What My Aging Dog Just Taught Me About “No Going Back”

2 May

I’m a writer. I was six or seven years old when I started writing poetry and short stories. My greatest grief with my fibromyalgia is being robbed of time to be a writer because of fatigue and/or brain fog. What else do I need for writing, but my brain and my hands? Now, my hands are under attack, too. The fibro pain in my hands is one thing. The arthritis is another. It’s progressed to where it’s really painful to type. The worst is my little pinkie finger on my right hand. It’s one of my more needed little digits, too, on the keyboard. The SHIFT key, the ENTER key, the apostrophe and quotation marks, and the letter P. Ouch.

A knuckle is a joint. What can we do when a joint hurts? One thing is wear a brace. This weekend when I was helping my mom type up some notes for her neighborhood association meeting, that inflamed little knuckle was killing me. So I asked for a piece of medical tape. Mom produced a bin of different tapes and wraps (they being always ready for the zombie apocalypse at their place in supply of food, wine, medicine, and ammo), and I cut off a little strip and wrapped up my pinkie. It really helped!

As I type this now, I’ve got the little digit all wrapped up again, and it’s my new favorite modification.

It’s also my new sadness. Because it’s a forever thing, that I literally have to look at. Arthritis is degenerative, and now I’ve hit another “no going back” point. Well, maybe….

You probably know by now that my best friend is a giant, golden mutt. She’s got arthritis, too. About a month ago, I started her on CBD oil drops. Friends had gotten it for their senior retriever and she showed great improvement within days.

I started Amica on her drops right before I left for Belgium, so I had to go on Mom’s reports to hear how she was doing on them. Mom said she did seem to be more perky, to the point of acting like a brat. That’s my girl!!! I returned and scooped her up for a mere two days before she had to go back with Mom and I was off to Mexico. Then as soon as I was back, we hit the road for a couple trips, a couple hotel stays.

I really couldn’t get a first-hand grasp of whether the stuff was working or not. I did go ahead and order more so I have plenty when we leave next week for our two-month, cross-country adventure.

Now, I don’t know if it’s the excitement of the upcoming trip (if you have one, you know dogs sense these things), or if the stuff has finally really kicked in, just taking weeks longer than it did for my yellow friend Madison, but I’m seeing definite changes in the old kiddo in the last 48 hours.

She’s. Coming. Upstairs.

A lot.

About 15 months ago, Amica quit sleeping with me. That really sucked. In the past six months, she’s stopped coming upstairs entirely. When she wanted me to get up in the morning and take her out, she’d simply leave the couch and lay on the landing at the bottom of the stairs. Every once in a while she’d come up to follow a steak or a sandwich.

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Now she’s been running up and down those stairs constantly. At this very moment, her big fluffy butt is on my bed, up against my pillows. (She’d followed some of my special keto blueberry mini muffins up.) I finished my list of business emails and flopped down next to her for a few minutes. I pet her and chatted with her and found myself saying out loud, “You went back.”

There *is* such a thing as “going back.”

It’s a story of hope for me. A few days ago, a friend of mine who bears four autoimmune diseases shared an actually-reputable article on the Facebook talking about advancements in stem cell therapy (she was celebrating because this is harvesting our own fat, to do it, and who wouldn’t love getting some flubber scooped out while getting a repair?), and I thought about how this could regrow my ruined discs and some day I may actually be able to run again. A going back!!

When we lose things, it’s much more bearable when they don’t feel forever. When I tape up my finger, it’s more bearable if some day my chubby ass can repair it. And I’m going to be eating extra bacon for it!

We live in a grand age of advancement. And if you have the faith that I have, there really are all kinds of sources for hope.

At the same time, we do need to keep our feet on the ground. Whether we have progressive conditions or not, we are all aging. There will be more “no going back” moments to come. Many will come without hope.

This is aging. Amica will become a first-floor dog again. Then she is going to leave and totally obliterate my heart.

As I lose, I have to look to what I also gain. I’m wiser now. I have more friends and better friendships. I have a grand collection of memories. The things that I can’t do anymore, I’ve still done, and I hold those memories with a heart of gratitude. When Amica goes, nothing in what she’s given me will be depleted. I will for the rest of my life be the person who had all these great years and adventures with this wonderful friend. It’s not even a loss, actually, just an endpoint to the gaining. And I still have so many more gains ahead of me in life. This balance will be infinitely tipping to my favor.

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