As I've already posted, on Tuesday morning we had our twenty week ultrasound. We found out that our baby is healthy and active and a little girl! It was so exhilarating to see our baby moving on the screen (and she moved a lot!), and I'm excited that we can now work on naming her. When we left the doctor's office, I was practically floating with delight, and decided to celebrate by taking our three pups out for a hike.
And then, barely an hour after my ultrasound-induced elation, I found myself dizzy with fear. One of our dogs, Jackson, loves to run like crazy through the trees, and this particular hike was no exception. He loves to run so much, in fact, that he's been known to wear through his foot pads, but that has always been his worst injury.
Until Tuesday's hike, that is. While he was flying through the trees, he suddenly fell to the ground, crying horribly. I crashed through the brush to get to him, trying to keep the other dogs from falling all over them in excited panic. When I got to Jackson, he stopped crying and let me inspect him. Fearing that he'd seriously hurt his foot pads or broken a leg, I meticulously inspected his limbs -- but found nothing out of the ordinary.
I let Jackson get up, and although he was limping, favoring one of his front legs, he seemed ready to keep going. I checked him again and still couldn't find anything wrong. So I put him on a leash because he seemed eager to start running again, and we all slowly made our way back to the car.
From there I drove to the Best Husband Ever's office to have him check out Jackson. When we got there, I noticed that Jackson had some spots of blood on a front leg that hadn't been there before. When the Best Husband Ever came out and inspected our pup, he discovered that poor Jackson had a three inch laceration tucked in the "armpit" of his front right leg. After a quick call to our vet, I dropped him off for the medical attention he clearly needed, relieved that the worst was over.
Except that it wasn't. When I picked Jackson up after his surgery, he was hurting ten times worse than before and reeling from the surgery drugs. As the vet tech walked him out to our car, he cried with every limping step and kept submissively peeing out of fear and confusion over where the pain was coming from. It was terrible to see.
When I got Jackson home, I managed to settle him in his crate with a little difficulty and some more crying on his part. I watched him for a while, and hated how clearly addled he was from the drugs and pain. He stared back at me, his normally happy eyes dull and lidded.
Then the Best Husband Ever came home and aptly suggested that we move Jackson upstairs so that he wouldn't have such a long trip to go outside to use the bathroom. We did, the Best Husband Ever carrying our sad and woozy pup upstairs. As we tried to get Jackson resettled in a way that wouldn't strain his wound, his cries were the most terrible that I'd ever heard. Even worse, his eyes became large and dilated -- "He's got fear eyes," I said.
We watched Jackson for the rest of the evening. Slowly, as the drug-induced stupor wore off, he regained some of his personality. He cuddled closer to us instead of trying to roll over submissively and subsequently causing himself pain. During the night we heard him cry as he tried to get comfortable, but when we checked on him there seemed to be nothing we could do.
By Wednesday morning, thank God, Jackson had returned to us. He was limping far less and, even more importantly, his usual personality had returned. By Thursday he felt so good that he wanted to play and run, which eventually led to a popped stitch, a slightly oozing incision, and him being confined to his crate except for bathroom and water breaks. But, barring exuberance-induced delays, Jackson is on the mend.
The worst part of the whole ordeal was watching Jackson suffer and knowing that there was nothing that we could do to help him that we hadn't already done. It's terrible watching someone you love suffer, even if that someone isn't even human.
But there was also a lesson or two in this experience. Because there was no way to help Jackson, we simply had to trust -- trust God, trust our vet, and trust nature to heal our dog up properly. And, even more importantly for me, I did not try to escape the situation by using food or other eating disordered behavior as I have done in the past. Instead of running away, I stayed present and alert, letting myself see what Jackson was going through and feel how I was reacting.
The thought did cross my mind at one point -- why don't I want to binge? After all, that's what I would have done not too long ago in such a stressful situation. I mean, I used to binge because I was bored, much less to escape from stress. But this time, as I thought about going to the store and buying binge food and then coming home and going to town on it -- I just didn't want to. It's not even that I told myself that I shouldn't or that I wouldn't, but the desire was not even present.
It's been a stressful summer in terms of our dogs. We've been to the vet more times over the past few months than our total visits of all time. We've dealt with irritated eyes, two bouts of horrible diarrhea, and now Jackson's laceration, surgery, and recovery. And I'm sure we're in for similar stressful situations once our baby is born and starts discovering the world. But I've also been given a gift this summer -- the gift of recovery. I feel like all of the stressful things that we've encountered these past few months have just reinforced how beautiful a gift recovery is. And I am more grateful than I will ever be able to say.
Have you ever found that stressful situations have shown you how much you've grown?
"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met." ~ Matthew 6:30-33