A heartwarming story, 21st Century style.
All posts tagged dogs
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on April 7, 2017
Here is a sample bottle of some hydrocodone medicine. You can see by the beat-up label that it’s kind of old. The expiration date is 1995.
It’s part of my emergency kit. The last time I took one was in 2010, when I was in India and broke my wrist.
Yesterday I was walking on a State Park trail enjoying the late afternoon sun when a lady walked by with her Golden Retriever.
“Is your dog friendly?” She asks.
“Well….sometimes. She plays really, really rough,” said I.
By this time I had moved off the trail into a little grassy area to give the lady and her dog room to pass.
Instead, she decided to bring her dog over to “make friends.”
Before you could say “Oh fuck!” Atina was in her dog’s face snarling and making that fearsome sound dogs make when they’re fighting. She was so determined, I found myself helplessly dragged along at the end of the leash.
Then I myself roared into life and dragged her off the terrified retriever, whose owner was triple quadruple terrified.
Atina had not finished snarling when I got hold of her, but she shut her face once she saw mine.
God I just wanted to kick her ass around the block!
I waited for the poor terrified lady and her dog to get back down the trail before I started back myself. It was getting toward “coyote time” of the evening and I was in no mood for another confrontation.
As I led the now-chastened Malligator down the path, I spied a rock sticking out. Watch out for that rock, my brain said. Fuck you, said my body, and demonstrated my foot-drop so that I could trip on that very rock….and fall into thin air.
I saw the whole thing in slow motion. The hard ground coming closer and closer….I dropped the leash from my left hand and the baggie full of dog poop from my right, and broke my fall with both hands.
Jesus Christ on a bicycle, I have rarely felt such pain! Now I know why beating people on the hands and feet is such a popular form of torture. There’s really nowhere for swelling and blood from broken blood vessels to go. The pressure is maddening.
I’m able to this only because the first-aid measures of last night have much improved the situation.
First I managed to get myself and the Malligator into the van. This was no small feat, since both of my thumbs were so swollen they were pulling my hands into claws due to the spasms in my thumb muscles.
Once I got inside, the only thing I could do was to sit down and bawl uncontrollably for a long time.
Next I had to remember where I’d stashed my emergency pain pills. Fortunately my mind’s eye is pretty good, and I located the plastic box where I keep seldom-used meds. It was dicey getting the box out of the overhead compartment, between my bad shoulders and my completely fucked-up hands.
I took a pill, then sat down to cry some more. Eventually I remembered the Traumeel, that wonderful arnica-based homeopathic ointment. It’s great for bruises and any kind of trauma that doesn’t involve an open wound.
And ice! It required some ingenuity to get the damn ice out of the ice tray, but I did it.
As I was icing, I remembered that I am an acupuncturist. I got some needles and by pressing my teeth into service, extricated a few from their sterile packaging. I did some emergency points for general trauma, then did some decompressing local points. After an hour the spasms had gone from my thumbs and the swelling was subsiding.
This morning my hands are much better, although I fear I may have further injured my already-fucked-up left wrist. I guess I should call my hand surgeon’s office and make an appointment for next week….
(The Golden Retriever was fine, by the way. Just a lot of noise and display, apparently, but soooooo NOT okay. I might get the electric collar out for our next walk. When she has it on, I almost never have to use it because she KNOWS what it means….)
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on January 26, 2017
No, she’s not dead…just had her morning walkies, breakfast, and now…notice the green ball in her mouth, which serves as her pacifier….she’s taking her midmorning nap as she digests her delicious dog food. What a life!
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on July 16, 2016
Wouldn’t you know it.
have had a maintenance appointment for my van this morning, but….
I’ve been feeling weird for a few days. Had an “upset stomach” last week, treated with Imodium and cannabis tincture, got OK in a few hours.
Past few days I’ve been seeing some blood in my stools, but that does happen now and then. I’ve got Crohn’s Disease, after all. Fortunately a mild case. I’m grateful for that!
Last night I felt beat. I chalked that up to long pleasant walks with My Girl Atina. Had a simple dinner of soup and went to bed at eight.
I awakened at 6 with a start. Freezing cold. Well, it WAS freezing cold, since I am low on propane and had to triage between the gas fridge and the heater. The fridge won. So it was pretty damn cold this morning.
Suddenly I realized why I was awake at that ridiculous hour: I needed the bathroom, and right now!
Fortunately my bathroom is right next to the bed, so I hopped in there….
Sorry to be gross, and I won’t be upset if you stop reading now. In fact, I won’t even know if you stop reading now, so proceed at your own risk.
There is a certain vile stench that rises off of bloody stool. Those who have smelled it know what I mean.
If I were not the kind of person who would rather die than puke, there would have been a terrible mess.
Imodium doesn’t stop this kind of thing. Blood is very irritating to the digestive tract. Imodium does seem to help the cramps and spasticity, so I use it. I’m on my third. Can’t take more than four a day. As it is, after this episode has passed, my gut will be paralyzed. I won’t crap for four or five days, at least, and then I might have a normal week or two.
Now my belly is lying there on top of me all pooched out, full of borborygmi (oh God I love that word! Borborygmus, singular; borborygmi, plural. Def: bowel sounds that are audible with the naked ear)–in my case, audible across the room.
Last time, we had a little conversation about farts. Remember?
Good. Well, people, I know there are those among you who KNOW that dreadful feeling…is it really a fart? Or is it…something else….
Yes, it certainly could be something else….let us get to the bathroom…quick….
Let’s look on the bright side: at least I’m disabled, so I don’t have to worry about calling in sick.
But I just did call in sick to the mechanic! Oh brother.
I’ve been halashing (that’s Jewish for “longing,” more or less) to do some volunteer work. What I really want to do is to read aloud to little kids, homeless people, nursing home residents, people stuck in the damn hospital….anyone who wants to hear the magic of a book.
To me, books are the most tangible evidence of humanity. There is magic in the visual arts, but those could have been done by angels. No angel could write a book. They are too concrete, angels. Come to think of it, an angel could never make good art. You have to break the rules to make really good art. Angels are programmed. They can’t break the rules.
Ugh, my belly hurts. Now I have to find my heat pack and put it in the microwave. And burn some fucking incense. Atina’s been licking her ass again. The bathroom is stinking the place up. God, I can’t wait till this blows over.
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on May 23, 2016
I think it was once a skunk. It doesn’t smell like skunk, but then it is a bit aged. I’m inclined to think it was a skunk; otherwise it would have been totally eaten by now.
I am impressed at the length of its spine. And its feet are not prehensile, like those of a possum. I have never seen a possum corpse just lying around. They’re good eatin’, I hear. Maybe that’s why you never see them: the carrion eaters clean-up crew get to them first.
In my youth I had a friend who had a family to feed, but no money.
He was a practical man. Whenever he found a fresh road kill that wasn’t too mangled, he’d take it home, clean it, and put it in his enormous deep freeze. They’d make possum stew, raccoon stew, and if lucky and careful of the law, deer stew.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
To show the possum that it could be done.
I was exhausted, so I did camp there for one night. In the evening, when the air currents lie low, is the best time for scent tracking. Atina’s eyes grow wolfish when she latches onto a scent–in this case, skunk perfume! I followed along as she was tracking, and soon I caught whiffs of eau du striped kitty. Uh-oh, I see their burrows! Yikes, let’s get out of here!
Atina has her nose buried in one of the burrows-oh no! What will I do if she gets skunk sprayed?
I couldn’t let her in the van. What could I do? I don’t have a crate I could put outside. And Little Miss has not spent a single night away from me since she bounced into my life last July. Even if I had a crate, imagine her misery if I left her outside!
And then what?
How would I get her somewhere with water for washing? I would have to take her to the vet, but that would mean stinking up the van…
Let me tell you, skunk spray is a complex stink bomb. It’s made of a cocktail of volatile oils that penetrate absolutely everything. I wish my perfumes lasted that long! I’m talking about the perfumes I make. I could take a lesson from the skunks!
There’s no way to isolate it, and there is really no way to remove it, since the volatile oils penetrate skin and hair. And wood, leather, fabrics….everything.
All the classic skunk stink remedies like bathing in tomato juice, lemon juice, etc, merely mask the eau de skunk with something else, making it more tolerable for a few hours.
I quickly decided that since skunk mitigation would be impossible, the better part of wisdom would be to scram.
We did. First thing in the morning….and I am relieved to say, without skunk disasters.
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on May 22, 2016
Flagstaff loves me. The ball of yarn keeps getting bigger and bigger: that is to say, I am becoming more and more deeply involved with the workings of this tiny city that perches on the Coconino Plateau, at 7,000 feet above sea level, nestled among a flock of young volcanoes.
After my thirty-first medical provider visit this month, I was overcome by a sensation that something was lacking.
For one thing, I was drained to the tips of my finger and toenails from my appointment with the new Family Practice Nurse Practitioner. I hate to think how drained she must have felt!
The purpose of this appointment was allegedly to seek a solution to my stubborn high blood pressure. High blood pressure is bad. It damages one’s kidneys, causes strokes and heart damage, eye damage, and basically messes you up, usually without any symptoms at all.
Having symptoms, like headaches and blurred vision, means the high blood pressure is getting to one’s brain.
God knows, I don’t need any more brain damage, so when I realized that my permanent headache and inability to read the Louis L’Amour paperback borrowed from the campground laundry room because my vision was blurry might just be high blood pressure symptoms, I went to the Walgreens and bought a fancy blood pressure machine.
The first time I tried it out, the damn thing read 165/106 (normal is about 120/75). I ran it a couple more times and it said approximately the same thing. I didn’t like that at all, so after a couple of hours on the phone I got the soonest primary care appointment available, which was two weeks away. In between times I did all the things one is supposed to do to lower blood pressure, like exercise, breathing, meditation, cuddling with one’s Doggess, and fiddling with medication doses. And hoping like hell that nothing bad would happen.
Last night my BP was dangerously high, so I took a rather large dose of my medication (don’t try this unless you’re medically qualified), and my usual dose this morning. My BP in the office was perfectly normal, so of course I felt like a fool.
To make matters worse, I disclosed all of my psychiatric diagnoses and their respective meditations, and the NP completely unraveled. Poor thing, who can blame her?
To her credit, she did a great job of picking out a team of specialists to help figure out what in the hell is wrong with my immune system and nervous system and skin, and whether all these are part of the same problem, or whether they are separate problems. As for my blood pressure, she told me to keep doing whatever I did to bring it down, and gave me a script for more of that particular medicine.
Driving back from that exhausting appointment, I spied a grocery-store-cum-gas-station I’d seen before but never stopped at, because it looked down-at-heel and sad, like one of those discount groceries that appear and disappear in a matter of days like mushrooms after a good rain. Today I needed gas, though, and the price was right, so I waited in line till a pump opened up.
After filling my gas tank, my mind returned to my own stomach. The grocery had a Starbucks logo on the wall. Hmmm, a green tea soy latte might perk me up! I went in.
Have you ever had the experience of going into a drab, shabby building, and finding the inside bright, beautiful, and full of your favorite fresh fruits, veggies, and gluten free foods? Heaven. I got my green tea soy latte and headed for the aisles.
Half an hour into the orgy I came to the pet stuff aisle and was struck by a largish wave of guilt, since Atina had spent most of her day in the van, while I was enjoying my medical appointment and now shopping my heart out; therefore, I sprung for the $8 on sale “un-stuffed” furry critter with a squeaker at its head and tail.
I paid for my order (Jeezus Kreezus, $120 for those few things? And this isn’t even Whole Foods!) and hauled my cart out to the van with my one good hand. Atina glared at me from her spot on the bed. She had good reason to be sick of being locked up!
The moment I cut the tag off the new Critter and threw it at her, all was forgotten.
She caught it. It squeaked! Just like the squirrels that taunt her all day around here would do if she could ever get her pearly whites on one!
Since then, the Critter has been relentlessly shaken, chewed, squeaked (my ears, my head!), and is sodden with Doggess spit. Now she sleeps, worn out with worrying the new Critter to death.
The best $8 I’ve ever spent.
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on March 25, 2016
The wind howls and rocks the van. We feel like we’re in a space ship, hurtling through a hostile zone:
“The wind blew and spit icicles in their faces…” –Carl Sandburg
Periodically in the night we were awakened by crashes as layers of ice and snow slid off the sides of the van and smashed on the punky snow below.
Poor Atina was frantic to go out at first light, but we couldn’t risk it due to extreme high winds. And since every window is covered either by Reflectix or by handy insulating layers of snow and ice, the only way to check the situation would be to open the main hatch and risk having the door blown shut on some body part–not worth the risk. So I told Atina to cross her legs till the wind took a break!
When things settled down to where I was pretty sure we would not be impaled with flying tree branches, Atina watched anxiously as I slowly and deliberately donned layer after layer of mountaineering gear: double layer of silk underwear, water and windproof pants, microfleece vest, mask, thick wool socks, high altitude ski parka, ski gloves, and I sure wish I had a pair of goggles but I don’t. I’ll have to hope that the anti-fog stuff I sprayed on my glasses actually works.
My parka hails from my ski bum days in the ’90s. One of the benefits of my recent shocking weight loss is that it fits me again, over multiple layers of other warm things. Yay!
The hood of this parka snugs up into a visored helmet, thanks to a system of drawcords that don’t even get in the way like some annoying others I’ve had. It’s designed for extreme conditions. I love my good old EMS parka! (Eastern Mountain Sports, not Emergency Medical System)
When I get finished with the ski togs system, not a square inch of exposed skin will remain, with the exception of what gets around my glasses.
Blizzard footwear: a pair of knee high fleece lined rain boots. Love ’em.
Hiking sticks, because I fall over easily.
Had to kick the main hatch, also known as side door, open, as it had, as expected, frozen shut during the night. A dangerous shower of icicles and chunks of solid frozen junk clattered off the roof. I shut the door again to let the debris pass before trying to exit. Atina bored holes in me with desperate eyes.
When it seemed safe, I opened the door and stepped out into a howling wasteland of grey. Atina jumped out and made a yellow spot.
Very, very unfortunately, the sky has made layers of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and back to the beginning. So instead of having nice drifts of light, fluffy white powder, we’ve got….crud. It’s all frozen together. Tomorrow it will be rock-hard. The night time temperatures will be in the teens, with daytime temps above freezing. That means a melt/freeze cycle that will just create a foot or so of nasty grey ice that would take a jackhammer to bust through.
My nice RV park people plowed out my driveway yesterday, but today you can’t even tell they did it. I sure hope they’ll help me get out of here after this storm passes.
I wish I’d taken a shower before the storm hit. I was so busy making preparations that I didn’t get to it. Oh well, I thought, I’ll walk over on Saturday and get a nice hot one.
Well. Snow is one thing, but I hadn’t counted on this wind. I ain’t going out there unless absolutely necessary. I’ll stay dirty till tomorrow.
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on January 23, 2016
Getta glassa cider
There I saw the bedbug
Foolin’ around with the spider
Went down agin
Getta glassa gin
Doin’ it agin
One of these days I’ll figure out how to put sound files (like, me singing, eek) on these posts.
Sonofabitch. Two weeks ago, or maybe three, I don’t know, time is all mashed up these days–I had steroid injections in both shoulders. Hurt like a sonofabitch, but what to do, my xrays look just like those mace things the barbarians used to swing on chains, in order to bash people’s heads in. I mean, they have these bumps and stickers growing out of the ball part oft the joint, diving into my ligaments and muscles and cartilage and whatever else they could stick into.
My left shoulder felt real good after a couple of days. Right one, not so much, but better, I’ll take better.
No pain meds, we don’t do pain meds anymore, don’tcha know.
Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find that I couldn’t get out of bed the normal way.
I sure started to, but the pain in my left shoulder gave me those black spots in my eyes and I had to lie back down and contemplate for a while.
After a suitable interval, and largely because my dog was standing by the door with her legs crossed, looking sad, I hove around and slid out of the sack, grabbing onto the towel rack (remember I live in a tiny RV where things are all squashed together) with my right hand YOW!
Sonofabitch. The right one too.
As if the cortisone wore off of both of them, synchronized, just like that.
I guess that is what happened.
So now what the fuck am I supposed to do?
This was my second set of injections. So I did a little reading on the topic, and found that each injection can poke little holes in the shoulder cartilage, until eventually you need a joint replacement.
But even worse, doing nothing will eventually lead to a joint replacement.
Mmmmm…..no, no likee.
Gotta find me a good acupuncturist. I know one in Tucson.
Hell, I am a good acupuncturist, just real hard to hit those points on the upper back.
But sonofabitch, I’m stuck in Western North Carolina.
I had big plans to start heading West last week, but being a weather buff, I looked at the maps and said “nope.”
Good thing, because I would have headed right into that bad line of tornados and mayhem.
Driving around doing random errands, I scraped the bottom of my RV on a sharply angled driveway, and next place I camped I noticed nasty stuff pouring out the bottom of the rig.
That’s what it was.
Somehow that minor scrape opened up a pipe joint (hey, that sounds good) in the sewage system. All well and good, since I was parked at an RV repair joint..rollll another one…
But no. It was a couple days before Christmas, and nobody was working.
I called RV repair joints all the way to Florida and the Midwest. Same story.
But good news! I got an appointment for this coming Wednesday! Only eight days I will have been hanging around here.
But bad news, if they can’t fix it on the spot…it’s my home, you know…And if they take out stuff in the sewer system, that’s real bad, because I use it…a lot…between the fucking lithium that causes me to pee every five minutes to the Crohn’s that goes in cycles, but when it goes, it GOES…
Well, my full-timers rider on my RV insurance will pay for a rental car and a hotel room if my rig is out of service, but sonofabitch, I don’t even have a single one of my vast suitcase collection with me.
Why would I? I live like a turtle. All my stuff goes with me, wherever I go.
Just another small conundrum. The RV life is never dull.
In the meantime I’m stuck here in beautiful (not) Marion, North Carolina, where there isn’t even a Cracker Barrel. That’s how small it is.
But it does have a rental car place, which got me all excited till I called them up, and the rental agent told me sadly that they don’t have any cars at the moment.
Oh, and there isn’t any lodging here, either, not even a Motel 6.
Oh well, something will turn up.
My mother, who lives 45 minutes from here in a place that makes Marion look like a booming metropolis, offered to come and get me.
Noooooooooooo! I’ll sleep in the woods first. Have done so before.
In the meantime, I’m back in bed, writing this on my phone with one finger and trying to keep from moving, so I don’t hurt my shoulders.
Atina the Malligator has her 70 pound self draped across my legs, warm and heavy, sweetly sleeping, but still scanning the environment with her ears: they are always on duty.
She is a sweet treasure, my Atina. Living in close quarters, we grow more and more in sync with each other. She doesn’t like to let me out of her sight, so I just tie her leash around my waist, and she is content to go where I go, do what I do.
I think that’s the way dogs and their people are meant to be. Together all the time.
If I’m somewhere safe, without cars or people or other dogs, I let her off the leash. She still sticks close, but the difference is, she carries a toy around with her and bugs the shit out of me to throw it for her.
Which I have no problem with, except my bum shoulders don’t allow for long throws; which means in two seconds she is back with the blasted toy, wanting me to throw it again.
Where is the ten year old kid when I need one? They could throw the damn ball while I’m busy, then disappear till I need them again.
But I’m happy to see her all waggy and full of doggie joy, so I throw and curse, throw and curse, until I see she’s had enough.
Doin’ it agin
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on December 27, 2015
Well, it was Thanksgiving in America, again.
A friend of mine calls it Shabbos Hodu. (“Shabbos” is the Eastern European version of the Hebrew word “Shabbat,” or Sabbath). “Hodu” is the Hebrew word for both “turkey (the bird)” and the imperative form of one of the many words for “to thank.” Thus, “Shabbos Hodu!”
In Orthodox Judaism there is no “Thanksgiving Day,” because we formally give thanks to God at least six times a day, and sometimes more often.
The three daily prayers, which take up to an hour each, contain 19 paragraphs of blessing. Each of these blessings opens and closes with a verse of thanks. There is a separate blessing expressing thanks in general, and when there is a quorum of ten people, a special very beautiful paragraph is sung that describes the praises of the Angels. There is a verse in every prayer beseeching the Creator to rebuild Jerusalem, our Holy City.
The other three “Thank you’s” are contained in the Blessing After Meals, said after any meal containing more than a certain amount of bread (the exact amount is part of Jewish Law), and a shorter version that is said after eating any non-bread product containing one of the five varieties of grain that grow in the Land of Israel: wheat, spelt, rye, oats, barley. The long version takes me 45 minutes to say, because I say each word with concentration on its meaning. I learned this from my teachers.
In these prayers also, the rebuilding of Jerusalem figures large. Both sets of prayers were codified while the Hebrews were in exile in Babylon, after the Babylonian conquest had razed Jerusalem.
However, I no longer live in a Jewish community, let alone Israel; and to tell you the truth, I’m not
really practicing Orthodox Judaism these days.
It was so wonderful living in our little country, being able to practice my religion in an unfettered way. We could wear our special religious items–you know, the ones we are prohibited from bringing to the Temple Mount–right in the street, in the buses, anywhere, without people screaming epithets and other unpleasantries.
I once had a conversation with a black woman from New Orleans who had converted to Islam, married a Lebanese man, and moved with him to Saudi Arabia. I met her in India. She wanted to know why we Jews had to have our own country, when we could be Jewish anywhere in the world.
I was so taken aback by this question that I had to sit and think for a minute. At last I got hold of my senses and asked her,
“Were you able to practice Islam in America?”
“Well, of course!”
“Then why did you move to Saudi Arabia?”
“Oh, because it’s an Islamic country! Saudi Arabia enforces strict Shari’a Law, so it is the purest Islam…”
For a moment, understanding dawned in her eyes, but it faded just as quickly. I developed something that needed my urgent attention, and left my friend wondering what went wrong.
Oh yes. I was talking about Thanksgiving in America.
Since I’m in America for the foreseeable future, I am doing some things American style, like Thanksgiving Day and gifts for Hannukah (our Festival of Lights, coming up next week). In Israel, Hannukah is a time for celebrating miracles. Gifts are not really a central theme. It’s all about the light. ( More on that next week.) The American practice of giving gifts on Hannukah seems to have arisen in order to keep Jewish children from being bummed out because of Christmas.
Since my son’s father is Christian, my son goes to him for Christmas. For the past few years, my son and I have been “doing” Thanksgiving together.
While my father was alive, my son would come to my parents’ house and he and I would make a kosher turkey, and we would all get gorked on the usual T-day dishes.
Last year I was still in shock from my father’s death in early October, so my son and his then-girlfriend made a huge feast at his house. People dropped by, roommates who had stayed in town for their own reasons cruised by and partook, we all smoked a lot of weed, and generally had a good time. My mother was not invited, because she has made herself unwelcome by her delight in shaming me in front of my son.
This year my mother decided to fly to my cousins and have Thanksgiving with them. I was not invited. My cousins, who suck up to her for their own reasons, did not invite me either. That being the case, I felt no pangs of guilt when I accepted my son’s invitation, party of one.
Then my mother decided to cancel her Thanksgiving plans, for her own reasons. Since she knew my son had invited me (party of one), she got herself invited to one of her many friends, who has a big family, so my mom could feel really angry that her own family had not invited her.
For some reason my son did not invite anyone else to dinner. His own reasons, I guess. It was
a little weird having just he and I, especially since he was in one of his dark moods, brooding and irritable. I really wish he would start taking lithium again, but he angrily rejects the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder that, in his opinion, was foisted upon him as a teenager.
So that was Thursday.
I slept in my camper van, in the parking lot of his apartment complex. One of his neighbors, who had clearly been watching out for me, accosted me as I headed out to go to bed, demanding to know if I was visiting someone in the complex. Surely he had seen me exiting my son’s door…
My nerves were already frazzled from dinner with my glowering son, so I fired back,
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because I think you’re just camping here.” Whoa, let’s just get some holiday spirit of giving on here, hey?
I wanted to say to him, “Listen, Mr. Nice Guy, even if I was ‘just camping here,’ there’s a whole fucking empty parking lot because everyone has gone elsewhere for the holiday. And what are you angry at, anyway?”
But I didn’t say that, because there’s always the possibility that a poor unhappy fucker like that will call the police, and I was already tired and tense enough. So instead I said,
“Well, I am camping here. This (pointing to my camper) is my bedroom. I’m visiting ____ in Apartment _____. Would you like him to come out and speak with you?”
As it turns out, this unfortunate fellow has seen my son, who is a weight lifter and quite muscular and buff. So the sorry sucker subsided, and allowed as how that would not be necessary. I also subsided, went into my spaceship and slept fitfully, as people constantly came and went, car lights and porch lights flashing. My PTSD surrounding cops blazed like a tiger in the night.
Friday. I woke up feeling like shit. Depression. Again. Still.
Went in and stood under my son’s excellent shower for half an hour while he went to work for a while.
When he came back, I said, “Listen, I’m feeling really disorganized brain-wise. Do you mind if I hang out till tomorrow?”
The minute the words left my mouth I saw the twitch in his face that said, Oh No, Not That!
“Um…listen, Mom, to be honest, um, I really need my space.”
My heart hit the pavement. Then I noticed the spiffy outfit.
Yeah, I was glad he was able to tell me no, but on the other hand I wished he had seen fit to be honest and say something more like, “Oh wow, Mom, I really wish you could, but since I thought you were leaving today, I made plans.” That would have sent me off with a smile and a lighter heart.
“Oh, that’s OK,” I chirped, suddenly feeling like I’d been handed the bum rush.*
graciously allowed me to stay long enough to use his internet to find a campground. I found one pretty close by, said my goodbyes, and lit a shuck out of there.**
I called my mother today, just to see how she is doing, and I wish I had put money on the bet that I made with myself. I would have won. She barely spoke to me, and clearly had her victim act all planned out, in case I called. I laughed. Couldn’t help myself: it was all too predictable.
Now for the Miracle part.
My sweet Belgian Malinois, Atina, is most certainly an angel.
She sleeps in the right-hand third of my bed. The left-hand third is reserved for all the computer-related shit that won’t fit anywhere else.
The only thing I had the energy to make for dinner was a cup of gluten-free microwave macaroni and cheese. While I was mechanically going through the motions of making it, Atina was busy doing something in the bed.
She was pushing my duvet into a nest-like shape toward the pillow. No, wait. She was pushing it with her nose, straightening the edge up toward the pillow. I thought, you cutie, you are making yourself a nest out of my duvet, and you know that’s my spot in the bed! But I did not scold her. My heart was brimming with love. She pushed and pulled at my pillow, fluffing it and making it into a nice continuum with my duvet. Aha, I thought, now I will see you plump yourself down in my spot!
But that’s not what she was about at all.
When she got my part of the bed all fixed up to her satisfaction, she plopped herself down–on her side of the bed! She had made my bed up–for me!
I dropped what I was doing and hugged and kissed her for a long time. By the way she reacted, she knew that I knew what she had done for me…she made a place for me to rest. She did it with love and care. As I write this, I am lying in the bed my dog prepared for me. Her breathing is soft and even as she sleeps in her own third of the bed.
“Friends may come and friends may go, but your dog will always be glad to see you.”
*”The bum rush”: A term dating from the Great Depression and possibly earlier, when many out-of-work men went “on the bum,” going from door to door begging for food, money, a place to sleep…if the man of the house took offense, the beggar would be chased off the place–“given the bum rush.”
**”To light a shuck” means “to leave in a hurry.” It has its origin in the Civil War, when dried corn shucks were used as fuses for light cannons and field artillery. Once you “lit a shuck,” you had to run like hell because not only did the big guns recoil (and could run you over), but also sometimes the cannons would backfire, shooting cannon balls behind instead of in front of them. The idiom is still in use in the Southern and Southwestern United States. It is one of my favorites.
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on November 29, 2015
Sigh. More and more and more, for this huge brave soul that enlivens the body of my sweet Atina.
As if everything else wasn’t enough, she’s begun having signs of pancreatic failure: ravenous appetite, horrendous huge nauseating stinking greasy poops that look like, if you measured them, about the same volume as what she took in.
I know these signs well, having dealt with something similar myself over the course of several years. Rapid weight loss and malnourishment are the predictable results.
So I took her to the hospital, with the plan of explaining all this to her surgeon, and my extreme hesitation to perform surgery based on my concerns of her inability to absorb nutrients merely for her maintenance needs, let alone the 200% of basic needs that the body requires for healing after major surgery.
But as fortune would have it, her internal medicine resident showed up to check in with us prior to surgery; and after a good deal of putting our heads together about it, decided to call off the surgery (whew!) and do an impromptu clinic visit instead.
A good thing on many levels.
Atina’s blood pressure was higher than it was two weeks ago, which is bad news about her kidney function. A bunch of blood was drawn again, basic kidney function tests plus a battery of pancreatic function tests that get sent out to somewhere.
I have been kicking and screaming about just going ahead and starting pancreatic enzymes after drawing the test. I don’t see why she should be left to lose even more of her body by pooping it out, for the sake of academic “correctness.” I’m thinking about this.
She did get a prescription for a medicine that will control bacterial overgrowth in the intestine, and I know from my own experience that that alone will help reduce stool volume. But it doesn’t do a damn thing to assist nutrient absorption.
Believe me, I will not let this thing rest for long. A couple days, maybe. We have a recheck appointment on Friday, and might make it that long, but if I see things deteriorating even a hair’s breadth between now and then I am going to make a LOT of noise.
All of this is adding up to autoimmune disease, in my own medical mind. A lousy prognosis. One lousy prognosis on top of another.
I’m looking for silver linings here.
One is that my sweet Atina has become very cuddly and snuggly–leaving my arms and legs covered with gaudy blotches, since I bleed at the slightest contact with tooth or claw; and my sweet Atina is all teeth and claws, like any healthy adolescent.
Unfortunately, the very fact that she is being so clingy is a sign that she is not feeling well. Most healthy adolescents are busy testing limits, and snuggling with Mom is the last thing on their minds.
But I treasure these moments of puppy love, and only say “OUCH!” when badly bitten, or if flailing paws with claws come way too close to my eye.
And then there is Colorado.
There is no endpoint in sight yet, so Colorado it is, and will be, until then next thing happens. Fact is, I like Colorado a lot. You can find pretty much any kind of terrain you can imagine here. There are a lot of natural and man-made geologic features that are unique and breathtaking. The flowers, the wildlife, canyons, mountains, rivers, glaciers, everything.
I guess I’ll go ahead and put in to become a resident, since I seem to live here. I did want to winter in Arizona, mostly because mixing winter with an RV can get complicated. But I’ve learned a lot of other stuff, so I can learn that too, if the rest of me holds up.
I like the idea that if I need some botanical medicine to treat my nerve pain, I can just waltz into the dispensary of my choice and buy some. I don’t use that much, but in the surrounding states if you don’t have a medical card from that state, possessing ANY amount of the Herb will get you busted. I don’t think I could deal with getting busted, so I’ll stay legal.
I’ve been entrusted with the love and care of this beautiful soul, so I will let her be my guide, and my guardian. Ours is a bond of perfect faith. How many of us ever find that in life?
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on September 8, 2015