The Week That Got Away

The Week That Got Away

A few of you sent tentative questions wanting to know what happened last Friday. Was I on vacation? Had Misdirected switched to a weekly publication schedule when you weren’t looking? Had some other mysterious event befallen me?

In truth, it was a series of events…strap in and I will bring you up to speed.

Puppy Gymnastics

First, meet our new exercise program:

The ghosts of Samson and Frankie watching over her little doggie bed…

Her name is Delilah. She is a 6-month old Chi-Weenie, and no I didn’t come up with that breed name. On the 9th through the 11th of June, our local Albuquerque Humane Society ran an event where they were attempting to “empty the city shelters” by adopting pets for only $5. We visited, and Delilah was the result.

At six months old, she came to us very confused about life in general, and about house rules like potty-training in particular. So she has completely destroyed our daily schedules, including gym attendance.

However, she herself is a profound exercise generator. A few weeks ago I was speculating about how to get over 10,000 steps a day consistently. We have found the answer. Socializing and playing with a new puppy has kept us above our daily step goal every day, with one marathon of a day putting us at nearly 14,000 steps. She hasn’t been great for our weight-lifting routines, but boy is she good for the heart. In more ways than one.

The Inheritance Marathon

Inheritance Book Cover

Speaking of long-term exercise, my longest-ever writing exercise is over. I finished writing Inheritance last week. It has now been handed off to my editorial review team. Who will undoubtedly find so many issues with it that I will effectively have to re-write it. I couldn’t care less.

This is a big one for me, folks. When I started writing Misdirected all those years ago, it was a daily journal of my gaming activities. I had no idea that it would begin a chain of events that would lead to me completing an entire novel. But, it has done just that, and I couldn’t be happier. Even if I never sell more than two copies (I have two parents, remember), I will be able to go through the rest of my life knowing that I actually sat down and wrote an entire novel. This is huge for someone who couldn’t put a sentence together ten years ago.

Once again, if you too are suffering from a disability, keep pushing those boundaries. You never know how far you will get until you try.

The ACE Fitness Iron-Man

I also finished my course of study for the ACE Fitness Personal Trainer course last week. I got myself revved up, sat down for the practice exam…

And flunked it.

I even got a consolation note from the ACE Fitness on-line study system: “That’s why we call it a practice exam!”

So, yeah. I now have just over 30 days to get my real exam scheduled and to take another practice exam, this time (hopefully) passing.

Needless to say, I am glad I already finished Inheritance. I won’t be doing any fiction writing of any kind in the next month. I am going to be busy.

Studying for this certification may be the hardest thing I have ever done. I have never been an athlete. I have never had any aptitude for biology. I always watched bodyworkers like Lor with a certain mixture of awe and jealousy.

Becoming professionally certified as a personal trainer could not be further out of my comfort zone.

But, if Misdirected has taught me anything, it is that there are a bunch of people out there looking for support and advice. And the ACE PT certification is my first step toward feeling comfortable providing advice from a professional background, rather than just shooting from the hip. Personal experience and internet research can only take you so far.

So, yeah. Here we are. Wish me luck as I study constantly for the next month. I have a feeling I am going to need all the luck I can get.

Hitting The Books Like I Used To Hit The Girl Scout Cookies,

Jeremy

Going to the Dogs

My 5-pound high blood pressure generator.
Early this morning, I got up and sat myself in front of my computer. I had every intention of putting together a fabulous blog article, maybe a little something about “me vs. the scale” or something. But I could not concentrate. My thoughts went every which direction, all eventually returning to the furry, sleeping lump in the corner a few feet away from me – and her trip to the veterinarian later today. Knowing I could not write coherently in this mental condition, I gave up and wandered into the living room to watch TV, accompanied by my little friend, wagging her tail,  blissfully unaware she might be spending her last few hours on Earth.
What is it about our pets that allows them this emotional power over our lives? People go absolutely crazy for these furry little bundles of neurotic activity, spending an astonishing amount every year on them – more than 60 Billion in the USA alone last year. They are our surrogate children, our best friends, our confidantes – sometimes the one source of reliable emotional support in our lives. “Love Me Like Me Dog Does” was the desire voiced by C/W artist Billy Currington a few years back, and I totally get where he was coming from. My relationships with people tend to have ups and downs. My relationship with Vixen is pretty much a constant positive reinforcement of my self-image: she seems to think that I am one of the twin pillars that hold up the Universe. (Lor is the other one, of course. That’s OK. I suppose I can share.)
And, for weeks now, my fuzzy ego-reinforcer has been in pain every time she goes to the potty. We have tried different diets, we have tried supplements, we have tried prescriptions, and nothing works. Every day, come “potty time” she screams as if we are shoving red-hot pokers into her, until she is finally done. She then ambles away, unconcerned, leaving us traumatized and wondering how we can take care of this – how can we keep her from suffering?
It finally got to be too much, and we scheduled her with our local low-income veterinarian. (And, may I say here, thank God for places like Albuquerque Humane Society.) We knew full well that this might be a blockage in her intestines. A tumor in her abdomen. A tear somewhere along her digestive tract that might not be fixable with our limited resources. Even the amount we were going to use to pay for her office visit today was already budgeted for something else – a major surgery today would be completely out of our reach, and could leave us with the decision to have to euthanize our 6-pound supermodel. The thought of her leaving us forever, of coming home from the vet’s office without her, was almost too much to bear.
We had a very tense and terrifying visit to the vet. We explained the problems, winced when the exam made her cry, felt vaguely guilty that we had not done something else that would have prevented us from coming to this point. And now, after all is said and done, we have medications to give her, even more instructions on dietary changes, and we have a major surgical procedure that we have to schedule and figure out how to pay for.  And yet, when we left the office and put her back in the car, we looked at one another and both breathed a sigh of relief . It felt like a disaster, narrowly averted.
She is asleep in the corner now, worn out from her stressful day. I could very easily curl up beside her and share that stress recovery. We now face a daily regimen of pills, a major financial headache, and an uncertain outcome – we still don’t know if any of this is going to work.
But, still, none of this seems like too much to do, in the name of keeping our dog healthy and pain-free. The relationships with our pets are too valuable to be tossed away casually. Dean Koontz said it best: “No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Relieved and Thankful,
– Hawkwind