Sometimes, it feels like the universe is taking the piss. Like every direction you turn leads to another kick in the guts.
The last 12 months have felt a lot like that for Charlotte and I.
Willow spent 4 days on fluids at the vet because she was losing weight at ridiculous speeds. When you only weigh 3 kg to begin with, losing a kg is life-threatening, especially when it happens within a couple of weeks.
Loki had a fight with another cat and came home with an abscess the size of a golf ball on the side of his face. The morning after it was lanced (the medical term for cutting a hole in the side of his face), the smell was so overwhelmingly rancid, it woke me up when he jumped onto the bed.
Benji (that’s him in the pic at the top) stopped eating and was struggling to sit, stand and walk. Mum took him to the vet (Benji lives in Australia) where he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease which gives him mouth and skin lesions. My boy turned 9 in October, and the thought I may lose him before I return to Australia puts more fear into my bones than the thought of flying snakes (yes, I just told you my greatest fear. Do not… I repeat… DO NOT make a joke out of it or I will hunt you down and pull out one tooth at a time until you tell me your greatest fear, then I’ll get payback 100x over. Savvy?). Right, now we’ve cleared that up…
Watson had breath that smelled like a garbage full of food waste that’s been sitting in the sun for three days. So, once we’d paid the previous three bills, Watson went for a doggy dental treatment.
About 8 weeks ago, Finnley suddenly stopped eating. As the most food motivated dog in the world – normally loud as a bass drum, but twinkle toes when he’s walking up the stairs to eat the cat food – we knew this was a bad sign.
On his first visit, he spent 5 nights in hospital on a cocktail of drugs. The diagnosis was liver failure, but the only way to determine the cause was a biopsy. As a large dog with a large ribcage, the surgery would have been akin to open heart surgery in humans. Thankfully, he started to improve so the vet advised against the biopsy.
Despite being on so much medication we had to create a tick-chart to keep up with it, Finnely’s condition improved and he was happy again. We even took him walking in the woods, a feat he hadn’t achieved since earlier this year as he doesn’t cope well in the heat.
Two weeks ago, Finnely suddenly stopped eating again. We were hoping we’d simply need to increase his medication again. But, almost without warning, he deteriorated significantly. Within 48 hours of his most recent refusal of food, our beautiful boy drifted off to sleep and never woke again.
It’s been a devastating couple of weeks… in fact, it’s been a terrible year, but the last few weeks without Finnley has been the hardest. Plenty of animals go their entire lives without needing a trip to the vet outside of their yearly vaccination and checkup. Yet, over the last 12-months, we’ve had 5 animals go to the vet for less than routine procedures. Every time one of our babies went to the vet, we worried they may not come home. Now, our greatest fears have been realised.
It’s heartbreaking… and as someone who works from home, it’s excruciatingly lonely.
When it comes to our animals, it feels as though if it wasn’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all.
I used to feel the same way about my business. Constantly learning, improving, implementing yet feeling like I was running on a treadmill, trying to capture a carrot just out of my reach. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many days straight I worked before I closed my business. I didn’t prioritise spending time with Charlotte, exercising, eating healthy or anything else that makes me happy… like walking the dogs.
Over the last 6 months, I’ve prioritised my self-care. Part of which involved prioritising my family (and fur-family). That decision, made in a place of overwhelming exhaustion, is one of the best I’ve made since I walked away from my welfare job back in 2015.
Why? Because I know we gave Finnely the best last 6 months we could. He had all the love, care and cat food any labradoodle would wish for.
So, if you’re running yourself into the ground trying to build a business but doing it at the expense of everyone around you… don’t.
Finnley was 8 years old. We honestly thought he’d be with us for at least a few more years, but as my recent experience shows, you never can take anyone for granted. Nobody’s here forever. It’s so easy to say “I’ll do it when…” but what happens if ‘when’ never comes, or worse, it comes too late.
Thankfully, in this case, I made the decision to look after myself and my family early enough.
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