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!

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.

 

A movie and a recliner…

It’s time for my second recheck after my stay at the Shangri La Hilton for 5 days. I’m only supposed to put 15# on the leg with crutches, but you know, I’ve been bad. Bad Mary. But the leg feels pretty good. A few steps is OK. I wouldn’t use the stairs without help. Experimenting is OK if done carefully. Going too hard and fast is just plain stupid.

With the last hip fx, it was horribly painful. This one has been pretty good because it was not displaced. No pain meds except while in the hospital and here at home for the first week. My pain meds were Oxycodone-yep, the one that has gotten so much publicity of late. My doctor told me once that if you take it for real pain, you don’t get addicted. When I broke my R hip in ’04, it was so painful that the trauma surgeon had me on two tabs every four hours. Now that’s a lot. Did I come out of that as an addict? No. I just stopped when the pain was minimal. As an athlete in HS and college, and afterward, I can tell you I have never been stoned or high. I did hallucinate during the first hip fx, as I had the pump with morphine in it. I hallucinated, but didn’t know what it was.

For the L hip, I was surprised and angry that the hospital sent me home with only a week’s worth of Oxy. One pill every six hours. I was expecting horrid pain. The pain was so minimal compared to the other hip, that I got along just fine with the dosage-one tab every six hours. I renewed it once, but have only taken one pill of the second bottle.

Now that I’m mobile, driving, doing errands, and getting the mail (in the car!), when I have a busy day, I’m beat by 3pm. I eat lunch, put in a movie watched a million times, and snooze. Life is good.

Wednesday, I have an appt. with the dr. is in the morning. I’ll bring my Kindle as he often runs two and a half hours behind.At one, my usual appt. with my writing coach, Judy. Then that evening, we have our double-November/December park board meeting. I know the next day will be a movie and the recliner. One’s body has a way of telling you, “Enough”! Time to heal. The only thing I have is shlepping my currently fuzzy pup to the spa.

Thursday will be my movie and recliner day.

Three out of four

With this latest hip fracture, I realize I have broken three out of four of the largest bones in the body. Last Feb, I did my R humerus, and it is murder with crutches. I start PT after Thanksgiving.

My ortho buddy, Dr. K., discussed my osteoporosis with me. I’ve had it forever, as most runts have, but I went off the first medication ten years ago. It made me feel bad on the day I took it. Didn’t want to feel bad 1/7 days of my life. Today, there are many meds, with many that go in  IV once or twice a year. This bypasses the GI system, so that might work.

Here is the order of what we are doing, we being me and doctors:

Fx of hip.

Discuss osteoporosis with ortho doc.

Have Dexa done.

Review by PCP

Reco going to my endocrinologist-she said PCP could manage my thyroid. He does.

Appt in Feb. to discus this with her-FEBRUARY! It’s November now. I can wait. She’s the only endocrinologist in town. Very good dr. The dr, reco’d by Dr. K, with whom I did Pilates, is not accepting new patients. My former physician and family friend went to MD-VIP, so his practice is a boutique practice model where you pay an extra $1500 to see him. It cuts down on patient load,

So, I’m sitting here healing. Getting around well on crutches. Did 3 loads of laundry, but paid the price with both hips screaming at me. My wonderful cleaning lady swapped out the summer bedspread for the winter. The summer spread was in the dryer, because dogs aren’t entirely clean. God bless her, she did some things I can’t do, like drag that comforter on the floor, take it upstairs to store in the guest room.

Whew! Creativity is the order of the day. I’m on my own, except for my next door neighbors. They have been very kind to me. No one calls, or comes to visit. My friend of 60 years, Linda, said while I am good at helping others with their needs, or the needs of their parents when the family goes out of town, leaving 92 YO mom home, not to expect people to reciprocate. She is right.

Let’s hope my large bones stay three out of four.

 

BONES R US

So how many of you have gone on Medicare the first of the month only to break your hip on the 27th? Yeah, baby, right here.

Ivy only had three supervised therapy dog visits to do to become certified to make people smile. I had her in agility class for something else to do. She is really good at it.

So, she had gone over the large upside down v shaped thing, and went to the tunnel. I went outside along side of her shouting, “Tunnel, Ivy, good girl!” when I tripped on the holder of the tunnel, fell on my L knee and landed hard on my left hip. Oy. I only have one untouched large bone left.

Fast forward to the next morning scheduled for surgery. I had talked to my world-famous joint replacement surgeon who had looked at the films on his cell phones. He said the Doctor on call could put 3 parallel pins across the femoral neck. Deja vu from 2004?

So, I get down to pre-op. The chaplain there was a friend of mine, and stayed with me the whole time.

Dr. Doogie Howser shows up. Standing at my back so I had to crane my neck over, he said, “Hi! I’m Dr. Howser. I’m here to replace your hip.” WHAT? When was that ever mentioned? I told him to go call Dr. Famous, who had replaced my R hip in ’05. In the meantime, Young Skippy comes up to me and says, “Hi! I’m your nurse anesthetist. I’m going to be doing your anesthesia today.” “No you are not, I requested an MD anesthesiologist.” Adele, the chaplain, told him to read the notes. He backed up and said to Doogie, “She won’t let me do the anesthesia, wa, wa, wa!”

Dr. Doogie had gotten ahold of Dr. Famous, and Dr. Famous had told him what to do, and that if the hip failed like the other one did, he’d replace it. Mission accomplished. I had an anesthesiologist with a sense of humor, whom I asked if he was a graduate of the Denver School of Nursing. Humor is the way I roll, not interacting with idiots who can’t read.

So now I have three pins in my L hip which will stay. I now have broken three of the 4 largest bones in the body. I saw Dr. Famous today, whom I thanked profusely for having my back before surgery with Doogie. We discussed going back on osteoporosis meds, just not the one that made me feel bad one day of the week. Twelve days after the accident, today, he said I could now put 15# of weight on my hip using my crutches. I will see him next month, and probably ditch the crutches. No PT for hips, just walking. Ivy will soon be able to have her three supervised therapy visits.

Last thought: A freshman med student can nail a hip. I’ve put a pin in the wing of a roadrunner. It’s not rocket science. I think most ortho docs think they are Jesus just because they are really good carpenters.

Happy 30th Birthday, John Morris!

I went tonight to John’s 30th birthday party. Dude-it’s about time you finally asked the lovely Arianna, your love and business partner, to marry you. I look forward to the wedding.

John was one of my students in JHS biology. He was injured in high school snowboarding, which rendered him a below the neck quadriplegic. Instead of saying boo-hoo, John went to CSU and won several awards for his invention, Quadshox. He is the CEO and President of a company which manufactures shock absorbers for push wheelchairs, which can be painful for quads. Their motto is, “Made for people in wheelchairs by people in wheelchairs. Bona fortuna, John.

Drinking Out of the Trough is the Title of My First Book!

Yes, campers, I have finally taken the plunge and written a book. It’s undergoing editing by the wonderful Judy Fort Brenneman of Greenfire Creative, LLC.

After eight years, I have a new puppy, a delightful Goldendoodle named Ivy. She is six months old. Her breeder, Cathie Crosby of Placer Goldendoodles picked her out for me as a good match. Ivy is a delightful little soul.

I gave the pup Ivy for a name because my beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016. Ivy covers the outfield walls at Wrigley Field. I got Ivy 6 days after the series, and today we celebrate four months together. She’s been through two puppy classes, and will take the Canine Good Citizen class to become a therapy dog when she turns one year old.

More later.

Agree to disagree

The other day I posted on my Facebook page that I was thrilled that the AVMA responded to an email inquiry about my possibly doing an externship there in summer 2011. It doesn’t have summer programs for law students, just vet students in DC doing governmental relations work.

My friend just graduated from law school here, and took her dream job in DC with an animal rights group which I respect, but do not support. My friend posted to my FB page about possible working for an organization that supports gassing animals. I wrote her a letter:

“Without studying the entire issue and reading available literature done with careful study, one can raise the issue not with a knowledgeable approach, but rather an inflammatory approach designed to take the audience to one side of the issue. I do not condone all the methods AVMA does, even if it conditionally approves them. But we have to study the entire issue, make changes where we can so the animals that must die are put down  humanely. I wouldn’t even think of giving a lethal injection of pentobarbitol to a cat unless it is placed under anesthesia first. I made this decision 22 years ago. When Tipper was PTS from her cancer, ten days before Earl died, she was placed under general anesthesia first. My friend had a difficult time of doing the best method, and Tip didn’t die right instantly, but she was asleep.
Whoever wrote what you put on my FB page, did so for inflammatory purposes without understanding of the report if, indeed, she even carefully read it. This is why the ‘humaniacs’ drive me nuts. Gas chambers WERE used, but that was in the 60s. They weren’t even gas chambers, but decompression chambers that literally sucked the life out of unwanted pets. My mother surrendered our cats to Orphans of the Storm in 1964 due to my sister’s asthma. I had nightmares of Charlie Brown being put into a box to die. Things have come a long way since then. Animal humane treatment is advancing, not retreating.
One needs to go after those who make profits off of fur animals, such as mink farmers, who do electrocute or ‘gas’ the creatures solely for their fur. Their meat is fed to other carnivores which, in turn, are fed back to the mink. People do wear fur. I can’t bear to look at a fur coat.
Think about the Koreans who sell dogs at market as livestock under nasty conditions. They are electrocuted or beaten to death, then butchered. Bottom line, while disgusting to us, it is their culture. Some things we just cannot change. That in America, we can. Greenpeace can take over the poaching of the seas for illegal tuna netting; finning of sharks and putting them back in the water to drown so Japanese can make soup; and drowning dolphins that are caught in the tuna nets. I support that-they are illegal activities. We change the things we can, and try to change that which we can’t.
Other social issues arise, such as the local custom of illegally clubbing of baby harp seals. While gross and disgusting, it is how native peoples survive. There is no way I can say anything to rationalize the brutalization of innocent babies. The Inuits who are allowed to hunt whales. That’s all the meat they eat and sell (oil.) I don’t like it at all, but I’m not living where the sun doesn’t shine. American Indians are the only group allowed to possess eagle feathers, which are used ceremonially. Anyone else would be arrested for possession.
The AVMA puts out an annual euthanasia report. Take T-61 euthanasia solution. It is by far the worst thing I’ve seen. It isn’t even on the market any more in the US. to my knowledge. However, when a horse is under anesthesia, say in surgery, as happened in 1988 when T-61 was still used and I was the anesthesiologist on duty at CSU, it was a humane thing, as the horse was unconscious. When my little mare, Franny, was euthanized at CSU, she wasn’t anesthetized first. The student cranked her head so she would be still while I put the pentobarbitol in her. I didn’t like that picture. When our dear Marcie had cancer of the tongue at thirty, and we took her to CSU 9 years later after Franny’s death, Marcie was anesthetized in a padded induction stall, the same stall Franny was in, then I gave her the solution. It was quiet and peaceful. She was already down when she died, whereas Franny collapsed to the ground in the throes of death. It is disturbing to watch any horse going down, even for minor surgery.
Were I to be fortunate enough go to AVMA as a legal policy specialist, that would not preclude me from advocating humane treatment of animals that do have to be PTS. It is a mission of the organization to better the treatment of animals. We all took an oath at graduation to treat animals humanely even upon their deaths. My feeling is as yours, neuter animals, adopt them out, and design humane ways to go to slaughter for food supply animals, as Dr. Temple Grandin of CSU had done. You never did tell me why you didn’t like her talk. Her entire life has been devoted to animal welfare, even of those animals on their way to slaughter.
Bottom line, there are local customs, millions of unwanted animals, puppy mills that foster bad breeding and keep pet animals in abhorrent conditions, and much much more.
What disturbed me when I was on necropsy rotation in school was the pathologist bringing a calf into necropsy, attaching electrodes to lip and anus, and just plugging the wire into a wall socket like a lamp. Horrible to watch, yes. Instantaneous death, yes.
We can talk about this if you like. I would ask you to email me instead of posting on my Facebook, OK? Just because I’m interested in a position, doesn’t mean that I would be making the lives of animals worse.
Last weekend was the fall meeting and dinner of Morris Animal Foundation in Dallas with Betty White there. I couldn’t go, slammed with work. Research that organization. No animal is ever euthanized unless it is for the sake of pathological samples. There even is a program for adoption. ALL animals used in studies that are not euthanized for study purposes, a small % of subjects, are adopted. Feel free to email the president and CEO, my friend and former professor, Dr. Patty Olson, polson@morrisanimalfoundation.org. Tell her we are friends and what you do for a living. She would talk to you. She also travels a lot, and even spent a year in DC as an AVMA Congressional Fellow.
When in doubt, call the AVMA and ask for a meeting. They don’t try to cover their tracks, they merely collate information and make recommendations. They themselves don’t condone bad things that are done, they try to make it better. If they can-great. If they can’t, at least they have tried by careful studies and reports. PETA, while their heart is in the right place with regard to animal welfare, is an extreme organization that has done some pretty detrimental things to animals themselves. You are now in a position to make things better within the scope of your new legal position.
We can agree to disagree on some issues, but let’s do it on the phone, or by emails. Not on Facebook.
Take care, my friend.
I will note that my wonderful, passionate friend, when hearing of Earl’s death, emailed me “whatever you need just say it, and I will jump on a plane.” She was doing her 2L externship in Houston, and we hadn’t met yet. That’s friendship. A good friend goes through good times and bad times with you. While our friendship is relatively new, I cherish it. We share the same passion for animals and their welfare, just in different ways. Go get ’em, kid!

So far, so good

Tipper is holding her own so far. She eats whatever is weird, such as cat food, peanut butter on biscuits, or potato chips. Her breathing has slowed down, a good thing. She enjoyed lying out in the rain in her dog pen today. She is very weak, but can get around.

Earl is having a procedure later today, so he will stay overnight. It will be difficult hand-feeding Tipper. She has food down all the time, but it’s the appetite we are concerned with. There is a difference between hunger and appetite. Hand feeding helps.

Earl was specific in that he didn’t want her to be euthanized while he was in the hospital, even though he does not wish to be present when she passes. Tipper will die at home, just as all our pets do with the exception of the horses. I just can’t take her for that final ride.

It is not time yet. I think she will go downhill quickly, because she is getting more debilitated and not getting enough nutrition. Especially sad is that we have shared an apple nearly every day. She gets a piece, then the core.

My biggest concern is Earl’s health, and getting him back to enjoying life. No matter how he is feeling, I know he wants what’s best for our Wonder Husky.

Knowing when to let go

The Wonder Husky went to see her special doctor yesterday. She has been weak lately. In going for our daily walk, she didn’t do her normal non-stop trot. Yesterday, she could barely walk. We turned around for home. She also stopped eating.

I posted on April 27th that she did not have cancer; it was a dental problem.

After x-rays and a biopsy of an enlarged lymph node near where her tooth surgery was, I learned today that my dog indeed has lymphoma. Tipper is a cancer dog, and failing fast.  She is eating special food with gusto.

I felt for some months that she had cancer, but the tests did not support my feelings. Now, we have the evidence. There is no treatment for our 12 year-old girl. We know what is coming. It’s a matter of when.

Earl has been really sick, and has more procedures to come soon. I start a summer law program in Texas in July. Tipper won’t feel well enough to wait much longer.

It’s not time for a memorial post here yet. Tipper D. Carlson is alive and content. The time to make the final decision is when she is no longer happy being a dog. We will take care of our girl. We will not let her suffer. True love is knowing when to let go.