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.”

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.

Really creepy

My childhood friend, Marcy, disappeared off the radar. No one knew where she was after she took her mother from Florida, went to New Orleans, and ended up on the North Shore of Chicago where we grew up. She touched base with friends from her Highland Park days. Her mother stroked out and died .

It turns out that Marcy died last August in the Denver area. I didn’t even know she was in the state. My friend, Michael L., said the Arapahoe County coroner said the death was of natural causes. She was 65.

Fast forward to yesterday. There was an email on Marcy’s address. Anonymous, but the person, who of course said she was not Marcy, said she was handling the estate. She had read our letters over the last two years, and seemed gleeful that I stopped all communication with Marcy, and took her off my FB account.

I wrote back and asked, “Who is this?” We went back and forth with the writer getting more vitriolic about Marcy with each letter. I said I would not communicate without knowing who this was.

Then I got a FB note from Michael W., another childhood classmate. He said the writer was her sister, and was spewing hate to all Marcy’s friends. The sister and brother are over ten years older than Marcy was, but Marcy was stuck taking care of her elderly parents who were in their 90’s. Her mom died at 98.

I don’t know who put the fun in this dysfunctional family, but leave me out of it. I’m sorry Marcy had a hard life after being the most popular girl in school, but I remember us being good friends at Braeside School. I’d play at her house after school. She lived right across the street from Braeside Elementary.

We are taught to forgive those who do bad things to others. I’ll never know the truth about what happened, but that happens. There is only one person in the world I do not and never will forgive. Marcy’s sister, I forgive you, but leave me the hell alone.

Urine in the office

I went into my office yesterday to get something my writing coach, Judy, needed. I shooed the brothers, Cowboy Joe and Frank, out of the office. I type in my chair, so I don’t have to crutch back and forth.

This morning, I got up to let the dog out, and I heard frantic meowing upstairs. Matthew had gotten stuck in the office. I close the door because I don’t want the cats in there. Bad idea.

Of course, Matthew, 16, can’t go all night without urinating. He has chronic renal failure, and gallons of stinky cat urine is a part of it.

You can imagine the smell. You can understand I couldn’t go in because I was in stocking feet. Somewhere in there is a pile of kitty turds, I’m sure. Since I can’t vacuum or anything, I took a can of Resolve carpet cleaner, stood at the doorway, and sprayed the entire carpet. Poor Kayla, she has no idea of what she is in for next Monday, my biweekly cleaning day.

Trash Day

Well, Ivy the Golden doodle went out earlier at 5 this morning to pee. Usually, I go outside to watch her at night, then she sleeps in. I can’t do that right now, as I am on crutches. I assume she has peed.

So, an hour later, after sleeping outside until 6am, Ivy barked once to come in. She is a good dog about this, and my new neighbors are pleased. Ivy knows that when she comes in in the morning, it is time for snoozing on the bed with me and the cats. She loves Matthew, my tough guy, 16, and he really likes her kisses. He will jump on the bed if Ivy is there. I adore sleeping with Ivy on the bed, but I don’t trust her for all night because she chomps up pens and pencils. She sleeps in her crate. Besides, the bed is for the cats at night.

The rest of the day, no animals are allowed in the master. One time, Matt woofed up such a potent hairball as to take the finish off one of my mother’s old dressers. Because the cats also leave prodigious vomit on the bedspread and sheets, that the door is closed all day.

I was awake, the earliest since my accident at dog school on the 27th, so we all got up. I let Ivy out, and stumped around getting my breakkie. I never appreciated having an island before. I can just push stuff around. The best kitchen I had in the best house I had was in Lubbock, Texas, and it was a galley kitchen with tons of storage space.

I’m trying to do the “homework” my editor, Judy, gave me. She is out of town, so we won’t have our weekly meeting this week. She said to read my publisher’s book, Green-light Your Book by Brooke Warner of She Writes Press. Very good and informational book.

I started to get tired and snoozed a little. What do you know, Ivy went ballistic. Lovely little dog, big bark; still pees submissively when people come whom she doesn’t know. Waiting for her to outgrow that. Today is trash day, and also recycle day. I heard the recycle truck, which comes in the morning, and stumped downstairs thanks to Ivy’s keen watchfulness for trash trucks.

First, I put the little trash can out. On crutches, this is problematic. You take the bad leg’s foot, and make fit it so the container can roll. Hang on because it’s downhill, and try to advance the crutches without killing yourself. Next, do the large recycle can. My neighbor next door did this for me last week, but now that I can put a little (15%) weight on my surgicated hip, I tried it. Phyllis saw me fumbling around and asked if this was all my trash. I said all but what is in the kitchen trash can. She took care of it, and I was so proud of myself-I put in a new trash bag.

Phillis and Sharon are going to Trader Joe’s, and I gave them a list for me. Mostly comfort food. Sharon went to Safeway for me yesterday, and I gave her a check made out to Safeway with my signature. A blank check. Also gave her my Safeway card. Safeway didn’t like it, so this time, I’ll just pay her back. I did drive to my dr. appt. last Thursday, because I hadn’t used any pain medicine. But hauling groceries is whole another thing.

 

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.