Coffee heat rising

Gets worse, if that’s possible


Dammit, I just dropped the external backup drive on the floor. Presumably broke it, because every time you drop anything electronic on the floor, you break it. The other external drive doesn’t work, either. It broke a long time ago.  As nothing, though…

What’s really broken — that matters — is the dog. And my budget.

Today I took Cassie to my son’s vet, who’s only about 10 minutes away (well…when every route going in that direction isn’t dug up and blocked to one [1] lane, which is not the case today…) to find out about the “abnormal” results of her recent urinalysis.

Is there a reason why we have to make such a fuckin’ drama of this stuff?

Oh yeah, sure there is: it’s called a rea$on.

They now want to do another urine analysis, in which they propose to culture the bacteria they found in her urine. Uh huh. And was there a reason we didn’t do this on the first try?

They propose, all told, to charge me almost $700 for the various tests and treatments they foresee.

Understand: I just paid MarvelVet $500 for treatment that has done nothing to help the dog.

Twelve hundred dollars is the sum total of my monthly income. Well, that’s not true: Social Security amounts to about $1211 a month. So this is more than just grocery money. This is more than half of what I have to pay all of a month’s bills. And that’s without repairing the car and replacing the tires after the fender-bender incurred in driving home from the last visit to this vet.

This is just crazy.

One thing is sure: here in our lovely 21st-century dystopia, if you are retired, you cannot afford to own a pet. In the near future, I’ll have to have this dog put to sleep. And that will be it in the doggy department for me: I simply will not be able to have another dog or cat around the house. Because I can’t afford it.

Ruby will still be here, but I’d probably better find another home for her while I can — while she’s still healthy and some naive dummy wants her. Because if I can’t afford Cassie, obviously I can’t afford Ruby, either.

Sooo exhausted. Haven’t slept more than a few consecutive minutes in the past month.

Tried to take a nap this afternoon. If I don’t put the dogs on the bed, they lobby — by whacking the bed and trying to climb up — until I capitulate and lift them up here. Trying to wiggle out of Ruby’s way (she being in full pester mode), I found myself in another cold, wet puddle.

Yesterday I ran FIVE LOADS through the washer, plus had to clean the washer out with the shop vac and then unclog the shop vac. Now the washer is laboring away with another entire set of bedding including a blanket. Literally, I ran the goddamn washing machine until 10 o’clock last night.

Well. Today’s mound doesn’t include the bed pad…this time she managed to pee on the piddle pads that protect the under-bedding. Hope I managed to get all those out of the wad of cloth I hauled out of the garage.

I just can NOT keep on doing this.

Meanwhile, two new jobs came in. When exactly am I supposed to find the time and the physical strength to edit these things, given that it’s impossible to sleep and the dog is so sick she has to be schlepped to a vet every second day and the car is wrecked and the stove is broken and the roof needs to be repaired and…holy shit. To say nothing of the fact that the country is going to Hell in a handcart.

The car is still running. I haven’t had time to get to Costco to find out how much it will cost to replace the tires. Whatever it is, though, between that and the vet bills, I can’t get the pool replastered this fall. Haven’t called the pool guy yet to let him know that deal is going to be off. The brushed metal things that I thought were some sort of fancy wheel covers are…not. They’re the wheels themselves. God DAMN it. So that means I need to buy a whole new wheel for the right front whateveritis on the damned car. God only knows what that will cost.

Still can’t find my credit-card holder with my AMEX card in it. I’m now beginning to suspect, against my better angels, that the locksmith guy must have lifted it. Really: that is the only explanation. I’ve searched all over the house.

There are a limited number of places that I could or would have set it down. We were near the front door when he handed me his bill. I signed it and handed him the credit card, which he put in his Square. He would have handed it back to me, I would have put it back in the case, and I would have — could have — done one of only two things:

  • I would’ve put the case back in my jeans pocket, where it resides whenever it’s not in its accustomed home; or
  • I would’ve set it down on the lamp table next to the sofa, the only flat place available.

Since it’s not in either place…well…

That day I was wearing the only pair of white jeans I own.  I’ve checked the pockets repeatedly: the thing is not in the jeans, not in the laundry bag, not in any other pair of pants, not on the table, not in the table’s drawer, not on the other table near the door.

Am I mistaken? Were we in the dining room or kitchen when this transaction occurred? In that case I would have put the card in my jeans pocket (no…) or on the dining room table or on the kitchen counter.

It’s not in any of those places.

Did I do the responsible thing and carry it back to the office and put it where it belongs, in a small purse hanging from a hook on the wall in that room?


Did I take it back to the office and drop it on my desk or the file cabinet?


Did for some unimaginable reason I put it in the car, in the consoles or on the passenger seat?


Did I leave it on the kitchen counter or dining room table?


And that’s about it. There really are no other places that I would, by the wildest stretch of the imagination, have carelessly placed it.

Soooo…. Reluctantly, I’ve just about arrived at the conclusion that it was stolen. We were chatting merrily and I was distracted by our conversation. If I’d set it on the sofa table, he could easily have lifted it while I was entertained by a dog or by my own mouth going.

Well, if that’s the case, it was more trouble than it was worth for our Nimrod. That card is now canceled. The Social Security number printed on my SS card was blacked out. And as we have seen, the new number on the new Medicare card doesn’t work. I need to contact Medicare and ask them to send me a new card, but frankly, that bureaucratic runaround is more than I can cope with just now. Fortunately, I made several extra copies of the damn thing. Whether they’ll want to cut a new card with a new number, I do not know.

While Cassie was locked up at the vet’s, I took Ruby for a walk, all by her little self. You know, I think that’s probably the first time this little dog has ever been on a doggy walk without the Boss Dog.

Dog interactions are weird. Maybe human interactions are, too…we’re just not aware of it, being humans. She was like a different dog! No dragging, no wackiness…just trotted right along as though she knew how to heel. Which…she doesn’t. 😉



Dog redux

Seven hundred and eight dollars later. . .

Yes. That’s over seven hundred bucks. So much for the Month of Extreme Frugality. How laughable.

Yesterday I took the dog to a new veterinarian, not feeling at all satisfied with what I got for $430 from my regular vet. When I took her to the the latter vet late last month because she stank so violently you couldn’t stay in the same room with her, he said she had a vaginal infection and gave me a bottle of antibiotic pills and a tube of antibiotic ointment, with instructions to smear it on her nether parts (at great risk to life and limb, we might add). This was a week after he saw her for restlessness and hyperventilation and gave her a cortisone shot to quiet her down. Shortly after I got her home, I found a large lesion on her leg. He-or rather, one of his staff-said he had seen it, it was a pressure sore, and I should put the ointment on that, too.

The sore didn’t get any better, and neither did the stink, to speak of. They charged me another fifty bucks for a second round of antibiotics. On my own, I tried myconozale, which helped a little; the problem was, I couldn’t get the stuff on the dog because she threatens to bite me every time I try to apply anything to the affected area. She has to be muzzled, wrestled down, held down, and medicated. It’s no small trick to do that once, much less several times a day, and I am not of an age to be wrestling on the floor with a ninety-pound dog!

Meanwhile, when I called back about the leg sore, the same unhelpful and vaguely rude staff lady proposed, with a straight face, that I lock her in “a small room” where the floor is padded with several layers of comforters. Well, the only such room in this house is the bathroom where the only truly functional toilet resides. The door opens inward. You can’t pad the floor where the door swings. So I had to drag the dog into the bathroom and then barricade the entrance to the bathroom with a couple of dining room chairs. A German shepherd has no problem moving a couple of chairs out of its way. So I had literally to barricade the door with several dining room chairs, jamming them into the hallway so she couldn’t budge them. As you can imagine, this was not very good for the chairs, my back, or the dog. The only other way to keep her on a padded floor is to tie her to a doorknob and spread the comforters, several layers deep, over an area too large for her to escape.

Neither of these strategies was any too practical.

I also very much doubted that the sore was a pressure sore, because the dog is too active for such a thing to have developed. She’s in motion much of the time and never lies still longer than about four or five hours. I know: that’s about as long as she will allow me to sleep for any given stretch. It’s the wee hours right now, and we’re up.

So I decided to try a friend’s vet.

Well, the place was very impressive-and much, much closer to home. It’s clean, with absolutely no typical veterinary odor. Very spacious and shiny, with several vets and at least a half-dozen staffers that I could see. Meaning, of course, that the practice is cranking the bucks.

Lots of brochures laying around detailing all the expensive things you can do to/for your dog. The basic “senior well dog” checkup is $275, and that’s a fishing expedition that looks for chronic ailments to treat for the rest of the animal’s life. Onward.

The vet was a young woman, very smart. I overwhelmed her with two pages of the dog’s symptoms and four questions:

  • What is the sore on her leg?
  • What can be done about the vaginitis?
  • Why does she pant and hyperventilate constantly?
  • Can she be treated in a reasonable way that does not drive me to wacky behavior like tying the dog to doorknobs and barricading the bathroom with the dining-room furniture?

She examined the dog, shaved the hair off around the irritated rear end, and, having learned to her surprise that the other vet had not done a culture on the diseased area, swabbed up a sample for culturing in a lab. After this, she opined that the lesion is not a pressure sore, because it’s not in an area where a bony prominence comes in contact with the floor and it does not look like a pressure sore. She thinks it’s a hot spot, probably brought on by an insect or spider bite. About the infection, she thinks the dog is in a great deal of pain.

About the heavy breathing, she noted the dog’s nasal secretions are bloody and said she may have a tumor, an expensive item to diagnose and treat. To find out whether she does have nasal cancer, which as it develops is pretty likely, will require a $300 X-ray. If that is positive, the dog will have to be put down.

(As I write this, ominously enough, no air is flowing through the dog’s nose and she’s breathing, loudly, through her mouth.)

The vet then gave me four different medications: a spray, fistfuls of medicated wipes, goop for her rear end, and goop for the sore. She recommended I continue the antibiotics I have until she can get the results of the lab test back, at which time she probably will recommend some other $50 antibiotic. So at this time, the dog is supposed to get FOURTEEN DOSES OF MEDS A DAY. She did, at least, say it is unnecessary to try to force the dog to stay on pads, so I can leave off that aspect of the wacky behavior. IMHO, medicating a dog 14 times a day is quite wacky enough.

At any rate, she charged $278 for all this.

Compared with the other vet’s bill, it seemed like a bargain. Consider:

Vet 1: $430

Services and products:
cursory exam
cortisone shot for agitation
2 bottles of antibiotics
1 tube of ear ointment
not so much as a clue about the leg sore
absurd recommendation for management of leg sore

Vet 2: $278

Services and products:
thorough exam
shaved hair from affected area, allowing access for medicating
lab culture and test
ointment for leg sore
pain-killer for vaginal infection
spray-on antifungal for vaginal infection
antifungal, antiseptic wipes for vaginal infection
consulted at length and made more or less rational recommendations

I said I suspected the dog really does not need Soloxine, because at the time the other vet put her on it, she had no visible symptoms of thyroid dysfunction and because I had learned that hypothyroidism is the most overdiagnosed ailment in veterinary medicine. She said the only way to tell is more bloodwork: $125. To test for thyroid function in the presence of Soloxine, you have to test about 5 hours after the drug has been administered. Since I dose Anna at 6:00 a.m. and it was by then after 3:00 p.m., that scheme was obviated. I’ll have to bring her back another time to find out if she really needs thyroid pills. But first we probably should find out if she has a tumor in her nose, a situation that would do some more obviating.

When I got the dog home, I could not get her out of the car. She couldn’t stand up. She’d jammed herself up against the driver’s seat so that she couldn’t get enough purchase to pull her weakened hindquarters off the floor, and she threatened to bite me when I tried to help her get upright. It looked for a while like I was going to have to drive her back to the vet and have them put her down, right then and there. Finally I pulled the car into the garage and just left her there with the door open and the lights merrily running the battery down. After a half-hour or forty minutes, she managed to get herself up and out of the vehicle.

The four Benadryl I walloped her with an hour ago have finally taken effect. She’s out cold on the floor. On a positive note, she’s now breathing through her nose (more or less), which she was unable to do when she woke me with the steam-engine sound effects. So maybe the nasal problem is just allergies. Probably not, though. You don’t get a bloody discharge from allergies.

My head hurts, my neck hurts, my back aches, my iced tea has gone warm, and even our pet house fly is asleep. Now that it’s quiet, I’m going back to bed.

Month of Extreme Frugality, indeed!

2Commentsleft on iWeb site:


Gasp!Have you asked the veterinarians to treat your pooch “pro bono?”I watched a Hollywood TV show, All Things Large and Small, that portrayed veterinarians as compassionate, caring, green-minded people, generous with their time and money.

Thursday, May 15, 200807:15 AM


Isn’t that the loveliest program? You know, it’s based on a series of semiautobiographical books whose author was an English veterinarian. Each of them is equally delightful.

Veterinarians are compassionate and caring people. But compassionate and caring people have to eat, too. Veterinary school is said to be more difficult to get into than medical school, and the course of studies is extremely challenging. After one of these very bright young people graduates, she or he goes into the business of veterinary care, which IS a business, not a hobby or a charity.

Veterinarians are not in business to give away their skills. They’re in business to make a living. Given how hard they have to work to acquire their skills, they rightly expect to make a good living. Many vets, however, earn only a middle-class income; it’s a lot less profitable than you would think.

Compared to what Vet #1 charged, I felt Vet #2’s fee was pretty reasonable: she devoted a lot of time to examining the dog and talking with me in detail, she provided more medications, and those medications appear to be more specific to the ailments at hand. And she did not leave me in the dark, wondering what is wrong and whether it can be treated at all.

Am I willing to pay $300 to have a 13-year-old German shepherd’s skull X-rayed? The jury is still out on that one. Since I’ve already spent more than half (!!) of this month’s disposable income on the dog, it will have to wait until another couple of paychecks come in, so there’s plenty of time to make a decision.

And at the rate the poor old gal is going, she may not last that long. She has a tough time dragging her crippled hindquarters off the floor, and so frankly, I suspect the end is in sight.

Thursday, May 15, 200809:06 AM