Thursday, February 3, 2011
Charlie has had cataracts for a few years. Her hearing has deteriorated. She's lame and she's lost a lot of weight. But for the past few weeks my sweet 16 1/2 year old pup has also become increasingly restless. She paces around and around the house. She has trouble relaxing long enough to rest her weary bones. She is now getting herself stuck in corners of the house. She continues to have accidents and is having trouble negotiating the stairs. It's not that she can't climb them, rather it's as though she has forgotten how. The worst of it is, she doesn't seem to care whether or not we're even around her anymore. She stares into space, ignores our attention, and when we bring her outside, she doesn't seem to know what to do. I don't know what to do either.
Last Sunday I was at church. I was feeling restless too. I could not let go of the grief I felt for not only Charlie, but for a few dear people in my life who are also aging. I made it through the priest's homily but I knew I could not sing the offertory song. I decided I needed to take a walk downstairs.
In the church basement there is a shelf with CareNotes, little pamphlets of literature published by Abby Press which provide messages of hope to those who suffer. I found myself grabbing every pamphlet there was on the subject of grief. I even took duplicate copies of a few of them, thinking I could pass them on to a few people I know who are going through anticipatory grief like I am. After grabbing several pamphlets I went to the restroom. In that "room for one" I locked the door, slumped to the floor, read the first two pages of one pamphlet, and cried. Everything I was reading was relatable. I sat crying on the floor of the basement bathroom for a good 10 minutes. Then I pulled myself up, stuffed the pamphlets into my sweater (because for some reason I was embarrassed to carry the stack of them up for all to see), and I returned to the congregation upstairs.
This week has been emotionally tough as I have watched Charlie failing. Each day I have watched her pace and I have retrieved her from another corner. I have led her to her food and tonight I carried her upstairs. Earlier this evening I did some research online, and I came across an article on Canine Cognitive Disorder. Charlie seems to have all of the symptoms. Maybe the vet will suggest some medication. Maybe there is hope to bring Charlie back to normal or to at least bring her greater comfort. As for me, I'll continue reading my CareNotes. They reassure me that I'm not alone in my sorrow and in my fear and uncertainty of what the future will bring.
If you ever need a similar reminder, visit this website www.onecaringplace.com or ask me to snag a few of the CareNotes for you at church. I know where they are. And I'm good at smuggling them in my sweater without detection. Trust me. I'm calling the vet tomorrow. Wish me luck. No, wait. Save the luck for Charlie.