Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Rattlesnake in the Puppy Sack

All my life, I have had vivid dreams, that I recall in great detail. Those dreams have been the basis of short stories, conversations, journals, essays, and many hours of my attempts to figure out "what was that all about?"

It has been a rough three weeks here. When I went to the doctor 3 weeks ago and saw the x-ray of my right hip joint, it was surreal. That hip joint, in a year's time, has deteriorated to the point that it looks like someone took a hedge trimmer to it. It is no wonder to me now why I have not taken a step without pain in the last year or how this has increasingly come to affect the quality of my life. Things I have done without thinking all my life are suddenly very difficult, if not downright impossible. It is a sobering experience.

In some ways, the "cure" has been worse than the disorder. While the Physical Therapy has been helpful, actually kind of fun in ways--what a great PT we have at the University!--the medication has been horrible. I am still suffering major withdrawal symptoms--from a non-narcotic, non-addictive medication--that I cannot take at the same time as the pain medication. Major headaches (which I rarely have in "real life"), almost constant nausea, and in general, a feeling of just feeling like the bottom of a trash can full of fish and beer cans has been the norm.

Add to the mix the pain medication, which on one hand has been great--the way it works is amazing, and I have had no hip pain and can actually walk without limping and rocking again for the first time in over a year, and it does not affect my mood or sense of reality as it does not feel like I have taken medication--but on the other hand causes me to wake up at odd hours, lose all sense of taste, and feel nauseated after I eat. Nothing has tasted good in 3 weeks. Of course, the up side to that is I have lost over 5 pounds so far, with the decrease in eating and the increase in physical activity. It's just that it doesn't feel good to feel bad.

All those things, coupled with the stress that comes with the end of the semester, dealing with cases of academic dishonesty--which breaks my heart because I teach social work students for crying out loud, the extensive grading marathon days, have combined to put me squarely on the pity pot of late. As I often do, I try to deal with it all with a sense of humor, I rely on my intellectualizing about how my problems are nothing compared to people dealing with chemotherapy or who cannot walk at all, look at the lessons I am learning, and so on. And usually, after a short time, I can get off the pity pot and back on with my life.

Last night, a friend from work called and left me a message that she had a question to ask me. I returned her call and got her voice mail and replied: "If the question was 'are you sorry you moved to Mississippi?' then the answer is yes. If that is not it, call me back." When she called back, she said she did not know whether to laugh or cry over my response, so she chose to laugh. That is kind of where I have been of late. All of that--and our discussion related to the reason she called--were rolling around in my mind when I went to bed last night. At least, the headache that had made me as sick as the proverbial dog (why do we say that? how many sick dogs are there? what does a sick dog feel like?) all day long, resulting in literally having to lie down with an ice pack on my head for most of the afternoon and evening had finally abated, and there had been no bout of nausea after the hamburger I had eaten. But dogs must have been in my head.

The gist of the dream that awoke me was finding a sack of abandoned puppies. The kicker was someone had put a rattlesnake in the sack. I had taken the sack of puppies to our shelter to drop off, and written a sign that said "Aviso! Warning! Rattlesnake in the puppy sack!" I did not want any unsuspecting person to put his or her hand into the sack and get bitten, but I did not really have a clue as to how to remedy the situation myself.

When I woke up this morning at 4, my logical self said the puppies would already have been doomed and I should have just killed the snake. Growing up in the country in west Texas, I saw plenty of rattlesnakes. At an early age, we were taught to watch for them while outside playing. The absolute unbreakable rule was we were never ever to attempt to kill one, but to immediately leave the area and go find mom or dad. So, what is it about a rattlesnake in the puppy sack that leaves me feeling so bereft that I have sat here and watched the dark turn to day light? Do I dare open the sack and save the puppies, or just leave it for the next worker coming on duty?


Betty said...

You need my dream book! If I had to process this; the snake would probably be a symbol of all the negatives going on in your life, the roadblocks so to say...your meds, sickness, headaches, etc. You seem to love dogs so the puppies are everything that's good. I would also say that you are stressed out emotionally. Take care of you!

Suzassippi said...

Stressed???? Ya think? LOL

Gigi said...

I think you've always opened the sack. And will, time and again. It's just who you are.