On January 19, 2021, I headed to a local clinic for a simple test requested by my doctor. It was meant to be a simple in-and-out test called an endoscopy. But as my doctor and the anesthesiologist watched the monitor, they saw my heartbeat climbing into the stratosphere.
I was in AFib, where the beat became too fast to be safe, so it was into an ambulance and off to the Emergency Room at NYU Langone Hospital. It was the beginning of too many visits. In April, there was a surgery called an ablation, and on June 1, there was another emergency visit to shock my heart into normal rhythm. That afternoon, I came home so happy to feel better and see my beloved German Shepherd guide dog Ginger. I harnessed her up and headed downstairs, so she could have a welcome moment to relieve herself in the street. But as we entered the first-floor lobby, she was having a hard time walking, and a minute later, she collapsed on the sidewalk. She was dead two hours later due to Angio Sarcoma, cancer internal to the heart and undetectable until the tumor ruptures and it is too late to be of any help. She had been my partner since 2013, and in an instant, she was gone.
Desolation, real grief, and hopelessness became large parts of my daily diet of feelings: nothing to say, nothing to do but walk through them. Very weakly, I took the following steps on the dog front – let her school know what had happened and began the process of applying for a new guide, even though it made no sense to my emotions.
Over the next few months, the grief began to quiet. Finally, I was left simply with a kind of heart desert. At the time, I couldn’t see the hope at all.
What helped? A couple of friends and loved ones took the time to listen to the details of how I was feeling and affirmed them for me, so I felt heard and therefore loved. And, they came back and checked in with empathic interest to find out what I was feeling and externally what was happening. That helped give me the strength to take the following steps toward getting and learning to work with a new partner.
This is all a work in progress, but the health issues and the process of birthing a new relationship with a new dog are moving along, albeit slowly. Nevertheless, the seeds of healing are happening; I can feel them, which is my definition of hope.
Shared by Karen Gourgey
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