Pieces and spots, or the reasons why I can’t sleep

It’s the fragments that are getting to me; the pieces that show all we’ve gone through over the past few weeks and months that make everything so hard. It’s opening the notepad on my phone to find it’s still on the directions to the emergency vet. It’s the beds and blankets she had scattered all over the house, many of which were so thoroughly destroyed by the peeing and other side effects that even if I wanted to keep them I couldn’t because there’s no way to ever get them really clean.

It’s looking for her after a shower, when we go into the kitchen, when the wind rattles the screen door. It’s the realization that when I spill popcorn on the floor I have to pick it up. It’s getting cold and not having her there to grab and snuggle with until I’m warm or she’s thoroughly annoyed.

It’s not having to watch where I walk all the time because I’m not going to find a spot where she peed while I was at work. It’s not getting kicked while I knit or whined at while I’m on the computer paying bills. It’s not knowing the weather because I haven’t been outside every two hours. It’s not getting kicked when I try to nap on the sofa.

And it’s physical, too. I had no idea how much of it was physical. It’s not quite heartburn but it’s not nausea. It’s that washed out feeling three seconds after throwing up, with a mouthful of saliva and a burning shaky feeling all over…

It’s finding a way to stay occupied for an hour or two and then suddenly whatever you were doing is done and everything comes back. It’s worrying that I’m talking about her too much and that I’m making it harder for everyone else to mourn. It’s worrying that I’m not talking about her enough and that I’m going to internalize it all and shut down emotionally again.

It’s a headache the size of Kentucky and wondering whether the headache blocks the sleep or the lack of sleep causes the headache. It’s wondering how badly I’ve destroyed my sleeping and eating patterns and how I’ll get through work on Monday if I don’t sleep tonight. It’s being amazed at how well we’re both handling it and wondering how well we’re both handling it.

It’s worrying about whether she’s being a good dog wherever she’s gone to (yes thank you I’ve read rainbow bridge) because I don’t stop by God’s house very often but that doesn’t mean I want Jess to pee on His carpets, terrorize His parakeets, and chase His other dogs. My mutt has a reputation.

It’s wanting her in my lap for just five more minutes and knowing that after that I’d ask for just five more minutes again until time itself stopped. It’s remembering what she felt like in my lap and knowing that no matter how hard I try I’m going to eventually forget what she felt like and what she sounded like and all I’ll have are memories of how much I love her and how much she loves me.

It’s two thirty in the mourning and I can’t sleep.


Last night around 10:30, JessieDog rapidly became very sick, with trouble breathing and and obvious collapse of other systems. We took her to the emergency vet, where they treated us with respect and dignity. JessieDog had just about every “side effect” of the lymphoma she’d been diagnosed with a few months ago, all at the same time, and the end of the day they said the best they could do would be hold her for 24 hours or more until they figured out whether there was even a place to start… or we could put her to sleep, because regardless of what they did, she wasn’t going to get better. She wasn’t going to come home.

We opted for comfort and love over heroic attempts to tie her down to this earth. They let us say goodbye, and let us hold her while they gave her a sedative, and she fell asleep in my arms like she was taking a very long nap. She died seconds later. That was at around 12:40 this morning.

We came home last night without our fuzzy kid, called the people who needed to be called, and finally fell asleep around 3 this morning. We didn’t try to get up until after 11 this morning, and even holding a normal conversation has been difficult at best. When one of my best friends called to tell me about the birth of his child I couldn’t even find the words or the strength to congratulate him. Every time I try to open my mouth my heart tries to strangle me.

I don’t know how long it’s going to take to feel even a little normal. It’s not going to be today.

We have comics in the queue through the 10th. I don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then, or after that. I’m not sure I feel like writing “night fugues” anymore. I don’t know how to draw Daisy without JessieDog modeling for me, and I’m not at the point where that’s possible either.

To our friends and family, thank you for everything you’ve done for us, and I love you.

She was a good dog. I couldn’t ask for anything else.

Where does the time go?

Someone asked me the other day what I do when I say I didn’t do anything a given weekend or evening. Well, there’s…

  • writing or drawing the comic
  • working on the Online Comics Day 2007 site
  • working on this site
  • reading comics
  • reading books about drawing comics
  • knitting
  • playing Final Fantasy 12
  • cursing at the laptop because it froze up
  • taking walks with my husband
  • date night
  • playing Final Fantasy 3
  • reading my email
  • hanging out on the forum
  • playing with the pudge dog
  • playing Solitare Til Dawn
  • watching Nighthawk play Oblivion
  • baseball!
  • and I’m sure a bunch of other stuff I’ve forgotten.

So my apologies that I haven’t been around much… some of this stuff will be dropping off the list as I either finish it or lose interest again. The comic and the blog aren’t going away, just sometimes I get quiet.

And we’re back again.

For the second time this month we sustained a significant outage – this time around 22 hours sans website. I am growly and looking into ways to prevent further outages. Any suggestions will be entertained. The post I did make from the emergency blog’s been copied in below, and all else is pretty much stable, I think. And of course, I’m backing up all my stuff just in case.

Outside of that, though, things are good. All my stuff is wrapped. Nighthawk’s finishing his wrapping. Dinner’s in the oven. JessieDog is frolicking with the squirrels in the yard. Life is good.

One last site-based note: there’s an advertising hole on the homepage here and another advertising hole on the archive pages (click the title of the above comic to see ’em). If you haven’t checked out Project Wonderful yet to see how this works, you need to, but here’s the quick jist: you sign up, you indicate that you want to advertise on my site in that empty hole, and you say how much you want to pay per day maximum. If you indicate you want to pay $0 and you’re the highest bidder, that’s free advertising. (Same goes for any of the already-taken slots). In fact, if you indicate you want to pay $0.10 per day and nobody’s bid on the slot, you still get it for free. Free’s good, right?

Anyway, got to go eat dinner. Glad to be back. Happy holidays!

A long day of hurry up and wait

Doctor’s appointment A was supposed to start at 10:30, but started at 11:45. We drank bottles of Arizona and Sobe tea and played video games.

Appointment B was supposed to be at 1:30, but so was appointment C. We showed up for B at 12:45 and waited for the doctor to get back from lunch. Half the Tastycakes were eaten while we waited. This one was quick and uneventful; we were out by 1:20.

Appointment C was supposed to be at 1:30 but probably didn’t really start until an hour later. Armed with sodas, we waited that one out with more video games, met various new supporting staff members, completed half a dozen tasks and left there at around 3:55.

Appointment D was blood draws and there was no wait, but thanks to some confusion about a requested test we left there at 4:30.

We finally ate our first fully functional meal of the day at the hospital cafeteria at 4:45 or so, sat in horrific traffic from the city to King of Prussia mall, picked up our Final Fantasy III preorder and dragged our sorry tails in the door around 7pm.

It’s now almost 11:30 and I’ve accomplished almost nothing, except walking JessieDog and taking a brand new holy-hell-this-tastes-like-shit sinus medication. Soon I will sleep, then the work week starts back up tomorrow.

An Update: He Lives!

Arrived at the hospital at 7:30. Pre-op started around 9. I read all of Dragonsblood between 7:30 and around 1. It’s worth the read, and is especially good when coupled with an iPod to drown out the soap operas in the waiting room.

(Side tangent:
Seriously, I swear that hospitals ought to be banned from being allowed to show soaps in waiting rooms. It was bad enough that I was subjected to a couple horrible morning shows and a portion of the New York Columbus Day parade when I was in Philadelphia. But it was followed by absolute horrors on the soaps.

  • First, lots of bawling from this grown man whose daughter was in a hospital bed for Lord knows what fabricated reason. Also: some woman lost a baby, and I don’t mean she misplaced it.
  • Then, the next show takes us into the middle of some dead guy’s funeral. Because what we all really need to see when we’re in the surgery/ICU waiting room, with our own personal levels of drama and trauma to deal with, is a bunch of people mourning with the melodrama dial set on “high”.
  • As if that wasn’t enough, the next show started with some guy being drug to his feet by his daughter after having his head all but bashed in by some unknown assailant, and ended with a nice-looking guy who was just trying to ruin someone else’s relationship collapsing on a porch. Sort of like the woman who’d had the stroke, whose kids were sitting a few chairs away from me.
  • And then there was Oprah, who felt it necessary to tell me things about the human body I didn’t want to know.


The TV update-you-on-your-spouse-in-surgery thing in the hospital indicated Nighthawk was in recovery (post-op) by 1:15, which coincidentally was just a little before his mom and brother arrived. I popped out of the waiting room just long enough to greet them, get some yogurt, and totally miss Nighthawk’s doctor, who instead called me and let me know everything went incredibly well and he should be placed in a room soon.

By 4:00 we were hearing rumors that there were no beds available, so I finally cornered a nurse who invited me back to Recovery to see Nighthawk. He was understandably grouchy that he’d been counting holes in the ceiling for three hours. Since he wouldn’t waste energy being grouchy if he was in serious trouble, I took that as a good sign.

Nighthawk didn’t get a room until 6:30. It made for a long day, and he hadn’t even met his nurses yet.

On the other hand, once he was finally upstairs everything was great. I cannot say enough positive things about Presbyterian Hospital or the staff that we dealt with. They had a lot to manage, between the thyroid removal, the cystic fibrosis treatments, the diabetes treatments, and the fact that Nighthawk was running about 4 hours later than anyone’d expected just to arrive, but they did a great job of making him comfortable, making sure he had everything that he needed, and setting our expectations for the night. Nighthawk’s nurse even hunted down a recliner for me to sleep in, so I could stay there with him overnight.

We both caught some frequently-interrupted sleep between the end of Monday Night Football and 6:45, when the first doctor arrived to scope him out (literally) and remove the drain in his neck. After some blood work, a healthy breakfast, another check-in by the docs, and the usual rounds of meds they declared him healthy enough to leave, and he was given his discharge papers before I could even finish my (admittedly late) breakfast.

We were in the car and on the way home by 10:30 yesterday morning. Nighthawk was comfy in his recliner by noon, and I was off fighting with an idiot pharmacy where nobody can count until around 3.

So how is he? He still hasn’t gotten his whole voice back yet but he hasn’t been in any significant pain the whole time (hasn’t even been on pain meds for most of the last two days) and is in a good mood. He’s still pretty damn tired, which I pretty much expect.

To be clear, having the thyroid removed is not in and of itself a cure for thyroid cancer. There’s still much to be done, including treatments with radioactive iodine and scans and balancing of new medications. Whee. But the first hurdle has been surpassed, and we get a short break before the festivities continue.

And how am I? Relieved. And exhausted. Possibly as exhausted as he is. My day today consisted of calling back various doctors to schedule various follow-up appointments, and then visiting my own doctor for another round of battle-the-sinus-infection. (My in-laws, who had awesomely taken JessieDog for the overnight, also stopped by to return her today.) It’s currently just after 11:00, a time I could easily stay awake past two weeks ago, and I’m barely awake enough to write this post.

Tomorrow I go back to work. Tomorrow night I might get working on Saturday’s comic. With luck everything goes back to on schedule from this point forward.

Every day is a new adventure. This week has been a set of adventures I’m glad to say I had overestimated. Thanks to everyone who’d sent their prayers, positive vibes, or whatever, in our general direction.

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