Monday, August 30, 2010

Is there a cure for Mondays, apart from Tuesdays?

Quote du jour:
Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
And the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut with your weary scissors,
And all the names of the day are washed out by the waters of night.

- Pablo Neruda

Feels like winter 'round here. Surely this can't still be August. It's cold, grey, rainy. The calendar must be confused.

Dealing with dog leftovers: expensive prescription shampoos barely opened, anti-biotics, anti-fungals, ant-acids, things to clean ears, things to clean carpets. Also some dog coats, dog blankets, dog towels, a dog bed. I'm hoping a Rescue might want some of these things. Seems a shame to throw them all away.

Exercise du jour: Cycling. I am tired of jogging. Or jogging is tired of me. Or maybe I'm just tired, period. I wish someone would find a cure for Mondays.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Brendan Behan and the 6 mile run

Quote du jour: I'm not a writer with a drinking problem. I'm a drinker with a writing problem. - Brendan Behan.

Exercise du jour: Not sure about this, but the schedule calls for a 6 mile run today. Last week, the foot hurt after the 5.5 mile run.
I did manage a 2 mile run a few days later without much pain.
But 6 miles?
So long as I stuck to the wood chip trail, things actually went pretty well.
But 6 miles?
The swelling is way down in my foot, so that's another plus.
But 6 miles?

I think the best thing to do is to try, slowly, and see what the foot has to say. If it bothers me to run on it, what the hell, I can try running a little and walking a lot.

If I end up walking 90% of the way, I'll still feel like I earned my star. Even if I'm just a walker with a jogging problem, it still counts.

Semi-fail. I would love to blame my foot, but the problem was with the opposite end of the body. I procrastinated the whole day away putting this off, then got depressed and did a jog/walk for a few miles. On the plus side, got a lot of boring chores done while procrastinating.

Feet courtesy of kk+.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When feet meet treat?

sports pictures, gunther weidlinger
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Brief dog story: Once upon a time in the dog park, my dog was trotting along quite happily when for no reason she pulled up lame. She limped over to me and held up her sore paw, with a look of utter confidence that I could make it better.

Well, I'm doing the same thing: limping over to my blog hoping someone out there knows how to make it better.

Ever now and every then, the ball of my foot starts to hurt. This has happened before, with different shoes, different trails. It even happened last year. (See? If I hadn't been blogging, I wouldn't have remembered. )

Sunday I was trotting along and wham suddenly the ball of the foot starts to hurt bad. I slowed to a walk, and after a few minutes the pain went away and I could jog again (slowly). Afterward, I did the ice and vitamin I. The foot felt swollen, but not painful.

Then, I was just walking along and again, ouch. And again, then the pain went away.

Now I'm sitting here and I can feel the foot is swollen, it's tender, but it doesn't actually hurt. Maybe I can run on it and it won't get mad at me. Maybe if I run on a trail rather than that mean nasty concrete? Maybe if I promise it ice and ibuprofen and a lolipop it'll be okay? Maybe...

Is this something that can be cured with magical stretching exercises? I mean, it keeps coming back regardless of the shoes I'm wearing, so it must be something I'm doing wrong.


Exercise du jour: 2 miles jogging. Maybe.

Fail. The foot doesn't hurt, but despite all the I & I, the swelling isn't going away. I'll try again Wednesday.
Wednesday: Fail. Foot actually hurts if I don't pamper it. Just my luck, a foot that thinks it's a primadonna.
Done! Finally. Ran on woodchip trail and the fancy what's-it stuff that Nike uses on its track -- some kind of rubber from the soles of shoes. When the damn foot hurt, I walked. When it didn't, I jogged slowly. At the time, I thought there was a lot of walking, but looking back it wasn't all that bad a pace.
Now off to reward myself with a glass of red wine and an ice pack. (I figure it's good to apply pain killers internally as well as externally. Be thorough, that's my motto.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Phantom Dog Syndrome

Thank you for all the kind comments. I didn't know 40 people even read this blog, but I want you to know that I really appreciated each comment. Cried a bit when reading some of them.

This wouldn't have been such a shock, except it all happened so suddenly. I mean, I'd had this dog as a companion for 12 years. And yet from the time I came home, and saw the poor dog unable to get up, to the time when I walked out of the vet's office alone was a little less than an hour. The experience was surreal. I'm glad she didn't suffer very much, and she certainly seemed resigned to going, but even so.

Plus, I seem to be suffering from Phantom Dog Syndrome:
  • I keep thinking I'll go out the back door and the dog will be sitting there waiting to greet me. It's a shock to have to remind myself that no, she won't be waiting there.
  • It's really annoying to find that I have to keep reminding myself of this fact every time I go out the door. You'd think my subconscious would've gotten the message by this point.
  • Worse than going out the door? Coming home and realizing there's no dog.
  • On the plus side, I don't have any interest in food. My neighbors barbecued last night, and the woman, bless her, brought over a hamburger with all the fixin's. She went to a lot of trouble, setting the condiments on the side in their own little dish and adding extra bacon on top of the burger. It's interesting -- I admired the work she went to, thought that the food looked very edible, and still felt no urge to eat it. This too shall pass, I have no doubt.

On we go. I am again posting my exercise for the day. I'm intimidated by the thought of jogging 5.5 miles, and it would be easy to give up and forget this exercise stuff rather than try to do 5.5 miles. I'm not going to give up, just saying it would be easier than 5.5 miles. No doubt 5.5 miles will seem a much smaller distance when I'm contemplating it from the past rather than looking forward to it in the very near future.

Notice how I keep repeating the bit about 5.5 miles? Just the mere number intimidates me.

Watch this space for a gold star.

Update du 4:30 pm: really. I'm going out there. Any minute now.

Update du 6:30 pm:
Done! Finally. Had to walk part way, think I might have hurt my foot. Remember what I said about running changing your mood? Doesn't always work. Still, it's done.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The day my dog died

[Note: I am posting this because I will not remember if I do not write it down, and I will lose it if I write it down on paper. I have turned off comments, because I would prefer not to have any comments. I would appreciate it if you would not leave any comments elsewhere.]

I came home and found her lying on the ground in the backyard, facing away from me. "That's an odd place for her to be lying down," I thought. I noted that her legs were moving, as if she were dreaming of chasing cats, and decided not to go out to the back yard and disturb her. I went off to run an errand.

An hour later, I came back and found her lying in the same location, only this time she was facing me. I went out and spoke to her, but she didn't thump her tail or get up. Her ears were perked up, and her eyes were alert and following my movements, but she didn't show any interest in treats when I tried to bribe her into getting up. (I thought she was reluctant to move; sometimes in the past few months she'd found it an effort to get to her feet.)

Finally, I tried to pick her up and set her on her feet. For the first time, she made a sound of distress. I stopped trying to raise her, and felt her legs to see if there was some kind of injury. That was my first sign that something was seriously wrong. Her legs were cool to the touch, not actually cold, but unnaturally chilled.

I tried to help her onto a padded cushion, so she'd be more comfortable. No response. I tried dragging her onto the cushion. That was when I noticed that she was lying in her own feces. Around her muzzle, there was a thick, sticky kind of drool. And she wasn't moving.

Now I knew there was no doubt of a problem. I called the vet. Even though it was after hours, I knew -- thank God -- that this vet's office had evening hours with a night staff. The receptionist told me she'd have people waiting.

I ended up dragging the poor dog onto a sleeping bag, and dragging that out the back gate and up to the car. Then I was stymied. I couldn't lift her without causing her distress. In the end, I called my neighbor to help me lift my dog into the car. She actually managed to lift the dog entirely into the car without the dog making any sounds of pain.

On the way to the vet's office, I kept talking to the dog. It was if I were carrying on a conversation on two levels: on one level, I was trying to behave as if this were a temporary setback. Really, considering how little she'd been suffering, just taking a slow decline into old age, it should have been just a setback. But underneath, there was the certainty that there was something seriously wrong, and it wouldn't be just a temporary problem.

I talked to the dog the whole way there. I reviewed her past, told her how I'd always appreciated how intelligent she was, how concerned she'd been with being a Good Dog, how stable and gentle her temperament had been. She listened: her ears were perked up, and her eyes were fixed on me whenever I looked back. She kept her legs straight out stiffly in front of her.

Once at the vet's office, I found I didn't need to worry about dealing with things. I asked the receptionist if she could prop the door open when I carried the dog in, and she responded by summoning a team of vet techs with a gurney. They smoothly and swiftly carried Tanji into the back and shut the door behind her. I was left outside in the waiting room. I don't know what showed in my face, but another customer took one look at me and then brought over a box of kleenex. It was the first time that I'd realized vet's offices had kleenex boxes handy.

In a few seconds, I was called into an exam room. After about five minutes, a vet came in to meet me. He was kind and sympathetic, but he was also quite direct. "I haven't run any tests yet, but I can tell you that it's bad." The dog's breathing was labored, her heart was having trouble, and her gums were very pale. He surmised some kind of internal bleeding.

I asked if I could take her home for the night, and bring her back tomorrow. He responded that he didn't think she was going to make it through the night, certainly not without some kind of treatment, and he couldn't determine a treatment until he'd run tests.

I authorized the tests, since I simply could not accept the alternative. It was too soon, too sudden. The trouble with my life is that I keep wanting the universe to behave in a rational manner. I want to know why thing happen the way they do, and I want the explanation to make some kind of sense. The vet disappeared and I was left waiting.

Not for long.

It was not more than five minutes before he came back. "I've run just one test, but I think I've already got an answer to what's going on," he said. "The ultrasound showed a problem with her heart."

Turns out that the dog had been cleverly concealing a problem where her heart muscle got thicker and thicker to the point where the volume of blood being pumped through the heart was reduced drastically. Plus, the dog had a "pleural effusion" around the heart; the pericardium was severely swollen with liquid. The vet surmised that these symptoms were most often caused by a tumor, though he had no evidence of this in the case of my dog. These two problems were making her breathing labored and were making it hard for her heart to circulate blood through her body.

I asked what we could do.

He responded that the most logical treatment would be to drain the pleural effusion, and that even that would at best give the dog another day or two to live.

They left me alone in the exam room with the dog so I could have time to decide what to do. Honestly, they made it clear that they didn't think there was much to decide, but they were decent and wanted to give me some space to absorb the situation.

There didn't seem any feasible options. I kept wanting to wait a few days, or at least until the morning, when my regular vet would be available, but I was forced to believe the vet's prognosis. It was unnatural for any dog to have legs that cold -- it was truly sickening to touch her legs, they felt so wrong. And the other deciding factor was the dog's behavior.

I thought being left alone like this would give me a chance to talk to the dog, to reassure her about how I was going to take care of her, but it didn't work like that. The dog herself wasn't stressed and didn't need to be reassured. She -- for the first time in the twelve years I've known her -- didn't want me to tell her what was going to happen, or what job she was expected to perform. She wasn't stressed and she wasn't in pain, but she seemed curiously detached, removed from all the proceedings. When I stroked her fur, it didn't hurt her, but neither did she seem affected by it.

It's not that she didn't know I was there. She was alert and aware of her surroundings. While the vet and the vet tech had moved around, poking and prodding her, her eyes followed them and her ears were perked to catch every word. She didn't once look at me, but when I laid my hand down on the bed, she picked up her head and laid it on top of my hand, using it as a pillow.

When I tried to say good-bye, I got the strongest impression that she was simply waiting. She had no expectations, no hopes, no fears. She was merely waiting for me to get through this part so that she could go. I wanted to pet her and talk to her and spin the time together out a little longer -- that was when it hit me how selfish I was being. She used to run for an hour at a time, and now she couldn't even sit up. It was her life, and it was her decision. The only decision left to me was how to help her through this last part with the least amount of pain.

I called the vet back in. Her blood pressure was so low that it took the vet three tries with the needle to get enough anesthesia to release her from the prison her body had become. But very soon, she was gone.

I am so lucky that I had a vet whose office was open until late in the evening. That meant that Tanji ended up in an emergency situation with people who knew her well. (Hell, they knew her better than they knew me. I used to walk in with her, and the staff would say "Hello, Tanji! Um... [to me] what's your name again?") It eased her passing that she had people around that she was familiar with and trusted.

Also, I must say that I'm impressed with how the people there managed to combine compassion and smooth efficiency. They handled everything so that I didn't even have to go back out through the waiting room, with all the staring people. That helps a lot when you're trying to cope with a sudden loss.

I cannot begin to describe how wrong it felt to drive home alone and know there was no dog waiting to greet me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In memoriam Tanji

Tangerine vom haus Tyson
February 2, 1997 - August 19, 2010

World's Best German Shepherd Dog
now chasing the cats up in Heaven.

In past years...

December 2009: Tanji plots on how to best lose the reindog coat

November 2009: Okay, there'd better be a treat involved in this...

July 2009: Well fine. I'll wear this silly thing. But only because I'm a Good Dog.

February 2009: The Tanji video, in which her ladyship makes Garbo look garrulous.

April 2008: Life is good.

December 2006: Before all the trouble with allergies, Tanji was alert and waiting for Santa to bring treats.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not that I'm in a rut or anything

It's Wednesday.
Could've sworn I just did Wednesday last week. Only back from vacation one week and I'm in a rut.

Exercise du jour: 2 miles jogging. Which I also did last week. Geez.
Could really use some gratuitous excitement here. Instead, I'm off to work. Will try to get the damn exercise done some damn time during the damn day. Check back later... much later...
Done! Amazing how running changes the mood. I forgot to bring my workout clothes with me to work, so at first I thought I'd have to put jogging off. But since this was my day for working late, I knew 'later' would translate to 'never'. And I refused to admit the possibility of never.
It's amazing how everything that went wrong turned out ending right:
I went across the street and bought new workout clothes -- which turned out to be 40% off.
It was too hot to run on the track -- but the shady forest trail was green, leafy and cool, perfect for running in my geeky new clothes.
In fact, it was quite a nice little run. I went back to work and sat through all the dull, late-hour meetings feeling positively good about life.

Thanks to XKCD for the cartoon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A brief interlude to stop and smell the roses

Every now and then, I like to post pictures of the yard up here.

a)because it's beautiful.

b)because if I don't post it here, I'll lose the photos or forget where they are.

c)because by the time February rolls around, I will really need to be reminded of green and growing beautiful things.

These are actually photos from July. I'm slow.

Exercise du jour: Jogging 5 miles. It's hot outside, and getting hotter all the time. Friday's run showed me how awful running can be in a heatwave. If I put it off, the temperature won't go below 95 until late tonight. I'm going to try now. Will bring water.
Done! Settled for running around indoors, which does have several advantages. It's only 80 indoors, as opposed to 100 outside, plus there's ready access to cold washcloths and fresh cold water. Still took forever, but at least it's done.

Friday, August 13, 2010

friggatriska -- what?

Celebrity Pictures - Ferris Bueller - Deal with It
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Word du jour: friggatriskaidekaphobia -- fear of Friday the 13th. Apparently also known as paraskevidekatriaphobia. I'm amazed -- both of these words are in the Urban Dictionary and neither of them have any smutty secondary meanings. I thought it was a law that any word in the U.D. have at least one perverted definition.

Exercise du jour: 3 miles jogging whilst avoiding ladders, black cats, and people who submit words to the Urban Dictionary.

Also, damn it, I'm going to do some yoga before I go to work. I am typing it here and I'm going to hit "publish." That way I'll have to do it. I've been sitting at this computer dithering for the past HOUR. Surprising how I keep doing things like this when I know it's not going to help the situation.
Done! Well, the yoga part anyway. I'll do the jogging tonight.

Done! Well, somewhat. Jogging did take place. As did walking, sweating, and swearing at myself. This is the last damn time I try a 5k when it's hot. After I finished, the temperature gauge said it was 95 degrees in the shade -- at 8 pm. When I looked at myself in the mirror, even I was shocked at how red I was, and as a fair-skinned Irish-American, I'm used to turning brick red at the slightest exertion. The only good part is that it's done.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Notes from the road

Trivia du jour:

  • Packing two 11-hour drives and some round-the-town driving into 5 days is not really a great idea.

  • You can pick up some interesting family tidbits at reunions.

  • For instance, did you know that my nephew got married several months ago? Me neither. His mother (#1 sister) never brought the subject up. It's not as if she has any other sons.

  • #2 sister decided she wants to set me up with one of her rejects from her online dating service. She showed me a photo of him; he was dressed up like John Adams. Not a good way to get an idea of his personality, though I can now state with authority that he has nice calves.

  • While I was gone (and with my consent) my neighbor cut down one of my trees. He pointed out that this would result in a lot more light in the back yard. He forgot to mention that now I have a wonderful view of another neighbor's eyesore of a house. Hope he likes arbor vitae.

  • Some years back, I gave my mother a little statue of Francis of Assisi holding a small bowl, presumably for use as a bird bath. One of the myriad small children at the reunion knocked it down, causing the head to break off. I righted the statue, placed the head in the bowl, and told my mother she now had a statue of John the Baptist. She was not amused.

Weirdity du jour: Okay, now this is just bizarre. A man who thought he had emphysema went to the doctor. Turns out he had a pea plant growing inside his friggin' lung. Another reason why vegetables are not good for you!

Exercise du jour: Two days late, but I finally got in the 4.5 mile run.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Bicycling is an international conspiracy!

This politician in Colorado put a new spin, so to speak, on bicycle riding.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are "converting Denver into a United Nations community."

"This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed," Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor's efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes "that's exactly the attitude they want you to have."

"This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms," Maes said.

You thought riding a bicycle was harmless enough? Ha! That's just what they want you to think, you fool!

Exercise du jour: 3 miles jogging. Gotta get that run in now, before it becomes a constitutional issue.
Done! A day late, but I blame that on the international conspiracy.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ouch... that puts things into perspective

Quote du jour: The bad things seem minuscule and irrelevant to me now. They are firmly in perspective now. In fact, my main regret is that I worried as much as I did.
- Jo from the Life in Windermere blog.
(Her previous post mentioned that she'd decided to give up on the chemo treatments.)

What the hell am I bitchin' about exercise for? Or anything else, for that matter?

Exercise du jour: 2 miles jogging
Done. Finally. Better late than not at all.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Not To Run

10. It's too nice outside... I'll get hot.
What, you've never heard of water bottles or sunscreen? Forgotten all those lovely, shady, through-the-forest running trails just down the street?

9. There are too many people outside. They'll stare at the fat chick and laugh.
a. Screw 'em. b. Who cares? Once the run is done, you'll be feeling a lot better than they will.

8. I'll huff and puff.
If you get out of breath, you have my permission to slow down. But you're going to go out there and try anyway.

7. I'll get red-faced and sweaty.
There will be a shower waiting for you when you get back.

6. There's a slight twinge in my left big toe.
If it's still bothering you after the warm up, we'll re-consider. But you're going out there anyway.

5. There's a really good movie on TV that I want to watch!
And there's a really good VCR waiting to tape it for you!

4. I'm really not in the mood.
Good to know. Now get your running clothes on.

3. But I need to wash the dishes, vacuum the house, re-shingle the roof, rake the lawn, and solve Global Warming first, before the run!
Laudable, but not plausible. Run first, solve Global Warming afterward. And put on your cotton socks.

2. My poor old dog will feel lonely if I abandon her.
And she'll feel delighted when you come back, especially if you smell interesting and give her a treat as an apology. Slip into those running shoes.

1. I -- don't -- wanna!
Shut up and start lacing the shoes.

Exercise du jour: Jogging 4 miles
Done! Silly as it sounds, writing all the feeble excuses down, and posting them publicly, really did help me get up out of the damn chair.