take a closer look at him. I dropped him off in the morning and when the doctor called me at work and spoke to me in a hushed tone of compassionate concern, I knew the situation was grave. He took x-rays, ran tests, and finally referred us to another practice which had a specialist in internal medicine. Since then, we’ve tried all sorts of things to get things moving, including yogurt, lettuce, green beans, blueberries, Cisapride, Lactulose, and prescription dog foods. In the last half year, we’ve resorted to taking poor Tallis in for periodical enemas.
Every morning when my daughter brings the dogs back inside after their morning constitutional, I ask her for “The Poop Report.”
“Have the pups achieved pooition?” I ask, “How many?”
One-Poop-Days are typical. A Two-Poop-Day is cause for celebration. I actually find myself walking around with an extra bounce in my step on those red-letter Two-Poop-Days.
Two-Poop-Days call for more in-depth reporting. I press the dogwalker with probing questions…”What was the consistency? What would you say was the length and diameter?”
My children have learned to take this all in stride. They celebrate the increasingly rare Two-Poop-Days right alongside me. They can’t help but inflect their Two-Poop-Reports with a happy little lilt as they describe Tallis’ accomplishments. We crow with delight at every single thing that issues from Tallis’ back end. Never before has man or beast been so fêted for so little.
Thus my son’s text, which continued…
“Mom in 2018 – Oooooooh tell me more about the consistency!”
When I first got my son’s text, I thought he was sending it to me to complain that he had to clean up the mess.
“No!!!” he told me when we discussed it later that evening, “I sent it to you, because I knew it would make you so happy that Tallis had pooped!”
I took our dog to the vet again last Friday for another enema. This time a doctor new to the practice called me to say that we needed to start thinking about “quality of life” issues. She suggested that euthanasia rather than an enema may be in order. After some fraught discussions, we decided we would try a different kind of prescription dog food and give him another couple of weeks. In the meantime, we’re going to shower him with lots of love, keep our fingers crossed, and hope for the day that we will once again live in a world of poo.