Monday night I noticed our 11-year old dog was starting to limp. I’d gotten home from work and he seemed his fine, his over-excited self yelling at me as soon as I walked through the door for his treat. This is what we do; this is our ritual. As soon as I get home he meets me at the door, excitedly barking and jumping up to greet me. This is quickly followed by him heading to the rug in front of the kitchen sink and barking as if to say “I’m glad you’re home! Now get over here and give me one of those fishy smelling treats you crazy bastard!”
This was normal. I’d headed downstairs to work in the studio and he came down not long after, feeling warm as if he’d just come in from outside. Ten minutes later I noticed he seemed to be favoring his left back leg over his right. At first I wasn’t super concerned as he is 11 and the fella seems a little stiffer than he used to be. Still spry and playful, just not limber like he was when he was 5 or 6. As the day went on he seemed more stiff, and by the end of the night he definitely seemed as if he’d done something to his leg. Still eating and playing, and requiring treats whenever I walked to the kitchen, but definitely seemed as if he was injured.
The next morning, after a night of sleeping with my wife and I in bed and digging his paws in my lower back, he seemed far less stiff than the day before. My wife called me at work to tell me she may have figured out the mystery of our gimpy senior citizen pooch. He came up to the door excitedly, like in a panic, that morning from being outside. When she let him in she found he had a honey bee stuck in the hair on his leg. We’d noticed a pretty big uptick in bee activity in the backyard, as did the pooch, nipping and trying to snag one to play with. Well, I think one snagged him Monday and he got stung.
By the time I got home that afternoon he barely had any of the limp from the day before. Lesson here? Don’t let the dog play with bees. Now I need to fill a couple cracks in the concrete on the back porch where the bees seem to be going down into. I don’t want to hurt the honey bees. I mean, they are necessary for our further existence on this planet. But damn, you mess with my four-legged friend you will get my wrath, bee.
Of course seeing my dog in a state of duress had me kind of ate up and freaked out all Monday night, worrying about what was going on with him. He’s old. He’s not older, but old. He’ll be 12 in October. I’ll be 49 in December. There are days when my 48 feels like I’m aging in dog years. Back hurts, shoulder hurts, head hurts, and I can’t stop my brain from racing about everyone around me. The dog getting older, my wife and her hip bugging her, the kids moving along in life and discovering the struggles of responsibility, my parents in their 70s now. My dad seems to be curving forward more and more. His 6’4″ frame slowing turning into a question mark because his back hurts and he can’t quite straighten out anymore.
I’m not constantly racing in my brain regarding aging and my body slowly breaking down, but I’m not not constantly racing in my brain about it either.
Monday night was like a blast from the past, in regards to that feeling of worry and anxiety when someone in the house was not well. When the kids were little I was always on high alert when one was sick. Checking their temps when the fever was high making sure the Children’s Tylenol was doing the trick, or constantly hovering over my middle kid because she had asthma and allergies and when she was sick it was a waiting game on whether she’d going into an asthma attack or not. I feel as much as I worried and had sleepless nights checking on them like a ghoul as they slept that maybe I worried some life right out of me. When I was younger I just seemed to power through it, for the kids or whomever, but the older I get that worry takes a toll on me. The older I get I feel that kind of panic and worry for a good day or two after we’re out of it.
I have to stop worrying so much, for my own benefit. I’m much calmer these days than I was in my 20s and 30s. I’ve learned it’s not worth worrying myself over things I can’t control. It’s pointless, really. I’m always going to be concerned for everyone I love and that’s around me. That’s just me. But to get worked up over everything, well it’s not worth it or healthy. We got together with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law over Memorial Day weekend back in May. We get there and my brother is at like Def-Con 2 over something stupid about my niece’s car. This wasn’t over someone’s health crisis or a pending job loss, this was about a car. He’s angry and turning red and I’m just thinking to myself, “Chill the hell out. You’re going to blow a gasket.” I couldn’t tell you the last time I was that worked up. It does happen, but not over a car. Worrying about the well being of our children or our dog, well then yeah.
This year has seemed to be much better than last year. 2021 seemed like one anxiety-ridden event after another. It made 2020 feel like a year at the spa. So in terms of worry, 2022 hasn’t been terrible. I’ve got to just count the blessings or whatever they say in regards to enjoying when life is going good. Even my dog, in full-on limping mode was still happy, playful, and content. Still tossing his toys around and excited for a fishy smelling treat or two. I could learn a thing or two from him.