The slightly abridged story of another sick dog…

Since I seem to be permanently destined to have at least one sick dog on the premises, I suppose it’s only fair that I throw out a little update on what we’ve been up to since late last Friday.

The short version is that over a span of about an hour on Friday night I watched my already sickly chocolate lab go from her normal self to drooling, vomiting, and blasting out unimaginably large quantities of liquefied, high pressure shit. I undertook the “40 minute” drive to the nearest emergency vet with great vigor and complete disregard for pesky details like traffic laws and personal safety. I was more or less convinced that by the time we got there, I’d be dropping her off for a necropsy rather than treatment. I never thought I’d be happy to hear a dog retching and hacking in the back seat. For Friday at least it was the sound of not being dead yet.

After 36 hours of treatment, blood tests, fists full of medication, an ultrasound, and round the clock monitoring, the official diagnosis is “we don’t really know.” The symptoms don’t really present as something directly related to her Cushing’s disease and the ultrasound didn’t show anything radically different than what we saw back in March. Inconclusive.

In the absence of a solid medical diagnosis, I’ve arrived at a speculative cause for all this last week’s problems. What I think happened is that sometime around 6:30 Friday night the dogs found something in the yard – perhaps a mushroom – and noshed on it. For Maggie, already compromised with Cushings and general old age, the result was sudden and violent illness.

The key to my speculation doesn’t actually involve Maggie at all, though. When I got home from the emergency vet around midnight Friday, Jorah’s crate floor was spotted with drops of something. At first I attributed those drops to a reversion to peeing in his crate, but a closer look showed that he too was drooling prodigiously. In Jorah’s case, though, it lasted just a few hours and dissipated. He never showed any signs of feeling badly otherwise, which I know from sitting up through the small hours of Saturday morning waiting to see if I needed to drag another dog in for heroic measures of treatment at weekend rates.

I talked to our regular vet last night and laid out the timeline of events, went over the details from the file, and presented my own observation of the events. Without being led there, his first opinion was that it sounded like they had both eaten something and promptly got sick in proportion to the strength of their respective systems. It’s not exactly a confirmation of my logic, but I was glad to see that his analysis of the available evidence mirrored my own. Unless something is proven otherwise, “ate something” is going to be the official story of what caused this week’s series of unpleasant events at Fortress Jeff.

With leaves coming down and the ground covered it’s going to be horribly difficult if not outright impossible to verify any of this. It’s going to be harder still to comb the area for anything that could further agitate the situation. Part of me knows we’ll be relying on some level of luck in avoiding future problems. It’s not optimal, but we’ve lived here a fairly long time now without something in the yard causing mayhem and chaos. One bad day out of 1200+ isn’t necessarily a cause for panic, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking at the compound with a new level of unease.

What Annoys Jeff this Week? (The Centennial Edition)

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the 100th installment of What Annoys Jeff this Week. With nearly two years of weekly annoyances under my belt, the only thing I can say from the writer’s perspective is that despite living in a universe that seems personally intent on agitating the shit out of me, I always look forward to Thursdays. They’re the day I get to compact many of the small issues into one great big ball of pissed off and launch it out into the world. It may not be classy, but it’s cathartic.

I thought about working up something special for this auspicious occasion, but decided quickly that the best tribute would be letting it out the same way I do every Thursday – a simple list and brief description of the week’s three most pressing annoyances.

1. Technology. Honestly, I don’t know who I would be if I weren’t wrapped in the warm electromagnetic cocoon of modern technology. That’s also the problem. In a week that’s been a near constant battle with my laptop, with my wireless router, and my internet provider just to stay connected, I wonder if perhaps I’ve put a bit too much reliance on the network. Yeah, that’s really not so much a question as a statement of fact. Still, I’m pretty sure what I’m really looking for is a system that works flawlessly all the time and not a way to disengage myself from it… because the only thing more annoying than having every bite of universal data at your fingertips is not having it when you want it. Stupid double edged sword.

2. Insurance. I got a notice this week that my prescription drug plan cost is going up about $40 a month. The cost of my general insurance plan is jumping this year too, but that’s not what annoys me, really. After all, the insurance premiums and out of pocket costs are basically just the price I pay to avoid being dead. As far as I’m concerned, not being dead is basically worth every penny I need to pay. Quite frankly, I don’t want healthcare in the country to be “average”. I want to nation’s best hospitals and corporations to dump money hand over fist into developing innovative treatments and medical equipment. Like it or not, 300+ million people can’t all get the best care on the planet, but over time the ideas they pioneer at the best hospitals can develop into common practice across the country. That’s good for everyone. Until then, if I want to drive myself eyeball deep into debt to get treatment at Hopkins, Sloan-Kettering, or the Mayo Clinic, that’s my decision because at least for now I’m the one paying the bill. When someone else foots the bill and tries to be all things to all people, we inevitably end up with a mediocre “standard level of service,” and I like being alive entirely too much to let any government entity of company decide what treatment checks off the box that says “good enough.”

3. Chicks. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but love for you ladies out there. You’re soft and curvy and smell nice. I love the way you walk and the way you talk… but after 35 years I still have no ability to understand the way you think. Although I am an accomplished man with many skills and talents, the ability to read minds is one that, thus far, I haven’t mastered. I’ll keep working on it, but in the meantime I’d consider it a personal favor if you could just go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind rather than letting me speculate wildly on my own. Trust me, left to my own devices my mind can conjure notions that are generously described as “bleak.” And that tends to be a situation other than good for everyone involved.