Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Vet and the Benedictine Nun


May is the month when Levi gets his yearly appointment with the vet for blood work and the vaccines required for getting the county license tags. Recently they’ve changed the law so licenses and rabies boosters are due every three years now so technically going every year to the vet is no longer necessary, but life-long habits are hard to break. My lifetime, not his. According to the paperwork Levi the Mighty Schnauzer was “ten years, three months and two weeks” old on the day of the appointment but before we got out of there I think we both felt liked we’d aged a month and in dog years, that’s a lot.

The place I take him is an animal hospital with 4-5 vets on duty and on appointment day they had a dog come in that had been hit by a car and all their other patients got backed up in the waiting room. Pooping dogs and peeing puppies and other canines like Levi biting at the bit wanting to play with the cats in cages and the other dogs on leashes. It was a manic zoo. Finally we got into an exam room and when the vet walked in he started the conversation with, “I need to tell you that I might get called out during Levi’s exam. There’s a couple next door with a cat that is getting put down and when they are finished saying their goodbyes and are ready for me to start the process, I’ll be called out.” Been there, done that with this very veterinarian so I understood and said appropriate words about that being hard on everyone. Then I started puckering up. I could feel tears coming and I didn’t even know the damn cat in the next room! I kept it together but it wasn’t easy, especially when the vet got the tap on the door and the whispered words came next, “They're ready now.” Who is ever really ready for that?

The in-and-out in 15 minutes appointment took an hour and a half and for once Levi’s teeth looked good but he’s still getting them cleaned later this summer. His heart and lungs sounded good and the vet couldn’t find anything wrong with Levi’s knee joints and I’ve been worried about them. The next day I got the other test results by phone. His canine CBC chem 11 levels were in normal ranges. Except they say he’s got Lyme disease and he needs another blood test and possibly treatment! I was so shocked I asked them to double check to see if they were reading the right dog’s blood work. He takes all the precaution drugs for ticks, fleas and heart worms and I’ve never seen a tick on him. I’d already paid $224.55 and they wanted another $69.50 for a new test to put a finer point on the Lyme situation. What are you going to do, say no? I did say no to a suggestion that I should also bring in a urine sample to see if the Lyme disease has damaged his kidneys. More accurately, I said, “Let’s see what this new test says first.” And for anyone wondering how you get a urine sample from a dog, you follow him or her around with a pie pan and stick it underneath at the right time, hoping you get your hand out of the way in time. The things we do for love.

I was not in a good mood after the phone conversation with the vet tech and when I clicked the phone off I looked up and saw two mourning doves mating on my deck railing. “Get a room!” I yelled. I wasn’t sure they’d be back this year---I quit putting birdseed out near-by to discourage mice in the basement---but apparently old habits are hard to break in the bird world too. They’ve been hanging out on that railing and building a spring nest in a near-by pine tree for years. I won’t be able to use my living room door out to the deck for a couple of weeks without scaring the doves and they, in turn, scaring me as they fly out of the tree.

The next day I went to Book Club and managed to show up at the right time. Every so often we’ll change from our normal 1:00 to 12:00 and I'll get there as the book discussion is ending instead of beginning. Not this time. The book we’ll be reading for June is My Mrs. Brown, but I won’t start it until I finish a self-published book on my Kindle, written by a new blogger friend, Dee Ready. I knew from reading her blog, Coming Home to Myself, that she’s an excellent writer and the topic of her book intrigued me enough to finally download a copy from Amazon after two weeks of indecision. Prayer Wasn’t Enough is about Dee's years spent as a Benedictine nun in the late 1950s and '60s but given the fact that I call myself an agnostic I wasn’t sure how I’d relate to the subject.

I’ve read 75% of the book and I’m still fascinated by the details Dee shared about living in a strict convent---the clothing and its care, the steps and vows required, the daily routines and prayer schedules, the traditions of the order, the image of hundreds of nuns living all in one place, and, of course, the self-discovery she went through as she struggled for self-imposed perfection. I’m not at the point in the memoir where she leaves that life behind but already I know I'll read the book Dee hopes to publish next covering her ten years after leaving the convent. We’ve all gone through transitions in life---some bigger and scarier than others---but not many of us can say that we’ve been a devoted nun in a former life and certainly not a nun given a name like Sister Innocence. ©

35 comments:

  1. You know Jean, I also know what it's like losing a loving pet. When I was young we had a boxer called Bruno. An older dog that was one of our family. I would lay on him when we would watch TV. I would walk around the area when he would do his business and he would always lick my face constantly. I loved that dog. One weekend we had to leave to Toronto for a wedding so we left the back door to the garage open for Bruno to get out when he wanted. Only my Uncle knew he was there and only he went to feed Bruno. Before we left for Toronto we made sure that there was no dangerous things for Bruno to eat on. When we got home I noticed Bruno wasn't being himself so my dad took Bruno to the vet. That was the last time that I saw him because after few days we got a phone call from the vet and he was sorry to say that Bruno had died from gangarene of the stomach. He has plastic in hi stomach that killed him. We never knew how in the heck did Bruno got plastic because no one knew that he was there. I believe that some kids in the area probably gave him the plastic. I cried for many days and as you have noticed, even though I'm 68 years old, I still remember my god whom I loved. I even tear up just writing about him.
    Levi the Mighty Schnauzer looks one that is being loved. I hope that you find out about the Lyme disease. See ya Jean & Levi.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Poor Bruno! Often times losing a childhood pet is our first experience with death and deep sorrow. So in a way they teach us how to deal with those things later on. I still remember when my brother and I had a funeral for a cat, even made a tombstone. When my niece lost her beloved childhood dog and her parent's divorced she made her dad dig up that dog and move his grave then she had to move. Ya, a parent does those kinds of things and while some might think it's silly for a pet put think of the life-lesson that is being taught.

      Still haven't heard back on the Lyme disease, should know more on Monday.

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  2. Trips to the vet can sure be an adventure at times, our biggest problem is getting Dixie to stay on the scale long enough to get her weight, I don't think she wants all the other doggies to see what she weighs. I really have a hard time letting a pet go when their time comes, a pet is definitely a big part of your family and like you said "Who is ever really ready for that?"

    Heres hoping Levi's Lyme Disease diagnosis was simply just a mistake on the paperwork.

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    1. Dixie is such a GIRL about her weight. LOL Levi just pulls up and sits on the scale and doesn't even care that he gained 3 pounds---which is a lot for him.

      They have a new vaccinate for Lyme Disease and in the back of my mind I wonder if they aren't looking for reasons to start Levi on it. Terrible to doubt the motivates of our health care professionals. I need to start reading up on canine Lyme Disease.

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  3. As much as I'd love to have a dog (Bosko is too big for a condo filled with 5 people), they are an additional expense. And a lot of extra work when we have two little boys. I, too, was the one who took our MiniSchnauzer for his final goodbye, as well as our 20 year old cat. It was good for me.

    I'm thinking the nuns are running out of new recruits. Such a life they insist upon. Now I might need to read that book!

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    1. I can't imagine having a dog in an apartment or condo because I like just opening my door and letting Levi have access to his fenced area when I don't feel like walking him. I fight myself about getting another dog but doubling the cost of pet care is want stops me every time. The only time I didn't live with a dog in the house was when I was in college and I don't want to do it again...so I've had to watch a too many pets put down.

      Dee's Kindle book is only $6.30 at Amazon right now, a bargain, but I should warn you some of the pages detailing the prayers and praying can get a little redundant. HOWEVER, I'm saying this as a non-Catholic and I think someone with a better background in the church might not view those pages the same way I do. Otherwise, it really is a fascinating look what nuns go through. Since writing this blog, I have since finished the book and can report Dee did not leave the convent with any animosity towards the church what so ever. I won't tell you why she made the decision in case you order a copy. Growing up all my cousins went to Catholic schools and I heard a lot of stories about the nuns who taught there. Dee was a teaching nun and so it was very interesting to see Catholic teacher's from a nun's viewpoint. Having a niece who taught her entire career I was really struck with how little choice nun's (back then) were given about what schools and classes they taught in. How hard it would be not to follow your own muse in life!

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  4. Being currently "pet less" I have to admit I don't miss those vet visits. Always expensive and frequently turning up some unsuspected problem, especially as my cats and dogs got older. Sounds like Levi is doing pretty darn great for his age -- and hopefully the Lyme thing will be mild and not cause any issues.

    I've always been fascinated by nuns and priests....but especially nuns because they don't even get the partriarcial perks. It is such a selfless choice, but one that seems so rigorous and lonely. But I'm not Catholic and not too great as self-sacrifice...so there's that. :)

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    1. From what I've read online the very thing I wanted the vet to check with Levi's knees---him standing on one foot then the other like a little tap dance---is one of the early symptoms of Lyme Disease. So I'm more resigned to believing the early blood test. The second test will give a better profile on how long he's had it and if treatment is necessary. If it's caught early enough he'll be on antibiotics for a month.

      You are too good at self-sacrifice. You give up so much of your time to do-good causes when you could be doing more self-centered stuff. You also love to meditate and go to retreats for self improvement ...but that pesky issue of that hot husband you have would get in the way of convent life. :)

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    2. Ha! I'll tell him you said that...it will make his day.

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  5. That is scary about Levi's Lyme's disease. Like you I have Callie on all the preventives. How on earth did it happen? Hope it is easily treated. Callie is a horror at the vets. She was mauled by a pack of dogs before I got her so she is very defensive around other dogs. She will go after any dog in the waiting room lunging and using her outside voice. I have to sneak her in the back door.
    I enjoyed Dee's book also. She definitely made me realize I didn't have what it would take to be a nun.

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    1. Poor Callie! My answer to Donna (above) explains a little more about Lyme Disease in dogs.I take Levi to the vet's waiting room for no reason other than to make sure he's not afraid of the place when he really has to go there. They love that he's not afraid of the place or cages.

      Me neither on being a nun but I have cousins who felt the pressure from their parents to enter. No one did.

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  6. wow, sorry the vet visit was so taxing. I hope this Lyme business doesn't cost you too much more. :: hugs ::

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  7. Me too. But I'm more concerned about him feeling good, not getting sick.

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  8. Wow - I haven't had a dog now for 3 years and feel out of the loop. Did not know Lyme disease was something they could get. I hope it's not as bad as human Lyme disease, which my sister suffers from - it IS bad. If they have vaccines and meds to prevent dogs from getting it, why is there nothing for humans, I wonder?
    Anyways, I hope Levi stays mighty!!! Our pets are very important family members.

    That book sounds very interesting and I want to check it out, and Dee's blog. I'm not religious, but there is something about a contemplative life that fascinates me.

    Thanks for another great read, Jean!

    Deb

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    1. Deb, this is the first time a vaccine for Lyme Disease was ever mentioned during one of Levi's wellness exam. So I'm guessing it's fairly new. I've known for a long time that dog can get it. But you bring up an interesting point about developing one for human's too. What a blessing that would be for people who love the outdoors! I'll bet some lab somewhere is working on one as I type.

      Nuns have always fascinated me, too. If you check out Dee's blog tell I sent you over.

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  9. Sorry to hear about Levi -- that's a bummer. (It may also be why you've been concerned about the joints since that is one place it attacks, at least in humans.) I would certainly get a vaccine if they had it for people with all the time I spent at the lake in the summer. But that does take the wind out of one's sails hearing all that from the vet and I would be blubbering about the anonymous cat. (And getting a urine sample from a cat is simple too, so long as you catch them heading to the litter box!)

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    1. I really was shocked to hear that report. He's never in his entire life been without tick and flea treatments monthly and I quit going on the nature trails with him out of fear of ticks. But the little dance Levi is doing seems to be classic with Lyme Disease in dogs according to the internet.

      Female pets are easier to get urine samples from than males. I'll probably be doing it next week so I'll probably share the experience. I've only done it once.

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  10. Sounds like a good thing that Levi TMS got diagnosed when he did. He is a valuable companion, and you'd hate to see him decline.

    I love that photo of him at the top of your post. He looks quite manly and like he does not suffer fools well at all.

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    1. Oh, yes, he has a very healthy doze of self-confidence and thinks the entire world is full of wonderful people.

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  11. Jean, Love this photo of Levi! Izzy has had LYme. It is nothing to ignore. She too had her flea and tick meds monthly. It helps but doesn't stop it we were told. We thought we were going to lose her after that bout. Thankfully she came back. It's odd that if Levi has Lymes he is not showing you any symptoms. Izzy was given part 1 of the Lyme vaccine when she was a puppy and almost died from it so we never did part 2 after her hospitalization. And of course she ended up with Lyme. I hope the test was a false positive since Levi doesn't appear to be showing you any symptoms. Keeping my fingers crossed for you all. The aniboditics weren't inexpensive.

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    1. I'm so glad you shared that about Lzzy's reaction to the Lyme Vaccine. When I was in the office before I got the test results saying he has it, they asked if I wanted him to get the vaccine and I said no. He's had some really bad reactions to other vaccines...passes right out in the office. So I didn't want him to have any that aren't absolutely necessary. I was also told that if you are a day late on giving the flea and tick meds that that is enough of a window for the dogs to get Lyme, if bitten. The vet's office usually doesn't call until late in the afternoon with test results so I'm hoping I'll know something more from this second test later today.

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  12. Dear Jean, first, I'd like to say that I so hope Levi doesn't have Lyme Disease. A friend of mine has had it for about 20 years now and it's been so difficult for her. I don't know what it's like for a dog. What I do know from reading your poignant words is that you will do whatever is best for Levi.

    Then I want to thank you for buying and reading the convent memoir and for sharing your experience of it with your readers. That is so thoughtful and generous of you. I hope the ending doesn't disappoint you. And yes, I am working on a memoir about the next 10 years: 1967-1977. Finding the thread that holds those years together is taking time, but I trust that all will be well. Peace.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words about Levi.

      And no, the ending of your book did NOT in any way disappointment me. Shocked me, maybe. But you took full responsibility for your decisions and I admire that. The strength and character it took for you to come to terms with what was going on in your head was heart-wrenching. I know you will find success writing the next chapter of your life. Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. Dear Jean, I'm hoping that the second memoir in the trilogy I'm planning will be read in the fall of 2019. It will cover 10 years--the years it took for the 3 Presences to go away. Peace.

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    3. I will try to be patient.

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  13. I trust the news you'd since have received about Levin's health is good news.

    Your comment, above, re the book's ending has me intrigued. (I'm reminded of what I read about Hitchcock - he'd deliberately walk out of a lift in the middle of a suspense story which fellow lift passengers were pretending NOT to be eavesdropping on and leave them up in the air! I admired his technique! And suffer a similar fate myself when eavesdropping - well, its that or conspicuously close my ears!!- on others). ~ Libby

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    1. I just got off the phone from the vet and the news was not good. The second test they gave him, the quant C6 test is suppose to be under 30u/ml and Levi's is 154 which means he really does have Lyme Disease that needs to be treated and I have to bring in the urine sample. He's be taking antibiotics twice a day for six months! One of the posters above said they were very expensive. I'll know this afternoon when I pick them up.

      I have not read any Hitchcock books. I have, of course, have seen movies based on his books. But I know the feeling of being left up in the air while eavesdropping.

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  14. The test numbers are certainly not good.

    Besides the expense, you said Levi was sensitive to medications so definitely not good news. My commiserations. ~ Libby

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    1. I never give him a medication during hours when the vet emergency service isn't open because he's reacted badly to two different kinds of medications, once read in the vets office and would have died if he'd been at home. Antibiotics for people are free in my town. Once I know what they put him on I'm going to call around and see if I can get it at regular pharmacies and see it the vet can write a prescription. Some how I doubt the system will work that way but I'll try.

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  15. Hi Jean -- hate to answer a comment on someone else's blog but you're no-reply, so sorry! I use a pocket sized Canon SX 170 digital with a 30x zoom.I didn't see five deer move but now that it's greening up, it's harder to see and they say that they think six deer live on the island, or at least have been seen together. So, could be! Thanks for visiting and the nice words!

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    1. I wonder why I'm a 'no reply'. In any case, thanks for coming over to answer my question. My Canon is only at 10x zoom and I knew you had something better. My husband had lens for his Canon that gave him literally a foot long camera to hold. He loved taking nature shots like you do.

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  16. This morning, my niece had to take her dog in for an operation on her hip. It's very expensive, almost $2000 I believe, and she doesn't have pet insurance. After reading so many blogs that are written by pet owners, I know I will get pet insurance if I ever take the big plunge again. I'm sorry Levi may have Lyme Disease. I hope they read the wrong lab work, not that I wish anything bad on another doggie, but I know Levi personally.

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    1. He's had two tests now and he does have Lyme Disease. Just picked up the pills...$75.00 for a month. Hope your niece's dog comes through the surgery with flying colors. It's going to be a "fun" process going therapy afterward.

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  17. Could Lyme Disease explain the stiffness in Levi's knees? I know it causes arthritis in humans. Those tiny deer ticks are really easy to miss, even when you're looking for them. The one time I had Lyme Disease, I had no awareness of having been bitten by a tick.

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  18. Yes, very likely. The vet checked his joint for arthritis and couldn't find any but the way he alternates picking up his feet is an early symptom.

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