Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Crazy Dog Lady

A couple of months ago I decided to get a 2nd dog.  People kept telling me how great it is to have two dogs with reasoning such as;
  • Murphy, (my 5 year-old Labradoodle), would always have company and wouldn’t be lonely while you were at work
  • A second dog is so much easier to train because the older dog shows them the ropes
  • The dogs become inseparable

None of these have been true.

In fact, when I brought the 5 month-old Aussiedoodle home, (who we named Ozzy), after rescuing him from a puppy mill, Murphy was not pleased.  He ignored Ozzy for the first couple of weeks thinking he was an annoying little houseguest who soon would be leaving.

Hoping he could get me to hurry Ozzy's departure along, whenever Ozzy did something bad like chew a table leg or poop on the floor after just coming in from outside, Murphy would look at me with the expression of: “you realize you brought home a stupid dog don’t ya?”

As time passed Murphy realized Ozzy was here to stay.  Slowly he began to tolerate him, until the annoying siblings we formed.

Siblings?  Yes, they are like two little kids who either are happy to be in each other’s company, or they annoy the hell out of each other.   And I in turn, I have become the crazy dog lady who thinks of them as her kids. 

Oh not the kind of kids you give birth to and try to figure out which parent they look like.  Or wonder where they’ll go to college and end up in life.  But the kind of kids who periodically have to be separated to stop them from annoying each other and pissing me off.

A good example is the other day I was taking them to Doggie Day Care – (yes I play to take my dogs to daycare so they can socialize and play with other dogs) – and Murphy and Ozzy were in the back seat playing the doggie version of “Will You Stop Touching Me.”  One always wanted where the other was standing. Then they’d spot another dog outside the car and go crazy barking.  Two miles into this joyful ride I found myself screaming; “Do you want me to pull this car over.”   Right then and there it was confirmed, I am the crazy dog lady.

I baby them – equally – by them special treats and talk to them like they understand what I’m saying.  Sometimes I catch expressions on their faces that I’m just sure means they’re thinking; “look how stupid we can make her.”

And then there are times like right now where were all quietly sitting on the deck listening to the evening sounds…..until they hear a tree branch creak from a squirrel and they start barking like crazy.

I love my kids.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

It Never Really Leaves You

A meeting I had scheduled this afternoon would be like any other meeting about possible collaboration, only this one was taking place in the Women’s Center of Fairfax Hospital.  I didn’t think much about the location, or where I was headed, until I got off the elevator at the 5th floor and found myself staring at the sign “NICU.”

As I stood in the hospitals NICU unit I was immediately overwhelmed with emotions thinking about how my son Jake had spent the first three months of his life there back in 1990.  Quite honestly, I was surprised by the feelings standing in those halls had stirred in me.  Ironically, the unit is not even the same one we were in, but new building.  However, the stories on the faces of the parents and grandparents were the same.

Sometimes I can tell the story quite easily, and other times I can barely get through it without choking up. The pain of that experience never really leaves you.  

In a rush to get into the world, our son Jake was born on June 8, 1990 weighing in at a whopping 2lbs 16ozs.  I was only 27 weeks along.  He had a host of medical issues, the most serious was his lungs were not fully developed, but he was a fighter.

Jake battled for a month.  A month had gone by and we still have not been allowed to hold him.  We could only put I hand into the incubator and let him wrap his tiny hand around one of our fingers.

On July 2nd we got a call no parent with a child in the NICU wants to receive – the head of the NICU wanted to meet with us the next day.  It was important.

His dad and I meet the next day with a doctor who we had never spoken with – or seen – and was matter-of-factly told the respirator Jake was still on was beating the hell out of his lungs.  He could not survive much longer and we had two options, turn off the respirator and let him go, or try an experimental drug to develop his lungs.  And oh by the way, if the drug doesn’t work within the first 12 to 24 hours, it would not work at all, and we would be faced with turning off the respirator.  Stunned and shaken we asked; “does anyone really chose to turn off the respirator?”  The answer was yes.  Ours was no – we were going for the drug.

I’ll insert here that adding to this heartache was just a short year earlier our first son David was a stillbirth.  No birth certificate, just a death certificate and funeral home arrangements.  Could this really be happening again?

After our meeting we spent time with Jake, then off I went home and his dad proceeded to the US Capitol where he was committed for the next 24 hours for a 4th of July production.

The next day I made my daily trip to the hospital.  It had been over 12 hours since the injection had been given and I was terrified to go in.  As I arrived in the NICU I peered through the window feeling such impending doom but instead received the greatest gift of my life.  Jake was no longer on the respirator, but had a C-pap – the drug had worked!

The story and heartache doesn’t end there, but even through multiple surgeries, illness and a weak immune system the worse was behind us, and Jake.   Today we have a beautiful, healthy 25 year-old young man who has brought us immense happiness.

So today standing in that unit, looking at those faces my heart ached knowing what they were going through – and what they would continue to go through until they no longer waited for the other shoe to drop.

Friday, June 5, 2015


Since Caitlyn Jenner’s photos for the upcoming issue of Vanity Affair spread through the media like wild fire, there have been a lot of folks questioning her bravery.  Some comparing her “coming out” to the picture of a solider carrying another solider through the mud, while still fighting off the enemy.  When it was announced she would receive an ESPY award, it became worse.  

Tonight when I logged onto Facebook the first 3 of 5 posts were challenging her bravery.  And I wondered; who are we to question anyone’s bravery?  After all, there are many forms of bravery.

True, it’s the solider in combat defending the liberties we all take for granted from time to time.  Where would our country, and the world, be without them?

But bravery is also the child dealing with a serious illness, and even though their body looks like a pincushion and is racked with pain, they endure another round of treatment.  Often with a smile for those who love and care for them, because they don’t want to add to their parents pain.  

It’s the parents who cry in the bathroom, or cry themselves to sleep each night because they’re watching their child bear the unbearable.  Or worse yet, they’ve lost a child and can barely find the air to breathe.

It’s the person suffering from mental illness who finds the strength to go on another day, hoping tomorrow will be better.  That the new “cocktail” they’re on to to help really does help.

It’s the abused spouse who finally has enough and leaves.  Often times with nothing more then the clothes on their back.

It’s the single parent struggling to make ends meet.  Tired and wondering how they’re going to pay the rent, or buy food.  But still finds the energy to help their kids with their homework, play in the front yard after a long day at work, and snuggles them and says it will get better when they have no idea how that’s going to happen.

Bravery is the kid learning to ride a bike, walking across the dance floor to ask a girl to dance, or speaking in front of an auditorium full of strangers when shyness tells you to run and hide.

And bravery is Caitlyn Jenner embracing who she really is and sharing herself with the world hoping to help other transgender individuals along the way.

Bravery comes in many, many forms.  Who are we to say which is the hardest?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Where Have I Been?

For anyone who might be tracking my blog posts, you know I haven’t posted since September.  Why you might ask.  Is it because I had nothing to say?  No opinions? (Yeah, like that will ever happen) Too busy?  What?

Honestly, I was practicing the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut” policy.  Rather than the Steel Magnolias line: “You know what they say, if you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.”   Which of course is more fun.

Over the last several months I found myself writing posts reacting to current events in the news or things in my life, blasting someone, and while I found it cathartic at the time, I also realized how negative I’d become.

Then one night I was reading and a quote by Mahatma Gandhi really hit home. “A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes.” 

I realized I had become increasingly negative about everything, and increasingly unhappy in life.

Here was this answer to the question of why I’d been having such a hard time with depression.  Why when I have so much, when others have so little, was I unhappy?  It’s because I let negativity take over my life.  I was depressing myself!

So I’ve been silent.  Not just on this blog, but in life. 

As I tend to be a loner, I curled inside myself, taking a long, hard look.  And it isn’t pretty.  Well I am, but my “soul” was not. 

Through this process my humor (some might say sarcasm) has remained in tack.  I think it’s what saved(s) me.

As Erma Bombeck once said: “ there is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”   How true that statement is.  One only need think about Robin Williams.

That line can be very thin, and the process to thicken it long.  The trick is not to thicken your thighs at the same time.

Friday, September 12, 2014

3 Every Day

With all the press on Ray Rice, the nation has been focused on domestic violence, and the overwhelming statistics.  Stats such as 3 women every day die from domestic violence.  And the violence is coming from an intimate partner – spouse, boyfriend, or even a girlfriend.

It’s estimated that 22% of women, and 14% of men, experience physical violence, with the most common being slammed against something, or being hit with a fist or hard object. 

The saddest part about these statistics is the abused partner usually stays in the relationship. Although you can hardly call it a relationship.  We wonder why.  Why do they stay?  Why don’t they get help?  Why do they protect the person?  Why? Why? Why?

Good questions only the victim can answer. But it’s usually because they feel they have no other options. They’ve been beaten down emotionally as well as physically.  They wonder how they'll support themselves.  And of course what if the abusing partner has apologized and shown remorse. Certainly they wouldn’t feel bad if they didn’t love me.  Right?

Most believe the abused partner is weak, has no self-esteem, or doesn’t believe they deserve to be happy.  But that’s not always the case.  Sometimes they’re a strong person caught up in a bad situation. Maybe they either miss the warning signs, or just want to try and help the abuser to be a better person.

Or, perhaps that was just me.

I never share this story, but now feel compelled to share.

At 19 I stupidly married an older man who'd had a bad, abusive childhood.  I wasn’t in love with him. I wanted to help him be happy.  But at 19 I was woefully unprepared for what I stepped into.  I’d married an alcoholic, with more demons than we had closets.

All the warning signs were there, but I believed I could help him, until it was almost too late.  The excessive drinking, verbal abuse, threats, and pushing that escalated to slapping.

I slowly came to the realization I couldn’t help him. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help himself, or herself.  I realized I had to protect myself.  First step, hiding the bullets to the rifle he kept in the closet – along with his demons.

Even with the warning signs and realization, I drug my feet on leaving.  Finally one night I’d had enough.  When he started to hit me I swung back.  That proved to be a huge mistake.  I got the worse beating of my life. 

After that, I finally left.  But to this day I’m reminded of that year every time I feel the chipped bones in my face, or panic when someone puts me in a friendly hold that terrifies me.

Back then, no one talked about domestic violence.  It was something to hide and be ashamed of.  But maybe today is different.  Maybe with all the press, people like me sharing stories, and individuals paying attention, it saves a life, or two, or three.