Annabel and the Boy in the Window

 A Penny on the Tracks was the last book I published and that was back in 2017. Five years ago. Compared to my life now, those five years feel like years lived from some long-ago time. A life lived by some other person because nothing about the life I’m living now resembles anything of the days lived in 2017.

In 2017, I didn’t even know the word covid existed and health issues I thought were forever behind me were not even a consideration. But then 2020 thrust covid onto the world and 2021 ushered in health implications for me that 2022 is maybe, finally, hopefully, beginning to mend. 

But through all of that, after five years, I finally have another book coming out. Annabel and the Boy in the Window is a story I’d been writing on and off since 2013. For some reason, it was always the book I’d set aside to finish other stories. Until, finally, I said, “no more.”  No more procrastinating. No more pushing aside. Complete this book or never write another story again.  It took some time, but I finished. 

Annabel and the Boy in the Window is a story based in the 1950’s that centers around a teenage girl named Annabel. Unlike her friends, Annabel has little interest in marriage or having children. She desires an education and a career, but her alcoholic father stands in her way. 

Annabel sneaks out of her bedroom window at night and walks the streets of her quiet suburban town, while dreaming of a different life. She peers through people’s windows, eager for a glimpse of what a normal and happy family look like.

On one of her nightly walks, she sees Danny through his window and is immediately captivated by him. His soothing smile and gentle demeanor give her the safe and secure feeling that living in her own home fails to provide.

Danny, the popular high school quarterback, is two years older than Annabel. He and Annabel run in very different social circles, so when Danny approaches her in the school hall one day, no one is more surprised than Annabel that a simple conversation about schoolwork would lead to football games, dances, and affairs of the heart Annabel only read about in books.

When Danny is set to leave for college, he asks Annabel to wait for him. Annabel knows Danny can provide her with the blissful life she deeply longs for. It would be easy to let Danny save her. To wait for him and become the docile wife she resents in her mother, but Annabel has dreams of her own.

When her abusive father becomes a threat to wreck those dreams, all seems lost until a secret from his past comes out and changes everything. 

Annabel and the Boy in the Window will be released this fall. 

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Covid Got Me Again

I have covid…again. I first got covid back in Nov 2020. It was a breeze. My only symptoms were mild congestion and loss of taste and smell. I wasn’t vaccinated then. Vaccinations weren’t available yet, but I am double-vaccinated and boosted now, and covid is kicking my ass.

I was healthier in Nov 2020 when I dealt with covid as an unvaccinated person, as opposed to how I’ve been the past year, and I’m sure that is making a difference.  It’s almost laughable that someone like me gets covid. At the time I tested positive I hadn’t been out of the house (except for dog walks) in almost two weeks and the only people outside my household I was around was my neighbor, who came over and sat with me and my dog in the grass and chatted for a bit, and four members of my extended family who visited for a couple hours. But that’s all it took. Being in contact with five people I don’t live with was enough to give me covid. It’s no wonder cases are starting to surge again.

I’ll get through this bout of covid just as I did a year and a half ago. My only concern is any long-term effect it may have on the Myasthenia Gravis that I have. I can’t be one hundred percent certain that the flareup I’ve been living through the past fourteen months wasn’t triggered by my Nov 2020 covid diagnosis. The doctors I’ve talked to can’t say for sure. I had no lingering effects from that first covid case. I went back to living normally for four months until my current flareup started and fourteen months later, I’m still living it.

I only hope the covid inside my body now won’t make me worse months down the road because I desperately need to get better. Get my life back. It’s crazy and awfully scary how fast life can change. I look at pictures from 2019, just three years ago, and it feels like another lifetime because it’s been so long since I’ve lived “normally.” I went from isolating in 2020 because of a deadly virus, to isolating in 2021 because of a flareup in my health that now, over five months into 2022, I’m still dealing with.

I know I’m not the only one dealing with lingering health issues that make getting out of bed feel like an Olympic accomplishment. You’re not alone. I know that can be an easy concept to forget when health issues can frustrate and depress every fiber of your soul. But you’re not alone. Reach out if you need help. I do. All the time. I have friends that must feel like veteran therapists of fifty years after dealing with me this past year.

I tell them every day how appreciative I am of them.

My Dog, Phil.

 

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My dog, Phil, has arthritis, mostly in his right back leg. So when he started favoring that leg, I gave him an anti-inflammatory I keep on hand for such occasions. Within a couple days, the limp went away and I stopped giving the anti-inflammatories. But four days after the initial limp in his right leg, Phil started hobbling, while favoring his left hind leg. This was unusual. The left leg wasn’t the usual favored leg, and the limp was never that drastic. So I called the vet the next morning and got Phil in for an examination that day. The doctor felt a tear, but I would need to see a surgeon to confirm. In the meantime, Phil’s anti-inflammatory was upped in dosage. This was on a Friday. By Thursday of the following week, my dog was dying of liver failure.

I had an appointment with the surgeon on Wednesday (before I knew about his failing liver), and a few nights before this, Phil was throwing up and not eating. I chucked it up to the stress he must have been feeling related to his injured leg. But blood tests showed morbidly high levels of liver enzymes, and I wasn’t prepared for the call from the surgeon telling me she was extremely concerned about my dog.

Just a few weeks ago, he’d been a completely happy and healthy dog. For an eleven-year old, Phil had avoided major health issues until now. Other than the usual yearly check-ups, I’d only had to take Phil to the doctor for an innocuous eye infection and common stomach issues.  So it was crushing to accept that my dog was suddenly sick enough to die.

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I spoke with my vet, and Phil was immediately given fluids that evening and put on seven different medications. His eyes and gums were heavily jaundiced, and it worried me. The hope was that we’d get enough fluids in his body to flush the liver. He was drinking on his own, but hardly eating, even with an appetite stimulant, but at least what he was eating, he was keeping down. Our go-to food was my mom’s homemade meatballs. Even with a failing liver, homemade Italian food was apparently hard to resist.

For the next few days, he went to the vet for IV fluids. After five days of almost no improvement, the doctor told me she wasn’t very hopeful, but if this was her dog, she’d give him a couple more days. A couple more days? Those words cut me deep. We were standing in the vet parking lot. The tears were hard to stop, though I don’t remember trying.

While Phil was at the vet getting fluids, I spent the time without him browsing through pictures on my phone, some taken at a park a mere two weeks before this happened. Those were emotional pictures to look at, because I knew the me in those pictures, with my dog, couldn’t fathom the reality that was in store in the short future.

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I couldn’t stand being without him all day while he got his fluids, and I thought if my time with him was limited, I needed to be with him as much as I could. The vet agreed and she gave me fluids to put under his skin at home. You don’t go through a vein, you just stick a needle, attached to a long tube connected to a bag of fluids, in his skin. My brother did the honors of sticking him. I just couldn’t do it.

My brother loves that dog as much as I do. All you have to do is utter the word “Uncle” in front of Phil, and Phil’ll jump to his feet, tail speed-waggin’, in search of his favorite person.  It’s heart-warming knowing my dog is so well-loved by people other than myself. Aside from his “Uncle”, Phil has a “Grandma”, “Aunties”, and “Cousins” who were all concerned for him. I had so much support from my family, I never went to a vet appointment alone. My brother was with me for every one of them, as well as for the fluids done at home

Phil loves sitting outside in the grass, so we sat outside as much as he wanted. Because Phil was filled with so much fluids, he needed to go out three or four times during the night. At three o’clock in the morning one night, Phil wanted to lie underneath a tree, near the street in front of our house, his favorite spot. It was a still and cool late July night, and I sat beside him and watched him take the night in. Phil was always so content and happy being outside.

One Sunday afternoon, a few days later, we sat underneath that same tree, and I thought this would be our last Sunday afternoon together. I kept noting the time, so that the next Sunday, I could look at the clock and say “at this time last week, I was lying in the grass with my baby”. Or, “At this time, I was rubbing Phil’s stomach.” I wanted to be able to look back on that Sunday and remember how every moment was spent with him.  I was so conscious of my time with him. I suppose that’s what you do when you think you are living your last moments with a dog who is your everything.

The only other thing Phil loved more than sitting outside, was going to the park. My brother and I took him for a ride to his favorite place, and we took a lot of pictures. I hated thinking this was the end, but I wanted these days documented. I wanted to be able to look back at the possible last days of my dog’s life and know that despite everything he was going through, Phil was happy. I didn’t like thinking that way, but the vet’s words of hopelessness never left my mind, though it was hard to accept.

Still, after those “couple of days” the vet said she’d give her dog had passed, there was no doubt we were continuing with treatment. After a few more days of fluids and medication, we did another blood test, and though the levels were still high, they were lower than the previous test. And that was all the hope I needed. And when you’re pathetically desperate, as I was, all you can ask for is hope. Phil was still jaundiced, but we continued on.

About three weeks after getting the blood results that had showed his liver was failing, another blood test revealed all of his levels were back to normal. My dog survived liver failure. It is a major understatement to say that I am relieved and so appreciative to be allowed more time with my baby.

As Phil continues to age, I knew this wouldn’t be the last of his ailments, but I didn’t expect the next thing to happen so soon. The day after that last blood test, I noticed Phil’s right ear looked a little red. I thought it maybe have been an allergic reaction to something, so I left it be. But the next day it was even redder, so I called the vet. By the time I got an appointment, the infection was in both ears. A double ear infection seemed so innocuous compared to the liver failure he’d just survived, so I wasn’t very concerned. Phil was prescribed ear drops, but after three days of giving him those drops, my dog had completely lost his hearing.

I called the vet, and was told an ingredient in the drops, gentamicin, can cause hearing loss. The vet expected Phil’s hearing to come back after a couple days and periodic flushing, but it’s been five days now, and he still can’t hear his mommy’s voice.

In the last two months, Phil tore his ACL, survived liver failure, and is currently deaf. I wonder what is going through his mind. I know he’s confused, because he’s even needier towards me than he used to me. It’s as though he needs extra reassurance from his momma that he’s gonna be okay.

I haven’t given up hope that he will hear again, cuz what do you have if you haven’t got hope? If we got through liver failure together, we’ll get through this. Despite what happens, Phil will be okay because he’s loved so much, and I can only hope that he knows it.