Saturday, May 29, 2010

Drabble: Tarot

Guns and Pocky on Y!gallery posts drabble bits in his journal every now and again to get us up and running on creating.  This is one I picked up and ran with.  It actually might make its way into Maki and Baby's story.

Baby sat at the table and deftly turned the card with only his thumb and forefinger, placing it back on the table as he looked over it intently. His eyes turned up as a small smile crept over his lips. He watched the dark haired man as he slowly strolled in, rounding the corner of the table to look over the younger boy's shoulder. “The Wheel of Fate,” he vocalized, catching Baby's attention with a slight dip of his head. “What's it mean?”

“The Wheel of Fate means change. What goes up must come down. It means that although things are good now, they can always change or, vice versa, what is bad can always turn back up.”

“It's unfortunate that the Wheel may turn very slowly.”

Baby nodded, making a sound of agreement. “Sometimes. Mine's been four years.”

Dark eyes shaded black, turning away from the boy who watched him very intently as he rounded the table again and put quite a bit of distance between the pair of them. He took a breath to steel himself and regain the bearings the simple comment had knocked away so easily. “Surely your time here hasn't been so bad, has it? You're well fed, clothed and housed. You've gotten your GED and you're attending classes for college. So far your grades have been excellent and you're doing well at a part time job. It seems to me you're doing quite well for yourself.”

Baby smirked and let his eyes fall to the table once again, turning over the next card. A woman bearing a set of scales was presented and the boy's smile grew as he tapped the card, his fingernail clicking against the plasticized card. He drew a breath to speak and said nothing, waiting for Maki to give him the definition of the card he knew was coming. It took him awhile, but eventually, with a sigh, Maki gave in and sat on the stool opposite the expectant boy and turned his eyes to the card again.

“Justice. You will have a favorable outcome in legal matters.” He knew that wouldn't sate him, but he still looked into the blue orbs as though he were finished.


“If you know, why are you asking me?” he teased, a faint laugh barely kept in check as he leaned away from the table and Baby who had been leaning into him.

“It also means a return on an unfavorable action. The wrongs committed against me will be righted.”

“And what wrongs have been done against you since coming here, hm?”

“I don't think you want me to answer that, do you?” Their eyes met and locked, holding for a long time as Baby put his intent into his stare and Maki resisted pulling away. Baby could see the wheels turning in Maki's mind before their gaze broke and one long finger gestured at the last remaining card.

Baby turned it over, looking at it himself before he finished turning it over. “All Major Arcana,” he commented lightly as he placed The Lovers very carefully on the table.

“Very powerful,” Maki returned, staring holes through the card and the table to the floor.
“The Lovers. Passion. New love and new beginnings.”

His eyes flicked up, meeting Baby's with a warning. “Baby, The Lovers also means choosing between duty and your heart.”

“It also means if you choose your heart, things could be better. Choosing duty means it all stays the same.”

“It means intense temptation in the face of one's morals.”

“It also means a change to happier times. Maki, you're miserable. You deserve--”

“Happier to what end? If it defies my morals, Baby, then I cannot. It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly agreeing 'neither to harm nor be harmed', and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.”
Baby scowled at him. “One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.”

“Don't throw quotes back at me, Baby.”

“You're only upset because I'm right. How long are you going to ignore this?” His fingers flicked over the table and the three cards laid out before them with meaning.

Maki rose from the stool, not meeting Baby's eyes as he turned to leave. “Until you get over me,” he replied, taking a card off the top of the stack that was tossed down as he turned and walked out. Baby watched him go until he was out of the room and only then did his eyes drop down to the card he'd laid down.

Baby laughed when he was greeted by The Chariot, tracing the man in the golden cart with his finger. “So we both think we're gonna win, hm? Well, if we both keep going, one of us is going to win, but which one?” He let his index finger rest over the top card on the stack and took a deep breath to decide rather or not he should turn over the other card. “It could mean Maki's being insecure, which certainly fits and I have self confidence in spades, so...”

Flirting with it for a moment, he turned over another card and put it atop the other. “Hm. So asking for the wrong reasons, am I? Okay.” Baby took a deep breath, letting it slowly slip out through his nose. He wasn't happy about the results, but he would accept them. It was time for a new journey, but not so much for Maki. Scowling deeply, Baby reached over for another card and, after several moments fingering the top of the next card, he withdrew his hand and rose with a final long look at the cards and wandered out.

(c) Carrie Fulk V aughn 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hopalong Cassidy

When we took Cassidy to the vet on that Thursday morning, she had been eating baby food and drinking water, but getting her pills into her were an absolute fight.  She refused to take them on her own, pilling her was a nightmare and putting them in food ended with her eating everything around the pills and not touching anything the pills had touched.  My mate had to hold her down while I shoved the pills to the back of her throat.  She gagged, she retched, she foamed and grimaced.  She shook her head and slobber and foam sprayed everywhere.  She wouldn't eat if we gave her the pills first, but she vomited after we gave her the pills.  We held her maw closed, we rubbed her throat, we coaxed and cajoled.  Nothing helped.  She was adamant and whenever we would pull her out at 10 when she was due, she would cower and roll over and pee on the floor, her kennel, us... It was an absolute horror. For an hour after her pills dissolved in her mouth, she would sit and lick at her mouth and grimace and shake her head and take little sips of water to try and wash it all down and give us the eyes like we were trying to murder her.  First she doesn't feel well and then we have to be mean to be able to get the pills into her.  It just didn't seem very fair to us, even if it did have to be done.
Since we were having so much trouble, we asked the vet to show us an easier way and he sat down on the floor with her, popped them in and down the hatch they went.  I can't begin to explain to you how frustrated I was that I was having a hellish time getting her to take the damned things and he just got them right down.  Despite the fact that he's a professional and does stuff like that all the time, I hated him just a little for making it look so easy.  Through his demonstration, however, we realized what we were doing wrong.  We hadn't had Cassidy sitting up since before Thursday she really hadn't been able to without pain.  Her head had always jerked down after we'd put the pills in and it let her get her tongue in to roll them out.  In our attempts to get her to swallow, we were holding her muzzle too tightly.  He also told us if we blew on the end of her nose that it sometimes shocked them into swallowing.  When she licked at her nose, it meant she'd swallowed and we didn't have to hold her mouth closed anymore, so instead of never knowing when we could let go, we had a time frame.  All good things to know.  He sent us home with orders to check in with him the next week to see how she was doing.  Using his tips, the pillings were still a hassle, but they were nowhere near as bad as they'd been before.  The doctor also cleared her for travel, so I took her with me to Columbus for the weekend while I was working so I could care for her in the evenings and give the mate a break.
On the way down, she started yipping at me like she needed a potty stop, so I pulled off the highway and into a McDonald's parking lot.  I lugged her kennel out and deposited her on the grass, reached in and scooped her out and got her back end up so she could  try and do her business.  For the first time in three days, she FINALLY pooped.  I have never before been so excited for poop. As I was finishing her up and wiping her back end up with a baby wipe, an older woman came up and asked what had happened to my "little guy".  I told her Cassidy had slipped a disc and had paralysis in her hind end.  Her head nodded in understanding and she waited while I got Cassidy settled back into her kennel and asked how long she would be paralyzed.  I told her it could clear up in a couple of weeks or it could be permanent.  We didn't know.  I told her as long as Cassidy could live a full and happy life with a little assistance, I saw no reason to put her down just because she had special needs.  The woman looked at me and said "You are a special lady.  Thank you, I didn't mean to get personal.  Good luck with your doggie."  I told her I didn't mind and thanked her for the compliment.
Then I called the mate to babble excitedly at him that Cassidy had yipped to let me know she had to go and had actually gone.  He laughed at me for being so excited, but it was a big step as far as I was concerned.  I had to share.
It was during that weekend in Columbus I discovered the joys of Greenie's Pill Pockets and, since she was finally eating solid dog food, she happily scarfed them right down.  Having to shove the pills down her throat wasn't fun for anyone involved and those things made everything quick and painless. The pill slipped inside, the top closed over them and the gummy little beef pouches took all the hassle out of doing anything the vet had showed me.  No more back of the throat, muzzle holding, throat rubbing, nose blowing pillings for us!
Having a dog on the mend who is functioning with paralysis isn't an easy task.  I was still getting up once in the middle of the night to take her out.  I took her in the mornings before work, which was more of an ordeal now that she couldn't just trot out and do her business while I ate or brushed my teeth or finished getting dressed.  I had to get up earlier, get myself ready, hope she didn't pee all over me getting her up and down out of the kennel and outside.  Her back end was still very tender and she still couldn't move her hind legs.  I had to take her out, set her down, pick up her back end, hold it while she did her own attempts at peeing, give her belly a squeeze to work out whatever remained in her bladder, hold her back legs up while she wandered around the yard to find a place to poop and hold her back end for her while she finally did poop.  Then she had to be wiped up, fed, watered, her kennel changed, and given a little playtime before she went back in for seven hours while I went to work.  All in all, my mornings took an extra hour from what they had been before.  I was exhausted by the time I got home from Columbus that week.  I had, however, discovered another joy of the weekend: Adult Diapers.
I have a feeling some of you are rather confused and others of you are going places I don't mean for you to go.  My friend enlightened me to adult incontinence pads to line Cassidy's kennel.  We kept her on pads so the pee would be wicked away from her skin since we noticed she'd been wetting when she was sleeping and that her bladder was getting full a lot more often due to the fact she was actually eating and drinking.  If she did have an accident while she was in her kennel, she wasn't just lying in it.  She wanted out of her kennel more and since she was having accidents and her piddle is not a welcome addition to the carpets, we kept her on the pee pads and roped into an area while she was out.  Clean up was a lot easier because all we had to do was gather up the pad and put down another one.  Less muss and fuss and much cleaner carpeting.  Win/win.
When I got her home, she was super excited to see everyone and spent the time trying to drag her defunct back end around so she could get to everyone and see them.  When she got excited, she would literally bounce on her front end like she was trying to jump, but her hindquarters wouldn't cooperate.  When she wanted something, she would dance back and forth on her front feet until you let her out of the kennel.  When she tried to get around the house, she would hop like a bunny, especially over the door frames, hence the nickname "Hopalong Cassidy".
We had her in her kennel with the door open on Thursday night while I was puttering about the internet.  I looked over at a noise and I saw Cassidy come barreling out of her kennel, her back legs moving in an attempt at walking to get her across the short expanse of the living room where she flopped over on her side.  Within a few moments we realized she had been sleeping and had pooped in her kennel and it was foul.  No wonder she ran!  The entire household wanted to run, too!  After getting everything cleaned up and getting Cassidy a bath, something we've been taking a lot more of recently, we got her settled into a clean crate for the night.
Last weekend I left Cassidy with the mate while I went to work.  Tag teaming helps.  While I was gone, her appetite increased and we started being able to mix in hard kibble again with the wet food I'd gotten her on the weekend before.  She was getting more and more mobile, dragging herself around the living room and actually attempting to go outside to use the potty again, at least for my grandmother.  By Saturday she was taking steps when she was moving, her legs not quite working right and her balance unsteady, but one step turned into two and two turned into five and five turned into eight.  By the time I got home Tuesday morning, she was trying to run.  It was a funny sight, watching her concentrate to put her feet down and bear weight and not knuckle her little feet.  When she ran to the door to come and see me, she wiped out on the linoleum twice and then her front end was running but her back end just couldn't keep up.  We got her down and kept her quiet for a bit, especially since we didn't want her hurting her back again.  My dog, who hadn't been able to greet me at the door like she always did before, was trying to run to meet me two and a half weeks out from treatment.
I cried.  I'm not even going to lie.  I was so excited to see her trying.
Cassidy had her followup with Doctor Rausch on Tuesday morning.  We got her out of the kennel when we came in and she made it out to the scales.  She wouldn't step up to get onto them, but she let the tech lift her up and get her weight.  We then went back to the room to wait and she sat at my feet for scritchings.  When the doctor came in, he asked how we were doing and, with a look of slight disappointment, asked if we weren't showing any improvement.
"Oh, no, we're trying to walk!"  I stood and walked over to the side door and called her over.  She got up on her feet and took conscious steps, knuckling one side, then the other side, then she got them both up and planted her left foot, then her right foot and she slowly made her way over to me.
He was stoked.  He watched everything carefully and made sure to note how she was walking and what we should be doing with her.  In addition to the stretches he told us to do on her last visit, he wants us to make her stand first on her right foot, then her left and let her stand there until she gets tired to strengthen her legs.  He kept her on the same dose of the prednisilone and the tramadol and told us to watch for excess drinking.  Otherwise he was pleased with her results.  He said he still won't give a timeline, which I didn't expect him to, and said that she was reminding him a lot of a dachshund he had treated in the past who had made a full recovery after hitting a plateau.  Her parents had given up hope and ordered a doggie walker for her and she surprised them by making a return from paralysis.
I really hope Cassidy ends up being like their pup, but I'm not counting on it.  I will take this one day at a time because I don't want to get my hopes up and end up being crushed when she can't walk without a walker.
The mate and I have been looking at plans for a walker and figuring out the options between building one and buying one.  We found a few really good resources for them and, if I do buy one, I think I found the company I want to purchase from.  Handicapped Pets seems to have a really nice cart for an affordable price.  They also have the plans to actually make one, so we have a few options, and since my dad and friends are especially handy, it might be a good option for her.  In case anyone is interested in keeping tabs on them, Handicapped Pets has both a Facebook page and a Twitter feed.
I managed to get the videos off of my phone and onto my computer that I took of Cassidy.  I have one of her chasing a frisbee two weeks before the accident.  I also took a video of her the morning before her vet visit.  I also snapped a few pics of the hole she tripped in that I'll be posting.  It's hard to believe something that looks so innocent could take her out like it did.  What's bad is, the way I found it was almost screwing up my ankle stepping in it.  At least I now know what it was she hurt herself on so we can fill it in.
This video is of Cassidy before her injury chasing the frisbee in the yard.  As you can see, she runs right over the concrete in front of the garage no problem.  She did it every day when she went potty, when she went out for walks or to play.  It was just a one time freak accident that led to her paralysis.

It makes me realize how much sooner this accident could have happened and didn't.  It also makes me ask "why now?"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cassidy in Retrospect

A little over two weeks ago, my thirteen pound terrier mix came out to meet me when I got home from work like she always does.  The first thing we do when I get home is I take her outside to go potty and we went out like we always do and she jumped and ran around like she always does.  It was the first really warm day of the year and my work polo was insanely hot over the tank top I'd worn in that morning before.  Tugging it up over my head, I pulled it up and partially off, heard her yip and by the time I got my shirt down, she had already run across the concrete stoop in front of the garage toward the house.
I called her over to see if maybe she'd been stung since there had been a lot of bumblebees buzzing around the yard.  I checked her from stem to stern and no stingers, no stings or bites or marks and she just simply wanted to go back inside the house.  She scurried up onto the porch to the door and cowered there.  I noticed her walking a little funny once she got inside the house and asked if she'd been limping before that.  By all accounts of the house, she hadn't been walking funny until after we'd gotten home. She didn't seem to be in pain and she was doing her normal doggie thing, so I asked if she wanted to go for a ride in the car to go pick up a few things we needed from the petstore.
We made the trip in, she was fine through the store and she came home with no problems.  Later that night, however, my son put a blanket over the two of them like he always does, wrapping them both in a tent, and she yelped.  We were immediately on it, trying to figure out what he had done.  He said he hadn't touched her and she was limping again where she hadn't really been before.  That started her laying around, not going down the steps to go outside to go potty and, once we'd gone to bed for the night, pain panting.  Since my girlfriend  had a Great Dane we'd had to put down for wobblers disease, I was seeing a lot of symptoms from the degradation I'd watched her dog go through.  Since she was a vet tech as well, at two in the morning I called her up and told her Cassidy was panting really hard and gulping.  She could hear how hard Cassidy was panting over the phone and told me it was a pain pant.  She said I could give her a low dose of children's aspirin and that would help the pain to see if it passed by the next day and recommended ice packs to reduce swelling, but said if it didn't clear up by the next day or at least get a little better that we should really get her in to the vet for a pain medication that had less chance to cause organ problems.  I thanked her, got an ice pack for her and some aspirin into her and within half an hour she calmed down and was able to sleep a little.
The next morning when we got up, she seemed to be in more pain than the day before and she wasn't eating or drinking and growled at anyone, including the other animals, who came near her.  I went to work that morning and asked the household to keep an eye on her.  I called the vet office when they opened, asked them what they wanted me to do and they said to bring her in for a visit.  After a phone call to my sister, the vet visit was made and Cassidy made it in for her first visit on May 6th at 3:30.  The vet gave her a half tab of prednisilone twice a day for swelling in her back and said it was most likely a sprain or strain from dorking around and that she should be better in a few days.  She came home, we managed to dose her pills in peanut butter and she settled down for the night.  She got in her kennel and she didn't move until I took her into bed with me that night.  Again, we settled her in with an ice pack and, since her pain didn't seem to be less, I iced her for 20 minutes and then let it rest for 20 minutes.  All night long.  The most I slept at a stretch was half an hour.
The next morning when I woke up, Cassidy stayed in the bedroom while I got up and got ready for work in the morning.  She never does that.  She stays until she realizes I'm up for the day and then she's right by my side.  I called her to go outside and go potty and she didn't come.  She'd never disobeyed a command from me before.  So I went in to the bedroom and scooped her up to bring her back out to the living room.  When I set her down, she literally drug her back end into the kennel.  She couldn't use her back legs at all.  When I moved them, she didn't even notice and the muscles were completely atonic.  It was like moving around a fresh chicken leg.  I tried touching her toes and nothing.  I tried squeezing her toes and nothing.  I tried literally squeezing her little toe pad just as hard as I could.  Nothing.
That was the part where I broke down sobbing because my dog was paralyzed and I had to go to work.  I couldn't even call the vet because I was crying too hard.  My male mate had to call the office for me and tell them what had happened.  They said to up the dose of prednisilone to a full tab and a half until she could get in.   The earliest they could get her in was at 10:00 the next morning.  It took me forever to pull myself together long enough I could see through my tears so I could drive two hours for work.  Mom said she would drive them to the vet the next morning so I wouldn't have to miss work Saturday morning.  Through the tears of knowing I would have to put my dog down, I drove to work and stopped at my girlfriend's house to see her before work.  I told her that Cassidy couldn't use her back legs and, as the veterinary professional she is, she started in with the questions.  When did you notice?  Did she have any muscle tone at all?  Did you check her toes for pressure?  How much pressure could she stand?  Did she notice the pressure at all?  Was she able to keep her bladder and bowels?  Is she still in pain?  At the end of all the questions, she said the vet would most likely do a deep pain test and some x-rays to see exactly where the damage was in the spine and how severe the damage was.  If surgery was needed, they would refer her to medvet in Columbus.  It helped to ease my mind while I went through work and waited to hear about my dog from the family between clients at work.
The news came back that it was most likely a slipped disc that Cassidy had gotten when she slipped or tripped and put just enough torque on her spine that she inflamed the tissues.  The disc was putting pressure on the spine and causing the paralysis.  The steroid would help the swelling and they upped the dose again by another half tab and gave her a half tab of tramadol for pain so she could sleep and let her body heal itself.  He said there was no need to put her down at this point and said we could try the drugs and see if they helped.  If not, they said we had options at that point to either opt for surgery or we would have the choice to put her down.
At least I'd dodged the bullet again.  I'd told my mate to ask them what her quality of life would be if she ended up paralyzed.  He said the vet seemed shocked that we'd even thought to ask and told us we would probably have some special challenges at that point, but that her quality of life could be very good.  He said if she ended up with permanent paralysis that we could opt for surgery to see if the injury would correct and/or get a doggie walker should she not have pain or further damage in her spine but just needed a little help to get moving.
I considered it a blessing and entered into the care for the dog with tentative hope.  I had it in my mind that putting her down could quite possibly still be on the horizon and that we had a long road to recovery.  If this injury had happened in a human, we were looking at probably six months of rehab and medication and care.  I knew the paralysis might never clear up or that it could completely reverse.  No one could say for sure how long it would take or give us any mile markers on her progress.  We were on a "wait and see" timeline and, when you're waiting on an animal who is like another kid to heal, it is rather nerve wracking and frustrating.  Here we were on an indefinite timeline, trying to figure out how to dose a dog with medicine when she refused to take it off of a peanut butter spoon, when she hadn't been eating or drinking and had no interest in her treats and who fought every movement we made to get them into her...
By the end of the first week expressing her bladder for her, having her turn away food, not being able to get any kind of food or much water into her and literally fighting her tooth and claw to get the pills into her stomach instead of dissolving into her mouth, we were really tired and strung out.  She needed potty breaks every couple of hours and she couldn't support her back end at all.  She wasn't willing to even help us get her out of her kennel, so we started putting towels down on her blankets and wrapping her in a sling to carry her to the bathroom so we could squeeze her in the bathtub so we didn't have to carry her outside and not be able to see in the middle of the night.  She wet the kennel during the night, so we had to change the bedding every morning when we got up.  She was having less and less control of her bladder as the swelling got worse in her spine.  She was still able to hold her bowels, however, and we considered that a blessing even if she hadn't pooped yet. We were able to get her to eat a little beef and rice that the vet suggested to try getting her to eat on Saturday night.  By Monday she wouldn't even try eating again, so we bought baby food and fed her as much baby food as she would eat, which was only ever about half to a quarter of a jar of the first meats food.  We offered it to her every four hours to see if she would take some and drink a little water.  Our lives consisted of pillings that were horrible at 10 am and pm and every four hours pottying and then offering food and water and changing her bedding while she was out of the kennel if she'd wet.
By her next vet visit on Thursday the 13th, she was starting to perk up a bit, thankfully.  Since this entry has been incredibly long, I will break it up into the next entry.

Never really gets easier

Story time since it's on my mind and I wanted to share and ask a little extra patience.  May 20th. Mary and I are at a local garden shop...