Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Pet Peeve or two

Well..after 23 hours of overtime this past pay period..I enjoyed a weekend off with Jeff. We made plans to go to Old Salem for the day, but couldn't seem to get out of bed to go. We slept most of the day and then got up to go in to Durham for dinner. Kanki was packed, so we went to Kurama's. It was alright..not Kanki by any stretch of the imagination. When you go to a Japanese steakhouse..don't you expect the cooks to be Japanese? Me too. Out of the 4 chefs I saw..ALL of them were hispanic. The only Japanese guy I saw was the waiter who came to fill our drinks. None of the hostesses were Japanese...not even asian at all. How irritating is that!?! It's just a pet peeve of mine..

Sunday we slept late again and then went to get groceries and eat dinner. When we got home and put the groceries away, I was cleaning the kitchen when the dogs wanted out. Lucky..our tuxedo kitty also got out the door. When I went to round him up and was calling his name, I heard a meow..but it didn't sound like Lucky. Every time I said his name..I got a meow..then I looked over and a little gray tabby and white kitty was sitting there answering me. She wouldn't come to me..so I went to get the cat treats.

Lucky knows the sound of the treat canister..so he tried to run up on the deck, but noticed the other cat and freaked the hell out!! He hissed and chased her out into the yard, then came up to claim his treats. He was put inside and I stayed out on the deck with our visitor to see what kind of shape she was in. She was soooo skinny!! I gave her a few handfuls of treats and then a can of Iams turkey wet food which our cats won't eat. They're picky...they only want seafood. She pretty much inhaled it and was still looking for more. I kept trying to lure her to me and she finally ate out of my hand, but wouldn't let me pet her. I hope she comes back though. I think Jeff was annoyed since we already have 3, but I couldn't let her starve..and even if she did come back daily, she'd be an outdoor cat. I couldn't handle the litterboxes for 4 cats! Sigh...I'm such a sucker.

In other news..the UNC students are back and I'm hating it. The traffic sucks, they walk in front of traffic assuming everyone will stop for them and they call us for the stupidest stuff! I've had 4 calls from students who couldn't remember where they parked their car..then couldn't remember what kind of car it was b/c their dad bought it for them or it was their dad's car. How will they ever survive in the real world when they've been spoon fed their entire lives? Sigh..another pet peeve. Oh..and calling us at 3am because they need a light bulb replaced. Um..it's 3am. Go to bed..you have class tomorrow and it's not the only light in the room, dumbass. I've been working too much and my patience is wearing very thin.

Jeff and I also ordered new Razr phones through Sprint which should be here sometime this week. There was some confusion about the status of the order and whether the phones were in stock and I had to call them a few times. Every time I called, I got someone who could barely speak English...another pet peeve... and who confused the hell out of me...I got the phones through Wirefly.com because they were free w/ a renewed contract..and I also got a free bluetooth headset. When I called to confirm shipping, I asked if everything was going to be in the shipment or if anything was backordered. I asked if the headset was going to be included or shipped separate..and he told me in very broken english that he didn't show anything about a headset being ordered Um..what?! Then he turned around and told me that it was an accessory and would be shipped with the phone. I thought that's what I just asked...?? No matter..I should get them this week and I pray there's no screw up!

I think I also mentioned in a past blog that our camcorder broke. That was in the midst of our house falling apart around us. Anyway..we found out today that Sony did a huge recall of their camcorders..millions of them...and ours happened to be covered...so it gets fixed for free! Yea! Good news, good news. In the way of bad news...the draught we've been having sucks. Our grass is mostly completely dead..and while I won't complain about not needing to mow..we need rain..and badly. This past spring, they drained something like 2-3 million gallons of water off of Jordan Lake b/c it was 12 or so feet over normal..and I remember thinking then.."Why are they doing that?? What if we have a draught?"...and sure enough..here we are on water restrictions. Yet another pet peeve..

I know this blog is probably the most boring one ever in the history of blogs..but I hadn't written in awhile so I thought I'd update people a little bit. No real excitement..which is fine with me considering all the crap we've been through the past few months. I'm looking forward to going to Maggie Valley with my family..I need a vacation..even if it is only for 3 nights. I will miss Hailey's 9th birthday party though. Sigh..work strikes again. I hate that. I feel like I'm missing soo much of my god-children's lives because of my work schedule. All the fun stuff happens on weekends when I have to work. I miss birthday parties, holidays, Virginia Tech games, trips home to visit friends...night shift really takes it's toll. I need to find something else..and fast.

The Story of Jack

UPDATE: (9-28-07): It is done. We'd made arrangements for Dr. Betton to come to the house Saturday afternoon to do what had to be done. That way, we had another day with him, but it was just not to be. Last night, we set up camp in the den since it was easier than moving Jack back to the bedroom. I kept vigil by his bedside all night since his breathing was so ragid and gurgly. It was taking him extreme effort just to breath and I know he had to have been exhausted, so Jeff and I made the decision to go ahead and do it today. We weren't sure if he'd last another night and he was suffering so much. Dr. Betton's schedule had already filled up and our regular vet had surgeries scheduled all day. We'd really wanted Dr. Betton to do it, but it no longer mattered what we wanted..if it ever mattered. This was about what Jack needed most. We called Pittsboro Animal Hospital since they make house calls and Dr. Weiser was able to work us into her very busy schedule. She came out around 11:45 and around noon, Jack was gone. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do and just when I think I'm composed, I start crying all over again.

Jeff has been so strong through this whole ordeal and helped me so much, but last night was when he broke down. We were in the yard with him when Patches walked over to sniff him. I know she could smell the infection and that she knew something was wrong. She wagged her tail a little bit and then pushed him with her paw like she's always done when she wants to play. When he wouldn't get up, she kept trying and then looked at us like.."Do something.." Then, with the saddest, most somber look on her face, Patches just laid down right next to him to watch over him. That's when Jeff and I both lost it.

Today, after we'd made an appt. with Dr. Weiser, we made the best of the hour and a half we had left with him. It was a gorgeous day, so we let Jack stay outside and bask in the sun. We gave him steak for breakfast..to follow the french fries and strawberry milkshake he had for dinner last night. We gave him ice water and rubbed him constantly. It also allowed me to really look in his mouth. The whole front of his mouth was nothing but a gigantic tumor. He had mucus all over his face as it continued to come out of his nose and eyes. He was drooling and the tumor had taken over his upper teeth and had spread across the roof of his mouth and was starting down his throat. His tongue was dry from where he could no longer close his mouth and he couldn't see. All that had just developed over the past week. Last Friday, other than the growth on his lip, he was still himself. Bouncy, happy, running around and rolling over for belly rubs.

We let the other dogs say their goodbyes and basically held our breaths. We thought it'd be more fitting if Jack were in the yard when this happened. It was a gorgeous day under a perfect blue sky...the best day possible for Jack to make his journey to the Rainbow Bridge. Jeff held him in his arms in the shade of our house while I petted him...and even to the very end Jack was wagging his tail. It happened in under a minute. He was no longer in pain and is off somewhere chasing frogs and acting like a puppy again. I just hope they have peanut butter and french fries. I told Jack I loved him and that this wasn't goodbye..it was just a see you later...and that when I saw him again, I'd bring peanut butter just in case. We held him for what seemed like forever..unwilling to really let go. Even now..it doesn't seem real...like it was all happening to someone else. It crushed me to see Jeff carry his lifeless body to the Dr's Jeep. Even then I kept thinking.."He'll be ok..this isn't real, he'll be back."

Jeff and I came inside and while clinging to each other, we both cried until we had nothing left. We began reminiscing over all the things we'd miss about him. How he'd bounce around and bring you a sock when you came home. How he'd look so embarrassed if he passed gas in front of you. How he hated going into the bathroom because he thought it meant bath time and how he'd rub his rump on your leg to scratch it.Six years wasn't long enough to have him. Out of all our dogs, his presence was the most comforting to me. He was always by my side and followed me through the house, even if I was just going to the fridge and back. The other dogs are sweet, but very demanding. They have to be rubbed on and refuse to let you stop once you start. Jack was the only one who was content to just be near you and would truly cuddle. Jeff mentioned that it had come full circle. When he went to get him to bring him home, he carried him from the store and put him in the back of his Jeep. Today, he did the same thing. I'm not sure how to get through this. I know I will, because I have no choice..but that doesn't make it any easier. I also know it was the right thing to do, but I'd still rather have him here. In a way, I consider myself lucky. I'm 30 and have never lost anyone close to me. I was either too young to remember them or didn't know them well enough. Jack was the 1st and the thought that I'll have to grieve the loss of our other 6 animals hovers over me and leaves a cold hard lump deep inside me.

I'll always wonder what his last thoughts were and if he had a good last day. I know no one could have loved him more and that we gave him a life he would never have had otherwise. I already miss him immensely and the somberness of the house is almost unbearable. He brought happiness and smiles where ever he was and I'm so happy to have had 6 years of that. I'm so proud that he was mine and know that I'll see him again one day..standing at the end of the Rainbow Bridge, bouncing around with a sock in his mouth for me to welcome me home.

UPDATE: (9-27-07) This past week has been awful. The 3rd eyelid on Jack's other eye came up which essentially made him blind. His face and neck got really swollen and filled with fluid, so he couldn't smell and it also affected his hearing. I think the protective cone may have made his hearing worse too. He could hear you but not the direction you were in. Since he couldn't see, smell, or hear..he refused to move. We've been having to carry him outside to potty. He's still been eating and drinking, but it's been rough since it gets worse everyday. We have to hold the water dish up to his mouth so he can feel it..same with the food. Yesterday I called the vet to let them know how bad it had gotten even since Friday. Friday, he could see fine. Monday, he was blind. So, I took him in this morning for a day of medical observation and received a call about 45 min. later from Dr. Davis. The biopsy results were back and I found out about an hour and a half ago that it's cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma. She said it was so advanced that she didn't feel his quality of life would improve even with treatment. We'd be looking at surgery plus chemo or radiation and b/c of the severity of it..it'd be 5k or more...and at his age, she said she didn't feel like it was worth it. I've been crying nonstop ever since I found out b/c it's just so unfair.

We're having Dr. Betton come to the house to do the euthanasia b/c we don't want his last moments to be in a strange place on a cold table. Jeff's supposed to be making the call, so I'm waiting to hear back about when it's going to be. I have no plans of going in to work that day. I'm thinking it'll probably be tomorrow or Saturday. Sigh. I was just sitting in the den after I called Kelly to let her know..and I glanced over to where we'd moved his bed to make him comfortable and just started crying all over again. He normally slept in the bedroom with us but when he couldn't see and refused to move, we felt it'd be easier to bring the bed to him.

If he'd been hit by a car or something, I'd have somewhere to place my blame and anger, but right now I'm only mad at myself. I keep thinking that if I'd gotten him to a vet sooner, or if I'd agreed to the biopsy earlier..he could have been saved. Maybe not..but that's what I keep thinking. He trusted me, and I let him down. I don't know how to deal with that. Anyhow..I'm going to go for now. I'll update again as soon as everything has been dealt with. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and words of comfort. It means more to me than you know.

UPDATE: (9-22-07) Jack's biopsy was yesterday ( 21st) and the Dr. said he did fine. He was still really groggy so we're not going to pick him up until this morning sometime. She said he was still bleeding from his incisions a bit, so we thought we'd let that stop before bringing him home. He's been getting blood all over the carpet because he keeps scrapping it with his paws..so hopefully now that she's cleaned it up, it won't be as bad. We're going to ask for one of those cone collars in hopes that he'll leave it alone so it can heal. We should get the results back within a week or so! It looks worse everyday, so I'm glad we picked the more expensive lab to get the results back sooner! Pray for him..and us! I'll keep you posted!

UPDATE: (9-12-07) Jack had his antibiotics switched this past Friday but his lip is looking worse now than ever. He has a biopsy scheduled for next Friday, the 21st. It was the earliest I could get him in. He's having some breathing problems due to what sounds like drainage, so we're having to watch him closely. Keep him in your prayers!

UPDATE:(9/2/07) I took Jack to the vet last Tuesday (28th) to have his eye checked out and she said it looked fine other than the 3rd eyelid being up. She looked at the back of his eye and said there didn't appear to be an infection and had no explanation for why his eyelid was half covering his eye. His pupil is normal and responds to stimuli, though it looks a bit sunken. She said that she was leaning more towards a neurological cause..such as a pinched nerve caused by the growth on his lip. He can still see fine, but it's still weepy. Also, since his lip got worse on a higher dose of steroids, she's leaning towards a type of bacterial or fungal infection. We lowered his dose of steroids and are weening him off of it so we can have a biopsy done. I need to call her this week to find out how soon I can do it. Once the current bottle of antibiotics is empty, he'll have had a 6 week dose, which our vet said is at least keeping down any secondary infection.

He has another check up this Thursday, the 5th, so I'll let you know something soon! In regards to the expenses, I had so much overtime on my last check, that paying for the biopsy shouldn't be a problem!! Woo hoo! What a blessing!!!


Six years ago this past July, Jeff and I stopped at the Petsmart in Roanoke to get Patches some more food since we hadn't brought enough with us and to get Farley a new feather since he'd destroyed his. We just happened to go there during the time that a rescue group was there with all their adoptable animals. This is when we met Jack.

We were cooing over all the cute puppies and kittens when I saw this sweet faced little blonde girl sitting inside one of the pens petting a black fuzzy dog. The dog was lying there with his head in her lap soaking up the attention. He looked up at us with these somber but hopeful green eyes and thumped his tail twice. It was love at first site. The tag on the pen said that he was 7 months old and a border collie/black lab mix. I thought.."Oh..he's going to be huge!" We'd been thinking of getting a buddy for Patches so she wouldn't be completely alone while we were at work, but a black lab?? In our little apartment?? No way.

We pet him some more and were completely taken in by his big green eyes and eagerness to please. He was so calm and sweet and painfully shy. He was looking at the feather I'd picked up for Farley and I dangled it in front of him trying to get him to play. He seemed confused..as if he wasn't sure if it was ok to touch it or not. I moved it closer to him only for him to duck and try to back away. I felt so sad that he would think I'd hurt him...which meant someone had hurt this sweet tender hearted puppy. I talked to him and rubbed his belly and when I jingled the feather a little more, he tentatively tried to bite it, but really didn't know how to play at all.

Jeff and I spent over an hour there just petting him and discussing whether or not we could get him. The woman there told me he'd been staying with her since he was a tiny thing and that he was extremely gentle and sweet but that he'd been brought back twice before. His sister Jill, had been adopted out earlier that day, so he was now alone. I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to bring him back, but it raised a red flag since she said she didn't know why. We got their contact information and left, looking back to see the sorrow in Jack's eyes. We discussed it for the rest of the weekend and I thought about Jack quite a bit through the next few days.

Sometime that week, I'd made a decision. I told Jeff that the following Saturday, he was driving back up to Roanoke to pick up Jack and bring him home. I had to work and was unable to go with him. Jeff took Patches so they could meet and to ensure that they'd get along. After the adoption fees, a 2nd crate, another dog bowl, collar and leash, Jeff made his way back to Durham with both dogs in tow. When I got home from work Saturday night, I had a big black fuzzy lump in my living room floor. He looked up at me with that same hopeful green gaze while thumping his tail and I went over to give him a huge hug.

The next few weeks were an adjustment. He didn't know how to play with other dogs. He'd just sit there watching Patches chase the ball or run around and bounce off furniture.(AKA The Border Collie Midnight Terror Run). Anytime we got near him with anything in our hands, even just a pencil, he'd drop his head and try to back up. Truth be told, he still does it sometimes.

At the end of the first month, I decided it was bath time. He'd gotten used to our schedule and our routines and being fed every day and we had some level of trust, so I felt that it was ok to add something new to his routine. I hadn't given him a bath earlier because I didn't want to scare him and I didn't want it to be too much new stuff at one time. So..in the tub he went. He looked horrified and was shaking like a leaf. I talked to him and give him a cookie and then discovered how hard it is to wet him down. He's got the long shaggy fur of a border collie..but it's water repellent like a black lab. Uh oh. Is bath time supposed to be that much of a challenge??

Once wet, I started lathering him up and realized that the soap was turning a pale purple. Oh no...something's wrong!! That's not supposed to happen!! I kept washing and it kept turning a darker purple. I rinsed. I repeated. It was still coming out purple. I rinsed again and dried him off. Interesting...he wasn't as dark as before..and had a silvery sheen to him. It was only then that I realized what had been done. They'd dyed him black! After a trip to the vet a few days later, I reasoned out why. The vet informed me that he was NOT 7 months old, but more like 2-3 years old based on his teeth. They'd dyed him to make him look younger so he'd have a better chance of being adopted. They'd lied to us. I didn't care how old he was, but I did care about being lied to.

The next few baths were the same..more purple water. In the end, he was a silvery black, which to some could be considered gray..until you got him in the sunlight. He was beautiful. Sure, his eyes looked less green when they weren't surrounded by pitch black fur, but they still spoke volumes of his feelings. He has the most expressive face of any dog I've ever seen.

Then came 9/11. I was on night shift by then and had slept that whole day. I didn't find out until that afternoon when Jeff called to tell me to turn on the TV. I was in utter shock. I went through the motions of getting ready for work but I was in a complete daze. As I reached down to pick up my socks, the enormity of the situation hit me. As I crouched down, Jack pushed himself into my arms, put his paw on my arm and rested his head against my chest. He gave me comfort when I needed it the most. He always has. I just held him there, hugging him back, amazed at how in tune he was with my feelings.

Over the past six years, Jack has really come out of his shell. He learned how to play and became completely goofy. When he gets excited, he bounces all over the place and has to pick up a toy. Patches is his best friend and while they don't curl up together and take naps anymore, they're the only 2 of our 4 dogs that will share a food bowl and the only 2 who won't fight over a place in the bed. They both know there's room for both of them. They're the originals. Our first babies. Well, them and Farley cat.

Year before last, Jack developed a red growth on the inside of his lip that was hard as a rock. He wouldn't let us touch it, but it went away a few days before his vet appointment, so I cancelled it. A few months later, it came back...but the same thing happened. It's come and gone since then. He's been on antibiotics for it once, but every time..it went away. Until this past time.

It developed again at the end of June and we thought it'd go away again, but after a month, it'd gotten bigger. It became visible around the edge of his lip from a distance. Before, you could only see it if you raised up his lip. Now, it sticks out and is red and angry looking. It even looks like there's puss in some spots. He accidentally hit his mouth on the chair and it burst open, pouring blood. We cleaned it the best we could, but he kept re injuring it. He's been on clyndimicin (sp?) and prednizone (antibiotics & steroids for those that don't know) for 3 weeks. Just after starting the antibiotics, it looked better..not as.....juicy..and swollen.

Just before his 2 week check-up, Jack accidentally got smacked in the mouth with a 2 liter Coke bottle while we were putting up groceries. There was blood and puss on the side of the bottle and Jack's nose was bleeding a little. After that, it looked the same as it did when I first took him in. They're completely baffled. All they did was up his steroids and scheduled me for another check up in 2 weeks.

Yesterday, I noticed his eye was really weepy. It was more closed than his other one and the extra lid that sometimes gets swollen during an injury or infection, was half over his eye. I called the vet today to schedule an appointment this week instead of waiting for his check up next week. The next step is a biopsy which will run me about $400. If it's cancerous, my options are surgery to remove it($1500-$2000), radiation ($4,000), or chemotherapy($1500-$2000-per treatment). Dr. Davis said that the best option would be radiation if it ends up being cancerous. Even if it's not cancer I don't know that I can afford whatever treatment he needs. He is 8 or 9, so part of me thinks it's not worth paying that much for treatment when I'm already stretched thin. But there's another part of me who isn't willing to give up on him and could never live with myself if I didn't give him every opportunity to get better.

I'm so confused. I love Jack and it saddens me to no end that he's not as bouncy as he once was. Sure, his appetite's the same and he's not lethargic by any means..but he's lost the bounce in his step. He looks sad..and in pain and it breaks my heart to see that. Jeff and I have been trying to have children for several years now and are at a point where IVF is our only option. We've put that on hold for almost a year because even though insurance will cover a portion of it, we can't afford the $3000 out of pocket expense. It wouldn't seem right to me to take out a loan to pay for Jack's treatment if we're not willing to do it to have a child, you know? But, at the same time, I don't want to give up on him. He might be old, but he could still have 5 -6 years of life left in him.

No matter what happens, I know he's led a good life and is as spoiled as any dog can be. I know I'll see him across the rainbow bridge one day, but that doesn't make the decisions that face me any easier to deal with. All I can do is ask for some kind of peace and guidance to get me through all of this. My mind knows that one day...he won't be around anymore, but my heart won't accept that. Maybe that's the biggest reason I wrote this blog. To remind myself of where he came from, what he's done for me and why I should fight for him. Or maybe I wrote it so that after he's gone, I'll remember those big hopeful green eyes that looked up at me and stole my heart all those years ago. Or for both reasons.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Vick will be destroyed!!!

Wow...this didn't take very long!! Hahahaha!! I think I may buy a couple!!