A Little Joy After My Bleak Posts Of Late…

A Little Joy After My Bleak Posts Of Late…

Some of you may have read my entries when I was nominated for a  (3) day blog challenge on “Quotes”. Of course, I chose dog quotes and I centered them around a pit bull mix puppy, approximately (6) months old named Blue. He had been discovered by security staff from one of Maine’s ski resorts, Sunday River in Newry on October 2, 2015. He was at the edge of the dense woods and to their horror  his muzzle had been taped shut. They called the ACO who in turn took him to  Bethel Animal Hospital which is owned by Dr. Gary Stuer,  part of my GSD Sasha’s medical team.  Honestly? As someone who lives in the Western Mountains of Maine, I can tell you with 100% conviction that it’s a miracle the puppy was discovered. The mountains are high and the woods dense and thick. Bethel and Newry (Sunday River) connect and you can’t tell when you’ve crossed the border of one into the other. 

Despite deep facial tissue damage the puppy  who the staff  named “Blue“,  made a wonderful recovery and was adopted by a lovely family. If you read this article  which also has a short video, you’ll find the link to Blue’s Instagram!

Bethel Animal Hospital had an Open House on October 8 and the guest of honor was no other than Blue! What a strong little guy he is! All muscle and kisses! One of the major networks was there and will be running a feature on him later this month.

They still haven’t found the waste of oxygen that did such a horrid thing to an innocent puppy then left him to die in the woods. I thought with the reward someone would have, as they say in Maine, thrown the culprit under the bus, but not yet and it’s been just over one year.

Blue is such a testament to the indomitable spirit that we all have but sometimes it’s in hiding. Look within yourself and you WILL find it. Maybe not all at once, but bit by bit. The will to survive is strong and a miracle thrown in along the way certainly doesn’t hurt.

My original posts:

Challenge #1  

Challenge #2 

Challenge #3 

“The average dog has one request to all humankind. Love me.”

~ Helen Exley

I’m Distraught So I’ll Write

I’m Distraught So I’ll Write

I’ve been having a difficult time the past week or so whenever I attempted to do the next entry in my GDS Sasha’s blog ~ only because the time period I’ll be writing about was very difficult for me. Then out of the blue on Thursday a woman on Twitter reached out and asked if I was the person who used to have a Facebook page for my black dog named Callie. I was dumbstruck and sat down because it really caught me off guard. She said she put two and two together because she remembered I had a German Shepherd with a Facebook page as well, was passionate (ok crazed) about K9 deaths due to handler negligence so connected the dots.  All she wanted was some support because she was lost and floundering and oh God do I remember those feelings. She had been rejected by every animal organization she applied to for even the smallest of financial grants and said she recalled I wrote a two-part article called “My Dog Has Cancer ~ Now What?” Honestly? When I wrote in Callie’s Crusade I never thought anyone was reading it; it was more of a catharsis for me. Well, perhaps catharsis is an oxymoron for while I wanted to purge my emotions at the same time my writing kept Callie with me. Fortunately I still have all my paperwork from Callie’s illness and was easily able to pull up the articles she was looking for. When she gave me her email address I realized she lives in Florida. I asked if she had applied to Emma’s Foundation but she’d never heard of it. Emma’s was started by a wonderful women as a way of honoring her late dog who died from cancer. From the organizations humble beginnings it’s grown exponentially. They were located in Vermont and were one of the very few if not the only organizations that would assist animals in New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine. There are several in New England that are only open to applicants from Massachusetts. As luck would have it the founder and president of Emma’s relocated to Florida in the beginning of 2016 and has had many successful fundraisers both there and in New England. Emma’s is now available to dogs from Florida so I gave the information to the woman. She was ecstatic when she emailed me on Friday to say a gentleman from Emma’s reached out to her that day shortly after she filled out the online application. I felt happy for her and  Maggie because I felt sure Emma’s would lend her a hand. Plus the founder has become a friend and she is just such a  kind and compassionate woman. Something this poor lady really needed. Maggie’s mom said she saw on Emma’s website that they were having a fundraiser today (Saturday) and did I think she and Maggie coud go as she didn’t live far from where it was being held. I emailed the founder and she happily said “Sure! Can’t wait to meet them”.

Today is a rainy day and I was just fiddling around writing about the El Faro tragedy for it sunk one year ago today.  I received an email around 11am from Maggie’s mom and  I expected it to say she was at the fundraiser. Instead, she was at the emergency vet because Maggie has a hemoabdomen (abdomen full of blood). She was so distraught! I responded by saying perhaps it was her spleen which would be the best diagnosis. But she replied that Maggie’s spleen ruptured in February and was surgically removed. Maggie was very weak and they’d given her a blood transfusion but at that point (3:55pm ET) they still didn’t know where the bleeding was coming from.

I wrote the usual things about trying to stay strong don’t worry about money now but focus on Maggie. Then she emailed the words I knew all too well “Help me I’m terrified“at which point I began crying and still havent fully relaxed. It’s the absolute worst place to be ~ a netherworld between the life or death of your faithful and much-loved companion. When the prognosis can change drastically in a matter of minutes. You’re cold and alone even if you’re surrounded by family. I  can’t quite describe it but it is horrible. My heart aches for her yet I’ve never met her or her Maggie. I emailed my friend (the founder of Emma’s) to update her because I knew the fundraiser was over at 4pm and thought ~ I don’t know. Maybe she could connect with Maggie’s mother.

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Every day it seems there’s another horrific case of animal abuse in the media. Puppies being raped, dogs and cats enduring horrific torture at the hands of psychopaths, family dogs being stolen and killed for “fun”. Yet I never become immune to it which is why for my own sanity I limit myself to unnecessary K9 deaths. occasionally something so egregious will hit me and I go off on a media blitz but for the most part I stick with working dogs. Their deaths due to carelessness upsets me yes but in a semi-detached way. whereas loosing a family dog to cancer sends an arrow right through my heart.

Today just sucks ~ I miss her so much

August 2016
August 2016

PS: As I was finishing she emailed to say Maggie is stable but they would like to keep her. She opted to take her home; a decision I agree with. I told her that since Maggie entered her life they’ve been making a memory book together. To keep making them hour by hour and never let that book close.

 

 

 

PTSD and Sudden Triggers…

PTSD and Sudden Triggers…

I guess I should write about this as it’s affected deeply me for weeks. I was sailing along doing well as far as my PTSD. The severe flooding I experienced in 2012 after being fired from my job for reporting workplace violations seemed to have resolved. It was a good thing because I still haven’t found a new therapist. I had one and hit it off well but my insurance won’t cover her. Something about she has the wrong type of accreditation; she’s an LCPC as opposed to a LCSW. In the Western Mountains of Maine there aren’t many choices unless one wants to drive an hour to see a therapist. I’ve found my insurance company reasonable in the past so intend to ask them for a reconsideration. I was just so busy between getting my German Shepherd’s blog up (BTW that’s not her picture up there), traveling for her weekly treatments and grad school beginning at the end of July with a required (10) day stay at one of their campuses.

Then out of the blue an email crossed my path about mid August. The story was so horrific that I was triggered immediately.  I mean, I could literally feel it  spread through my body ~ both cold and warm at the same time. The abuse this 4 year old girl suffered was very similar to what I had endured. Although I never thought my name was Idiot, I had been called it many times. In the past if I was triggered that intensely I withdrew for a while until I could get my emotions in check. However because of my dog’s medical issues I had veterinarian appointments so hiding out at home wasn’t an option. Dogs are very important to me as I never really knew unconditional love, no make that love in any form, until I emancipated myself and adopted my first shelter dog. It’s been a dog that’s gotten me through some of the worst times of my life so not keeping her appointments wasn’t  an option. Then in the past when I’ve been emotionally fragile due to triggers I’ve found solace in the Catholic church but this summer I’ve taken, for lack of a better word, a sabbatical from it  for several reasons. It’s a small parish where everyone knows your name (like Cheers ) yet they are mean, spiteful and unkind. So much so that the previous priest asked to be reassigned. He was replaced with a granola priest who I’m convinced will have the parishioners out there planting a church garden next spring. Plus he stares at the ceiling and speaks in a dull monotone (he’s only 40). Yet the parishioners fawn over him like  high schoolers at a prom. I was in the departing line one time and heard the couple in front of me telling him how wonderful it was to have a priest that, “Is one of us”. They were referring to him being a native of Maine whereas the previous priest was, God forbid, a transplant (like me). Then next up our diocese settled a sexual abuse case from many years ago and it came out that they would have settled earlier but  wanted the victims to sign a confidentiality agreement to never discuss the abuse which the now adult victims vehemently refused to do. If anyone has read some of my past posts, then you know I had a similar situation where I wouldn’t sign that type of agreement. I was flabbergasted as it was my understanding that the church was no longer “covering” up sexual abuse by priests. Guess I was wrong and it left me very unsettled.  So seeking comfort in the church wasn’t an option either.

Instead I’ve thrown myself into writing Sasha’s blog, sometimes for 8 hours straight.  It had originally been a Facebook page where she had over 200 followers but Facebook is simply not the venue for me so I deactivated my account. Since Sasha’s medical journey began in March 2016 that’s where I started the blog. Yet, when I’m not taking her to the vet I ignore people and stay home. I don’t have a lot of friends. Strike that. I have one good friend and some acquaintances. I haven’t talked to my good friend since I read about this abused child. I just don’t feel like engaging in banal conversation. Perhaps that makes me sound terrible but I’m trying to focus on what’s best for me for once instead of doing what other people expect of me. I never liked making small talk anyway but especially when I’m upset.

I don’t know if anyone has read the article about this poor child but here’s a link  to the horror she was subjected to.

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. I still haven’t figured out how to put a share widget on this page for my dog’s blog but when WordPress Live Chat comes to life again on September 26 I’ll try and remember to initiate a chat before 7pm ET. I usually forget about it till long after that. Or, maybe I’ll just order one of these books. Seriously I’m a fan of the “Dummy” books.

I am going out on a no-dog related adventure next week. My iPhone 5S must have known Apple was launching a new one because it died ~ as in deader than a doornail. I’m a visual person so want to see the size difference between the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The only thing I DO know is that if you opt for monthly payments through Apple you get Apple Care free. Verizon has a similar deal. Whereas if you buy it outright you get nothing, nada, zilch.

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No significance to this cat picture other than I like it so much I used it as my screensaver at most of my jobs.

 

Does Time Heal? … Part 2

Does Time Heal? … Part 2

This has been my most difficult post to date. I actually wrote it a week ago but whenever I tried to post  I simply couldn’t get my finger to scroll the touchpad to the Publish widget. Even tonight the  simple task of  proof reading has taken on a life of its own ~ so I’m just doing it…

I’ve pondered my own question since I initially posted it on  June 22 and think that in my case it’s safe to say it doesn’t. Life will be going along at a steady happy pace then out of the blue something happens and you’re transported back to a place you thought was long gone. A place, a time, or even a state of mind that you thought was buried with time yet here it is, front and center, reducing you to a bundle of spiraling emotions and tense nerve endings. You actually experience a physiological state called fight or fight.
The other night I wanted to escape all the horror in the world; the attack in France, assassination of police in Dallas, the civil unrest brewing in America and the ongoing terrorism in other parts of the world. I wanted to forget about my drive to spread the plight of K9s dying in hot police cars throughout social media. I wanted a night away from researching my dog Sasha’s complex and ever-changing medical needs so I turned to an ongoing and numerous subject ~ my hair. Blogged about my efforts over the years to have Pantene like hair and failing. I went to bed that night without a weight on my shoulders and it was truly wonderful. The next morning I was home alone with the dogs when it sounded like a knock on the front door. The dogs went ballistic because a knock on my door is truly a rarity. We live off the beaten path and our driveway is akin to a steep, dirt logging road disappearing up through trees. The only person that comes here with any regularity is the UPS delivery driver because I buy through Amazon frequently.

 

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I don’t even have politicians soliciting my vote during election years. Complete solitude but instead of welcoming a knock on the door I went into a full-blown panic mode of almost epic proportions. Regressing a minute, panic induced because a knock on the door terrified me until I was about 23. It was approximately 14 years since the original life changing trauma, I was a mother and I NEEDED to lock it away because intellectually I knew I was safe. I knew my fear was irrational and I could not allow it to define me any longer, especially with small children who depended on me. I put the traumatic memory in a compartment within the deepest recesses of my mind and sealed it shut. I did the same with each horrible memory, one by one. I could not be the kind of mother my children needed, the kind of mother I ached for as a child as long as those memories were floating loose in my head. Once I completed the compartmentalizing and sealing process, I actually felt  better. I won’t lie and say my psyche wasn’t in turmoil and chaos from time to time but I couldn’t afford to be so I suppressed it. I had an image of the storage area in my mind; it was a dark room with columns of boxes which not only appeared welded shut but each with a chain and padlock. For the most part they stayed safely locked away until 2012. Then came my rude awakening ~ that traumatic memories which have not been properly addressed and processed can never truly be left behind. Instead they lurk below the surface, ready to trigger you at any given moment and often without a precipitous factor. When an employer accused me of theft in retaliation for reporting activity to a state agency which I was ethically and morally bound to do, I knew I was risking my job but it never entered my mind that the repercussions would be so costly to my mental health. Of all the ways they could choose to retaliate they inadvertently stumbled on the ONE thing that most assuredly wold drop me to my knees ~ an unjustified accusation of theft. The very thing that caused so many of my childhood beatings. Of lying on the floor crying that I didn’t steal this or that but not being believed. Of being beat with a leather belt, kicked with feet or being pulled by the hair. All by the parent I loved and at the bidding of a truly demented woman. Even worse, there were no relatives to intervene, no teachers expressed concern about my frequent bruises and cuts, no social service agency reports nor police involvement. As I previously wrote when I tried to describe that day, all the individual compartments within my mind, relics of past abuse and terror, flew open and I was flooded like I never knew was possible. It was as if EVERY incident, EVERY beating, EVERY lie, EVERY emotion was front and center in my car, accosting me from the dashboard. I remember at one point suddenly pulling over, getting out and shaking my head hoping  that would bring me back to the present, as if standing for a minute in the bright sun of a summer day would erase the horrors on the dashboard. It didn’t and even now, four years later I don’t know how I drove home. I have a deep-rooted fear of the police because they removed me from my childhood home before I was even ten years old. Not because I was a physically abused child, not because I was sexually assaulted the summer before kindergarten. It was because my crazy stepmother called them. My father came home later than usual that day and smelled of beer. I had the impression for several years that he wasn’t allowed to go to the bar unless he took me with him, a practice that began the summer before I started kindergarten. My mother would have conversations with herself during the day while sitting in the living room with a tissue tightly clenched in her hand. She wore a pained expression at times and an expression of smug superiority at other times. Superiority was the look she had as she showed me her dresses that she said were cheap substitutes of her expensive ones, switched by the nameless faceless people I was terrified of for many years. She radiated smugness as she proclaimed “They can’t fool me. I’m too smart”. That was the same expression she alternated with the pained look of a victim during the conversations she had sitting alone in the chair. I knew from listening by the door to her talking with herself that women were chasing my father in the bar; that they were trying to take him away. So began my ritual of going to the bar with my father. He had to come directly home from work, eat dinner (or not) then he and I left for the bar. I remember hour upon hour of sitting on the bar stool as he played pool with his friends. I had an endless supply of cheese puffs and orange soda from my fathers drunken friends. I would sit on the barstool staring at large jars of pickled eggs, pickled pigs feet, and just pickles that graced a section of the wooden bar near the beer taps. To this day I despise orange soda, cheese puffs and anything that’s pickled in any way, shape or form. I don’t drink alcohol, never went to a bar/club, play pool and so far haven’t had a conversation with either myself or a tissue.

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PS: I snapped the header photo last week with an iPhone in Bethel  ~ home to one of the several ski resorts in Maine.  I drive there every week for Sasha’s acupuncture. 

 

Taking The Plunge…

Taking The Plunge…

I started this blog to chronicle my AT hike which I realize now was just an attempt to escape PTSD ~ something I had under control until 2012. I’ve made a few posts about my abusive childhood but like so many of us, life got in the way. The death of my “heart” dog Callie Ann, a beloved friend’s suicide and the multiple medical problems of my beautiful German Shepherd Sasha. In the process I found it necessary to end a somewhat long relationship with my therapist, a LCSW. I found another one I liked only to learn my insurance won’t cover her fees because she’s a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) as opposed to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Insurance companies and even states vary I’ve learned so in my downtime I might write an appeal to my health insurance company. Until then, I’m just going to dive in; get it out of my head. For me words are a catharsis. I use words to give shape to my experiences. Words help me “see” who I am, what I’ve done, where I’ve been, where I’m going. Words help me understand. They are a coping mechanism of sorts, a means of expression through which I can separate the good in my life from the not so good.

Initially I thought it best to blog in chronological order but upon reflection have reconsidered. It would be intensely painful and some days my stress management ability is in overdrive and other days ~ not so much. Instead I’m going to write random entries; if a memory comes to mind I’ll write about it and see where it leads.

Just going to plunge in  because essentially I’ve had:

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I know, I know ~ not related but its a German Shepherd!

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The End of One Road…

The End of One Road…

A simple thing really. I ran out of cloud space while filming my dog today. I began to check settings and deleting unnecessary things. Then it happened. My eyes filled with tears as I saw an email from you. You’d sent it to me after my beloved Callie died and I was on the “crazy train of grief”. I’d cut inches off my hair then the next day  cut even more. I can still see the look of shock on your face when I pulled in your driveway a few days later; you’d never seen me in short hair, never knew that I had curls resembling drunken corkscrews. The email began with your usual sarcastic wit that I’d come to love. You offered to lend me sheep shears for my next cutting adventure but warned they were the “manual type”. You suggested a mohawk for less upkeep with a matching one for my hubby. You made a point of telling me that your cat’s had “no comment” on my hair. Then you shifted gears and wrote a beautiful letter about my loss. You mentioned little “Callie-isms” that I never knew you’d noticed. You spoke of her as you did of your cats, with love and kindness. How the first thing you recognized when we’d met years before was her uncanny devotion to me, a devotion you never saw waver even towards the end when her body was weak.

I’ll never forget you nor will I ever stop loving you. Our friendship transcended the usual male female relationships. I never knew exactly how to describe either of us ~ gender fluid? Intergender? All I know is we had a wonderful, platonic friendship built on trust, an emotion that doesn’t come easily to me. We felt so secure, so safe with each other that we shared many dark parts of our lives. You will always have a special place in my heart because death ends a life, not a friendship.
I will always hold your memory close to my heart but I must move on now. I can’t weep during the day and toss and turn at night. I can’t continue to forget to eat and stay sequestered inside my house. I wish I could have saved you; I wish I could have convinced you to return to counseling, renewed your prescriptions, insisted you promise that you would call me before you picked up a gun. Hell, I wish I had searched your house for a gun!

Sadly, I can’t change a damn thing and even though it’s causing me severe anxiety and heightened depression, I HAVE to pull myself together. I have a legal matter looming on the horizon. Jury selection is in two weeks. It’s been a long four years which I don’t think I would have gotten through had it not been for your support and unwavering loyalty. I’m terrified and wish you were in the courtroom every day as you promised but in hindsight I realize your own pain was simply too great to carry any longer. But I have to see this through, not just for me but for you as well. The defense attorney took one sentence from my therapist’s session notes and as you know, she ran with it, thinking she’d found her “smoking gun”. Her questioning of me is going to be brutal and I have to find a way to prepare myself. I was supposed to go to counseling every week beginning last October so I would be prepared but after only two sessions life got in the way when Callie was diagnosed with lymphoma. Then it was one thing after another and I never went back. Now it’s too late. The attorney is going to bring up things that happened decades ago, events that have zero relationship to the crux of the case. She’s going to question me about my darkest hours, about secrets that I haven’t shared with my own family and I don’t know if I have the emotional stamina to get through it. How can the horror I suffered decades ago be relevant to what happened in 2012? How can the legal system allow me to be excoriated over events that happened before I even began school? Events I had no control over? The only way I can prevail is if I begin to address each nightmare now in the safety of my home as opposed to in a public courtroom. All my life I’ve been running and hiding but your suicide made me realize that running isn’t the answer. It’s time to bring the memories out, address them for the evil they were, then lock them away so that they can never hurt me again. You of all people can understand this for even though you’re gone, I want to believe your essence remains.
I’m going to win, but first I have to search deep within myself for answers. 

I know you’ll understand…