Monday, March 12, 2018

To Borg or Not to Borg...

...the Phonak Cros vs the Baha 5 Attract

When did I know it was time to do something drastic about the hearing loss on my left side?

  • When the very first thing I thought of when I got invited to proctor in Chicago again wasn't the flight or the hotel or the good food or the time with friends or even all the walking and hard work involved. The very first thing I thought of was the dread of wearing the walkie-talkie headset to communicate with the other staff. The idea of trying to wear that thing slightly perched over my right ear while still allowing sound in because my left ear is so useless almost made me cry.
  • Coming home from a morning spent with my Moldovan friends, and realizing not only did I not understand much said in the car, but even the conversation with the only English speaker in the group was so exhausting, such a strain on my brain, that I was glad to say goodbye to them. This formerly gregarious people-lover pulled into the garage, turned off the car and bawled my eyes out. I cried for my lost hearing, my currently shelved extroverted personality and all the wasted energy I spend straining to hear, pretending to hear, and mis-hearing.
  • The fact that now to me the perfect day is spent at home with the dog, with my pretty-much-useless hearing aid put away. The hearing aid was a miracle for me for two years, I loved it. But now with my hearing on the left so deteriorated, the hearing aid basically just keeps me from getting hit by a bus and would alert me to a jet engine a few feet from my face. (I'm exaggerating. It helps, but only turned up to a volume that produces feedback.) I also have very small and oval shaped ear canals which makes wearing it almost painful. Why put something painful in my ear to hardly get any benefit when I can just choose to stay home with a dog that doesn't talk?
  • When binge watching cochlear implant activation videos on YouTube is viewed as an evening well spent. 
I'm not a candidate for a cochlear implant, but I did find out I'm a candidate for something very intriguing. On my last visit with my lovely audiologist, she sweetly informed me that my suspicions were correct, I had indeed lost more hearing on my left side due to Menieire's Disease. She recommended I go back to Kaiser Head and Neck Surgery for a consult. I almost didn't go, what would they say, "Yes, you are really deaf in your left ear. Let's go with two devices, one for transmitting sound from the left and feeding it into the right. Two hearing aids, just what your tiny little oval shaped ear canals were dreaming of!"

The ENT doctor did mention that setup, referred to as a CROS system. But he also recommended I get tested to see if I would be a candidate for a BAHA device, or a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid. He explained that hearing can be transmitted through the bones of the skull to the good ear. I pictured this.

"Can you tell which is my good side?"
Of course I immediately got out to the car and Googled Baha hearing device and freaked out a bit. The original Baha devices, still the ones that work the best, involve a titanium screw in the skull and this snap-on device protruding out from the skin. 

"Yes, I have a screw in my head.
No, I am not going to listen to your Frankenstein joke."
After digesting that idea and reading about some of the skin issues involved in caring for the post, or rather "the abutment" as it is so affectionately called, I saw there is an alternative. Instead of the Baha Connect with the Frankenscrew, there is another option called the Baha Attract, which uses a magnet. I was immediately attracted to the Attract.
Actual size may be smaller or larger, depending on your screen size.
The magnet is about the size of a quarter. 

I made the appointment with the Kaiser audiologist, and my hopes were high to see if I could even use the Baha. The audiologist fitted a very tight, very uncomfortable headband around my head, with the Baha processor pressed tightly (I cannot stress enough how tight it was) to the left side of my head. She turned it on. She sounded like a robot. My hair sounded like giant ropes scraping my head. She adjusted it. Less robot, more person. A few more adjustments. I could hear her. She sounded almost normal. She put me in the testing room to have me listen to 25 simple sentences that were going to become progressively softer and softer.

The man has a yellow car
The girl is walking with a puppy.
The blue lamp is broken.

Simple stuff, so simple that at any moment I expected to hear:

See Dick! See Jane! See Dick and Jane run with Spot.

I tried not to laugh, it all seemed so funny. Maybe the super tight headband was cutting off air to my brain. 

Yet the puzzling thing was this - "Why is the audiologist testing the hearing on my right? She has my last hearing test, she knows my right hearing is super good. When will she get to the left side?"

Then the test was over. "She isn't going to test my left side? Wait, that WAS the left side? I heard all those sentences from the LEFT?" Suddenly all those simple sentences that almost had me giggling with embarrassment were on the level with War and Peace. They were the most profound phrases ever, because they were coming from the left and I "heard" them with my right ear! Through my skull. It was completely wild. We went for a walk down to the lobby. Even though I was wearing a headband that made me look like Janis Joplin meets Iron Man, I didn't care. I could hear my footsteps and the return air unit and people talking on my left and the rain outside. I wanted to walk out with the headband of torture and never take it off.

Next we tried another processor, this one connected to an equally painful headset. The left dug into my head, the right dug into my temple, but I could hear. We did another test in the little room. I got 22 out of 25 sentences correct. We went for a walk down the hallway again. More lovely ambient noises that you don't appreciate until you lose the ability to hear them. And of course, the constant "Am I talking really loud?" question that needs to be asked every other sentence. 

Since the audiologist had about 20 more minutes left in our 90 minute appointment, she wanted me to also try on the CROS system. I went into the appointment totally against the idea of wearing two devices, one in each ear. But, it was pretty amazing to understand everything from the left with absolutely no distortion. If I choose this system, on the left I would have a microphone in a hearing aid-like device, the right "hearing aid" would simply transmit the sound, no amplification. It would still allow sounds to come in on the right.

So now the choice. Get surgery to have a titanium anchor installed into my skull with a magnet that holds a processor onto my scalp, but that doesn't go inside my ears, or wear two devices in my ears? Oh, major consideration, the surgery with the Baha 5 Attract system is covered by insurance, the Cros system is not. One decision wouldn't rule out the other down the line. MRIs are an issue with the Baha magnet, but we also need to look into the danger of transmitting sound across my brain via the Cros. What's worse, zapping my brain daily or not being able to get my brain zapped with an MRI?

The only thing I know for sure is that I'm not going with Option 3, which is to do nothing and live like this. I can't take the emotional drain anymore, I want my personality back. Lots of research ahead of us, a consult with a surgeon and a consult with my regular audiologist. I'll keep you in the loop and shout out whatever I decide to do. If you have any input or personal experience regarding these technologies, please email me in the link to the right. Thanks for listening. 

This is me at the next big proctoring event, I hope.
"You can talk to me on any side!"

Team Left is down, got to get it back in the game.

Hearing aid humor from Pinterest. 

Maybe if I wear this around, the Baha Attract will seem tiny in comparison?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Getting in the party zone

Before we moved into our house, we spent many hours here at parties our friends threw, They were and still are great at hosting a party with tons of people while still managing to make you feel special. Hadassah would sit and talk to me as if it were just the two of us. In fact, if her girls came up and started interfering too much in our conversation, she would say "OK, either sit down with us or go play, I'm talking to Jessica." Cool as a cucumber, a true party person.

I'm still trying to catch the cucumber vibe. When we plan a party and I find myself the day before cleaning the mirrors in a room no party attender will go in, I remember that I haven't given much thought about food. Or ice. Or what people are going to drink. But wow do those mirrors shine!

We had a going away party last Sunday for some friends. And for once I think I got my priorities straight. I didn't clean one mirror, except of course the bathroom mirror, and the glass sliding door, and possibly some picture frames and I had to clean the microwave door. But other than that, glass surfaces were out of my mind and I only concentrated on the number of glasses and cups we would need.

After many parties at the house, I'm finally learning how this house flows with lots of people in it. Most everyone ends up in the kitchen, so I decided to create three food zones there - Pizza, Coffee & Tea, and Booze. These were Moldovan guests, so we got to put out our homemade alcohol concoctions with no fear of turned up noses. The Pizza Zone was a great idea, the boxes just got stacked up on the area around the stove and didn't take up precious buffet table space. For sure going to do that again.

There's another area of the yard that many of our guests congregate in, and I don't know why. Every big party we have there's a crowd in our garbage can area. I usually look over in horror to see people gathered around our garbage cans, sometimes using the Recycle bin as an ad hoc standing bar of sorts. This time I was ready. I made a line of chairs on the patio blocking off that area, only to see halfway into the evening that once again, there was a crowd over there. Some guys brought their barbeque and that's where they decided to set it up, right by the trash. Oh well, I'm not going to fight the lure of the garbage cans, it is strong.

It was iffy but the weather held. We had a fire inside and a bonfire outside, and for once I was relaxed enough to just let things flow. There was enough food without it being too much, the perfect amount of pizza and the children brought me flowers to add to the daffodils I picked from the yard. If I stick to the zones for the next few parties, I may just be relaxed enough to sit down and talk to our guests. Either that or go clean some mirrors.

The Utensil Zone.
We ran out of forks.
Let them eat from the Cake Zone with spoons!

The Alcohol Zone.
Helps hide the dirty mirrors.

Party goals - no more Styrofoam cups.

The Patio Zone that leads to the Garbage Zone.
Maybe next time some police tape?
Young Tony brought me these, it's a Moldovan party tradition.

Little Adela brought me the roses.
Heart touched.

The Morning After Chair Zone.

The Basketball Zone.

No, the hats were not because of the Alcohol Zone.
It's just become a thing at the end of our parties for the last
guests to take a silly hat photo.
Until next time...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Greens make you cute!

Since trying to downsize our life and declutter, I'm not one to buy books anymore on anything diet related, I tend to just find the answers on YouTube. That can be a daunting task - trying to filter out the whacky content, the people who can't speak without swearing, and the people who just really need to take the advice of Thumper's mommy as told to Bambi, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." If Thumper's mommy had a YouTube channel, I would subscribe, because she certainly would know how to prepare rabbit food.

I found a person who posts lots of raw vegan recipes on YouTube, she doesn't swear and she eats lots of healthy foods while keeping on a real person's budget. TannyRaw uses the term "Greens make you cute", which it seems to have done for her. I don't know if cuteness is in reach for me at this point, but I'm hoping at least for a bit more perky. I'm incorporating tons of greens in my diet, and feeling pretty good. In fact, as I go to sleep, I can't wait to wake up and have a green smoothie, even on the cold mornings we've been having. 

The hard part has been gauging how many to buy, because when I get home from produce shopping I can hardly find room in the refrigerator (we have a small one). But then a few days later I'm scrambling to find enough for the dinner salad. Keeping all the scraps has helped, the innards of kale leaves are pretty tough, but the Vitamix doesn't know the difference. And the ends of herbs that were too woody for a salad are also getting thrown in my morning green smoothies. Sometimes Ernst has a hard time choking down the weirder of the concoctions, and yes the radish greens were a bit bitter, but greens are greens, as I'm sure Thumper's mommy would tell him.

Found a ladybug in the organic celery. I let her free, poor cold baby.

Nori wraps are green, right?

Green and blue makes a yummy breakfast.

Dandelion greens.
I had to fight off some mommy bunnies for these.

Kale salad is my new must have dinner.

That's what my green smoothie looks like with a full amount of produce,

The last of the greens.
They are ugly.
But they are green.
And greens make you cute.

There is green in there, I promise.
Time to go shopping.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Year of Living DangeRAWsly 

Back in December we had dinner with some friends, and we got to talking about our diet. That’s typical because although we try our best to not be annoying and picky guests, we do have some pretty strict food requirements.

Plant-based, whole-food, low-oil, low-sodium, whole-grain – that’s a lot of hyphens. Usually if people don’t know us, we just say we’re big salad lovers. A BIG salad, please, and we’ll just eat a bowl of hyphens for dessert. Of course, if it’s a pot luck, I tote along some menu items we can chomp on to our hearts’ healthy content.

These friends were totally cool, and had dealt with their own health issues themselves. We happily dug into the bowl of edamame and a lovely crudité tray, and then enjoyed a tasty bowl of lentil soup. Fruit for dessert, along with some really edifying conversation, and we called it a wonderful evening.

During the conversation about food, I found myself telling our hostess how wonderful, fabulous, great, awesome and energized I feel on a raw food diet. She didn’t bat an eye. She’s had a life-threatening health scare, and she did alternative dietary treatments along with conventional medicine. She's now doing great and is very inspiring.

As we drove away I thought - Why would I tell someone there’s a way of eating that makes me feel better and more energized and less prone to the inflammation issues I battle – and then NOT choose to eat that way? I mentally checked off the answers:

·      It’s really hard
·      It’s really expensive
·      It’s so much work
·      It’s wintertime

That settled it - for a week or so. But then I started tossing around the idea of going raw on January 1st. We don’t celebrate the holidays, so November and December munching for me gets no worse than all the seasonal vegan treats at Trader Joe’s, plus a bit of wintertime slothdom. So while I didn’t think of putting it off because of holiday pressure, it just seemed easier to put it off...because being a raw vegan is hard, it’s really expensive, it’s so much work and let’s not forget it was wintertime.

It started with looking up some recipes, and thinking about dusting off the dehydrator and getting out the spiralizer, and before I knew it I went raw the last week of December, ahead of schedule. I wasn’t super prepared, but I did it and have no regrets. So far.

The initial decision was to try it for a month or so, to see how things progressed. Meniere's Syndrome, has wreaked havoc on my left inner ear and hearing. I had a very depressing hearing test that confirmed my fears – my left ear is just about totally shot. The good news is that the hearing in my right ear is really good, excellent in fact. "Thank you right ear, you’re my hero. Left ear, What do I say, you can still hold an earring and keep my hair tucked behind you, so don’t go away completely." My hearing specialist, who has a doctorate in audiology, firmly believes there is a strong connection with diet and hearing. She is very supportive of my efforts to protect my right ear’s hearing with all reasonable practices.

What’s funny is I don’t even “believe” in raw food eating, it just feels so incredibly good when I eat this way I would be a fool to not keep it up. Tremendous amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, in their whole form, plus nuts and seeds and sprouted grains seems to work well for me. I’ve tried this before, and the results were great, but just never sustained it. Why? See the bulleted list above.

My hope is to not be a freak about this, I already realized one of the salads I was picking up at Trader Joe’s wasn’t even vegan, let alone raw vegan. We were somewhere and the only salad option had quinoa in it, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Another salad we were served had garbanzo beans, and it was yummy. Coffee is still an occasional treat, although I’ve gone back to just tea in the mornings. There's been some roasted nuts and bits of cooked foods, but by and large, I’m buying large amounts of raw produce and products and eating only that. Next up is finding a natural addition for smoothies to cover all the amino acid and nutritional bases.

So my month-long plan is now a year-long goal. Challenges thrill me, I thrive on them. Next January I’ll reassess and see if I felt there was any change in my inflammation issues. By then I’ll know if feeling better on this eating plan is just in my head. Spring is just around the corner with all the yummy spring and summer fruits and vegetables ripening. By the time fall comes around, I’ll be totally in the groove and then it will be just a few more months to go.

My challenge now?

·      Not to look at this as hard, but as a doable challenge
·      Find ways to make it cheaper
·      Streamline the prep work
·      Try not to dread next winter

One of the difficult parts of this eating plan is the explaining it to others awkwardness. We are in a congregation full of Moldovans, many of whom experienced true food deprivations in their life. How do I begin to explain, even if I could come up with the proper wording, why I am not eating cooked food?  My trial run was dinner at our friend Galina’s house. She loves to entertain. She serves cooked food. That food is delicious. She goes to great lengths to adapt her thinking and her cooking to accommodate our plant-based diet. What would she think if I only had salad on a cold January evening? A salad I bought from Trader Joe’s? A cold, raw salad?

She didn’t bat an eye. She didn’t look at me weird, or raise her eyebrows or purse her lips. She just said, Wow, that sounds great! Well, actually she said in Romanian something like “Bravo Jessikutsa!” You’ve just got to love friends who trust you to do what’s best for your own body. Maybe this is terrible for me. Maybe it’s just a waste of energy and money and time spent buying, washing and prepping vegetables. But it’s only a year. I can’t do too much damage to myself in that amount of time. Hopefully I’ll do some good.

One week of produce for the two of us

Lots of leafy greens!

A new tool, this makes veggie confetti.

Now if only every McDonalds could become a Chopt 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

It’s a dry heat 

If I were given the task of finding the very worst place at our house to place our dehydrator, it would be our back patio in winter. First, even California winters get on the chilly side. Second, in Sacramento we get a very wet foggy drippy winter, even when it's not raining. Third, there is some strange force working on the overhang of our patio that causes that cold wet weather to drop gigantic plops of water in a regular pattern onto the patio. Imagine fog meeting polka dots meeting El Nino, and you've got the picture.

But on this drippy cold wet patio is where our food dehydrator has ended up, for now. Yes, the appliance that is supposed to turn wet food into dehydrated food by applying heat and dry air is fighting the good fight out there in Droplet Land, probably using gobs of electricity in the process of trying to save a few bucks.

Although I've had the dehydrator in our kitchen, the drawbacks are that it takes up a fair amount of counter space. I need all the counter space I can get, because chopping vegetables is my middle name. The other factor of having it in the house is the noise. It's not really that loud, and it's not even an annoying noise, it's just that drying food takes a long time, hours and hours for certain items, and the constant drone of a dehydrator starts to wear on my nerves. I've tried keeping it on top of our clothes dryer in the garage, which really is the perfect place for it, but it gets a bit linty, and right now our clothes dryer is sort of a way station for things looking for a better home. Maybe one day I'll find that perfect home for this appliance, but for now the wonders of a dehydrator must do battle with the drippy wet forces of a California winter. May the heat win!

Whether you are looking for a small unit or something really large scale, all the people who know about dehydrators will tell you the best one on the market is the Excalibur. Fortunately for us, they are made here in Sacramento, and the factory showroom has all the models displayed. Even more impressive for us drippy, wet and cold valley dwellers, the Excalibur headquarters sells factory seconds. I got ours with a dent in it that I can hardly see, for quite the discount. Three cheers for dents! Really, who could even notice a dent through all that drippy fog?

In the past when we were the recipients, in a very round about way, of the last castoffs of Trader Joe's food donations, I would get bins of very ripe bananas. Very. Ripe. Bananas. The super icky ones would go straight into the compost bin, and super ripe ones would go into the freezer for smoothies. But the just perfectly ripe ones would get sliced up and dehydrated. They were so yummy, like candy. It's been a while since the donations ended, and now I have to buy bananas like ordinary people, so I haven't made them lately. But if ever I have a pile of bananas nearing the end of their days, and the freezer is already packed with smoothie ingredients, I'll get some bananas prepped and dried.

Right now it's all about oranges and crackers. The oranges from our tree taste amazing dried, and I'm going to have to use the candy analogy again, because it fits. These are the Jolly Ranchers of my dehydrator products, pure sunshine. Our dog loves them, rind and all. We stand together in the kitchen as I say "just one more" over and over again, eating dried orange slices together. As for the crackers, I'm still experimenting. We think they're terrific, but our tastebuds are probably warped from not eating potato chips in a long time. I've made flax and carrot wraps, chia and veggie chips, kale, tomato and flax crackers and right now I have a simple flax and poppy seed concoction dehydrating out on the wet drippy patio. Given enough time, the dry will show the wet who's the boss, and we can enjoy the crunch of homemade crackers as we open up our electricity bill.

Sliced up and ready to be transformed...

...into dog treats!
Our pup lost a fight with a pit bull, and I'm a sucker for that pitiful stare. 

Carrots and flax meal finding a new purpose in life. 

Crackers! I made crackers!

Kale and carrots and flax, with tomatoes.
Nothing cuter than a dehydrated cherry tomato.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Quietly quit the quilt fair? Not quite!

It's not like I haven't sold quilts in the summer before, it can happen. A sweet little baby quilt here and there, maybe someone thinking ahead towards the winter months. But really, there's a season for quilts here in the Northern Hemisphere, and December is right smack dab in the middle of it. So what would be better than a craft fair in the Curtis Park neighborhood in Sacramento, early December? The weather is perfect, the demographic is a fit for my upcyled quilts, and the craft fair was one I had done before. An easy drop off of supplies, friendly attendees, a very supportive staff - I was really looking forward to it.

And was I ever prepared! I sewed up a storm, and then quit sewing quilts just in time to get myself organized for the fair. I had my signs made up, I had my tags created, I had all the things I need to display the quilts, namely quilt racks. I freshened everything, scented it all with lavender, found some crocheted hats I had forgotten about, and got the car loaded with every single thing I needed, the night before the event. I even packed about six big tablecloths, even though the most I could imagine using was two, three at the most.

The only nagging doubt was about our dog. Molly was just not herself, she had got into her dog food in the garage a few days before and was now not interested in food. I called my neighbors to ask if they could check on her while I was at the craft fair. I was concerned, but not overly so.

Well, as I wrote in my last post, our sweet Molly became very sick that night. I woke up early and got dressed for the craft fair, and only then realized how bad off she was. I called my husband who was out of town and then called a friend to help me load Molly in the car. Heading into full-on worry mode, I figured the craft fair was not to be. I emptied the whole back part of the car of the quilt racks and display items. Our friend Myra came over and in one amazing swoop got Molly up and into the car and I went off to the emergency vet. Somewhere in that time I contacted the event coordinator and told her I wouldn't be coming to the fair.

Once Molly was settled into her cage at the vet and the treatment plan was agreed upon, I realized that emergency vet hospitals are not like people hospitals, There's no chair set up to sit with the patient, and sitting on the floor by a cage with a sick dog is more of a hindrance to the staff than a help. There really is nothing for a worried pet owner to do but just go home and hope for the best. So I was about to do that, until I went to the car and saw the suitcases in the backseat, the ones filled with all the quilts and hats and scrubbies I had worked so hard on. I called the director of the event and told her I would show up after all, and headed to the Sierra 2 Center in Curtis Park.

I walked into a packed out hall, with vendors and their wares set up all so pretty and appealing. I wiggled my way in, rolling my suitcases, saying "excuse me, excuse me" to all the people, so many people. I found my bare and forlorn table, and wondered if I'd made a big mistake. The table, it was so flat. So very very flat. And all the other vendors had height. Such height. Shelves and little boxes and display cases and racks to lift everything up and make it look better. Everywhere I looked I saw height. I felt short and my table was flat.

There was nothing to do but throw down the tablecloths. Flat tablecloths. Still no height. If only I had my quilt racks! The only thing I had was tablecloths and quilts. What to do, what to do? I decided to get creative and put the empty chairs around me to use. I put one right there up on the table and covered it with a tablecloth. Height, I had some height. I was at the end of the row of sellers, so I grabbed another chair and sort of appropriated the area at the end of my table. Just to set the record straight, appropriating something is not the same as stealing, because you always give it back in the end. So between the chair on the table and the chair on the ground, I had some items that could act like quilt racks. I did my best to make the other quilts look as tall as possible, tall and interesting, while still looking cozy and soft. That's not easy, especially with no breakfast in my tummy and a dog with a very sick belly at the emergency vet.

The hectic morning turned into a pleasant afternoon and the craft fair was a success! A vendor even came down and raved about my great idea of using a chair covered with a tablecloth as a display feature. You just watch now, the lacey chair craze will be hitting the craft fair circuit, remember where you saw it first. I sold five quilts (plus one on Etsy a few days before the event), lots of face scrubbies, a baby pig hat and I even sold a hat for a turtle. The turtle was not at the event, although in Curtis Park one comes to expect the unexpected. The owner of the stylish reptile sent me a photo, she wants me to make another one. A bigger one. This turtle hat thing could take off. Slowly.

My day's earnings made me glad I was able to salvage the event. I packed up the remaining quilts and tablecloths, put the display chairs back against the wall and wheeled my now much lighter suitcases out to the car. I went to see our Molly, much improved after a few hours of IV fluids and antibiotics. I got the quilts put away and the unused quilt racks are now back where they stay in the attic space. I was super glad that all the heavier, more wintery, quilts were the ones that sold - currently all I have left are brighter and lighter ones. Perfect for a possible spring craft fair. Just wondering, do turtles wear sunbonnets?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

One sick puppy

Remember phones with speed dial? That list of about 10-15 numbers that we called all the time - family, friends, work, etc. If we were really super organized, we added the doctor's office, the veterinarian and then if we were about the smartest pet owner ever, we added the emergency vet's office. I could have used the emergency vet on speed dial this last Saturday morning. 

Our dog ended up getting acute gastroenteritis, and it went from not that bad to very bad in such a short amount of time. In fact, except for the diagnosis of a cracked tooth, Molly's regular vet saw her within a day of her health taking a turn for the worse, and since dogs are good at faking good health, she didn't catch what was brewing in Molly's gut.

One of the reasons dogs can get acute gastroenteritis is "food indiscretions." Another is stress, and another is cold weather. It was the perfect storm for Molly. Not only did she get into a bag of dog food in the garage, and then wanted to sleep outside in the near freezing temperatures because her stomach hurt, she was under a case of the "oh no, the suitcases are out again." Molly hates seeing us pack for a trip, and she had just seen my husband pack a bag to go visit his ill mother. I was prepping for a quilt show, and so I had even more suitcases out. So a bloated tummy, very cold weather and thinking her pack was leaving her (along with possibly the cracked tooth pain and only Molly knows what else) she got very sick. Very fast. 

I recommend this if you own a pet. 

  • Find out the nearest emergency vet
  • Put the number in your phone under Dog, Vet, Help, Sick Puppy & AHHHHHH!
  • Put the name, address, phone number and directions on your refrigerator 
  • Take a dry run in the car to the ER vet to see exactly where it is
  • Input the directions on any GPS devices you have
  • Put a hard copy of the map in your car in case your devices are all dead and you forget where the refrigerator is
  • Leave a trail of wait, my dog would eat the crumbs.
I had a vague idea where the emergency vet in our area was located. Very vague. And when Molly went from bad to worse and would not even get up, I bungled my way into getting the information I needed. But a sick dog that can't tell you what's wrong suddenly makes a grown adult lose all Internet skills, and I found myself on the phone with the vet just asking "OK, I'm coming from Highway 50 like I'm going to South Lake Tahoe, can you please tell me turn for turn how to find you." I have a feeling they get a lot of that.

They were amazing! If you live in Sacramento, you need to put VCA Sacramento Veterinary Referral Center on whatever sort of modern equivalent of speed dial that works for you. I walked in - and this is the protocol for everyone, every pet - and the reception person intercomed "TRIAGE" and a staff member came and assessed Molly immediately. She said her vitals were good. Great. I should have asked the woman to check my vitals.

Once we got into the exam room, Molly was done. She plopped down and didn't get up for her exam. Not even when her vet listened to her heart, one of Molly's greatest pleasures, she just loves a vet with a stethoscope. Her vet said what Molly needed, and needed quickly, was an IV. She had most likely been having bloody diarrhea in the yard, and I didn't notice it. There is a special sort of guilt reserved for unobservant dog owners, and I had a bad case of it. 

There is no way I could have nursed Molly back to health at home. She was refusing to get up, she was refusing her favorite treat of all, which is bread, and our normally fastidious dog had let her paws become caked with mud and dirt. When my husband came home, he found bloody diarrhea and holes in the yard. Ugh, more guilt. But she got what she needed, which was fluids and drugs, and she has recovered well. It's going to take me a bit longer.

From this... this in less than a day.
"Don't leave me here!"
"On second thought, leave me here, you don't know what you're doing."
Home. Very very sweet home.

"Can we get a stethoscope?"

Molly on opiates.
"What, you've never had a food indiscretion"?