by Guy Russel, VP, The NeuroNova Centre
The last week of August I learned that our 8-year old dog Karma needed to have surgery on her knee. We had already prepared for this operation financially but the urgency of the procedure caught us off guard. We brought her home on Friday of the Labour Day weekend and started to provide her with care.
Almost immediately we noticed that her recovery was not going as planned. After a few days her condition had deteriorated and she was now running a fever. She was admitted back to the veterinary hospital where she remained for the rest of the week. We visited, but not having her with us was difficult. Finally the Veterinarian pronounced her fit to return home but she was far from well.
Complications from the surgery meant that she was virtually bedridden, unable to move without our help. We could not leave her alone and set up a round-the-clock routine of nursing care, which included 6am feedings so she could take a powerful antibiotic. Needless to say, and being a chronic pain sufferer, this left me feeling more than a little ragged. The strain of watching a loved one in pain and distress, all the while not knowing exactly what was going on with her condition, began to take its toll on my health.
Witnessing Karma’s continued decline brought my meditation practice to a grinding halt. My sleep patterns were constantly interrupted and daily schedules had to be rearranged to accommodate her needs. My working life suffered as well. Appointments had to be cancelled or rescheduled at the last minute to allow us to take her back to the hospital for rechecks. As her condition worsened, so did mine.
On week four, the wheels completely fell off for me as we learned that the plate and screws in her leg had become dislodged and that emergency surgery would be required. My regular meditation practice was in tatters and I was making do with 5 minute rescue meditations throughout the day and night.
All this time, with the stress and strain of caring for Karma and worrying about her condition, my pain levels were increasing. I was not getting enough restful sleep, and my usual good eating habits were slacking off. I was resorting to using more medication to deal with the pain and I noticed that I started to put on weight. As I watched my dog slip into dis-ease, I was slipping right along with her!
Being in this situation made me think of what it must be like for others who have chronic pain and have to deal with a loved one’s illness. Knowing that my painful moments have increased and that there is a greater need for meditative pauses throughout the day causes me to wonder how I would have handled these events before I took the MBCPM classes.
As we are now in October and Karma is recovering, I am noticing that I need to work more on my daily practice. I understand myself better from this experience and I now know that meditating more when I need to is not a sign of weakness but a recognition of the strength of my practice. Stress still affects me but I recover faster, and dealing with it Mindfully makes the experience less debilitating.
For an update on this story, please click here.