Category Archives: Health and Medicine

Draining

Today’s the day.  D-Day.  “D” for Duncan.  “D” for Dog.  NOT “D” for Draining.  Duncan, if he knew what was in store would consider it “D” for “DON’T” or maybe “DAMN!”

 

You're Gonna Do WHAT?

You’re Gonna Do WHAT? To ME?????

I’ve grown up considerably since I first had to take similar action.  And I am now a fake medical expert and a professional Googl-er.

But the old days produced much better stories.  Like this one.

Dogs and Other Nuts

You’ve already met my psychotic German shepherd, Goliath.  The one with the stupid name and the drinking problem.   The manic of a dog I was crazy to take into my life.

As you can probably guess, from the moment I put him in my car that first night, all life immediately revolved around Goliath.  Morning, after-work and evening walks became a ritual.  It was good for my health, which was otherwise pretty crappy.  It was good for my psyche, which was also not tops.  It wasn’t so good for some of the other dogs at the park, though.

Mostly outside Goliath was quite friendly, he liked to play with other dogs.  He made many doggy friends, and their owners liked him too.  But more often than I liked to admit, Goliath listened to his darker angel:

Gotta bite a dog.  Gotta bite a dog.  Gotta bite a dog NOW!”

He would then race across the park towards his would be victim, dragging me behind him shouting:

“No!”

“Stop!”

“Heel!”

God Damn it — STOP!

Goliath was about 18 months old when I finally admitted that something had to be done.  When I knew I had to “fix” the problem.  When he pissed me off so much that there was only one solution:

I had to cut off his balls.

Yup.  Castration.  Dr. Jane, Goliath’s vet, had been telling me to neuter him for months.  Carlos, Goliath’s dog trainer told me to do it, too.  The owners of Goliath’s ‘frenemies’ suggested it less politely.

But I’d never had a neutered dog before.  It seemed harsh.  Cruel.  Unfair.  Plus, I’d always hoped for grandchildren.

Of course I read about what happens to a dog after-balls.  I learned that neutering lowers a dog’s testosterone level – makes him less likely to act like Rocky Balboa at the park.  Less likely to fight with other dogs.  And way less likely to drag me in front of a bus while rushing to attack another dog.  All good things for me.  But for him?  Not so much.

I learned that it’s best to neuter your dog at about six months of age.  But six months was right after I brought home my traumatized, abused dog!  It just didn’t seem nice to turn around and say:

“You’re home now.  Nobody will ever hurt you again.

Oh, except when I cut off your balls.”

And really, I empathized.  I was young, unmarried, childless.  I didn’t want anyone to neuter me.  So how could I do it to my best friend?  I just couldn’t.

At least not until he ticked me off once too often.  (I’m telling you, do not mess with me.)

Goliath

We were at Lincoln Park one night for our after-work walk, when Goliath got that urge to fight.  I struggled to hold him, to keep him away from the other dog, to make my maniac behave.  He didn’t.  He wouldn’t.  It took all my strength to keep him from hurting that other dog.

That was it, the last straw.  I’d had enough.  It was time.  And feeling very much like Alice’s mad Queen of Hearts, I made the decision –

“Off with his balls!”

Goliath and I arrived at the animal clinic that Tuesday.  Unfortunately it was our regular vet Dr. Jane’s day off.  A young vet I hadn’t seen before called my name and led Goliath and me into an examining room.

Handsome vet

(Google image)

I have to admit, I was embarrassed.  Dr. Jane was a woman, and, well, I’d hoped to be discussing my dog’s testicles with her — with a woman.  Instead, here was this handsome young guy who I had fallen for immediately.  And rather than flirting with him, there I was talking to him about castration – hardly the best way to get a date.   My heart sank knowing that my chances with the handsome vet were also being nipped in the bud.

Dr. David quickly sensed my discomfort.  He knew I was wavering.  He could tell that I was about to chicken out and change my mind.

“He’ll be fine,” said the vet, looking Goliath over.   “It’s very routine.  He won’t even notice the difference.  But you’ll be much happier with the results.”

Of course I couldn’t look Dr. David in the eye.  Because naturally I was wondering if he would notice if someone cut off his balls.  I was pretty sure he’d notice.

“Now, I don’t know how much you know about this procedure, but there are actually two different ways of doing this.  We can either castrate him completely –basically cut off his testes — or we can drain the fluids inside.  That has the same effect.”

Drain them?” I said hopefully.

“Yes, we essentially drain him, lowering the testosterone to a more manageable level.  It’s less radical, less risky.  Dog owners are often more comfortable with this procedure.  Now which of those options do you think makes the most sense for this big guy?” he said, looking Goliath right in the eye.

“Draining them sounds much better,” I said, feeling relieved.  I was feeling so good, in fact, that I could actually look Dr. David in the eye again.  They were deep blue …

So I left Goliath with Dr. David and what I envisioned to be some sort of sterile siphon.   I no longer felt even a smidge of guilt.

You know what?  Even doing the procedure late helped.   After the surgery, Goliath was less interested in killing other male dogs.  From time to time one of them really ticked him off and led me to believe that those sacks hadn’t been completely drained, after all.  But the newly drained Goliath was a huge improvement over the old testosterone-filled maniac.  For the rest of his life he was considerably less aggressive.

The draining also left him with his pride.  He kept a bit of flesh in between his legs to chew on.  It eased my guilt — after all, they’d only drained some fluid from him, and doctors and vets do that sort of things all the time.  Goliath was still a man.  He kept the semblance of his balls.  Something to chew on.  He was still alpha dog. I had not turned him into a pansy.

In the intervening years, I married John, a man who quickly became devoted to Goliath.  A few years later, when we had all moved out of state, I took Goliath to a new vet.  Goliath was then about nine years old –getting up there in doggy years.  The poor old guy was having problems urinating and needed some attention.

But when I gave the new vet, Dr. Joe, the rundown of Goliath’s health history, I got an unexpected lesson when I mentioned to the man how Goliath had been “fixed” at 18 months.

“I don’t know if it makes any difference, but I should probably tell you that, you know, Goliath wasn’t actually ‘castrated,’ he was ‘drained.’”

“Excuse me?”

“Yeah, at the time the vet said that either they could castrate him, ummmm, cut off his, ummmm, testicles, or drain them.  I chose to have him ‘drained.’”

I’m pretty sure that all of Dr. Joe’s medical training in delivering disturbing news culminated in this one moment with me.  Every cell in his face solidified so that there wasn’t even a hint of a smile.

“Ummmm, Ma’am?”  he said without so much as a hint of humor,  “There is no such procedure in veterinary medicine.  We don’t “drain” the dogs.  We surgically remove the testes.  All that’s left is the skin.”

“Oh,” I replied.

I’ve never told this story before.  Somehow, I bet both vets have.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Dogs, Duncan, Family, Goliath Stories, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Huh?, Humor, Pets, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

Healing

Before I started blogging, I hadn’t done much personal writing.  I’m a medical writer at work, so I’ve been working with words for decades.  But they weren’t for me.  They weren’t about me.  And they didn’t help me get beyond my share of those things that landed on my shoulders and my heart and pushed down.  Tried to drag me under.  Things that succeeded sometimes, I’m sorry to say.

For years I’d grieved.  I couldn’t get beyond the loss of much loved family members.  Until I wrote this post.  Now, I think and write my stories with more smiles and fewer tears.  Through the humor I found writing it, I got myself back.  And them, too.  It was a win-win.  By writing it, I was able to heal.

I had forgotten that really, the only thing as powerful as words is being able to laugh.  When I first posted Both Sides Now three years ago, my bloggin’ buddies didn’t quite know whether it was OK to laugh.  It is.  I did.  I do.

My long-time bloggin’ buddies may remember this post.  I’m posting it again mostly for myself and for my newer friends.

*     *     *

Both Sides Now

“The Season” makes me crabby.  Grumpy.  Irritable.  I’ve come to hate it.  Everything about it.  I hate the music, the crowded stores, the decorations.  I especially hate the decorations.

Last year a friend stopped by our house in the middle of December.  “God, it’s December 15th,” I said to her, “and the only decoration I have up is the wreath on the door!”

“I don’t think that counts, Lease,” responded my husband John. “You didn’t take that down from last year.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Tonight, I’m looking around at my undecorated house thinking, “uggggh,” not “Ho ho ho!”

It wasn’t always true, though.  I used to be one of them.  I was a veritable Christmas Elf.  I baked, I decorated.  I embroidered Christmas stockings for the whole family.  My son Jacob and I built gingerbread houses that did not come from a mix or a box and were actually made of gingerbread stuck together in the shape of a house!  My friends got a bottle of homemade Irish Cream liqueur.  Some used it to get their kids to bed on Christmas Eve.

But mostly, I sang.  The records, tapes and CDs came out on Thanksgiving.  From the moment I woke up the day after Thanksgiving, until New Years, I would trill away.  “White Christmas,” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”  I belted “Mele Kalikimaka” when I had an established escape route to avoid people trying to punch me.  I know the words to all 18,423 verses of Frosty the Snowman.  I would start singing in the shower and keep going until John tackled me and put duct tape across my mouth, usually at about 8:30 a.m.  Regardless, I’d start up again the next morning.

If the current, Crabby Christmas Me got a hold of the old Merry Christmas Me, I would slap myself silly.

So you see, I do understand the Christmas-sy part of Christmas.  The love, the joy, the traditions.

But now I see the other side.  And it’s that “tradition” part that is to blame.

You see, my family’s always been fairly competitive.  My mother and her sister Ruth were particularly so.  They’d argue at each shared Sunday dinner over a million things:  whose gravy was better (my mother’s), who cracked the best one-liner (always Aunt Ruth – she was a hoot), and most traumatically for me, whose young daughter was taller. (Duh, Maureen was almost a year older than me – of course she won every time.  But you’re not taller now, are you?  And you’re still older, Maur.  You’re still older.  How do you like it??)  Darn, I wish I’d missed the competitive gene.

When I was a kid, Aunt Ruth was high on the list of my favorite relatives.  Now she’s tops on an altogether different list.  And it ain’t Santa’s list, neither.

Because Aunt Ruth started a family tradition.  A competition.  But it’s not a family tradition I recommend, especially during the Christmas season.  In fact, it should have a warning, although I’m not sure where you’d put it:  Don’t try this at home.

You see, Aunt Ruth started the tradition of kicking the bucket on a major holiday.  What fun!  Great idea!  Not many families do that!  Hey, we are DIFFERENT!

Knowing Aunt Ruth, I’m sure her last thought was “Doris, you’ll never top this one!  I’m dying on Thanksgiving!!!!”   She was no doubt a bit miffed when my mother joined her a couple of years later.

Because, not to be outdone, Mom arrived in the afterlife on Easter Sunday.

Their party really got going when we reached Y2K, and my sister Judy died unexpectedly on my birthday in January.  Now, you might argue that my birthday is not, technically speaking, a holiday.  Not a paid day off for most folks.  But hey, in my book, this qualifies.  So there.

As time went on, there were fewer and fewer holidays I could celebrate.  The only big one left was Christmas.

Guess what happened on Christmas, 2000!

Yup, Dad reclaimed his spot at the head of the table with Mom, Judy and Aunt Ruth. Dad trumped them all.  Or because it was Christmas, perhaps he trumpeted them all.  Maybe both.

I must say I am rather ticked off about it all.  Sort of changes the tone of the Holidays, you see.  I plan to have words with all four of them, next time I see them.  And I will not be nice.

In the meantime, celebrating holidays, well, it just seems so odd to me.  Especially Christmas, because Christmas is so stuff-oriented, and most of my Christmas stuff is from them.  It takes a bit of the fun out of decorating.

For a while, I considered joining the Eastern Orthodox Church.  That way I could celebrate the same holidays, just on different days.  I could keep all my Christmas crap!  I could decorate!  I could bake!  I could sing!  But then I realized that the change would just give us all additional high priority target dates, and I don’t have enough family members left to meet the challenge.  So Eastern Orthodox is out.

At the same time, I also realized that, when Dad hit the Holiday Lottery, the whole tradition had to stop.  Because I’m pretty sure that biting the dust on, say, Columbus Day, just wouldn’t cut it.  So why bother?

Nevertheless, this whole thing has made me decidedly anti-holiday.

There is one holiday I still look forward to, though.  Groundhog Day.  I just can’t figure out what sort of decorations to put up.

Photo courtesy of Google Images

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Birthday, Bloggin' Buddies, Childhood Traumas, Christmas Stories, Dad, Family, Health and Medicine, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mental Health, Mom, Taking Care of Each Other, Writing

Mother’s Voice

Somehow, I didn’t even give it a thought.  Not until I heard the song, anyway.  Then the tears filled my eyes and I struggled to keep them back.  I couldn’t stop the lump that formed in my throat, though.  I couldn’t talk, couldn’t even whisper.  I had to stop and listen and remember.

Music, even a song you’ve never heard, can set both the tears and the memories flooding in.

It’s the anniversary of the drastic surgery I had in 1982 that gave me back my health.  I had forgotten all about it.  Normally when November rolls around, I find myself thinking back to that time, and how lucky I was to have the doctors I had, the family I had and the friends I had.

But what makes me think back most fondly on having my guts torn apart and totally reorganized was that it reintroduced me to my mom.  I went from having no respect for her whatsoever, to realizing that she was one strong, smart, funny woman.  That was my silver lining.  I’ve writen about that time a lot, including here.  And here.  And here.

When I heard this beautiful son on a satellite radio show interviewing and playing Arlo Guthrie’s songs, Mom came flooding back.  And I’m so glad.  It’s always a gift to spend time with Mom who passed away in 1997.

Happy Anniversary Mom.

Mom at my wedding.

Mom at my wedding.

Thanks for everything.  I love you.  Especially when I made you laugh and you spit beer on the wall.  Or when you did it back to me.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Crohn's Disease, Family, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mom, Taking Care of Each Other

The Spoon Theory: Best Explanation EVER! (IMHO)

Elyse:

Most of you know that I have Crohn’s disease. Currently, I am doing fine; but there are times when I don’t have nearly enough spoons.

For anybody who has or knows somebody with health issues, this description my help explain what it’s like.

 

my thanks to Benze of http://benzeknees.wordpress.com for leading me to this post.

Originally posted on The Musings of a Digital Vagabond:

Arty spoon

Okay, so posting this might get me into some trouble, and if it does, I’ll have to take it down. But this is hands down one of the best explanations of disability I’ve ever read in my entire life. It was written by a girl dealing with lupus, but it’s extremely applicable to most other physical conditions of which I am aware. I’m kind of hoping that this lovely young woman will be inspired to write a monologue for me, but since I don’t exactly see that as being in the cards, go to her website here and support what she’s doing. But for now ladies and gentlemen I give you my favorite explanation of living physical disability, spoon theory.

The Spoon Theory

by Christine Miserandino http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy…

View original 2,121 more words

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Crohn's Disease, Family, Health and Medicine, Mental Health, Taking Care of Each Other

Does This Mean That The Washington Post Stinks?

One of my tasks as a fake medical expert, is to keep folks in my company apprised of new scientific developments, studies and trends.  So I scour the news first thing and point out interesting, informative articles.

It’s a part of my job that I relish because it often gives me terrific ways to terrorize my relatives with news of horrible diseases that pose a 1:1,583,222,185 chance of killing them and everybody in their town.  Can you say “Ebola”?  Sure, I knew you could.

Some days, though, I hit the jackpot.  Like today, when I read a fascinating piece in the Washington Post.

Why we don’t think our own farts stink

Not only was it way more informative than any political piece penned and published in our nation’s capitol’s hometown paper, but it contained video.

 

After watching this educational video four or five times, I noticed that there was a followup video that I had to watch.Now you have to watch it too.

 

 

Thanks, Washington Post, for shedding light on at least one stinking thing.  Maybe next election cycle, you can uncover the stink in the GOP.

 

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Awards, Criminal Activity, Crohn's Disease, Disgustology, Dogs, Flatulence, Health and Medicine, Huh?, Science, Stupidity

Hiding in Plain Sight

If you haven’t seen this bit from John Oliver’s new show, you should.  You should watch it before Tuesday’s election, and then again periodically, just so you remember what I keep telling you.  That elections matter.  And that it is important to pay attention to not just Federal elections, but to the ones lower down the food chain.

Apparently it takes someone from England, from the country from which we declared our independence, to explain to us just how we are letting our own government get away from us.

Because we don’t pay attention to “the unimportant levels of government.”

Ummm, it is at the state level that we’re really getting screwed.  I can attest to this as a resident of “Virginia is For Ultra-sounds.”    Yup, it is the folks whose names we don’t even know, who get to decide these issues that most impact your life and mine.

They are also the ones gerrymandering the US Congressional districts.  They are eliminating access to abortion, to birth control and screwing us in a hundred different ways.  And the state legislatures are the breeding ground, where the Not Ready For Prime Time Players go until they become the Michelle Bachmann’s and the Louie Gomert’s who end up framing our national debate.

[I read recently that John Oliver has been proclaimed the best journalist currently working.  I don’t recall who said it, but I think they are right.]

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Campaigning, Cancer, Climate Change, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Elections, Family, Global Warming, GOP, Gun control, Health and Medicine, History, Huh?, Hypocrisy, Law, Mental Health, Politics, Science, Stupidity, Taking Care of Each Other, Taxes, Voting, Wild Beasts

Who Says I’m Not Gonna Miss You, Glen?

Sunday nights used to be family time.  Everybody would gather around the TV.

There's no problem with the picture ... it's a Google Image!

There’s no problem with the picture … it’s a Google Image!

Ed Sullivan

The Wonderful World of Disney

The Smothers Brothers

Glen Campbell

Glen pretty much introduced me to country music.  Not the hard core drinking-man/woman-losing-dog-died kind.  He gave me some of the most beautiful melodies:  “Gentle On My Mind” and “By the Time I Get To Phoenix.”  Songs that I still love.

Back then, I didn’t think much about the future.  Or about growing old.  My parents were old back then in the 1960s and early 70s — I knew they’d been born that way.  But the performers on TV would never get old.  I knew that then.  The Smothers Brothers old?  Glen Campbell?  Pishawwwww!

Time caught up with all of us.  My parents, of course, weren’t really old back then.  But they grew into that role, they passed on.  One by one the staples of not just my family but our world have faded.

Glen Campbell is fading.  As I write this, he is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s Disease; a heartless disease that takes one’s mind long before it takes the body.

The song makes my heart sing, even while it breaks it.  Kind of like life.

You may not miss me, Glen, but I’ll miss you.  We all will.

*     *     *

I first heard this song on one of my favorite blogs, The Last of the Millenniums.  Thanks, pal.

 

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Family, Health and Medicine, Taking Care of Each Other