On June 25, my beloved Tilly passed away. Those who know me and my pets know that Til was the most special of them all. We have been through thick and thin together, and just looking at that little ragamuffin would lift my spirits and bring true joy. A hundred times a day. Those little eyes held such conversations with me, and the one kiss on the cheek he infrequently gave out was a true delight. Yes, he was 15. Yes, I should have expected it. Instead, I feel like I've lived on eggshells for the last year knowing he could go at any moment, and just praying he wouldn't suffer. And knowing how much I would when it was his time.
He seemed a bit confused on 6/24, sort of weak after a bout of tummy trouble. Woke on 6/25 to find him in a puddle and not trying to get out of it. Made a vet appointment and despite the efforts of The World's Best Vet, Dr. Carol couldn't pull off a miracle. His little heart was slowing down, he was staring off into space. I could feel kim leaving.
He took a large part of me with him that I will never see again. At least he did not seem to be suffering or in terrible pain, and it was quick rather than a long illness. I suppose we can't ask for more. The pain of losing him though is very terrible, and while I am getting used to a house without him, I will never be used to my heart being without him.
On June 28 I woke at 1:30 am with a swollen elbow that felt like it was on fire. Bright red, extremely painful. Put an ice pack on it and waited to see what would happen. Went to Winchester ER, got ATB's. Couldn't tolerate them, ended up in Lahey (a much better hospital, IMHO!) for five days. Cellulitis, septic bursitis. Brutal experience.
As I sat in my uncomfortable hospital bed, fighting with layers of blankets to stay warm enough when the chills hit and cool enough when they left, I cringed at thinking of the messy state of my house. I am disorganized and lately not able to keep up with everything that needs doing. RA has been out of control, and general life has been, well, busy way beyond my available energy supply. I left things around the house that shouldn't be left. I was assured it was okay by my friends that always make me feel like things are okay, even when I know they aren't.
I imagined my good friends going in to help with the animals and thinking that they were entering a crime scene in the movie "Seven." My pals would say "No problem" on the phone, stepping up to feed the flying dinosaurs in addition to the cats, guinea pig, and now just one little elderly dog. Neighbors making chicken and rice for her. My three pals coordinating who was visiting when to help out, despite their own extremely busy lives in which they are overwhelmed, too.
Feeding the pets was not all they were doing.
When I came home on July 2, Tim had said "You aren't going to believe this," and he was right. My dear, dear friends had pitched in and cleaned every room of my house. Organized all my stuff - something I have a terrible time doing. Boxed things, bagged things, moved things, and cleaned things. Every piece of clothing hanging on the back of my bathroom door (oops...but I do that) or found elsewhere, along with linens, brought to a cleaner and washed & dried or dry cleaned, hanging on a new clothing rack. New towels and a new bathmat greeted me in the bathroom, along with a tub that sparkled. Because my bedroom is upstairs and the bathroom downstairs, I face a fall risk every night...and they fixed that, too. They put a really nice twin bed in the art room right next to the bathroom, under a homasote design wall (feels so studio-living, mannn). New sheets, pillows, the works. The old, barely working ac's were replaced with new ones, and lots of really hard-to-do yard work was done. The refrigerator was stocked, there was plenty of water. Everywhere I looked things were orderly, clean, and organized.
Unfortunately I am extremely stubborn and HATE receiving help. I try so hard to be self-sufficient that I feel any kind of help means I am "less than able" and "less than acceptable." Just the way I am. Having RA with the looming threat of disability can make me want to be superhuman, I guess. Works fine until you are feverishly locked in a hospital room with a large area of bright red cellulitis spreading around your abnormally hot and swollen elbow, praying that the infection doesn't spread to the bloodstream, wondering how the hell you are going to clean up the house when you get home with an arm that won't bend or work right. And thinking of your deceased pup. Not a happy place to be. Did I mention that I had to cold-turkey stop prednisone, when I've been on it for literally years?
Thankfully Tim was off work this week, and so kindly helped me feed the birds, pick up stuff at the store, and check in on me for the first couple days. I needed his help. It is so hard to need help from others to care for the parrots. I see them as a luxury, and choice, on my part -- not someone else's problem. To have friends that cared for them made me extremely grateful.
To have friends that also cared for me enough to give up their weekends and give me a "domestic restart" after a hospital stay is overwhelming to say the least. I do not know what I can do or how I can ever properly thank these amazing people who did this. Their generosity is beyond belief. I still can't believe it. My amazing art friends sent beautiful flowers, and my sister visited with candy, and I know there were many people concerned "fighting" this infection with me. I thank you all, so so much.
Now it is July 5th, and I am here, figuring out what to do next. I broke down and restarted prednisone today, and the side effects of an abrupt stop in taking this wicked drug are slowly receding. Am hoping that tomorrow I will be strong enough to really feel better, to not feel like I did today. Getting itchy to get back to the artwork, which is a good sign, I suppose. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, and this:
"It’s an insane world but in it there is one sanity, the loyalty of old friends." Ben-Hur