Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Second doctor much better than first.

Today was second opinion day for my back (I got lucky - the neurosurgeon had a cancellation and they managed to squeeze me in)….turns out this guy isn't so quick to hop on the "slice 'em open" bandwagon. He also thought that just sitting and waiting - especially while trying to do normal activities - was totally insane. Of course, that means I'm back on light duty, so no vacuuming or poop-scooping. Of course, since no one else is volunteering to scoop poop, I’ll just have to figure out a way around that. Assuming I can bribe my dear, sweet, wonderful brother John into driving me to Cary Monday morning, I will be getting my first epidural shot. I can get up to three in six months, no closer than two weeks apart. If they work, great, if not, on to plan B (whatever that is). Hopefully, the shot will ease the pain and inflammation enough to where its not the only thing I think about all day long. And, I get a day off from work. Apparently, they don’t like people to drive after getting loads of meds in their spine. Go figure. How effective the shot is will determine when I go back for round two. I also have a physical therapy evaluation tomorrow. Doc wants me to start doing things that will help loosen the muscles in my back and legs, which should also lower the pain level - lucky me, I'm gonna get a doctor-ordered massage. I know the first doctor said that stuff like this will just delude me into thinking I'm doing something useful and that it really doesn’t speed the healing process at all, but you know, I'm okay with that. Delusion is a good thing, sometimes.

Monday, March 20, 2006

CF #6

We have our routine choreographed, and we're dancing to "Man, I Feel Like a Woman". Now it’s a matter of me learning it and getting Reyna to dance for one minute and twenty seconds without needing treats or losing focus. She does pretty well for short bursts, so we’ll have to build that up a lot between now and April 16. I’d hate for a simple thing like needing a treat bump us down from the novice level to the fledgling level. Plus, if we have to participate at the fledgling level, we have to do a minimum of two minutes, which means we’d have to adjust the choreography. I know she can do it...I just have to convince her its worth it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

I hate doctors

So, I went to the neurosurgeon yesterday morning, hoping for something that would at least reduce the constant pain, if not totally alleviate it. Before I even got to see the doctor, we had a lovely insurance saga in the waiting room. Apparently, the receptionist at my regular doctor was confused about my insurance, which had changed. They didn’t have a copy of my new card, but the new information was written in my file. Unfortunately, no one had transferred that to the computer. When he scheduled the appointment, he asked if they took my old insurance, which they did. They do not, however, take my new insurance. So, my options were to skip the appointment and wait who knows how long for an appointment with someone else, pay upfront and file the out-of-network claim myself, or pay from my FSA. I paid with my FSA. I was not going to wait another two weeks to see someone.

After that fun, the doctor told me, based on my films, he didn’t know why I was in pain. But then he said a guy was in earlier yesterday with a ruptured disc that covered the entire vertebrae on his film, and he was just mildly annoyed. Obviously, pictures only tell them where the problem is, but not how bad. He then told me that my two choices were to wait it out or surgery. He said that the average healing time is three months, but that those numbers really aren’t any good, as the time ranges from two weeks to a year, depending on the person. He then said that, with surgery, he’d recommend I stay out of work for three to four weeks, but that people frequently go back within one to two - they just takes longer to heal – and that he tries to be out of the patient’s life within two to three months. Hmmm...let’s think...potentially a year of waiting, or three months...

I asked about other options, and he informed me that things like physical therapy, steroids, anti-inflammatories, and going to the chiropractor don’t actually speed the healing process, they just delude the patient into thinking they’re doing something useful. I say, delude me. Especially if it’ll make it stop hurting. He wrote a prescription for a pain killer that he said might not make me so drowsy I can’t be at the office – but it also might not really get rid of the pain. Gee, that’s useful. Doc also said I could go back to doing my regular activities, but to be careful, because overdoing it could hurt my back worse. But not doing anything could also hurt my back. And I shouldn’t walk the dogs, because if they pull and jerk me, that could hurt my back. And I should make sure I’m facing forward when I sneeze, because sneezing while twisted could hurt my back. But I’m allowed to go be active. And then he told me that when I reach the point that I’m really frustrated with how this is affecting my life (um, now?), to give him a call and he’d schedule my surgery.

He’s the first doctor I’ve ever been to that’s been that quick to offer surgery. Usually, they suggest a lot of other things, first. And you know, I’m not exactly eager to have another operation. I’d willingly wait this out, if it just didn’t hurt so freaking much. And so constantly. I am pain-free approximately 10 minutes a day – just when I first wake up, before I get up and start moving around. Once I start moving and putting weight on my leg, it flares back up. Its ridiculous.

My regular doctor agrees that the “two options only” idea is a bit insane. So I’m waiting for a call back from a different neurosurgeon, who will hopefully have a few other ideas. And, if nothing else, I am fully willing to be deluded into thinking I’m doing something useful.

Yay, Duncan!

Duncan graduated last night from PetSmart’s Basic Obedience class. I had originally planned to take him directly from Sylvie’s into the Intermediate class, but PetSmart teaches a lot more in their basic class than Sylvie did. And it worked out for the best, since we missed a couple of classes, courtesy of my back. We’ll probably hold off on the next level until May, to give my back time to heal before we have to start working again. Especially since I have two trips for work coming up.

Friday, March 10, 2006

For Carlos and Natalie.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Canine Freestyle Seminar

This past weekend, Reyna and I attended a canine freestyle seminar in Hampton, VA. Duncan and Natalie both went with us. I had asked Natalie to join us when I first planned it, thinking the company would be nice, and that a second set of hands would make things easier if I decided to take Duncan. Because of my back, having Natalie along proved to be invaluable. She was a huge help, with loading and unloading the truck and dog crates, exercising Duncan, and video taping the instructional and demo portions of the seminar.

The dogs were both very well-behaved, and Duncan learned how to climb up on the bed all by himself (he’s taken that to the next level, and will now climb up on the couch without assistance). I don’t think Natalie much appreciated cold wet snouts in her face at 6:00 AM, but that’s part of the fun of big inside dogs. The only behavioral issues were Reyna occasionally barking when she saw dogs doing stuff and she was stuck in her crate, and Duncan’s incessant whining every time Reyna and I were working. A fair chunk of the video has the background noise of him whining and crying. The boy has some serious separation anxiety to work through. Reyna did have one outburst that I remember while we were working, and she and a male Dalmatian just did not get along. But other than that, I was very proud of her behavior.

The seminar was a nice refresher on some things, and really made me feel like Reyna and I have come a long way in just a couple of months. We had to choreograph two short routines – one was a minute, the other 30 seconds. At the first seminar we went to, we had to do the same thing, and we did relatively well, considering all we really knew was sit, down, stay, come, and spin. This time, though, I was proud of both of us. We did several variations of turns and spins, but we ended the first routine with me straddling Reyna and both of us backing up. Got lots of applause for that, and even Carolyn Scott said she hadn’t been expecting something like that. For the short routine, our big move was Reyna’s “stick ‘em up” trick, and that got a really nice reaction, too. We also did some music matching, with “I’m from the Country” being the crowd favorite, followed by “Brown-Eyed Girl” and “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.”

One obnoxious thing that occurred was a lady who said she’d worked at a GSD show kennel for years started insisting that I needed to be showing Duncan. She just kept oohing and ahhing over him. Which is fine, but as soon as she realized Reyna doesn’t have papers, she totally ignored her. All she was interested in was Duncan. She wouldn’t stop insisting I show him until I pointed out that he’d been neutered. She seemed to have no real concept of having a GSD as a pet.

But ignoring the crazy pushy lady, several women complimented Reyna – both her looks and her skills – and one woman was genuinely interested in learning more about GSDs, specifically about why some have sloped backs and others don’t. I even got a couple of compliments for my handling skills.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the seminar schedule, but I don’t think I’ll be putting my back through that again until its much better. I had a blast, but I am now paying for the fun I had last weekend, and I can only imagine how much worse it would have been if Natalie had not come along.


Jake has been officially adopted by a very nice couple. They have two yorkies, a lab, a grandchild, and a granddog. And a good-sized fenced area. The guy told me yesterday that the only thing Jake has done was chewing up his vet paperwork the very first night there. So, yay!! Jake has a home!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oh, my aching back...

So the MRI results came back with an L5 S1 left-sided disc herniation, and my regular doc wants me to see a neurosurgeon/spine doc. The appointment was set for March 16. Since it was going to be so long, I was a bit stressed about what I needed to do between now and then (especially since the nurse kept saying they were going to get me in this week or early next).

So, after several very annoyed phone calls to the doctor's office, I finally got a nurse willing to provide actual information. The herniation is more centered than left, which is apparently better than being fully to the left. Since it is pinching a nerve, though, they want me to wait to see the neurosurgeon rather than an orthopedic surgeon. The regular doc doesn't want to prescribe treatment, and prefers the neurosurgeon do that. The nurse gave me a few suggestions on ways to help alleviate the pain, since I can’t take the painkillers they gave me last week and actually function. She also gave me a list of activities I am not allowed to do at all, as well as tips on how to do some of the more basic stuff that has to get done in a house. Sadly, I am not allowed to vacuum or mop… The majority of the suggestions were fairly obvious, such as crouching to pick something up rather than bending over, or using tongs to get items out of the washing machine instead of bending. Basically, no bending. And no twisting. That's going to cause some difficulty with more than a few household chores, so I have to ask for more help than my stubborn self would like. I'm also not to lift heavy objects, which makes me question how I'm supposed to get my laptop to and from work. Oh, and she told me to try not to sneeze.

Last night, my brother, John, and my friend, Natalie, came over for dinner and helped with a few of the chores that needed to be done. And we successfully strapped the pups’ travel crates on the roof of the truck for this weekend’s trip. John also told me to start writing up a "honey-do" list, and he'll take care of things in the afternoons after work. My friend, Kim (mother to Dante and Mia, Reyna and Duncan’s buddies), is coming over while we’re out of town to sweep and mop and vacuum. I will SO owe Kim for that.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Happy Birthday!

My sweet Reyna is 2 years old today. Happy birthday, precious girl!