Saturday, August 29, 2009

Death Season

It occurred to me tonight... it was 10 years since my Dad's fatal heart attack on August 12th. He remained "alive" for three weeks as a mechanically breathing corpse, and he was finally allowed to leave us on September 3rd. 10 full years gone next week.

Sometimes it seems like yesterday. Sometimes it seems a lifetime ago. Amazing things have happened since then, and he would have intensely enjoyed them.

I miss him.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Turtle Moving Day

In the old tank. It seemed that no matter how often I cleaned it - as much as two or three times a day, I couldn't turn the water into anything except for green awful muck.

I did a lot of research about Slider Turtles on line... apparently they are known for being really dirty, and often require water changes as much as two to three times a week even under great living circumstances.

I had planned to leave them in their old home for a couple of weeks so that they had time to get used to me and not have to deal with a new house at the same time.

Ben was a bit more assertive and Jerry, and sometimes would come out and look at me, but they were both freaking out when they realized that I was looking back at them.

They'd scramble around their tank, running into wall after wall after wall. I was afraid they were going to hurt themselves. I just couldn't let it go any longer, even though they really didn't know of my kind intentions yet.

So out with the old tank...

And in with the new. Both turtles were completely freaked out when I put them in their new home. They went down into the bottom back corner, frantically scratching at the glass trying to find a way out. I felt awful... Did I do the right thing? Should I have waited before moving them? It was so awful to watch that I took no pictures at all.

Ben, always more brave, was the first to peek out of his new home to see what was what.
Jerry (on the right) followed, but was much more fearful and dove back underneath as soon as he saw me.

Both turtles remained under their dock for quite a while. That's where they liked to hide in their old home.

But soon curiosity started taking over. First Ben, then later Jerry started moving about.

Ben checks out the new location of his filter, aka the waterfall.

And seems to like the basking light that I installed over their floating island.

Does this picture look just a little bit like jaws?

Starting to get braver and letting me come close.

Jerry discovers the floating island.

I like this photo because Ben (and later Jerry) figured out that they could hang five on the edge of the dock and keep their heads out of the water easier.

I didn't know that not all 20 gallon tanks are the same. There is 20 gallon tall, and 20 gallon long. We got 20 gallon long. Lots of swimming room. The turtles are now starting to explore their environment and swim back and forth in their new home.

The dogs are not so much in favor of the turtles getting all the attention.

Both turtles seem drawn to the end of the tank with the basking light. Right now, it's just an incandescent light. I need to get a special bulb specifically for reptiles. In fact, I need two bulbs, because apparently there is one for day time and one for night.

Fortunately, the Red Barn carries both, is very inexpensive, and is only a couple of blocks from home.

Doing laps.

More laps.

I think the turtles, in their new home, suddenly realized that I had only the best intentions for them. They suddenly became very curious about me instead of hiding.

I think the turtles, in their new home, suddenly realized that I had only the best intentions for them. They suddenly became very curious about me instead of hiding.

And instead of diving and hiding as I walked up to the tank, they poked their heads out to take a closer look at me.

It's hard to see, but in this picture, they both swam to my side of the tank, did some kind of conference below the water, then surfaced and gave me a long appraising look. I think this is their way of saying Thank You.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Nephew the Magician

Ian - my 9 1/2 year old nephew - is a budding magician. Here is a you-tube video of him doing his magic:

Pretty good huh? But he's no Harry Houdini as evidenced by the following video:

Nobody was hurt in the filming of these videos. Ian would love it if you commented back to him directly on You-tube as well as here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Summertime Sweatin'

It's summer in Los Angeles, and at Exercise Class, the temperature is rising. You see, there is no air conditioner at Slimmons, just a giant fan in the wall.

Lately, because of issues of foot, I've been advised not to wear sneakers to class, but instead to buy a pair of athletic sandals and use them. I found out about Mesphisto Shoes shortly after receiving these orders, and found the perfect pair of ugly sandals for class. The only issue is that, amazingly, my feet sweat in the sandals and stick, and I've become a sock-with-sandals kind of gal again. Although I used to do it all the time, the "look" was kind of beaten out of me over the past few years in deference to fashion, and it's odd to think back on the last time I had an issue with sweaty feet.

It was, I think, summer, 2007. I had bought new sneakers and was really proud of them. Instead of being all leather uppers, they had a mesh material that I thought would be cooler for the warm months. That turned out not to be true in a big way. Even with the holes in the mesh, the fact that they were a polyester fabric meant that they held the heat in, and my feet were incredibly hot and sticky and stinky. and I thought, the obvious solution to this problem was baby powder.

The next class, I poured the powder onto my feet, and added a little dash into my socks for good measure. Put my shoes on over it, and left for class really proud of myself that I had been so resourceful.

Richard put the music on... we started to dance. Things heated up as usual except things weren't going as usual. The hardwood floor, that night, for some reason seemed to be extra slippery. At first it was only a little, so I didn't really pay attention. But later in the class, I went skidding across this one spot and was convinced that somebody had spilled water there. I stopped, looked at the floor... it was completely dry. But I did notice something a little odd. The point where I went skidding seemed to be a slightly different color than the rest of the floor, and a duller finish too. I decided to walk over there, oblivious to what the rest of the class was doing, to investigate.

That's when I noticed it. Head down looking at the floor, I realized that with each step I took, a little puff of baby powder was showering out of the front of my shoes. Oy vey! Mesh did not keep the powder where it belonged, and the problem with the floor was that I had covered it in powder!

Embarassed, I headed for the bathroom to address the issue. I actually skidded through the powder-spot even after I knew it was there, but continued to the back anyway. The one good thing about having Crohns Disease is that nobody questions me when I head to the bathroom at awkward times. It's just business at usual at Slimmons.

In the back, I realized that the powder had so permeated my socks that there was no wearing them. I took them off, rolled them into a small ball, and threw them out. (They were pretty worn anyway.) I put my shoes back on and started out to class, but realized that I was still showering powder with each and every step. But since the amount of powder also diminished as I walked, I figured that I'd be ok.

As I stepped through the door back into the classroom, Richard had the group doing a step that required them to first walk and then slide sideways. I watched in horror as Kiki transversed the floor with ease (she's a Pilates Teacher), then hit the spot that I had polluted with power. WHOOPS! She went skidding across it like it was ice! I don't think she quite believed what happened - especially since she didn't fall - so when Richard started the class back off in the other direction, WHOOPS! She hit that spot and skidded again. My heart was in my throat at this point, but Kiki's natural athletic abilities seemed to be in play. She never really lost balance, even as her face belayed the panic she must have been feeling inside.

Fortunately, Richard moved on to another move fairly quickly, and I took my spot up again. I was terribly uncomfortable, afraid that I would take a nose dive in my own baby powder at any moment, but actually remained upright during the entire class.

When it was over, I went to Judy and half embarrassed, half amused, told her the story and asked for something to clean the spot up with. I didn't want anyone else hurt by my foibles. But Judy told me not to worry about it... she'd take care of it herself and I should just head on home. I felt a little bad not to clean that spot up, but I did what I was told.

Apparently, Judy must not have addressed the issue. For about three weeks, anyone who hit that spot slid like there was ice on the floor. To my knowledge, nobody fell, but that was during the classes I took. Who knows what was going on in the times that I was not there?

Eventually, either Judy washed the floors on her own volition, something happened that caused it to be addressed (although I kept asking about it and was assured that nothing untoward occured), or, most likely, over time, the powder disbursed on it's own.

But I did not wait that long to address my own issue. The very next day, I went out and bought all leather upper sneakers. And I never used baby powder again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Weight Bias

Thanks to Yoni Freehoff of Weighty Matters, I discovered these three You Tube Videos put out by Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. As one who has experienced both the bias of being obese, and being relatively normal in size, I found them especially interesting and worth the time to watch.

The first: Weight Bias in the Medical Setting was filmed for Health Care Professionals, but is worth watching by everyone.

The 2nd focuses on Weight Bias in the Home... something I think many of us are familiar with.

The final looks at Weight Facts & Myths. Although it does spend some time making excuses for weight and is more emotion based, it's an amazing look at how those of us of weight are treated via "hidden camera."

I'd say "enjoy" but that's not the right word. Maybe learn. Maybe identify. Maybe just be more sensitive.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Lot of Heart

Cosmos continues on. This morning, I was ecstatic when he ate breakfast. He hasn't, to my knowledge, eaten much the rest of the day, but I wasn't home for part of it. I decided to try and pick up some of my regular activities as I can, so I went to exercise class. Maybe he ate then. After all, I have dog cookies and people cookies and all sorts of junk food strewn all over the front of my condo. I wouldn't be able to tell the difference if he had partaken. But of course, my heart fell as he looked at the four different offerings I made for his dinner, then walked away.

I am continuing to look at the "Ethics of Euthanasia" print-out that our vet gave us. I want to be sure that my boy is living some kind of quality life while he is here with me, and I'm not just holding on for my own sake. You need to score at least 35 to consider that your pet has a reasonable quality. As of this morning, after Cozie ate, I gave him an honest assessment of 52. Of course this could change on a moment's notice, so I will continue to review it and evaluate him every single day.

But for now, I am comfortable with him continuing on. And he has confirmed it with a few things that make me feel better.

1.) He's watching TV. A lot. I had let my studio get out of control, and moved my work into my bedroom. The TV in there is small and on top of my armoir, and he has never been all that comfortable watching up there. Dr. F- suggested that I should clean the studio out and see if he was still interested in programing. That would be a good starting point to gauge his interest in life. He is. He especially seems interested in "Cake Boss" and "Jon & Kate Plus 8." Oy. He slept through an old favorite of his this evening... "Dog, the Bounty Hunter." Ah well, he was tired. He had a big day.

2.) He had a problem with his phone speaking a couple of times today. It's been a while since he objected. It made me feel good that he felt well enough to notice and disapprove.

3.) He was thrilled to go for a walk. We are slow and rickety, but we know where we want to go and we go there. He did not have the strength to handle going down the three stairs outside of my condo to the walkway, but once there, he moved completely under his own power. He did not fall at all this evening. He convinced six separate people to pet him. He was smiling the same old smile of old, and just to finish it off, a complete stranger driving down the street pulled to a stop beside us, rolled her window down, and told me "Your dog has a lot of heart."

"Yes he does," I replied. And he does. I am comfortable with the fact that I did not have him put down last Saturday. I don't know how much time he has... I personally vascilate from hope to panic in 1;2 second flat, but this portion of his journey is not about me. It's about what's best for him. Right now, he's still getting enjoyment out of life, he's not so thin that he could be considered starving (and he does eat something so far when he gets hungry enough) although he is a bag of bones, he is enjoying activities of the past, he has opinions, and he is hydrated.
And, by the way, he negotiated all of the curbs by himself and maybe he can't go down stairs anymore, but he managed to climb up them again with only the tiniest bit of assistance on my part.

It's coming. I know it is. But for now, we can all sleep comfortable (except maybe Sunny) knowing that holding on is the right thing to do.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Please, Just One More Day

At this time yesterday, I was sure that today was going to be the day that Cosmos was going to leave me. He hadn't eaten for three or four days, his toxin levels from his Kidney Failure had suddenly shot through the roof when last month, they were almost normal. He had been suffering from diahrreah mostly on rather than off for a couple of weeks, and our appointment with Dr. Florio last Thursday was really grim.
On Friday, I was fairly hysterical the whole day. I could see my boy was suffering; was slipping away from me. This despite him being on two IV infusions a day to try to flush the toxins out of his system. He could barely stand, let alone walk. Yet there was a spirit of life within him, trying to hold on. He would ask to go outside to walk around the condo a little bit, and even onto the sidewalk in front. And everyone that walked by, as he always did in the past, he begged to have them pet him. He loves acknowledgment and to be pet.

Ian had called on Thursday night in response to me canceling a sleep-over for Eric's kids and Ian. I couldn't deal with my boy slipping away from me and the kids at the same time. Adele chose that time to let Ian know that Cosmos was probably dying. Ian, on his own, called, asked to be put on speaker phone to talk directly to Cosmos, and made his peace with him. Once he was done talking directly to Cozie, he and I talked, discussing the various medicines I had Cosmos on to try to keep him comfortable and well. In the end, I invited Ian to come over on Friday so that he could visit with Cosmos one last time and be able to say good bye in person.

In the morning, I had called the vet's office frantically. Wasn't there anything they could do to help Cosmos eat? If he would just eat, I really felt that he might last a little longer. They had an injection that they could try... an anti-nausea medication with an appetite stimulant in it. I had Cosmos over within the hour for the shot, and then brought him home. He slept for hours until Ian arrived. I had called the vet's office just before he arrived, and they said that the med doesn't usually cause drowsyness, but that Cosmos could just be sleeping because he finally felt relief from the gastric symptoms.

Ian left, and shortly thereafter, Risa, his special friend, an animal specialist, and his babysitter came to visit too. I think Risa is magic. She somehow got Cosmos to eat a few biscuits, and gave me a list of all sorts of foods that he might be induced to eat. She left, with a promise to come back again today. And I immediately went out shopping.

I returned home with all sorts of foods that were so far off of my radar that it had never occured to me to look for them. Spam, potted meats, bacon, white bread (toast) with real butter. I tried Spam on Cozie with no success, and faired no better with the bacon. He did eat a small portion of buttered toast, though, so at least that was something.

This morning, I got up and Cosmos followed me into the kitchen. He seemed really hungry and I offered him a little toast which he ate. Then I offered him some of the cold bacon. to my surprise, he took it and swallowed it down! I gave him a little bit more and then thought to make him a "Grand Slam"breakfast of champions. I took one egg, mixed it with some heavy whipping cream and water, scrambled it, and put it into a frying pan saturated with real butter and some of the bacon. When it finished cooking, I took another piece of toast, tore it into bits, and mixed it in to soak up all the butter and egg juices. As soon as it was cool enough, I offered it to Cosmos. He ate it. I gave him another IV, some of his medication (he wouldn't take all of it), and went to Costco to pick up more IV solution, butter, whipped cream (he loves whip cream), and I forgot what else but it was for him.

Then I took him to the vet for the visit that just yesterday, I thought was going to mark the end of his life. Dr. Florio was as surprised as I was to see a dog who was clearly weak and on his last legs, but in good spirits. Cosmos had had a wonderful time in the waiting room visiting with the other dogs and dog parents, and had been pet in the back too. He was taken off to have his blood drawn, and since I was fairly sure that it was going to show better numbers than last Thursday, and since I was definitely not going to put him down today, instead of waiting for the blood results, I took my boy home.

Dr. Florio called later. Although his toxin levels are far from normal, they had dropped considerably from last Thursday. He may have a few days left in him.

He is terribly thin and weak. I know that the rest of his life depends on him continuing to have the will to fight, and on him eating. The problem with that is that the toxins make him nauseous... like he has a bad case of the flu, and eventually they are going to get him.

Risa came to visit us again today. She managed to interest him in some biscuits, and later tonight, in fact just a few minutes ago... about a quarter past 11, he ate the dinner of eggs (again) that I had prepared for him hours ago. Risa and I had a talk about Cozie. I repeated what I've been saying for weeks, and in fact months now. I don't know how I am going to live without him. But she stressed to me that it was important that I have a talk with him (I'm absolutely sure that he understands a lot of what I say) and let him know that although I don't know how I'm going to live without him, that when the fight became too much, it was ok to let me know and to let go. And that although I will be devistated by his departure, in the end, we would both be ok.

I had that talk with him just before starting to type this post at midnight. I know that he was listening, and I'm pretty sure that he got the jist of what I was saying. I'm going to have this talk with him frequently for the rest of his life. I'm going to tell him how much I love him, and how much I am going to miss him when he has to go. But that this time was all about him now, and what is best for him. That I would understand when the time came that the body had to stop, and that we both would be ok. And I will keep the edge of hysteria out of my voice as I tell him this.

He is so frail and weak now. I know that the same dog I've known and loved for all these years are inside of that bag of skin and bones, but very little of it can be expressed now. Goodness knows, he tries, but he's just too tired and incapacitated to really be the Cosmos of old. And I know that our time is down to weeks, or maybe even days.

I don't pray... I don't believe in it and I have a lifetime of experience to know that it doesn't work for me. If there is a God, he deserted me many many years ago, and I am on my own. But still, inside my head, I am saying the exact same thing that Claudia said when her Mac was preparing to leave her. And I am saying it each and every day. Just one more day my little one, my baby. Please, just one more day.


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