Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Life in Dog Years-- I'm Not Such an Old Dog, But Not Quite a Young Man.

I am roughly the same age as my dog Lulu. That is, in dog years, she is roughly the same age as me. This is not so bad. At eight, Lulu is quite active. She's smart and intuitive. A good dog all around, especially when you consider her overwhelming fear of humans (more men than women) when we first got her from the shelter.

Now this may not be the best segue going, but I'm extremely lazy lately. A recent burst of melancholy and ennui has been replaced with another bout of sloth. There are reasons for this.

I don't sleep well. I am a living science experiment. I've had two major back surgeries. One of my spinal disks has been replaced with a titanium one. I was the first person in San Francisco to have this procedure done. For awhile, I was a popular subject with the doctors around the area. My neighbor, a nurse at Stanford, had overheard a conversation about me even though I'd had the procedure done elsewhere. Though I have been poked, prodded, jacked up (literally they kind of jack up your spinal column for a replacement procedure,) injected, had my disk fried, my nerves cut, bone in my spine removed, etc., etc. I still suffer a lot of pain. I have a numb foot. Sometimes I can't keep my balance. I nearly walked into a ditch the other day due to lack of feeling. And every once in a while, my doc who sees me every six weeks for my back, throws me another curve I have to deal with.

A couple of years ago, because of weight gain, I decided to stop taking a nerve medication that wasn't helping much. I thought I would die. Withdrawal is a terrible thing. My doctor is a great guy, but he doesn't know everything. He didn't know that I needed to cut back on the drug very gradually. I thought I was going crazy. I felt like I'd swallowed a million Mexican jumping beans. I couldn't cope. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I was so tired I couldn't sleep. I know, sounds weird. Oh, I slept in snatches, five minutes here, ten minutes there, but for a few weeks it was awful.

Now my doctor has, I believe inadvertently, switched my medication again. It's a little easier this time. I simply am not getting the pain med I'd been taking before. I think the doc just made a mistake. Again, I'm often too tired to sleep well. My legs kick. I move to the floor at night so I don't wake my wife.

What's this got to do with dogs? I'll tell you. I have a lot of time to think in those hours I spend awaiting sleep. I think how old I am. I think how my dog, with luck may live another eight years. I think I have maybe another twenty years give or take a few. I think how lucky I am. I think how wonderful my family is. I think how miserable I am. I feel young. I feel ancient. I wonder how people work into their seventies or eighties. I don't know.

You know, The Who, in the song "My Generation" said "I hope I die before I get old." Growing up in the sixties, I think a lot of us thought that way. I don't now. But damn, no one told me this ageing thing was gonna be hard.

You know what else I think while I lie awake at night? I think that I wish I could age as gracefully as my dog.

1 comment:

  1. Your writing is incredible. I can't imagine the physical and psychological pain you must feel. If dogs could talk, they would be able to express their feelings and let us know that yes, they can be in pain and they are tired. They also would let us know how much they are loved and have a wonderful family. The comparison of animal and human feelings, I think, aren't that different.