Brain Health, Mindfulness and The Teacher
The Teacher and The Coach
May 27, 2014
One of the most ground-breaking methods in psychology has been the advent of positive psychology and Dr. Daniel Amen's groundbreaking work that teams psychology and SPECT Scans. Take it from an individual who was beaten and battered by the purveyors of the Freudian era of therapy, positive psychology jettisoned psychotherapy out of the dark shadows of Freud’s mind and into the reality of what we as human beings are really made of. Technology has generated systems which make possible a window into the state of our brains, and, teamed with positive psychology, provides the perfect avenue to achieve the truth of hope and healing. More about this in later postings
With that said, as a coach I have been thrown into a situation in which I must practice what I preach, mindfulness and all that goes with it. On Tuesday, my sweet dog, Peggy Sue, was diagnosed with Lymphoma. From the first day my veterinarian, Steve, told me of his findings I have been trying to wrap my mind around this diagnosis (which was confirmed pm Friday by Cytology). On Wednesday I spent the day with Peggy Sue. I wanted to be near her. I wanted to find a balance point about this situation. I have enough intellect to think of ways that I should behave. After all, at 67, I have had plenty of experience with death. But, I needed what is beyond intellect, because I have found that intellect can drop you like a hot potato and you are left awash in the storms of your emotions. By the end of the day, I decided that this was definitely a “live in the moment” situation, and I vowed that each and every day would be special for Peggy Sue and me.
Well, several days have passed, and it has been quite interesting to exercise what I coach. I am developing mindfulness muscles. What a gift this situation is becoming. I’m privileged to practice what I preach. All the tools have become available to me; gratitude, mindfulness, being fully present as the observer, kindness and love. Peggy Sue, you must be an angel/my teacher.
June 7, 2014
So, each day has provided mini-miracles. Sometimes you must be very watchful in order to catch and recognize them.
A neighbor told me that my dog was barking constantly while I was at work. Oh, great…now my dog will die and I will get kicked out of my apartment. Later that evening got a knock at the door. Same guy gives me something warm in a plastic bag. I realize it is a t-bone that he obviously sliced off of his dinner. Of course, I thought, Peggy Sue is a dog, she would love this. She ate it with both reverence and furvour (pun intended).
Friday went to the supermarket. Peggy Sue and I used to go out for ice cream when life was getting hard. Brought some home and she and I celebrated with an ice cream social.
Saturday, noticed that she was sleeping and making sounds and doing running motions. I chuckled to myself. She had never done that, at least to anyone else’s recollection at the farm. Peggy Sue is having fun in her dreams. She is chasing something. Hopefully she is chasing away her Cancer. She was limping and walking very slowly today. She now sleeps on the cold floor, and not on any of the two beds I bought for her. She won’t even lie on her blanket that she so dearly loved. When I picked her up to load her in the car, her exposed area (where she has not been able to grow more hair) was very hot, so I am glad she can have some relief on the cold floor.
Sunday, she is showing signs of weakness and pain. The dog whisperers at the farm, get in contact with the vet and Peggy Sue’s vet (Steve). Prednisone dose is upped and she is receiving Tramadol for the pain. She is better, less pain. I keep checking the tumors on her neck. They have not gone down. I am still hopeful. After all it is only the fifth day. Led a tour of girl scouts today at the farm. Peggy Sue tagged along and allowed the girls to fawn all over her. This is a dog that did not like touch, and who has a reputation of being very aloof. Go figure. Letting love in has been good for her.
Monday, Peggy Sue comes to work with me. I park the car where she can see me coming and going walking the dogs. I walk around the pasture three times with different dogs and she follows me. This is a bit much for her, so I put her in one of the kennel cages and complete my rounds. She is obviously exhausted. I guess I really don’t “get” how sick she is.
Tuesday, Peggy Sue is with me again I park close to the pasture and leave her in the car. She is perched in her usual spot, on the shot gun side. At the end of the morning I have time to walk her around the pasture. It was heaven. The day was beautiful, and I did not have her on the leash. We walked, I sang her theme song (“Peggy Sue”) and we had such a good time. When I got home I discovered that even that was too much for her. She was sleeping all day. She is no longer limping.
Wednesday, got to spend all day with her. Talked to her and groomed her. I love the time spent with her, and believe that she needs me there. Have been creating and cooking her food (chicken, rice and veggies) because she does not seem to be enjoying or digesting regular dog food. Her appetite is not as good as it was.
Thursday, I work in the afternoon, and have to leave her for a long period of time, and I was hopeful that she would be o.k. And she was. I worried and imagined, and then “came to” and started living in the now. Everything was indeed, o.k. and she was wagging her tail when she saw me.
Friday, took my “partner” out with me to run errands. First took her to see the Vet. There has been no change in the tumors since the first visit and the round of medications. As I understand it, the doctor usually has more success with this round. Dr. Steve suggested a pill that has the power to kill cells (good and bad) in a 21 day period, for 6 periods. I will consider this option. Peggy Sue seemed to enjoy the rest of the day, but it really wore her out. My brother also called me and fixed my car. Had trouble bringing Peggy Sue out of the car. When we were at my brother’s house I prayed over Peggy Sue for over an hour. I think I noticed a change the next day.
Saturday, I left in the afternoon for work. I was very nervous, because I was gone for 6 hours. When I returned I discovered that she had relieved herself in my closet. The poor thing. I know she was probably humiliated that she had to do that. No problem. I am an excellent pooper scooper, and the incident served as precursor to cleaning my apartment in preparation for my son and his wife to bring some furniture into my home. But, then I had to go to take care of my grandson. Very nervous, I took her in the car with me. I hoped that the ride in the heat and my grandson would not be too much for her. Again, I learned a lesson about worry…don’t. My grandson showed her so much love and Peggy Sue just blossomed. She followed him around and stared at him adoringly. It was such a good visit.
Sunday, my neighbor brought over another t-bone. And, everyone I meet when I take her on her regular walks is offering prayers, and kind thoughts. This former raggedy dog, grew a beautiful coat of hair, battled and conquered eye and ear problems, overcame depression and mistrust of humans, and accepted me in her pack. I feel honored. Who is this little dog, really. After talking to some friends and my son’s wife (who is a nurse), I have made up my mind NOT to use the 21 day pill. I will ask the vet, what steps I take now. Do I continue the Prednisone and the other drug? I definitely need guidance.
June 11. The previous night was very rough for Peggy Sue, she was pacing, relieved herself and moaning. In the very early morning, I cleaned up and took her out one last time. Walk was slow and limping. After she got home she successfully settled in and was sleeping on the floor. I made the decision to end her pain. She was moaning in her sleep and had never done that. I called the vet as soon as they opened and they told me to come in. They were wonderful and I was with her through the end. I was given permission to bury her on a local farm. I chose to take her with me, wrap her in a sheet decorated with doves, and dig her grave. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I felt it was a process and I was determined to be with her through the end. For me it was fundamental. It was the way I had witnessed death during my spiritual practice.
That afternoon I took care of my grandson. His mother prepared him, but there were many questions and talks. I stayed overnight and there were talks again. He loves photos, so we looked at a couple. It helped both me and him. We’ll keep working on it. If I had not had mindfulness (not always working, but I was working at it) I would have not made it through without being an emotional, blubbering mess. Perhaps I will experience that at some time. But, now, all I can do is appreciate Peggy Sue as the teacher she was, and appreciate the people who surround me, with their knowing and understanding.