Life, Rambles

Is this what I signed up for?

My husband and I spend a good bit of time reading, thinking, discussing, debating, and really enjoying a good conversation. We will take an idea or plan and dissect it, analyzing pros, cons, and potential benefits or harm.  It’s good interaction and it’s really great for our life choices.  Nothing goes without careful consideration. One thing I learned early in teaching is that there are two sides to everything and it is extremely important to be able to see both perspectives. Recognizing that there are two or more perspectives does not mean you have to embrace them all.  You can still have your opinion and beliefs.  Understanding other perspectives exist and why is important for moving forward and finding common ground.  This thought path seems rather important in today’s social climate. I’m not going down that rabbit hole here. Over the last six months, we have looked around in confusion and disbelief. Did the Earth finally decide it’s had enough of our abuse? Did society in the future figure out time travel, screw something up, and now they are doing a terrible job of trying to fix it?  Did someone who never saw Jumanji open the game and now they can’t figure their way out?  Is this some really bad group project where we will be receiving a collective grade? I feel like hindsight is 2020 has a whole new meaning. Is this really what we signed up for?

I take a lot of life lessons and anecdotes from our children and pets.  We have so many of each, there’s always something to pull from.  This is Tiki and she’s currently teaching me to appreciate little moments. She is our almost 17 years old red dapple dachshund. At one point and time, she was red. She has one brown eye and one blue eye. It’s more ice blue now but it was bright blue at one time.  She is the most stubborn, independent, and manipulative dog I have ever met. We swear she understands most of what we are saying and she has a very distinct Tiki smile…or smirk. It just depends.

Tiki has been with me since she was 12 weeks old. She has been the epitome of doggy health with no typical dachshund back issues or gross teeth. She defiantly took the stairs without assistance, jumped on the couch and down, and sought to escape at every opportunity. Tiki loves people and wants to see the world. She also doesn’t want us too far away so her plans of escape never made sense.

Tiki is also in heart failure. About six weeks ago she went from great health to I don’t think we will be bringing her home from the emergency vet.

She had a syncopal episode, which looks like a seizure. She stopped breathing and lost control of her body. We were able to get her out of it, but she sounded like her chest cavity was filled with fluid. When we got her to the emergency vet, everything seemed normal. They even said her tests are normal and the rattling I heard and felt must have been the odd sounds that a heart murmur can make. They were sending her home to be monitored and I was not OK with it.  When bringing her to us, she had another episode. The doctor got to see first hand what our morning was like, and hear the rattling and crackling of my little Tiki. Her condition went from non-remarkable to extremely poor. She had to stay the night. Her O2 levels were in the 80s. She was struggling. If she made it through the night, we might have hope of a little more time with her. I called to check on her several times. With every update, the nurses said how awesome she was. Tiki loves people and she loves attention. She also loved their special food. Dachshunds are notorious bottomless pits when it comes to food.

We were able to bring Tiki home the next day. She had been weaned off oxygen and breathing room air with no issues. We now have several medications to give and have to monitor her respiratory rate for any adverse changes.  I am constantly observing her to make sure any sign of distress is caught. Her medicine makes potty breaks much more important as it is pulling the fluid from her heart and lungs. Every noise, every cough, I am on edge. For the first couple of weeks, I was up every hour or more at night to check her breathing after a perceived cough. It was probably just a Tiki snort. She can snore like a grown man.  I hear them all though. I take her out at 1:00 or 2:30 AM every night. Sometimes more if she indicates she needs to go. How do I know?  I wake every time she stirs.

Is this what I signed up for?

I believe many would have taken her prognosis and said goodbye that first weekend. We took a chance that she could make it through the night and now we take each day as a bonus.  Tiki is eating, drinking, playing, and being her super cool Tiki self.  She has had one other syncopal event and some not so great feeling days. Mostly she’s doing well.  I didn’t sign up for heart failure or being a convalescence home for dogs.  It seems all of ours now have some issues, but that’s a post for a different day.  I signed up for Tiki and what that looks like has changed as she aged. I will continue the privilege of taking care of her until she decides her time is up. When she begins to show signs of that, I will respect that. Until then…I will count her respiratory rate. I will medicate her on a regular schedule. I will wake up in the middle of the night and take her outside. I will, within reason, give in to her demands for a treat and laugh at her playing when she thinks no one is looking.

Things change. Where you are may not be what you signed up for. You can still make it work for you.  Someone gave me really good advice years ago when I responded to how are you with, “I’m doing OK, under the circumstances.”  They told me I could probably do better if I got out from under the circumstances.  Sometimes we can’t change the circumstances, but we can change our perspective.

2020 is not what I signed up for, but we’re making it work. We’re both working from home and had to adapt our workspaces to accommodate and stay focused. We get to take walks and have lunch together as often as we like. Our dogs are thrilled with the arrangement. I don’t have to go to an office every day and stress about leaving Tiki alone for several hours.  I’ve taken to learning how to really use my camera and improve my photography. We’ve saved time and money avoiding the work commute. Our trips to the store are intentional and quick. This means less impulse buying. We try to focus on the positive and stay engaged in the world around us as much as possible. Work interactions have had to change. Our personal time has become simplified. It’s not what we signed up for, but circumstances in perspective it’s OK.


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