Today is a New Day, the Hardest Things to Do, and More Victorian Post Mortems

sheena311

As much as I dreaded what I had to do last night, I have an odd sense of peace about it.  Sheena’s not suffering anymore.  Even until the end she was herself- conscious, aware, but trapped in a body that couldn’t work right anymore.  She lost the use of her back legs Wednesday afternoon.  All we could do for her until the vet could come last night was to try to keep her clean and offer her water as she wanted it (she was not interested in food.)

I know all too well the scientific/medical reasons for Sheena’s rapid decline.  She’d had mammary growths removed twice.  The first time I didn’t send out for pathology, (there is only one veterinary pathology lab in Ohio, at Ohio State, and  it’s expensive and time consuming to get results) but the second time I did, and the lab said those were benign, but then the growths came back with a vengeance.  More than likely- at least the third go-round, anyway- it was mammary cancer, which can be virulent and spreads quickly in dogs.  By the time I had noticed the mammary growths again (round 3) there were growths in her “armpits” or more accurately, under her forelegs, (lymph nodes abide there in dogs, just as they do in humans) and I decided that I would not subject her to more surgery.  If anyone can gain anything from this experience it is that spaying dogs early can help prevent mammary cancer.  Sheena had several litters of pups before we found her.  We had her spayed, but spaying a 5 year old who’s had several litters doesn’t prevent cancer as effectively as spaying before the first heat.

Sheena didn’t have a good luck of the draw. She was deaf.  She was without a doubt inbred.  She had severe HD to the point of pretty much not having hip sockets at all.  Her teeth were a disaster from the cage biting.  Her physical coordination was worse than mine.  By all accounts, Sheena was “defective merchandise.”  But she was my dog, and she had a heart of gold.  Part of me wanted to end her suffering, but another part of me finds it hard to let her go.

Clara and Lilo know where she’s buried.  The two of them (they are both older than Sheena was) are still in good health, for which I am thankful.  Clara and Lilo have always been close, but as soon as they figured out Sheena was dying they have been almost joined at the hip.  Lilo has been carrying Sheena’s favorite toys around, and Clara has been rolling in the places that still must smell like her.   Dogs grieve, too.

 claranlilo2

Today is a new day, but saying goodbye to a friend is always one of the hardest things to do.  It’s got to be the hardest thing about life with dogs and cats.  They just don’t live that long.  For me, while it’s painful to say goodbye, it’s even more painful and empty to choose not to share life with dogs and cats.  No, I am not looking for another #3- I think I’ll let Clara and Lilo enjoy things with just two dogs.  I have four cats, after all.

The problem is, I know those are the famous last words.  If I know Jerry, we will be back to three dogs within the month.

While I’m in the realm of the macabre, and still feeling a bit melancholy, I’ve found a few more of everyone’s favorites: Victorian-era post mortem pics.  Yeah, I know it’s creepy, but as popular as these things are I can’t be the only one who finds them grotesquely fascinating.

alldead

I think this one was a mob hit- got the entire family, which was sort of sick.

baby two-heads

This one is more tragic than anything.  It’s bad enough these twins were likely stillborn, but for someone to want $756 for the original print?

baby stoned

This one sort of leads me to wonder if this child was OD’d on one of the many patent medicines of the day- that contained opium and alcohol?

I bet it happened a lot more than was ever found out.

baby cradle

From the unnatural position of the legs and arms, I almost thought this was a kid’s doll,

but then in Victorian times nobody would have wasted an expensive photograph on a doll.

Things to be Thankful For, Tempus Fugit, Taxidermy and Coffee Tables

murphy's

It has been a difficult past week for me.  I am thankful I don’t live in Boston.  I’ve been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks again and I’m sure that if we had random bombings going on in Columbus on top of the events (which were not related and had nothing to do with the Marathon bombing)  that got me back in the scared rabbit mode, that would send me bat shit crazy over the edge.

Of course, when the shit hits the fan it comes at one from all directions.  I really don’t feel like getting into the particular details, because I’m just now starting to settle back down enough to stop hyperventilating and for the PVCs to let up some.   For those who aren’t acquainted with medical lingo, PVC stands for premature ventricular contractions.  It means the bottom half of your heart goes off before it should.  It’s a sort of catch in my heart rhythm that I usually don’t notice, and is likely a (supposedly harmless) side-effect of rheumatic fever, but it’s aggravated by stress.  This week has been nothing but continual stress on a stick.

When the PVCs get going bad, the runaway train feeling and constant catching and pounding keeps me awake and I’ve actually gone to the hospital for it once (won’t do that again)  because they were happening so often I’d freak out and couldn’t catch my breath.

freaked

One thing I will say about that last hospital trip is that I’ll die first before I call the squad from home again.  They kept me overnight- next to a poor old woman with dementia who screamed like a howler monkey all night- and did the whole cardiac workup.  This was back in July.

Supposedly the whole PVC thing is perfectly “innocuous,” but this assessment came from the same hospital where I was mistaken for a 95 year old woman with a flaming case of Montezuma’s revenge.  I know for being 44 I’ve been rode hard and put away wet, but I don’t think I look 95 just yet.  I don’t know if I should trust them or not.  Eventually I will end up needing a pacemaker or other correction for the abnormal rhythm, according to the cardiologist who ran all the tests, but not quite yet.

That’s not terribly reassuring.  The question is how do you know when the rhythm gets so out of whack that it’s time for the pacemaker?  Do you have to fall over or pass out or almost die?

“Yeah, Mildred, just take some Imodium and your screaming shits should be gone in no time.”

“But I’m not Mildred, and I don’t have the shits.”

Hopefully if and when the Big One hits, I will be in close proximity to any other hospital but that one. Unfortunately it’s only a five mile trip down I-270 to that particular hospital from my house.  The better hospitals are on the other side of town.

Either that or the Lord will take me quickly so I’ll not have to endure the indignity.

fred sanford

To add insult to injury, a guy I used to work with died on Wednesday.  He was an Army vet and a very cool individual.  Unfortunately he had been severely ill for several years before he died.  Even worse his wife had him in an open casket (I loathe the whole open casket thing to begin with) and he looked really bad.  The calling hours were last night.  Even though I had a horrible week and just wanted to go home and go to bed, I thought it best to go and to pay respects and offer condolences to his wife- she is a lovely person, and I really felt for her after going through so many years of his illness.

I did offer some words of condolence to his wife, but I had to beat feet quickly.  Nobody likes funeral homes, and it really sucks when it’s someone who was cool and died too young from nasty diseases (emphysema and heart disease.)   But after being stressed out and freaked all week I couldn’t handle being in a funeral home for more than a few minutes.  The PVCs kicked in with a vengeance and I couldn’t catch my breath.  That was my cue to get in the car and take off.

grill coffin

You might as well do something funny if you are going to do those horrible open casket displays.

coffee table

Steve-o will probably have me taxidermied and installed in a glass topped coffee table.  He is a sick puppy- but creative!

One thing I will say about untimely death is that it is an ever present reminder : tempus fugit- time flies.  Even when it seems to be standing still.

Slowly I’m calming back down, and I am trying to look around and be thankful for the moment, and remember that life is short.