Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"This is bad."

I preface all of this by stating that I am a stoic person, and that everything about my demeanor in a vet's office suggests that I do not appreciate delicate sugarcoating.  I am a grim realist, and I very rarely interact with a vet or tech who does not pick up on this immediately.  

Took the dog for a biopsy of the thing growing out of her eye.  Went back to retrieve her this afternoon.  Took my mother, because I had a suspicion that an extra pair of ears would be useful.  I tend to get flustered when I have emotions while listening.

The dog came into the exam room first.  Her eye was icky with blood, but otherwise she was happy as a clam at high tide.

The surgeon came in a minute later.

"This is bad."

Oh.  My.

"This is a particularly nasty melanoma.  I don't see one like this very often, and I see a LOT of melanomas.  Black as night.  Lots of blood vessels. It's almost certain we won't be able to save the eye.  We might not be able to save the dog."

Oh.  My.

"I hope I'm wrong.  We can't be sure until the biopsy comes back.  Once we know exactly what we're dealing with, we can decide how to proceed."

When will that be, do you think?

"The biggest vet pathology lab in the nation is literally three blocks from here, so it should be pretty fast- by Monday, possibly earlier.  You can call on Saturday and ask if the labs are in."

Should I be calling the vet oncologist now, to schedule chest films and whatnot, just in case?  So we don't have to wait if it turns out to be malignant?

"You'd just be spinning your wheels, without the labs.  In a few days, we can make that call."

Oh.  My.


Thank you.  Come on, Trix, let's go home and see the kitty.

Monday seems very far away.

I live a very small life.  I see my coworkers, and my family, and I text a very few far-flung friends.  My dog has been my only daily companion for years.  The kitten is here to keep HER company while I'm at work, and he adores her.  She is his universe.

She is lying on the floor, probably tired from all the goings-on.  I should take the pressure bandage off her leg.

Oh, Trixie.  My darling beast.

This is not how I wanted today to go.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Springtime is for vet bills

Trixie's eyes appeared to be sinking into her head.  In February, we went to the eye specialist to see what that was all about.

"It's Deep Pocket Syndrome.  It happens with deep-set eyes, the fat pad behind the eyeball starts to deteriorate with age and the eye sinks.  Happens with old people, too, which is why they tend to look a little skeletal.  Here's some drops, and use an eye wash twice a day to keep crap out of it."

Okay.  Seems reasonable.

By the beginning of April, it became evident that only ONE eye was sinking.  Does this happen?  Is this weird?  If it's deteriorating fat pads, wouldn't it be… symmetrical?

Maybe it's not so much that it's sinking, but that the tissue in the inner corner is rising, perhaps?

It's gotten quite large.  On Wednesday, it bled.  We go back to the eye vet.  It's not the usual guy.  She peers at my dog's big poofy third eyelid.  She makes grim faces.  

"This looks like melanoma."

Well, shit.

"I'm going to take pictures of this and show them to the surgeon on Monday.  These things are rather locally aggressive, but aren't as likely to spread throughout the rest of the body.  The challenging part is going to be the reconstruction."

Reconstruction.  How much of my dog's face are we going to have to remove?  I know you gotta get all the way past the edges of these things, but the edge is basically her eyelid and tear ducts.  She's got pretty loose skin, but damn. 

Mom had a black standard poodle when she was in her 20s who had eye cancer, and had his entire eye removed and sewn shut.  She just let the hair grow over his missing eye.  Nobody has mentioned removing her eye, but eyes need lids and tear ducts.

I don't care how she looks.  She can be a pirate dog, I don't care.  But the idea of someone slicing up my dog's face… this is not going to be fun for anyone.  She doesn't seem to be very uncomfortable, it's obstructing some of her vision, but I can't have that shit spreading anywhere else.  She won't understand that, though.  All she'll know is that her head hurts and she's in a cone.

Oh, my little broken friends.  I rescue you all from gutters, and then you become horrendously expensive.  Do other people's gutter animals get this expensive?  Or am I just the only one who pays attention to sinking eyeballs?

We must fix this, Trix.  Sandman loves you too much.

Friday, April 18, 2014

I never learn.

As I was driving into the parking lot at work yesterday, Metallica's "Enter Sandman" came on the radio.  I am fond of this song, and was mildly disappointed that I could not hear the end of it because I am not prone to sitting in a motionless car in a parking lot waiting out songs that I have on my MP3 somewhere.

When I walked through the office door, everyone turned and said my name in a very suspicious fashion.  "Oh good, you're HEEEEERE!"

Oh no, what's wrong?

Wrong.  So very wrong.
Small terrified feral kitten in a blanket in a laundry basket.  Oh dear.  I peered at him, and he spat.

"He wasn't spitting before."

The grounds manager found him in our grassland, being swooped by crows.  His mom bailed when the crows got aggressive.  The coworkers called Animal Control, because we have too many feral cats on the property.  This guy was not destined to be coyote food.

I scruffed him to check if it was, indeed, a him.  He hissed and spat again.

Nice try, Sandman.  You're going in my sweatshirt, you aggressive little freak.  And possibly home with me.  We're gonna cuddle the feral outta you.

He hung out in my jacket in a basket while I taught.  He fell asleep, probably from fear exhaustion and possibly hunger.  
I cannot fight anymore.  Do with me what you will.
Animal Control had come by while I was teaching.  By the officer's estimate, he was about 5 weeks old, and could probably start eating canned kitten food.  Bosslady (who was babysitting the angry fluff beast) got her business card, in case I came to my senses about what I was about to do.

I took him home.  I put his sweatshirt-basket on the guest bed, which is covered in decorative cushions and a very large stuffed octopus.  He hissed, and eventually left the basket for the protective overhang of the octopus's mantle.  He fell asleep.
This is a piss-poor substitute for Mommy, but it will have to suffice.
Mom came over with a kitten bottle.  She manhandled him and we fed him and let him climb around on the cushions.  He had given up the hissing by now, too confused to bother, even when Mom picked him up and planted him on the dog's back.

"What's his name?"  

Sandman, but that's his last name.  His first name is Michael, just like the guy who plucked him from the crow-infested grassland.

"Needs a middle name."  It will be revealed in time.

By bedtime, he was following me around in his wobbly-drunk kitten way.  Not wanting to let him wander loose, I put him in the rat's carrier at the head of my bed.  The dog had an existential crisis.


Sandman demanded to be released from the carrier.  He opted instead to sleep on a blanket next to my head, about a foot from the dog.  He woke at about 3, to pee and eat and attack my head with little needle-feet.  He purred the whole time.  The dog was surprisingly well-behaved.
It's too hard to photograph the black dog on the black bedspread in a dark room.  She was there, though.
I took Sandman to work today, since he was trying to eat the clumping litter and I didn't want to leave him near it unsupervised.  He again protested being confined to the rat carrier.  He meeped all day.

I called my vet, whose whole office knows me all too well.

Yeah, I kind of impulsively accidentally adopted a tiny baby feral kitten yesterday, and he hasn't pooped since then, and I should probably bring him in for the usual new kitten thing.

"Okay, have you been a patient with us before?"

Ohhhh, yes.

"Last name?"

I give it to them.

"Ohhhh, hiiiiiiiii."

At 3:45, Sandman and I are in the vet's exam room.  The vet's pug comes in first, followed by the doc.

"New kitten, huh?"

Yeah, I'm a sucker.  He opens the meeping rat carrier.

"Hi, Leroy!  Is his name Leroy?  His name should be Leroy."  He needed a middle name, and since his whole life with me has been pretty impromptu, I figure it works.

Michael Leroy Sandman, my new little buddy.
He's gonna be handsome as hell, too.  Longhair.  His ears will probably be quite glorious, with black tufts.  White feet, white collar, faint dark tabby everywhere, black tail.  He's already silky, instead of just having that weird cottony kitten fur.  He's got sad eyes, but it's mostly the markings.  His eye color will be a surprise, since they're still baby blue.

What a fool I am.

Don't worry….. tomorrow we shop for vet insurance.  I may not have learned the "no more pets" lesson, but I sure as hell learned the "vets are hella expensive" one.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring Break

So, I've had the week off work.  It's spring break camp, and I worked both winter camps and ski week camp, so I was able to weasel out of this one.  This is the best possible scenario for me, as it is allergy season and I hate teaching camp while having asthma attacks.

No work means:

Screwing up my sleep cycle completely.  I only see daylight because I am paid to be awake during those hours.

Wearing the really grubby holey jeans and the shabby tees and the sports bra all week long.

Working on house projects.  Mom has been busy tearing down my patio cover, and I have been working on the paper floor in my den and on stripping the paint off my metal dining set.

Termite and dry rot fiesta!  
The dark stuff is what I did today.  It'll dry the same color as the rest of the floor.
I am seriously considering making an instructional tutorial about the floor.  I feel like I've made enough mistakes now that I could possibly guide others through the process.  It's quite difficult to take pictures of myself doing it, though.  It requires both hands.  Perhaps I will have to use a tripod and a timer, or enlist someone else to hover over me while I sling polyurethane around the room.

"Tante's Guide to Improving Your Home While Not Increasing Your Property Value."  There will be a very special chapter on abandoning the idea of having free time or hobbies.  THE FLOOR IS YOUR HOBBY NOW.

Seriously, though.  It'll look good when I'm done.  The red paper is quite fetching with the pink walls and red-pink-burgundy furniture.  It looks like the room is blushing.  Awwww.  It's shy.
My hair is blushing, too.  Red ends, pink middles, blonde roots. 

Friday, April 4, 2014


In 8 minutes, it will be my birthday.  I will be 36.

That's two high school seniors,

or three sixth graders,

or six kindergarteners.

I still don't feel like an adult, but I feel really old right now.