80% Less Whining. Still Grim.

So, after I unloaded about how everything sucks (and it does, my feelings about that are unchanged), I did some stuff to make it at least a wee bit better.

The electrician (thanks to my daughter’s Dance Mafia connections, I knew who to call for skilled and reasonably priced) will come on Wednesday between 4 and 6 to revive the dead outlets, let us pray.

I will probably spend Wednesday evening (assuming they’re successful) dragging furniture around for hours, until I have this room the way I really want it. I’m not entirely sure what that will look like at the moment, so this is definitely an ongoing project. The current configuration is based on the reality that only two of the four outlets in this room work, so all of the things that need electricity are on two walls and kind of mashed into a corner.

Then I can decide what to do about better lighting, etc., because dammit, I am not going to surrender this room to the job I hate, and I’m going to set it up for the life I want.

But we are not there yet, and I don’t know when we will get there.

I really, really, really need new glasses, and I’m totally willing to wear a mask, hold my breath, dip myself in disinfectant, whatever, at this point.

I walked a 5k today. My time was godawful, like an 18 min mile, but I’d forgotten about the “hills” on my chosen course. Yes, FL has hills, though they’re not like real hills, more like long uphill grades you don’t notice until you do.

It was the first of the three virtual 5ks I signed up for from runDisney. My daughter signed up too, because we were both deeply bummed about our plans being turned upside down, and there may have been wine and texted enabling involved. I’d gotten my refund for the Star Wars race and was so damn sad, I jumped in on the three virtual races. I know virtual races are generally silly and if you want to cheat it’s basically buying the medal, but I’m doing this on the up and up. I will continue to walk/run a bit 5x a week and see how my pace improves over the next three months. Today was cool, 68 degrees, but humid AF, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next three months.

Never mind your whining, woman! How are the dogs?

Sophie had returned to the “high pressure hose liquid diarrhea,” despite two rounds of two different antibiotics. I do love our new young vet. She’s about 5 ft. nothing and looks like a Disney Princess, very pretty with huge brown eyes like Jasmine. I’m sure she is not 30 years old yet, and she sends texts about her patients after hours. We discussed Sophie via texting, and decided to put her on steroids.

As a layperson/dog mom, I’m hesitant to suggest steroids, because vets tend to push back because side effects. At this point:

Sophie is 11. She’s definitely blind. I think she sees light and shadow, but that’s about it. This is a sad thing in an 11 year old Boston, especially one who loved TV and squirrel and golfer watching as much as she did. I’m not sure about her hearing either, and the other day I found a random tooth, it had just fallen out of her mouth. No blood, just a dried out molar. So she’s not aging well already.

We’ve always known that she’s an oddly shaped little dog, and over the last decade vets wondered aloud about how she could walk, did she jump, did she play? Yes, Yes, and Yes. She was fine until she wasn’t, she’s slowed down a lot, and that’s all very sad but she’s also quite content with her life now.

But she is currently, to put it as succinctly as possible: SHITTING HER BRAINS OUT. Let’s try to stop that before we worry too much about the effect on her life expectancy, shall we? Young vet was totally on board, and Sophie went on prednisolone yesterday. Already the liquid fire hose of foul smelling poop has slowed.

Meanwhile, in still more bad news: my granddog, Cosmo, who is only three, has been diagnosed with a high grade mast cell tumor, with a grim prognosis. Longtime readers of my old blog may remember that my other granddog, Dudley, also developed this cancer, but in his case it was removed and he had years of normal life. Cosmo is only THREE, and his is more serious. Prognoses vary, but it’s all bad: as little as four months, up to maybe a year with treatment.

Baby Cosmo

As I’m writing this I’m texting with my daughter. They’ve made the hard decision to not try any desperate chemo and radiation treatment, which, by all the available research, might buy a year or two. In this situation we can actually be grateful for working from home; Cosmo has all of his people with him every day, and he’s still feeling fine. He will be loved and pampered and have all the belly rubs.

God, 2020 has been a fucking awful year, and we’re not even halfway through it.

Sophie’s Woes (Gross but True)

The last three months have been shitty in every sense of the word. I think it was some time in mid-April when Sophie developed spectacular diarrhea, pretty much out of the blue. It was so spectacular, it would have been comical if I didn’t actually fear for her life. (As long as this post is, it is a highly condensed version of what was actually an over two month long, incredibly expensive and exhausting saga.)

So, Sophie had a gastrointestinal situation. She’s also the smartest and cleanest little dog ever, so this was as distressing for her as it was for me. Did I mention how smart she is? When Sophie has diarrhea, she runs to the master bathroom shower. I didn’t train her to do this, of course, I have no idea how she figured out that the shower would both contain her poopsplosions and be super easy to clean afterward, but she used the shower faithfully during this very trying time. I kept a spray bottle of bleach solution handy for cleanups, and the old grout in the shower has never looked whiter. (Bonus!)

Of course I took her to the vet at the start of this mystery illness, and she was on a steriod and an antibiotic AND expensive prescription food; none of which was helping. Because she’s a very clean dog and doesn’t want to poop in the house if she can help it, she would wake me at all hours when the urgency hit, so we were both miserable.

Weeks went on this way. She seemed to be getting a bit better, then, nope, liquid again. In one particularly impressive burst, she was squatting in the strip of grass beside the driveway, and it burst from her with such force that it SPRAYED ACROSS THE ENTIRE SINGLE CAR DRIVEWAY, which is about 10 feet wide.  I was thankful that it was my driveway and not a neighbor’s.

The Driveway Poopsplosion was frightening. Let’s remember that this is a small Boston Terrier, 12-13 pounds on her biggest day, and I was worried that’d she’d become dehydrated quickly, so I immediately called the vet’s office, and was told they couldn’t see her that day, call somebody else.

This is the veterinary office I’ve been taking my animals to for about 25 years, and yeah, things haven’t been the same since they sold out to VCA. I don’t blame the doctors; they’re preparing for retirement and winding down their practice, and they have to do what makes sense to them. But there are a lot of new faces on staff, and the girl on the desk had no idea I’d been a client since before she was born, and probably wouldn’t have cared. So I called another clinic, and eventually ended up at a very nice clinic a bit further away. I liked the vet so much that when my long-time vet does decide to wrap up and retire, I’ll probably switch to her practice.

BUT – of course this doctor had never seen Sophie before, so she understandably wanted to do a thorough exam with a new patient. She shared my concern about dehydration and gave her subcutaneous fluids and a B-12 injection, and more medication, and told me to follow up with her or my regular vet if she didn’t improve, and another few hundred dollars were spent.

A week later we were back at the regular vet, who said the next step would be to send a blood sample to “the Texas lab” – which turned out to be at Texas A&M, and apparently specializes in canine gastrointestinal distress. Let’s pause a moment and salute the brave lab techs who deal with THOSE samples all day. That test was over $200, but finally, finally we should get an answer about the root cause of the issue.

BUT – remember I said the new vet had given her a B-12 injection? That shot meant that the blood test would be screwed up, and we’d have to wait 30 days before we could do it. So the saga continued; Sophie got better and worse, the poopsplosions became less frequent and dramatic but still, she wasn’t really okay.

(I forgot to mention that we also switched her food to something called “hydrolyzed protein,” which must be made in a magic kitchen high in the Himalayas or something, because that shit costs over $4 a can. I counted my blessings that she wasn’t a Great Dane.) Fortunately, my picky eater LOVED the stuff and cleaned her plate at every meal, and the diarrhea slowed to a weird yellow sludge, but never really went away.

We finally did the expensive Texas A&M blood test – at last we will get a diagnosis and know what’s going on! And it came back: Inconclusive. Yes, her blood showed evidence of the gastrointestinal distress, but not a clear cause.

By now her poopsplosions had slowed to a fairly normal poop schedule, but her poop was still that odd yellow sludge.  She obviously was feeling much better. I had spent well over $1000 on this saga, and decided to take a break from further and increasingly expensive testing, and just see how she did.  Last week she decided she didn’t like the super expensive food anymore, so I decided to throw caution to the winds and try her on the prescription gastro low fat food I still had in the pantry, instead of the hydrolyzed protein.

She liked it more than the HP,  and her poop actually became a bit firmer and more normal looking!  It appeared that our long gastrointestinal nightmare was OVER! She was feeling fine, she liked her food, the entire household started getting some sleep.

Then, the night before last, she woke me at 2 am in distress, AGAIN.  She was peeing very frequently, and her pee had traces of blood in it, and she was obviously very uncomfortable. Yep, she as a urinary tract infection. It was kind of inevitable, if you think of the anatomy of a female dog: her ladybits were in frequent contact with runny poop, no matter how I tried to keep her clean. We were back at the vet yesterday, her pee is at the lab and she’s on a different antibiotic, which hopefully won’t bring back the diarrhea.

And now you are up-to-date on our very shitty summer.