Itches, stress, embarrassment and general upset..
But then, at just shy of 3 a.m., I get this face.
And the world shrinks down to the two of us.
To that one person who happens to follow this unformed mess of a blog with some consistancy (because hey, it's a big world out there, right? A girl can dream)- if you do exist, I apologize for not posting lately. I know I promised myself (and perhaps the world, in a previous post) that I'd start being more active, but life gets in the way sometimes. These past few weeks have been tough all around. I had a very disappointing encounter with a prospective new dermatologist (more on that later). I also find myself being absconded with on pretty much a daily basis, and being kept busy all day, every day thanks to a certain someone appearing for an elongated visit in town; it's not that her appearance is unwelcome, I'm just not used to the level of activity she tries to achieve every day.
Most notably though, was a very unpleasant encounter I had with a member of my household.
He has a dog, a very sweet female, who he loves, and who loves him. While I don't doubt that he does everything he can for her, she is his first dog, and owning an animal is a learning experience- there's a lot that you don't know when you first start out- and that's fine, as long as you are open to learning more, whether from vets, or books, or more often, people who have some more experience than you.
This guy, unfortunately, is Not open to any input about his dog. He sees it as some sort of affront- I guess maybe he thinks of someone offering advice or tips about his dog as an insult, like through the action that person is implying that he's clueless or stupid (For the record, the only way I'd view anyone as stupid in this situation was if they, for whatever reason[like some odd form of pride], chose to remain ignorant to the possible detriment of their pet- but perhaps I've said too much ;) ).
Anyway, to make a long story as short as I reasonably can- cut me some slack, I am a writer, after all- one day, this person took his dog for a run, which he's done before. This time, though, it was Really hot outside- at least 80 degrees and very sunny. When he arrived back from the run, his dog was exhibiting a lot of signs of heat stroke. Concerned, I asked if she was alright. Instead of answering me, he mumbled something about how she was his dog before taking her up to his room. I was still really worried, so I phoned a local emergency vet, left out names and described her symptoms, asking if there was anything that could be done from home. I figured I'd get concrete information and approach him reasonably and ask how she was, and suggest something to help her.
Of course, he found out about my phone call. What followed was a nasty confrontation- he was yelling at me, talking over me, ranting that I had no right, that his dog was not my problem. I felt he was trying to intimidate me at a few points, he was belittling, condescending and hostile. Eventually, I started raising my voice, not with the intention of exacerbating the situation. It was more that I refused to be railroaded and not get a chance to defend myself in this so called 'conversation', especially when the encounter itself was incredibly unreasonable, and I would not be painted as the bad guy, or the problem, when all I did was express concern for his dog, who I live with, and so, in a way, she is my problem, too.
By the end of it, I was a wreck; I was shaking and so pissed off that I could barely form a sentence. This overwhelming frustration boiled inside of me, this feeling of having my hands tied, of being absolutely powerless to make the situation better without cowtowing and compromising myself. I was still upset when I went to bed.
And when I woke up the next morning, my entire face, neck, and parts of my body were covered in eczema flare.
What a lot of people don't know is that, much like stress can cause breakouts in people who have acne, an eczema flare can be triggered by stress or intense emotional responses.
So that morning, when I got up, the reaction I had to what had happened the night before was written all over my face- there for all the world to see.
Imagine, for a second, if you don't suffer from any skin conditions, what it's like when your body flashes a neon sign if you experience stress, and it's one that everyone can see, but very few understand the meaning of. Imagine your body compounding the stress or hardship you're already experiencing by reacting to it in a way that only makes things harder- adding pain, discomfort, self consciousness and all the other results of a breakout or flare into the already taxing mix.
Now, imagine what I just described, happening every single time.
It's been over a week, but my flare, instead of going down, just got worse. Finally, another trip to urgent care. Another round of oral steroids. Another steroid injection.
All because of one stupid argument with one very difficult man.
It's just after midnight, another weekend gone, and I'm lying in bed in my cluttered room with Lucy, as she contentedly snuffles around with a black and orange duck toy left unattended by another of the household canines.
As I watch her, playing a sedate game of 'tug' as I grab the duck, my hand under the blanket, and she tries again and again to free it, my heart is calm. For these few moments, the world has shrunk down to encompass the goings on of a placid game of tug of war.
She wins. Comes and sits, staring at me, expectantly. I don't know what she wants, so I just guess- I reach out and I stroke her; her silky ears, her soft, warm head, her neck fur which, like the rest of her curls has been cropped off in an attempt to give her some comfort in the coming heat, down to her chest, where I slip my fingers under the straps of her harness and scritch her there. She sighs, her chocolate eyes sinking closed slightly. I talk to her softly, tell her how much of a good girl she is, and how much I love her.
I realize that I tell her that a lot.
I wonder, and not for the first time, whether it's weird how much I care about this being who I can't even communicate with. I don't know what she wants, what her favorite way to be scritched is (if she has that one place that will turn her into a puddle, I haven't found it), or what she really likes to play with (the search for the ultimate toy is ongoing).
I'm not sure what her facial expressions mean, or how often her tail should wag. I don't even know how much to feed her since she's 10 pounds bigger than breed standard (not fat, but genuinely larger built).
Mostly daunting, though, is the question of whether or not this beautiful girl is happy.
It may seem strange to some people, how much I care about this mystery being in my life. But the truth is, as much as I don't know, sometimes she's the thing that makes the most sense.