Monday, July 11, 2011

That time of year

(Sorry, this is really, really long...)

So, it's my birthday this week. When I was a kid, I loved my birthday, I got excited about it. I was disappointed if the weather was crappy or there wasn't much planned.  it's not that I wanted some huge party, but perhaps just recognition.  And being one step closer to being grown up.  I don't know what I expected to be so great about growing up, but there was *something.*  Maybe I just hoped it would be easier than being a kid, a teenager. It would be when I'd have all my shit together, or married or loved or parenting. Having some control in my life, maybe.  The last five or seven years or so, not enjoying them so much.


I'm in a pretty bad mood today.  There are several possible reasons, but most likely is that I think I skipped some of my pills last night.  I think that pisses me off even more than the other stuff.

Anyway.  C and I are supposed to be furiously cleaning up the house because, as I found out on Friday, C's folks will be coming to stay with us overnight on Thursday.  How did I get out of the loop?  This was mentioned months or weeks back, but somehow I never heard. Or never heard when.  Nothing's getting clean.  He's got mixed feelings and so do I, but I think for different reasons.

The car seems to need a new radiator cooling fan.  It makes this terrible noise if I turn on the fan and the a/c at the same time.  Of course, it's been June/July.  Today it was about 90F, with a "real-feel" of 114.  No A/C in the car.  No idea how much this will cost, but I've had to cancel two different appointments to get it fixed because

There has been much drama with the dog.  She needed emergency surgery in May (the day before our anniversary) for a large foreign body in her stomach.  After a night of violent vomiting (4 or 5 times) and a week of nausea and lethargy, when she finally refused food despite the anti-emetic, we took her to the local city's emergency/referral animal hospital.  Doc did x-rays and an ultrasound which showed that her stomach's movement (peristalsis) had completely stopped because of the foreign body.  It was basically surgery or death, so, obviously we opted for the surgery.  Thank you, Grandma's inheritance for $3,000.

Exactly a month later, Stella started furiously licking the carpet again in an effort to vomit, which she did 3 or 4 times in 15 minutes.  Emptied her stomach. Off for an 11pm visit to the Doggie ER so find a small foreign body.  $1,000 and two x-rays later they gave her fluids and anti-emetics and after she recovered from a "random" period of lethargy, we took her home.  They said, can you keep her from licking the carpet?  I told THREE doctors that she only does this when she needs to throw up.  Hmm. They said, "Can you crate her so she doesn't lick the carpet?" sigh. Make an appointment with the Internist.  This premiere facility has only ONE internist.  She is out all week for a conference. We make an appointment. Stella has another vomiting episode at 4:30 in the morning, and then develops diarrhea in the days before the appointment.

So at the appointment, she runs a test (neg for pancreatitis) or two (neg for Addison's) and wants to do an endoscopy when the Addison's test comes back.  But she can't because she's out of town, again, this time for a death in the family.

Endoscopy scheduled for Monday AM that she comes back.  Internist calls at 11am, says procedure went great and pup was doing great. The scoping showed some areas of "sick" or "unhealthy" tissue, which, when biopsied, was friable and did not bounce back as healthy tissue should. Her initial opinion was that it was likely to be Inflammatory Bowel Disease, though a small chance of Lymphoma.  3 to 5 days for results.  In the meantime, start her on steroids (pred) as initial treatment for both.

I called to check in at three days, and the doc called me back with the results. "It's good," she said, and I breathed for the first time in 3 days. Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be managed, but we'll need to find a new diet for her, one that includes a novel protein diet (like duck or venison, which she's never eaten) because the IBD is likely caused by an allergy to food proteins.  So, the pred for a month and then we start to reduce and change her diet.

The pred, as predicted is making her thirsty and peeing *constantly,* and always hungry.  We are taking her out every couple of hours. She is peeing all over the house.  She is to be on the pred (15 mg x 2/day) prescription food, a weekly B12 shot and daily pepcid.  They start her on an anti-biotic because her digestions seems to be deteriorating.  I called the local vet, overwhelmed and spent a half an hour talking with her about what we'll be doing, and she reduced the pred slightly since she was doing better with all these meds.

After going through tons of paper towels, and leaving puppy pee pads all over the house (totally unused, btw), I went to the dollar store absorbent "chammy", then just went to target for cloth diapers because they are so absorbent.  Floor, carpet -- they work great. We are washing diapers every day.  Yes. Diapers.  And we actually conversations about the color and consistency about the dog's poop.If it wasn't serious, it would be funny. Ironic, even. Perhaps.***

Somehow she makes it 4 or 5 hours during the night, though there is usually a wet spot somewhere.  Fortunately, she is going through so many *big* bowls of water a day the pee just looks like water.

Stella is pretty confused, alternately lethargic from the pred and starving/sniffing out food crumbs on the carpet or under the couch or bed.  We found out the other day she can fit her entire head under the couch and her whole body under the bed.  Awesome.

So far (not counting *all* the food and the last consult with the local vet) we've spent about $6,000 getting the dog diagnosed and treatment begun. Thanks to Grandma (again) and C's high interest emergency credit card. Also, I never got to start looking for a job because Stella's illness began the week we were finishing grading for the spring semester.  We've been constantly running back and forth to the city and the local vet, with crisis, test or consult. For the last two and a half weeks, we have had to coordinate the entire day so that the dog is not alone for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time, to try to reduce the house-peeing.  Or make sure she gets her meds on time.  Or try not to spend money we don't really have. (thanks, again, Grandma).

So, I would use the cc to pay for the car repair, except that I have to find a time to get the car fixed when C will be here -- that was going to be this Friday, but we will be hosting C's folks. Well, after I entertain them Thursday afternoon while he is teaching.  And while I'm not following the dog around with a diaper or dragging her out into the heat to pee. Again.


We had had plans to go to see C's family in the SW and go to NY so I could meet my youngest niece from across the room (don't get me started again) and my dad and elderly aunt & uncle.  And B, my wonderful friend and respite. And I wanted to go to LA to see my sister and niece. Before all this, I wondered how we (I)/she would deal with the dog being boarded, but now, after all this money and time, there is no time.

My sister's daughter just had her second birthday.  She is gorgeous and amazing and has recently had growth spurts, physically and verbally.  And she recognizes me on the skype.  Along with the foof and mew.  I do come in second to my dad, her grandfather, whom she has wrapped around her finger. But that seems as it should be. I'm craving a visit.  I haven't seen C's family/sisters/nieces/nephews in probably 4 or 5 years.  It's been more than a year since seeing A's daughter.  I've never met my brother's daughter who was born at the end of October.


There have been some small good things:  my brother (who has not spoken with/connected with my sister for most of his daughter's life) sent a birthday card and some stickers for nieces birthday last week. It appears that his wife had no knowledge of his actions, and did not even sign the card (he signed for all of them), but we (my sister and I) are really pleased that he finally, finally has shown some independence and understanding of the connection he has with my sister's daughter.  And my sister.  He's been getting therapy, and who knows? maybe it's helping.  It makes me hopeful, even though I need to contain it.  A very small step, but a big one in their difficult relationship.

I got an email from a dear old friend in Boston who has met a man she says may be her "soulmate."  He lives across the country and a bunch of other details.  I've never "heard" such words or tone in her voice from her email. Wonderful, happy, hopeful. A little careful, but so happy.   She had been putting off ending another relationship, but she did it this past weekend. I, being overprotective, want to know details like how she met him.  I am wary, but happy for her.

Therapy is going well.  I am feeling better overall, and want to start getting rid of my drugs, but I know that will take time, and I may never be without them.  I don't know if it is a general sense of happy/hopefulness or what, but I am really craving baby.  This birthday, though, really forces me to understand just how far away I am from that, in a number of ways. I may never raise children.  I'm not ready to accept that. I don't want that.  Not yet. There is a lot of work to do on many fronts.  It makes me tired just thinking about it.

I tried working on the diss proposal at the beginning of the summer, but it was just too much with the dog and the car (and did I mention my feet?) and a bunch of other things.  Hoping to get back to that soon.  It feels really far away, too.  Several of my friends/colleagues (two of whom I started with) are graduating in a month.  C says I need to let that go and forgive myself and understand that everyone has different timetables.  Yes, I know.  Still. It's frustrating to know that this wretched adventure has not only left me childless, broke, deeply depressed, largely medicated and no degree -- yet. I started both, so very long ago.  I started the degree first.

I don't know.


I wish I were as bright as of this writing as I was in my last, but that will come soon enough, I guess.  Meds, birthday overwith, therapy. There will be other things. I just have a lot of work ahead of me.

Thanks for being here to listen.

*** Please don't think that I'm not aware that this is what we would be facing if we -- indeed what many folks face when they -- have/had a child who is ill (and at much higher costs).  Also, the whole, being on call every two hours and the frustration and the worry and the vigilance since early May are just like having a newborn -- and yet nothing so very intense and emotionally exhausting and life-altering...I don't know -- as having a newborn or a sick child.


It Is What It Is said...

Bravo for the excellent care you've given your sick pup. It is different, in ways, but the same, coming to the aid of a pet or child who is sick (not that I am equating the two, merely agreeing that the desire to help the helpless is similar).

I hope she is truly on the mend and that you are, too.

Mirne said...

What you said about: "I don't know if it is a general sense of happy/hopefulness or what, but I am really craving baby. This birthday, though, really forces me to understand just how far away I am from that, in a number of ways. I may never raise children. I'm not ready to accept that. I don't want that. Not yet. There is a lot of work to do on many fronts. It makes me tired just thinking about it."

I could have written this myself. My birthday is next month. I will be 43. 43 years old. That's middle-age. Middle-aged women don't have babies. But I don't have anything else. My career has plummeted into oblivion (three dead children does that). But I'm not ready to accept that I may never raise children either. It makes me tired too. Thinking about a future, an empty future, is too tiring for words.

I hope your puppy gets better on the new diet.

Ya Chun said...

When it hits, sometimes it just all hits at once. Here's wishing Stella a full and speedy recovery.

Maybe his parents can help a bit this weekend - and you can get the car taken care of or take a break at least. It's not mandatory to clean up for parents when life is too crazy!

hugs on getting another year older xoxo

take care

Tash said...

Oh my goodness, poor pup. I'm here to tell you that often taking care of pets IS WORSE than kids. At least there comes a point when the kid can tell you what's wrong -- that never happens with a pet. That just kills me, when I know the pet is sick and there is no way to find out what's up without a million $ of tests. We've been through some really costly stuff with our pets over the past few years (ACL followed by miniscus tear on Max, e.g.), and it's no. fun. Really hoping the diet takes care of things. Can you limit the dog's space when you leave so at least you're not cleaning pee everywhere, just maybe on the kitchen floor?

Please take some time to at least have a piece of cake and a dinner of your choosing. It will make a world of difference. Thinking of you guys.

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darkhung said...

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