Archive for ‘Pets’

October 13, 2011

You’ve got an hour

When I originally started Walnuts and Pears the focus was going to be somewhat broad as far as the subject matter, but the common thread is that all things tie back into living today not just for ourselves, but for future generations, living mindfully .

During the spring and summer much of my focus has been on gardening and caring for our injured dog because that’s what was right in front of me. Reflecting back, it’s kind of funny how things work out.  Shortly before Darby got hurt, my full-time job changed to a part-time job.  My original plan was to use the 2nd half of the day to blog (daily) and combine my landscape, garden and marketing background into something new.  While I have picked-up a handful of design jobs, its honestly been tough.  Things haven’t been exactly going according to that plan and frankly, I’ve been struggling.

Recently someone reminded me that life is what happens when you’re busy planning.  The funny part about that is that I’m really not that great of a planner.  I’m more of a big picture kind of person.  I like to keep things loose so I can do something fun, take a class, or follow a whim.  What that also means though, is that when I do actually plan something, I get kind of H-E-double hockey sticks bent on sticking to that plan.  So the fact that things aren’t following my plan has been frustrating to say the least.

Instead of simply flipping a switch at the end of my 1st job and switching over to the 2nd as originally intended, I now switch into “Dog Mom” mode.  Caring for Darby has been much like caring for an infant.  She’s getting stronger every day, but she’s still dependent on us to walk.  And walk she does.  She gets 3 short walks a day as well as stretches and exercises 2 times a day.  Jake is still a puppy in a full size body, so he has a lot of energy that needs to be released each day through play and walks.  Since the two of them still need to be separated, all of this happens independently.  By the time this is done I usually have about half an hour to get anything else done that I have in my “plan”.

Yesterday, on my walk with Jake, it dawned on me (sometimes I need a 2×4 to hit me over the head to make this happen), but I realized, this is the plan.  It might not be my plan, but it is what I’m supposed to be doing.  Caring for the dogs has actually done a lot for me.  Having been sick for a couple of years, my body got weak.  Supporting Darby and staying active with Jake has strengthened me both physically and spiritually.  While I’m being leaned on, I need to lean on someone else for strength to get me through it all.

So while things aren’t going according to my plan, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’m trying my best to help Darby recover as fully as possible, watching the baby steps of success everyday while at the same time trying to make sure Jake gets what he needs as well. In the interim, I’m trying to stick to my commitment to myself to blog and do landscaping and other creative “stuff”.   Right now I don’t have the time to do it all, so I’m learning to allow myself to simply do what I can and ask for help when I need it.  (The asking for help thing doesn’t come easy for me. Call it pride, stubbornness, heritage or upbringing it is one of my “quirks”.)

So today, I had an hour before the kiddo gets home.  My choice was this… post for 1/2 and take Jake for a walk for the other 1/2.  That’s my plan… and with 29 minutes left, I’m kind of sticking to it.

This…..  is where I’m headed.

A walk in the park


September 28, 2011

How’s Darby?

Well, Darby’s home.

Her surgery went well.  When I called last Friday evening for an update on her they told me she was eating, everything was functioning properly but she had “sad eyes” and was resting.  I know that look.  Ouch.  They said if she was doing well and was able to take baby steps she should still be able to come home on Saturday but that we would get a call from the Dr. Saturday morning to confirm.

Saturday morning I got the call.  I could tell by the sound in her Doctor’s voice that it was good news, and it was.  When the doctor went in to check on Darby that morning, Darby stood up and took two steps toward the Dr. Robles before she fell over!  Her doctor was delighted.  That’s a huge improvement from even the night before! When we brought her in she not only couldn’t stand on her own at all, but even if we supported her, her back legs still just dragged behind her.  Standing is awesome and taking steps on her own was even better.  So Darby got the  green light to come home.

Excited as I was, I was nervous as all get out.  It’s like bringing a new baby home.  Now what?!?  I was so afraid I was going to hurt her, break her, do the wrong thing…

Things are a bit different around here now.  Jake and Darby have to be completely separated, so that means everything that needs to be done with them needs to be done independently (feeding, eating, sleeping, going outside, etc.) whereas it was all done together in the past.

I’m also feeling a little bit like a nurse.  I typically check on her about every 2 hours (during the day – I don’t work the night shift) to see how she’s doing and get her outside.  She gets meds 3 times a day, which I hide in peanut butter.  She absolutely LOVES peanut butter!  But seriously, she has to wonder what the heck is in that peanut butter because every time she gets it, she gets tired and woosey.  Regardless, it doesn’t stop her from eating it.

She’s not allowed to have more than one hour of activity as day and has doctor’s orders to just hang out and watch TV.  In other words she’s “kenneled” 23 out of 24 hours in the day.  When she goes outside she’s allowed 5 – 10 minutes max. to do her business and then back inside she goes for more rest, relaxation and healing.

If you’re thinking this sounds cruel, I did at first too, but she really doesn’t seem to mind all that much.  Of course I forgot to mention, she’s not really in a kennel. In order for her to have enough room to eat, drink, sleep and turn around, but not enough room to walk so much as to fall down and get hurt, Darby is now living in a little space set -up in the sun room that we refer to as her apartment.

As far as Darby’s physical state, she’s improving little by little each day.  The first few days were trying because she still didn’t have complete control over all of her functions so she had quite a few accidents.  That became tricky trying to clean up, change bedding, swap stuff out, while supporting her so she didn’t tip over.  But we got there.  She also tired pretty quickly, and was in quite a bit of pain so I ended up carrying all 49 lbs of her (yes, she’s on a diet now) in and out and up and down stairs.  I realize that doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re lifting, carrying and trying to be as gentle as possible so as not to jar her or hurt her in any way and you’re doing it multiple times a day, MAN do you feel it!  But it’s a super fast way to get some pipes!

Darby is gaining strength every day which is really encouraging.  Her back end and back legs still need to be supported with a towel or her “hot pants with a handle” in order to walk.  If she is just wandering around the yard on her 10 minute jaunt she tends to look a little drunk.  Her legs aren’t as strong as they used to be and she wobbles and stumbles, but given the right motivation, she seems to forget the pain and she’s able to get going pretty well (with support).

She still has a couple of months of recovery ahead of her, but it sounds like the first 2 weeks will be the most difficult for all of us.  The good news is she’s incredibly tough, very strong willed and determined to get back on walks.  We’re working through it all and starting to find our groove, so if things stay on the path we’re on right now I’m pretty optimistic she’ll be close to her fighting weight in a couple of months as well.

Please continue to send prayers for a speedy recovery, because so far they appear to be working!


September 22, 2011

A sigh of relief

“How’s Darby?” “What time is it?”  I opened my eyes to look at the clock. 6:58.  I’d overslept. Three and a half hours until the MRI. “Please, God, let it be a disc (and not Cancer).” “I hope she knows I love her.” “I hope she’s not in pain right now.”  “She’s in good hands, they’re taking care of her.”  “She’ll be fine.”  “They said they’d call you after the MRI.”  “Just relax.”

Darby stayed over night at the hospital last night so they could keep her pain under control.  She went in for her MRI this morning at 10:30.  As Anna told me would happen, I got a call from the Doctor around 11:00 confirming that Darby did in fact have a slipped disc and in her words “It’s pretty impressive.”  She said she is amazed Darby is doing as well as she is.  They were taking her directly into surgery and I should hear in about two and a half to three hours as to how it went.  Like clockwork,  about 3 hours later I got another call.  She was in recovery and doing well.  They had cleaned everything out and released the pressure but had also found blood.  She said that something had caused it to hemorrhage within the past day or so which is most likely why things had changed for the worse.  But it’s done.  All clean, looks good and the surgery went well.

Darby will be hanging out at the hospital a couple more days. She’ll be under 24 hour observation to monitor her pain and progress and begin her recovery.  The Doctor said that she needs to show signs of improvement and start taking “baby steps” before she’ll be able to come home.  Once home it will be weeks before she’ll be walking again and months before she’s totally healed.

So we have a long road ahead of us, but at last I can breathe a sigh of relief.  We’ve made it over the first hurdle.  Atta girl!


September 22, 2011

An angel in disguise

I’ve been waiting to post anything about, well, anything the past couple of days because my heart hasn’t been into landscaping, gardening or anything else because I’ve been completely focused on Darby.

The past 48 hours have been trying to say the least. Emotionally I’ve hit some pretty low lows and shed many, many tears.  Per the recommendation of our regular vet we took Darby to Veterinary Neurology at the U of M on Tuesday.  The Doctor changed her medications a little and wanted us to take her home and observe her for a few more days to see if she would begin to heal on her own.  If she didn’t begin to show signs of improvement or began to getting worse we were advised to bring her back.  In a little over 24 hours after her initial visit to the U of M she had lost all use of her back legs as well as control over her bodily functions and her pain had gone up significantly.  I spent the majority of the afternoon cleaning her up, changing kennel pads and trying to make her comfortable.  By early evening it was evident I couldn’t do any more to help her.  She was in so much pain, moaning with every movement and I’d already given her the maximum dose of her pain meds with hours left to go before I could give her more.   Not wanting to move her another time to return her to her kennel, I sat on the floor petting and trying to comfort her.  I called the U of M.  I spoke with Anna, one of the people we’d seen the day before (and who I think is an angel in disguise) and described what was going on.  She told me to bring Darby in and they would care for her overnight until they could get her in for an MRI.  My chest instantly felt lighter.  Thankfully my mom was visiting at the time and could be a more rational and composed driver than I could be so she took my son, Darby and I over to the hospital.  As I was carrying Darby up the walkway I mentioned to my son that he would need to open the doors for me.  Just as he went to reach for the button the doors opened.  Again, my heart was lifted.  Knowing full well that there is a button behind the desk to open them and that the doors are glass, just like any other door, it seriously felt like the doors to heaven were being opened for me.  Inside the doors Anna stood waiting for us.  Maybe it was relief, maybe it was the tears clouding my vision, maybe it was the lighting, but when she stood there in front of me with her arms open wide, a gentle smile on her face and compassion in her eyes, I saw a halo.  Not a shiny gold hoop or fluffy feather headband thing on her head, but a soft glow surrounding her whole body.  She took Darby ever so gently from my arms and brought her in back so they could make her comfortable as fast as possible.  She laid the paperwork on the counter and said she would be back to go over it.  A weight had been lifted.  Never in my life have I put my trust in anyone so fast and I’m pretty sure I know the reason why.

I’m not a regular church-going girl but try to live my life and raise my son in a faithful way.  Many who know me well also know that I’m not one to discuss religion or my beliefs very openly so this may come as a little out of character for me.  I’ve met many people in my life, some of whom are family or friends, some are just people I’ve met in passing, who profess to be believers of one God or another, claim to be a Christian, a Mormon, or whatever it may be then turn around and behave in selfish, hurtful or less than Christ-like manner.

Never in my life have I had an experience like I did yesterday.  Anna, didn’t need to tell me who she believes in or what she believes, her behavior said it all.  Her compassion and caring for lives other than her own was incredible.  The weight she lifted off of my shoulders and the love and compassion I felt from her was more powerful than any mass or service I’ve ever attended and more sincere than I’ve been given by some people I’ve known most of my life.  Anna was just doing her job, but her presence and God’s presence within her was amazing.  I’ve never felt closer to God than I did yesterday.

I hope that some day I can repay her, maybe not in a direct sense, but by paying it forward.  Hanging onto that feeling I got from her, remembering how that felt and sharing that gift of unconditional love and compassion with the people I meet.  Anna impacted my life.  I hope to do the same for others.


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