Thursday, April 14, 2005

The problems of age

Yesterday was a tough one for the Jellybean. She was limping terribly - she's always a bit lame, but she clearly had a new problem with one of her paws that was making her very uncomfortable. When she made it clear she wanted to be let down from the couch for her nightly drink, she took about two halting steps, then turned to look at us with that pathetic doggy face as if to say, "help me." So Darren carried her over to her bowl, which was about the saddest thing I've seen.

We got her a vet appointment this morning, and they think it's probably arthritis acting up. (It doesn't help that since the weather's warmed up, she's obviously been feeling a lot better, so we've been taking her for slow walks, which means we've probably been overdoing it.) Anyway, the vet prescribed Rimadyl for a week. Darren brought her home, gave her the pill and left for work.

When he returned, several hours later, he was met by a manic, joyful dog, who was prancing through the house, making her funny grin in which she shows her bottom teeth and poking him repeatedly with her cold, black nose. Apparently the meds worked, because she gave me the same treatment when I get home (and this is a dog who can barely be bothered to wake up when you come in the door). Now we've got to continue to keep her quiet... not sure how that happens... but it looks like she'll be on some pain medication permanently.

So as not to make this an all-dog post, I'll add that my grandmother (my dad's mom) came home from the hospital yesterday. My mom says she doesn't sound or feel good, but that she's happy to be home. Also last night my mother started in again with the fatalism: "I wonder if this really is the end..." I unpolitely cut her off and asked her to stop talking about that, to which she replied, "Well, I find that it can be really helpful to talk about these things."

I know that on one level she's right, that we need to face up to the fact that my grandparents won't be around forever. But on another level I can't have that conversation with her, when she seems almost gleefully morbid. I certainly don't think my mom wishes my grandmother dead -- not for a minute -- but my mom's relationship with her in-laws is complicated, especially since my father is verrrry close to them, to the extent that he will not celebrate a major holiday apart from them. (This is made easier by the fact that my mom's parents died several years ago; for years, though, there was a lot of fighting about where we'd spend holidays.) And on top of it all, my mom doesn't shy away from melodrama. She's great in an actual crisis, but she does have some good, old-fashioned Irish fatalism that pulls her to imagine the worst.

In the end, she agreed not to talk about it. We'll see how long that lasts.