Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Helplessness…Uncomfortable to the Core

If you’ve read some of my past posts you know that I have a black lab mix named Tashi. She’s thirteen plus and has been fighting MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) for seven years. The past ten months have been one infection after another. The bacteria are sneaky, mutating every six to eight weeks requiring a new culture and new meds. She’s been so patient! In addition to medication, she gets a laser treatment on her foot every other day. It’s a great experience for her because the treatment is painless and she gets lots of treats from the entire staff at the vet.

So why am I feeling helpless in this moment? This past weekend she developed conjunctivitis. She had a discharge that was making her continually rub her eyes. We took her to the vet and he prescribed medication. Yesterday I woke up and noticed that instead of progress, her eyes looked worse. They were so bad that she could hardly keep her eyes open.

Her regular doctor was off yesterday so she got to meet a new vet (new for her). The doctor was kind and considerate. She knew about Tashi’s history because she’s been teaching the entire staff about MRSA and all the troubles that come with this diagnosis. New meds, eye drops to soothe the itch, and lots of love will hopefully make the difference.

Helpless because I can’t make her feel any better. She can’t rub her eyes so she has to wear a cone (the famous radar dish) so she won’t irritate her eyes. I’m putting ointments and drops in her eyes every couple of hours. I feel helpless because in trying to make her feel better I have to do everything in my power to prevent her from irritating her eyes even further. I feel helpless because being so vigilant with the MRSA that a different infection leaves me feeling defeated.

I feel helpless because I can’t explain what’s going on to her, and all she can do is trust that I’m going to help. Helplessness is very uncomfortable. A different kind of uncomfortable than the itch and pain she’s experiencing because it’s my soul is uncomfortable. This type of experience teaches me that I can only do what’s humanly possible.   I can only be compassionate and proactive about her medical condition, but I don’t have the power to heal her. Uncomfortable because it shows that I have limitations and surrender is my only option.

Our story continues. She’s a happy girl, although uncomfortable in this moment. She’s full of love. She holds spaces of trust and love in her heart (so maybe I’m projecting a bit). We’re a team! There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to ease her pain and discomfort. There isn’t anything I would do that would jeopardize her quality of life. There is only one thing I do have power over, ensuring that she leaves it all on the table, living a life that’s full of love, fun, and connection.

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I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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