Jun 10th, 2014 @ 7:25 pm

Whisper Update

So an update on Whisper girl.

It’s been over two months on the two different enzymes to treat the “exocrine pancreatic inefficiency” (EPI) thing, something GSDs get. Then she got really sick and tired of the enzymes and refused to eat. She’d eat anything else but not her meals. She would either lay down or turn and leave the room.

Last Wednesday (4th), Lorna took her to the vet (I had a killer headache). Whisper had not gained any weight maybe a pound or two. So our wonderful vet started over again, looking at the entire Whisper puzzle again.

- The blood test for the EPI had come back borderline anyway but it can be. We had assumed it was the cause for the weight loss and the lack of weight gain since it is oh so typical of the breed. Dr K tossed that diagnosis out the door.
- Whisper’s urine had a ton of bacteria but she had no fever. White blood cell count was normal. (see? puzzle)
- Red blood cell count was low. She was anemic.
- We decided to do some other blood tests to see some other numbers and based on those, we may or may not do an ultrasound. One of the tests was a better red blood cell count which would tell how long she had been anemic.
- Based on those results, which were even more puzzling, we opted to do the ultrasound the next day. They were looking for several things. Whisper had gone through a heat (yay) several months ago so it could be a uterine infection, which would account for the bacteria and the anemia but not the weight loss. There could be something intestinal which would account for the weight loss and the anemia but not the bacteria. An ultrasound would see both of those things as well as other organs.

The ultrasound results were puzzling, of course.
- Liver looked good.
- The intestines were fine. If she had the EPI, they would be thickened so that dx just officially got kicked. (which is good ’cause that enzyme is expensive!)
- The uterus was fine, although slightly enlarged but not unusual. No infection there.
- But the spleen had an “undefined” area. In ultrasound speak, you want everything to be defined. You want to know this is this and that is that. You don’t want blurry and fuzzy. It seemed to be just one area of it so it could be an infection that just isn’t big enough to warrant a fever.

After discussion with Dr K, we decided Whisper would get spayed and they would do exploratory surgery to look at the spleen and a few other places. That was done today.

Whisper’s entire spleen was “thickened”. It was removed and was sent off for biopsy. Based on the results of that, we’ll know what to do next. Dogs (and humans) can live without a spleen, even though it is a blood filtering organ.

We went to see her this afternoon. She was still kinda stoned but far too happy to see us. She began bleeding from her surgical wound while we were there and they had to do patch work on her.

We will speak with the Great Dr Knepshield tomorrow and know more specifics.

May 14th, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

Gumption, Where Art Thou?

I worked hard to get line edits for To Dream out to the editor. And now…I don’t want to do anything. I do, but I don’t. I don’t even want to play ‘puter games. Maybe it’s spring. Maybe it’s the storm front about to come through. Maybe it’s Mars in retrograde with Mercury and Saturn is somethinganother.

I’ve got other things to do, too! I’m over halfway through Perchance, the third book in the Soliloquy series (To Sleep, To Dream, Perchance, To Die). I am working on the next Butch Girl book, even though the title of it eludes me. It is Nikki’s story and the working title is Butch Girls and U-Hauls. I’m also working on Harri’s story, Butch Girls and Stereotypes since the two books are either going to happen at the same time or something. They are linked together.

And I want to get Perchance done and at least one BG book done so I can FINALLY FINALLY get Simple Sarah done! Good freakin’ grief! I know you love that book, but it is time to let go, Paula.

If heavy sighing counted as working as a writer, I’d be famous.

Apr 29th, 2014 @ 11:54 pm

He Was So Sassy

Sassafras came to us like so many others. He just chose us and arrived. We at first thought he belonged to someone else but then we saw his long fur was looking matted, a sign he was a stray. Great. He wouldn’t let us near him. Ran if we got too close. Spent all day hanging out at our place. He loved laying in the sun up on some wood we had but he’d take off if a human dared to get within ten feet.

When he started looking thin, we decided it was time to do something. We put some dry food in a metal bowl and took it to the end of the ramp where the cement pad is. We rattled the bowl, a universal sound for cats. He was out there and had ran to hide under one of the cars. We went to sit on the steps, partly just to get him used to us being outside, but mostly because we were talking about something another we wanted to do outside. We heard him eating so figured in a few weeks, maybe we’d catch him.

He finished eating, sauntered down the ramp toward us, and threw himself into Lorna’s lap. Just like that, he was home. This cat we could not get close to had decided we were all right after all.

That was way back in, we think, 2003. He was, we think, about 5 or so years old. So he was about 13-16yrs old. So he wasn’t a spring chicken! He was on medication for hypertension and a special diet for kidney failure. His kidney values weren’t too bad, but were on their way and the theory was the sooner we started the diet, the slower the failure would happen. Two months ago, his kidney value was still just within the realm of “iffy” but not “ohmygod” bad.

Today, April 29, 2014, we let him go. He wouldn’t eat for Lorna Friday morning but when I gave him food a few hours later, he ate a little. Some other stuff happened and we got him a “work in” appointment Friday afternoon and he stayed there Friday night.

Basically, Sass was dehydrated and constipated. His kidneys was putting out the fluid so fast, his body wasn’t able to use any of it. When I picked him up on Saturday, I was told he should have a BM sometime over the weekend, if not, to call them Monday. He didn’t. Monday we got an appt. with our usual vet, Dr. Knepshield, who gave him a thorough exam.

The plan of action for Monday night was to do fluids again and do an ultrasound in the morning. We left him there again and went out to eat before going home. When we got home, Dr. K had left a message to say that when she got him to the back where the lighting was better, they noticed that one side of his nose seemed swollen. They were going to start him on an antibiotic into his I.V. but did we still want to do the ultrasound? An infection (tooth, sinus, etc) could be causing most of the other issues. We said sure, do it.

Dr. K called me this morning and I knew from her voice that it wasn’t good. Sass had a mass on his liver (cancer), his somethinganother duct from his kidneys was something (she was using big words), and his blood work came back not good at all. In other words, Sass had a lot of problems and being constipated was just the most outward symptom and the final symptom. There was nothing we could do. We were not even talking about months, we were talking about less than a week.

We had the option to learn how to give him the fluids and bring him home for a day or two and we did seriously consider that. Lorna’s given a cat fluids before (they get it subcutaneously vs in a vein). But Sass hated, absolutely hated getting into the crate and going to the vet. Every time he had to go in for something, he had to be bathed because he would either poop or pee (or both) all over the crate and himself. It just was not worth it. We’re talking about quality of life at that point and that experience far outweighed everything else.

So we let him go.

We’ll miss you, big man. Say hi to everyone for us.

Apr 19th, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

Spring Cleaning, Part 1

I bit the bullet and cleaned off my dresser today. You know it’s a job when the first thing I did was grab a trash bag. Not just any trash bag, but a 42 gallon contractor’s bag. Okay, so L was working on her side of the room, too, but you get the idea. My dresser is this long, low thing that I’ve always disliked. The drawers aren’t easy to pull out. Heck, they don’t have handles. It’s one of those you reach under the drawer and grab a groove and pull. Looks smooth but my hands hate it.

Every time I “clean” it, I keep putting the same crap back. The concept or “everything in its place and a place for everything” doesn’t work in this house. Yet.

Today I decided that if it didn’t have a place and if it didn’t have a place ’cause I’d never use it again or whatever, then I didn’t need to keep it.

You know you’re a lesbian when…

- you find a pack of u-joint fasteners. And then find another.
- you find 3 baseballs. And you don’t play baseball. You stink at it.
- you find a plethora of unmatched socks
- you find a long screwdriver, a spark plug, and a AAA battery wrapped together with a rubber band as if they were to serve a purpose
- you see no problem with finding the three items together but it bothers you that you can’t remember what they were for
- you are more shocked to find only two cards, the Ace of Clubs and the 2 of Spades. The rest of the deck is missing.
- you do, however, find the entire set of the Queens Rule deck (anyone remember those?)
- you find a promotional card from Karin Kallmaker with her kiss on it.
- you find another promotional doohickey (an LED light with a compass and whistle!) from a now defunct online bookstore and for a brief, every so brief moment, you are torn as to which one you are happiest to find
- you chuck the LED light with compass and whistle because while the battery will die, the kiss never will
- your girlfriend claims the other LED light with compass and whistle because she thinks it is cool and that your butch fascination with KK is both weird and cute at the same time
- you find another promotional card from Lynn Ames and you stand it up next to the one with the kiss
- you find more unmatched socks
- you find yet more promotional doohickeys but none are as cool nor have kisses so they get chucked
- you wonder if the unmatched socks are like mutt dogs that have continued to interbreed to the point a match will never happen again

I can see the top of my dresser, which is amazing. I’ve cleaned out all but three of the drawers. Once they are cleaned out, the dresser is going bye-bye and will be replaced by something more accessible.

Mar 26th, 2014 @ 12:01 am

Bend, Not Break

I used to have a wooden sign that said in German: Biegen nicht brechen. Bend, not break. Like a tree in the wind, I bend but don’t break. Or that is my intention. I need to find that sign because I need to be reminded of that again.

When I was 14, few days shy of 15, I learned a big word. Over time, I mangled my memory of it and it isn’t the right word anymore. But it meant giant cell bone tumor. I learned other big words: ilium and encapsulated. I bent a lot that year. And the one that followed. I grew up a lot, too. I tried briefly to be a brat but didn’t like it that much. It just wasn’t my style.

When I was 25, I learned another set of big words: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. With it came hypermobility, sublux, and hyperelasticity. And I learned about morbidity and autosomal genetics.

I’ve learned about other things, other big words over the years. Some have been just breezes that ruffled a few leaves. Some have broken a few branches. One or two have been winds so strong, I was almost toppled.

I am 48 and have learned yet another big word. I lost some branches. I bent so low, some roots were exposed. The new words are epidural lipomatosis. Also known as a mass in the spinal column. In my case, it is at L4 (the 4th lumbar vertebrae) Theses fatty masses are very rare. Even more rare in females. They are usually caused by steroid use, obesity, or Cushing’s disease (which I do not have, thank God). I was told to live with the pain. That I had to lose 100lbs before the pain would go away. That until the spinal cord is compressed more and the symptoms much worse, there is no course of action other then treat the symptoms (which he was leaving up to my GP to handle). Of course, I was depressed as hell. A hundred fucking pounds? Was he nuts? That would put me at a weight less than what I was in college! The summer where all I could afford was bloney and bread. It wasn’t going to happen which meant I was stuck with yet another set of pain for the rest of my life.

I don’t think many people can understand the level of pain I have on a regular basis. And I hope no one ever does. But the idea of yet more added to it and I didn’t know if I had the strength any more. My back alone is like a Bingo card. C4-7 (compression, stenosis, impingement) , T2-4 (compression), L4-5. Bingo!

A family crisis pulled me out of my own funk this weekend and made me think outside my own head for a few days. Which gave me a chance to see the entire picture better. I broke the problem into chunks and will deal with it that way. It’s the only way I can, really. Else I’ll break.

Feb 22nd, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

To Dream Teaser

To Dream is almost ready to go to the editor. Again. The damn thing just kept growing, as it always has, and it was decreed to large (at 163K+). So I had to cut it down (to 110K). Now I am going through it to make sure there are no dangling plot threads.

But this is one of my favorite scenes. Call me a tease. I’m fine with that.

“Did you break it?”

I looked up at the sound of HER voice. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t do anything.

“She did not. She has this need to take something apart in order to understand how it functions. Fortunately, she has not felt the need to do the same to me as of yet.” Mona came into the room while Cass leaned against the door frame.

“What is it? Or was it?”

She had this southern accent, soft, not overly twangy. Her words rolled off her tongue, across the room, and into my ears where my brain savored them like a well-aged liquor.

“It is a bio-bed. Karen, are you feeling ill again?” Mona got the scanner and it was its beep that pulled me out of my cask of Cass bourbon.

“No, I’m fine. I see you finally made it.”

She laughed. If her accent were expensive bourbon, her laughter was a rich dessert, chocolate something served with coffee the color of her skin. “I swear, that’s what everyone says to me. Not ‘hello’ or ‘hey how are you’ but ‘I see you finally made it’. I ought to leave and come back just to get a proper greeting!”

I put the two bio-bed gut pieces down and jumped to my feet. I carefully stepped over the parts I had strewn over the floor and made my way to her. Taking her hand, I raised it to my lips and kissed the back of it. “Cassandra, it is good to see you again. How was your overly long journey?”

Jan 8th, 2014 @ 8:41 pm

And What a Life It Can Be

One of the very few good things about Facebook is the ability to notify or update a whole bunch of people at once about something. Like a book release. Or the progress of someone who is sick.

I am currently keeping track of three kids on Facebook. Tripp, Tyler, and Olivia. Olivia and her brother Tyler were in a car accident four weeks ago. She suffered a brain injury but bounced back rather quickly. She’s doing great and will probably recover completely. Tyler’s injuries are more spinal. Essentially, his skull was separated from his spine and his spinal cord was stretched. C1 and C2 were knocked completely out of place. He just had surgery to put them back and they ended up reattaching C3 and C4 as well. Tripp was injured just over a year ago. He was just 2 and was playing at his day care when a limb fell and hit him in the head. Tripp recognizes everyone around him but cannot move much, nor speak or swallow. He is making progress, slowly but surely. The brain is a marvelous thing at re-routing itself.

But this post is about Tyler. Or, rather, the life Tyler may be facing. And that’s the life in a chair. Some say that’s not a life. Some say “He’ll walk again!” as if that is the only thing there is. For some people, that may be true. I wrote a post on his FB page, trying to gently say “no, it’s not the only thing there is”.

We were watching television the other day and it was about how those older science fiction writers (Asimov, Clarke, etc) managed to get some of it right. They had this guy talking about an exoskeleton. It’s a long way from being done but he can strap it on and basically “walk” with it. He’s basically a quadriplegic due to a bomb while in the military. But what he said struck me hard: “This will get me my life back”. I wanted to reach through the screen and slap the shit out of him. He owned a successful research company that, even though they had not yet reached their goal, their work had spawned patents that were now going in other directions and doing great things. He must have a brain because a lot of the planning he did himself. He tries all the prototypes himself first. He looked really muscular so he must work out. Yet, he says he had no life because he couldn’t walk. And that’s sad.

But he’s not the only one. I hear comments like that all the time. One’s life does not end when one’s butt is placed in a wheelchair. One’s view changes. One’s life changes. But one’s life does not end. Alterations have to be made, yes. But alterations have to be made for most any life change. Get married? You’ll need everything for 2 now. Have kids? Wow, now that’s a life alteration!

So Tyler, like I said before, having the goal in rehab of doing all you can to perhaps someday walk again is a good goal. But putting all of your mental eggs into that single basket is not a good thing. Have a life where you are. If your life means you will go from a power chair to a manual and then to crutches then to cane, GREAT!! If it means you go as far as the manual, that’s great too. Live life to the fullest wherever you are. And you are surrounded by folks who believe in the power of praying to God for healing. Sometimes, God’s healing isn’t exactly what you asked for. And sometimes God’s answer is No. God loves you even if you are walking, limping, or rolling. And if God thinks you can do what you need to do rolling, then, well, that’s what might happen. Trust me, I’ve gone rounds in the boxing ring with God on this healing and the lack thereof business for many years! He and I ain’t done yet but we’ve agreed to disagree and I’m allowed to stomp his right foot when I get there.

You’ll be fine, wherever you are, however you get there.

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