Friday, November 13, 2009

Rounding out the Collection

This blog is in dire need of a fluff post! 

It just so happens that I have something, or someone, that I neglected to post a couple of months ago.  So let the cute begin!


This is Capt. Jack Carter, or it was him two months ago when he was living with a different family.  He’s quite a bit…  um… larger… now.

Jack is an American Pit Bull Terrier.  Now I see that look on your face, and you can just wipe it off your mug right now!  Do you believe everything the media tells you?  You know I don’t, as evidenced by my last handful of posts, so let’s have a little history lesson, shall we?

Pit Bulls are descended from a now non-existent bull dog and terrier cross.  They are the first and oldest American dog breed.  Because of their muscular build and high desire to please their owners, they a14 were the original working dog in America.  The first and most decorated canine war hero was a pit bull; Sergeant Stubby, pictured to the right.  Helen Keller had a pit bull as her canine companion, and Mary Tyler Moore uses a pit bull as a diabetic hypoglycemic alert dog.  The dog Petey, from Our Gang and Little Rascals, was also a pit Bull.

And not a single one of those kids had their faces bitten off!  Licked off maybe, but that’s a different kind of torture.

The truth is that Pit Bulls were bred for non-aggression towards people because the originators of the breed knew that they would have to work closely with their human handlers.  Pit Bulls, on average, score over 85% on Canine Temperament tests; higher than Collies, Chihuahuas, Spaniels, Dachshunds, Sheppards, Schnauzers, and even Golden Retrievers, which are considered the ultimate family dogs, and that’s just a sampling. 

Pit Bulls are good dogs with a bad reputation because their strength and desire to please has appealed to some of the lower elements of the human population.  DNA doesn’t make a dog dangerous, the idiot holding the leash does.  Since I proclaimed yesterday that I am in fact NOT an idiot, then my kid’s faces should be pretty safe.  :)

So now that we’ve cleared that up, let me introduce you to Jack.  The smartest idiot I have ever met.


Yes, he is a really smart dog.  Within a day he had the “sit” command mastered.  Within two weeks he knew “stay.”  Unfortunately his intelligence doesn’t extend to potty training because after two months he’s still peeing on my floor.  I will admit that he’s getting better though, now instead of peeing on the floor thirty times a day and once or twice outside, those numbers have reversed and he goes outside more than in.  Also, now after he pees on the floor he goes and sits by the door to let you know that he’s not a complete moron, and that he knows where he was supposed to do it.

He’s a work in progress.

Of course the kids love him.  They love him so much in fact that no matter how many times we tell them he’s not allowed on the furniture he still manages to find a way up there.  As evidenced here:




And here:


Ok, maybe one of them listens:


Perhaps the biggest surprise of all though, is this:


I was told specifically not to post that picture on facebook.  However, he said nothing about my blog.  :D

John, the resident animal ambivalent (not hater, he just doesn’t care one way or another), actually likes the dog.  Now you’d be hard pressed to get him to admit it, but I see the signs.  For instance, when he comes home from work he says hi to the dog before I get my kiss.  He also can be found on the floor playing with him at least once a day, and who gave him steak from the dinner table?  Not me or the kids, but for some reason he sits next to John’s chair when we eat dinner now.

So back to that whole “smartest idiot” thing.  I know it seems like a contradiction, but if you’ve ever spent any time with a pit bull, I’m sure you know what I mean (I understand that they all pretty much fall into this category).  He picks up training commands really fast, and retains them after the training session is over.  Twenty minutes on the floor with a clicker and a bag of treats, and he can learn just about anything.

When it comes to common sense stuff though…  Not so much.

For instance, yesterday Alexi and I watched for quite a long time(laughing hysterically I might add) while the cat outsmarted him over and over again.

MacDuff (the cat) was perched on the stairs, about three steps up, watching Jack warily, while Jack tried to entice him to play.  You see while Jack really wants to play with Duff, the cat is not so thrilled with the prospect of wrestling with a forty pound puppy dog.  So knowing that the dog won’t go upstairs (the evil bathtub is up there and Jack likes to stay as far away from it as possible), MacDuff likes to sit just out of reach and taunt him. 

Every couple of minutes, Duff got tired of watching Jack do his pogo stick impression, and would go up the stairs to the landing and hide just out of sight.  The dog, apparently believing our stairs form some sort of impossible Escher-esque loop, would immediately go to the basement stairs, and wait for him to return.

While Jack was standing there waiting patiently for Duff to complete his teleportation from the second story to the basement, the cat would sneak back down the stairs and smack him with a paw on the back of the head.  Then he’d jump gracefully back to his perch on the third step, just out of reach again.

They did this at least twenty times and the dog never caught on.

So you see, he’s not a brain trust, but he’s also not a total wash either.  He’s just the smartest idiot I know.

For the most part though, this is what he does during the day…


and this:


and a little bit of this:


Which is fine with me, in fact a lot of days I wish he’d do it even more.  Especially on the days when he decides that it’s too cold or wet to go outside to go potty, the days he thinks that toes were made to be yummy puppy treats, and the days when he discovers the treasures inside the garbage cans.  Because once he gets trouble on the brain, it’s pretty hard to make him forget it.  If there’s a warm lap around though, it beats out any distraction that would otherwise divert him from his nap.

Overall, he’s an awesome, silly, cuddly dog that we all love, and he fits right into our crazy, dysfunctional family.


Now our collection of weirdness that society shuns is totally complete!



Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Wrap Up?

IMG_2874 I was made aware of the fact yesterday, that I haven’t posted anything since before Tiana went to get her lump checked out, and that I should really let you know (if you’re not a facebook friend and don’t already know) that Tiana is doing fine.  They took x-rays and said the lump on her back is a pocket of fluid that will go down on it’s own.  We’re still not totally convinced of that theory, but it’s not causing her much pain and she’ll get more x-rays at her post-op appointment that will tell us more.  So until then, I’m just trying not to look at it too much, because to be honest it squicks me out.

Also, no, we have not yet received the lab reports confirming that Tiana had H1N1.  They sent us labs that showed she tested positive for influenza A, but there were no H1N1 test results on the sheet.  We made them aware of this, and we’re still waiting on the H1N1 culture results.  Again, we’ll see if we get them.  It seems like there’s a whole bunch of stalling going on here, and I really believe that if they could prove she had H1N1, we’d already have that piece of paper in our hands.

Now, we’ve been asked why we’re behaving like rabid badgers over this; after all, it’s over and done with, isn’t it time to move on?

The short answer is; No, it’s not.

If you want the long answer, then read on because I’ll go over our reasoning for you.  :)

The first reason is that we really feel like we haven’t been told the complete and honest truth.  Now if down the road a lab report that says +H1N1 falls into our hands, than I will eat my words and write a public apology for accusing the staff of falsifying the information they passed on to us (though I still won’t apologize for my criticism of the way they handled the situation).  Until that time though, I can’t help but feel the way I do, and it has struck a hard blow to the trust and respect I’ve had for the people who’ve been caring for my daughter over the last few years.

My thing is this…  I may not have gone to college to get a medical degree, but that doesn’t make me an idiot and you damn well better not treat me like one.  Even if I WAS an idiot, that’s MY kid in that bed, and you still better treat me with the respect that any parent in a stressful circumstance deserves.  If you’re going to play into the fears the media is spreading, and make me believe that my immune compromised daughter is about to become very ill with a deadly virus, then you’d better have some damn good evidence to back it up.  A 101 degree post-op fever does not qualify. 

The second reason I’m playing the role of rabid badger is that this brings up a very important question of immunization.  You see, once you get any strain of the flu you develop antibodies against it, and under most circumstances won’t get that strain again.  I’ve been told by a doctor whom I respect (and who happens to at least act like he respects me) not to have the kids immunized for H1N1 if they’ve already had it.  If indeed Tiana had H1N1, then we’re good, and we don’t have to worry about it anymore.  If she didn’t though, and we believe what they’re telling us, then we could forgo the immunization only to be sorry later.

Now this isn’t such a big deal for our family.  We’re all healthy with strong hearts and immune systems.  H1N1 or really any type of influenza is not likely to be anything more than an inconvenience.  Say that we weren’t so healthy though.  Say that I have someone living at home with an autoimmune disease, or something else that they may have no knowledge of at the hospital.  Incorrect knowledge of the test results could pose a much more significant risk, which leads me to my third and last reason…

We were told by several people on staff at the hospital that we had the dubious pleasure of being the first case of this sort they had dealt with at their facility.  Now while it makes me understand, and even moderately sympathetic towards, some of the major mishandling of my family, it also makes me feel like I have an obligation to those who will come after me.  It’s my responsibility to let the staff know that they can’t kick parents and patients around.  If I roll over and play dead on this issue, then they’ll believe it all worked out fine, and they won’t have learned anything when the next case rolls though the door.  However, with my stunning badger impression, I’m encouraging them to study what happened, figure out where things went wrong, and work to improve their policies.

It’s not about doing what’s easy, it’s all about doing what’s right.

Now, we’ve been told that because H1N1 is a mutation of influenza A, most places are just terming influenza A “suspected H1N1” instead of paying for the more expensive culture.  I understand that, and even respect why they’re doing it, but it’s still besides the point.  We were told that Tiana had confirmed H1N1, not suspected, so I want proof that they confirmed it.

It’s also been brought up that she still likely would have been quarantined for testing positive for influenza A.  I know and respect that as well, however; let’s call a spade a spade.  If it doesn’t change the outcome, then there is no reason to be tossing H1N1 out into the mix.  Did they think we would be more accepting of the outcome if they used the new buzz word?  The current belief is that healthy kids don’t die from the flu but they do from H1N1, so were they hoping that we would kick up less of a fuss if they scared the crap out of us? 

All I really want are honest answers about my child’s medical history.  As her mother and caregiver, I have the right and responsibility to know what happened.  I know every freckle on her body, every scar from every skinned knee, every sniffle she’s ever had, and now I don’t know if she had H1N1 or the seasonal flu; and frankly, the knowledge gap pisses me off.  It might not upset me so much if it were my choice, but they did the tests, they gave me three different answers to the same question, they forced a medication on her that she was allergic to, and they used the scare tactics.  Not only on my family, but on other parents who were questioning the new hospital policy of not allowing visitors.  They effectively silenced their objections by telling them there was a confirmed case of H1N1 at the hospital. 

Because when the truth doesn’t get the results you’re looking for, it’s perfectly acceptable to burry it and scare people into submission, right?

Also, the question still remains; why wasn’t she quarantined as soon as we informed them that she had been exposed to influenza A (or suspected H1N1)?  She remained in the general ventilation area for 24 hours after her sister was diagnosed.  If they really want to implement a system of “precautionary measures,” action should have been taken right away, not 20 (when she first started showing possible symptoms), 33 (when John and I were told to wear masks outside the room), or 42 (when they tried to quarantine asymptomatic John right along with her) hours later.

You can’t play this game halfway.  Either do it, or don’t do it, but don’t waste valuable time sitting on a fence with a picket up your ass.

Now they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place because John and I don’t roll over and play dead, and we don’t believe something simply because a guy in a white lab coat tells us it’s true.  If she had influenza A, or even suspected H1N1 without lab confirmation, then they should have just told us that.  We would have understood.  If they wanted to play the precautionary measures game, then they should have done it from the start, and been up front about it.  We would have understood that as well.  What we don’t understand is the half truths and tardy policies they tried to inflict on us.

Now, to any medical professional out there who might be following my blog; Above all else, be honest with your patients and parents in similar situations.  If you’re not, then we lose all respect for you, and if we don’t respect you than how can we possibly trust you to take care of us and our children?

If you take away nothing else from what transpired, at least learn that one simple lesson.  It can’t possibly be too much to ask, can it?


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Into the Darkness

ImajStorm John and I met on a day just like this in November of 1997.  It was bitter cold, but the skies were clear and bright on that day in Chicago.  I don’t think either of us had any idea how much our lives were about to change.

We had known each other for about a year before we actually met face to face.  We were one of the original internet matches.  We met in a chat room for a science fiction television show, neither of us were looking for anything more than a few friends who enjoyed the same things we did; in fact I’m pretty sure an internet romance was the farthest thing from either of our minds.  To be honest though, I don’t think it ever was an internet romance.  Online we were friends, it wasn’t until a cold day in Chicago that things became more.

People snigger and say things like “Awww, it was love at first sight,” in honeyed sweet voices that make me want to vomit, and I suppose that by definition it was.  It’s not how I describe it though… 

Have you ever had your life defined in a moment?  Have you ever had a blinding flash and seen your life laid out in front of you?  Have you ever known with all certainty that you had been living for a single heartbeat in time, and that now that it was upon you, things would never be the same?

I can still clearly see him coming off the plane.  I caught the shape of the broad shoulders I’d seen in so many pictures, and knew it was him before I ever saw his face.  Then our eyes met, and I recognized that everything I had experienced, everything that had come before in my life, was just a place holder for that single breath.

It all sounds so dramatic, doesn’t it?  And it was for two people standing twenty feet apart in the O’Hare airport.  The world kept turning though, and people passed us by blissfully unaware that the world had been irrevocably changed.

It wasn’t so much that I had fallen in love in space of an instant.  Instead, it was that I had found the other half to myself, and every molecule of my being cried out in recognition when I stumbled onto my missing parts.

Yea…  Go ahead and do the “Awww” thing now.  I know you want to.  Just know that I die a little inside each time you do.

John and I have an interesting dynamic.  We don’t really have that much in common, besides our general aversion to the human race, a sarcasm that comes quick and easy, and a rather twisted sense of humor.  We’re not polar opposites, but neither are we very much alike.  We don’t like the same food, the same movies, or even the same things.  I love seafood and veggies, John could live on bread and pasta.  John likes a good slasher flick, I like to watch stupid comedies.  I love animals, John tolerates them for me.

Me-and-YouWe’re more different than alike but it works for us, and when you’re  still together and, more importantly, happy as a couple after twelve years, people start asking what your secret is.  We joke that it’s because we plan for our eventual divorce.  While John tries to reset the clock every seven years by getting us remarried, I label all of our things ‘his’ and ‘hers’ so that there’s no confusion when we split.  People think that means that we live each day working on our marriage and not taking it for granted.  It doesn't, it’s just that twisted sense of humor I mentioned above.

The secret is; there is no secret, at least not one that can be defined.  John is the other half to myself, and as much as he can drive me crazy, to leave him would be akin to digging out my kidneys and dropping them on the pavement.  I might live for a little while, but not for long and my remaining time on earth would be quite painful.

John is the assurance to my anxiety, I’m the reason to his recklessness.  We may not have a whole lot in common, but we supply what the other lacks.  On top of that, we have a tremendous amount of respect for each other, built on years of friendship and understanding.  All in all, and amazingly enough, we’re solid; in a world where not much really is anymore.

I am not afraid to walk into the darkness with him.

And we have, many times.  The beginning of our relationship, when we should have been reveling in our newfound love, we traveled through a tunnel of darkness that seemed as if it had no end.  For over two years we struggled just to be able to be with one another.  Into that darkness Tiana was born, bringing her own radiant light into our lives, and her own set of shadows.  Yet through it all, we walked hand in hand, pushing, pulling, and carrying each other when we needed to.

I make it sound so depressing don’t I?  Oh poor me, my life is so tough…  Wah, wah, WAAAAAHHH!  Honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing.  Well, maybe one or two, but not the bulk of it anyway.  The hard times are what define us, they make us strong, and teach us to laugh through the tears.  Life is what you make of it, and I prefer to let it shape me into something beautiful; not leave me a stinking lump of clay.

So, I am not afraid to walk into the darkness with him.

Then why am I so damn scared right now?  Why does this darkness feel darker than ever before?

This grief is a tangible thing, worse because I know that mine is just a fraction of his.  Tainted with fear and the inability to stop, rest, recuperate; it feels as if it’s growing into something too large to easily control.

Tomorrow we’ll know if we can start to take the time to heal, or if we step deeper into the darkness.  Personally, right now, I’m praying for the light.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Comedy of Errors

I’ll warn you now that I’m going to be adding some pictures to this post that some might consider graphic.  Not THAT kind of graphic you perv!  Pictures of Tiana’s back and her healing incision.  If that kind of thing bothers you, you may want to skip the bulk of this post.


Gosh it’s hard to believe that only a few nights ago I was typing up my overview of the last week.  It’s even harder to believe that it wasn’t the end of the story.  In fact, I’ve totally stopped trying to convince myself that the worst must be over, and instead I’m bracing for the next impact. 

So Tiana came home from the hospital on Thursday.  Her surgeon, having apparently forgotten his promise from the night before, tried to hedge her in for another day, until John threatened to check her out AMA.  They managed to get all of their ducks in a row and discharge her instead.  It was a good thing too, John only just managed to make the drive home before he was hit with the plague.

Yes, we’re just calling it the plague now, since no one can really decide what it actually is.  The hospital in Racine says Influenza A, Shriner’s says Influenza A or H1N1 (or nothing at all) depending on who you ask, and we still haven’t gotten the lab reports in writing like we requested.  No shocker there now is it?

One of the best parts though, something that would make me laugh my ass off if I didn’t already want to choke someone, is that we received a phone call from the Racine Hospital on Saturday morning…  There was a lab mistake (I’m beginning to think that all hospital labs are run by incompetent idiots) and it turns out that Jenna does in fact have strep.  Yea, you read that right.  Jenna had strep and the flu, which is probably why she was so sick.  Lucky kid huh?  Though why it took them four days to figure it out, is totally beyond me.

That likely explains Tiana’s sore throat too, which didn’t last long because the IV Antibiotics would have killed a run of the mill strep infection pretty quickly.  Shriner’s never swabbed her throat though, so we’ll never know.  They just assumed she had the plague…  Um, I mean H1N1.

So, deadly diseases aside, today was the day to change the bandage on Tiana’s back.  Actually, yesterday was, but she kicks up such a fuss about the tape they use that we put it off for a day.  Neither John or I were feeling quite up to listening to her whine yesterday.

As soon as we pulled off her shirt I felt my stomach drop.  I met John’s eyes and I’m sure they reflected the horror in my own.  We were looking for signs of infection, but instead we found a large lump at the base of Tiana’s neck and to the right of her incision.


To me it almost looks like the kids I’ve seen who popped their rods, but Tiana can no longer pop a hook like she could with the grow rods.  If a rod popped, the screws would have to strip out of the bone.  That’s so not good.


We took some pictures, and called the resident on call at Shriner’s for the weekend.  From what John described, he says he believes it’s just a build up of fluid.  John asked if we could send him the pictures and get his opinion after he’d seen them.


So we shot them off to him, and he stands by his original diagnosis, but John and I aren’t so sure because we can feel something hard just under the surface of the lump.  He said not to worry (fat chance), that he’s seen it before, but that he would make sure Tiana’s surgeon sees the pictures and that his nurse will call us in the morning.

Great, something else to obsess about for another day.

Honestly, I’m beginning to think that if things ever go back to normal, John and I will find life downright boring.

I’ll fill y’all in when we know more, until then…