Monday, January 15, 2018

Life on a Leash

Have you ever asked your dog how it feels to live on a leash?  I don’t know how well your canine companion could describe the experience.  But recently I’ve developed some personal sympathy with dogs on leashes, and I can tell you that it makes a world of difference which end of the leash one is attached to! 

The one at the controller end of the leash continues to enjoy life at liberty.  At the other end, the controlled end, life looks and feels very different.  How do I know that?  I’m learning it from personal experience. 

You see, for the past two months I have been living on a leash, not just when I go for a walk, but all the time; 24/7 as they say.  It’s no fun, but, as a friend in advanced stages of black lung disease used to say, “It’s better than a pine box.”

For months – perhaps years – I assumed that being short of breath was an unavoidable part of getting old.  I had never gotten old before, so I didn’t know what to expect.  Then, about Thanksgiving, I could ignore it no longer. 

Seeing my doctor on an urgent basis, she took one look at me and said, “You need oxygen - today!”  The prescriptions she wrote out immediately became my personal leash law!  Finding oxygen supplies on an emergency basis was not easy and we had to guarantee private pay to get it immediately.  But within an hour of getting hooked up to the oxygen concentrator, my shortness of breath was gone and my energy was returning.

A day or two later, the lung doctor named it: “You have pulmonary fibrosis.”  Over the years I have forgotten much of what I learned in nursing school, but I knew what that diagnosis meant.  Some of the little air-exchanging sacs inside my lungs had developed scars and were not working anymore.  In order to take in enough oxygen for my body to function, it had to be piped in from outside.

Thus, when we are at home, our house is filled with the gentle hum of a machine that takes in room air and concentrates the oxygen in it to a higher percentage.  That rich oxygen is continuously pumped down a tube connected directly into my nose, held in place by being wrapped around my ears.  My leash is over 25 feet long so I can wander all over our little condo without getting hung - unless it gets caught on something along the way!

Going away from home is a little more complicated and it has taken us several weeks to get the system perfected.  First, we have to decide how long we’re going to be out.  If we will be gone for several hours, my nose tube (cannula) gets connected to a tank so large that it has to be moved on a wheeled dolly. 

If our “away-from-home adventure” is just for a short time, I get hooked instead to a small (5 pound) portable tank.  A handy-dandy little carrying bag allows me to carry it in my hand or over my shoulder.  But wherever we go and for whatever period of time we are gone, my leash limits my freedom!

So, on behalf of your leash-controlled dog, I will tell you that such a limitation is inconvenient, a nuisance, uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous.  When I accidentally step on my own leash, I am sometimes abruptly pulled into positions I never dreamed of!  When my leash gets wrapped around my leg or foot, I can easily trip myself!  At those times I have sometimes called it some very nasty names!

No, I don’t like it, just as your dog probably doesn’t like the leash.  But far worse than life on a leash would be life confined to bed and unable to function at all!  Erma Bombeck, widely-read humorist, wrote “If you can laugh at it you can live with it!”  I’m discovering that is excellent advice.  Life is full of humor, especially when living on a leash.  I hope your dog can learn to laugh, too!

15Jan2018 - mshr