Running is Good for the Soul

I feel better when I run. Maybe not during runs and maybe not even the next day, but definitely for several hours afterward – I sleep better, I am more mentally focused, and I feel “recharged.” So when I tell you I’ve felt like total crap the last two weeks, it’s because I haven’t been running enough. Last week, I only ran 8 miles during the week (4 Monday and 4 Wednesday) and 12 on Saturday (12 was all the training plan called for). This week, I skipped my runs on Monday and Tuesday and only ran 5 last night. I’m praying I’ll be able to cover all 16 the training plan calls for tomorrow.

It’s been a vicious cycle that sadly is because of Rags. After his cardiology appointment two weeks ago, he began to decline despite the addition of Lasix. The vet suggested I up him from 2 doses of his meds to 3 doses per day for 2 of them. This meant a weekday schedule that looked something like:

  • 6am – wake up, give him dose 1, take him for walk
  • 7:30am – let him out to pee, then go to work
  • 6:30pm – get home from work, give him dose 2, take him for a walk
  • 8pm – let him out to pee
  • 9pm – give him dose 3 (feeling like it’s too soon but we’re both falling asleep), take him for a walk
  • 10:30pm – let him out to pee, attempt to go to sleep but now wired from being outside in the freezing cold at 10:30pm

Where in that plan do you see enough time to go on a run longer than an hour, eat, and take a shower? Yeah, nowhere. So I wasn’t running or was squeezing it in between 7 and 9pm then having to let him out still in sweaty, wet running gear, waiting too long to eat, showering at 10pm, etc. I was going to bed nearly 2 hours later than normal, meaning there was no way I get up early enough to run before work, and I was dragging through the workday and getting home so tired that I couldn’t run even if I wanted to. Even on weekends, I was spending my time walking him, administering meds, and letting him out to pee between walks and meds. He wasn’t enjoying our time together and neither was I. Everything felt like a chore and a process (it doesn’t help that I live up 4 flights of stairs – 4 flights he hasn’t been allowed to walk up since New Year’s).

It was bad. Last week, Rags then stopped refusing to accept his “treats” – his meds are hidden inside Pill Pockets, which are treats that taste like chicken. Instead, I’ve been having to shove pills (11 in total) down his throat, which was upsetting both of us. Then, he stopped eating the second I put his bowl on the floor like he always has. Instead, he would wait till I got in the shower or left, which meant spending the whole day wondering if today was the today he was going to die because he was refusing to eat. I always come home to a bowl licked clean, but then he does the same thing at night with his dinner. He waits until he is absolutely starving or I actually do decide to go running before he eats. Even more recently, he’s decided he doesn’t like any of his location options for pooping, and will straight up spend 2 minutes almost pooping then deciding the spot isn’t too his liking, and taking me on a journey around the neighborhood after we’ve already gone on a 20-minute walk, repeating this process and keeping us outside for 30+ minutes in the freezing cold, never pooping. I know he has to go – I see what he eats. Instead of going three times a day, he now holds it until the morning and then poops enough to fill a grocery bag.

I see what is happening. He is mad at me for shoving pills down his throat and dragging him outside every 90 minutes and getting frustrated with him. He eventually eats and poops and sometimes even takes the 4th pill willingly after I’ve shoved the first 3 down his throat. He’s rebelling and letting me know he is NOT OK with this situation, and it took me two weeks to figure it out. I know he is fine because he’s happy and playful, and literally runs on walks and never seems to run out of energy, and is wheezing a lot less. So the meds are working,  but it stopped being worth it.

I broke down and emailed our vet yesterday and told her what had been going on. I was scared she was going to give me an ultimatum – continue this nightmare or stop the treatment altogether by ending it all even though he is healthy on the meds. Thankfully, she’s amazing and did neither. I had asked if we couldn’t add up each med’s dose per day and divide it by 2 instead of 3. She said this would work with the Lasix but not one of his other meds, but that ultimately Rags had become too smart for our game and the three doses were no longer an option. She understood.

Hallelujah.

Except, I got that email at 9pm last night, when her long day of treating sick pups like mine had probably finally ended. At 5pm, when I needed to leave in order to get to our Crossroads team run (every Thursday – but last week’s was canceled because of the blizzard and I’ll be in DC for work next week), I was still working and stressed and worried about how to squeeze in two doses and two walks plus two opportunities to pee. I hadn’t been running so I was crabby and tight. I had worked from home two days this week and spent a third at my client’s office in a cubicle all alone, which is incredibly lonely for me. I had barely spoken to humans all week. I knew I needed to run but also to socialize. So I kissed Rags and called a cab (because it was now too late to take the T and make it on time) and ran 5 glorious miles and drank 3 delicious beers and ate 1 one slize of pizza and 1 waffle fry (definitely NOT enough food). I woke up hungover, but I also woke up SO happy and peaceful because in my cab right home, I got the vet’s reply saying she understood and would make this work for all of us. I could have cried tears of joy and I re-read it approximately 11 times because I was drunk and because I couldn’t believe I was going to get my life back AND make Rags happy again.

I’ve slacked off for 2 weeks but I’m officially back in the swing of things.

He is still being stubborn but I hope after a few days back in our old routine, he’ll start cooperating with meds and eating when he’s fed. He’s spending all next week with my mom while I’m in DC for work, where he will be spoiled rotten and be an absolute couch potato for 6 days. He may even gain some weight from being so lazy, which would make the vet and me both very happy!

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