Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Colin, too

Colin's first day of preschool was today. He did really well. Of course, he went to a mother's day out type program last year, but now he is going to the Montessori school. This feels much more serious.

He was well prepared after picking Anna up from the same school for the previous 3 years. He was shy on arrival but did not cry when I said good-bye. His entire lunch was eaten at the end of the day! Always a good sign.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Rain, finally

Yesterday I noticed a mysterious hole in the crushed granite by the compost pile, and told Anthony about it. "I don't think its an animal hole," I said, thinking of the snakes and the small rodents that attract them. Anthony went out to inspect, and came back to tell me it was a huge crack in the earth, which was so dry and parched it was pulling apart. The last rain we had was July 2nd.

Today we had a glorious Texas thunderstorm. It blew in with an eerie light, and pelted the ground with huge furious drops. They were accompanied by bright flashes of light and loud thunderboomers. It was enough to wash the layer of dust off of all the leaves and patio furniture. The temperature suddenly dropped from 97 to 81.

I encouraged Colin to come out on our covered porch to experience the weather. He was a little hesitant. "The rain smells so good!" I told him, "I'm going to stand in it!" "No, Mommy!" he said, as I stepped 1 foot from the porch just to briefly feel the rain on my face. I quickly returned, but he insisted we go inside. I opened all the curtains and blinds to watch the spectacle.

This was about the time Anthony was picking Anna up from school (the bus has already lost its charm). He said all the parents at the school were dashing in and out, getting drenched picking up their kids, yet everyone had a smile on their face.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Photos - but don't worry, they're not gross

Fun with cheerios:

Here is a cute one: Anna saw her dad was particularly groggy one morning. "Don't worry, Daddy, I'll get you a cup of coffee," and she brought him this:


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Good work day

Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing some of my friends as my 8 o'clock appointment. We chatted about their cat, but also made plans and small talk. Finally they said, "Uh, don't you have to get back to work?" and I looked at my watch and said, "Yup, your appointment time is up." Moments later, a nurse popped his head in asking me to come to the treatment area, there was an emergency.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw - a small schauzer with what we term a degloving injury. Her entire forearm was stripped bare of skin from the mid-humerus down to the paw. Muscles, vessels, bone, even raw white nerves were exposed to the air. In addition, the tissues were quite traumatized and had obviously lost most of their blood supply. One of my nurses mistakenly called it a de-sleeving injury, and although not precisely the correct term, it did seem more accurate.

The poor dog was in shock, rigid on her side, not really responsive, definitely painful. We immediately administered fluids, pain meds, and antibiotics to stabilize her. I immediately knew amputation was in her near future.

First, however, we had to deal with the "drama." The injury had occured through a fence. You know the saying, good fences make good neighbors? This was a bad fence, with a gap underneath, through which the poor schnauzer's leg was pulled through by several dogs and mauled. The teenage daughter who was first upon the scene pulled the schnauzer away but sustained several bites from her own dog, who struck out blindly in pain and fear. The neighbors were the ones who brought the dog and the daughter to our clinic to receive medical care, but there was a lot of tension between the parties, which got worse once the mother arrived. Apparently, she had complained about the fence and the aggressive nature of the dogs to the home owners' association. Understandably, everyone was very upset. The neighbors offered to pay for the considerable estimate but did not want to admit fault. The owners wanted them to pay but did not want that to be the end of the resolution. DRAMA! Did I also mention I had volunteered to be acting manager this day since both the usual managers were out of town? Eventually, we convinced everyone that we needed to just focus on getting the schnauzer treated, the daughter also needed to go get medical attention. After everyone was a little more stable, they could figure out a long term solution to the problem. It wasn't our responsibility to find that solution; we needed to treat the dog.

As terrible as I felt about the dog's horrible ordeal and loss of her limb, I must admit I was pretty excited about the surgery. Its not something I get to do on a regular basis, plus I knew it would really help the patient to get this severely injured appendage, a source of all sorts of inflammatory mediators and pain, off of the animal. While the patient stabilized, I started clearing my schedule and getting the immediate patients seen.

That's when the fun doubled. I had a drop off appointment for a standard poodle that I had seen earlier in the week for vomiting. OK, prepare yourselves, this is gross - the owner knew the dog had eaten feminine hygeine products. Used ones. The previous day, the dog was eating and had a relaxed abdomen, stayed all day at my clinic and never vomited, so I sent it home. At 4 am, he vomited a tampon, so the owner brought him in. Now, on exam, he was extremely tender in his abdomen and looked miserable. Xrays revealed a huge wad in his stomach and a possible obstruction in his intestines.

"Do you really have an exploratory, too?" the staff all asked me. One of the nurses, who comes in mid-morning, came up to me and said, "Are you doing surgeries today? I volunteer to help!" She gets as excited about these things as I do.

I had planned to go and work out on my lunch hour. But now I was going to be "surgerizing", and I couldn't have been happier.

The amputation went really well. The shoulder was broken, and the scapula was all bruised. After removing the entire limb from the scapula down, the incision came together very nicely and the dog recovered well from anesthesia. We gave her injectable morphine, NSAIDs, and put a fentanyl patch on her for pain.

The exploratory was great. You never know what you're going to find when you open them up. Fortunately, all the foreign objects were in the stomach. It is much easier for the surgeon and the patient to open the stomach up than the small intestines. Unfortunately, I removed ELEVEN tampons and 1 panty liner. Yuck. They weren't bloody or anything, but they were hugely swollen with gastric juices.

I sent both patients to the emergency clinic for overnight care. On recheck this morning, the amputee schnauzer looked much better. She was sitting up and had a little spark of personality in her eye I had not seen the day before. Her pain level was much lower, too. I sent her home to continue nursing care in her own surroundings. The poodle was better, too, although he had vomited once postoperatively. After a few more hours of fluids and pepcid, I sent him home, too.

My boss had stopped in the clinic in the middle of the day between surgeries. When he heard everything that was going on, he said, "Man, I'm jealous!" I smiled, because I understood. Although its kinda sick, these are the exciting cases for us, the ones where you go in and do something dramatic to save a patient, and get to use all your technical skills. We go through all that training just so we can apply it to cases like these and really help animals. I never would have wished these calamities on these animals or their owners, but it is a privelege and a thrill to get to fix them.

(sorry, I have pictures on both cases but decided not to post them)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A revolutionary way to feed your dog

Dogs are meant to hunt all day in complicated packs for their food. They are highly intelligent, driven animals. Some of them are especially smart, bred to retrieve or herd animals all day, or to do both, as in the case of my catahoula.

We turn them into domesticated housepets, and offer them large bowls of instantly nutritious food, which they consume in 5 minutes or less. Then we get mad when they chew up the couch. (totally true story at my house)

When this was explained to me at obedience class, the sound was more like my hand hitting my forehead (Doh!) than a lightbulb going off. The solution is to make your dog work for her food. Hence, the food ball:

We put about a third of Francesca's twice daily ration in the food ball, and she must roll it around in order for little kibbles to fall out and be consumed. Occasionally, she works herself into a corner, or gets to those last few stubborn kibbles, and she must pick it up and drop it down to get more out.

We fill the ball again when its empty. Chow time takes her an hour now! I still have to exercise her, practice obedience daily, and give her a rawhide every night, just to keep her little canine brain somewhat occupied, but this ball has definitely improved the quality of her life!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hot Day at the Lake

When you live in a climate with daily temperatures over 100 degrees, where all the pools close after the first day of school at the beginning of August (crazy!), and its simply unbearable to be outside without being wet, what do you do? Go to the lake. Even if the lake is a recently dammed reservoir, over former pastureland, with nary a shade tree in sight. Ostensibly you go to fish, but the kids start wading as soon as you get there:

Lake, with murky greenish water, lots of mud, and happy children.

There are some big fish to be caught, like this huge catfish!

Francesca, happy lake dog.

Hey, its not Nantucket, but we can still have fun, jumping off the pier!

But mostly we like muddying the bridge, which results in this:

Muddy Ian.

Muddy Anna.

Muddy Ashlynn.

See-thru swimsuit.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The second day of school was also a success. Anna was determined to go to school on the bus, which comes by our house at 7:15 am. Mighty early! I woke her up and she dragged herself out of bed, swaying and steadying herself on the closet door. "I'm dizzy, Mommy, because I'm so tired," she said. "Honey, do you want to lie back down for a few minutes?" I asked. "No! I want to ride the bus!" she insisted, as she struggled to get her clothes on.

She was a little grumpy, but she was ready on time (I had to leave a few minutes after 7). Anthony called to let me know she got just fine, then admitted he found it a little tough to watch his baby girl be whisked away, hopefully to find her way to her class on her own.

She did great, of course, and even picked out chocolate milk for lunch today ("It was SOOO good, Mommy). We'll see if the desire for sleep overrides the desire to ride the bus tomorrow.

Also, yesterday I got a call from the Boxer's owner. Remember, she is deaf, so I actually got a video conference call. These are so cool - a sign language interpreter can see a video of the deaf person calling me, and speaks what she signs. He's also listening to me, and signing what I say in response. The interpreters of course speak in first person, and get very animated, even using inflection in their voices which I'm sure reflects what they are seeing in sign. It really felt like I was talking to my client directly, although she had a masculine voice.

I found out that she took the Boxer to a local vet and got some antibiotics and antiinflammatories, and had some questions for me about wound care. I really wish I could be managing this incision, since it was my surgery, but at least they are getting good care in DC. I could tell our interpreter got really caught up in the case. The last time I did one of these calls it was to let a deaf client know why her cat died (I did a necropsy aka animal autopsy at her request). I wonder what these interpreters say about us to their families at the end of the day!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

First day of kindergarten

First day of school for Anna went as well as we could have wished for. She could hardly go to sleep last night, she was so excited. She got up and was raring to go this morning, while I stood there, trying to think of what I needed to do next, wishing the caffeine from my tea would kick in. Eventually, we were all dressed and ready (well, Colin wore sandals with his PJs) and out the door.

Here we are outside the school. Anna picked this outfit herself - a sparkly little top, fine guage corduroy skirt (with shorts underneath, for PE), all in her favorite color. It makes her look so grown up! She also has her green lunchbag and green backpack on, while I am loaded down with other first day supplies.

Here's the hallway of her school; her classroom is to the left. She put her nametag on and enthusiastically waved goodbye. I got a little misty-eyed but held it together. I drove the guys home and went to work (they graciously let me come in 1 hour late for this big day).

She brought home a picture she drew of a horse (the teacher told her to draw something she wanted to learn about). I think the best part was riding the bus home - which actually drops her off right at our driveway! She said no one sat by her but the boy in the next seat talked to her. I asked her what they talked about, and she said, "Let me tell you, Mommy. We talked about unicorns, and how they aren't real."

I asked Colin if he missed his sister today, and he said, "Yes!" I asked Anna if she missed her brother, and she said, "No...." I laughed and said, that's usually the way it is - the person who stays behind really misses the person who leaves, but the one who leaves is having so much fun, they don't miss you as much.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What I was doing while you were waiting for me...

Whew, what a busy week that was! Monday I started obedience classes with Francesca, Tuesday had a late night vet meeting, Wednesday recovered from the exhausting fun of Sclitterbahn, Thursday had Kindergarten orientation, Friday had a surprise visit from my sister Emily. It was really great to have her in town to share our weekend!

Schlitterbahn! Jessica has a full account of our fun visit.

Emily and Colin having fun this morning.

Work was full and busy, too. We had a new client walk in and hand a receptionist a note (since she was deaf) that said, "Hello, my boxer needs a dental either today or tomorrow because we are leaving for Washington DC." The receptionist immediately got one of our nurses, who is fluent in sign language since she was raised by 2 deaf people. As you can imagine, this is extremely helpful for me and the deaf person! They made her an appointment for the dog to see me the next morning. On exam, the sweet dog definitely needed a dental - in addition to a lot of tartar, she had some gingival hyperplasia, where the gum tissue grows exuberantly in response to plaque and bacteria on the teeth. I also found a mass on her leg - after checking it with a needle biopsy, I determined it was a mast cell tumor (of course!) and needed to be taken off. The owner agreed, and signed her loving goodbyes to her dog, "You stay here at this fancy vet hospital and let them take care of you."

Surgery and dentistry went well. Instead of calling the client postoperatively, I sent her a text message. The next day I sent her another one, asking how the dog was doing. They were on the road to DC, and she sent me a picture of her dog (see below) and a close-up of the wound. The incision is under quite a bit of tension and appears not to be healing ideally in the middle, so tomorrow I will send them some antibiotics via an email pharmacy. Telemedicine is so much fun!

Boxer on the road.

Pretty Anna on the eve of Kindergarten!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Will return soon

Sorry I haven't been updating this week... I feel so out of it because I haven't been reading all my usual blogs or responding properly to email. A bad combination of too many meetings and trying to pack it all in before school starts next week. Today we spent the day at a nearby super water park (Schlitterbahn) and are exhausted. Kindergarten orientation tomorrow night. No time even for complete sentences. Be back soon!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Photos by request

My current favorite hen, Chika the China the Chinese Chicken! She's posing by the bolting basil. Check out those legs!

My entire flock this morning. They're all saying, "Where's the grain?!?"

The best reason to have backyard chickens...

Francesca waiting for her heartworm pill this morning.

Long, leggy Francesca, proudly showing off her Texas rabies tag! That dog is really worming her way into my heart.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lofty Goals

I have some goals in mind while childrearing. These include reducing the amount of TV they watch, playing more outside, and eating more homecooked meals. Sometimes, though, these goals seem mutually exclusive.

As the late afternoon settles on our house, the children start whining to watch TV. I know they've already had their allotted 1 hour of TV time, so I encourage them to go outside and be active while I cook dinner.

Once outside, unless they are highly monitored, they make mischief! They dig in the flower and veggie gardens, spill entire bags of chicken feed (while trying to feed them), pick unripened fruit, and relocate most of the sand from the sandbox into the new kiddie pool. Sometimes if I am outside grilling, I can try to redirect their activities, but really they know my full attention is elsewhere and soon they are getting into trouble.

Usually at this point I'm at some critical step in cooking, so Anthony goes out and corrects them with much volume, and they come inside howling.

Only one solution. The electronic babysitter. aka the boob tube.

30 minutes later we are all sitting down to what I've cooked. Is this a better compromise, the TV which promotes inactivity and potentially obesity for the sake of a homecooked meal? Not that I even want to go out to eat nearly as much as we used to in our kidless days - by the time we get out the door, order, eat, go to the bathroom at least twice, and get back home, its taken more time and effort than cooking, and I have heartburn. I can get Anna to help me for a few minutes sometimes, but Colin has shown no interest except for cracking eggs (he really likes that). How do/did parents without TVs get anything done?