…while falling apart.
This post is an example of why I really wanted to start this blog. On Facebook and other social media outlets, we often only post the positive things occurring in our lives. That trend can lead to the outsiders-looking-in that our lives are perfect. But they aren’t, we all have our struggles, and I think it’s important to remember that when dealing with anyone… It can be easy to judge others until we remember that: we all have our struggles.
Last week was definitely a struggle for me. My dog, Willow Wonka, hurt her leg the week before. She wasn’t healing on her own, and by the middle of the this past week I was beginning to fear the worst. Beginning to believe, the worst, in fact. And, I was dead broke, which means that I couldn’t pay the vet bills.
The worst, in my mind, being that I might have to make the decision to euthanize her.
Willow in her cave
Willow is an English bulldog, and she’ll be 10-years old in December. She’s old for an English bulldog. The average life span of this breed is 8-10 years, and bullies have a lot of joint-related breed issues. So my fears were not unfounded, but my worrying didn’t help the situation either.
So I got her an appointment at the Livingston Animal Hospital on Wednesday. In the mean time I prepared myself mentally for the worst. If the vet determined it was a matter of surgery I was going to have to make a decision, because I am unwilling to subject Willow to surgery at this stage of her life. Since surgery is not an option, I also do not want Willow to be in pain for the remainder of her life. Willow has brought me an enormous amount of comfort and joy, and it is unfair to her to try to extend her life to the point where she can’t move without grimacing. Or to be drugged to the point where she can’t enjoy life.
Willow with a dragon hat
While I was preparing myself (i.e. bawling my eyes out at the prospect of having to put my dog down), I found a bit of solace in the fact that I’ve also brought comfort and joy into her life. If the decision had to be made to end her life, I gave her a forever home where she was loved and never wanted for anything. Anytime I had to be away, she was cared for by friends who cared for her the same (or better) than I did.
In between bouts of sadness at the prospect of Willow passing on, I also had to remind myself that I might be wrong about my diagnosis. I know the general ills of my dog, but I am not a veterinarian. That was my hope – that I was wrong…
When I took her in to the vet, I had to help her walk across the slippery floors, even with her traction booties on. They did a general exam first (e.g. checked eyes, ears, etc…), and I was extraordinarily impatient (why couldn’t they just look at her legs?!?). Finally, they felt her legs for ligament damage and took some X-rays. No broken bones, fortunately, and they don’t think there is any ligament damage. They gave me two different pain/anti-inflammatory medications for her, and we were on our way. (And they were cool about billing me for the amount that I couldn’t pay on-site. I’ll deal with that struggle later…)
I think I can honestly say I’ve never been so happy to have been wrong.
So this was my struggle last week. Not too many people even know that I was facing this, because I chose to go it alone (one of my weaknesses – it’s hard for me to reach out in difficult times…).
And the title of my post made me realize something. Keeping it together takes a lot of energy, but it takes more strength and bravery to reach out for support, help, whatever else we might need to get through a troubling time…
Brené Brown recently posted on Facebook, “It’s ironic that I’m the most afraid when I’m being brave. Vulnerability = courage.”
I feel that I was extremely brave and vulnerable in the vet’s office. But I didn’t have enough courage to be vulnerable about Willow’s injury with my friends. Maybe next time I will able to reach out to those close to me when I’m in a similar situation…