I’m getting adept at Plans B of late.
Landscaping plans sit on the shelf because we just don’t feel like spending that much money this year. Maybe next. (I’ve been saying that about that third rock wall for about eleven years now).
That second memoir based on “my grandmother’s suitcase” shares the same shelf though for different reasons.
But last week a new one popped up — after dashing Plan A to smithereens, Plan Bs spring forth fully formed.
Of course having a Plan B assumes you had a Plan A. Here was mine.
Plan A: Life will be simpler as I get older.
Simpler has been a goal for a while now and the building blocks of that simpler life were to be routine, financial security, and predictability.
Routine is doing nicely, with just the right mix of planned and spontaneous activities. Or did, as I’ll get to in a bit.
The same with financial security. I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a dependable roof over my head; I’m able to buy whatever appeals to me at the food store; I have never once had to choose between food or medicine; I’m warm when it’s cold outside and when it’s unbearably hot, as it was a few weeks this summer, I have a pond I can go float in for a bit. Best of all, I am able to financially support a few causes dear to me. I live within my means, probably for the first time in my life. I am financially secure; for now.
I thoroughly enjoy all that I have and I do not yearn for anything I do not have.
This, to me, is the definition of true happiness.
It’s the predictability part where Plan A dies. I’d like my life to be predictable, to know what will unfold as I begin each day.
Hence my reliance on my digital calendar, which I share with Woody.
Apart from calendar events, we predicted that our puppy, Jackson, would grow into a second Sasha: gentle, intelligent, loyal and healthy. (Sasha did have those two TPLO surgeries and now is living with anal gland cancer. Overall though, she’s been a healthy girl over her nearly twelve years.)
We predicted, we assumed, we expected. And now are we ever surprised. Not in a good way, either. Disappointed to be sure; sad, of course.
Jackson is heartworm positive.
We changed veterinarians this summer, a simple carbon footprint decision — Old Vet is over a half hour away, New Vet is right in town; with two dogs, it seemed prudent. Jackson arrived with us last November, with his negative heartworm documentation and two months of heartworm preventative. Old Vet prescribed six more months. When that was about to run out, I turned to New Vet. She required a new blood test.
So, off to the vet’s we went last Wednesday for Jackson’s first full exam by New Vet and the blood work needed to get him some more NetGuard. Jackson, still on the hyper side and quite skittish, required sedation before they could examine him, never mind take blood or give him his vaccines. No; Jackson is no Sasha.
That the test came back positive for heart worm was completely unexpected. Life can sometimes turn in a moment.
We always have the option to send him back to the Foster Mom in Illinois, no matter what. And, frankly, we’ve considered that more than once over these past ten months. But we are now committed to this handsome, quirky, very active dog who just wants to please us but often doesn’t get the how.
Unlike when we faced Sasha’s various surgeries (September 21, 2016; July 26, 2017; and June 9, 2021), we have Pet Insurance for Jackson. So, cost is not a huge factor. In fact, there really is no decision to be made. Or, we could say the choice is quite simple: there is simply no way we are NOT going ahead with treatment. We are doing what one does when faced with the unexpected: we are stepping into it.
The hardest part for us
will be is keeping him content during his “confinement.”
He can’t jump, he can’t romp with Sasha, he can’t even run. Between November 8 and mid January he must be either in his crate or on a leash. Before then, as in now, he’s on a leash when he goes out. I believe Sasha is rather relieved. We’re practicing our leash walking skills.
The hardest part for Jackson is to survive.
Preliminary medicines were begun last Thursday, something to kill the bacteria that these heart worms seem to feed off of. We’ll continue these pills twice a day for the next month. Then, we wait a month and in early November Jackson will get his first of shot of Immiticide (melarsomine), for which he’ll again need to be sedated.
He’ll get three of these injections between November 8 and December 8 and during that time and for an additional six weeks Jackson will need to be on severe (as in SEVERE) physical restriction. He will be in his crate at all times except for three walks a day on the leash. I anticipate he will need to be on a tranquilizer during all this. Or else I will.
The reason we will keep him confined is that as the heart worms die off they can wind up clogging up an artery or worse. And we all know what can happen when blood does not flow effectively.
There is no guarantee this will end well. It’s possible the treatment will not be sufficient and will need to be done again. It’s also possible the treatment itself will kill him.
Why will we subject him to this? I cannot answer that question except to say we can. And we know that to do nothing will bring his life to a quick and painful end. And I keep hearing good, positive stories of rescued dogs that have survived the treatment and gone on to lead full and active lives.
For those of you who want to know more about this disease, here’s a three minute video from the American Heartworm Society (.org)
And so we move forward, into Plan B. One I was not expecting at all. One that will bring with it a wealth of new experiences, both challenging and gratifying. We’ve changed our holiday plans; we’ve canceled Woody’s birthday weekend since Jackson cannot be boarded. What I can’t tell yet is what gratitudes I’ll discover during all this. I’ll be looking though, that’s for sure.