Batteries not included.
Finally it has come. A brief dance with the sun, showering its rays upon the frozen. Frozen ground that I need desperately to make up, time has ticked by almost without notice until I woke up and it was gone. I find February brutal in every single way possible, relentless in its grip of grey, slushy, nothingness. Then it ends and the one small patch of lush green pokes through the calloused earth just to say hello, the sun prances over needy skin offended at your petulance of missing, but giddy at your jubilant welcome.
My time of silent stillness was much needed, more than I could have possibly known, until it was over. I forced a shutdown after attempting to write over thirty blog posts, all of them feeling disjointed, sullen and a stagnant pool of bitterness. Every word I wrote made me cringe, questioning myself, wondering if is this is who I had become? Lost, unmotivated, useless like worn linoleum down to the bareness of what lie beneath. I had become unsure of what was next for me when I had worked so hard to lay my path of solid ground which was now noticeably smeared all over my face each time I looked in the mirror. The reality is that I am all of those things, and while I find it easier to write about what I know, the past six months have been like landing in a foreign country where no one taught me the language. I just let myself be lost for awhile, I sat alone in the stillness of my own reality, having a good old fashioned fourth grade stare down, until the mountain didn’t look quite so unreachable and the darkness not as desolate as I might have thought it to be.
Facing ones own mortality on any level is enough to made you squeeze yourself under the biggest bed you can find and swear your not coming out until someone promises you it will be okay. Then you miss the delicious slices of life that make up your days, good or bad you have to show up. We all have the same fears, struggles, and nightmares that sneak up and make us change course when forced, find another road, even an unknown route to reach your destination. I knew I wouldn’t give up, I just didn’t realize that in itself was my biggest fear, so I say to myself and to you, I am not giving up. I won’t give up because the example of what is possible can come in the strangest of places, and it can change everything.
About a month ago, my mom called me in a panic. She had been over to my house letting the dogs out while I was at work, and in the front room, scattered around the floor were the pieces of a chewed up remote control, which looked something like this…
You can see there is one battery. There should be two and after rushing home and ransacking my own house like a seasoned burglar, I could not find that damn battery anywhere. All the while I had three dogs sitting like angels on the couch curled up in a misfit ball of cuteness, vigilant in those puppy dogs eyes that they had done anything wrong. Lucky for them I knew better, so I called Dr. O who was at a conference out of town, she promptly told me to call poison control which I did. Those folks were amazing, I gave them all the info, including the battery information (Sidenote: Duracell pays for the cost of the call, (which is $65) if your dog has potentially ingested one of it’s products. I am now a lifelong Duracell customer!) After consulting with the vet at Poison Control it was recommended to get Tristan to the ER, as he is the most likely to have eaten the battery as he has a long history of being an adventurous snacker when it comes to things like, phones, remotes, window sills and shoes. I took Tully along too, mostly because he is like a security blanket for Tristan, and might as well check him out if the battery isn’t inside Tristan. As for Maggie, well she just looked at me in total disgust that it would even cross my mind that she would put a battery in her mouth, let alone swallow the filthy thing.
Now if you follow Tristan’s journey at all you know that his yearly trips to see Dr. O are a well orchestrated endeavor, which include several people, a tarp, and generally a sedative. It goes like this, we book the last appointment of the day, I back my car up to the back entrance of the building and it is an emotionally draining saga for us all, but especially Tristan who seems to relive the fears of his past with us all watching over him. My thought regarding a spontaneous trip to the ER was, “How in the hell was I going to make this happen?” Two words, Lauren and Jessica. Keep in mind Jessica has a broken arm (in two places) and was sporting a bright pink cast. Jessica arrives and Tristan is ecstatic that his Aunt Jess is here to see him, all wiggles and wags his tail thumping a mile a minuet, giving kisses until the moment he sees the leash, then all bets are off. We make a plan for not one but three leashes, two collars and one slip lead. Many people might think this is really absurd and unnecessary, I probably would have thought the same thing once upon a time. When Tristan gets really scared he is like a wild animal and I have seen him bust through a secured harness and collar in ten seconds flat, which is not a problem in the confines of my fenced back yard but in a parking lot near a busy road, well it’s terrifying. He managed to get himself to the car with Jess (the one armed bandit) gently leading him while he belly crawling through the snow in my backyard, once in the garage I lifted him into the back of my the car. My four day old car, not that it really matters, which we were about to break in with wild abandon. Jessica and her pink cast crawled in the back with Tristan and Tully, off to the ER we went.
Once inside to be honest it was a bit of a blur for me. It all happened so fast, but what sticks in my mind is the image of a very young and bubbly vet tech coming over to take Tristan back to begin care. I tried to explain to her while I filled out the clipboard of questions, that he was very, very scared and this was hard for him because of the abuse he suffered. She looked at me with a sweet smile and said “Oh, I will just pick him up!” I just looked at her with my mouth open, thinking to myself there is a good possibility Tristan weighs more than she does, but before I can protest she began scooping him up.As she lifted him, he made a sound that can only be described as simultaneously gulping air for dear life , and with a low guttural moan as she picked him up he looked at me with such sad eyes and with his hind end kind of flopping in the air, he projectile pooped like nothing you have ever seen ! The vet tech twirls around with him and the poop is shooting out like an uncontrollable garden hose in the summertime. Then in a flash Tristan disappeared to the back. I was left standing front and center with a glob of pooh that had landed on my kneecap, which to be honest was an impressive shot! At that point we all just kind of slithered away to our seats, except me, I gingerly tiptoe over to the bathroom to figure out how to wash my pants leg clean. The rest of the lobby needed a complete overhaul, they had to take up several carpets, mop floors and up went a arsenal of “Wet Floor” warnings. I felt like I should offer to buy everyone pizza…or beer…or both.
Tristan is taken back for treatment and he does great! They did not have to sedate him to get the xrays, and he walked on his own for the vet tech back to the room where we were all waiting, relived he wasted no time finding a safe place to wait.
The doctor comes in to tell us that Tristan has ingested several parts of the remote, she goes over the xrays with us, pointing out each piece as it glows bright white on the screen, but no battery that she can see. Good news, I think? I look at Tully, who just cocks his head and wags his little nub of a tail, “Your up next, buddy.” I tell him.
Tristan generally stays shoved in a corner when we are at the vet, Dr. O is so amazing about coming to him, reassuring him, going very slow and calming him, but this time he would find a way to face his fears, because when Tully came back into the room Tristan seemed to forget for just a moment that he was scared, putting it aside in order to get to his BFF. This may not seem like much, but the fact that he was able to move about the room at all is a major accomplishment and very big step for Tristan. I have to say all the folks at MedVet were wonderful in the their care, and kindness to Tristan, it makes such a difference to know he is in such good hands.
Tristan was put on several medications to help insure the pointy plastic bits he ingested did not hurt the lining of his stomach. Tully would have a series of xrays, showing that he too was not the culprit and did not ingest the battery. After loading up everyone in the car driving home, looking under every inch of my house with Jess and Lauren, I eventually ran Maggie back out the ER in the middle of night just to make sure she was not housing the lost battery, which she was not.
That left me with only one logical explanation. Damn cats! Probably batted that sucker someplace never to be found again, long with the unpaired socks and little rubber bits from the tip of earphones.
Sometimes a good old fashioned reality check is the only way to bring you back to down to rooted ground. Things happen, things you never could plan for, things that terrify you when you are forced to act in a flash. So scared you think those things are impossible to get through in the moment and you find it all coming unraveled. The truth is we are all capable of so much more than the trembling dread that sometimes grasps on to our cuffs, a tightly bound burden of lament longing to be carried around with us. Tristan took one step forward to get to Tully, didn’t matter how scared he was, the reward of comfort was simply more powerful. I am taking that step, tiny as might be. I am not staying in this exact place one second longer.