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  • Writer's pictureLou

Love Lockdown

17 months ago or thereabouts, I embarked on a sugar detox.

I did so, to hide my true intention of giving up alcohol, which I wanted to do but wasn’t yet ready to tell the world. Hiding it behind a sugar detox where booze was strictly on the prohibited list was the plan, and it worked.

The first three weeks were the worst.

I had been high as a kite with happiness that I had finally, finally taken control of my life. Because I had finally, finally realised I was mad.

‘The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.’

This euphoria wasn’t enough to spare me the withdrawals.

In the first seven days I was hit with the physical withdrawals of giving up refined carbs, sugar and booze. Whilst simultaneously being hit with the mental withdrawal. I couldn’t stop thinking about sandwiches or wine.

It was still the Christmas break so I wasn’t at work and I found myself desperately trying to find things to do, to keep my mind occupied.

I cleaned the oven twice, sorted out my socks, I deep cleaned my fridge and I ironed all my underwear. When usually I don’t even iron shirts.

I also went for walks, sometimes out all day. Flash loved it.

As each day passed the itchiness lessened, or I just got used to the feeling. Probably a small amount of both of those things. And then the itchiness was gone.

Much in the way a mosquito bite works. It’s furiously itchy, and all our energy is focused on it itching, wanting to itch it and either not itching it but not being able to function normally in society and itching it and not being able to function normally in society. And then it's gone.

My itchiness for wine and indeed all the boozy tipples subsided within the first week, thinking about sandwiches however turned into a full blown series of daydreams that all resulted in me running through a meadow in slow motion towards a sandwich that was running towards me in slow motion with open arms and a side of coleslaw and chips.

Evidently I had been more addicted to carbs than I ever had to wine.

And this is how the lockdown felt.

Four weeks into the lockdown and I was climbing the walls. Desperate for face to face contact and a cuddle I was beginning to regularly strike up conversations with my scatter cushions.

I suddenly understood how Tom Hanks felt towards Wilson when he was Castaway.

I was struggling.

I cleaned the oven twice, sorted out my socks, I deep cleaned my fridge and I ironed all my underwear. When usually I don’t even iron shirts.

It was difficult not being social, but it was the situation with Flash that was sending me over the edge.

I had been told, five days before the lockdown that he has a soft tissue, malignant inoperable tumour on his front left shoulder. They could give me meds to stop the pain and all we could do is wait.

The visit to the vet had come about because my sister came over the day before for dinner and noticed just how pronounced his limp was. The same limp he had had for about six weeks and evidently one that I had failed to notice had got worse.

This is of course because I was with him every day, and so had gotten used to his limp and therefore not noticed this gradual decline.

So the lack of visitors, the lack of other people seeing us both had not only affected me from a basic need of human contact but also through fear that I would not notice his decline and reach a stage where he was in so much pain that he could no longer bear it.

After writing my last post, where I admitted I was struggling with the enveloping loneliness of living alone in the lockdown my mood had started to lift.

Writing down and sharing how I felt was cathartic, plus so many people reached out to me and let me know they were there if I needed them.

Which was truly overwhelming, an instant influx of kindness that will never be forgotten.

It was during my elevated mood that Flash suddenly jumped up from his slumber and held his front left leg out like it was on fire. My good mood instantly plummeted to a sense of panic and impending doom.

I suddenly realised I had no control over this, at some point I will have to let TinkerBell take him to his final destination where he can enjoy eternity of fighting the pirates alongside the rest of the lost boys.

That bit WILL happen and it’s something that over these past few months I have come to terms with...well mostly have at least.

My panic came from the idea that the same thing was happening, I might not realise how bad he had got because it was gradual. I see him every day and the absolute last thing I ever want is for him to be in pain, but what if he already was in pain?

What if it had already got worse but I just couldn’t see it?

Not having other people stopping by from time to time meant I only had myself to rely on. And let's face it, I don’t want him to go so was there a part of me that was denying the deterioration?

I felt sick. I text my sister and she came up with a brilliant idea.

I should keep a Flash tracker. Each day I can observe him, track the tell tale stuff like how much is he limping? Tail wagging furiously or not at all? By doing so I can reflect on evidence, take a step back and pragmatically observe. I did as she suggested and instantly felt better, because I suddenly felt in control again.

Of course this doesn't change the inevitable, but it does make our final chapters together better for us both. Him because I am on top of his progress/deterioration and me because I am on top of his progress/deterioration so the focus can be on lots of doggo cuddles and tugs of war.

Since doing so I have not only been able to relax more, but when ordering his repeat prescription I’m able to relay this to my Vet at regular intervals. He is still doing ok, the limp is no worse, the lump is no bigger and he has reverted back to his usual self which largely consists of burping in my face and not letting me go to the toilet unaccompanied.

I have stuck to my running schedule, and to my workout schedule, I meditate each morning, I’ve got two books on the go and a podcast I am binge listening to as well. I sit in my garden most mornings reading, drinking coffee and watching Flash do his morning garden pottering.

I’ve trained myself to not just think about his final destination, and I’ve also trained myself not to think about how much I need a human cuddle. Instead my mind now wonders what I might make for lunch, or whether Flash will enjoy a carrot for a snack.

We are still in lockdown, slightly less locked down but still. And I am still desperate for a human cuddle, but I’m no longer struggling, I no longer feel lonely, instead I feel love.

I feel privileged that instead of spending 8 and a half hours out each day at work, away from Flash, I get to spend it at home with him and still do my job.

I’m lucky in that sense and finally, finally I have realised that.

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