Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The End of the Tunnel January 17, 2015

It reminds me a bit of when mom had her knee surgery. I got to spend a lot more time with her than usual as she recovered. The nights were long, and contained the occasional tearful cry at 3 a.m. that woke both dad and I up. That part was awful. But all the extra time with her was certainly the silver lining. As was hearing her tell me my snuggles helped her leg feel better. It’s kind of like that again.

Except this time, it’s my dear Aunt Morgan who is recovering. She had something called carpal tunnel surgery on her hands recently. Recovery has been far from easy for her, especially since the surgeries happened surprisingly close together, but it seems to me like the worst is definitely behind us now. Throwback Saturday

The best part is I can say so knowledgably because I’ve been fortunate enough to see it happen. I watched the faint twitch develop into a terrible inconvenience for her before the surgery. I watched her struggle to do a whole lot of anything for the first couple of weeks post-surgery, since her hands were bandaged fairly heavily. And I am happy to report I watched today as she picked up dear baby Carter (a few times) with no issue what-so-ever.

I’ve been fortunate enough to witness all of this first-paw because she’s been around my forever home a lot recently. And I’ve got to say, it bothers me when she points it out like it’s a bad thing. When she says she’s imposing or bothering us or intruding on our plans. Because she never is.

She’s a welcome presence in our forever home. We all think so. And you should see how happy Carter is to see her at any given moment. Beyond that, we all know this is a phase in life that will one day all-too-soon come to an end. So I don’t even listen to that nonsense she says about being around too much.

Instead, I embrace the moments of joy that happen when this segment of my forever family is all together. Like when she picked Carter up so many times today. That was special to me not just because of the love captured in their embrace, but because it demonstrates renewal coming full circle.

She got a fresh start with this surgery. And I know there were probably times when it seemed like the pain would never end. But it is. This too shall pass. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and it’s a welcome sight.

 

A Healing Pain December 16, 2014

At first it was fairly subtle. A faint twitch here and there. Slightly less time on that Smartphone contraption. A few less pets than usual when she visited. From there it seemed to escalate at a surprisingly speedy pace. The twitching became more noticeable. The Smartphone was set aside more frequently. Almost no pets (but lots of verbal love) when she visited. Gratitude

It turns out my dear aunt Morgan has carpal tunnel. In both her hands. Her case seemed to worsen overnight to the point where I noticed her frequently shaking out her tingling hands to lessen the pain. I cringed when I overheard the stories she told my forever mom about waking up screaming in pain. No one I love should ever hurt like that.

Well, today is a new day for my dear aunt Morgan’s hands. A fresh start. Today marks the day of the first of two surgeries to repair her damaged wrists and, in doing so, restore her quality of life. So she can use her hands like a normal person again. I’ve missed those pets, after all.

Joking aside, it really pains me when someone I care about is hurting. Physically. Emotionally. Psychologically. Pain is not one of my favorite things. But if there’s something pain has taught me, it’s to not take anything for granted. Some things aren’t fixable with surgery or therapy or whatever other interventions are out there. And life has a way of working itself out.

Fortunately, many things are fixable. If all goes well, my dear aunt’s hands will be among them so there will be no more twitching and pain. Pets will be restored. The pain of the past will be replaced by a new pain, which I suppose is the only kind I don’t particularly mind. A healing pain. After watching first-paw something so subtle rapidly turn into something so terribly painful, take it from me. A healing pain is a good pain. Because as Gautama Buddha suggested “pain is inevitable in life, but suffering is optional.”

 

A Living Emotion April 4, 2014

Today I was confronted with a conundrum. Happiness is a living emotion, as a favorite author of mine Sarah Ban Breathnach would say. The optimist in me believes this as truth. Yet today I encountered another living emotion. Or six.

Sadness. Grief. Devastation. Complete and utter dismay. My arsenal of positivity was not strong enough to battle these things today. I failed and I’m not afraid to admit it. It has happened before, but I don’t think it’s ever been quite this bad. Maybe it’s because I can’t say I blame them.

Mom got bad news today. Really bad news. Epically bad news. That little slip on the ice about a month ago that the doctor hoped was just a sprain? Some test called an MRI showed otherwise. It’s a torn ACL. I don’t know much about these things other than that is what mom talked so much about with her other knee before surgery the last time.

And I was here. I saw how bad it was. Mom has (not-so-jokingly) said it was worse than recovery from labor. I don’t know what happened when they went to that hospital place three months ago, but I can’t imagine it was pretty. She was there for days, after all. The knee surgery was only an outpatient procedure. She was back home the same day. And she cried. All the time. I remember her crying out in pain in the middle of the night. It was bad. wpid-20140309_115645.jpg

So the thought of it happening again has taken our whole home by complete shock. She will be completely immobile for at least a week or two. Fortunately the damage is nothing near as bad as it was in the other knee, but the doctor still estimates the recovery time as about the same as last time. How on Earth will she do the thing that matters most to her in the whole world right now? How will she take care of our little person?

These are among what I would call the big picture questions my people were asking themselves tonight. That, and a question that broke my little doggie heart. How will we ever get ahead, dad asked to no one in particular. Mom cried at the thought. It’s like I’m on a hamster wheel, she said. Every time I think I’ll break free, something holds me back and I keep spinning in useless circles. I might not care much for hamsters (as it’s in my nature as a terrier not to), but the concept of their wheel is one that has always made me a little sad.

Today sadness was the emotion living in our house. Try as I might, I realized there are some things even my best tricks can’t fix. This is a pretty awful situation. These things happen. But life goes on. If I had a message for my beloved forever people on this day of days, that would be it. Life goes on. This too shall pass. It sucks. I won’t say it doesn’t. But life will keep plodding on, and I will be here to remind them of that each and every day.

 

Recipe for an Unforgettable Day November 12, 2013

Some days are imprinted on our minds as if they were yesterday. Others blur and fade. And, every now and then, life hands us a combination of both. I’ve noticed that heightened emotions and extreme situations in the same day create a recipe for the kind of day that you’ll never forget with moments that you struggle to remember.

Like what happened to my mom one year ago today. I knew something was awry that morning when she and dad interrupted our usual sleep routine to go to the hospital well before most people wake for the day. It was still dark outside, and (unfortunately) there was a sense of darkness in both of them. Fear. It haunted us that day.

I worried the entire time they were gone, and my worry met its match when they returned. It was about eight hours later, but may as well have been eight months the way I saw it. Nothing could have prepared me for the days that followed.Hope Floats

There is a sound us canines make when we’re in pain. Mom hates it. It’s akin to a screech or a squeal, and it communicates that we are in intensely extreme discomfort. I don’t make it often, but when I do it’s usually because someone stepped on my paw or my tail. And I immediately seek some sort of acknowledgment from the person since I know they couldn’t have meant to hurt me.

Mom was the embodiment of the people version of that sound those few days after surgery. She had something called knee reconstruction surgery, where the doctor apparently grafted her a new ACL, repaired an incredibly shredded MCL and did a repair on a horizontal tear on her meniscus he only does in 5% of cases. Whatever all that means didn’t matter to me.

What did matter was the immediate aftermath, and the painful recovery that followed. I hated every minute of it. Worse yet, I hated to see dad struggle to take care of her and somehow (at the same time) shield her from how afraid he really was. Fear. I know that’s part of the reason mom kept crying out in the night. She was afraid. And so was I. It was disarming for me to see my people, my rocks, seem to be crumbling around me.

Those days, those fearful days, are imprinted on our minds and hearts forever. Yet, with time, they blur and fade. But what I remember most from the heightened emotions is what I am most thankful for today. We got through it. We persevered. And now look at us. Here we are a year later with a little person on the way. Mom’s knee (almost never) bothers her anymore. All of this stands to show – fear is no match for hope.

 

Back to Life November 11, 2013

I thought I was dead. I was sure that the bright light I was seeing was the pathway to the Rainbow Bridge that takes you to doggie heaven. I saw my life flash before my eyes in that moment. And it was beautiful.

All-the-while I cried. I cried that piercing awful doggie squeal that mom has said tears at her heart. And that’s when I felt the urge to fight back. I wasn’t done with my mom and dad yet. I loved them too much to give up this beautiful life they’ve brought me into. So I wiggled and squiggled and then bam. I fell to the ground.Second Chances

It all happened so fast, I didn’t even know what was happening until it was over. It was surreal listening to mom (somewhat hysterically) relaying the information to the veterinary clinic when we were on a car ride a few moments later.

It was just the dog and his people at the park that day. The dog was on a picnic table, which never stopped me before and certainly wouldn’t have stopped me that day. I hopped up to greet him but he didn’t want to greet me. Instead, he grabbed me by my neck and dangled me there, swinging me around from his teeth from his perch atop the table. And it hurt. It still did, I realized then, on my neck and by my left eye. It hurt a lot.

But I wasn’t afraid. I listened to mom finish recounting the story when we got to the veterinary clinic about how the people ran off with their dog immediately upon him releasing me and said nothing but “don’t worry, he has his shots.” She was a wreck. And yet I knew everything would be okay.

The doctor lady looked me over, paying special attention to my eye as she told mom that I was very lucky. “(That particular breed) has curved teeth that could have very easily taken out his eye today,” she told mom. Then she looked at me and said “you’re very lucky, little Wiley.”

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly lucky, but I suppose I was that day. But it wasn’t all luck. I realized that today, one year later, as mom and I spent some quality time together at that same park. It was because I am blessed. With a loving family and a beautiful life filled with second chances. I certainly got another chance at life that day, for which I will be forever grateful.

 

Hope in Gratitude January 14, 2013

Hope in GratitudeWriting can be a bit like life. Some days are like poetry, weaving experiences together in the most beautiful (albeit sometimes ironically morbid) of prose. Those days can be easier than others to write things worth reading. Other days are like the worst case of writer’s block. Nothing among the list of one’s ordinary function comes easy. Even waking up (or picking up a pen and paper) sounds absolutely impossible on “one of those days.”

Either way, I’m starting to notice how easy it is to find something to bring a ray of sunshine into even the cloudiest case of writer’s block. I say this because if its possible for a dog to have what humans refer to as “one of those days,” that was my life today. Instead of shattering a glass on the hardwood or breaking a nail (which I’ve heard can be quite painful for womenfolk), I struggled to find any inspiration in today.

Mom journeyed back to this place she calls work today. I missed her terribly. After all the time off for her leg surgery, I realize I’d gotten spoiled with people time during the day. But to make matters worse, I could tell things didn’t go well by her emotional state when she came home over her lunch break. And again when she came home from work well after the sun went down. And I will be the first to admit it: a tough day on her takes a toll on me. I can easily slip into a darker way of thinking, wishing more than anything I can somehow be that lantern of love I’ve pledged to be while at the same time not having any idea of how to light the match.

Then something hits me. A ray of sunshine makes its way through the cloudy darkness that is the blank screen or notepad mocking me with its silence. Today it was two things combining in perfect harmony, just like poetry coming together on the page: music and good writing. Two obvious things that inspire me (and lots of other thoughtful writers, poets and songwriters), but as I am embracing simplicity this year I find solace in (even) these most obvious of things. Miracles happen in simple moments like this.

I was reading today’s thoughts on Simple Abundance, which focus on finding specific things to be thankful for in even the cloudy days while listening to “Tell Me a Story” on Phillip Phillips’ album.

“Hope is just a ray of what everyone should see
alone is the street where you found me
scared of what’s behind you
and scared of what’s in front
live with what you have now
and make the best of what’s to come.”

Phillips sings to me his guitar-stringed thoughts on the world, and I find myself so grateful for his words that I want to share them with anyone who reads. Quite the paradox, since today’s Simple Abundance entry cites the thoughts of author Melody Beattie.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow,” she said.

Tantalizing little cursor on a blank screen? You’re no match for me. Trouble lighting the match for my lantern of love? Forget about it. There is hope in gratitude, even on a day like today.