Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dealing With the Mysteries

Yesterday was unexpectedly a very full day. The horses didn’t get much of my attention, even though Siete needed it. I had to take my mom to the doctor for a routine check-up. She’ll be 94 years old tomorrow, and it had been over a year since she had been to the doctor. Amazingly, she takes no medication and is very healthy. Some of the parts are starting to wear out. She has macular degenerative disease so her vision is blurry, and she is getting to be quite deaf yet she refuses to wear hearing aids. Recently, she’s been having some delusions, seeing people and hearing things that don’t exist.

Her doctor and I are weighing the options of giving her some medication to as he put it, “take the edge off” and help her sleep better. She gets up at night and wanders around the house, which makes me very nervous. I was really pleased that the doctor took a slow approach to the situation. He did some blood tests and made another appointment to see her in two weeks. He listened carefully while I told him what was going on with her at home. We spoke privately while the nurse drew the blood, but my mom knew that we were talking so I didn’t feel like I was hiding anything from her.

Coming home from the doctor, my car overheated. I pulled off on the side of the road in the parking lot of a fire station. Luckily, my husband was home, and he came to rescue me. While my mom and I waited for him with the hood up and the engine steaming, four people stopped to ask if I needed help. We were gone for about two hours by the time we got the car to the mechanic’s. In the meanwhile, big drama had occurred at home.

My sister-in-law is visiting us again. We love her, and since she’s recently moved nearer to us, we are happy to be seeing more of her. She brings her big dog, who is a good boy but feeling very stressed out now with the move to a new place. He’s used to having a yard and his dog buddies. Now, they are living in an apartment, and my sister-in-law is finding it hard to give him enough exercise. Our old dog, Pepper, gets along with Duke, but she feels his emotional tension. They are fine in the rest of the house, but whenever they both end up in my husband’s office, she growls at him and he growls back. Pepper never growls, so this tells me a lot. I try to make sure that they don’t get territorial.

Unfortunately, while we were gone, the dogs went into the office and my daughter was trapped in between them. Growling erupted, and then, as my daughter tried to get out of the way, Duke nipped her on the back of her jeans. At age 13, my daughter has never been scared of dogs, but this terrified her. I think she felt betrayed by Duke since she loves him so much. She was hiding in her room when I got home, refusing to come out.

Did I mention yet that Siete was lame again on the opposite back leg from where she was lame earlier in the week? I had intended to call the vet when I got home. Obviously, my daughter’s wellbeing took priority. By the end of the day, we had calmed her down enough that she was able to be in the kitchen with me, my sister-in-law and Duke, helping to make dinner. My husband fed the horses and tucked them in for the night.

I finally sat down at my computer and began to research Lyme Disease. I think that’s what’s going on with Siete since it’s very similar to the symptoms from last year’s bout of this systemic illness. There’s so little information about it that it’s frustrating. I couldn’t call the vet at 10 pm to chat, so I started reflecting on the mystery of illness. It led me to Rachel Naomi Remen, a doctor whom I admire very much. She wrote “Kitchen Table Wisdom” and “My Grandfather’s Blessings”, wonderful books about living and dying. She talks about how we want to control our lives and find cause and effect for everything. If I do this, this happens. If I don’t, then this will happen. Unfortunatley, it doesn’t always work that way since life is larger than we are.

I read an interview with Dr. Remen where she points out, “Diagnosis is an opinion, not a prediction.” Gnosis actually means “mystery” in Greek. I’m in such a hurry to “fix” what’s wrong with Siete, and I’m having a hard time with the idea that my fabulous little horse might not be sound for the rest of her life. I realize that I have to take the same approach to this situation as I do with my mother’s aging issues. Weighing medicine and nutritional supplements whether it’s for humans or animals is a delicate balance. It’s so easy to create new problems while you’re trying to help make things better.

I went to bed thinking about something that Rachel Naomi Remen said: “Growth is a strategy of being moved by adversity to grow larger than the things we have to live with.”


XmaryX said...

As soon as you said that Siete was lame in the opposite leg as last week, I thought of Lyme Disease. My (daughter's) horse had it a couple of years ago, and either the vet or online research told me that vague lameness that "shifts" from limb to limb is a common indication. Our horse had similar "shifting" lameness, as well as being crabbier than usual- she just wasn't "right". The vet will do the blood test to be sure, though. If you're prescribed tablet anti-biotic, a coffee grinder dedicated to that purpose works great to pulverize them, if like our horse, Siete pushes the pills off her food. Good luck with everything- it sounds like your life is kind of full right now!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I like that quote. It seems that bad things have to happen all at the same time, so that we have little chance of totally resolving any single problem. When we don't resolve them completely, they just keep coming back. I must say to myself half a dozen times a day, "I thought I fixed that!" But before I can fix it again, I'm interrupted with another problem -- only to be prodded by the original problem which leads me to say, "I thought I fixed that!"

billie said...

Wow - your day was full of intensity all around ... I hope things settle down and you find some direction to take with your mom and Siete's ongoing lameness issues.

BTW, I love the books you mentioned. Both are books I keep buying and end up giving away. Right now I don't think I have either one in my library.

deejbrown said...

I happen to be in the middle of "My Grandfather's Blessings" and read it with a highlighter on hand.
I love your writing, your ability to put troubles into perspective, and hand it over to another wisdom, whatever that may be.
I wonder if your mother really is seeing things that do exist, but that we cannot yet see. These things make me wonder about how sound we all are when it comes to sight.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks XMX, NM, Billie and Deej - I was worried that I was getting a bit too personal, but your responses give me good food for thought. Someone else has suggested to me that my mom may see things that we can't see because she's closer to the "other side". It's interesting to consider, but once again, it will always remain a mystery. I soaked Siete's back legs in case there are abscesses, but I don't see any. I wish I'd had time to get the vet out here yesterday. Now, I'll have to wait until Monday. Poor baby is definitely hurting. I'm going to keep soaking to see if I can draw anything out. I'm hoping it's abscesses but feeling more and more certain that it's Lymes.

Grey Horse Matters said...

First let me wish your Mom a very happy birthday! It's not that surprising that she sees or hears things others don't, I've seen this before with my grandmother and grandfather who used to have conversations with members of the family that were long gone. I don't know the reason it happens but it does.

It does sound like Siete is suffering from a recurrence of her Lyme's, I'm sure as soon as she gets on the antibiotics it will clear up in no time.

Sorry to hear about your daughter but I'm sure in a little while she will forget about the nip and be fine with dogs again. It is a scary situation to be bit by a dog and I can understand her anxiety.

You certainly are having busy days with not much calmness, but I'm sure with your terrific insights into the human and animal world things will work out just fine.
Hang in there, hugs and good thoughts are coming your way.

Ewa said...

That quote is very meaningful. I love it.
Your mama has birthday today, right?
Send her blessings from Poland.

Victoria Cummings said...

Arlene - Thanks for the hugs and good thoughts - I need them right now. I was going to start Siete on doxy yesterday, but I'd like to have the vet try a blood test so I decided to wait. This morning, Siete seems sore but not as bad as yesterday.
Ewa - Blessings for her birthday from Poland mean a great deal to my mom - Thanks!

LJB said...

Your Mom brings memories of my Mom. I lived in her house at the end of her life (she wasn't as well as your mother is!) and explored how to connect with her when her perceptions didn't match mine. We had some interesting exchanges and I felt good about not trying to bring her into my world so to speak. Ultimately her nighttime wandering was controlled by some amazing HIGH dosages of an anti-anxiety medicine, that high dose we got as the lower doses weren't working and we decided to raise it bit by bit. It was worth it as Mom as we knew her was "back" for the last six weeks of her life.

Your poor daughter! She will have some caution around dogs now that she didn't have before. I guess that comes with mixed emotion -- relief she will have some caution, and sorrow that she now feels the need for caution.

It's nice to have a few moments to read your blog this morning.

Nor’dzin said...

My mom is 92 and also sees people who aren't there and even talks to them. Our doctor said it is quite common in elderly people and that as long as she is not disturbed by it, that it is nothing to worry about. Mom actually finds it quite comforting, so I have stopped worrying. I hope Siete gets well soon.

Callie said...

Wow, sounds like a very taxing day! Hope that all turns out ok and your Mom, daughter and Siete get the things that help them heal!

Simply Marvelous said...

Happy Birthday to your mother. 94 years old! She's been doing something right! And how fortunate you are to have her with you, in spite of the challenges. You will treasure each and every memory.

You said ... It’s so easy to create new problems while you’re trying to help make things better.

That sure happens around here. Perhaps that explains why decisions are sometimes made slowly, when possible.

All the best ...

Musiq Mayneack said...

hey there hey there.

i posted my second blog! its been about 6 months so you've probably forgotten about me. please let me know what you think!

-rusty j

Gecko said...

Wow, lots of happenings for one day!

I know how your daughter feels, a friend's dog had a nip at me when I turned up outside her house and he didn't know who I was...scared me too although I can't imagine what it would be like for her at such a young age. Poor hun.

Good luck with everything though! (even though this is an older post)