Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bon Voyage!

Can you say that to yourself? I'm sure it's not really appropriate but whatever. I've had very little sleep and a lot of caffeine so I'm not working at full capacity. I don't have everything done yet--shocking, I know--but it's getting there and I'm almost ready to hop in the shower. I might as well start out fresh even though I know I won't arrive that way. Once I arrive in the Mystery Country, all you bloggers can check your analytics page and try to guess my exotic locale.

I keep thinking of how tired I am and how I hope to sleep on the flight and I remember once I was flying back from Israel and the flight attendant actually woke me up during the flight to make sure I was okay because I had been sleeping the entire time. Oddly, that happened on a route that I will be taking today. I really hope it has the same effect on me today so I don't arrive too exhausted.

Next post will be from the MC!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Am I the only one who does this?

I leave Wednesday for the Mystery Country. I'm nowhere near being ready to go. I don't have one thing packed, I still have clothes at the tailor, I have laundry to do, boxes to pack and ship, a few gifts to mail (and finish making), and a car to clean. I really hope to get all of this done tonight so I don't have to do anything Wednesday morning. I'm feeling tired just looking at my list! When you are preparing for a big trip do you wait until the last minute to pack and run errands or is it just me?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Like Riding A Bike?

It's been a LONG time since I've been in a social situation with strangers. Well, that's not entirely true because in late April I went to a party at one of TOIAW's friend's houses but it was rather low-key and the evite mentioned jello shots (because of this, I almost didn't go) so it wasn't what I would call formal. I've been in a bit of a cocoon the past nine months and while I'm okay with that, I think I'm ready to break out. At least I thought I was but earlier today when TOIAW told me we have plans next Saturday night I kind of froze a little inside. For those of you who don't know me, I used to be good at this kind of thing and it certainly didn't ever scare me.

I hope it all comes back to me. You know, like riding a bike. That would be so lovely! I really want to tell you about the guest list but TOIAW has already expressed concerns about possible security issues with my blog so I better not. I don't have the I-regret-I-have-but-one-blog-to-give-for-my-country attitude and I intend on keeping this one, albeit as anonymously as possible.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Man Shoes

I have about six posts I need to write but tonight I am going to forgo those and write about the internal debate I am having regarding fashion vs. comfort or, in my case, safety. It seems the women in the Mystery Country like their high--very high--heels. They're called "clickers" only pronounced with an "ee" sound in place of the "i." All other shoes are commonly referred to as man shoes. Awesome.

Did I mention the MC is not known for it's mild winters? What do I do? Have my pants tailored for heels or flats? I can't wear heels in the snow. Well, I suppose I could but that would be very stupid (note to self: ship the walking boot just in case). I do own a few pair of cleekers and some boots with a short heel so maybe that will do for now?

Today TOIAW discovered a very big problem with the shipment of our household items. The problem being they're still sitting in a warehouse in Virginia. Rock on. I may or may not have suggested to Rocky (names not changed to protect the guilty), the lovely moving company employee, that he had approximately zero interest in shipping my crates to me because every day they sit in his facility the government pays him a handsome storage fee. He didn't appreciate my insinuation. I didn't appreciate his lackadaisical attitude so I think we're even.

All this prompted TOIAW to be very concerned about my lack of warm clothing as I am scheduled to leave next week and the weather there is already getting cool. Apparently he hasn't had time to check our bank account or he would see I will be just fine until my clothing arrives. Those are beginning to look like necessary purchases if you ask me. Actually they were necessary purchases because in addition to wearing cleeckers, women in the MC tend to dress up far more than I--a stay-at-home mom to two dogs--usually do. Make that "usually did" as I now possess a fashionable wardrobe heavy on what I like to call "everyday fancy" items. I'm still somewhat nervous about having the right clothes which I fully admit is ridiculous. I'm moving to a different country, not starting junior high. If I begin to write posts about traveling to Italy to shop and raving about paying $400 for a pair of boots that normally cost $600 send in the deprogrammers!*

There are so many real problems in the world--I should know, I've experienced several of them this year--I feel guilty that I am thinking about these things. Of course, that being said, I'm not sure my fragile psyche could take hearing whispers behind my back about being the "woman wearing house clothes and man shoes."

*Because, yeah, my SIL [from a country culturally similar to the MC] actually does this. Also, she complains how the US size 00 does not fit her. Sadly, sometimes it doesn't.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed?

I've been holding my breath about posting a PP update because I wanted to make sure she actually is doing well before I shout it out to the internets and jinx myself. Nevertheless, I think I can finally say she is on the road to recovery. This, however, did not come without a setback. This weekend I was that patient (or that patient's owner, as it were) with multiple phone calls to the hospital about PP's hunger strike and other odd behavior that had me very concerned. On Sunday morning I knew I could not face another day of wondering if she was okay so I took her back to the hospital. She had a high fever but after x-rays and blood work the culprit was found to be something rather simple: the area that was shaved in preparation for the surgery had broken out. I believe the technical medical description is "nasty." I felt really awesome for not having noticed this and I'm not sure if they believed me when I told them I had only seen her try to lick/clean the area a few times. They said they believed me, but if you had seen the area you might wonder how I could miss it because I sure did. In the end I was sent home with the world's most expensive tube of diaper rash creme, stronger antibiotics, and peace of mind that she was going to be just fine.

Oh, and I also left with the new found knowledge that PP loves baby food (they fed her some to see if she would eat it). She's eaten like a champ ever since which sure beats sitting on the floor trying to feed my dog pumpkin and boiled chicken with a spoon. The baby food is actually an excellent way to get both dogs to eat vegetables which is great. What is not great is the cost of organic baby food. Yes, I feed my dogs an organic diet. All my strict "no people [bad] people food for dogs" rules are really paying off for me, don't you think? Wait, don't answer that... Anyway, I always planned on making baby food for my children and now, after discovering the cost, I'm even more convinced!

So now I have a healing PP who has lots o' energy which does not mesh well with her discharge orders for "extremely restricted activity." She and Bootsy are separated most of the day and then Bootsy gets home and immediately looks to see if the crate is empty as this is her favorite napping spot (much to her sister's dismay). She also seems to enjoy the crate for the first part of the evening after which she transitions to my bed. Not to be outdone, PP gets on the bed and if I ever leave to go to bathroom, I usually return to a bed full of dogs and I have to move one or both of them. Last night I just tried to sleep in the unoccupied space and this morning my back is killing me. Tonight I'm considering trying out the crate.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Helpless

This past week and a half has certainly brought up a lot of Sarah memories. Not that they're ever buried very deep but I've gotten better at not letting the really bad ones surface too often. But all these feelings of helplessness I feel with PP are all to familiar for me. It's probably not even good for PP for me to be so upset.

I caved tonight and gave her a sedative (not the full dose) but now that I think about it, I gave it to her too late. I guess a learning curve is normal I just don't want it to put her healing in jeopardy. Also, I called the cardiologist with a question and she told me--through the on-call vet--that the issue I had is nothing to worry about and she will call in the morning. I'm obsessing, I know I am, and yet I cannot stop it.

Oh, and I delayed my flight to the Mystery Country by ten days so I can be with PP during the most critical period. At this rate the MC is sounding like paradise where I get to go to escape this stress and fall into the arms of TOIAW. This is so awful it's making the MC look good to me?! Frightening.

She's Home!

Let's see...PP has been in my "care" for almost 3 hours and so far it's harder than I thought it would be and, for the record, I didn't expect it to be a walk in the park because she can't walk in the park or in the yard or in the house unless it is to eat or go outside in order to perform a bodily function. As expected, I'm paranoid that she is going to dislodge the device. She has already tried to jump on my cousin and play with Bootsy AND she escaped from her crate because I didn't completely latch it. I won't be making that amateur mistake again. Did I mention she was given a sedative less than 4 hours ago? She can take another one later but I'm going to try to wait until morning. I have a plan and I really hope it works so we can get into a routine.

Okay, I'm watching the news and there is a story about "new poverty." I think that's my cue to shut-up, suck it up, and drive on. Our sweet PP is going to be just fine and we'll make it through this no matter how many sad looks she gives me!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dr. McDreamy, DVM

After I finished my previous post, I realized I wouldn't sleep a wink without an update so I called and Dr. McDreamy, DVM (or, "my student," as the hospital refers to him which I assume is because he is the student assigned to our case? not sure on that) just called me back. His voice is soothing and so is what he had to say: PP ate a bit and is now resting. He will check on her early in the morning and will call me mid-morning after their rounds.

Breathe in, breathe out, repeat...

Will I ever be normal again?

I am exhausted--physically and emotionally--but I can't sleep because I am so afraid my phone will ring with bad news about PP. The doctor gave me no indication she expects there to be issues but why would I let a little thing like that get in the way of my worry? I just keep remembering Sarah's last night...everything happening so fast...watching the monitors...hearing the sounds of the NICU...seeing the doctors gather and consult...watching the nurse hook-up more medications for her tiny body...leaving for a few minutes of sleep only to be awakened by my phone and TOIAW's voice telling me to come back because she was declining...and so much more after that that I cannot write about because it's better if it just stays in my head. Such an awful, scary, horrible night.

I think I'm better--that I can function--and then, BAM!, I'm reminded I'm not. I'm pretty sure I never will be. Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the day we first saw her heartbeat. I want to remember and then again I don't want to remember but it doesn't matter because I do remember. I remember it all.

Phase One: Complete

Well, the surgery went pretty well. The cardiologist didn't "like the way the device looked" once it was in but she said she pulled and prodded it quite a bit and was comfortable that it is in as securely as it can be at this point. Also, they did a test to see if there was any back-flow blood going through the hole and there was not. So I guess that makes us 2 for 3? Oh how I wanted everything to be perfect for a change! Whatever, it is what it is and we must deal with it which means that rather than three weeks of completely restricted activities, she will have six weeks. Good times, good times. The restriction is necessary in order for the blood vessel to mold around the device and completely close the hole. If she gets too rambunctious causing a lot of blood to flow at a heavy rate, the device could be dislodged and that would obviously be bad.

Okay, enough with the medical speak...on to my day hanging out in the vet clinic. First of all, the vet student assigned to PP is like the veterinary version of Dr. McDreamy. Seriously, even she loved him and he's a doctor! Every time he called me he stated his name and that he was calling from the veterinary teaching hospital at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater...you know, just in case I was unsure. Very proper in that student kind of way; weren't we all once? When he called me this morning he said the surgery was delayed due to an emergency and gave me the new estimated start time but I was already on my way so I just got there really early. I kept myself busy for a few hours then went to the clinic and laid claim to an area. Dr. McDreamy, DVM came and told me they would be beginning the surgery soon so I settled in. At some point I could tell one of the receptionists asked another one about me (yeah, not too subtle). About 20 minutes after I reached full panic shaking mode, Dr. McDreamy, DVM came out in scrubs--yeah, so cute!--to tell me the device was in and there was still a bit to do but the cardiologist would speak to me when she was done. I settled down a bit but began to reach full panic mode again just as the doctor came to get me. Basically, she said everything I already told you. I asked her to only call tonight if there was a problem because I just didn't think I could wait for another "update" without having to seek the services of a human cardiologist. They will call me in the morning and I should be able to bring her home tomorrow afternoon. Thank you so much for your kind comments, prayers, and sweet thoughts!!! I know PP isn't a human child but I think I have a unique perspective on all of this and I will never regret doing everything I can to give back to her the comfort, companionship, compassion, joy, and love she has shown me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Drop-Off Complete

I took PP today, signed all the papers, paid a 50% deposit, and left in tears. When I left the room she was running in place to get to me...ugh, it makes me cry all over again to think of it. I should be getting a call from Joe--the fourth year vet student who will be updating me at least twice a day--very soon. I'm also going tomorrow just to be there during her surgery. The doctors and tech gave me the impression people don't usually do that but I am because, really what else am I going to do? So the surgery will begin around 10 and I should hear from them by 1 when she is in recovery.

I AM SO FLIPPING NERVOUS!!! It's awful. Can you imagine what I would be like if Sarah were here and needed surgery (which she undoubtedly would)? Yeah, me either.

Something I didn't recall the cardiologist mentioning last week was that PP will be completely restricted for THREE WEEKS. Any by restricted I mean in a crate inside and on a leash outside; if she's not in her crate, she will probably need to be on a leash in the house. This is so the device doesn't dislodge. I can handle it, I suppose, but I'm leaving 11 days into the restriction period and it's going to be challenging for my mom to exercise one energetic dog while trying to keep the other energetic dog calm. I guess this means that if/when I find out the surgery went well it will be time to begin freaking out about the recovery period.

I'm still waiting for Joe to call...

P.S. After this crisis is over, I promise to get back to writing emails and commenting on blogs...I've just been really busy lately with all this anxiety.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Paranoia, Thy Name is Rachel

Apparently I was so focused on PP's activities that I couldn't even see the glaring typo in my title. Oh well, it's corrected now.

Wikipedia defines paranoia as "a thought process characterized by excessive anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion." That pretty much describes me since Monday when I found out that PP needed to see a cardiologist. Even though yesterday calmed my fears a bit--insomuch as we know her condition is treatable--I'm still a nervous wreck and probably will be until I drop her off for Tuesday for her surgery Wednesday*. The cardiologist told me it was highly unlikely she would develop any problems but that hasn't stopped me from watching her every breath and every move. Is her breathing too shallow? Is that a gasp for breath I hear? Is she too lethargic? Why isn't she eating?

The not eating question prompted me to call the university vet clinic who, by the way, is so kind to have a vet student manning the phones around the clock just in case my neuroses get the better of me and I call to get a professional opinion. As it turns out the not eating thing slightly concerned the on-call vet and she told me to feed PP her favorite meal: boiled ground beef and rice. I was actually leaving Target when she called me back and I had already purchased the ingredients to prepare this canine delicacy. So, you ask, did she eat this gourmet meal? Yes, and without hesitation.

Now I can return to my regularly scheduled program of monitoring her breathing.

*and even then I will be a nervous wreck but I won't be able to watch her so that will prevent me from constantly monitoring her.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Diagnosis

This is going to be brief because I barely slept last night and right now I am physically and emotionally exhausted.

PP was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. [A PDA for all of you who know what that is--and if you've had a preemie, you know.] Most dogs--60-65%--who have this develop congestive heart failure within the first year of life. Do you know how awesome it feels to be on the GOOD side of statistics for a change?! So let's hope to stay on the good side of the statistics when she has corrective surgery next week! The surgery is not without risk but it's necessary (though it does make me nervous that the risks are minor...see above comments about statistics). I really liked the cardiologist and was very impressed with both her and the clinic.

Oh, and by the way, heart surgery for dogs is not cheap. Who knew?