That’s what I want my t-shirt to say. The one I would wear so that when people I haven’t seen or talked to in a while ask “What happened?” I can just point to my chest.
I had every intention of starting off the year with a renewed sense of purpose and felt pretty good about dipping my toe in the waters of blogging but then the Universe or was it The Adjustment Bureau? had other plans.
In February unbeknownst to me, our cat Weebee began to show symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease. I applied my usual band-aid treatments unaware of what was really happening, she was entering end stage renal failure. I made a mental note to schedule her annual exam and carried on but something felt off, I won’t say wrong but there was something going on, I felt like I had been plopped down in the middle of the ocean and I could sense a big set was building I just didn’t know from where or how big.
Soon after I posted about feeling the transitions we made a big decision, rather my husband did, he was finally ready to commit to finding a contractor so we could do some home renovations, something I/we have wanted to do for the last ten years. Next month our house turns fifteen and so does the filthy carpet beneath our feet. I was at the point where I couldn’t stand to let myself or anyone walk in our home without socks, no matter how many times I had that carpet steam cleaned. I dreamt of hardwood floors with oversized baseboards, floors that I could actually see were clean.
Later that same week as we walked door to door selling cookies I met a man who would later become our contractor. He was finishing up a house down the street that was basically gutted and rebuilt. We watched that house and the buzz of construction around it for the past nine months. I jokingly asked if he wanted to buy cookies which lead to some gentle prying on my part to find out the “story” on the house. We had seen a variety of high end cars parked in front, ya know Phantoms and Lambos, no biggie, so of course our imagination had the best of us. We didn’t get much intel but I did manage to get his card with a soft agreement to come by and take a look at our house.
Three weeks later we began demolition on the ceramic tile floor.
A week before demolition commenced, on a Monday, I brought in a crew to do some work on the yard. The only time I have let them spot treat with chemicals on certain areas of the lawn, a decision that I would later regret. That day there was lots of activity. I was a few weeks into prepping for the remodel, things were in boxes and trash bags, our home discombobulated. My husband mentioned Weebee was outside, something I have been so vigilant about preventing. She came in and I started waiting for the grass to come back up, that was her thing run out and head straight for the grass but this time since no one was even aware of her disappearance knew where she went or more importantly what she ate. A few hours later she looked miserable.
I watched and worried. She showed immediate signs of improvement but 24 hours later I found her like this.
I rushed her to the veterinarian and immediately launched my own investigation. I researched the weed killer, it wasn’t as bad as I thought and later the doc said cats don’t normally eat things that would be toxic unlike dogs. That gave me minimal comfort. As I started going down the list of signs of renal failure, a lightbulb went off and as I dropped my daughter off at school I began to sob uncontrollably. I began to feel dizzy like I was going to pass out something deep inside me knew that she was in total renal failure. The next morning when the doctor called I began to sob unable to get out a word. She asked what was wrong and I told her I just knew what she was about to tell me and then she paused and said you are correct, she is in end stage renal failure. I wanted to just crawl in a hole and die.
We launched an immediate plan to pull her out of the downward spiral and for about a week I had hope. Twelve days and three thousand dollars later we put her to sleep. I don’t think I have ever cried so much and so hard with the exception of my nieces brush with death. Six weeks later I still find this incredibly painful to talk about so let’s just move on to the next change.
No sooner had we started the demolition we ran into problems. As soon as the tile was removed we found wet concrete around three of the four toilets. my sons bathroom being the worst. Out came the bleach and the fans. Evidently either the creeping fig or the liquid ambers had discovered this well of hydration and made its way up into the base of the toilet. I was horrified of the implications that a bigger problem was to be had other than a wet foundation. The contractor assured me they could fix the problem and all I need to do is take care of the outside roots. I still think its a ticking time bomb.
A few days later the hot water pump goes out, not a HUGE deal but it means you have to run the shower for 5 minutes to get the water to travel from the heater to the bathroom and with our water or lack thereof in California that is no bueno. The day before we are scheduled to get a new pump the water heater dies. Ok so now were are over budget $2000 and we haven’t even begun the work.
Everything is replaced while my son and I are visiting the University of Utah. I come back to find they have installed a pump without a timer so it constantly runs and constantly whines. Again not huge issues but still, issues.
We are now 10 days into no floors, which means a fine coat of thinset dust has now settled on every surface area uncovered as well as our lungs. I send my daughter to my sisters because of her history with respiratory issues. Meanwhile at home we clean and vacuum and watch the furniture age five years. We immediately regret not moving out during this project.
And because one pet emergency wasn’t enough, my husband found our bearded dragon sideways and unresponsive in his cage. Another mad dash to the animal hospital this time one that handles lizards whom we never visited before. He was admitted and laid there lifeless in an incubator receiving fluids. Exactly 30 days after losing Weebee, the vet suggested we also euthanize Chompers. My son was beside himself. I sat and thought about it and decided that we wanted more time, if he wasn’t suffering then maybe there was hope. Like my sister told me about Weebee’s situation ‘where there’s life, there’s hope.’
To this …
The next day I met with a different veterinarian who showed me how to administer fluids with a needle under the skin, my time working at an animal hospital was about to pay off. Ten days later he has gone from coma to opening his eyes to moving his spine to move all four limbs. We are still on fluids and high caloric food supplements to get his to eat again but he is very much alive and improves each day that passes.
My worry shifts from the house and the lizard to my niece, Lily who had her back fused in a very risky surgery. Lily recently developed such severe scoliosis she was viewing the world from an 80 degree angle. Her surgery had only been performed one other time on another child with similar circumstances, let’s remember Lily not only has CVPT but she’s very much recovering from an anoxic brain injury. We found out only days before the surgery that the risks were so high the surgeon insisted to cut the surgery from 8 hrs to 4, not comforting. We prepare ourselves mentally as we reenter that same space we occupied 3 long years ago in July 2012. I knew the PTSD was coming I could feel it in my bones.
I realized my adrenals now shot were just barely capable of keeping the adrenaline at bay when son came in our bedroom one night late to let me know he was home only to be met with my blood curdling screams. I and everyone (including my arrhythmic heart) so rattled, took hours to get recover and eventually back to sleep.
The painting continues and doesn’t stop until just a week ago when I called up the contractor and said do not come back, just come get your stuff. I am done. Long story short my contractor was so angry at his subcontractors that he pulled out of our remodel 24 hrs before I decided enough no more. It is a story that I will save for another time and it will be titled How To Avoid Pitfalls during a House Remodel and Save Your Marriage Too. Because nothing besides a medical crisis will make you want to scratch your husband’s eyes out like a remodel.
So here’s where I’m at. I’m unpacking and cleaning dust off of everything. Lily’s surgery was “textbook perfect” according to her surgeon. After a few days of being on pins and needles it was becoming clear that Lily would make a smooth transition off a combination of sedatives and pain meds, textbook perfect again. She is now home, in here own hospital bed (from the first time she came home after 17 weeks in the hospital) healing and sitting up straight. I’m ordering furniture and returning furniture. I’m taping packing paper to cover bare windows. I’m taking risks and buying used appliances on Craigslist because our budget suffered massive damage. I’m interviewing new contractors to come finish the baseboards, install door handles and hopefully get that last toilet out of the backyard. All the while getting ready for Super B to graduate next month and then we pack for his move to Arizona. Weep. Don’t forget there’s the matter of work and backlog of personal emails and a lizard who needs to be force fed every 4 hours.
My house feels so different. I feel different. All my past stuff remains boxed and sealed with tape and I am more than happy to see how long I can go without unboxing and if I can just throw it out.
I think I’m finally ready to live a life completely free of all the stuff. And its’ just stuff ya know, right? You don’t get to take it with you when you leave anyway so why let it monopolize all of your free time.
Let it go.