Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Fast lane

Have you ever noticed that you can be cruising along in the middle-lane of life, minding your own business, enjoying things, and suddenly it's as if you are thrust into the fast-lane? That's what it feels like for us just now. It all started a week-ago today, though we didn't' know it at the time.

I was working in our back-yard...which has been a multi-month project of mine. You see, our back yard had been taken over by nature. It's a multi-level affair, and I've had the upper-reaches boarded off to the dogs for a few years now. I've also had the sprinklers turned off, hoping against hope that would do the trick and kill the evil invader (here-after known as the dreaded Morning Glory Vine from HELL). This vine was apparently planted on PURPOSE by the previous owners, and I've been fighting it on and off ever since we moved here in 2002. You see, this vine grows up, over, around and inside everything in it's path. It will smother any other type of tree or bush, wrapping it's way up branches in a candy-cane spiral until it's at the tippy-top, then it will spread out blanketing the poor under-growth so it doesn't get any sun. IF you pull on this vine, it simply breaks off at the ground. However, as it grows it continually dips back into the ground, forming ever more root-balls of death. You can rip, pull and shred until there is not a sprig left in sight, and 3 months later it has returned full force from the hidden root-balls.

Anyway, I digress, as the evil VINE FROM HELL isn't the topic of today's post, but it does have a minor part. As I mentioned earlier, I was working the yard last Saturday, and had taken down the doggie-barricade on the steps. PG (the Alpha of our 3 four-legged babies) goes up the steps and spends the day up there with me, reveling that she is trodding about in the forbidden zone. This has been our ritual for about 3 months now, as I have been spending one day each weekend trying to turn the jungle into a dirt-hill. (when I say it was a jungle, you have no idea how jungly a yard can get....but I'll tell you, I had to have seven endangered bengal tigers relocated as I razed the yard inch by inch).

And yet I digress again. SO. Last Saturday...working in the now nearly entirely dirt yard, finishing up the last octagant (if quadrant is one section of 4, then I think octagant should be one section of 8, even if it's not a real word). PG was enjoying herself, lying in the dirt watching me work as usual (her big contribution has been to drop a poo somewhere in the as-yet untouched areas so that I get that lovely surprise when I start clearing that area's always such a joy to get fresh squishy dog poo on you!) ANWYAY, later in the day I had noticed that she wasn't up there with me...she does get bored watching me work all day and will wander off to find a sunbeam to lie in...the life of a dog in our house is one to be coveted for sure. When I did see her later she was limping.

She was getting around on 3 legs all the rest of the afternoon/evening...but we had no idea what happened...but with 3 aging dogs (all three are approx 12 years old now), it seems somebody is always limping around here and there. This was her left rear leg, and other than the fact that she wasn't using it, there didn't appear to be any earth-shattering pain or anything associated with it. It's like she hardly noticed it, and it was life as dinner time when you make even the slightest clink of the bowls she hobbled right quick to the kitchen.

By Monday morning PG was still limping around. I was getting ready for work at O-dark-thirty as usual, and I had just gotten Jeannie up by coaxing her out of bed with a super-tanker of coffee...and as I was saying my good-byes to the babies I noticed her leg was swollen. And by swollen, I mean like incredible-hulk type swollen. It was HUGE! And I'm not kidding when I say it was twice the size of the other rear leg! I told Jeannie, and she promptly got her to our local vet as soon as they opened and dropped her off for the day as we both must work. During the day they did X rays, blood-work, poked and prodded, and whatever else they do. Nothing. No real clue as to what was the problem, other than her leg was HUGE, and hard...not quite ceramic hard, but FAR firmer than her other leg..and it was quite warm to the touch. And still she wasn't wimpering or bemoaning her fate, other than she was panting a lot.

I picked her up on my way home from work, and had a nice chat with the vet. There were several theories on the table, none more probable than any other at this point. We brought her back on Tuesday and again they did whatever they could, but the results were the same. So we brought her home with a few new prescriptions and directions to put a heating pad or hot towel on it for a few minutes every now and then. Well, by the time Friday rolled around her huge leg was HUGER! WAY HUGER! So Jeannie got her back in for the day again, and this time they had contacted a specialist who lives up north and he drove down and checked out our little baby. He also had no real idea, the ultrasounds showed some pockets of fluid, but overall there was nothing they could find as the matter, and none of them had ever seen anything like this.

So far we're in for $1150 and their best guess is that she was bitten by a Brown Recluse spider. They had shaved her leg on Friday, and it's bruising pretty good now in the swollen areas. There isn't any smoking gun as to an area that was the site of the bite (if there was a bite, they still say it could be a blood-clot or a tumor, however neither of those scenarios really hold water with the symptoms she is showing).

And as to how I feel like I'm in the fast lane, along with all our running-around for PG, on Friday I went in for a lovely 4 hour appointment with a periodontist. This is the guy who uses things like scalpels and such. I've been fighting some pockets in my gums for years now, and it was time to get it fixed. I was somewhat apprehensive after my pre-op appt, as one of the 2 prescriptions he gave me (for my recovery) was Tylenol 3. I'm no rocket-scientist here in the drug-prescription arena, but I know you don't get codeine for just anything. And THEN, in case that wasn't enough on my plate, on Saturday (this morning to be exact) I had an appt with a dermatologist. A few weeks ago I had FINALLY went in at Jeannie's urging to have some blotches looked at. He had taken 4 biopsies, and they were 4 for 4: basal cell cancer (NOT the scary kind).

And so, yesterday (Friday) while PG is at the vet waiting for the specialist, Jeannie drives me up to San Luis Obisbo for my oral surgery. He gave me some kind of sedative (via IV) just prior to the start...and then for the next FOUR HOURS I was in that chair, listening to the radio, trying not to freak out as I received shot after shot after shot (he did one quadrant at a time, so I'd get all the shots for that entire quadrant at one time).  I have not yet googled this surgery, mostly because I don't really want to know too much detail for a while yet. But the gist is he lowered my gum lines to a manageable level for my home care (brushing/flossing). I had gone to him in time that there is no risk of losing teeth at this bone-loss is just beginning and hopefully this will nip that in the bud. But I will tell you that even with a sedative it was one HELL of a long procedure...I could hear him cutting away the gums even though I couldn't feel them...and it was only the sedative that kept my mind from totally freaking out. And even as I lay there I kept thinking about my poor little PG, who quite honestly might be in danger of losing her leg, or her life.

Jeannie picked me up after the surgery, and I was pretty woozy and not at all pleased as the Novocain for the earlier quadrants had worn off and my entire mouth hurt. We stopped and picked up PG on the way home, and she was just as chipper as could be, despite the fact that her leg looked like a holiday ham, and was so swollen that she can't even hold it up any more...her foot is sticking almost straight down and hits the ground with every hobble-hop she makes. And not a peep out of her. I am SUCH a wuss!!

And then to make my life a trifecta of joy, this morning I got up and went for my skin cancer appt. He was very good, and gave me shots of pain killers in each spot (there were 5, and I hate to tell you, those shots HURT! Of the 5 cancers he was removing, only 2 are in an area that gets sun (on my arm). The rest are all in pasty white skin that hardly ever see's the light of day. My back, abdomen and chest to be exact. Once the injections were done he began, and from then on it was a piece of cake as compared to having your gums cut up and re-arranged (or whatever). The only disconcerting part was that after all the scraping and such, he uses an electrical device and cauterizes them so they not only stop bleeding, but kills off any remaining traces of the basal cell bad-guys that might have been missed. That is an odor you won't forget too soon I can tell you.

And so...I came home from that, and all day Jeannie and I have been doing our very best to help PG...we have ice-packs and wet towels frozen in the freezer, and every hour or so I take them and wrap up her hulk-leg in them as best I can, and I lie with her on the floor (or she will jump up and run)...we do this for 15 minutes at a time (I have a timer set). We're praying we can get the swelling down some, the vet says she has little to no feeling in the fat foot at the end of that holiday ham for a leg right touches down on the ground as she's hopping around, and it's toes-first... and then bends un-naturally backwards...much like Sydney was doing 2 years ago when she was paralyzed and learning to use her legs again.

And so this is our life at this very moment...I'm on a bunch of pills for now, PG is on a bunch of pills for now, the other 2 babies are on pills...and we have no idea how this will turn out for PG...though we are sure hopeful the swelling will just suddenly go down and everything will be ok. But for now it's all quite worrisome....being a parent is hard!

Right now it feels like I'm doing 55mph in a 70 zone...everything is a blur as life whips on by me, and I'm trying not to crash into anything or cause a crash. I hate this feeling...and on top of that, I haven't heard anything about the Antarctica project....and I don't know what that means. OH, and the furnace crapped out the other day, so we had the furnace guy out on Friday morning (in case there wasn't enough going on)...Jeannie got PG to the vet early and got home just in time for his arrival, and then I came home at 10:30 for my trip up north for surgery....she was a real trooper on Friday, that's for sure! The furnace guy said the main circuit board gave it up and has it on order...we have no idea how much THIS will cost, but it doesn't matter...we kind of need the furnace. And yes...we need more bills. But Jeannie has really been something thru all this...(she only partially bit my head off once last week) but I know it's killing her...she is a money-worrier (goes with the territory I guess...she's an accountant).

But you know what? It can ALWAYS be worse. And so, we are trudging along doing our best. Holding our little family together, watching money pour out of our checkbooks like water....but knowing that all in all we are still quite blessed. And that's the part I try to focus on. Right this very moment my mouth feels like Aerosmith had a party in it and tore it to ribbons...couches thrown out the windows, lamps shattered against the walls, carpet torn up, stuff like that....or maybe like a small bomb went off in there, and it hurts pretty much everywhere. For breakfast this morning I had the joy of cold coffee and a cold bowl of gruel (oatmeal)...I'm not allowed any hot food for 24 hours after the surgery. And as that wasn't quite enough I now have 5 burned-blobs on my body that also are crying for attention.

And yet I'm thankful...because it could be OH so much worse. But I will tell you this: getting older is a bitch! Don't do it I say! Nancy Reagan had it right..."just say NO!" I must not have been paying attention before...but I am now. NO MORE! I"m not getting ANY OLDER from here on out! And neither is Jeannie or the babies!

There...everything is better now (well, except for poor PG...that fight is still ongoing). You just have to know when to put your foot down I guess.

As for me, it's time for a beer. And maybe a bike ride tomorrow. For now I need to go ice down PG's big leg again for a while. She is so amazing, she awes me. We will pull ourselves out of our funk, of that I'm pretty confident.

So I say go do something fun! Life can turn on you in an instant! Enjoy every moment!



  1. Well..took PG to the vet after work yeterday, and her leg is feeling whatsoever in her we made the road-trip and got her down to the pet trauma center in Ventura (where Sydney was operated on for her paralysis 2 years's about 90 miles south). They have taken the spider-bite off the table and now are back to thinking it's a tumor or blood clot...hopefuly they'll be doing a cat-scan today among other tests to get to the bottom of this...just hoping the doesn't lose the leg...poor thing. Breaks my heart.

  2. Oh...and before I forget...SUSIE! Hope everything is ok back there...the news showed that the entire north-east coast is / was hammered pretty good by Sandy...check in sometime and let us know how things went! That looks like a wicked awful storm!

    And late-breaking news: Antartica is off the table. Turns out there was some mis-information (not intentionally) was put out...the people that do go down there will indeed be working a minimum of 54 hour week...however...they are only paying a straight 40 hours (they are all salary-type positions). I'm a hourly Union member, and even if I were willing to go away for 4 months for a straight 40 hours a week (which I'm NOT), I can't waive my right to ged paid for all hours worked. So that's that. Unless they change their system (they claim they have lots of people...I guess times really are tough right now when there is a line of people willling to go work long days in Antartica for 4 months getting a straight 40 hours pay.

    Rats. Guess that one is still on the bucket-list.

    PG needs to hear this quick and STOP spending money I'm not going to be getting! I wonder if I call down there if they'd hold the phone next to her ear for me?

  3. Oh, Matt, I am sorry about your baby PG! I hope they figure it out quickly. It sounds rather like the cases of severe cellulitis (infection) that we see fairly regularly---especially the purple blotches. In people though it is usually excruciatingly painful, not at all numb!

    And sorry also that you have been disappointed about Antarctica. Glad that you have come through your tow surgical procedures only slightly worse for wear, and everything caught EARLY before severe problems.

    Hope all is okay with you, Susieb and that you aren't caught in another power outage.
    We had gusty strong winds and last night it snowed, about a half inch, very unusual for the end of October here (although this is when we usually have a pretty strong cold wet storm, right around Halloween). but no signicifance damage that I've heard about.

    This is not a good week for me. After three years in a nursing home, of that two years in hospice care, my mother passed away yesterday. I have been busy today trying to make funeral arrangements and communicate with my 4 siblings. Even though she was so weak and frail, it came as a shock (but at the same time not so). I guess we can tend to always think there will be another day, but at some point there won't be.