Glad you’re still around, Franklin

On April 27 of this year, with a grade III heart murmur, dyspnea (difficult breathing), in this case an extra effort to expire-maybe not the best word to use-I took Frank to my colleague to be euthanized. This was difficult. First, Frank is tied for second as my all time favorite cat. Second, when we got to the clinic, I opened the carrier, and out walked a purring, happy cat.

The vet looked at me incredulously, as I did her. No way was this a cat ready to be put down. But I had prepared myself, and gotten him there. Dr. Kelly examined him, heard the murmur, and watched the breathing. How could we euthanize my special boy? Yeah, he used to be eighteen pounds, so much so, that I had to get him groomed for matts and a bath every other month. He just couldn’t move around his whole body to groom himself. No more, he can clean himself. And for the little matts I find, he is cooperative.

Kelly and I did a lateral radiograph of his chest, which surprisingly was perfectly normal. Go figure. Kelly laughed when I said to Frank, “Well, Frank, I guess you aren’t going to die today.”

I thought about another very important part of separating pets you shared with your spouse now deceased. I still have all three cats Earl and I shared: Matthew, 17, looking well and still Top Cat. Franklin and his brother, Cowboy Joe, are 15.

Cowboy has hyperthyroidism, and I medicate him twice daily with methimazole which, in my day of practice, was only available in pill form. Now this is in a cream in a measured plastic tube. You turn the tube twice, and apply the medicine to the inside of the ear where there is less fur. We recently measured his T4 levels, and where it was almost off the chart high, is almost normal. Good stuff. I have to wash if my skin touches it because I have hypothyroidism, one of those older age “welcome to the club” disorders.

My joy with Franklin now is how loving and content he is. All the cats love Ivy, and we all sleep on the bed after Ivy gets out of her crate in the morning to go out. When she comes back in, we all snuggle. If I am lying on my left side, Frank, who sleeps on my right, will tap my shoulder so I turn around to pet and hold him. I really love that. He is a happy guy, which is all I want and expect at this point. At normal weight now, Frank even looks right. And after seven months of extra life so far, I am really happy to have him. Let’s see what happens when I drive to  Arizona with three elderly cats and a young dog.

I am blessed with animals that fill my life with love, and take away some of the hurt of losing Earl. I’ve been on my own nearly ten years. People pretty much stay away, but with my new career of writing, I can handle it better.

So, Franklin Irving Carlson, here’s to you! Some reviewers have even said the chapter he wrote in Drinking from the Trough, a Veterinan’s Memoir, is their favorite one.

I hope you can get a copy of the book and enjoy it  yourself.

Cheers!

Throw her in, see if she swims again

Good golly. After my book, Drinking from the Trough: A Veterinarian’s Memoir, was published two months ago, I sank into like a postpartum writer’s depression. Nothing came into my mind to write about. Jeez, doing this all again? What an idiot!

I have a lot of ideas, but I think it’s more of the quality of “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Then Judy, my coach, told me that November is a month to write as much of a novel as you can, minimum 50,000 words (a lot). I’m not a novelist, but my low expectations ought to make this fun.

May even spice up my mood to do something absolutely ridiculous for me. Don’t get me wrong, this is a serious competition, but one so awfully wrong for me, I’m going to have fun!

P.S. Read my book yet?

E. coli, or how I got sick when my dog shook cattle-infused water all over me

I like to take Ivy to the dog park. I don’t use the regular one close to home on the weekend. Too many obnoxious dogs and their more obnoxious owners.

I have a not well known dog park to go to on weekends. Sometimes, we are the only ones there. Good thing Ivy finally learned how the “Chuck It” works so she can fly after tennis balls.

At this park, there is a dying Ponderosa pine tree. Heck, with all the water they are using, it’s probably drowning. I know it’s there, but check every time by chucking the tennis ball in the opposite direction so Ivy doesn’t see me.

One day about three weeks ago, by golly, there it was, a gray, stinky pond with a tree in the middle. In she splashed. OK, I thought, I’ll wash her off when we get home.

When Ivy got out of the water, of course she came up to me and shook herself off hard. I was covered by greenish dots smelling suspiciously bovine. We headed for home, she got rinsed off, I put the dirty clothes in the wash, and took a shower.

A few days later, I was nauseous in the morning. I stopped eating. I finally called my GI doc, and got an appointment with his PA. He put me on Peptobismol, and told me to go to the lab and get a stool sample kit. Did you know PB turns your, er, stool black. Totally gross. I thought my colitis was kicking up, but it turned out to be E. coli. Yep, from a bovid. I actually ate cow shit. Eeeewww. I called the facility where the dog park is, and they were shocked, and would look into it. What’s to look into? I’m part Holstein now. I also notified the county health department.

So the treatment really is Pepto, and a magnesium oxide tablet when this turns the other way. I have my book launch coming up in 10 days, a film crew wants to film Ivy at the care center-they are working on permission forms, and I feel like crap. Maybe that’s not such a good word to use.

Ivy, by the way, is just fine, thank you.

Franklin, mine son.

Oy Frank. Mine son. You have been through the ringer; but you still come up purring.

On April 27, I took you to the clinic for euthanasia. You are fifteen years old. You have a Grade III heart murmur, a BUN off the charts indicating your kidneys are on the way out, and you have to breathe extra hard. I initially took you in to Earl’s old clinic because you used to be eighteen pounds, and now you looked like normal weight. You looked horrible.

Yet, when I took you out of the carrier, you looked like the healthiest cat on the planet. Dr. Gaffney looked at me like I was nuts! I could hear her thinking: “Why are you here to put this happy cat to sleep?” So was I! He came out of the carrier  to purr at and bump all the staff, eating snacks, leaving me scratching my head in puzzlement.  She did hear the Grade III murmur where the other vet had called it a Grade II.

We decided then to take a chest film. With a Grade III mitral murmur and dyspnea (difficult breathing), surely we would find something. That film was of the healthiest looking heart and lungs I ever saw. Dr. Gaffney laughed when I told you, “Well, Frank, I guess you aren’t going to die today.” We went home and you ate some kitty fud.

Fast forward to July. We-you three elderly cats and the puppy with their mother were watching TV in the loft upstairs. I had put an empty bowl of ice cream on the flat top of the loft banister to remember to take it downstairs. You do have a bad habit of checking out my feeding dishes, er, bowls. My eye just glanced over to the flat top just in time to see your paws on the top and nothing else. The paws went off, and in a microsecond, I heard a body hit the stairs. I screamed and ran down to find a dead cat. But there you were, alive and crouched on the floor and still. I touched you, and you cried. OMG!

I called the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital and told the woman on the phone I was coming in pronto, and would stay with my cat.

After all the struggles over the years I’ve had with you, Franklin, about getting into a carrier, you walked right in.

I broke all speed records to get you to the hospital.

CSU now has a Patient Liaison. She is wonderful with crazy people, when the resident introduced herself to me as did the new senior student. They only took you away from me to do an exam. You were fine, but I wanted to see a film of your chest and spine. Totally normal.

I took all the paperwork home with  you, now in the pouring rain. Thanks for the hundreds of dollars I spent. All the stuff on the balcony is off, but I can’t keep you off. Has this happened before? How would I know?

Still good ‘ol Charlie Brown, er, Franklin. Charlie Brown was my very first cat. Now, you sleep next to my head, purring and  cuddling all the time. You are an old cat, so is your brother, and so is Matthew, who is seventeen.

I remember when I told Dr. Kainer, my anatomy professor, that I decided to go into feline practice. His comment? “That’s good. It’s hard to kill a cat.”

Renewing my DEA License and other tales of the weird

I just got a notice that my Drug Enforcement Agency License would expire next month. Yes, I have retired from private practice, but I still have animals, especially Hannah, who lives with my sister’s two horses.

When I graduated from vet school in 1987, a three year DEA license was a mere $60. Then, this DOJ agency said, “Hey, wait a minute, these people HAVE to have this license to do their jobs. What the hell are we charging only sixty bucks for them?” Duh.

I now pay over $700 for a three year license, far more than I spend on medicines. OK, I’m a captive. At least it was easy to renew, and I didn’t throw my MacBook against the wall. You have four pages of questions to fill out. I get it about the name, address, and state and license information. But there was a whole page on if I’ve ever had my license, DEA or state(s) pulled, committed a crime involving controlled substances, or taken away one of Ivy’s dog toys against her will.

No doctor of any kind can have a license for a Schedule I substance like heroin. I remember long ago, as he was born 100 years ago next month, that my physician father and the pharmacist across the street from his office found a large, old bottle way in the back of the locked closet. The bottle contained medical grade heroin. Remember, people used to use heroin and cocaine legally up until I think the 1920’s. Think Sherlock Holmes stories and the book, the Seven Percent Solution. It was legal to use and prescribe these now Schedule I drugs. Dad and the pharmacist disposed of the contents of the bottle. I have a collection of Dad’s antique medicine bottles, and they are really strange. The one thing of his I wanted was the beautiful jar that said, “Leeches.” It was prominently displayed in his office. The man had a strange sense of humor, OK? The leech jar disappeared somehow when my step-siblings, my husband and I were going through Dad’s and my stepmother’s things after she died. Gone.

Within the DEA application was a checkbox for forms to order Schedule I or II narcotic drugs. Why oh why do they want us to have forms to order Schedule I drugs when we can’t have schedule I medicines? Perhaps it is because medical marijuana is available, but I don’t see (haven’t checked, that is) that pot store owners have medical licenses, DEA licenses, and forms to order Schedule I narcotics.

The last thing the form asked was if I had taken an optional course on the dangers of prescribing narcotics. I checked no, because I don’t remember getting a notice for this, and I don’t prescribe narcotics. I do have a Schedule 2N on my license, along with Schedules 2,3,4 and 5, but I used the 2N only once, when I first opened my cat clinic, never used the medicine, and sent it to the DEA for disposal when it expired.

My two year license to practice veterinary medicine is expiring Oct. 31, as it always does in the even years. More bucks. I’m staying active in the profession. I don’t want to say I’m a retired veterinarian. I am retired from private practice. I can still be an extra pair of hands for a colleague, spay cats for rescues, or neuter tomcats on kitchen tables for law school classmates as I did in Texas (boy did that go around the law building at the speed of light!) And yes, I was fully licensed in Texas with one more license, the DPS, Department of Public Safety.

So, for three more years, I am a financial captive. But it makes me proud to be fully licensed in a field I worked so hard to belong.

 

Just when you think you knew everything

I went to a funeral of one of my vet professors the other day, an activity that unfortunately is getting too frequent. I said hello to one of the visitors in front of me. He said, “Who are you?!” I thought he was serious, so I said, “Mary Carlson.” Then I remembered how he always liked to jerk my chain, like the time on his service he gave me a grade of 11.96 out of twelve. After the service, one of my favorite profs of all time, who always teases me about giving law school a try, left before the funeral directors go up row by row to let people go to the reception. This professor, Dr. Jim Ingram, jerker of chains, leader of the student “duck patrol” was helped out by his wife and another professor, who had driven them to the church. I thought that in spite of oxygen lines, he looked pretty good. I learned today that he had a fall right before leaving home. Speaking of falls, he still owes me a bucking bronco belt buckle for breaking my hip in ’04. Now that I’ve broken both, well…. On the other hand, how many of your professors visit you two days out of a three day hospital stay for a hip replacement?

The funeral was for Dr. Bob Pierson, my neighbor before marriage, and painter of my horse art watercolors. Bob painted the original portrait for a birthday present Earl commissioned. I had it downsized for my business cards and this blog. Visit “Portrait of the Horses” to see it.

I thought about Dr. Ingram, the oxygen, the fact that he is 93, and that my book isn’t coming out until August. I still had one relatively untouched ARC, so before leaving for Ivy’s job today, I called and talked to Peggy, his wife. Would Dr. Ingram, classmate of my father-in-law, class of ’52, and one of my best profs who is prominently featured in the book, like a copy of the next to final book? Would he be able to read it? Peggy said absolutely, and it was fine to bring it over after the care home visit. She was OK about Ivy coming too, it was really hot today, and no way could she stay in the car. She was a good dog who fell in love with the best horse neurologist I ever knew.

I had written words inside of the book for the good doctor, but said if he wanted, I would give him a final copy. I know the book launch wouldn’t be good for him, but I will invite them anyway.

We all got talking about WWII, and how he got to go on an Honor Flight last year to see the monuments in DC, particularly the breathtaking WWII monument. He showed me his hat with the pins on it. I quickly spotted the Purple Heart pin. Turns out the smily doctor known as Grim Jim (a moniker he never liked,) is a Purple Heart WWII hero.

I stayed about an hour. Ivy was a good dog. Peggy asked me if I would like a picture of Dr. Ingram from the honor flight. Absolutely! It’s magnificent. A head shot with the WWII ball cap on his head, and a priceless expression. The expression on his face is pure Jim Ingram. The picture is going into a frame ASAP.

I hope I’ll get to see him more. Seems I see some people only at funerals now. I’m happy to go over to the Ingrams for awhile so Peggy can run some errands. All she has to do is call, and I’ll be there.

What an unexpectedly special day!

Fighting for freedom 50 years apart

Veteran and former CSU prof donates rare WWII glider uniform to Avenir Museum
“Please take care of this.” That’s what 93-year-old Jim Ingram told staff of CSU’s Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising on May 23 as he donated the complete, pristine uniform he wore during his World War II service in the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment.

 

 

Overkill at the spa

Well, Ivy finally got into the spa yesterday. April could’t do her last week, because she was scheduled for a “fluff and buff” and Ivy was clearly a 34 # mat. I picked her up four hours later, and boy did that dog look skinny! April had to take the clippers down to the skin. As per usual, she left the ears and tail intact.

How to pre-order my book!

Drinking from the Trough, published by She Writes Press, is ready to pre-order. I can’t believe it-that’s seven months away!

Here’s how you do it: Go to Amazon. In the space to find things, type in Mary Carlson DVM. That takes you to the book cover. Click on the cover, and it asks if you want the Kindle version or the paperback. Click on one, and you’re done.

Also scroll down to see a short biography. This is getting fun, if not totally confusing.

The butt goes up

Well now I’ve seen everything. I came in the house after mailing Betty White a letter asking her to please write a back cover blurb for my book. We are both involved with Morris Animal Foundation, but at 96, I think she is focusing more on the Los Angeles Zoo and saving sea otters.

Ivy was on the stairs, with her front paws on the lower step, and sitting one step up. She knew I wanted to get by, so instead of turning around and going up, or going down by me, she put her weight on the front paws and hitched her butt up the stairs. She did this until she got to the top.

I think I’ve seen it all now.

Myra Kanter

The storm raging the East coast and a FB comment from a law professor prompted me to this memory.

When I was at Highland Park High School, at the end of the semesters we had a final exam schedule. You only came to school when you had a final. There was a special bus schedule. If you left the building, you could not come back in.

At the end of my first semester, the final exam schedule was fixed for January (this is before Fort Collins, and hurrying to finish the semester with the college students to get out early.) It also happened to be the time of the Great Blizzard of 1967.

Myra Kanter, a school friend who was a genius, finished her final, and went out to the bus area. With the snow and wind swirling around her and seeing no busses, Myra realized she missed the bus. She tried to get back inside, because the next bus was in an hour. School officials would not let her in.

First, imagine a Chicago blizzard. Then imagine a skinny genius with the sweet temperament actually standing in the raging snow looking through the door at the guard watching her suffer. There were no cell phones to call her mom, and even if she wanted to use a phone, she wasn’t going to be let in.

I have never forgotten that. It’s one of those memories I have stuffed in my brain. My friend, Linda, always says to me, “How do you remember things like that”? I don’t know, but I do.

Stay out of the northeast for a few days, Myra.