So clever readers of this will note that I don’t seem to have much going on besides bitching about some stuff and whining about my dog. The excuse this time (it’s not an excuse!) is Ardala’s various and sundry calamities. A rough timeline – the week before Halloween, Ardala stops eating, allowing pettings and being nice. She manifests pain, and paces, whimpering literally all night. A visit to the vet results in “Yep, that’s arthritis! And probably pancreatitis.” and a suggestion to put her on a sensitive-tummy pancreatitis diet forever. After several days of her refusing to eat anything but chicken (and us not allowed to feed her anything tasty) and no improvement to the pacing and whimpering – now with the added benefit of peeing in the house – I call the vet for further guidance. Talk to another vet who mentions that urinalysis came back clean, no pancreatitis is present so we should feed her whatever she wanted and that her arthritis is actually Spondylosis, a painful form specific to the vertebrae. He prescribes a mild narcotic. A few days of mild improvement on the pain/sleeping front and we bring her back because she’s still peeing in the house and still keeping us up. Pilling is a further adventure, as Ardala’s overbite makes it tough to drop it down her throat and she has become increasingly picky about her food. Another vet visit gets us an upped dosage of the narcotic, plus some other drug for musculoskeletal pain, despite the fact that the only pain she manifested during her extensive poking and prodding was, according to that vet, possibly kidney pain. (total money spent on diagnostics at this vet – about $500, plus about $120 in meds)
Yeah. So there was some freaking out. A few days later, things had improved inasmuch as I was now getting about three hours of sleep at a time, before being woken up to take her out to pee at 3am. There was still more pee in the house. After another half week or so, we surrendered and went to a vet recommended by a friend of TR.
The upshot? Well, yeah, that’s Spondylosis all right. The nerve damage that has been done to her left hind leg is irreversible – she will always drag that foot a bit… But the narcotic prescribed often has a side-effect of anxiety, and in fact there is an incredibly common drug that works in concert with the NSAID Ardala takes. The new vet took us off the muscle relaxant and the narcotic, gave us the new common drug and a prescription – just in case! – for a mild sedative should Ardala’s pacing and whimpering be behavioral rather than medical. She then suggested a urine culture, which might pick up bacteria that the Urinalysis missed. Two days later we received a call – Ardala had a massive UTI, and her culture had grown more than 100k e. coli bacteria per whatever-it-is. That was very high. The first night I gave Ardala the super-strong antibiotic she let me sleep through the night. There have been no more accidents. She is now on her second course of antibiotic just to be sure. Finally, she is sleeping all night, pottying outside, friendly, happy, and just plain back to Ardala. (new tests and vet – about $630 spent on diagnostics, plus another $170 on meds.)
She is so well in fact that she is back to greeting us upon our homecoming with enthusiastic Zoomies, which involve making a loop around the house at Maximum Ardala Warp (which isn’t especially fast, but we don’t tell her that) like her ass is on fire. So she did that last night, and right in the middle of her celebratory zoomie, she let out a yelp and her whole back end collapsed. She then attempted to finish by putting all her weight on her gimpy, nerve-damaged leg. It was really pathetic. So. Back to the vet. (did I mention that regular hours at this vet are 8-8, 7 days a week? and that they’re open for emergencies 24/7?). A different vet at the clinic saw her and consulted with an orthopedic surgeon who was there. They are fairly certain that she did not rupture her right hind leg ACL, due to the lack of laxity in the leg. They feel that keeping up with her NSAID and keeping her away from stairs or too much running around should help her rest it enough to get back to normal.
In between all this time, we’ve had to work, plan a party, go to the theatre, get a new dining set, go to a professional conference, and actually feed and care for ourselves. It’s harder than it looks. I have never been more certain of my desire not to have children. So today, when we just spent another $60 for the vet to say essentially “keep on keepin on”, we get home and Ardala’s sneezing. Like honking, sneezing, messy, snotty, accompanied by face rubbing and the occasional backwards sneeze. This is not normal for a dog, and indicates most likely that there’s a foreign body in the nose just waiting to burrow into the lungs. It’s like she’s trying to f-ing kill us – or at least bankrupt us. I just started getting back into the cooking and cleaning routine (OK, cooking – cleaning’s always a challenge, but since cooking often can’t be done without it, a challenge that must be accepted) and now she’s honking away like an asthmatic goose. I suppose I would be tempting the fates to ask “What next”? Scurvy? Canine Rickets? Tennis Elbow? I don’t know what she wants.
Luckily a vacuum and rough swiffer of the place seems to have helped. I haven’t heard any sneezing since her evening walk. We might have been better at keeping up with things like dust abatement and floor care if she hadn’t been so freaking enfeebled the last month and a half.
So when I was excited to get back that bit of cello time that I had lost back in the long ago, when I was being kept up all night by a dog in lots of pain who really, really had to go due to a raging undiagnosed UTI, and I went to grab my cello from its convenient wall hanger (decorative and functional!) I noticed something funny about the A-string. The whole A-peg had just popped out of the scroll, A-string intact and still kind of looped up where it had originally been wound around the peg. I don’t know how this happened. I can’t imagine a scenario in which that peg could work itself out of the scroll and leave the string NOT snapped, but also completely unaffected by gravity. I just don’t know. And that’s my life in a nutshell right now. I mean, that peg’s out; I’m going to be living on ramen for the next couple of months, paying my half of the vet bills, busy baking for the holidays (it’s actually kind of relaxing), cleaning for company, trying to remember to keep myself groomed, but all in all, I’m unbroken and still standing. I’ll take it.
The following information about PCOS has been gleaned through several conversations with medical professionals. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.
Me: Hey doc, my periods are miserable – they’re heavy and painful and I’ve got this embarrassing beard thing happening. Can we fix this?
Doc: I see that you also carry a lot of weight in your lower belly. This looks a lot like Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome. Here – I’ll do some tests and you can have an ultrasound. Would you look at that! Your blood glucose is kind of high and you have some extra testosterone floating around. Yep, you definitely have PCOS. Now there are several fertility treatments we could..
Me: Uh, but the ultrasound didn’t show any CYSTS on my OVARIES, and I’m really not interested in fertility.
Doc: Well, they just call it PolyCysticOvary blah blah but it doesn’t always come with ovarian cysts. Now, let’s get you started on some drugs that will keep you from skipping your period so you can get pregnant.
Me: OK, but I’ve never missed a period. Like ever. I’m pretty sure each period I have is in fact several periods all at once, including the periods of the prematurely menopausal. I have wrecked clothing and upholstery and my cramps and backache are debilitating. And in point of fact, the LAST thing I’m interested in is fertility. Actually, this is one of the main reasons I came to see you. MAKE THE BLEEDING STOP! You can order surgery if you want – I’m not going to be using that region for babymaking, so the uterus is about as important to me as my appendix.
Doc: Oh. Well. I guess we’ll put you on hormonal birth control. That should regulate you and magically balance your hormones, since you don’t care about motherhood. But, like all fatties in the world evar, your blood pressure is high so you’d better take this BP medication so you don’t have a stroke.
Me: I think the fact that you’re not listening to me may be contributing to my high blood pressure. If you’ll look at the records I had transferred, you’ll see that I’ve always had low blood pressure, even at this weight. Not normal – low. Maybe also the fact that you’ve seated me in an automated machine with a too-small cuff might have something to do with it.
Doc: Oh no, that’s not it. It’s because you’re fat. Fatty.
Me: If I take the BP meds, will you give me the pill to make the scary periods go away?
Doc: Sure! I’ve written the scrip for one that’s not generic since I get a kick-back for that.
Me: Fine. But what about the beard?
Doc: That’s also because you’re fat.
Me: But, uh, I had this when I was thin.
Doc: But you’re fat, so lose weight and it will go away.
Me: OK, but I gave you my medical history and you’ll note that when I was a reasonable weight and superfit, except for the cigarettes I was smoking to curb my appetite, I was growing a beard. You have no reason to believe I’m making that up.
Doc: Stop being fat and we’ll talk.
Me: See, my family tends towards “chubby”, but I had this thyroid disorder that wasn’t discovered until after I gained 80 lbs in a couple of months. You should know this – it’s in my history, and also, you’re my endocrinologist. Right?
Doc: Look, when you have belly fat, it can do things to your hormones, and mess up the uptake of insulin, etc, so then it’s really hard to lose weight.
Me: Oh! That explains why 6 months of the gym, no cheating, and not only did I not lose any weight, I didn’t lose any inches.
Doc: Yes, So that’s why you should lose that belly fat. Because it’s making you fat.
Me: But. So. OK, the belly fat is ruining everything and making it extremely difficult to lose weight… so I should lose weight?
Doc: You’ve got it! Here’s a drug that will help. They call it a lap band in a box because it makes you forget to eat! It’s brand new and expensive and your insurance won’t cover it unless I diagnose you with Diabetes. Would you like that?
Me: Wait What? But I don’t have diabetes! And furthermore, I don’t overeat.
Doc: Of course you overeat, Fatty! Let me explain the Calories In/Calories Out theory as condescendingly as possible
Me: But… 6 moths of fruitless exercise! Insulin uptake! thyroid!
Doc: Just stop eating. That will help. Trust me – didn’t I give you the birth control pill? And didn’t it work? I see it’s helped your acne.
Me: But I haven’t had acne in 20 years. My face was red last time you saw me because I was using acne topicals on rosacea. My dermatologist cleared that up. As for the birth control, my periods are like a normal person now, but I haven’t had the chance to uh, test out the Birth Controlling properties of the pill, which I suppose is fine, seeing as it’s pretty much destroyed my libido, and seeing that there seems to be a dearth of men who want to date a bearded lady for some reason. Now about that facial hair thing…
Doc: Are you sure you don’t want to get pregnant? Because there are treatments…
Me: God. No. Please – I’d like to not have to give Gillette any more money! I’d like to stop worrying that I have shaving cream under my chin! I’d like to not worry that I didn’t get a job because of the lack of career opportunities for bearded ladies. I’d like to stop buying the same foundation drag queens wear!
Doc: Why worry about make-up? It’s not like you’re trying to attract a mate so you can get pregnant. Stop being fat and the beard will go away.
Me: Since you haven’t paid attention to me previously, let me try a different tack. Once upon a time there was a girl whose weight fell into “normal” parameters of those bogus height/weight charts. And she had a beard. The end.
Doc: I know! I can get you a referral to a surgeon who will install a lap band! You’re so fat I just know your insurance will cover it.
Me: Look, I’ll agree to replace the desk that I’ve damaged through repeated, enthusiastic applications of my skull if you can just answer one question – what the hell is “PCOS” and how do you treat it anyway?
Doc: PCOS is a collection of symptoms that may include ovarian cysts, acne, hormonal imbalances, etc. We can’t treat the symptoms – the treatment for the Disease is not being fat, and fertility treatments.
Me: Wait. So PCOS is only symptoms, but you won’t treat them… I don’t even… I mean. SRSLY? FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUU!!!!
Doc: Let me write you a prescription for a medication to help you control your anger.