And in those quiet, kindly spoken, carefully chosen words, I knew all that I needed to know.
Tiny Dog has dilated cardiomyopathy. It appears to be advancing quickly, given the rapid increase of her heart murmur. She has a new drug regimen which will hopefully buy us some time. The vet indicated that it is possible she will enter heart failure within a few months, and with the addition of further medications, may yet live a bit longer - perhaps a year. So we have a year, perhaps two if we are very lucky, left with Tiny Dog.
My own heart might be a bit broken. Broken for my Tiny Dog, and for Beloved Husband and the Offspring, who love this Tiny Dog. I cannot imagine that day when I must tell them that Tiny Dog's tiny life is folding to a close. (Or, perhaps, I can imagine far too well, but the anticipatory grief is too much yet to bear.)
I know that medical predictions can be an inexact science. She could, after all, defy odds and live a long, happy life yet. Nevertheless, I prepare myself for the careful, watchful waiting -- as I once did with my beloved ottoman-shaped dog -- and will be mindful of our time with her, knowing that our time is short.
It's catchy. The video is unusual for its abundance of glistening, barely-dressed men (unlike what seems to be the vast majority of music videos, which commonly feature gyrating, curvaceous, scantily clad women). None of the men particularly appeal to me -- but the song certainly does.
I attended a baby shower today for a young woman who is part of the extended family. I have avoided baby showers for the past twenty-something years, but felt obligated to go to this one, both to support the hostess (who is an absolutely lovely person) as well as to be kind to the mother-to-be.
I do not like baby showers. In fact, I thoroughly dislike them, for many complex reasons.
There is, first, the strange aspect of self-celebration that accompanies showers (including bridal showers as well as baby showers). I do not understand love of the spotlight.
There can also be a very odd competitive nature to showers: which person can throw the most well-decorated/cutest/most elaborate shower? Which guest brings the cutest/most expensive/most unusual gift? Even when the hostess is a lovely, down-to-earth person, other well-meaning individuals add fancy favors, elaborate decorations, thematic cakes. It can go on and on.
If I were to be honest, I woul admit to the tiniest bit of jealousy: oh, to be young and expectant. It is a marvel of nature to grow a baby, feeling tiny feet wedged under your ribs. Wondering what this child will be like, gathering tiny clothes and sturdy cardboard books, waiting. Alas. My time is past.
The overarching reason I dislike baby showers, though, is not jealousy:
rather, it is fear.
I have written before about Offspring the Third's guardian, Nicholas. When I was five months pregnant with Offspring the Third, the sister of my heart delivered her perfect, stillborn son, Nicholas -- and the fabric of the world was rent apart. Life and death were no longer opposites, but merely opposite sides of the very same coin. I understood with complete certainty that terrible things could happen, and did happen, even to the most wonderful people among us. And that there was no predicting such terrible things. Even after Offspring the Third was safely delivered, with the grace of the Universe (and perhaps with help from Nicholas), I knew that the world would never look the same.
And this is, ultimately, why I dislike baby showers. To assume that all will be well, and worth celebrating now, seems too much like tempting Fate. We should not do so. We must respect both sides of the coin.
Let us hope that today's celebrated baby is safely delivered in due course. Amen.
Two weeks ago, Tiny Dog had her annual checkup. For the first time, the vet noticed a heart murmur. It sometimes happens, especially with small dogs, we were told. We weren't necessarily surprised -- elderly Three-toothed Dog also has a heart murmur. (His is more expected, given his advanced age of nearly 13.) Hers was a grade 2, possibly grade 3, out of six. Not so bad. His has been consistently at a 4 for a year now.
We went in for a follow-up visit this week to check how Tiny Dog is faring on the new heart meds. She outwardly seems to be doing well -- she has her usual pep and sassiness, eats well, barks vigorously, sleeps comfortably. Nevertheless, in the span of the fortnight between the two appointments, her murmur had increased in severity, to a 4 of 6. That's more alarming, especially in a relatively young dog. Furthermore, she had no signs of fever or other illness that would might indicate a viral infection that might temporarily be affecting her heart.
Options presented included: wait and see how much worse it gets; or do some additional testing to see what we are up against. There was no question, really. She will go in next week for the diagnostics.
I think about how much Beloved Husband and the Offspring love this Tiny Dog, and I know they will be devastated if there is Something Very Wrong with Tiny Dog. Because I understand the biological mechanics, I know there are some terrible possibilities, as well as -- have mercy -- some much more benign ones. All we can do for now is to hope that, with some luck and some good medications, we will have Tiny Dog for many years to come.
I read an article the other day that, despite its slightly click-bait-ish title, made some interesting and valid points about the perils and paucity of ordinary physical contact, particularly as it relates to men. The article, "How a Lack of Touch is Destroying Men" is here:
It speaks of the overarching mistrust in American society of physical touch by men -- the inherent suspicion/fear that any man, every man, will revert to sexual touch given the slightest opportunity; and about how as a result, men in general are cut off from initiating any physical touch lest it be perceived as sexual instead of platonic.
What a terrible way to live.
In refraining from contact, men miss out on the small elements of human interaction -- to lean on another person, to put a hand on an arm, to sit so that shoulders touch. Moreover, women are put in the role of gatekeepers, to say "no," to withdraw from or refuse touch, lest a platonic gesture be misinterpreted as having sexual overtones. It is a tremendous challenge -- for men and for women alike -- to try to show a sign of affection or care without it being misperceived. We have only limited success.
----- I was a sophomore in college, and was chatting with a new male acquaintance who lived in my dorm. We'd been talking for a while, and during the course of the conversation, when he made particularly amusing points, I touched him briefly on his forearm as we laughed. The second -- or was it third? -- time I did so, he looked at me and crossly said, "Why do you keep touching me?" That was the day I learned not to touch someone unless we were dating. It took me over twenty years to find peers whom I was comfortable briefly hugging again.
There is so little I can do about this ridiculous "Do Not Touch" stance in the world around me, except to try to find a way to somehow couple every small touch with a reassurance of its benign nature. Fortunately, as I age, I am much less likely to be perceived as a possibly sexual human being (for middle-aged women are usually treated as asexual creatures), and thereby I am more likely to be allowed to bestow a platonic gesture of tenderness or warmth.
Perhaps this is one of the benefits of very young, or very old, age -- to be able to touch people, unquestioned.
Although I am not particularly fond of getting older, perhaps this is at least one thing to which to look forward.
Spotted some eight months back in Points North, in an obscure place like a bus stop shelter or a sign post or some such, on a main thoroughfare where such a plaque must be, no doubt, woefully underappreciated.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains a minuscule middle aged chihuahua, a most mild-mannered senior chihuahua, and a very small hamster who, due to the prominence of his gonads, seems to need trousers for decency.