The Bailey Saga

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that Bailey broke two teeth and was scheduled to have surgery on Friday.  The surgery went well and they had time while she was under to remove a bulging tumor/cyst that had been in the way for a while.  She came home Friday night groggy and looking like a little chipmunk with her puffy cheeks and already somewhat rodent-like appearance.  Her breath isn’t noticeable anymore which is amazing considering it used to smell like a fish graveyard.  Let’s hope it stays that way for a while!  The only problem she’d been having was staying still.  Bailey likes to see what’s happening, go where Bill goes, hop on and off the couch, and go berserk with squeaky toys.  Did I mention no squeakies for 2 weeks?  That makes me sad.

Bill is very attentive to Bailey, her whereabouts and needs.  He sniffs her often and their rivalry is temporarily suspended.  Bill is naturally an anxious worry wart and so without his Bailey for a day he was lost.

We’ve been keeping a good eye on both of them (you know how it is with the other child feeling left out?  It’s no different for dogs!)  and all was well until yesterday when my dad had them out back to “potty” and noticed Bailey was bleeding.  I was in the bathroom doing something, probably getting ready for the day,  so I’m not sure exactly what happened.  The next thing I knew I was downstairs with my mom and a howling, crying Bill waiting for my dad and Bailey to get back from the vet’s office.

It turns out that something, probably outside, made a nice new gash in Bailey’s leg-the same leg that had the IV from the surgery.  She was sedated and given stitches with strict orders for NO LICKING.  If she were to keep licking the paw/leg, she would have to wear a cone (or as my dad likes to say, the lampshade).  Now, a dopey Bailey full of stitches is sad enough.  The last thing we want is a Bailey with a lampshade on her head.  If you walk into our house at any given moment, you’ll probably hear a chorus of “Bailey!  Stop that!  No licking!”  I’ve given her all sorts of threats including taping her mouth shut, the lampshade, a bandage on the leg, but she’s a licker.  She and Bill are obsessive compulsive lickers.

While we’re trying to keep Bailey quiet and lick-free, we’re also trying to get Bill off the idea of sitting outside on the deck in the 90+ degree heat.  We have a wasp problem out there as well as a giant bumble bee that likes to float around.  Yes, bumble bees are sting-free, but who wants that potentially flying indoors?  So I reminded Bill about the time that Bailey was stung on the nose by a wasp and looked like a mini dinosaur for a while.  Poor Bailey.  What a basket case.  Bill was stung on the tushy once.  It startled him more than anything and he darted back inside fast than you can say Sir Billiam of Tinkleton.

Right now they are both quiet and sleeping.  I will try not to disturb them with the coughing and nose-blowing associated with my awesome sinus infection.  Here’s to teeny weenies *I raise my coffee mug*.

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A Guilted Donation?

Many of my friends used to be regular blood donors.  At least once a year they would give a moment of their time to sit down and give a nice portion of their blood so that it could save somebody in need.  At first I didn’t give due to an intense fear of needles.  Now I don’t give because my blood isn’t good for donations and I could be one of those people who needs the blood one day.

Especially after being in the hospital back in high school, I look at what my friends do and I am grateful to have such generous people in my life.  Some people don’t give at all.  Some people give once or twice and forget.  Some people give when they hear about an event in the area.  These friends of mine, one in particular, would seek out places to donate on a regular basis.  That is, until LifeSource came into play.

Around here LifeSource is the main organization involved in blood donations.  I never thought twice about it until my friends started complaining.

They don’t know how to find a vein.  They had to try too many times and I was all bruised up.

Oh my G-d they called again!  I don’t pick up the phone anymore when I see their number!

That was the biggest complaint–the never-ending phone calls pressuring  people into donating.  We see you haven’t donated since Date X.  My friends memorized the LifeSource phone numbers and refused to pick up when it appeared on the caller ID.  Not only were the calls persistent, but they were riddled with pressure and guilt to get people into donating more.  My friends stopped donating as frequently.  Some won’t donate at all if LifeSource is involved.

Now, I don’t know exactly what goes on in the phone conversations and I’ve never seen anybody’s arm directly after donating via LifeSource.  What I do know is that it takes a lot of negative feelings to get a passionate blood donor to stop donating because the organization involved is unbearable.

I haven’t taken any action yet and I’m sure some people wonder why I would say anything if I never donate anyhow and cannot donate, but that is exactly the point.  As somebody who may end up on the other side of a transfusion someday, the last thing I want for anybody or myself is to sit there wondering if the blood we are being given came willingly or through somebody guilting another party into donating.  I want everyone to have a clear conscious that somebody wanted to do something positive for the community by giving blood.  Can you imagine taking blood from somebody who gave just to get somebody else off his or her back?

I also have a passion for giving good customer service the good word it deserves and the bad customer service the bad word it deserves.  I’ve been known to contact “corporate” for seeing cashiers mistreat customers who don’t speak English or are using food stamps and also for seeing cashiers give their own change to customers who have come up short and have to choose an item to put back in order to afford the groceries.  You don’t create change in the community by sitting back.

But groceries stores are one thing.  Donating blood is a whole different story.  If you’ve ever been “mistreated” by LifeSource or another organization involved in blood donation, let me know.  I feel just as involved in this one as the donors do.

The Big 8

A few days ago, May 8 to be exact, Bill and Bailey turned eight years old.  You’d think they were still in their terrible twos, and yet somehow they are the most adorable, loveable, stinkin’ weenie dogs ever.

We didn’t do much to celebrate.  I always joke about having a party, but seeing as these kiddos are anti-dog (other than themselves, of course) and anti-big crowds, a party would pretty much be our average evening just with cake and hats.  And party hats don’t come in teeny weenie size.  I stopped making birthday cake for them when we found out Bill is allergic to wheat and corn because the recipe I have calls for all-purpose flour and I just never got around to finding a different recipe.  I once made them a “cheesecake” from a dog cookbook made from sweet potato and some other stuff but they weren’t fans.  Picky eaters.

Anyhow, they got a new toy and got on with their lives as usual.  Bill is still our crotchety little curmudgeon and Bailey is our baby doll.  Not much has changed with the Big 8.

The past couple of weeks have been crazy for us, not to mention the dogs.  With painters and carpet cleaners and now painters working on the outside of the house, everything is still in disarray, slowing creeping back into place, and Bill and Bailey have probably barked and howled more in the last two weeks than in the last two months…and they are dachshunds.

Just when things started to calm down a bit, I noticed Bailey’s eye had swelled up.  You have to look at her eyes together to compare them in order to see that the right eye is slightly more puffy than the left on the underside.  My mom couldn’t tell but my dad noticed a little something.  Then my mom got worried and thought that perhaps each time she touched the supposedly swollen spot, it was tender and sensitive.  The next day it looked a little better, but still swollen so we called the vet.  Today Bailey went in to find out she has two broken teeth that need to be removed.  I was worried it would be dental in nature because the same thing happened to Bill several years ago.  It ends up breaking that particular tooth is not uncommon.

Next week Bailey will have surgery.  Her broken teeth will be extracted, her intact teeth will be cleaned (finally, much-needed), and if time permits her fatty tumor/cyst that has been growing near her underarm will be removed.  Bill will be nuts with worry and boredom while she’s gone and will probably poke and prod her silly when she comes home.  Maybe even hump a little.

So, to tally it up, under our care:

Bill has *been neutered

*had a tooth extracted and tooth cleaning

*had back surgery

*had neck surgery

*strained his hip

Bailey has *had a tooth cleaning

*had two back surgeries

*will have two teeth extracted, another tooth cleaning, and a lump removed.

 

This is why my parents and I always tell people that dachshunds are adorable, funny, and loveable, but you must have infinite patience and a large savings account to care for one!

Death on a Flight

Do you remember my dear friend Pamela, the Death Writer?  During her April A-Z challenge we had many a conversation about her various death topics which eventually got me a guest blogger spot on day “J” and also got me thinking about death related topics I wouldn’t have otherwise contemplated.

And with a mind like my own, in its own slightly ADD way, one thought inevitably veers off into something else.  The following is a snippet of a conversation between Pamela and I in which my mind wanders off, although not too far off:

Pamela: Well, if you die in a different state and need to be sent back to Illinois, you may have to be embalmed. Or pay for a refrigerated truck. I agree, it’s gross and I don’t want anyone to touch me when I’m dead other than to harvest my organs. Then they can torch me.

Me: I think for religious purposes they wouldn’t be able to enforce that. Maybe the refrigeration, but if an orthodox Jew died in California and wanted to be buried in New Jersey, I think gov’t would have a hard time forcing the family to embalm the body. Freedom of religion, you know?

Me: By the way, you just made me remember about the time I was on a plane and somebody died en route. It was a really sad case because she was with her two small children.

Pam: OMG!!!! Have you written about that??!!! No, they can’t force to embalm, but the body does have to be in a special container and refrigerated. We decompose pretty fast.

Me: Not much to write, really.

Pam: A mother died on a plane you were on and there isn’t much to write? Jill, I am going to tell on you to Diana Hume George.

Diana Hume George is a wonderful writer and a mentor of Pam and myself from our graduate school days.  She has quite a personality and a way of getting words out of you.

So with that threat in mind, I am taken back to the summer before my junior year of high school.  My mom and I boarded a plane to Paris where we would meet my dad who was already there on business (I know).  I had never been overseas before, but having taken AP European History during the school year, I felt more than prepared for the major sites and attractions.  Versailles, the Mona Lisa, bring it on!

Other than being the longest plane ride I had ever been on, there was nothing abnormal about this flight.  We got some less than mediocre food, several beverages, and a lot of quiet time to read, sleep, and contemplate life.

And then flight attendants were moving up and down the aisles a little faster than usual.  They whispered amongst themselves.  Then a passenger was summoned.  I can’t remember exactly what happened because I know there was no announcement asking for nurses or doctors, but somebody was brought back to help the stewardesses.

You know something is up when a passenger is asked to help.

I believe it was a nurse who helped out and that is when the whispering amongst the passengers ensued.  Nobody knew quite what was going on but considering a nurse-passenger was helping the flight attendants with another passenger, ideas were being thrown around.

“I think I heard its something with a young woman.”

“Did somebody die?”

“What happened?  Was it a heart attack?”

Now you have to take that with a grain of salt.   This happened at least eleven years ago and I don’t remember quotes at all.  What I remember is that when you’re flying over the Atlantic Ocean, you cannot do an emergency landing to get somebody to a hospital.

Somehow word got towards the front rows that a young woman had died while sitting in her seat.  She was with her two young children under the age of ten.

So what do you do with a body thousands of feet above the ground, flying over an ocean?  These particular flight attendants put it in an unused closet.  They told the children that their mommy needed to go take a nap and took the body away, somehow keeping them occupied until the plane landed in France.  Their father, the woman’s husband, was notified before landing.  Luckily she was French and heading back home and her husband would be there to get the children.  If I remember correctly, the nurse said nothing could have been done to save the woman because she suffered an aneurism.

That is the extent of what I remember.  I do remember envisioning a middle aged man with two small children watching his dead wife being rolled out of an airplane, but I never actually saw the children, the husband, or the woman.  At the time I couldn’t imagine being one of those children and I still can’t.  I was an extremely shy little girl and if somebody took my mother away even for a nap, I would have been screaming and crying.  My mother can nap right next to me, thank you very much!

I have since been throughout the USA, England, and Israel.  No other deaths have occurred while I have been in the air and I hope it stays that way.

No Longer Hospital White

This week we’re having the house painted.  The walls in my room were pretty beat up and I blame its closet-like nature for that.  There were black marks along the inside wall from my chair rubbing up against it every morning, I’ll have to be more careful about that now.  There were rust colored marks above my dresser from when Max, the rat, lived there and would sneeze, scratch, and do other rattly things that affected the wall.  Apparently household cleaner doesn’t work magic.  Magic.  I didn’t think to try Mr. Clean Magic Erasers!  Those things do work, actually.  I did notice once that they remove a bit of paint if you try to hard, though.  I digress.

My walls are now a beautifully bright yet muted green.  Celery sprig.  I have diet walls.  But why am I talking about my freshly painted walls other than they have been white for the past nine years, I hate the smell of paint, and trying to keep two dachshunds away from a painter is a full-time job?  Because you have to empty your room to paint it and I have far more crap than I realized.

You see it’s hard to believe so much stuff can fit in a closet-sized bedroom.  Over the past years I became the master of shoving things into small places and forgetting about them.  It took me several days to go through all of my things, but I ended up with a large garbage bag of trash, a garbage bag of donations, and a snotty, sobby face.

My headboard has two compartments for storage, one of the attractive features of the bed that caused my parents and I to fall in love with it.  Places to put crap!  I rarely go into those compartments because they are full.  As I was emptying them to make it easier for the painter to move my bed, I found yearbooks, photo albums, notebooks, loose pictures, and stuffed animals.  I’ve always been a bit of a stuff animal hoarder but these were all from my hospital days.  Each bear (there may have been a koala and cow or two as well) was from somebody wishing me well and a quick recovery.  I knew I had kept these particular animals for sentimental purposes and had gotten rid of so many others, but for the life of me I could no longer remember who gave me half of them.

I pulled a brown, wiry bear wrapped in a robe and slippers and waved him in front of my mom:

“Do you remember who gave this one to me?”

“Wasn’t it Jess?  I’m pretty sure it was Jess.”

“No, she gave me a Build-A-Bear with a Friends Furever t-shirt on an Sketchers.  Everyone was crazy over the fact that my bear had Sketchers.”

“Are you sure?  I’m pretty sure that was from Jess.  Maybe she gave you two bears?”

“I don’t know why she would have give me two.  I doubt it was her, I would have remembered that.”

It went something like that.  I ended up asking Jess that night while talking over IM and she is also pretty sure she only gave me one bear although, being nine years ago, it’s hard to say.  Bathrobe bear’s origins remain a mystery but even my mom agrees that he is too cute to donate.

I managed to get through the animals quickly and painlessly, even sending several off to Goodwill.  I thought that was all I had left as mementos from being in the hospital aside from my two giant sized greeting cards that live in my closet, but then I opened the drawer in my night stand that I never use.  I dug deep in there to find a stack of greeting cards and instead of just tossing them all at once (why keep what you didn’t know existed?) I went through them one by one.

And the tears began to flow.

I hadn’t kept every get well card I got, but I kept quite a few.  I thought I was done with the bawling after writing my thesis when I would narrowly escape Starbucks and the library dry eyed before making it back to my car for a good cry.  There is something about reading other people’s words and re-realizing the scope of people who responded when they heard what had happened.  Everything is brought to another level of consciousness.  I got rid of a few more, but some of those cards I need to hang on to a little longer.

So now I have green walls.  I’m moving on in life.