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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Elixir of hope, strength, and joy

This photo is a big improvement - all four paws are on the ground, including the one with an amputated toe! K seems to be in less pain today, which lightens my heart a bit.
I wonder what dogs think about pain. I have pain every single day, and that's been true for 20 years due to my degenerating spine. For years, I fought to annihilate the pain. I thought that if I could find the right doctor with the magical solution, s/he could make me pain-free forever.

Those years were unhappy because I was seeking something that I could never find. Since then, I've adopted a "mindfulness" attitude toward my pain. I note it. I catalog it to see if it's anything new or alarming. If it's familiar pain, I just let it be. It accompanies me all the time, on bike rides, hikes, naps, during blogging - literally all the time - but I no longer fight it. This attitude has turned around my life, literally, from one of running from or battling with pain to seeing it as an integral part of my life.

I wonder what K thinks about it? She's been resting a lot and seems subdued but not upset. I think that she's just laying low and healing. I doubt that she dwells on the pain.
On our walk this morning, she seemed more engaged with me and with the forest than yesterday, alert and noting the scents and sounds. I love our little morning strolls. It's just me and my sweet chocolate girl, walking side-by-side, and investigating the nuances of our forest.
After my walk with K, I headed out for snowbiking. It's a whole new season of rolling through white powdery stuff rather than over packed dirt. One of my wildlife cams caught a photo of me descending a steep and snowy slope. I just placed this cam in this new spot because no one but me and the animals visits this area in the snow of winter!
Another wildlife camera captured a magpie. Someone mentioned that they'd never seen one before my photographs yesterday. This photo accentuates the magpie's most distinctive feature - a tail that is longer than his body.
Then, last night, a mule deer buck peeked into the same clearing. Based on some quick research on mule deer antlers, that buck's pair is impressive! He didn't stay long - he just peeked and ran - probably chasing a doe!
Today on my snow bike ride, I repeated some of the same paths as yesterday to take advantage of my packed down tracks. I was the only one, aside from wildlife, who had marred the smooth untracked snow since last week. I love peace and solitude, and I can find plenty of it here.
The animals also like my packed down path. A mule deer fawn, with precious tiny hooves, walked in my snowbike track that skirted a meadow of golden grass weighted down by snow.
Deeper in the forest, a bobcat had marched carefully within my snowbike tracks. Not only do these animals save energy by walking in my snowbike track, they also carefully place each hind paw exactly where the front paw already packed the snow. That careful stepping means that they only have to sink into the snow once, with the front paw.
In honor of today's special moment of reflection, I include this photo of K from July when we stood on the cusp of a towering mountain summit. K eagerly waited to tackle the rock obstacle ahead of her. When I finally released her, she leaped onto the next boulder with undeniable joy. May all of us who face terrifying obstacles in our lives find a potent elixir of hope, strength, and yes, even joy, to help us negotiate them.


  1. I wish these things for you, too, KB: "hope, strength, and yes, even joy"

    I love the pensive photo of K resting - I could imagine you down on the floor taking that photo of her! I also love seeing you flying through the woods on that snow bike!

  2. Beautiful. Love those fresh tracks, and the little daily improvements with K. Thank you for your parting words, the photo of K...the gift of sharing your thoughts and explorations.

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  3. way to go, K! i'm so glad to see that she's using her left foot again.
    i don't believe i've seen a magpie before, either, so the picture was very cool to see. i like the stripe across the bird's middle that has an iridescent green sheen to it -- pretty.

    the booker man and asa's mama

  4. Love the last picture! Yea for 4 feets on the ground
    Benny & Lily

  5. What a wonderful lesson in learning to live with serenity and grace. Mama lives with chronic pain, although it's a different source than KB's. Still, trying to accept it and live around it, despite it, through it is sometimes the best we can do. While mama believes stongly in using medicine to allieviate pain as much as possible, she also accepts that what cannot be cured must be endured. Mama agrees that animals in general don't spend time contemplating things they can't change. Whoever wrote the Serenity Prayer must have lived with, loved and observed animals. We can learn so much from animals' acceptance of life as it is, their skill in living efficiently and with minimum waste of resources and effort.

    We're very glad that K is showing signs of recovery and a lessening of her pain. Has she started physical therapy again yet?

    Jed & Abby

  6. It looks like there has been some improvement - all is good and getting better!

    Thank you for posting a second magpie picture - Mom is really amazed by them. She always assumed they were more like crows or grackles.


  7. Hope, strength, and joy - that's a powerful mix - I send that wish right back to you. My mother lived with unbelievable chronic arthritic pain for more than 30 years of her life. She managed her pain much the same as you do. I hope to have that courage too.

  8. Kia ora KB,
    My thoughts are with you both. I identify strongly with your words on living with pain. I still wake up every day and measure my new hip and my other one to guage what I might do that day, just part of my existence. I think K, like you, is mentally tough and also absorbs the amazing love and friendship from you to deal with it. I have been writing a short post on Thanksgiving, the centre of which is being able to overcome obstacles and return to the mountains. Those words echoe here. Kia kaha KB and K.

  9. Hi there!

    Just catching up on your posts. I have seen more snow on the Ridgway cam and was betting that you probably had snow too.

    I am so happy to hear that K is doing better from her surgery. A dogs mind, I would love a peak to see what they are really thinking.

    Your openness of your pain strikes home for me. I have not found that doctor with the magical solution yet either for my situation and fighting it is wearing me out. Thank you for your openness :)

    Lots of Luv & Kisses
    Addie, Lucie and Hailey

  10. Love that last paragraph of your post! Keep healing, K.

  11. I love that last picture of K, with such anticipation on her face! Okay, I love all pictures of K, even the outtakes that she doesn't know we see.

    I'm so glad to hear that her pain is lessening. Our dogs always seem to take a couple of days to really shake off anesthesia. I'm betting tomorrow she seems even better.

    There seem to be a lot of animals there benefitting from your paths through the snow. :) Those bobcats are pretty clever in their energy conservation!

  12. Strength. Joy. Hope and Faith.

    wif love from the Luke

  13. Yes!

    Just YES!

    Great post for so many reasons!

  14. I'm so glad and thankful that K is feeling much better today! I'll hope that tomorrow is a bit better for all of you! I admire you for continuing the life that you so love and enjoy despite the obstacles that would keep so many others from it. What an example!

    I also wanted to thank-you for your thoughts for my boy Hamlet. I'd never considered an IV antibiotic and will ask my vet about it--THANK YOU!!!

  15. I'm glad to see K doing better today! I'm sorry to hear of your pain issues, as my mother has a degenerative spine condition too. My fiance has chronic pain associated with Crohn's Disease, and I have seen both of them suffer. I would imagine you have good days and bad, and lots of challenges, but I really appreciate your attitude of not letting it get the best of you. I wish you and K comfort and peace in the days ahead. Take care!

  16. I am so glad to hear that K is doing so well.......that is just wonderful that she is 'using' all four feet again!


  17. I think the symbolism of "one step at a time" is powerful here, both for your wild neighbors and for K. She's placing pressure on the paw, which means the pain is abating. Hope!

  18. Great news. Laying low and healing. Natures commonsense at work.

  19. I have these same thoughts about Juno since she was born with pain in her hips. Sometimes I think she's obsessed with walking and adventures to take her mind off the pain. we'll go for a 3 hour hike and just about 1/10th of a mile to walk home, she will intentionally turn AWAY from home even though she knows perfectly well where it is. It makes me think that distractions are just another tool.

    the pain management thoughts are interesting in both people and animals. something to ponder over.

    glad K is doing better. she looks beautiful as usual.

  20. Thank you for a beautiful post. This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you!

    Mayzie's Mom

  21. Hi Y'all,
    Just checkin' to see how K is doin' and and waggin' 'cause looks like things are improvin'!

    My Human Momma has degenerative disc disease in addition to ruptured discs in her neck and lower back.

    She watched the vets use accupuncture years ago on their horses. Later a friend dying from cancer used it to control the pain.

    She and Papa found a Chinese doctor near where they were living and got accupuncture. She said at first it was frequent, but now she goes a couple of times a year...they no longer live near the original doctor and drive several hours to another Chinese doctor.

    She only goes now when the pain starts to interfere her activities for the day.

    Sorry this is so long, but anyone suffering chronic pain may find help with a doctor, preferably Chinese, specializing in accupuncture.

    Works on us dogs too.

    Paws crossed for y'all and Momma says she's keepin' y'all in her prayers...

    Meantime we're enjoyin' your photography. :)

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  22. Yay for K, four paws on the ground!
    I sometimes wonder about the same thing, how they handle pain. I think they probably handle pain better than us humans.

  23. I feel like I am going through withdrawl when I cannot get into your blog to read.
    Your words provide feed,,, that goes into my very soul. You provide thought.
    It is good to be thankful for each other,,, and we are thankful for K feeling good enough to go out into the peace and calm of the solitude forest,,, it makes our hearts more peaceful,,, thank you again for trusting us and allowing us into your world, where we wait and hope together,,, in a circle of paws.

  24. That was an inspiring and thoughtful post. I, too, wonder what dogs think about pain. They are always so stoic and quick to dismiss injuries and go about their business, taking joy where they can. It sure looks like K is smiling a lot. She is fantastic.

    Mango Momma


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