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Month: August 2017

Dr. Duncanstein

Dr. Duncanstein

Our dog, Duncan, came into my life in 2006. I was at Ohio State for law school, and I sold my ticket to the OSU/Michigan game for enough to cover my rent and get a dog. I was so excited- I’d never had a dog before, and I was so excited to go pick him up in October when he was 10 weeks old.

Duncan was so tiny. He weighed 2 pounds and couldn’t really go upstairs by himself. He needed help getting on the couch, but looked amazing in argyle. He chewed everything to pieces- I lost a lot of good shoes to him. I also discovered about 9 months in that he has celiac disease. Oh, and he got seasonal allergies too. But he was so, so cute.

And his disposition has always been awesome. Duncan had this Napoleon complex and loved big dogs. I mean,  BIG. His best friend at the doggy daycare in Tremont was an English Mastiff named Finn, whose head probably weighed more than him. But Duncan was cool AF about it and never gave a second thought to size.

He loved finding the warmest spot in the house and laying there. He would sleep directly on top of the heater for hours during the winter. Or, he would find a bed and burrow deep under the covers or bury himself in the pillows.

Duncan’s favorite activity was always sleeping. Always. He loved to just sit and chill- when he was much younger, he would play more with toys, chase a ball, normal dog stuff- but even then, he was chill. If you have been to our house, Duncan has probably been on your lap. If there was a lap open, he wanted in. 

When I met Kirk, he told me flat out that he didn’t like small dogs. Duncan wasn’t the typical yippy small dog, but he wasn’t a big dog either. But because Duncan was so awesome, Kirk loved him right away. Also, I told Kirk that Duncan and I are a package deal so he had no choice anyway.

When I got pregnant and had Reid, I was really nervous about how Duncan would act around the baby. But of course, I shouldn’t have been. Duncan was the same chill dude that he’s always been- annoyed that my lap was now taken by somebody else, but he loved Reid.

Duncan and I have been through a lot in his almost 11 years. He’s been there through most of law school, 2 jobs, 2 houses, a wedding, and two babies. When I got my tonsils out during my second year of law school (who does that??), Duncan didn’t leave my side.

Over the past month, we noticed Duncan’s behavior was changing. He started having accidents in the house, which we figured was just him getting older. But these were concerning. Then he started waking up at night- we recently got central AC, so perhaps he was cold. But on Monday, I noticed his front left leg slipping a bit when he walked around a corner. I figured he took the corner too fast on the hardwood. Tuesday his gait became wobbly. By Wednesday he couldn’t stand a lot of the time and was whining or crying much of the day. I took him to the vet, where he was diagnosed with some kind of neurological event. It could be a brain tumor, a stroke, or some kind of degenerative brain disease. Regardless, the result was the same. There was no real course of treatment and he would continue to decline. We were concerned about his quality of life, but wanted to give it a few more days.

Wednesday night was rough. Duncan wouldn’t settle down, and whined or barked constantly. Kirk didn’t sleep and I only got a little rest. We knew that Thursday we needed to make the hard choice, and bring him back to the vet. We spent the whole morning and early afternoon making Duncan as comfortable as possible, which was hard. He could barely walk or stand without falling over. He had basically lost the function of the left side of his body. He was incredibly anxious. But we wanted Duncan’s last few hours to be as great as possible. He had bacon for breakfast.

He and I laid in bed together for about 45 minutes, and this was the only time in 12 hours he seemed calm.

Finally, it was time to go. We drove to the vet and went into a room with him. The doctor came in and explained everything. I held Duncan’s paw as he drifted off to sleep, tears streaming down my face. Kirk held my other hand. The last thing Duncan saw were the people that loved him the most. We were left to be with Duncan as long as we wanted. We sat in the room for awhile, going back and forth between crying and trying to compose ourselves. Finally, we kissed him goodbye and went to get a couple stiff drinks.

This little bit of writing can’t fully capture how awesome Duncan was, or how much I loved him. He was my first dog, my baby. I am so sad that sometimes it actually hurts. I know that only the passage of time will help. I’m grateful that I got to have 11 years with him. I hope Reid remembers him when he’s older.

Duncan, you were simply the best.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

If you listen carefully, you can hear me singing: it’s the moooost wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeeeear!! BACK TO SCHOOL! August 29th marks the end of my first summer with two kids. We have done a lot of fun stuff- time at the pool, on the boat, playing outside, riding bikes and scooters, cookouts, parties, backyard fires, staying up late. AND this summer we got central AC installed, so I hate the heat so much less now! I am a much more pleasant person, even though Kirk is annoyed that I crank the temperature down to “igloo.” Plus, this summer I’m not 500 weeks pregnant and angry that it’s hot all the time and I can’t tie my shoes. I have watched Reid and Sydney play together – and actually PLAY! – and genuinely enjoy each other. He still makes her laugh like nobody else can.

BUT. I am so, so type-A. I crave schedules and routine (and control, duh). Fall, for me, is more than sweater weather and pumpkin spice everything (although I do love pumpkin spice. Sorry). It’s the beginning of a new school year, of the return to routines and normalcy. Fall feels like more of a “new beginning” to me than spring does, or even the actual New Year. I’ve always treated September as a time to reset, to evaluate the current state of affairs. Summer is fun, but the lack of routine is unsettling to me. Plus, I was always pretty decent at school, so I looked forward to going back each year. But as I said- the past couple of weeks, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how things are going in my life, generally speaking. I tend to do that- think about something for weeks, carefully reach a conclusion, then share. So, this is me sharing.

Family: I think everyone in our family is ready for school to start again. Reid seems increasingly irritated with my lack of daily entertainment, and he really wants to be back with his buddies. We had a playdate with one of his school friends yesterday and I haven’t seen him that happy in awhile. Meanwhile, Syd turns 1 in about a month and I’m ignoring that. If we don’t celebrate her birthday, then she’s still a tiny baby, right? Isn’t that how it works?

Nutrition: This gets its own category because it’s such a big part of my life right now. I recently met with one of the doctors at the Functional Medicine Center at the Cleveland Clinic for a follow up appointment. I felt like overall, I was doing fairly well nutrition-wise. But some recent bloodwork indicated that I still have work to do. Some deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids (yes, it gets super specific). I have come a long, long way since January when I had my first appointment. I just need to remember that this is not a sprint- these are lifestyle changes that take time. It’s incredibly easy to fall back into old habits- I spent 7 weeks without drinking a drop of alcohol from February-April. This summer, I seem to be making up for lost time, and I’m definitely feeling the effects. I know in my head this pattern doesn’t serve my health, but saying no to margaritas on a patio on a hot summer day is really difficult. That’s something I’ve always struggled with- moderation and balance. When I’m into something, I’m 110% in. That’s why the elimination diet wasn’t too difficult for me mentally- the answer wasn’t “maybe I could have something occasionally,” the answer was simply NO. The decision was already made. Food choices were either “none” or “limitless.” I’m not suggesting this is a super healthy or normal approach, but it’s how I’m wired. It’s much easier for me to say “no” to dairy products 100% of the time than say “sometimes.”

Exercise: This is something that I feel pretty good about lately.  Last week at crossfit, we did a workout called DT. This is a workout that we do every so often. Last time was in January. This time, I had 10# more on my barbell and beat my time by 1:50. I am hitting PR’s pretty regularly and feel like I’m putting in a good effort in the gym. A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to go for a run (this NEVER happens) and I busted out a 4 mile run. I then laid in bed for 2 hours because I felt dead, but that’s beside the point. I am excited to see more results as my diet becomes a little cleaner.

Career: This is a relatively new category for me to consider. I thought once I became a stay-at-home mom, that’s what I was forever. Of course, that is silly. And recently I’ve realized that I need something more than what I’m getting at home. I want to go back to work in some capacity. I want to contribute financially to our family again. At first I was incredibly nervous about explaining the 4.5 year gap in my resume, but so far nobody has asked about it. I imagine it’s not uncommon, since I’m certainly not the first person to take some time off to be with family. I keep reminding myself that I am a smart person with things to offer, and this move is a good one for our family.

So, as we make the transition from summer to fall, this is what’s on my mind. Next week is the last week of our summer break, and it’s already a busy one. In the meantime, I’ll try not to go completely crazy at the tail end here. Just 9 more days, but who’s counting…