Wednesday, August 26, 2009 the East Side

So yesterday, the husband and I made a trip to the Upper East Side. As we were heading up the West Side Highway( pictured) I made sure he was certain that what we were going to get was there. I told him that I did not want to take the car out, drive from the lower west to the upper east of Manhattan unless he was certain it was there. And by it, I meant that it needed to be in perfect condition and all my requirements had to be met. He assured me everything was according to my specifications.

As we crossed from the west side to the east side via Central Park I realized that it was the first time Belle, our car, had been driven through the park. I had to take a picture.

As we were approaching 5th Ave, where the east side of Central Park begins (also known as Central Park East) I began getting nervous. After all, Ric has said and done so many thing over the past year, we might arrive at where we were going and I might realize it was all a figment of his imagination.

As we were driving down 2nd Ave (I believe) there was a very attractive man talking at the corner. I figured he was worth the picture since I wont see my soho boys for a couple of weeks.
And when we arrived, there she was, just as Ric said she would be. At the 92nd Street ASPCA, which by all standards has got to be the nicest, cleanest, most efficient ASPCA in all the land, our little girl was ready to go.

In keeping with our tradition of naming our dogs after the area from which they come, we named our 1 year old Cairn Terrier, Weezie, after Louise Jefferson on The Jefferson's.
Weezie on her first car ride home, curious she! At one point she rolled down the window. Thank God for child safety window locks on the car

Weezie was perfect but she stunk so the first thing we did (I did) when we arrived at the loft was give her a good scrubbing. She was having none of it.
It was like that part of the rodeo where they send all the kids out to chase the pigs and the pigs slip through the kids' hands. She HATED it!

After Weezie dried off and I took a bath I familiarized her with her new home.
Ric posing with Weezie

Me posing with Weezie just after I woke up from a nap (Pardon the hair. Mine, not hers)

Weezie with her new favorite toy on her new favorite bed, which happens to be ours. She slept with us last night. It was nice. It was just as it should be. We waited, Ric, my amazing healing husband picked her out, he did all the ground work in securing her adoption and prayers were answered.

Weezie loves people, other animals including cats, and is fully up to date on all her shots.

And I would just like to write a word or two about the 92nd Street ASPCA. I highly recommend anyone getting a dog who happens to live in the tri-state area to adopt from them. Not only do they know their stuff, while you are there you speak to a behavior specialist about your dog, you go speak to the vet about your dog, you get a bag full of goodies for your dog, you are given a certificate for a free follow up visit with the Animal Hospital on the premises. You are given everything you need to ensure that your new dog's transition into your home is as pleasant as possible. We love this place.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When Angels Sleep

As you may have noticed, my series Angels I Don't See, has not been updated in nearly a month. Though many "part"s of the story are written I have not posted them for various reasons. Interestingly enough, I have noticed a steep decline in my readership over that period of time as well. I suppose an explanation is in order. Many of you who have followed my blog(s) over the years know that I abruptly stop writing or posting without any explanation whatsoever. Many times in the past, it was due to a relapse or because of some other dramatic event. Thankfully this time my lack of attention to this blog has nothing to do with those things.

Over recent weeks I have been experiencing fatigue, the likes of which I have never experienced before. Doctors and therapists and other professionals who have seen me all have a name for it: Caregiver Burnout. In fact, one therapist, when going over a list of signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout, noted that all but three applied to me. The list, though not exhaustive, is as follows:

  • Being on the verge of tears or crying a lot
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Overreacting to minor nuisances
  • Feeling constantly exhausted
  • Losing interest in work
  • Decrease in productivity of work
  • Withdrawing from social contacts
  • Increasing use of alcohol or stimulants
  • Nervous habits such as chain smoking
  • Change in eating patterns
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Increasing use of medications for sleeplessness, anxiety, depression
  • Inability to relax
  • Scattered thinking
  • Feeling increasingly resentful
  • Being short-tempered with care recipient frequently
  • Increasing thoughts of death

Since that time, all but four apply to me. I quit smoking a few weeks ago (not for health reasons, mind you, but because it was just so damned expensive. And yes, quitting has been hard). Since I do not work (though being Ric's caregiver is a full time job) and do not drink that knocks four of the 17 off the list. And the idea of finding a job is overwhelming (see sign #2). But 13 out of 17 is not good. And, for me, at the top of that list is "feeling constantly exhausted".

So, dear readers, this is not just a post about my woes and how tired I am. It is a request. Over the Labor Day weekend, two of Ric's relatives will be visiting from Saturday, September 5th- Monday September 7th. And I need to get out of town (or at least out of the loft), not because his relatives are coming but because I need two days of peace and quiet and they will be able to watch him during that time.

If anyone in the tri-state area or beyond would be willing to have me as a houseguest for two days, please let me know. Originally I was going to just drive somewhere upstate or possibly New Hope (I heart New Hope), Philadelphia or Pitt and get a cheap hotel room and do nothing but perhaps read and walk and be still. However, after much prayer and counsel (thanks, MF) and the fact that I don't even have enough money for a cheap hotel room, I decided to reach out to you, dear readers. Also, me alone in a hotel room has never ended positively.

Or, if you live somewhere far away and want to fly me, that works as well (I'm kidding. Ok, not really. I will take all offers. I am not below begging ).

I do have some requirements. What's that you say? Why would I have requirements after having the audacity to ask to crash somewhere for two days? Well, here's the deal.

I need PEACE and QUIET. I need a place that I feel comfortable enough to come and go as I please and can sleep (or not) for two days. If that place is in Manhattan, fine. If it's in New Paltz, that's fine as well. But it needs to be peaceful and somewhere I can decompress without worry that I am imposing or getting in the way. Also I am 6 feet 6 inches tall. So unless you have a long couch or an extra bed I would probably not be a good fit.

Another thing, I don't camp. What I mean by that is I would rather be waterboarded than camp. It's just not my thing. I admire those that can (LL and MM) but just like throwing a football (or for that matter, watching a football game), it is not something I can do. My idea of camping includes a concierge and room service (I may be on food stamps, but a boy can still dream).

It also needs to be a place where there is no alcohol.

I know, it's asking a lot. But I need to get away. And bonus for you. You will get to be with, and I quote, "the very famous Jon-Marc McDonald". What more could you ask for?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The dog that was not meant to be

Trotter, our precious dog, from 2001 to 2009

Those that follow this blog know that my series, Angels I Don’t See (AIDS), is only up to late January of 2009. As I have written before, the heart of the story has yet to be published. Much of what has occurred between January and now is truly astonishing and had I not lived it myself I would be hesitant to believe it.

One of those events was losing our precious and beloved little girl, our dog Trotter. She was the center of our universe and without getting into too many details here (that is a part of AIDS that will come later in the series) I was devastated and the day she was put down I was in such an emotional hell, the likes of which I have never experienced.

I decided at the time that getting another dog was unfair to the dog and to me. Ric was so sick and so incapable of doing even the simplest of tasks, so another dog, with all the unknown variables, was out of the question. Also, I was still grieving Trotter and the idea that another could replace her was inconceivable.

But as time went on, and Ric’s condition improved, I began toying with the idea. I felt it would be not only good for Ric, but therapeutic as well. Having a dog in the house would give Ric something to focus on besides the television and he could assist in training the dog and the dog would give Ric a companion in the rare times when he was left alone.

So earlier this week we went to a shelter looking for a Boston Terrier. Unfortunately, due to growing popularity of the breed we were unsuccessful. But as we went into the dog area of the shelter we saw a dog that piqued our interest. He was a Jack Russell Terrier, seemed sweet and, being the impulsive people we are we decided that, after taking him out of his crate and for a walk, we would adopt him.

There were many problems with this. The first was that the shelter was unsure if the dog was “dog aggressive”. While this should have given me pause when I heard it since we have so many dogs that live in our building, I thought we could train out the aggression, if such aggression even existed, of the dog. Inter alia, after researching JRTs on the internet I quickly realized that training a full grown JRT is extremely difficult, that they are lovable but stubborn and that they require rigorous exercise of running and playing outdoors.

Being Ric’s full time caregiver ( I do have help that comes in five days a week for a total of 27 hours, but I am still his full time caregiver) and given Ric’s dementia, I knew in my heart of hearts that the dog was not the right fit. But, much like a full grown JRT, I was stubborn and moved forward with plans to get our new dog, signing the adoption papers and paying the adoption fee.

Financially we did not have the money for the adoption fees and what would be a subsequent visit to vet and licensing of the dog, as required per the adoption papers. We also did not have the money for all the things we bought for our new dog and the things we had yet to buy that he needed.

Finally, after an email I received from our property manager that was curt and in many ways unnecessary, I determined that the only fair thing to do for the dog and for us was to cancel the adoption. Though the property manager’s email was unwarranted on many fronts, she did make some good points and, not being one to throw out the baby with the bathwater, I went to the shelter yesterday afternoon and stopped the adoption. I did so with a clean conscious since I knew that the shelter does not euthanize the dogs. I then returned home and gathered up all the things I bought for our new dog and, with Ric in tow, returned all the items.

Though these past few months has been a vale of tears, and though Ric cried the entire time we were driving to return the items, I knew that what I did was right for us and for the dog.

As my mother said, something better will come of this. Our heart, after all, was set on a Boston Terrier, and perhaps we will find one or even another breed that has a temperament better suited to Ric’s needs.

So now we return to searching for our new dog once again, one that perhaps we can adopt when we are financially on better footing and one that allows us all, including our property manager, to feel comfortable with our choice.

In the end, the adoption and subsequent cancellation, was my fault. I did not think it through. I so wanted a dog back in our lives that I was blinded by the realities that such a decision requires.

If any know of a small adult dog that has a good temperament around not only humans and little humans but also around other dogs and does not bark incessantly in the tri-state area (New York, Connecticut and New Jersey), let me know. Also we have a car and can travel to pick it up in Pennsylvania or Delaware or even Virginia.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Host of Angels

Ric, holding a bag full of meals from God's Love We Deliver

As I posted a couple of weeks ago, I am running in the Race to Deliver in Central Park on November 22nd to raise money for God's Love We Deliver (GLWD), an organization that provides not only nutritious and life sustaining food for those who are terminally ill and home-bound, but has never turned away a person in need. Also, the food is delicious. You should see the food these people turn out. Ric is one of those people that receives such food.

Well, it turns out that many have responded to sponsor me in the race by donating. In fact, I am honored that each and every person that has so generously given of their hard-earned money has done so to help me achieve my goal of $2500.00. They are all angels.

But there are two angels that I wanted to address today. Two long time friends of my family donated the full $2500.00. They did so without hesitation and without question. In fact, on the honor roll of my race page, they elected to omit how much money they donated when in fact they donated the entire amount I set for myself to raise. They are angels for which there are no words. I would put their names here but have not asked their permission to do so, so I will just take this time to thank them. They are special people who have done so much for so many without taking any credit.

At this point, I am the number one fundraiser for the race, beating out both individuals as well as teams. And I am looking to maintain my lead. Though this race is not a competition to see who can raise the most money, I would love nothing more than to have the satisfaction of raising the most money of any individual (I am realistic after all. I know teams such as the MTV team and the Love Team will blow me out of the water as collective groups) running in the race (I will be walking by the way. I can't run my life, much less a race).

As an incentive to donate (no amount is too small...or too high), I have decided to shave all my beloved hair on my head if I reach the $5000.00 mark. And I will record the shaving for all to see here on this blog. Anyone who knows me knows that my hair is pretty special to me and the possibility of shaving it is a bit overwhelming, but the need to feed those in need is astonishingly overwhelming. I will also think of something else dramatic to do as well if the $5000.00 mark is reached. As soon as I figure it out I will let you know.

So, see that badge at the top right column (if you are reading this a few days after 8/02/09, the badge is at the top right column)? It takes you to my donation page where you can either safely donate online or download a form and mail in your donation. But please donate.

As a reference for what GLWD is, if you watched this year's Celebrity Apprentice, Joan Rivers' winnings went to GLWD
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