I Have Run Six Marathons in Forty-Eight Days

March 25, 2015 by  

Instead of the classical definition of a Marathon….sweaty bodies, running uphill for 26 miles….. let’s consider a type of hard slogging, unusual effort made by the less athletic members of society. This Hidden Marathon consists of dogmatic, muscular, pain and suffering which can last a few hours or a few weeks. It might be self-imposed and very beneficial; or more likely, it will be totally unexpected, and will benefit someone else. All you can do, in either case, is to hang on and continue with the very best that you can give it, until something comes to a conclusion. This kind of Marathon does resolve fairly quickly.

But, six Marathons in six weeks and a few days? That’s a stretch for even me, who is used to running at full tilt. Here’s the rundown:

1. On February 6th, I moved into my friends’ house in Santa Fe, to housesit three months for their large and beautiful house, three dogs, 1 Manx cat, and 93-year-old Granny Marian. All were in apparently fairly good health, though some needed meds and lots of attention. But, the first two weeks of any house/pet-sit present a steep learning curve, so I was too busy to notice that it was a Marathon. Tiring, but doable.

2. Marian had a fall and hurt her back; then another, a week later. It was a very busy week tending to her and walking the dogs along what I later learned was an expanded route along these lovely dirt roads. Once a dog knows your schedule, they won’t let you change it. Four walks a day suddenly became the norm! That was a six-day Marathon.

3. Marian called 911 for herself, though I didn’t think she needed emergency care. I guess she did, as she was in the hospital over the weekend and then, came home on Monday and died in her sleep Tuesday night. Another six-day hard run.

4. The house was full of family and law enforcement all day Wednesday when I discovered that she had passed away. Her son and daughter-in-law live half-an-hour away and they came quickly, as did other family members. Sheriffs and medical examiners investigated her unattended death. Her body was donated to science at the University of New Mexico, so there was no funeral or memorial service. Two days later, my friends returned from California to take care of all the official business, to give away furniture and possessions, and to initiate repairs and renovations prior to putting this house on the market, now that they are no longer necessary to her care. I loved having them here but it was a very busy time and counts as another Marathon.

5. Now this next one was fun and very valuable to me: the only Marathon that I had planned to run, long before I even knew that I’d be housesitting. It was the Tom Bird Writer’s Retreat in Sedona, Arizona, a virtual bootcamp of intensive writing and instruction for eight hours a day over a four-day weekend. Family members filled in at the house while I was away. My Marathon included two six-hour hard drives to and fro.

6. This most recent Marathon started when I returned home at 10 p.m. Sunday after a long, hard drive back from Arizona. My daughter’s family, from Golden, Colorado, were due to spend two nights with me on their way to a Spring Break holiday in Tucson, Arizona. They pulled in at midnight and I had a joyful reunion with Jennifer and Kevin and my teenaged grandchildren, Riley and Molly. We visited till the wee hours and finally turned in very late. But, here’s the story of how that period became another Marathon, simply because of a dog’s torn dewclaw:

WHEN THE CURE BECAME THE CURSE!

The Astrologers have sure been right about 2015 being a time of great changes, endings and beginnings. This was wildly true to March’s Marathon tendencies this year. I heard another starting gun at midnight Sunday night. After my tiring drive home from an already exhausting Writer’s Conference, I discovered that Venti, the big Boxer/Sharpei mix dog, had injured her leg during my weekend away and was now licking it compulsively. The dewclaw is the little vestigial thumb that dogs have on their inside ankle and hers had ripped half off and was now protruding painfully. Imagine your own thumbnail torn half off, causing excruciating pain with its every flopping movement.

My family arriving at midnight were very sympathetic, but what could we do to help so late at night? The next morning, Venti was not doing well and continued to lick and nibble at the injured area, so I called her owner, Jo, who advised bandaging it so she wouldn’t harm it further. Daughter, Jennifer, wrapped the ankle with  rubber gauze and adhesive tape; and thinking the matter solved, we all went off to Santa Fe for sightseeing and errands.

Though the Writer’s Conference had been exhausting, I looked forward to getting back to work on my newest book manuscript as I am now accepted into an exclusive training program. Tom Bird will use our group to perfect a future writing course worth thousands and we get to study free, though the material will be demanding. So, I planned to rest a bit and pick up my pen tomorrow morning when my loved ones continued their vacation.

But, with the Dewclaw Drumbeat swirling around my head, I haven’t even been online to find out if I’ve already missed an assignment. I hope and pray that we’ve all been given the opportunity to breathe for a moment after returning home. I guess I’m “hanging on by a toenail” until I can get back on my computer to find out.

However, upon returning home from a touristy afternoon, we discovered that Venti’s paw was worse. She could hardly put any weight on it and the fault lay in that bandage we’d applied. She had worried the injured toe out from under the gauze but her foot had swollen. The tape was too thick to cut through and we backed off with this gentle giant’s warning growl. I had been badly bitten on my last dogsitting assignment and didn’t want the same to happen to me or mine. So, Venti would have to make it through the night, though we called California and agreed upon a trip to the vet’s in the morning.

My little family delayed their departure to help me get this sixty-eight pound, vet-phobic, gunshy patient to the veterinary office. It took all five of us all morning to achieve that task. I truly could not have managed it on my own. The four of them have chronic, serious problems in getting out the door for any activity; so getting ready for a normal takeoff was exacerbated by our multi-pet indulgence and sympathy. By the time we got her into  the car, Venti’s tranquilizers were wearing off and, by now, she was really hobbling on that strangulated foot.

Venti and admirers

Venti and admirers

IMG_6441

The vet hardly paid attention to the dewclaw. It would heal itself! However, the bandage did require emergency attention. That rubbery gauze was now acting like a rubber band. Hopefully, she would regain full use of her foot. He sounded quite serious. There was one saving grace, in that her routine shots were due today just in their normal rotation, so he was glad I had brought her in. I would never attempted manhandling this nervous Nellie by myself, simply for shots.

Venti has Dewclaw PTSD, quite obviously. She had hurt that toe before, in a most spectacular way! A few years ago, George was bathing her in their fancy bathtub, when that nail got in the tub’s jacuzzi jet. Her struggles to free herself resulted in a sudden jet stream of water, shooting upwards towards the ceiling! Now, this is a very jumpy, old-lady pooch! She panics at a sudden sound, even under normal conditions. Any quick movement has her scurrying from the room in fear. Imagine being bathed in a glass-enclosed tub when the geyser grabs her toe and then shoots her with a stinging stream of water!

Well, it probably all came crashing down in memory when that same appendage erupted in such agony this weekend. And, you can’t run away from your own foot, now can you? All you can do is lick and lick and try to bite it off! Let’s hope that she gets to keep her foot after all that well-meaning human intervention.

Oh, and get this! In my haste to help her out of the car back at home, the driver’s door slammed shut, locking both my keys and the dog in the hot car. If there hadn’t been a spare car key in the house, I’d be engaged in Marathon # 7 by this time, trying to get the poor baby outathere!

I sure hope the Astrologists foresee a calm and boring April!

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