Sunday, June 26, 2011

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie - Unless They Have Deep Sleep Disorder

    You should not let sleeping dogs lie when they choose inappropriate places to do their napping.  Our latest edition, Riley, a small puppy, turned out by its mother, has come to know the comforts and security of being cared for like a newborn baby.  He was bottle fed and sleeps on a bed of plush cotton with a tiny stuffed animal that looks just like his mother. When Riley sleeps, he enters some kind of deep R.E.M. sleep that nothing can wake him from.  You can poke him, pick him up, even dress him in tiny Build-A-Bear clothing and he will never wake.  When he finally does come to, he loves to be outdoors running and playing. The problem is, Riley is the runt of the litter and tires easily.  After a few minutes of terrorizing the cats and scratching around in the flower beds, he finds a cool place to nap.... usually behind my tires and enters his deep comatose like sleep.

    Before I drive, I always honk the horn several times, alerting the cats sleeping inside my engine and any small children who might be standing behind my car.  I normally walk around, checking behind each tire, but on this particular day, I was in a hurry.  I made the horn wail for a ridiculous amount of time, sure to scare off any sleeping critters in or around my vehicle.  I preface this by saying that it is bad to run over your own dog, but to do it twice is much worse.   I began backing out of the drive when I heard the most horrible yelping.  I knew what had happened and feared that I was on top off the dog, so I put the car in forward and pulled back over the poor thing.  More yelping ensued and as I put the car in reverse to get off of him again, I realized that this may be a vicious cycle that would never end and I should probably park the car and assess the damage.  Scared to look and traumatized by the screams from my child and the yelps from my dog, I ran around the car only to find my little dog staring up at me with a look of dismay. There seemed to be no real damage.  There was no blood or brains or any of the other things I suspected I would find.  The dog had urinated on itself, but I would too if a large SUV was coming over the top of me... twice.   I scooped up the dog and carried him to his bed of fluff and laid him down gently.   I had taken that CPR course at work and knew that his vitals signs would be off the chart if there was bad damage.  His heart wasn't racing.  He appeared to be in no pain and he wasn't shying away from me.  I quickly told him it was the cat that was driving the car so not to destroy the caregiving image he has me associated with.
    A few hours later, I discovered the leg that wouldn't work and decided to go to the Emergency Vet.  That was my first mistake.  Upon arrival, I was greeted by a nurse who handed me a pamphlet on the costs associated with being hit by a car.  A small red flag went up in my mind.  While waiting in the tiny sterile room with my dog who still appeared to be in no pain, I noticed a sign on the wall that encouraged patients to use the office phones to contact friends and relatives who could call in credit card numbers to help finance my pet's emergency care.  Hmmmm... Flag #2 had now popped up.  The vet arrived and looked my dog over.  He talked about free flowing abdominal fluids and hidden injuries and I explained that the dog had not actually been hit by a car flying down the street, but had simply been run over... by me.... twice.   There was no blunt force trauma.  The vet left and in came a financial counselor.  I should have left then, but no... I stayed for more.   He walks over to a large write and wipe board and begins creating a visual diagram of all of the required treatments and associated cost estimates.  It began with Pain Medicine - $50 - $75. X-rays came after that for $200.   After we flew through anesthesia, surgery, physical therapy and life coaches, I screamed that he had to stop before my head exploded.  The obvious question had to be asked... how can you even talk to me about surgery when you don't even know what is wrong with the dog.  They were preparing me, he told me.  I suggested a better method and asked that we just X-ray the dog and then map out a course of action.  "Not without pain medicine," I was told.   I dismissed my Pet Loan Officer and asked to talk to the vet.  I voiced my great dissatisfaction with this plan and even went so far as to challenge the ethics of drugging an animal or person when there is no sign of pain.   I would like to point out that challenging a doctor's ethics is never a good thing to do.  I lost the debate, my dog got Toradal and I now own a series of expensive X-rays of my dog in various disturbing positions.... running, sitting, spread out like a hog on a spit and more.   I believe my dog may be flipping me off in one of those photos.   I'm sure that was a humorous Vet joke because of my ethics comment.  

    An hour and a half later,  I received the news that my dog had a hairline fracture and we would splint him and place a large funnel on his head. Having a basic understanding of the healing process, hairline fractures in young bones and that fact that neither my husband, nor the three dogs waiting at home, would ever accept a funnel headed Spaniel.  I opted to take our drugs and take the dog home to heal without the splint or funnel that would be more traumatizing than the tiny crack in the dog's leg. The dog was stoned on narcotics at this point and was weaker now than when I brought the happy puppy in.   $240 later, we left with a drunk dog in a box exploding body fluids in the back seat of my SUV. It was the longest 45 minute ride home I have ever made.  My daughter and I were hanging our heads out of the windows, ironically, like dogs, trying to escape the odor coming from my stoned dog passed out in the back seat.

    A week passed and the leg began healing nicely.  The dog is getting around great and will continue to heal with no narcotics or funnel hats.   I walk a little slower around the car now, checking for sleeping dogs or tails poking out of the engine and hope nobody is napping in places they shouldn't be. It is critically important that I not run over another animal, because they will never let me back in the Emergency Vet Clinic.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shark Boy

If something amazing and truly worthy of a photo opportunity occurs, I am usually the one who has just turned their head for a split second, missing everything, only to hear the "oohs" and "aaahhhs" of my family reveling in what they just witnessed. I've missed goals, perfect landings, certificates of award from the President printed on colored card stock, and a series of other special events moms are supposed to be clicking their cameras on.  My timing is off by just a millisecond and the world can change in that tiny moment of time.  I'm certain if an alien invasion ever occurs, I will be head down, rifling through a box of popcorn or digging under my chair for someone's lost shoe.   I will miss the introduction to the new life form and have to ask them to kindly recreate the scene so I can capture it on my Handycam.

While at the beach this week, Shark boy, in the above photo, was moving in on my territory with his cute smile, foreign accent and eye for my girls.   Of all moves intended to impress a couple of young girls, I would have never expected him to reach down into the Atlantic waters around their feet and whisk out a baby shark, as if he does this everyday.  I was, of course, rifling though my bag of multi-SPF lotions and sunblock, digging for a tissue to keep the sand out of my Pina Colada, when I heard those familiar "ooohss" and "ahhhhs."  What had I missed... again?! I, instinctively, grabbed for the camera, still unaware if it was an alien takeover or just a good hair moment that needed to be photographed.  I knew it was something cool, though.  And there, as I looked up with a Pina Colada milk mustache, is Shark boy with tiny shark in hand.  The girls' shoulders instantly drew forward in some genetically instinctive act of coyness like Wally Cleaver's girlfriend when he donned his argyle sweater.  They oohed and ahhed and giggled as waves of doubt washed over me and Shark boy's self confidence beamed like a beacon from a lighthouse. Surely, that boy didn't just grab a live shark, I thought.  In yet another act of greatness, he gently places the tiny man eating sea critter back into the waters to swim away, showing his sensitive animal activist side.  I managed to pull myself up from my beach chair that was already six inches deep into the wet sand and walked up to this trio of kids.  Like an investigator, I questioned him on how this happened. People just don't reach into the water and pull out live fish unless you live on the Blue Lagoon and are working a movie set.  With excellent manners and a boyish foreign accent, Shark Boy offers to go grab another shark for me to see.  I knew the sun was hot and the rum had been flowing straight from my blender to my beachy little spot by the shore, but I was keenly aware that this was not normal.  The three ran back into the sea.  The girls normally scream when seaweed touches their feet, but now they were knee deep with this mystery boy walking with the sharks, safeguarded by his aura of self esteem.  It was a scary glimpse of the future, filled with ooohhs and ahhhs that I know will never be intended for me to capture on film. It took only moments and they returned from the sea with yet another baby shark in hand.  The girls giggled, the boy beamed and my older son was googling away, researching Shark boy on the Internet to determine his actual name, Facebook profile, age and political affiliation.  We all petted the little shark,  snapped a few photos and then released him back into the waters to rejoin his family of killers.  I took another sip of my sandy Colada, whispered a little prayer that the sharks will always stay far away from my girls, and took my place back in the sand next to my son.  As I closed my eyes in the summer sun, I heard the familiar "ping" sound of an email being sent.   Pictures of sharks and pretty girls were being uploaded and sent across country.  I found out later that one additional message went out from the shoreline.... a simple and easy to understand message from my son to Shark boy that simply said, "They're 12."    We did not see him after that, but pictures will last forever.

Early Retirement and the Great Resignation

        At the age of 57, I stared at my 35 year career, whispered a polite thank you to the heavens and hit the send button on my retiremen...