Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

October 5, 2018
by funny
0 comments

Dispatches from Hell…

Day after day after day after day has been yet another Day from Hell, lo! these several weeks. Why don’t things get better? Why does everything break, bust, explode, crash, or die? Finally figured out the explanation. These are not days from Hell. We are actually in Hell. Hence: these are not blog posts. These are Dispatches from Hell.

Case in point: The least of today’s hassles, only because it’s a hassle left over from a week ago…I’ve tried twice to re-up my subscription to The New York Review of Books, one of my favorite broadsides. First time was my fault: I used the credit union’s bill-pay function, but paid for it from my personal account (which, oddly, did have the the NYRofB’s listed as a previous payee). Of late I’ve been making the S-corp pay for it.

That payment bounced. Why, I do not understand: what do they care which account pays for it? Ohhkay… Eventually they sent a desperate “Don’t Leave Us” ad in the snailmail. I replied to that by filling out the form and entering the S-corp’s AMEX account number. This no doubt would have worked if I hadn’t indulged in a moment of stupidity.

As you know, the ‘Hood is not the best of all possible neighborhoods. We’re inundated with drug-addicted transients, who support their habits with petty theft. Including mail theft.

The payment envelope in hand, I raced out the door to run a bunch of errands and get someplace on time. In a hurry, I really did NOT want to drive to the Post Office to deposit the thing in one of their mailboxes. That would entail waiting half my lifetime for the blightrail signal at the interesection of Conduit of Blight and Feeder Street E-W to turn green, then waiting the rest of my lifetime to get back across the damn blightrail tracks to get to my various destinations. So instead of traipsing to the PO for this one small item, I stuck it in the outgoing slot of the Fort Knox Mailbox and flipped up the red flag.

Bad move. Very stupid indeed.

Two or three days later, I went out to get the mail (it’s almost all advertising now, so there’s no hurry to pick it up) and noticed the red flag was still up. Whaaa? Did the mailman not come by? (He often doesn’t….)

Check to see if he’s failed to pick up the outgoing: no envelope in there. Days go by. A couple weeks go by. No payment at NYRofB’s.

Shit. That means someone has stolen the thing and now has my name, the name of my business, its address, and its AMEX credit card number. I wait a few more days to see if the payment goes through. Today I call NYRofB’s phone reps and they say they never heard of it. I need to pay the thing on my corporate AMEX card over the phone. Then I need to cancel the card and order a new one, ASAP.

But ASAP ain’t very AS…because I’m waiting on the PostalPerson to deliver a new personal AMEX card. Yes. Somehow I managed to LOSE a whole cardholder full of cards!!!! The personal AMEX card, the Safeway card, the new Medicare card with a new Medicare number on it (the one that doesn’t work at the pharmacy), the old Medicare card bearing my Social Security number….GONE, every one of them.

I believe they’re somewhere in the house, because I paid the AC guy to fix the thermostat and the leaking roof with my personal card, and I did not leave the house between the time he drove off down the road and the time I realized I couldn’t find that cardholder. Since I’ve habituated that locksmith for a good 12 or 15 years and Steven (locksmith dude) has worked for them for 7 years and he’s a fine upstanding workingman, I don’t believe he walked off with it. Without a doubt, I set it down in the house somewhere and managed to lose it…same as the pair of prescription glasses that got tangled up in a knitted bed throw and disappeared for three months.

Fortunately I have photocopies of the Medicare cards. And fortunately, I had the sense to black out the SS number on the old Medicare card. The AMEX card has been canceled and a new one is on the way, but the weekend coming up, I don’t expect “tomorrow” (no kidding: that is what she said!) to arrive much before Monday. And fortunately, my debit card, corporate AMEX card, and Costco cash cards are in a different card holder. Which is not, after all, lost. Yet.

So what other dispatches from Hell since I had to pay $40 out of pocket for a flu shot?

  • The dog got better off the fluconazole, then worse.
  • Dog continuing incontinent, I ask the new vet if they’ll test her urine for a UTI.
  • Wednesday after volunteer receptionist duty, I race the refrigerated pee up to 40th Street and Thunderbird and drop it off there. I drive up there through the rush-hour traffic, drive back in even worse traffic. Changing lanes to maneuver into place to turn right into the ‘Hood, I misjudge the length of a flatbed trailer being towed behind a pickup in the lane next to me and clip the goddamn thing. The driver doesn’t even blink. He doesn’t slow down, he most certainly doesn’t stop…I think he may not even have noticed that I bumped his trailer. My car sure did, though. Pulled over to find the front bumper was half pulled off, scratched and gouged, flying in the breeze. Shee-ut!
  • Back here, I walk in the door and find…NO Charley! He’s freaking GONE! A worker has been here in the afternoon; I’ve left strict orders not to let that dog slip out the back gate. But he can go in and out the dog door…dollars to donuts that’s exactly what he’s done. He’s old, he’s sick, and now he’s LOST. Try to reach said worker: no answer. Totally, utterly panicked. My son is supposedly in Colorado, which is why his dog is here. I think maybe he got back while I was out and picked up his dog, but he won’t answer his phone, either. Neighbor texts him (I have no cell phone). No answer. I am in utter despair. After a bit I calm down enough to notice that even though the dog’s food is still sitting on the kitchen counter, the dog’s leash and collar are gone. SOMEONE took the dog on purpose…at least he’s not roaming around the neighborhood and ambling across Conduit of Blight Boulevard.
  • Eventually the kid calls and says yeah, he picked up the dog but was too tired from driving in from southern Colorado to bother to leave me a “thanks for keeping my dog” note.
  • Now late for choir, I feed the dogs and fly out the door without any dinner of my own.
  • Get home about 9:15 p.m. and go to enter the (locked) office.
  • It’s been raining for a day and a half. The solid-core door is swollen tight. The key goes in but I can’t turn it. I get a wrench, try to open the thing, and…SHEAR THE KEY OFF level. with the fucking deadbolt! All my computers, all my financial stuff, all my credit cards, all my cash, even my cheesy little clamshell phone are locked behind that door.
  • Call the locksmith’s emergency line. He says he’s sure he can fix it. For a hundred bucks he’ll do it right now (pushing 10 p.m.). I say if he’s sure it can be opened, I’ll be able to sleep at night and so can wait till tomorrow. Otherwise I’ll be wanting to break the front window and climb in to get my computer, which I’d druther not do.
  • Next day have real difficulty getting them to come over — but because I’m an old customer who’s spent a lot of dollars at their shop, they squeeze me in.
  • Steven comes over, takes a screwdriver to the thing, flips out the stump of the key: takes him all of 30 seconds. I’m in love. This love affair costs me 70 bucks. And now I have to go take the fancy key over to the shop to get a new one made. That’ll be another 20 bucks. Later. But not much later.
  • Somewhere in here I lose my credit-card holder. I search from pillar to post, empty out the trash cans, go through drawers, look under the furniture: no luck. I’m sure it’s in the house, probably, but when I can’t find it the next day figure to be safe I’d better cancel the AMEX card. Two or three days without a personal charge card. Yeah.
  • Insurance guy says I’m in luck. Because he bought me a “prime” policy, I have a one-accident-no-fault deal: get out of jail free. AND because I haven’t tried to kill any of my fellow homicidal drivers lately, I also have a zero deductible. He asks me to get estimates from a body shop but suggests that if it doesn’t cost much it may be better to foot the bill and not let the company know about this little fender bender. My son, also an insurance guy, recommends taking the money and running: he thinks I should go to the best body shop in town (which is 20 miles from my house) and have them do a decent job fixing it.
  • The vet’s office calls to say something’s out of whack with Cassie’s pee and they want me to bring her in Saturday morning. I say “wrong”? Like what? Well, like it might be a UTI. Ooookayyyy…
  • I take the car to my mechanic to check for damage under the hood. They find no structural or engine damage, AND they manage to wrest the bumper back into place and secure it with the car’s clips and a few extra bolts. It now looks dead normal except for a scrape on one side, as though maybe I got too close to a guard wall. The men of Chuck’s Auto also opine that it would be best to hide this incident from the insuror. However, they do find a nick in the tire’s sidewall and recommend replacing the tire soon.
  • I call my insurance guy with this report and with the advice from my son. He reiterates that his thinking coincides with the mechanics’ but he will support me whatever I decide to do. (He’s not a sales agent: he’s a broker.)
  • Cassie seems to be getting better. By yesterday I observe that she’s about back to normal and surmise I must have been right that she didn’t have Valley fever.
  • At 3:30 this morning she wakes up and pees in the bed before I can set her on the floor. In doing so, she manages to miss the double layer of pee pads I’ve laid down on the bed: three more loads of laundry!
  • In a flash I haul off the sheets, the bed pad, the blanket, and the dog blanket. Fortunately this five-layer barrier keeps the dog pee off the mattress. Dazed with exhaustion, I toss the sheets and blanket into the washer and start the thing running.
  • Cannot sleep, so go back to reading 8000 words of Korean-accented scholarly writing.
  • Somewhere in here it dawns on me: this lesion that developed on my hand, the one on the same arm that got the ferocious Shingrix shot, is not a zoster pox. Noooo….Y’know what that is? THAT little fucker is ringworm. Look it up and find ringworm image after ringworm image that looks just like it. And ringworm being not a parasite but a fungal infection, y’know what the treatment is? Ohhhh yes! Fluconozale, the same damn stuff that made my dog so sick I thought she was going to die! TWICE!
  • Shit. Well, you can get a topical treatment over the counter. The standard course of treatment, if you believe the Internet (yeah!), is first to try to get rid of it with an OTC ointment. If that doesn’t work, then you move on to poisoning yourself.
  • Eventually I go out to move the bedding from the washer to the dryer and…can you guess? Somehow I’ve missed two of the pee pads! The inside of the washer is now chuckablock full of shredded, wet puffed-up paper stuffing crap! HOLY shit!!!!!!!!!
  • I go inside to finish reading the client’s paper.
  • Eventually go back out to the garage. Realize I can’t put this stuff in the dryer. Haul each piece out into the driveway and shake, shake, shake, shake, snap, shake, snap, SHAKE, shake, shake. This covers the driveway with snow-like stuff but doesn’t get all the crud off the bedding. Hang the sheets, blanket, and mattress pad on the clotheslines, hoping most of the rest of the stuff will shake off when it’s dry.
  • Clean out the washer. Yeah, right.
  • Take the shop-vac to the washer. This clogs the shop-vac but apparently gets most of the crud out of the washer, except for the stuff I have to dig out with a coat-hanger wire. Use the rest of the vacuum’s capacity to pick up the white snow off the driveway and the garage floor.
  • Haul the vacuum tub and two baskets of garbage out to the alley trash bin. On the way, pick up a bum’s fast-food cup out of my yard. On the way, observe that the mess the city water guys made of my front landscaping is pretty well fixed, after I shoveled and broomed gravel back in place. Hope they didn’t fuck up the plumbing under there. But don’t have much hope.
  • Brush out and wash the shop-vac’s clogged filter; set it aside to dry.
  • Finish the Korean professor’s paper. Interesting guy, interesting subject. Learn a lot about international law on freedom of expression and journalistic privilege. That’s good, anyway. Run it past a prospective intern, am impressed with the kid’s response. Ship the edits & clean copy back to the client.
  • Decide I cannot bring myself to do the Costco run that was planned for today.
  • Realize that isn’t gonna do me any good, because I still have to go out to a Walgreen’s and try to find the anti-fungus stuff (miconozale) to treat the frantically itchy lesion on my hand.

And so, away. Let’s see what I can do to my fellow homicidal drivers on the way…

October 3, 2018
by funny
1 Comment

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

DepositPhoto; Rainy Weather © dnaumoidWell…the metaphorical rain, that is. The real rain, of which we’ve had a fair amount the past couple days, can hang around for awhile. The storm that blew in from the Sea of Cortéz has broken the heat, saturated the earth, refreshed the plants, cleaned the air… And in the micro-bargain, filled up the swimming pool for free! Other than saturating the wiring that runs the AC system (which just now isn’t needed anyway), it seems not to have done any damage here at the Funny Farm.

Roads were flooded. The usual contingent of morons drove into flooded washes and had to be rescued from their cars’ roofs. One moron even walked into a flooded wash.

I haven’t gone down to my son’s house to see if everything’s OK there. If it’s not, there’s little I could do about it. And he’ll be back in a day or so.

Meanwhile…

It was one thing after another yesterday. Among the highest of the many low points: Medicare.

Jayzus Aitch Keerist!

So while I’m at the Walmart buying pee pads to protect my floors from the sick dog’s ministrations, I decided to get a flu shot. Medicare has just sent a new card. Somewhere in Washington — after HOW many decades? — it registered with a bureaucrat that maybe it wasn’t the smartest idea since the creation of Adam and Eve to make everyone in the country over the age of 65 carry around a card bearing their name and Social Security number in order to get medical care.

Ya think?

So they decided to issue new Medicare cards with new computer-generated numbers. That’s good.

Many days late and a dollar short. But good.

Mine came in the mail a couple days ago.

At the Walmart, the pharmacist asked if I had a new Medicare number. Yup. I fork it over so as to get the shot covered on Part D.

It won’t work. She struggles and she struggles and she struggles. She can NOT make it work. She gets on the phone to Medicare — this involves the usual frustrating punch-a-button hoop-jump and yakathon/obnoxious Muzak heel-cooling routine. Time passes. NOTHING that they tell her, nothing that she does will make it work. She’s still wrestling with it when, after about 20 or 30 minutes of watching her try to get through, I say “Look. I’ll just pay for it. Any day I’d rather be short 40 bucks than get the flu.”

So I ended up paying for a shot that was supposed to be covered by Medicare Part D, for which I pay.

When I got home, I called the number for Medicare shown on the back of the card.

MY GOD, the run-around!!!!!

After a good ten minutes of button-punching, hoop-jumping, waiting waiting waiting waiting waiting waiting listening to aggravating yak and excruciating Muzak, a clueless woman got on the phone.

They train these folks to read a spiel to you. You ask your question, and they get out the spiel and start reading it from start to finish. This one was a lecture on what the flu shot will do for you, what the flu is, why you need a flu shot, and whether Part D would cover it. Believe it or not, she did not KNOW whether Part D covers the flu shot and so wasted some more of my time while she looked it up. I finally interrupted her in the middle of this yak-fest — what’ she’s doing is reading from a Web page and no, this is NOT the first time this fine experience has happened to me when I finally reached a human at a government office — and practically hollered, “I know that! Please don’t read that stuff to me. My question is why didn’t my new Medicare number work when I tried to get a flu shot?!??!?”

“Oh.”

Now that we have that figured out, she proceeds to try to find out. To make a very long story short, she doesn’t know. She insisted that the number I recited to her off the card was correct, that everything was in order, and that it should have worked. Curious, she got into the system to see if the Walmart lady was entering something wrong. A-n-n-n-d she could find no trace of an attempted transaction.

She suggested I go back to Walmart and tell them to try again, because Part D still might reimburse me for the $40 that I had to pay to get the shot.

Right.

See those random, rather poorly written posts you occasionally come across at Funny? The ones that natter on meaninglessly about such topics as “four good stocks to buy,” as though you’re going to take stock advice from a retired professor of English? Those are paid posts. I get paid over a hundred dollars A MINUTE to put one of those things online. Just now a new editing assignment hit my in-box; for that kind of thing, I get paid upwards of $60 an hour. You seriously think, dear Medicare bureaucrat, that I’m going to go stand around a Walmart for another hour or so, grinding my teeth and arguing over forty bucks? Really?

So now I’ll have to find out whether this incident was a fluke or whether something is fucked up deep in the works of Medicare. Whaddaya bet it’s the latter?

At any rate, she said it will be the middle of next April before all the new cards are mailed out. In the interim, they believe the old cards bearing one’s SS number will still work. She suggested continuing to use that for as long as possible.

Yeah.

So there you have it: that was the general tenor of the day. The whole damn day went like that, with the exception of the actual arrival and success of the guy from Liberty Wildlife, who liberated the hummingbird trapped in the kitchen skylight.

not so much…

My stove is acting up. I tried to reach Southwest Gas to see if there was some kind of outage. You can NOT reach a human being at Southwest Gas. Even when you send an e-mail, you get a machine-generated fuck-you-very-much response. Whenever I catch my breath from yesterday’s marathon set of run-arounds, I’m writing a complaint to the Corporation Commission about that.

The appliance guy is booked out into the middle of next week. Fortunately, two of the burners — the small ones — are still working, and I do have a camp stove. SDXB, when told this story, thought it sounded more like a problem with the stove than with the gas delivery and thought I shouldn’t try to use the stove at all. But my propane grill doesn’t have a side burner (the one that came with the last grill I had never worked very well, so I decided I’d rather have a shelf than one of those things on the present model). So without a functioning stove, I can’t even make a cup of coffee without heating the water in the microwave.

The aging microwave…

The afternoon will be occupied with the volunteer work I agreed to do down at the Church. Can’t get out of that, because I had to abdicate last week while trying to deal with Cassie’s illness. Fortunately, it’s so quiet there I can bring my computer and do editorial work…which I’ll have to do because today’s incoming consists 8,000 words of arcana due to the publisher on Friday.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to carry a bottle of dog pee to the Second-Opinion vet, to ascertain whether Cassie has a UTI. On Wednesdays, 2nd-O Vet closes his clinic until 4 p.m., then is open from 4 to 8 p.m. So I’ll have to wring out the dog this morning, store the pee in the fridge, FLY back home from the church, let the dogs out, haul the dogs back in, grab the bottle of pee, and drive across the city to the veterinary office. Yes. Through the rush-hour traffic. Over roads that were flooded yesterday.

Not gone yet…

 

 

October 2, 2018
by funny
0 comments

Eight Dogs and a Bird

Make that eleven dogs: add in Cassie, Ruby, and Charley.

This morning I needed to make a Walmart run fairly early in the day, so as to buy another package of giant pee pads with which to protect my floors from Cassie’s incontinence. In fact, she’s getting a lot better. But not having to mop up great Salton Seas of urine and then disinfect the lake beds made such a difference in the human’s misery quotient that I determined not to run out of the things.

Charley, who’s visiting while M’hijito junkets in Colorado, also tends to defile the floor…but not with pee…

Leaving them here unobserved so soon after feeding time was ill advised. So I did something even more ill advised: decided to leave the back door hanging open while I was out, so they could come and go as nature called.

It was, after all, pouring rain. Not likely any burglars would be working in that deluge. If they were, they would earn whatever they stole. 😀

So yeah. No burglars came visiting, but another intruder moved in: a hummingbird flew in the back door. Once in the house, he flew up into the kitchen skylight, where he became hopelessly, despairingly confused. He could see the sky through the cloudy glass, and of course, being a bird he figured that WAS the sky. But being a bird, he could neither figure out why he couldn’t get through it nor figure out that he needed to go DOWN, not up, to get out of his trap.

This is the second time such a thing happened. Last time, some years ago, I called Liberty Wildlife. The volunteer I reached this morning was dubious. In the pouring rain, all their distressed-critter rescuers were hunkered down, and believe me: NONE of them wanted to venture into the downpour.  Quite reasonably so.

He asked me to call back after 11, when a different volunteer would be on duty and more folks might be available to call on.

Right.

So I called several other rescue organizations, some of which could not be reached at all, some of which had endless yakathon/ear-splitting Muzak phone trees (how i HATE those things!) that were so discouraging that after five or ten minutes I’d hang up, some of which just didn’t answer at all.  Game and Fish greeted me with the familiar electronic run-around. Called the Fire Department’s non-emergency line. They suggested Game and Fish. I said I thought not. So they suggested the Humane Society. The Humane Society’s aggravating yakathon said they’d answer the phone in about ten minutes and then blasted an even MORE infuriating loud fake music at me. I couldn’t turn the sound down on the phone-set low enough to make it less distracting or less infuriating. Finally I realized that the Humane Society is less than ten minutes away from me. So jumped in the car and drove up there, where I found a roomful of live human beings. They suggested Game and Fish. 😀

Back at the Funny Farm, I called Liberty Wildlife again. The new wrangler on duty said they really weren’t supposed to rescue birds that weren’t large enough to harm a person.

Heh. Do you suppose I could persuade them that the hummer was trying to poke my eyes out with its long spear-like bill?

She agreed to call some volunteers, having identified the person she thought was closest to the Funny Farm. But she wasn’t sure she could round him up.

So that was pretty discouraging. I figured I’d just have to wait until the little bird became exhausted and dehydrated enough to fall to the floor, at which point it would die.

But no! Not too much later, along comes a phone call from a man who says he’ll be right over!He lives in the mid-town area, and seemed not to be fazed at the prospect of driving through the rain to rescue a hummingbird from a strange woman’s house.

LOL! Liberty Wildlife has come through!

He arrives at the door. Cassie, Ruby, and Charley, all three of ’em, fly into an ecstasy of Dog Joy upon greeting the guy. They clearly think this is the single best human they have ever seen on this planet, bar none. He introduces himself as Chris. The dogs apparently interpret that as “Christ”: they are now in full-out worship mode.

Chris says he loves dogs. He and his wife have eight of them, several of which are rescues. I say I found Cassie at the dog pound, where she’d been relegated because she barks. He agreed that barking was surely a unique trait for a dog…

I’ve already hauled the ladder in and wiped it dry. Takes Chris about thirty seconds to snab the hummer in one of those nets you use to lift fish out of water. I make a mental note to get one of those next time I’m near the sporting goods store. Bird delivered to the Great Outdoors, it takes off like a feathered rocket, chirping furiously.

So that was good. Sent them a little donation as a token of appreciation.

That and the fact that Cassie is getting much, much better were the only decent things that happened today, a true, certifiable Day from Hell.

October 1, 2018
by funny
2 Comments

From Bad to Worse…

Okay, so…This gets better and better.

What we have here is a dog that’s been pounding on Death’s door for the past two weeks. Pee pads all over the floors, because she’s only marginally continent.

So there’s the underlayment of “bad.”

Moving on toward “worse”:

Vet decides the dog has Valley fever: puts her on a drug that nearly kills her. I take her off the drug, but continue with an antihistamine-con-prednisone, which seems to soothe her some. She improves.

Vet remains convinced that the problem is Valley fever, even though we have no empirical evidence to prove it. He wants to see her at 8:30 Sunday morning. I have to be at choir at 10 a.m., and it’s a half-hour each way to the vet’s office.

Saturday we have a half-day choir shindig. During the five-hour absence this engenders, the dog pees and craps all over the family room. The pee pads worked…but…hell.

No, I can’t leave the dog outside in 100-degree heat. And now it’s raining: no, I can’t leave the dog outside in the rain.

Dog is better, but far from dancing on the top shelf. I learn to bribe her to eat by doping her food with baby food. This works, within limits. She still is obviously pretty sick. Is she on the mend? Maybe. Or…is she just showing the salutary effect (highly temporary) of the antihistamine/corticosteroid combo?

Haven’t gotten any writing done: missed the whole week’s worth of posts at P&S Press.

Sunday morning my son shows up to drop off his dog — the dog that can not ride in a car without having a nervous breakdown — so that he can drive to Colorado to visit his 104-year-old grandmother. He appears as I’m trying to bolt down breakfast before I have to leave for the vet, hoping that if I can just get fed and get my makeup on and my hair up, maybe I’ll be able to race direct from here to the church and get there in time for the 10 a.m. rehearsal.

In the ensuing chaos, of course, I get neither painted nor combed.

Off to the vet, who is kind despite little-womaning me and who suggests I bring her back on Tuesday for a full-body ultrasound scan, which he will deliver gratis. I don’t feel I can turn this down despite my nagging suspicion that this is a device to pull me into still MORE fabulously expensive treatment on this poor old dog, whose time would be about here even if she did not have some as-yet-undiagnosed ailment.

Fly home, drop the dog in the house, paint my face, slap up my hair, and fly out the garage. Turn the corner and…my hair falls down. Park the car and struggle until I get it back on top of my head — have NO idea what it looks like except that it undoubtedly is not good. Shoot into the choir room right at 10 a.m.

Sit through a long, VERY high-church service. You’ve heard Episcopalians are a dime short of Catholic? That’s wrong. We leave Catholic in the dust.

Okay. It was a very beautiful, very affecting, and amazingly wonderful service and I wish we could do those all the time. Our musicians leave everyone of any persuasion, religious or otherwise, in the dust. 🙂

Drive to AJs, buy enough tomatoes and stuff to cook up some pasta for lunch. Having had it, buy a four-pack of Guiness. So much for that damn wagon!

Race home. Pick up the soggy doggy pee mats. Clean up the dog mound that by now has glued itself to the floor so that I have to soak it loose by covering it with a paper towel saturated in Simple Green and letting it sit.

Fix a pretty damn good lunch/dinner. Consume two of the beers. Feel richly justified in doing so.

Fail to get much else done yesterday.

Rain starts to fall. Charley, who’s not too bright. likes to stand in it and then track in fresh mud. In the middle of the night, he goes out through the dog door and forgets how to get back in. I have to roll out of the sack, track him down through the downpour, and coax him back into the house.

Today: Wake up, as usual, around 4 a.m. AC is pounding away. I think I hear the motor shut off upstairs, but…the fan keeps running.

And running. And running. And running…. WTF?

Get up, stumble down the hall, and try to figure out the hated Nest contraption. Finally ascertain that even with the unit shut off, the fan continues to run. Nothing that I do will shut off the effing fan.

Get on the phone to the Nest people; reach a tech in Idaho. Nice thing about Google is they make their people work 24/7. Great place to work, eh?

With him directing my sticky little fingers, I fiddle around and fiddle around and FIDDLE around. I want my Honeywell old-fashioned mercury-driven no goddamn digital crap REAL THERMOSTAT back. Nothing works. I draw the line when he asks me to go out in the rain (it’s pouring), shut off the breaker switches, and fool with the wiring in the thermostat. I say I’m calling my AC guy. He resists — they do NOT want other techs fooling with their equipment. I say I am not fiddling with the wiring in this thing. He says if I’ll let him know when the guy gets here, he’ll get on the phone with him and coach him. And if we do that, they will cover the cost of the service call. I do not say I have a service contract, which may or may not cover this antic.

I get off the phone with this guy, having failed in every way to shut off the fan, along about 5:40. At ten til 7, the fan finally shuts off on its own.

No wonder, I think, noooo wonder my AC bills have been so high: the damn thing has been sucking hot air into the house whilst trying to cool the interior air 20 degrees below the ambient temperature,.

At 7 a.m. I reach the AC company. They call back to say one of their guys just walked in the door and they will send him over to work on my fiasco before he starts his full (!!) day of jobs.

I email the Nest/Google guy to let him know, as instructed, that the AC dude is on his way.

Cassie, having been made to choke down a quarter of a blue pill with a chunk of the present pork chow, is unhappy and can’t get through the whole dish of food. I decide to try one of the cans of PD MarvelVet foisted on me. Fake stew.

The stuff stinks to high heaven. Charley and Ruby fly into a BERSERKER ecstasy at the first whiff. Fight my way into the back bedroom, slam the door on Ruby and Charley, set the dish down in front of Cassie.

She sniffs at it tentatively, refuses to get up out of her reclining-Sphinx position. Takes a bite. Stands up and starts scarfing. She inhales the stuff, which leaves the bedroom stinking like an abbatoir.

She now has consumed two full meals, one of home-made dog food and one of made-in-China foodoid. This is good because she’s lost so much weight her spine is sticking up.

Meanwhile, I realize we’re almost out of said home-made food. Good GOD I don’t want to drive back down to the AJ’s in the rain to buy a roll of Freshpet dog food. Fortunately, one package of chicken thighs is left over from last month’s Costco run. Get that out to start defrosting it. I figure starting this evening I’ll spike her regular ration (1/4 pound) of real food with a half a can of commercial food, and in the interim give her a half-bottle at a time of the baby food I bought to lure her into eating her regular food.

Quarter to ten: AC tech shows up. Never did hear anything from Nest’s precincts. Wouldn’t matter anyway: our guy has been trained in the Nest and knows how to fix it. He takes the thing apart and discovers…the wires are wet!

Holy sh!t.

Onto the roof with our guy. He finds the wiring is sun-rotted and a mess, and the low-voltage stuff has worked loose where it enters the attic. He rewires the unit, gets the system to working fine again. Seals up the open-air feature as best he can with a LOT of silicon (it’s supposed to keep raining through Thursday) and says to call a roofer and get him up there to seal that thing up good with tar.

That’ll be two hundred dollah, please!

So much for this month’s budget. Which was overdrawn anyway…

He mentions that they’re looking for an office lady to answer the phones, book calls, and do some light bookkeeping. That would allow me to pay bills like this and even buy an iPhone. I think about it. 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. My favorite hours, actually, for an 8-hour day — I used to work that shift on my first job and loved it, because it left a bunch of time before everyone else got off work to run errands and generally enjoy life.

On the other hand…it’s..{choke gag!} a JOB. Don’t much like the idea of leaving the dogs (possibly singular) alone for 8 hours at a time. And…truth to tell…I don’t wanna work anymore.

Speaking of the which, in the middle of all this my beloved Korean journalist emailed: would I edit an 8,000-word paper that needs to be at the publisher by Friday?

Should I say no, given the madness ongoing?

Did I say no? Not on your life!

On the way out, AC tech leaves the gate hanging open. Ruby somehow slips out the front door and escapes! I do not notice this. The AC guy has to turn around and go back out rather quickly, and when he does so he spots the dog. She bounds over to him and he captures her. That’s a God’s miracle…under normal circumstances that dog would be half-way to Yuma by now.

He is so distracted by the corgi sideshow — as am I — that he forgets to pick up the $200 check I was writing as these antics were under way. He leaves the premises unpaid.

Today I have to try to figure out if a payment I made to renew the New York Review of Books has gone astray and an AMEX charge account number stolen. I paid through bill-pay but, in the glory of its new Web interface, the credit union screwed up and bounced the payment. So I used a renewal form, charged it to the corporate card. I did not have time to drive this piece of paper to the Post Office — normally I would go in person to the PO to mail anything even remotely financial. In a hurry, I decided to take a chance and put it in the outgoing slot in my mailbox.

Error…error…error….

Day or so later, I notice the mailbox flag is still up. WTF?

Often the mailperson doesn’t even bother to come down our street, especially if the only thing to deliver is trash. So I figure he probably didn’t come by, so I’d better retrieve the thing and carry it to a post box.

Empty. SOMEBODY has picked up the envelope. But if it was the mailindividual, s/he should have pushed the flag down by reflex. We get as much mailbox theft here as we do car break-ins and petty theft from yards, so the natural thing to surmise is that a meth-head ripped it off.

Another day or so later I checked AMEX online. The charge hadn’t gone through, but neither had any unauthorized charges. Today I have to back into that thing and try to figure out whether the drug pushers have got my credit-card number. Shit. I should’ve known better.

Phone rings as I’m sitting here typing this. 800 number. Eff you!

<click> <click>

I really need to get rid of this land line and replace it with an iPhone. But that will require some concentration and a lot of time to learn to use it. And hassle. Lots and lots of hassle.

Thank goodness there are two more beers in the fridge! 😀 If you can’t see the sun through the clouds, do you have to wait till it’s over the yardarm?

September 30, 2018
by funny
2 Comments

Dog: Can’t win department

Or is it the Department of Little Women?

I do have the worst feeling I’m being little-womaned here. But on the other hand, one also has to admit that the vet is emitting every sign of trying to be helpful…many of which signs are above and beyond the call of duty. But…but, indeed… Read on:

So at 8:30 this morning — Sunday — I present myself and my dog at the office of the charming and genuinely concerned (I do believe) MarvelVet. I explain that the dog has been much better after I unilaterally took her off the fluconase, a drug for Valley fever. She has begun to eat again, and she’s acting more like her old self: shaking off the deathly lethargy and resuming her favorite barking habits. The cough is gone.

He remains convinced that the dog does have Valley fever. That may be true. But in the absence of empirical evidence, my stand is that we have no proof of it, and that we’re making her unnecessarily sick by giving her a drug whose side effects include complete inappetence, extreme thirst, uncontrollable incontinence, lethargy, loss of interest in surroundings, inability or unwillingness to move around, diarrhea, vomiting, and gastric distress.

He now says, “Those are symptoms of Valley fever.”

I say, “That is a list of fluconase side effects that appears at the University of Arizona Medical School’s web page.” He replies with the usual snort that you can’t believe anything you read on the Internet. I reply that the University of Arizona Medical School is a credible source.

See? That is little-womaning: the assumption that if a woman says something, it must be stupid, uninformed, or both.

So used to that kind of male behavior am I that it doesn’t especially bother me — beyond the obvious annoyance factor. What does bother me is that those are NOT the symptoms of Valley fever, nor are they the symptoms she presented with. I took her to the vet because she had a persistent cough, not because she was peeing on the floor (she was not), consuming undue amounts of water (she was not), off her feed (she was not), lethargic (she was, to a degree), or suffering diarrhea or vomiting. This circumstance presents one of two possibilities:

  1. Either he doesn’t know the difference between the symptoms of Valley fever and the side-effects of a powerful medication; or
  2. His mind is made up and he simply refuses to listen to what the little woman has to say.

He proposes to have another vet, who’s a specialist, do a full-body ultrasound of the dog, in hopes of getting to the bottom of the problem. He says he will arrange this at no cost to me. Tentatively now, this is slated for Tuesday.

Okay. If he’s being honest, this could be useful.

Or not.

I am very wary about it. Why?

For one, the Mayo Clinic states — in reference to human cases, as you might expect — that the best course of action for Valley fever is usually no action: rest and hydration is the recommended treatment.

Most people with acute valley fever don’t require treatment. Even when symptoms are severe, the best therapy for otherwise healthy adults is often bed rest and fluids — the same approach used for colds and the flu. Still, doctors carefully monitor people with valley fever.

And then over here at Medscape, we have this statement about work-up (i.e., testing and physical examination) for Valley fever:

Because most patients recover spontaneously, pursuing documentation of coccidioidal infection is not imperative unless the patient is immunocompromised or has signs of severe progressive disease or dissemination. Diagnosis requires isolation of the organism in culture, identification on histologic specimens, or serologic testing.

[Medscape is a website for physicians and clinicians. You have to subscribe to get the full dope on most topics.]

At this time, the dog does not have signs of severe progressive disease or dissemination. To the contrary, she’s showing every sign of improvement.

In any event, does this strategy apply to dogs? I truly do not know. However, I see that the University of Arizona’s website invites questions…and so… Yes. I just sent off a query asking if dogs respond differently to Valley fever infections than humans do….and specifically asking whether those two blurbs of advice apply to dogs. Watch this space for a report.

My friend whom I quoted as having lost three dogs to Valley fever says she actually has had four die of the disease. Each time she spent phenomenal amounts of money trying to keep the dog alive. One dog was on medication for years…and the stuff was costing her $300 a month.

Three hundred dollars is my entire household budget, exclusive of utilities.

Valley fever represents a huge profit center for the veterinary industry. Says the UofA Med School: “Owners spend hundreds to thousands of dollars each year, especially in Arizona, diagnosing, treating, and following up care for their dogs with Valley Fever. It is estimated that valley fever costs all Arizona dog owners at least $60 million per year.”

Holy sh!t. No wonder the guy wants to get the dog on fluconase, proof that it’s needed be damned.

He told me to put her back on the stuff. I said if we were going to do that, it would be better to put her to sleep, because it makes her so sick that she effectively has no life. This was when he tried to tell me the side effects were Valley fever symptoms — even though it’s dead obvious the dog has none of the “symptoms” now that the drug is wearing off. He backed down when I said I would put her down before I’d give her any more of the stuff.

I did have to point out to him that with a Ph.D. and a job as a technical editor, I do know the difference between a university medical school’s data and a woo-woo web page. It’s hard to convince some people. 😉

He tried to tell me she was not behaving in a normally peppy way. I refrained, having already said quite enough, that at 12 years of age a dog is not supposed to be peppy.

He handed me, also free, a half-dozen cans of PD and urged me to feed it to her. For those who aren’t into long-term pet ownership, PD is short for “Prescription Diet”: it’s a spectacularly expensive dog food distributed exclusively through veterinaries. He thought it would help her feel more like eating. And it’s true, she does need to gain back some weight.

But…BUT… She’s regained her appetite and is now eating just fine. The baby food scheme worked to jump-start her eating. After I got her eating that stuff, I poured half a bottle of it over a regular plate of her food, and she inhaled it. And this evening? During the battle to feed Charley, Ruby, and Cassie without being tripped or pounced by any of them, I forgot about the baby food whilst struggling to get her and a plate of food behind a door where Charley and Ruby couldn’t grab it. She inhaled her dinner anyway.

And PD…hmmm. It’s distributed in New Zealand. Know what that means? It means it’s likely made in China. They are very secretive about where the product is manufactured — can’t even find a clue at the venerable Dog Food Adviser watchdog site. If they’re not telling you, they don’t want you to know. Eh?

Her cough is essentially gone. She chokes on water — as she always has (the pup does, too: it seems to be characteristic of corgis) — and that causes her to wheeze, but once that passes, she no longer is coughing. That suggests to me that it’s every bit as likely that she had bronchitis as that she has Valley fever. Maybe more likely: she wouldn’t get over the cough that quickly on just a few days of the poisonous “cure,” and it would have come back by now if she really hand VF.

He noticed she was breathing rapidly, which indeed is something that she does. I couldn’t tell you if she’s always done it, because I haven’t been sensitized to the pattern of her breathing before this. However, here we have a genuine woo-woo Web page that suggests it’s no BFD:

Tachypnea is the term for rapid breathing in dogs and unless consistent or combined with other symptoms is usually nothing to worry about.

Laboured, difficult breathing or Dyspnea is more serious and you should consult your vet immediately as it could be the sign of a serious problem. Read on to find out…

Ohhkayyy…reading on: Potential causes:

Heat.

Nope: not while snoozing on a bed in an air-conditioned bedroom.

Mitral valve disease

Could be, I suppose. Cardiac problems have already been suggested as a possible cause of the coughing.

Congestive heart failure

Another strong possibility. Remember: she’s 12 years old.

Cancer

“However, lung tumours (Adenocarcinoma) are the exception and can cause coughing and panting along with rapid breathing. This form of cancer is more common in dogs over 10 years of age and could be the cause of older dogs breathing fast or more heavily than usual.”  Hmmmm…. Yeah, that’s a possibility. But MarvelVet said, when asked, that the X-ray he made showed no sign of cancer in her lungs.

Anemia

Usually caused by a hookworm infestation. Not likely in our parts: hookworm is not endemic here, and these dogs spend most of their time loafing in the house.

Cushing’s Syndrome, which results from overproduction of cortisol caused by a benign tumor of the adrenal gland.

Unlikely: she doesn’t have any of the other symptoms.

Collapsed trachea, in which the tracheal rings begin to collapse, and as air is squeezed through, a characteristic honking cough results. This also can cause fast breathing while the dog is resting.

Highly likely. The habit of choking when drinking water is also suggestive. And how is collapsed trachea treated? By golly: “Cough suppressants, bronchodilators, corticosteroids (to control inflammation), and/or antibiotics. In obese patients, weight loss helps decrease respiratory effort. Although treatment is not curative, a study released in 1994 showed that 71 percent of dogs treated medically showed a good long-term response.”  And what has caused Cassie’s cough and other symptoms to go away: Temaril-P…an antihistamine with a small amount of prednisone. Uh huh!

Why did I need to be told, eh?

Am I being irrationally paranoid about this? MarvelVet is a nice man, a visibly intelligent man, who seems to be genuinely, heartfelt concerned about the welfare of dogs and cats. He is an excellent vet.

Seriously: am I utterly off the wall to suspect overtreatment, a rush to possibly unnecessary treatment, and a strong money motive here? Maybe I’m too suspicious, too skeptical, too jaded after so many other experiences along those lines.

September 29, 2018
by funny
0 comments

A little…doggy miracle?

Just yesterday, you may recall, I again thought Cassie was pounding at Death’s door. She went in the closet and tried to hide in a corner (again). There wasn’t much I could do about it today: getting into the vet proved to be impossible around a two-hour  choir rehearsal followed by a lengthy special religious hoe-down.

During today’s long-distance sing-a-thon, I got an elaborate earful about Valley Fever from a friend on the choir who has lost three dogs to it. Spent the afternoon in a Holy Blue Funk, singing to God and His Archangels whilst contemplating the demise of my little doggie. Probably tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. sharp, when I’m supposed to show up at the vet’s doorstep.

But…then…on the way home, them thar Angels began to speak. Nay, even to break out into a little song of their own. And the verses went like this:

  1. When you called the vet about her cough, dear Estupida, the first reaction there was that she had a contagious bronchitis that’s been going around. They did not say whether they thought it was bacterial or viral, nor did they put a name to it. They only said they’d been seeing a lot of it, and then said “come get these blue pills.”
  2. The handy-dandy blue pills DID make it better. But when the cough hadn’t completely gone away after 10 days or so, Estupida, you called back expecting to cadge another bottle of blue pills. Instead they invited you and the dawg to make a trip across town to the veterinary.
  3. The vet opined that what ailed the dog was Valley fever, based on an X-ray that proves nothing. That X-ray could also image pneumonia or a bad case of bronchitis; it could also image a heart inflammation caused by heartworm, endocarditis, or congestive heart failure. Any of these would cause a severe cough. The blood panel came back negative for Valley fever but showing elevated values for a couple of measures that can be elevated by any kindof inflammation or infection. Yes, often VF tests do come back negative even in the presence of coccidiomycosis. BUT it is not unreasonable to suspect that such a test could come up negative because of the absence of coccidiodes. A second veterinarian at a different veterinary clinic suggested this and stated that she felt the test results were ambiguous and should be repeated after three or four weeks. So: we have no empirical proof that the dog really has Valley fever.
  4. Nevertheless, assuming the dog probably had VF, MarvelVet put her on a fearsome anti-fungal drug called fluconazole, which is nasty stuff with superbly nasty side effects. Within a few days of beginning this drug, the dog began to grow weaker and exhibit signs of failing health:

Total loss of appetite
Extreme thirst
Incontinence of Biblical proportions
Lethargy
Loss of interest in everything around her
Inability or unwillingness to move around.
Diarrhea
Vomiting
Gastric upset

ALL THESE SYMPTOMS are listed by the UofA Medical School as side effects of that drug in dogs: https://vfce.arizona.edu/valley-fever-dogs/treatment

And wouldn’t you know: she kept on coughing. By now she’d reached a point where every time she tried to drink water, she would choke on it and then start wheezing!

The blue pills are Temaril-P, which contains an antihistamine and some prednisone and whose purpose is to suppress coughing and reduce inflammation. When we took her off the Temaril, the coughing got worse. When we put her on the fluconazole, she got really, really sick.

Sooooo….this leads us to, goddammit,…

  1. What if the problem is NOT Valley fever? What if it isn’t any other fearful disease, either? What if the initial cause of the cough actually was the bug that was going around? She’s the same age I am in doggy years…and the last time I caught a chest cold, it took SIX MONTHS to shake the cough. Maybe the vet’s first guess was right, and it’s simply taking her a long time to get rid of the cough because she’s 12  years old.

Just now my money is on Numero 5.

Tomorrow I’m going to ask him to prescribe more of the Temaril and propose that we keep her on a low dosage for about ten days or two weeks. THEN wean her off and see what happens.

Whaddaya bet the pooch is still alive in ten days or two weeks? And still kickin’…or rather, kickin’ again?