Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Insanity from the Past and Some Things Never Change Except, Perhaps, Seizures

Christmas, 2004

I'm cleaning and organizing today like a madwoman. Oliver is feeling under the weather, so after plying him with homemade soup and juice, I've let him vegetate in front of the television, gone through all the books and crap in my bedroom/office and tried to make sense of the universe. In going through some papers, I came upon this beginnings of an essay, written on October 3, 2004. I believe it was a writing workshop essay, the result of the prompt Write yourself through a difficult situation. 

Ten years later, I think it might provide some hilarity on your otherwise humdrum Wednesday. Feel free to laugh AT and with me.

I am walking our new puppy, Valentine, around the block. I'm training her to be an assistance dog, and said matter-of-factly, this sounds like an amazing idea. However, the training will take two years -- two years of driving to San Diego and back three times a month. I have a nine year old daughter with severe handicaps, a six year old son who has just begun kindergarten, and a three year old son who is currently raging through life.

Now I have a dog.

I was never a dog person; in fact, it's something about which I've always felt guilty. Because I don't get all warm when I see a dog or enjoy talking about dog antics or even like petting a panting, squirming dog, I somehow have a character flaw. Isn't there a saying, "Never trust a person who doesn't like animals?" But I have a dog, now, and I tell myself that the end -- a devoted animal who will sleep with Sophie and alert me when she has seizures -- will be well worth the conflicted feelings. As I walk her around the block, I'm thinking "is this 'a difficult situation' to write through?" How do I write through this as a difficult situation?

When I get back to the house, I go into Sophie's room. My husband Michael is sleeping soundly next to her. He has served the assistance dog role now for over five years because I am a psychotic wreck in the night. She is sitting up in bed, cross-legged in the corner. Sophie's bed is a mattress and box-spring on the floor and she sleeps against the wall. I unfold her legs and pull her to the edge of the bed, to make it easier to slip her pajama bottoms off and change her diaper. She is always soaked in the morning. She is nine and a half years old. Is this a difficult situation?
Michael, who on school days is aggravatingly slow, has practically leaped out of bed and is now very busy getting ready to rush off to work. It's a Sunday, and he hasn't had a day off in over a week. He's a chef and he has to go. I am angry and the day looms ahead of me empty in its Sundayness. 

The writing ends abruptly there but prompted me to search for the following photo of Sophie, the dog and me, dressed in pink poodle skirts for a Halloween extravaganza in San Diego, a required event for Dog Assistance Training. Please feel free to laugh AT me (especially my hideous, hideous hair) and WITH me. What the hell was I thinking?


Ha Ha Ha Ha! The assistance dog became the family dog after four months of me ferrying myself and my three young children and THE DOG down to San Diego for a three times a month 6 hour training session. Don't ask me how I managed to do this for four months.  Evidently, I lost my mind which included shearing off my hair and wearing poodle skirts. I couldn't handle being the Alpha Dog and soon allowed Valentine to run around willy nilly with my little boys. Today, I'm still out of my mind, but my hair is longer, I wear only jeans and long-sleeved tee-shirts and, occasionally, a burka. Valentine is still adorable, but she sure as hell is not a seizure dog and provides basically no services other than unbridled enthusiasm and an annoying, insatiable need to be loved. Henry is now fifteen years old and well out of kindergarten, impossibly handsome and still the sweetest person on the planet. Oliver is now twelve years old, home-schooled and still raging through life. Michael, or The Husband, still sleeps with Sophie and works all the time. Now eighteen years old, Sophie still sits cross-legged on the bed and needs to be changed. Up until two weeks ago, she still had seizures every day, all day.

As of today, she's two weeks seizure free.


  1. Life trundles on but Sophie's seizures do not. I want to don my poodle skirt and sing from the rooftops!

  2. Good god, woman. You just keep rolling out my favorites. Like...each one is my favorite.
    So today this one is my favorite.
    That picture is absolutely priceless and it didn't make me laugh. It made me smile in my heart.

  3. we have all had the bad hair cut -- your long hair now is beautiful and frames your face elegantly. Don't ask me to share some of my photos with my 5 year old daughter -- big hair and ultra bangs. Ugh!

    The effort with the dog was honorable, but ultimately impossible. Cut yourself a break.

    I am so glad to hear that Sophie is two weeks seizure free. Blessings abound!

  4. FUN NEE ! Is it a wig? My god, it looks like a wig. You are all three adorable, in more ways than one.

    Happy, happy, happy two weeks free !

  5. Like 37Paddington, it strikes me how life continues on despite the fact that this HUGE change has occurred. I wonder if it feels anticlimactic and monumental all at the same time? I imagine it must be exhausting.

    So very happy for you, Sophie, and your family.

  6. Very funny photo, with all those slanting pinks! Most of the poodles I've known
    (including one who was a close friend) preferred to have a service person.

  7. I am shouting this aloud to my husband and daughter in the next room. I am almost afraid to shout it. But I couldn't help myself. Oh, Elizabeth, two weeks!

    As for the dog and the haircut, I think you look adorable! And I would never have lasted as long as you did with the trekking and the training.

  8. Oh how happy I am to read this, I am so, so happy for you.
    And for me, that you are reading the Goldfinch, and will (I hope) tell me what you think of it, and of my theory regarding it.

  9. I love this post and everything about this post, even the haircut, and most especially the poodle-themed picture. You are it on a stick.

  10. If I had a poodle skirt I would don it in alliance with dog too. I am overjoyed to read of your two-week scientific miracle and I hope with all that I have that long may it continue. x

  11. I love that pic in the pink skirts. I especially love that you posted it!!
    2 weeks is very very good.
    A positive roll, yes.

  12. That may be the first actual poodle skirt I've ever seen. Love the picture and the short haircut and I give you tremendous credit for even trying the dog thing!

  13. I keep thinking of how wonderful it must be for Sophie to have even a single day without seizures. And two weeks without them is so awesome.

  14. Not to get all sappy but this post is the highlight of my dog-gone awful day and to you I am so grateful. I love love love all of it!!!!

    Honestly though, I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that Sophie has been seizure-free for two weeks. Has that ever happened before??? What is the science behind this? Can you give us a general explanation of how/why the smart people theorize this stuff is working to control her seizures?

  15. Two week, two weeks. And survived the 4 months of driving to San Diego. Happy Full Moon Day. xo

  16. Wow - I love you then as much as now :)

    Go easy on your cute pink self - we should all show our haircuts from 2004 - mine was really weird

  17. I kind of like the poodle skirts, especially with the big white poodle sitting right next to you! It's a theme!

    That was a promising beginning to an essay -- a window into the writing and experiences that would eventually become your blog.

  18. OK, so I read the title and got kind of nervous…. skipped the post and was overjoyed to see that you are celebrating the completion of week two…( call me crazy) and was relieved that Sophie is responding so beautifully. Do I sound like a neurotic mother, much?

  19. I don't know if you know how much Sophie's lack of seizures gives me hope for Katie, so I'm telling you. And thanking you. Take care woman.

  20. First, two weeks! It makes me get weepy to think of Sophie's relief from so much pain. How do you ever come down off full time high alert? Second, I can only laugh with you, not at you, as I have some mom photos with dubious haircuts that will always make me cringe, and I don't have the cute pink outfit, just the walmart pink sweat pants and sweatshirt. I also have a silly poodle mix who runs my life as well, and I was never a dog person and didn't want a dog but my husband had other ideas, so Surprise! I now cater to a dog too.

    Sometimes when I find things I've written a decade ago, or look at old pictures I wonder how that could have been me? I've left myself clues to puzzle over in later years, and often to laugh at too. Laughing is good. :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog - for some reason Mary's posts don't show up on my blog roll for days too. Blogger mysteries. And yes, a soda stream will turn wine into bubbly wine like magic. My daughter had begged for a soda stream for a year and I told her it was ridiculous counter clutter and no. Then my husband bought one for the wine, so she's drinking too much soda now. Further evidence of my failure as a parent.

    I hope these weeks turn into months and months and so on. :)

  21. Elizabeth, yours is the only blog on this world wide thing that I follow. Your brilliance, strength and wit have become something I count on. Thank you!

  22. I love it when I find stuff I've written years ago and hold it up in comparison to life now. Always an eye opener.

    Elizabeth, I think you were channeling a bit of Liza Minnelli with the haircut. I love that photo, though. I have a pink poodle skirt, too. So the next time you feel the itch, let me know and I'll take a pic of me in mine. Two weeks free! *pumps fist in the air*

  23. So glad you came to your senses and abandoned the dog training. So freaking thrilled that it's been two weeks seizure free. I hope that one day your husband can sleep with you again because Sophie doesn't need him at night (or do you prefer having the bed to yourself? I know that I miss my husband when he travels every week, but I do enjoy splaying myself across the entire bed without kicking into another limb, so there is that). Love the historical snapshot.

  24. i love that photo, and matching skirts, and the haircut - and your wit!

  25. You are wonderful. And your writing is out of this world.



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