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Sweet Little Wiener

Last Thursday I was getting ready for work when Mike told me that Theo wouldn’t eat his breakfast. He wasn’t interested. And his belly was all swollen. My heart hit the floor. Loss of appetite in a dog is always a red flag. And a swollen belly could only mean twisted gut. Theo was going to die if we didn’t get him to a vet right away, I just knew it. Sure, twisted gut usually only happens in large breed dogs. But when I saw my little wiener pacing, panting, crying, his belly swollen so far past his ribs he looked about to burst, I knew it couldn’t be anything else. And then, in the middle of the carpeted hallway, he pooed a pile of soft-serve poo so large it could only have come from a human.* Something was definitely wrong.

I called the vet and was told our doctor was working out of their Encino branch, but she would take him right away if I didn’t mind the drive. I didn’t care. I dropped Mike at the office and drove Theo to Encino. We sailed down the 101, rare for morning rush-hour on a Thursday. Even still, Theo cried all nine miles. I drove one-handed, my other hand rubbing under his ears just where he likes it. He panted and wiggled and cried some more. I can’t remember the last time I was so scared.

They were waiting for us when we walked in. This was an emergency situation. The doc felt his belly all over and quizzed me about his diet. He paced and whimpered and panted and licked his chops and cried some more.

“What’s he been eating? Is he trash-fishing? You leave him out in the yard?”

“Um, no, we don’t have a yard. He eats of lot kleenex, like I don’t even know where he gets it, but every time I turn around there’s shredded kleenex all over the place. And, um, sunflower seeds? Black oil sunflower seeds from the bird feeder, like the shells the birds spit out and sometimes grass and oh my god he always eats shit off the sidewalk. Not actual shit, well sometimes actual shit but usuallywhatever it is is down his throat so fast I don’t get a chance to identify it much less pull it out of his mouth. Is he gonna be okay?”

“I don’t think it’s twisted gut, but it could be pancreatitis. He’s definitely in pain.”

“What’s pancreatitis?”

“It’s medical speak medical speak medical speak medical speak.”

“How would he have gotten it?”

“To many table scraps. Or it it could be he got into something that’s making him sick. Did he get into anything in the last few days?”

Kleenex, sidewalk treats, I couldn’t think of anything else. She recommended x-rays to check for a blockage and blood tests to check his pancreas, kidneys, and liver functions. I said yes, anything, please just make him better. She wanted to keep him for the day, give him fluids under the skin and antibiotics because his colon was a mess from all the diarrhea. She would keep a close eye on him to make sure he didn’t get worse. She told me to go home and look around the house to see if I could find anything he could have eaten, so I did. I also googled “canine pancreatitis” which was stupid. I knew better. But I did it anyway and then I cried the whole way back to work because my wiener’s pancreas was digesting all his other organs and it was all my fault for feeding him table scraps.

It was ten a.m. when the doctor told me she’d call with test results in about two hours. From ten to eleven I googled pancreatitis while breathing into a paper bag. From eleven to twelve I checked the clock every two to three minutes while trying not to cry. I waited until 12:03 and then I called her.

“His tests came back normal. But his stomach,” she said, “is so full of food, there isn’t any air, it’s absolutely packed in. He got into something for sure. You should see this x-ray.”

Suddenly it all made sense.

We’d gone out to dinner the night before. We walked the dogs after work, fed them, then left them loose in the apartment because they’d been in their crate all day and seriously, what trouble could they get into in three hours?

After we got home that night we noticed that Theo’s belly seemed kind of bloated. And he needed a third poop walk – a trend I’d noticed the last three nights in a row. Mike said he was just getting fat. I was giving him too many treats and I needed to cut it out. I figured he was probably right.

In the morning when I went home to look around for things the wiener might have eaten, I discovered that someone (Theo) had chewed their way through a thirty pound bag of cat kibble. Turns out they can get into a lot of trouble in three hours.

“There were shredded bits of foil bag all over the place,” I told the vet over the phone.

“That explains the metallic bits in his belly,” she replied.

“But I have four animals! It could have been anyone. What if he’s dying???”

“They’ve probably all been helping themselves, but Theo has no off switch. Most of the time I see this, it’s a dachshund. They will eat until their stomachs burst.  And his stomach is packed solid with food. It is definitely the cause of his issues. If he doesn’t pass it all in the next twenty-four hours, we’ll do another x-ray to see if something else is going on, but he’ll probably pass it all.”

Six hundred and fifteen dollars later, Theo is diagnosed with Gluttony. The little fucker ATE HIMSELF TO HOSPITALIZATION.

But I didn’t care. I was so relieved he was going to be ok. When the nurse brought him out to me, I swear his whole face lit up. He was as happy to see me as I was to see him.

The best part about this story is that he’s a dog. He has no idea his dinner buffet was the reason he had to spend eight hours in a metal cage being poked with needles. We got home from the hospital and Theo, feeling great after a nice nap, plenty of fluids, and some really expensive drugs, couldn’t wait to get back into the cabinet. I blocked it with a case of rice milk and watched him check back, every few minutes, to see if there was a way in. Like the rat in the science experiment who keeps pressing the button to get his cocaine high, over and over until he’s dead. It wasn’t just the wiener, however. Over the course of the evening I watched all four animals check to see if the door was open. But only Toby, King of All House Pets, tried to get in. He rubbed his face on that big heavy case of milk, rubbed his face and his shoulders against it over and over all night long, nudging it away from the cabinet millimeters at a time. When I woke up the next morning and stumbled to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee, that case of milk had moved three inches. Not enough for a certain black cat to squeeze his big head in for a meal, but almost.

It’s been nine days and I am happy to report that Theo is totally fine. He’s on a strict diet (no more table scraps!) and he is not pleased. We’re still using the case of milk to block the cabinet and Theo still sniffs it out, over and over, in hopes of finding it open. Sometimes he scratches at it with his paw and whimpers, then stares up at me mournfully as if to say, “Please let me in. I’m soooooo hungry! Starving! Feed me!” And the moral of the story is that wieners always want more.

*Props to Mike for cleaning up that mess so that I swear you’d never even know it happened if I hadn’t told you. I love him.

On the other side of things

twilight in southern california

And this too shall pass…

The fog lifted. I’m okay again. All better. Still tired, but happy. Light-hearted, even. Hopeful. The last three months have been so hard and I just hit a wall. I couldn’t take any more. Writing about it helped some. And then last Thursday Theo spent the day in the hospital (he’s totally fine – the story is in draft mode) and on Friday we found out the New York State Tax Board had placed a lien on our checking account because they found an error on our 2009 tax return. I read the letter from our bank, felt the old familiar wave of terror roll over me, and I started laughing. I thought life couldn’t get harder or more frustrating and then life took two huge dumps on me, two days in a row. It was the universe reminding me that it can always get worse. I stood in my kitchen laughing and I realized, I have to stop panicking and start taking care of myself and my family. So I left the letter on my kitchen table and I took a hot bath, shaved my legs for the first time in two weeks. Then I went bowling with friends. Because you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help anyone else.

Not to say that I’m not still a heaping wad of anxious anxiety sometimes. Case in point:

So dramatic, I know. I can’t help it. It’s in my genes. (For the record, I happen to quite like my job. It’s incompetence that makes me want to smash my own skull in.)

Despite public online whining, I am feeling much better. I’m really trying not to focus on things like the lady who gave me such a hard time at the bank or the software that crashed every fifteen minutes or [insert any myriad of first-world frustrations here]. Instead I’m trying to focus on things like this:

Also, I’m not on my period any more so that’s probably got a lot to do with how much better I feel. Mostly. There are things nagging at me, of course. (I’m looking at you, New York State Tax Board.) But I’m trying not to obsess. So I dance in the kitchen while I clean up after dinner, paint my fingernails after I fold the laundry, take a deep breath, and keep moving forward.

It just feels so hard sometimes

I keep finding ways to keep my fingers busy that isn’t typing words here. Pet the cat behind her ears, rub her belly while she purrs. Pick my cuticles. Play with my hair. It’s maddening.

The last few days have been so emotional. Like super, super emotional. On Sunday night, I was bawling at the kitchen table and it felt so absurd. Who cries this much? I’m a crier, and I don’t cry this much. “I’m so emotional!” I declared through my tears. “Why am I so emotional?”

“You’re on your period. You really don’t know why you’re emotional?” When he said that my jaw dropped. Like, whoa. Could that really be the reason? Yes, probably. That is definitely probably part of why I’m so emotional. But I’m not gonna lie, you guys. I am not okay. I mean, I’m fine. I’m totally healthy, I’m employed, I’m happily married, everything is perfect. I’m just not okay inside. I wish I was someone else. I wish I could disappear.

It’s so stupid because I look at my life and I know how good things are, how lucky I am. We’re okay, we’re fine, everything is going to be okay, this too shall pass.This too shall pass.

But there’s a pain in my heart, like something is breaking. Like I can actually feel my heart being crushed.

There are reasons. I can pinpoint them. But it’s also everything all combined, everything piling up, stacks of to-do’s and obligations and fears and busted expectations and broken hearts all spilling out of my mental inbox. A big fucking mess. I’m a mess.

I don’t have the emotional bandwidth for this. I’m hanging on by shredded fingernails.

Michael has been so good to me the last few days. So calm, so kind, so willing to do whatever he needs to so I don’t fall apart. I cry about how high-maintenance I am. Don’t you love that? A girl who cries during dinner because she’s too high-maintenance. Just stop being so fucking high-maintenance, idiot. What’s wrong with me?

“I don’t want to be this way! I don’t want to be me!”

He wraps his arms around me, tucks the top of my head under his chin and holds me until I can breathe again.

I’m so tired of feeling this way. It’s exhausting. But I know it will pass. It really will pass.



Are You There Guys? It’s Me, Frosty

The blinking cursor. It taunts me. How long will I stare it down? I have no idea what to type but I can’t stand staring at that awful, evil, nasty little blinking cursor and so I will just sit here and type and type and type and type. There are so many things going on and I feel like I can’t write about any of it, I’m keeping my life locked up in little metal boxes and the keys are broken off inside the locks so you can’t ever open them again, not ever again.

It’s horrible.

I used to love this. I would sit here, happily, for hours and hours and write all about my feelings, record all the little moments. Life was easier then. Or was it? Am I glorifying the past because it’s the past and all I can remember are the pretty pictures I posted here? I have no idea. It doesn’t even matter. I’m just so, so, so tired. I’m so tired of feeling like we’re fighting, constantly, just to keep our heads above water. And I know, I know that someone is reading this and they want to punch me in the face because whatever my stupid little suburban problems are, they are nothing, nothing at all. I know. I have so much to be grateful for. And most days I’m really good at remembering it. I don’t complain. I am grateful for the things that count. Most days. And then there are days like today when I sit on the balcony with the birds and I cry. And cry. And cry. I just wish things could be easier. I wish I didn’t worry so much. I wish I was more patient and more careful, more thoughtful. I wish I had more energy. I wish I’d made better choices when I was younger but I can’t think about that now or the mean little monster who lives behind my heart will thrash around and make me say awful things to myself.

I probably sound crazy. Maybe I am.

Things have not been going according to plan. Life has been life-y because, as they say, Humans Make Plans and God Laughs or whatever it is they say. BUT STILL. Anyway. Like I said. Most days are great. We’re fine. I’m fine. We work hard and we keep our heads above water and we’re okay. Today just hasn’t been one of those days.