All I can say is, thank goodness August is over. Talk about a rough month.
Mom and I were hoping to take two weeks off and get up to the cabin for a little rest and mountain serenity as well as prep it for sale. However, a bout of food poisoning cancelled all of that.
Well, we did get some rest. Just not exactly the kind we had in mind. Luckily, both of us weren’t down at the same time, so we tag-teamed taking care of each other.
Turns out, that wasn’t even the worst part of the month.
In between naps and trips to the bathroom, I managed to paint Lucy, the bulldog.
What an absolute doll!
It was a little hard choosing a photo to work from, they were all so cute – and the lady who ordered it isn’t even her mama! She commissioned the portrait as a wedding gift for two of her friends.
I finally settled on this photo because . . . well, just look at that face!
As always, I started with a sketch. It’s hard for me to believe that I did this back on July 27 and just shipped the painting a few days ago!
I taped the sketch to the canvas, transferred it, painted in the basecoat, then came over the basecoat and transferred all of Lucy’s wrinkles.
This way is so much easier to get all of the details . . . in the right place.
Since I had just painted a white bulldog, I felt pretty comfortable with the colors.
Which, of course, led me to the mistaken impression that this painting would go really fast. ahem.
Until the first hiccup – I had drawn her head too wide, particularly underneath her eye. Why I didn’t notice this on the sketch, I have no idea.
On the positive side, I am learning common mistakes I make with dogs – eyes too far apart, nose too long, etc., etc. And maybe, just maybe, the day will come when I actually remember those tendencies on the first sketch.
Another positive thing . . . can you tell I’ve been working on positive thinking lately . . . since I switched from craft acrylics to tube, it’s pretty easy to ‘erase’ paint mistakes.
Or at least, it takes fewer coats, thereby less time.
Then it was just white, white and more white. Okay, there’s a little pink and a few black spots in there too. But even using tube acrylics, it took tons of coats of white paint to get the dimension I wanted.
But eventually we got there . . .
And Bulldog #1 has joined her newly wedded mom and dad.
As for Bulldog #2 . . . that, my friends, happens to be my mother.
Okay, so maybe you don’t think ‘bulldog’ is a flattering description but I beg to differ.
You see, last weekend I had recovered for the most part, other than being pretty weak from not eating for 3 weeks. Mom was doing pretty well too until she developed flu-like symptoms. Nothing serious, just kind of an overall yuckiness.
Except for a pain in her right calf.
She laid low Saturday and all day Sunday, but her leg got progressively worse. In the back of my mind I thought about blood clot but told myself not to borrow trouble.
Early Monday morning she called for me, saying she couldn’t walk. Her calf was now excruciating and she knew she had to go to the emergency room.
As I place the call to 911 she’s hopping on one foot to her sink to comb her hair, brush her teeth and put on some make up. Oh, and deodorant. Yep. That’s my mother.
At the ER they ruled out a blood clot (phew) but placed her on oral antibiotics and pain meds for possible cellulitis.
Yeah, so she goes to the ER for pain and inability to walk and leaves the ER in pain and is still unable to walk. Great.
Now what do I do?
Getting her into the house was a miracle in itself as I have a rolling walker with a seat but there are stairs to every entrance. But I got her in – thank you, God – and she slept for nearly 24 hours after two injections of morphine. I’d wake her up each hour, get some apple juice down her, check her leg, and administer any meds needed.
But by Tuesday morning I knew I’d need to hire help . . . and then I gave our friend, Julie, a call. She’s worked as a nurse and caregiver but also she was thinking clearly, without emotion. Unlike myself.
Julie gave her a sponge bath, taught me how to lift her from the walker to the toilet and walker to the couch. We have this settee that converts into a little bed and we moved that in front of the TV in the living room and I slept on the couch.
Also, by Tuesday, Mom’s entire right foot was swollen and had red splotches all over it. I put in a call to her oncologist (because she has two kinds of cancer – lymphoma and breast – any medications can be risky so I always call her cancer doctor first). She gave me a list of warning signs to watch for with strict instructions to call 911 if any arose.
For four days she improved. To the point that one morning I was downstairs working and heard some thuds that were too loud for our little boston terrier to make. I came upstairs to investigate and there she was, reclining on the settee, only she had her hair brushed and make up on.
What did you do? I asked accusingly.
“Oh nothing. I just hopped into the bathroom to do my face.”
It’s a good 20 feet from the living room to her bath and she hopped, on one foot, without the walker.
Are you starting to see the bulldog reference?
But Friday night things changed. She had a slight headache and felt ‘lousy’ again. The foot/leg looked fine so we chalked it up to her hopping excursion and that she overdid it.
By Saturday afternoon I knew something was wrong. She had a lowgrade fever – which is one of first warning signs since she basically has no immune system. I called 911 again.
“Is that Noah? Is Noah here again?” Mom had taken a particular liking to one of the EMTs. Sure enough, Noah was back again and directed the other guys how to get her into the gurney while assuring them that, yes, she actually was 86 years old.
Back in the ER it didn’t take long before the doctor said she needed to be admitted, placed on IV antibiotics and have a blood transfusion. (Part of her lymphoma is chronic anemia so needs a transfusion every couple of years.)
Now, after nearly a week of worrying about my mother, getting little to no sleep, not to mention still recuperating myself, it’s fair to say my emotions were a bit raw. But nothing could’ve prepared me for what happened when I saw the ER doc. I knew he looked familiar . . . maybe he treated my brother last winter? No, that wasn’t it. Where did I know him from?
Then it hit me. Like a Mack truck. Two years ago (in a different hospital, in a different city) he saw my husband in the emergency room. I.lost.it. As in total meltdown. I struggled through the tears to tell Mom where I knew Dr. Griffin from. Being a widow herself, she totally gets when these things happen. You get broadsided with emotion and the pain is as fresh as if they’d died yesterday.
Anyhoo . . . after all that . . . they started the transfusion while they got a bed ready. I ran home to let Sadie outside to do her business and to grab Mom’s lipstick and eyebrow pencil. Uh-huh. Priorities, people.
I’d love to say that the next morning she felt 1000% better and had her face on when I got there at 9. But I can’t. It’s been tough. Really tough.
But Mom is tougher.
Keep in mind, that Mom had food poisoning for 3 weeks too so she too was weak from that, besides the fact that she’s 86 years old and is fighting two kinds of cancer.
Weak as she is, she doesn’t give up. She’s a fighter. Or maybe it’s just stubbornness.
Stubborn like a bulldog.
And while there are days that those attributes can drive a daughter crazy, right now I wouldn’t have her any other way. And while August was beyond rough, it’s during those challenging times that we become acutely aware of all the blessings in our life, large or small. Walking or hopping.
But I will say ‘here’s hopin’ September is a better month!’
Laura Strack says
My gosh Colleen, so sorry you’ve had such a stressful August but just like your Momma, you’re tough too! You painted an amazing bulldog and the Bride and Groom are going to be so amazed and happy!! Your pet poirtraits keep getting more beautiful!! You should be very proud of yourself!! I am. Lots of hugs and prayers that your Mom is feeling 100% better very soon!
Mel Swope says
You definitely had a tough August…I hope this month goes a bit smoother and you both have a chance to relax and enjoy the beginnings of fall…Hang in there and love to you both!!!
Sending lots of love and positive vibes your way. September has to be better! Love the bulldog portrait and the bulldog reference to your mom, good for her! It is that stubborness that gets us through sometimes.
Lorrie Koenig says
Just wanted to say my heart goes out to you. You really are a talented and resilient person. Hang in there. I will keep you and your Mom in my thoughts and prayers.
Sorry you have such hard time & your mom to.Hope every thing falling back in place & you are making it lot better..And by way that Dog is beautiful I’m dog lover but don’t have any My HB & I up in age starting have health issues & afraid can’t handled taking care one now & it hurts us because we love them .Later Cookie in Va.
Wow, you and your mom have been through the wringer, Colleen, and I am so sorry! Sometimes it really sucks to get older. August has not been a great month for several people I know (including me), but we soldier on and I’m glad to hear both of you are on the mend. The bulldog portrait is just beautiful!!! I’m sure the recipients are thrilled! Take care and I’m sending positive healing thoughts to you both!
OMGosh! That’s enough to deflate anybody. I take care of my 87 yo mom and I know the ups and downs can take a BIG toll. You have my prayers.
Jan Mardis says
I have to say first off that I adore the bulldog!!! And as a nurse myself I think you did a great job nursing your mother!! I deal with older adults every night I work and NO it is not easy….. So I hope you will have a much better month and wishing your mom a speedy recovery too!! HUGS to you both.