Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life with Mikey

I added a new “child” to my household this year – a golden retriever named Mikey. I actually just hated writing down the word “child” in reference to a pet – there is no correlation to this cute canine being a child other than it is another life form to which I can dote on, brag about, play with, dress up, feed too much, clean up poop and vomit, brush his hair, and teach new things. Other than that, nothing in common.

In fact, when I was younger, I pitied those women who seemed to only have a life that involved working in a cube and going home to their pets that they treated like their children, a surrogate family. I’ll never be like that, I thought. Wait a minute, “We have met the enemy and he is us!" (Pogo author Walt Kelly). Life doesn’t quite turn out as you have in mind. I’ve rewritten my future in my mind several times in my life, and find it is easier instead to joyfully adapt to the life that I have been given.

Mikey, our new canine companion, has turned out to be a great distraction this year and I can’t imagine living in a house without a dog again – although it is a distinct possibility given my horrible dog allergies and the fact that we got Mikey when he was 11 years old.

We adopted Mikey last Christmas (2009) from my dad, a golden retriever breeder. Mikey loves being the only dog in a family now as he gets all the petting, toys, and quiet naps he wants. He also gets to join Tim at his hunting camp, goes on regular walks with me around the neighborhood, and is rabid about fetching tennis balls.

I love the fact that he sticks to us like a shadow, eternally inquisitive about anything we are doing. He loves to shove his big nose in the middle of the anything we are unwrapping (mail, Christmas gifts, groceries, etc.), lay his head on the newspaper or book we are reading, or plop down in a round ball of soft golden fur near wherever we may be, brown eyes focused on us, poised to hop up and follow us into the next room should we make a move. Unless he dozes off, body extended and relaxed, feet twitching as if running in a dog dream.

The best word to describe Mikey besides man's best friend is "hopeful." He's hopeful I'm going to give him an ice cube when I'm getting myself some water, hopeful I'm getting him a treat when I walk anywhere near the kitchen, hopeful I'm going to play catch with him when he drops a sloppy tennis ball in my lap, hopeful I will pet him when my hand falls near his head.

So enthralled I am with Mikey that I even wrote some Mikey-haiku in twitter (3 April 2010) for the #haiku group. The haiku word of the day was “niveous:”

Brown eyes shine / niveous cataracts cloud / still catches ball mid-air

That was my second attempt at haiku that day. The first one was:

Beef knuckle bone came / dog has forgotten 'bout me / his tennis ball waits

Mikey has provided me something to care for, love on, look forward to visiting at lunchtime, and he is company when Tim is off on one of his many self-sufficient pursuits. Tim doesn’t really need me – though I make his life easier and hopefully more enjoyable than without me. Mikey, however, needs me.

So, life with Mikey is very enjoyable and I’m thankful for this opportunity to have him in our lives for however long that may be. We hope to have him for a few more years. We might continue to be a rest home for other goldens that are past their prime (an expensive and short-term mission for sure). That may pull on our heart strings several times a decade, but the pleasure might be worth it. For the dog and for us.

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." - EM Forster

Monday, August 23, 2010

So, I faced it. I didn't have kids.

Ahem. Me here. The-blogger-who-does-not-blog. You may be thinking, "She probably was doing that avoidance thing." Well, that would be partly true. On the other hand, I do have some updates.

You: Did you go talk to your church about what you found on your blog?
Me: Yes, to several people. To one close friend who is in ministry, who read that blog post to the staff. Also, to the women's ministry leader, who met with me and discussed how I should keep writing, share my blog with others and turn my story into a book. Before taking the idea for starting a women's group for women who were childless not by choice further, she wanted to speak to one of the elders who is also a counselor. She did, and then he wanted to meet with me to discuss this further.

In meeting with the elder, he revealed a) that the church has a hard time creating special interest groups led by one person - that it needs to be something that will be self-sustaining regardless of the leader (which I agreed with wholeheartedly); b) that clearly - after handing me the Kleenex box a few times - I needed to seek counseling with my husband as he was part and parcel to the problem over which I was weeping; and, c) that maybe I should start by writing some articles for the church newsletter.

Hmm, call me crazy but I'm detecting a theme here. I haven't written anything yet. I'm thinking about it.

You: So, did you get the "stuff" taken out?
Me: Not exactly. I tried to. I called my Dr. Second Opinion back and said, "I'd like to schedule surgery with you." Her response was, "Yeah, well, I'm not comfortable performing this surgery on fibroids your size via laparoscopy, so I recommend you speak with a very experienced specialist in this area, Dr. Third Opinion." Well, alrighty then. I contacted Dr. Third Opinion. He (ugh) is a very well regarded fibroid and laparoscopy specialist; that is all he does. Apparently it takes months to get in to see him, and the first available appointment wasn't until December. I gave them my information and waited. The day before the appointment, the office called and said that I should prepare to pay the first time patient consultation fee of $700. "Do what?" I said. "But I thought you took my health plan?" I cried. "Do what?" the nurse said. "Sweetie, we don't take your insurance. In fact, we don't take most people's insurance. We don't have to - there are lots of women in Atlanta who pay cold hard cash for this doctor. He is just that good."

I of course asked (or thought) all the other questions: Then why did you take all my coverage information months ago and not say anything? Why didn't you tell me your insurance policy that day on the phone? Why did you not give me any inkling that this guy wasn't going to be Dr. Third Opinion before I went through a few months thinking soon I would get my "stuff" taken out and be done with this dilemma? And what do I do now?


And then came the holidays.

And now it is August the following year.

You: So you did nothing?
Me: Yes, sometimes "doing nothing" is the best option, even for professional avoiders. You see, I really wasn't suffering from any of the classic problems some women have with fibroids (severe cramping and bleeding), other than I have a "bump" equivalent to the size of a 14 week fetus (the way GYN's measure this stuff, seriously). I really felt fine and I thought that perhaps I was put through those experiences for a purpose: to make me deal with the fact that I didn't have kids and wasn't going to have kids. And that I should be OK with that, because He wanted me to be. My lesson was to take life as it comes, rejoice, and be glad in it.

And, I really do feel sort of liberated in a way. I didn't have to go through what in my mind is a very serious and life-threatening surgery (OK it is routine for most docs but not for ME). I went through a year of mentally working through and turning over the situation. I spoke to several people at my church and to a few close friends about what I learned on this blog and, in the process, spoke about my problems. I did write more and I enjoyed it.

So, I faced it. I didn't have kids. Now what?