Sunday, March 13, 2011

Post Traumatic Sadness. . . and then Spring.

I have no right to be sad, but I am.

Lu on my bed.
     In late September of last year, Lulu my precious pug died in my arms. She was only 3. She developed liver failure in August and made it until the end of September. I was devastated. It is hard to put into words how much Lulu meant to me. We connected the moment we met. It was as if we had been together always. She was my little black shadow, always going wherever I went. She followed me out to do the chores, helped me in the garden and got into mischief constantly. She was always up for anything as long as I was there. Our morning walks were pure meditation, she loved to be outdoors. She was my confidant. She listened tirelessly with those warm brown eyes to my tales of woe. I complained about school, about my relationships, about my life and she listened and crawled onto my lap. If I cried, she would slowly and gently crawl up on my lap and lift her face to mine, and very softly lay her pug cheek on mine. What a gift she was.
     When I came to realize that I was going to have to say good-bye. . . I panicked.  I had said good-bye to my one year old daughter 21 years before, and the suffocating feeling of not being able to escape the reality of the situation was hauntingly familiar. Lu knew I wasn't ready, and she tried to stay. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning in late September that I woke to her panting for breath as fluid built up around her tissues. I knew the time had come. I drove her to the emergency vet that sunny Sunday morning, and helped her over the bridge, all the while whispering over and over into her soft black pug ear the words I knew would make her happy. "Good Pug, you are such a Good Pug and I will never ever forget you." Just as I did with my daughter, I kissed her cheeks, her eyelids, memorized her smell and held her until I was ready to let her go. God Bless that wonderful vet who cried tears with me. I will never forget that.
Lulu and Opus at Granny's
    We buried her that morning at my moms house behind the garden. She loved going to "granny's" and running on the property there. She loved the BBQ's where she always got a bite of burger, we knew it was the right place.
     My heart was sad for two weeks. It was two weeks before the trial that trumped Lulu would enter my life.
     It was at about the two week mark when my son Garrett became ill. At first we thought it was the flu. But there were no other symptoms except exhaustion, fever and chills. We were repeatedly at the physicians office. Blood work, x-rays... nothing showed up definitively. Until the day that we went in to get the second set of blood  test results. Garrett had been annoyed because they wanted him to actually come into the office to get them. When we got there, the doctor was puzzled as to why the nurse would have him come in, as nothing in the blood work was that alarming. He decided to give him a physical exam again, and I saw it in his eyes when he heard it. A heart murmur. A murmur that had not been there 4 days before. All of a sudden our lives became a flurry of activity. Garrett was immediately admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of bacterial endocarditis. So many tests. Echo-cardiograms showed that he now had a severe mitral valve leak and that the infection had eaten through the flap in his heart. The only remedy was open heart surgery and valve replacement. But before that could happen, Garrett needed to be on IV antibiotics for 6-8 weeks to clear the infection from his heart valve. He had a PIC line inserted and we moved him into our living room so we could help care for him. 2 weeks later a bit of the infection from his heart flew off and traveled to his leg where infection developed in the deep muscle of his thigh. There were ER visits in the middle of the night, 3 separate hospital stays and daily trips to the infusion room for a refill on antibiotics.
1 day after surgery
Painful Recovery
Home and recovering

And then on January 7th,  he had open heart surgery. It was harder than I had ever imagined it would be. The hours of waiting during the surgery, the ICU, seeing him with a trach tube in his throat. He was in so much pain, and there was nothing we could do but wait for time to pass.  He was in the hospital 6 days and then thanks be to God we had him home again. His recovery was slow, but before we knew it he had recovered. Thank you God, for my son. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    During the events of this past fall and winter I held up well. I was strong. I was empowered by God I believe to keep moving. It is now, after all has seemingly gone back to normal that I have let myself feel the trauma.
    I started this blog entry 2 weeks ago and only finished it today. I am no longer sad. Spring is here. There are the beginnings of buds on my lilac tree and there is garlic sprouting in my mostly snow covered garden beds. Renewal. Rebirth. Spring. The promise that all will not be dark and cold forever. The promise that there is light, that there is hope.
  In a few days I will have to go to the hospital and have a test on my heart. While studying EKG's in anatomy and physiology at school, I realized that there was something not right with mine. My cardiologist wants to rule out an abnormally formed coronary artery. So I will have a CT angiogram with iodine (which I am allergic to). If it turns out that my artery is not formed correctly, the fix will be. . . . open heart surgery. What are the odds? Probably astronomical. Could I not just win the lottery instead? And then I realize, I already have. My son survived open heart surgery. My husband and I are still passionately in love after 25 years. My bright beautiful sunny daughter is healthy and well. I am the luckiest woman on earth.