Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thing 2 Comes Home

Late September 2010, J and I finally headed to my family house in the country.  Normally, we spend almost every weekend in the fall out in the country, but for one reason or another, last fall we were stuck in the city.  That weekend it was gray and drizzly.  J, Thing 1, Thing 2 and I spent the weekend curled by the fireplace, working, reading and napping.  In my memory, it was a wonderful, cozy weekend.  When we packed the car to return to the city on Sunday afternoon, Thing 2 tried to jump into the car.  He uncharacteristically missed, yelped and fell onto the ground.  J helped him into the car.

The next day, we thought Thing 2's knee was swollen.  It was probably because he missed when he jumped into the car, we thought.  We gave Thing 2 a few days, but his knee remained swollen, and he was just a bit less himself.  Off to the vet.  Maybe lyme's disease, said the vet.  We came home with a bag full of meds.  

Two days later, Thing 2 was not doing better.  He was definately worse.  His nose was swollen.  He was losing weight.  He didn't come upstairs to the bedroom with us, instead preferring to sleep in the kitchen. Off to the vet.   Maybe an allergic reaction, said our vet.  We switched meds.  

Two days later, Thing 2 was even worse.   Off to the vet.  Different meds, different possibilities.  For two weeks, we went to the vet almost every other day.  On a Tuesday night, I sat with Thing 2 from 4 to 5 a.m. as he laid in our room, panting and in obvious pain.

The next day, J and Thing 2 saw a different vet who immediately sent them to the emergency animal hospital in town.  Thing 2 was admitted immediately.  J called.  He could barely get the words out.  He didn't want to tell me because he didn't want to hurt me.  Thing 2 was in serious condition.  Maybe cancer, maybe an auto-immune disorder.  Tests were ordered.  We would be contacted the next morning.

On Thursday morning, the emergency vet called.  She was wonderful:  thorough, compassionate and encouraging of my questions.  The prognosis was not good.  They could not figure out what was wrong, and Thing 2 was fading.  On Thursday afternoon the vet called to say they were going to try a last effort.  She said that we should come visit Thing 2 that night, to say goodbye.  I remember sitting in my office, taking the call and trying to be strong.  I closed the door, crawled under my desk and just cried.  I left the office early that night with puffy eyes.

We walked into the pet-equivalent of the ICU.  I walked over to Thing 2 and dropped onto the floor next to my puppy.  He was so very weak.  He was refusing all food.  He hadn't stood or moved in twelve hours.  The vet reiterated that it didn't look good.  I held Thing 2's head and cried.  Then, like I had so many times before, I picked up a couple pieces of food and tried to feed him by hand.  To everyone's shock, he took the food and started munching away.   We stayed as long as we could, me on the floor in my work clothes, feeding my dog by hand.  When I stood to leave, Thing 2 tried to stand.  As we walked out of his area, he tried to follow.  And as we turned the corner, I recognized a familiar sound.  Thing 2 was howling for us.

The next morning, the wonderful vet called to say that Thing 2 was doing so much better.  He was walking around, eatting and loving everyone.  We visited again Friday night to a much improved Thing 2.  On Saturday morning, we were told Thing 2 could come home.

When we drove up to the emergency vet to pick up Thing 2, I was so thankful.  I knew that we were lucky, that we had dodged a bullet.  Thing 2 was coming home.  I walked into the waiting area, grasping his collar and leash.  Ten minutes later, Thing 2 came trotting down the hallway to me, tail going a mile a minute.

Thing 2 was much changed.  He had lost 25 pounds.  He would always bear the scars of this illness (a severe auto-immune disorder).  He would probably never run with me again.  But I didn't care.  Thing 2 was coming home.  As long as he was happy and not in pain, I was just happy to have my Thing 2 back.  That night, I refused to leave his side.  I sat next to him, next to the fire, telling him how I was so proud of him.  He had been such a fighter.  I would do everything to keep him happy and healthy.

After such a rough few weeks, Thing 2 was home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Are You Sure You Want To Do That?

I have not kept my fighting-for-part-time situation a secret from my coworkers.  In fact, I have tried to do the opposite.  Keeping this struggle a secret, known only to the powers-that-be, my family and me, while perhaps safer for me, is not what I want to do.  There is power in a fight being public.  There is liberation is saying "this is not fair" to the group that is trying to put you down.  There is unity in telling others and having them stand beside you in the fight.
I guess it should not be surprising that I had a coworker tell me that I should just go along with whatever the Firm/the partner wanted.  Don't I know that he is powerful?  Aren't I aware that he could make my life a living hell?  Don't I know that it could be worse?  Am I sure that I want to do this?
Yes, I know.  I am aware.  And, yes, I am sure.
For years, women have been told to keep their problems private, that their problems are relegated to the domestic sphere, that their problems are not the problems of the public.  And it is that privacy that, in part, has kept women down. 
I have no intentions of running through the halls screaming.  I will not intentionally burn bridges.  BUT, I will diplomatically state what the problems are.  I will make my voice heard.  I will not be quiet. 
A strange thing has happened since I decided that I would not go quietly.  For years, I have felt as though the Firm, the work, the people were draining my self-confidence.  I felt as though I had no power over my life.  I could have hours, days and months taken away from me.  I had no voice. 
About a year and a half ago, my husband and I had planned a long weekend away and I was going to take Monday off.  At the last minute (about 5:00 on Friday), I was told that I was needed in the office on Monday, just in case one of the higher ups had questions for me on a pro bono brief that I had written a month earlier.  A bit later that evening, the same partner called and said, "hey, since you're not going away this weekend, would you pitch in on a project on Saturday and Sunday?"  I wrote a snarky email and said "no."  It was the only time I said no to work (well, that time and the request to pitch in on a "time intensive" project the day that I went out on maternity leave).  But since I have decided to fight, I feel like I finally have a voice.  I feel like, bit by bit, my self-confidence may be eeking back in.  I have decided to stand-up for what I believe in, and it feels so very good.