Friday, December 16, 2011

A Sad Farewell to my Sweet Isabelle

I’m so very sorry to tell you that, Isabelle, my sweet Furgirl, died yesterday at the age of eleven.

This will come as quite a shock to some of my Facebook friends who were , less than a week ago, told she was suffering from nothing more than a “hurt toe”. In the end, though, it would be this misdiagnosis that would lead us to a much better close to Isabelle’s precious life than we might have had otherwise.

For this at least, I will always be eternally grateful.

It became apparent by the next day, Tuesday, that Isabelle was suffering from something much more grave than a simple hurt toe. Her limpness quickly became lameness and that spiraled into a complete inability to bear any weight on her left leg at all. I was able to help her walk when I needed to with the old sling/towel trick, but by Wednesday morning there was absolutely no question that she needed medical attention quickly.

The day was rainy and Isabelle’s steep decline had left her weaker than I could have even imagined possible just a few days before. The thought of loading her in and out of the car was more than I could stand for either of us and so I called a new veterinarian in the Paducah area, one that we’d heard had a practice that was entirely mobile.

Bonnie Jones of Purchase Area Mobile Vet Service was at my door just an hour and a half later. Isabelle, amidst a barrage of treats that included, to her great delight, Cheez Whiz, in her own soft bed, was quickly diagnosed with a likely torn or damaged ACL (an injured ligament deep within her knee where the upper and lower bones of the leg meet). Having had some experience with people and this injury, I immediately knew this, in and of itself, was quite a serious injury. But, more than that, I also knew in my heart, had known since I wrote this, that something else, something more sinister, was likely afoot. A dog as hyper exuberant as Isabelle would not normally be brought so low by even a useless knee.

There was nothing else to be done but run the tests that would give us the complete picture of her condition.

Early yesterday morning, Dr. Jones, her assistant and I carefully loaded Isabelle’s bed and Isabelle into the way-back of my Subaru. Just one more short night on earth had noticeably robbed Isabelle of a staggering amount of the ridiculously good health she enjoyed for mostly all of her eleven years. The faraway look, the look that started as just an occasional flickering shadow (did I really see that?) in Isabelle’s soft brown eyes had deepened. Deepened and spread to a point that almost seemed like a trick of the imagination, deepened to an extent that I wouldn’t have thought possible the day before.

As I waited with her outside the clinic while Dr. Jones cleared the way so the dog in her weakened state would have no wait, but a straight shot to the testing rooms, I reflexively snapped the last photo I would ever take of Isabelle with my iPhone. The camera, as it sometimes will, captured not only the look in her eyes, but the pain that was behind it. My girl was hurting, I knew.

And not from a blown knee.

Isabelle walked with much difficulty as I helped with the sling, into the clinic. She did this for the sole reason, I believe, that she knew I wanted her to. What I had been led to believe would be some pretty extensive testing was cut short when the true nature of Isabelle’s condition was discovered. Her lungs were being overtaken with the disease that was choking the life from her with a speed and ferocity that could not possibly be fought. Soon, it would leave her gasping for air.

We could not-- would not-- let that happen.

My heart was heavy and broken with the truth, but my brain—ever slow to catch on—kept babbling.

She is running low on her anti-inflammatory meds, I told Dr. Jones.

Dr. Jones stared back at me.

Saturday, I said to myself. It must be done by Saturday.

We loaded Isabelle into the Subaru and I brought her home. I dipped her favorite treats in peanut butter and loaded them with what the doctor said was the maximum dosage of her pain meds. A dose so large that it made me weak in the knees to feed it to her. I covered her with my soft suede throw and then put my gently heated electric blanket over that. I grabbed the pillow off my bed and lifted her sweet furry head onto it. I could not persuade her to let me help her or lift her on to her bed. For whatever reason, she preferred the floor. And so that’s where she stayed. I lay down next to her, just as we did during the ice storm. I petted her head and stroked her fur and told her over and over what a good girl she is and that I love her.

It soon became obvious, even with the unimaginably large dose of pain meds I had given her, that Isabelle—a lifelong world class napper--could not rest. I could pet and soothe her into a fitful sleep, but it wouldn’t last more than a few minutes before she would wake with a start and reach blindly for me with her big paw, suddenly confused, and I would comfort her and soothe her into sleep again. I realized that pattern couldn’t go on until “before Saturday”, couldn’t go on until Friday, and that Isabelle should most certainly not suffer another night plagued as she was by the motherfucker that sought to engulf her.

My heart was broken and at the same time grateful, so grateful, that I could give Isabelle an end that would be dignified and devoid of more suffering and that I could rob her sickness of its last terrible victory. So grateful that Isabelle would be able to draw her last breath in her own living room, the very same room that she first came home to as a puppy eleven years before.

I called Dr. Jones and set a time.

Isabelle died late yesterday afternoon after she drifted off to sleep. She was surrounded by people who love her, friends both old and new. I held her great paw as her big heart stopped and whispered my last words to her, a phrase I’m happy to say she heard many times throughout her life,

“Mommie loves you.”

I stayed with her until the end and after. I loaded her precious limp body into the car and took her to the place that will turn her into ashes.

I’ve cried a thousand tears and I’m sure I will cry a thousand more, but it’s not enough. It’s never enough. It could never possibly BE enough.

No one can ever live up to the heart of a retriever.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Gee-Baby, her Imaginary Nursery, and the Olioboard that Made it Happen.

So, I'm sure all three of my readers remember that I had a grandbaby back at the end of October, right? I'm happy to report that said grand baby is thriving, gaining weight at nothing short of an alarming pace, (she weighed in at a slight 4 lbs 3 oz initially) and becoming more and more alert with each passing day.

In fact she dropped in for a visit:

See that face?

It's saying,

Yah, I'm cute and all and I'm fairly quiet at the moment. But my stomach hurts and I assure you, I can get medieval on your ass in point five seconds. So don't tempt me.

We didn't.

What we did do is briefly discuss (with her parents) her crib bedding set which is as yet unpurchased due to her unexpected early arrival. Instead of coming via a shower, the set will come in the form of a Christmas gift. It only took a brief conversation in which I suggested they check into the Dwell Studio Line at Target (which I love beyond all reason) to get me thinking in terms of a nursery and what it might look like. Of course, what I like about the Dwell line is the great colors and patterns that are nice jumping off points for design but aren't completely gimmicky and based on princesses and flowers and hearts and rainbows shooting out one's ass all the live-long day. Not that there's anything wrong with that if it's what you're into. But it doesn't take being a novice grandmother to a granddaughter (and the requisite shopping for same) for long for a person to realize the whole "princess/diva" theme has gone a Barbie-mobile toddler tiara too far. Holy CRAP, you wouldn't believe the tee-shirts, dresses, and tu-tu's that scream (essentially), "spoiled rotten brat and proud of it" endlessly. Not to mention the pink, The Pink, THE PIIIIIIINK! Dear Lord, it's just way, WAY too much.

But I digress.

What I'm actually working on design-wise presently, is my own kitchen redesign. I'm in the middle of painting my formerly bright shiny oak cabinets in a satisfying black, and doing some fairly exciting (to me anyway) re purposing in that room. It is my goal to document that process here and with pictures.

We'll see if that materializes.

Also, I'm beginning to consult with my very own mother on redecorating her bedroom, my cousin on her (almost) complete repainting project and, last but certainly not least, Nikki May's currently hopelessly stalled front porch project. And this last project is halted by weather, premature birth, the holidays, and what next...war, famine, pestilence, perhaps? Let's hope not. Lest we forget, STALLED does not mean stopped, however. We are planning some indoor work on that one soon (like cushion sewing).

Meanwhile, Mom's bedroom paint colors on the table are: taupe, chocolate, deep gray, medium gray, and, most recently, a Farrow & Ball color called Claydon Blue--Claydon Blue 87 to be exact and it looks something like this:

Recommended all over the innernets by House Beautiful and numerous other design blogs, it's one of those colors that the more I looked at it, the more it intrigued me. I logged on tonight with the intention of ordering a sample only to discover !GASP! it must be discontinued because it's nowhere to be found on the F & B site. Which, of course, has the effect of only making me want it more! Damn you, Claydon Blue No. 87! What a design prick tease you are! (And if YOU have any information/thoughts/insights about the color, pretty please post in the comments?)

It was at about this time that I decided I needed to to a mood board for Mom's room, not to mention actually figure out how one of those things are done and in pursuit of that goal, I dutifully headed on over to Olioboard.

And, Oh Em Gee, people. Oh Em Gee. As I remarked on Facebook, I did NOT need to know about this site, nor the thousands of design possibilities at one's fingertips.

I'm not sure how many hours I spent pulling this nursery together, but I am sure I enjoyed every single second of doing it. Obviously, this is not a traditional looking girl's nursery and that's one of the things I like best about it though I'm pretty sure Kamryn's parents are in the market for (and will end up with) something more traditional. Regardless, once I happened upon that deep yummy blue paint color from The Land of Nod, my imagination was, like it or not, off and running.

Kamryn actually already has a crib that happens to look much like the one pictured and a white chest of drawers. The child's rocker pictured is a representation of one I myself had as a kid and that I would gift to Kamryn for the nursery. The Dwell Studio crib bedding and curtains are extremely affordable. The two squares to the right of the dresser are Dr. Seuss fabric swatches which I think would be great to cover a lamp shade and make a tiny throw pillow for the rocker as well as some misc. pillows for the crib. One could substitute the Seusse fabric in place of the matching curtains, even, though I think the black and white swatch would work best for that. The mobile in the center is from CB2 and one that I've been in love with for a while. I just about flipped when I realized it blends perfectly with this color scheme. It, too, is affordable at like 19.95. The white wooden tree bookcase, which I love, is crazy expensive. But that's something I think could be easily made by hand either entirely with wood or through a combination of paint on the wall and wood. Ditto the "Share Your Toys -The Management" sign, a sentiment I really love, but I do think that graphic could easily be printed and similarly framed for a whole lot less than $86.

If you're interested, you can click through to this Olioboard right here and see a larger version of the items as well as details on where it can all be bought and for how much. If you're looking for a mood board site I highly recommend this one, though I admittedly have no experience with any other.

As for me and Olioboard, I can only imagine this nursery design will almost certainly be the start of a beautiful friendship.