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.”