Thursday, May 31, 2007

I do love veterinary dentistry (not for the squeamish)

This morning one of my drop-offs was a new client cat who'd been to the emergency clinic the night before with a swollen face. She was 17 years old and hadn't had any medical care for at least 10 years.

Most vets know swollen face = abcessed tooth. Well, most of the time; you could have an infected bite wound or a surprise tumor, but they don't usually swell overnight. When the tips of the upper teeth abcess with pus, the quickest way for the body to get it out is with a fistula right under the eye. It's gross but true.

I examined her mouth. A pretty large amount of tartar was accumulated on her teeth but I didn't see anything broken. Then I touched the fang, and it wobbled. Pus oozed out from under the gumline, and her nose bled a little. Hey, this veterinary medicine thing is cool but it is not for the faint of heart!

I called the owner with an estimate, and reluctantly told her my colleague would do the procedure later that morning. She only had 2 dentals scheduled whereas I had a morning full of appointments.

As it turned out, her two simple dentals ended up needed 2 major molar extractions EACH. By the end of the morning, she was rightfully fatigued. I told her fahgettabowdit, I'll do the dental myself. I had wanted to do it anyway.

It was a humdinger of a dental. The initial Xray showed the fang was abcessed down to the tip along with the tiny premolar behind it. Both of them had no bone around them anymore, just a little pool of pus. Then I noticed the other fang was mobile, too. I got to pull not one but three teeth.

I know it's gross, but it is so satisfying to me to make such a difference in this poor cat's life. Here she was with a face so swollen she couldn't even open her eye. I can't imagine the pressure or the pain she was feeling. Like most tough animals, she was eating and acting normally. It's only people who complain to their dentists that they can't eat. After I wiggled her tooth on exam, her face got more swollen, but after the extractions, her face quickly got better. The remaining gum tissue was not very healthy, so after I debrided it and placed a synthetic bone graft, I made some fancy flaps to close the defect.

It was well worth giving up my lunch hour for. I was looking for an excuse not to go swimming anyway. And, I still had enough time to go get myself a Latte.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

First Day of Summer

"Is this the first day of summer?" Anna asked me as we drove to the pool. I explained to her this is a funny time - it's not officially summer until the middle of June, but it's hot enough and school is out so it kinda is summertime. We sure spent the day as if it were summer.

The kids have been bugging me to go swimming since school got out, but it was either been threatening rain or (more likely) pouring all Memorial Day weekend here, so we didn't go. This morning we got up, packed a picnic lunch, and headed for the pool.

We have a fantastic pool in our neighborhood with lots of slides and sprays; it's a mini-waterpark with a large shallow end. The kids leaped and slid and swam and climbed from 10:30 - 3:30. We did break for lunch, and then again for Fudge Bombsicles - those enormous frozen pops that were so cold when we first got them, but were soon dripping down their chins onto their thighs. "Just eat the black part of mine," Colin told me, thrusting his in my face, "I want the yellow part." They were a mess, but it didn't matter; we were soon back in the water.

I finally dragged them out of there after 5 hours, my skin feeling all that UV exposure, even though we applied and re-applied sunblock. Colin and I have sun-kissed pink cheeks, but Anna is just more olive skinned.

On the way home, my kids remembered that their dad bought them a new kiddie pool with an inflatable slide, and begged me to set it up when we got home. I tried to explain delayed gratification to them, and advised waiting until tomorrow when they'll be with the babysitter. They protested, but I held firm and made them take a bath and eat dinner.

Colin is so tired, but he doesn't want to go to bed, he just wants to go out and play in that new pool. I'm sure now that he has been still in bed for more than 5 seconds, he'll fall asleep. I'm sure we'll all sleep well tonight...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Vesper musings

Thank goodness NaBloPoMo was not in May. This crazy month is almost over. Sorry for the dearth of posts.

The last-minute babysitter we got to cover this week is impressed with how much fruit our kids eat. Today, Anna ate a banana, apricot, and a peach. Both kids had blueberries, blackberries, and a cookie for dessert tonight. Then Colin snacked on the fresh veggie plate, still on the table, polishing off all the carrots.

Earlier this week we had a crisis when we ran out of fresh fruit. Colin had already polished off the bag of organic raisins, but he found a bag of prunes in the back of the pantry. "What are these?" he asked, and I told him they were dried plums. He tried some, and decided they were "big raisins." He also found a bag of dried figs at ATE THEM ALL before I'd realized it. Only a little worrisome since there is a family story about a great aunt who ate a bunch of figs as a child and died of peritonitis. Colin was fine, and so are his BMs, as you can imagine.

We finally watched "Casino Royale," and yes, Daniel Craig really is all that and a bag of crisps, but in the end it was just another Bond flick to me. I mean, does every woman he sleeps with have to die? I guess so, otherwise he'd have baggage when he tried to bag the girl in the next flick. However, it inspired Anthony to get the Lillet needed to make the Martini Craig/Bond creates in the film - the Vesper. He made it for me tonight, and it is a fine drink...

In a sad note, long-time readers of my blog may remember the standard poodle that I had the priveledge of doing surgery on after he ate 11+ tampons. Quite a memorable smell, I mean story. Anyway, he came to see me about 10 days ago after eating his owner's wallet. J.L. actually looked better than I had seen him look in a long time. He suffered for several weeks over the winter with pancreatitis and looked puny and nauseated for a long time. This time he had a new haircut and looked spunky and spry. I took Xrays of his abdomen and saw a hugely distended stomach. He looked nauseated again after I gave him drugs to try to make him vomit up the leather wallet (he apparently ate it in protest after being left behind on a walk). He barfed up a lot of food but no wallet, nor the $100 bill the owner said was also missing (the plastic credit cards he left alone). Remembering what a difficult recovery he'd had after the last gastrotomy, I got him in to the local specialty hospital to have the wallet removed via endoscopy - a procedure that requires anesthesia but not a large incision. I got a call late in the afternoon from the doctor laughingly saying, thanks a lot for taking up 2.5 hours of my Friday afternoon, but we finally got all the chewed up pieces out. They were keeping him overnight for recovery and observation. Imagine my shock when I heard the following week that he'd developed aspiration pneumonia, 104+ fever, then septic shock and died in respiratory arrest. Poor, poor J.L. and his owner; this was not the end either of them deserved. After having an old dog myself who liked to eat naughty things (Terlingua), I won't soon forget him. Rest in peace, J.L.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What a Weird Week

1. The monster headache started on Sunday and lasted until Wednesday. The urgent care doc I saw on Monday night AGAIN thought it was sinus related, even though I'd had no symptoms, just a mildly red throat. He took a throat culture (since Colin had strep the week before) which of course later was negativo. He did ask lots of questions to rule out serious stuff like meningitis or brain hemorrhage. I really just felt so bad and nauseated, I was happy to leave with my darvocet, phenergan, and Z-pack prescriptions.

2. I went and saw my GP today, and after listening to my spiel, he said, "Sounds like a migraine to me. Everything you're saying is lighting up bells in my head." Thank you! I left with some migraine-aborter samples in case this ever happens again, "to make it a couple of hour's ordeal instead of a couple of day's ordeal." Thank you! I love my doctor. He's the same guy who sewed me up after that dog bit my face, and he has a great bedside manner.

3. After my appointment, I was prepared to go to work and get busy trying to catch up on my own appointments. Instead, I got a phone call that the clinic was closing due to toxic fumes coming from the renovation of the office next door to ours. Apparently, something they put on the floors smelled worse than mitaban dip and was giving everyone headaches. I definitely didn't need one of those. They were canceling all the appointments, and transferring the hospitalized patients to another clinic. So, none of us are making any money, but Woo-Hoo! A gift of a day off!

4. Today was the last day of kindergarten for Anna. It seemed as momentous as the first, only I didn't cry. It's trite, but I can't believe the year went by so fast! Her teacher gave her a book as a good-bye gift, and she read it without hesitation first time through to her brother in the back seat.

5. Nothing like the last day of school for getting all your summer childcare plans nailed down. Actually, I have investigated other avenues, but they didn't pan out. Colin's Montessori school has an abbreviated summer program they can get into the 3 days a week I am at work. Abbreviated as in June and July only. The Montessori program starts again at the beginning of August. Great for Colin, but Anna's public school has pushed back their start date next year to August 28th! Next year will end in June, but this year they get an extended summer vacation. Looks like our family vacation will be in August, then we'll figure something out for das elder.

6. Fortunately, my migraine ended in time for me to make a swanky corporate dinner at Truluck's. I know physicians get wined and dined by drug companies all the time, but since the veterinary arm of their company is a literal drop in the bucket, we don't see much in the way of pampering. The food was fabulous, they kept the wine glasses 3/4 full (way too much), and the speaker was actually good, too. I say, bring on the drunken bribing! But, can I bring my husband, too, so he won't be so jealous?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I am still here

Sorry I've been gone so long. I was very preoccupied with Colin's birthday and it's associated party. We (me, Anth, Emily) also did some triathlon training, running a 5K and swimming across a local lake and back with Kareen and Leah.

Then, I got avalanched by another monster headache. I still have it, actually, but now I also have darvocet. It dials down the pain so that I am just able to function, but now I am not very good at conversation. Too spacey and too irritable.

In fact, I think I'll go lie on the couch again...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How you know Nana is really cool

Me: "Do you want a Backyardigans bandaid?"

Colin: "No, I want a plain one, like Nana's!!!"

Now, go look at my birthday cake.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Colin's busy day off

First, some photos from the weekend:

So last Monday I had Anna home all day, and this Monday it was Colin's turn. To celebrate I carted him all over our little part of the world. First we went to the pediatrician, who said he had a mild case of strep. She did not feel inclined to run a strep test but did feel inclined to put him on antibiotics. Then we went to the dance store to get ballet slippers (in black, which is only for boys in the Royal Academy of Dance that our studio follows). Then we went to 2 different sports stores (which Colin loved -so many different kinds of balls, boats, and tents!) to find white soccer shorts and a snug black shirt, which is what the dance instructor wants him to wear for the recital.

After procuring ballet items, Colin was hungry and close to melt down. "I want to go to a food store!" he said. "I want a cheese sandwich, with rice and beans." He wanted a quesadilla, so I found him one. Then we went to the grocery store/pharmacy. We had just enough time to throw the stuff in the fridge before it was time to pick Anna up and then go to ballet class. The dance teacher approved all our purchases, but Colin did not want to wear his new ballet slippers. He said, "I want to wear my feet!" Poor guy, after going all day, he really just wanted to play with the train set.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers' Day!

We had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend. Anthony's parents recently reached their 50th wedding anniversary, and we celebrated this weekend by treating them to a weekend at The Inn where our friends got married. It was perfect for them, relaxing, informal but pampering, with excellent food. We stayed out there with them on Friday night, and dined with them on Saturday night as well.

My parents generously volunteered to come watch our kiddos while were were celebrating, but we did get to take them and Anna and Colin back to the Inn this morning for a lavish Mother's Day Brunch. The gardens there are so beautiful, and it is very peaceful and pastoral.

The only fly in the ointment was Colin spiking another fever on Saturday around noon, which rapidly progressed to flushed cheeks, glazed eyes, and vomiting just before we had a photographer scheduled to come over to take family portraits. Poor baby, he languished in his bed with his feverish eyes rolling back in his head. This morning he woke up perky but a little hot and very rashy. I recognized scarlet fever (which sounds so much worse than it usually is). He did pretty well overall, putting away plenty of food at the buffet, then spent most of the afternoon watching videos. I'll take him tomorrow to the pediatrician to get antibiotics.

We did have a nice moment this afternoon, walking down to the creek in our Wellies to catch polliwogs. Anna's class has been studying pond life. Her teacher told me there were kits she could buy of frog eggs to show the kids the life cycle of the frog, but you had to euthanize the adults at the end (in the freezer) since they are non-native species and therefore unreleasable. Of course she knew she couldn't do this so she didn't order them. I told her it was really easy to raise tadpoles; we did it last year. So she asked if we could catch some for her classroom. The kids easily scooped up a ton of tadpoles with plastic cups, some big and some tiny, as well as some algae for them to eat, some tiny snails, and some microscopic beetles. The toads that hatch can be released into the park, and we'll take home any that don't complete metamorphosis by the end of school - just 11 days away!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Thanks for all the get well wishes

We are recovered from our weekend virus. I did have a major sneaky recurrence of nausea this morning, which fortunately passed by the time I had to do surgery, but made the morning commute particularly unpleasant.

I kept Anna home from school on Monday, since late into the night before she'd been running a fever. It soon became clear that she had already made a full recovery. As we drove Colin to school, she asked if her dad was going to work that day. "Yep," I said. "Then, it'll be just us girls!" she concluded excitedly.

Mondays are the day of the week I actually do a lot of stuff around the house - like ALL the laundry, majority of the grocery shopping, as well as run errands, etc. I took the opportunity to show Anna all the things I do to keep the house running. First, she made a list of all the things we needed to do. She helped me move the first load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, and asked me if we were done, if she could cross it off the list! Ha! After we put one load of laundry away, she was ready to go to the store, but we hadn't made the grocery list yet - she gamely helped me with figuring out what we needed to buy and what we were going to eat, but she didn't think it was going to be so much work! She was good company and was helpful, and we did get all our "chores" done in time to do some fun errands, too, like pick up a new bathing suit after returns at Target, and stop for a coffee before we picked up Colin. She gave me a spontaneous hug at Starbucks, thanking me for being her mom. Sigh! what a moment.

During this exciting domestic day, Anna got to wear her prized new flip-flops from Auntie Steph ALL DAY. They are adorable: pink, with a little flower that the stem goes up between the toes. She's been wanting to wear them on many occasions when I insist that she wear more sturdy, sensible shoes. Another good lesson for her on Monday - by the time we strolled through Target her pinky started rubbing the leather, and she was gimping around the store, surprised at how much her beautiful shoes were hurting her.

Anna showed Colin her sore pinky when we picked him up, and said, "These shoes are kinda girly, huh Mommy? They're pink and fancy with this stem that goes up the middle. I don't think boys wear flip flops."

Colin said, "No, they just wear shoes."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Wasted Weekend

"What are your plans this weekend?" my coworker asked me on Saturday morning. "Nothing," I told him, "This is the only weekend in May not jam-packed with stuff. We're just going to lay low."

As I left work, I was surprised that I wasn't hungry - I'm usually starved by noon. In fact, my stomach felt a little achey.

Anthony said they had waited for me to eat lunch, but I still didn't feel like eating. I made the kids some noodles and ate half a container of yogurt. Anthony went outside, and I lay down on the couch. After a while I sent the kids outside with their dad and went to bed. I felt so bad about that; I knew Anthony had been watching the kids for 2 1/2 days and probably wanted to get some stuff done, but I was worthless. I slept for 16 hours.

Anna came in our room around 6 am telling us she'd thrown up in the bucket - not sure why it was in her room, but I sure am glad! Colin work up at 6:40 am, ready for his day. I was feeling better by now, but Anthony was not, so I got up with him and helped Anna with her intermittent vomiting. Colin felt great but loved getting to spend the day in his PJs watching TV and playing on the computer. Around 1 pm I took another nap with Anna - how I could sleep more I don't know. I got up and played with Colin while Anthony took a nap.

My loyal dog lay right next to me the whole time I was sleeping, and lay right outside Anna's door while we napped. She must be so wound up, since we didn't take her for a walk or anything, didn't even leave the house today.

We are mostly back to normal this evening, with some small bouts of queasiness. We ate a light dinner and put the kids back to bed. Not exactly the kind of rest and relaxation I had planned. Can I get a do over?

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Here's my 5-question interview from ChickenFlicken.

1- If you weren't a veterinarian, what would you be?
This is easy - I just answered a very similar question on my sister's blog. I think I'd go medical again - a physician. Nothing other than medicine seems important enough - important enough to dedicate your life to, to spend time away from your family, or as important to the patients - they really need you, and they need you to be your best.

If I was in a different field, maybe I would be a chef? But, it's so demanding, so much pressure, and the hours totally suck. I much prefer to be my family's personal chef, as an avocation. Travel writing would be great. I was rereading my stuff from our last European trip, and it is so easy to be inspired to write when so much new stuff is happening all around you.

2- Let's say you could be a male for a couple of days...what male-centric things would you just HAVE to do?

I would pee outside all the time. I hate that as a woman I have to stop, find a bathroom, and strip half naked just to pee. Maybe it's because I drink so much water (and also tea, coffee, wine...) If I were a man, I'd be whipping it out all the time. Other than that, I don't know. What else do guys predominantly do? Belch and fart? Oogle women?

3- Mindy's question...what's one thing you'd like to teach your (beautiful and intelligent) daughter to prepare her for adulthood?

This is tough, because you gave such a good answer. I guess I'd want to impress upon her how important the decisions she makes in the first 20-25 years on her life are. It pays to do well scholastically. Choose a career that will inspire you, reward you financially, and that you can grow with. It is important to be kind to others, but don't be a push over. Don't ever let a boy/man decide what you are worth. Choose friends and partners who admire you and believe in you, and that you feel the same way about.

4- If I'm coming to Texas to visit - whatcha gonna show me? (Besides your snazzy backyard and your spectacular chef skills...)
I'd definitely show you my chickens!

Texas is a big place, so let's just say for the sake of time I'll show you the Austin area. Food is definitely a top priority - so after my homemade breakfast of farm fresh eggs, we'd go to Chuy's for a TexMex lunch, and maybe the Salt Lick for a Texas barbecue dinner. We'd go downtown to see the Capitol building and the Whole Foods Flagship store - it's amazing. We'd watch the turtles while we canoe on Town Lake. If it's hot, we'll cool off in spring-fed Barton Creek or Deep Eddy Pool. At the end of the day, we'd watch the largest urban free-tailed bat colony in the world fly out from under the Congress avenue bridge at sunset, then go for drinks and some live music.

Clearly, with all this stuff, you need to come for at least a week.

5- You just won $68 million dollars from a lottery ticket that you bought just for the fun of it. What's the first thing you buy?
A year-long globe-spanning trip for me and my family. Man, it would be great to travel leisurely and not have to limit ourselves to one small region. I love Europe, but I'd also like to see Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan, India, Turkey, Egypt, Alaska, Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica...

Then, maybe when I got back, I'd buy myself a big, fancy vet clinic.

OK, folks, if any of you'd like a 5-question interview, drop me a line.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Medical Day

I had my baseline mammogram today. It wasn't as bad as I'd heard. It was pretty funny how the very professional radiology tech placed my boob on the tray and spread it out. She was gentle, indifferent, practiced. Like a baker flipping out a piece of dough to make it rise prettily. Only this bun went flat.

After the films were taken, I asked if I could look at them. Amazing! I love everything about digital radiology - films are instantly available, electronically transportable, and use less radiation to produce.

Later in the afternoon, Anna had a recheck with her dermatologist. She got a good report.

Not to be outdone, Colin started vomiting today at school. Since my phone intermittently rings silently, Anthony saved the day and picked him up. He's barfed a few times at home, too, but always in the bucket. What a trooper.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Magazine-style advice for parents

When children come home from school, let them unwind, fix them a healthy snack. Ask them open ended questions about their day, to show them you are interested, and to gain insight about what is happening in their lives.

Engage them in exercise. Children today are too sedentary, leading to soaring childhood obesity rates. Encourage them to get outside and be active.

Foster a learning environment, and assist your child in getting started with homework. Even kindergardeners have simple homework these days. Encourage them to get started, but do not help them too much. Let them struggle a little bit with the assignment, even if it makes it take 30 minutes longer and results in a very messy page, full of eraser marks. Even if you really should be getting started on that dinner.

To teach your child gratitude, make sure she writes those thank you notes that you both have been too busy to get to, especially since now her birthday party was 5 weeks ago. Divide it up into easy goals, like doing one card each night. Even though this will now seem like a chore to your child. Gently discourage whining. Set a good example and do not whine yourself.

Have you made that home cooked meal yet? Children who eat meals made at home eat more fruits and vegetables, are more varied eaters as teenagers, and suffer less obesity. Make sure everyone is able to sit down and engage in conversation over the healthy meal you have lovingly prepared.

To teach your child responsibility, remind her that she needs to pick up all the toys she spread over the entire surface of her bedroom floor before it is bathtime. Otherwise, she will have to finish the task during storytime. She failed this time trial yesterday, resulting in much howling, and the anxiety of a possible repeat is nearly paralyzing her. Gently guide her back to the task at hand.

Bathe your children. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Most of today's children are sleep deprived. This leads to less learning in school and more tantrums. Get them to bed at a reasonable hour. If they always dawdle, just start 30 minutes earlier.

Now go drink that glass of wine you never finished at dinner. Alcohol, in moderation, helps parents relax.