Sunday, October 26, 2008


Crank those speakers, fellow bloggers, cuz this one NEEDS to be loud!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

REPARO! (waves wand madly about...)

Well, I have started on the repairs to the house. After the fiasco with getting that damn cat (sweet little Pips) out of the heating duct (scroll down a few posts and read all about it if you want to pee your pants laughing!), during which I trashed the livingroom wall in one corner and ripped out part of the basement ceiling, I am seriously wishing for a magic wand ala Harry Potter so I can get it done with no fuss or muss.

I used metal duct tape on the two ducts in the livingroom wall that I cut into. Since I couldn't tell which duct the cat was in, I naturally had to cut both open because the first one was (you guessed it!) the wrong one. At least the metal tape is a pretty permanent fix and I won't have to replace those sections of duct. Because that would likely entail ripping out even more of the wall and I ain't goin' there! That is too much like work...

My girlfriend and her hubby built a house last year and had some pieces of drywall lying around their basement, so she kindly donated enough to allow me to patch everything up for only the cost of the drywall screws and the mud to fill the cracks.

Considering how much that damn cat cost me, it's a good thing I don't have to pay for someone to fix the mess I made. But I had no idea drywall was so heavy! In the past, I have only handled quite small pieces.

The ceiling piece needed to be 45 x 80 inches. Well, that size, which Girlfriend just happened to have, wouldn't fit in my Blazer, so we had to cut it into two pieces. Which were not halves, of course.

Now, the ceiling needs to be covered up asap, as I figure because Pips is running around and playing again after her ordeal, she will soon look up and realize there is a jungle gym in them thar walls. The last thing I need is ANOTHER freakin' heart attack as I rip out more walls trying to rescue that damn cat! (Maybe I should just change her name to THAT DAMN CAT.... seems that is what I have been calling her lately...)

So I got the smaller of the two pieces up in the basement ceiling, after nailing a piece of strapping across the framework so I would have something to screw it to. That wasn't too bad.

Then I tried to hold the other piece in place and screw it in as well. Holy crap! I just about put my back out trying to do that! A 45" x 47" piece of drywall is actually too heavy and awkward for me (and I am not a small woman - I am 5'9" and have good upper body strength) to hold in place with one hand while the other hand is trying to manoeuver the drill. I tried three times. And then gave up.

So tomorrow evening, a friend is coming over to help with this two minute job, which is all it will take, really. I just need a second pair of hands. I need to be an octopus for some of the things I have to do around here, but since I am not, I have lured him over with promises of chicken curry for dinner as payment for that piddly-ass little bit of work! He figures it's a steal of a deal - home cooked meal for almost nothing.

Of course, I then get the pleasure of his company for the remainder of the evening, so I think it is a pretty fair deal! I will post more pics later after I actually get all this done. I don't think I have any paint left over for the livingroom either. ((sigh)) Which means I will have to go out and buy some - of both colours - to finish it off completely.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Sweetest Sister-Friend

She had a gorgeous dragonfly tattooed on her upper back, resplendent in greens, yellows, blues, purples and reds. I wish I had a photograph of it. Its wings spanned just between her shoulder blades, a moving, living work of art. Graceful, subtly colourful... very much like the woman she was.

Three years ago, my sister's life ended in an instant. She was killed in a highway accident on her way home from work when an SUV, being driven by a woman stoned out of her mind on gawd only knows what drugs, crossed over the centre line and hit my sister's car head on. It was an older Toyota Camry that had been our Mum's and it didn't have airbags. She took the steering column straight in the chest and it crushed out her life in a split second.

It also crushed my heart and soul. Laurel and I were four years' apart in age, but very close together in spirit. From the time I was in my mid teens, we were friends as well as sisters. We hung out together for years, becoming more and more like best friends rather than just sisters.

Even now, three years later, the pain of that loss can overtake me, causing me to sob my heart out. I have also lost both my parents, but they both died of diseases that took time to claim their energy. Time that allows you to come to terms with the loss, knowing they would no longer be suffering and in pain, and then death comes as a relief as well as a loss.

But the tragic ending of my sister's existence allowed nothing.... no coming to terms with the emptiness that will always exist in my heart. No reasonable explanation for her passing. No time for acceptance.

Only the hollowness remains, the piece of my heart that died along with her that day, the loss of contact and companionship with her.

But the memories of her love, her laugh, her kindness and generosity, her wisdom and humour, flow through me like a constant trickle of warm, sweet water, soothing and smoothing. Her laugh, her face are reflected in her daughter, who lives a 10 minute walk from me. Even more than that, her spirit lives on in both of her children. Both her son and daughter have become such loving, wise and warm people as they have grown. She lives on through them and I am blessed to be part of both of their lives and the lives of their families.

Today is a day of revisiting the past, of remembering her smile, the warmth of her gaze, the closeness of her hug. The love that emanated from her for all those who shared her life is still palpable to me and I hold it close to my heart, wishing beyond dreams that it could be herself that I hold close.

Saturday, October 18, 2008



Thursday, October 16, 2008


My little cat, Pips, decided on Saturday to start puking her guts out. No fever, hadn't been anywhere as she is a house cat, other cat is fine, so I figure - hairball. Leave her alone. Just keep an eye on her.

Sunday she is still puking but still no fever. Belly doesn't appear tender when I palpate it (and yes, I know how to do that as years ago I was a vet's assistant, plus now I am a humans' nurse), bladder is not distended and bowels not constipated. Still pink, still purrs when I pick her up, just doesn't look all that great. So off to my sister's for Thanksgiving dinner with the family and leave her to rest.

Monday, she is still sick. Now she's looking a fair bit dehydrated. Still pink, still no fever, but now she's puking up green - bile - and nothing else. I have syringed water into her on numerous occasions and it all comes up again in a little while.

((big sigh)) Call the vet. It is a holiday. I am going to pay $$$$ bigtime for this. But.... the cat is in distress and looking worse all the time, so I bundle her in a towel and off we go.

Vet checks her over, decides she needs xrays (her gut felt 'bunchy' to the vet so thoughts of a foreign object came up), bloodwork, an IV for rehydration and a vehicle for the meds she would need: something to stop the puking, something for pain, and an antibiotic 'just in case'.

Since I was only six days' post-op, I relinquished the cat into the capable hands of the vet (she a lovely person and a wonderful vet) and went home to rest and wait by the phone.

Got a call that evening (about 2 hours later). Xrays show the bunchy-ness of her small intestine but nothing else shows up except a bit of gas and some poop in her bowel. Blood work is great, especially considering how dehydrated the little thing was. No sign of kidney problems, or anything else, so the plan was to keep the IV going overnight and reevaluate her in the morning. Sometimes just doing that can get the FB to move on through.

Morning comes and I talk to the vet around 10:00. No vomiting overnight, she's much better hydrated now, took another small xray and the bunchy-ness is still there. So.... give her barium, redo the xrays to see if there is something there? Or go straight to surgery and do an exploratory laparotomy. I opt for the surgery right off the hop, cuz if they do the barium first and then have to do surgery, it gets way too messy and there is a good chance of the cat getting peritonitis - which would mean lots of antibiotics, possibly more surgery to clean it out and lots more $$$$$!

Later that day, I get a call from the vet. Surgery went really well, cat is doing fine and guess what she found? A piece of grey and yellow sponge. Oh shit... I know what that is.... it is from this:

I found these cool snap-together foam mats for under my weights in the basement, to protect the carpet. I had noticed that one was getting ratty, but thought the cat was clawing at it as she wrestled and played. Well..... no. Turns out the little beggar has been chewing on it and managed to bite a piece off and swallow it.

Now a cat's small intestine probably isn't even as big around as my little finger. The vet said this thing was wedged into the duodenum, which is the bit just past the stomach. But it was now out and the mats went out in the garbage today. I am NOT taking any chances that she'll decide to chomp on them again.

So on Wednesday, I go and pick the cat up. She is sooooo ready to come home. The vet tells me the girls there are tired of cleaning her kennel, as she trashes it constantly. They had to take out her IV the night before because she was so wound up in the tubing, it wasn't running anyway. They don't know how she didn't strangle herself.

This is the 'souvenir' they gave me to take home:

When I went back to get her, carrying kennel in hand, she was flipping around in the kennel, with the litter pan on it's side, the water dish dumped and the blanket piled in one corner. She was very happy to see me and started purring immediately. So we got her out and I put her in the carrying kennel, where she continued to flip and wiggle and just not hold still. The vet says working with Pips is like trying to handle an octopus - legs everywhere that never quit moving!

Post-op instructions are to keep her quiet, don't let her run up and down the stairs or jump all over the place. So I set up a little area for her in my office, where I spend a good bit of time anyway when I am on the computer. She's got a nice cozy bed, some food and water, a litter box, the radio is on quietly and she can climb up (boxes stacked like steps) to look out the window. What more could a little cat ask for?

I needed to go out and do some errands, so I left her in the room, closed the door and off I went. Two hours later, I come home.

And no cat.

Just this:

I call her and she answers me - from in the freaking heat duct!!!! O M G!!! I can hear her scrabbling away in there, and meowing. I get a small mirror and a flashlight and look down the duct. I can see the toes on one paw - that is it!

So now I start calling to find someone who might have one of those snares on a pole, to get her out. I call the city Animal Services. They say call the Humane Society. Who says call an exterminator. Who says they could send someone by on Saturday. Are you F*CKING NUTS!!! The cat would be dead by then, you idiot!! So they say try a heating and ventilation guy. Who says all they would do is try and lure the cat out. So I call the vet. A different one comes to the phone. He tells me to call a heating and ventilation guy. Did that. So never mind.

So, I have been calling the cat and looking down the duct in between phone calls to make sure she is still there. I try my brother, who doesn't answer either phone. My niece and her hubby aren't home. Ditto for my sister and her hubby. As is my friend who lives nearby who is still off work after knee surgery. Not sure what I thought he could do, but as long as it didn't require kneeling, I am sure he could have done something!

I call the cat again and..... no answer. No sound..... nothing. Now I am frantic! Is she dead? The phone line runs through this duct. Is she hung up in it? Hanging by a leg? Is it around her neck? How the hell would I know! I can't see her!

So I decide I have to do this all myself and haul out the ladder. I hammer a hole in the wall of my livingroom where the ducts run down. The ducts are on the other side of the bulkhead, so I have to cut another hole. There are two ducts. I don't know which one is which so I cut open one. Wrong one - no phone line. Still no sounds from the cat. Cut open the other one. Call her and she answers. Gak! She's alive! The phone cord wiggles as she scrambles about. I stuff newspaper in the hole so she won't fall down the duct. I cut the cord and run upstairs, hoping I can reel her back into the office that way. Pull the cord up - no cat. Damn!

When I was pounding on the wall to break through the drywall, she must have been scared and fell down the vertical drop of the duct. So I dash down to the basement. There is a dropped ceiling in there that was probably put in 25 years ago. It is homemade - not a commercial one. Great sheets of that pressed paperboard crap that someone slapped a horrible pointy fake stucco finish on. I can't take the giant 'tile' out, as the frame work was put up after the 'tile' was put in place. So I got my hatchet and pried the 1x2 boards off the wall. The 'tile' still wouldn't come down so I said to hell with this and broke it to get it out.

Then I was faced with the two ducts. But at least I knew which one to open cuz the phone line exited the duct right in that corner. I took out the screw holding the duct together at the elbow. It took all my strength, which was flagging horribly by this time because I had been running on adrenalin for about 2 hours already, to get the thing apart. I honestly didn't think I would be able to and was on the verge of tears several times. But I couldn't give up because I was the only hope Pips had. So I did get it apart and I could just feel her nose when I stuck my arm in. She was kind of stuck midway. The length of duct had one of those internal flaps so you can cut the airflow to that room if you wanted to. Pips couldn't get past that. So I wrestled with the other end of the duct, disconnected it and stuck my arm in that way. I could feel her back legs and tail. I tried to pull her out but she started screaming - she was stuck on that damn flap!

Well, I told her she's on her own now and will have to find a way out. I made sure I help the flap in the open position and called her name. With much scrabbling and wiggling, this is what emerged from the duct. She was so happy to see me, she yelled a huge meow and started purring loudly.

Which lead to this right after I determined she had suffered no injuries in her escapade. Don't forget, she is one day post-op (and I am now eight). So much for keeping her quiet....

She spent a lot of time sleeping today, especially in the sun that was streaming in the livingroom window midday. She snuggled up to her bud Zoe, who watched over her as she rested.

BB, the old man, could not have cared less. He's probably thinking she's used up more than two of those nine lives already, the silly git....

Monday, October 13, 2008


I feel like I am back in Vancouver. I lived out that way for 3 1/2 years a while back and moved back to the Prairies because I was bloody sick and tired of freezing my patootie off! The damp chill there just drove me batty. Didn't get that SAD from the grey gloomy skies (that would be Seasonal Affective Disorder or major depression from decreased serotonin production due to chronic and extended lack of sunlight) but was just absolutely chilled to the bone cold all the time. Well, except in August when there would be three weeks of heat, which is what they call summer out there.

For several days now we here in what is soon to become Winterpeg have been subjected to West Coast weather. It is rainy, wet, chilly (it is all of 5C right now and the high for the day is a stifling 7C!). The leaves are plastered all over everything except the trees, in yellows and browns and the occasional red or orange.

There are worms all over the sidewalks and roads. It smells like mashed worms out there. I don't know how they can even move, it is so cold out there! But they are struggling valiantly to get to somewhere.... and getting stepped on or run over in their efforts. One saving grace is we don't get those huge banana slugs that look like moving dog turds.

Even though it is only Thanksgiving, I will take snow over this rainy crap any day. I feel like my universe has shifted and somehow deposited me back on the Wet Coast.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

GET IT OUT ..... Update

Well, I am now four days post-op and eating fairly normally. Have had no problems with food shooting straight through - thanks the gods that be! The last thing I need is the runs. Took a few days for the old bowels to get moving again (not bad considering I had nothing to eat for over 36 hours), but all is back to normal now.

I am itchy from the tape I have to put on my belly. Have to keep the sutures covered or my clothes catch on them - that hurts! Plus I don't want any infections, so I am putting antibiotic ointment on the incisions and covering them with gauze and tape. I am allergic to just about all tapes known to man but have found one that only makes me a little red and itchy - some make me blister and peel off my skin. No sense adding insult to injury!

Lots of swelling around my poor bellybutton. Makes me look about 6 months' prego.... yuck. And it is quite colourful, what with the incision (red), the bruising (yellow and a few purple spots) and the sutures (bright blue). This is where the largest trochar gets inserted and wiggled about. And it is also where they extract the offending organ. Will have to remember to ask the surgeon just how big my gall bladder was when he yanked the damn thing out.

But it is all getting better, slowly, day by day. Walking the dog is short and turtle slow (at least in Zoe's mind... good thing I taught her 'easy' a long time ago so she knows to slow down to an amble when I say that). We only go about one block total so far but today was a teensy bit faster than it has been. She's itching for a good hard run, I can tell, but she's sticking to me like glue so is tolerating the minimal exercise quite well. Maybe tomorrow we will go to the dog park and I will meander a short distance while she races about. She's such a good dog.... doesn't let me out of her sight. The cats, on the other hand, could care less....

The biggest thing about all this is how sore my back (on my ribs) is on the left side. When they do this surgery, they manoeuver the OR table, which is multi-jointed, so that you are tilted with your right side up (cuz that is where your liver and gall bladder reside) and kinda curved to the left. So the brunt of my weight was on this one area of my ribs towards the back about mid upper arm level. For close to two hours. It aches and is sore to the touch. I have to take pain meds more for that than for the abdominal discomfort, which is really limited to my poor protruding and bruised up umbilicus.

So I am lounging about, taking it easy for the most part. Trying to get all healed up in a hurry so I can get on with my life. Good thing there are lots of blogs to visit, cuz I get bored easily with TV and reading.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


For the past several years, I have been dealing with bouts of abdominal pain that last for hours and are very uncomfortable, resulting in lots of bloating and referred back pain as well. Seems that I was defying medical diagnosis for quite some time until I was referred to a GI specialist.

Over the course of the past three years, I have had numerous blood tests taken both during these attacks and not. My pancreatic enzymes were up for discussion, looking for pancreatitis. Negative.

I have had two gastroscopies - where the doc sprays local anaesthetic in your throat and gets you to swallow a honking big hose that contains a camera, for a good look around your stomach to make sure there aren't any ulcers or tumours. Has a little nipper thing he can slide down there too if he needs to take a tissue sample for biopsy. Negative on that front also.

I have had to drink liquid barium, an xray contrast medium that is like drinking liquid chalk. Least they could do is flavour the stuff, but noooo... just chug the whole glass then lay down on the table so they can watch what it does in your stomach. Then every 30 minutes you get to go back and get zapped by radiation again and again while they follow the barium all the way through to your bowel. That took four hours... four very long hours. Because I have had previous abdominal surgery, they were looking for strictures of scar tissue that might possibly be wrapped around my bowel causing the pain. Negatory.

Then on to the Ultrasound. Twice. A year apart. Absolutely nothing abnormal showed up on either of those. The attacks continued, not really influenced by what I ate (ie: high fat foods) and usually occurring in the late afternoon or evening. Go figure.

So then I got referred to the GI guy. Finally.... Really nice doc. I had done my research and determined that I had biliary colic and the GI guy agreed with me, after reviewing my file. So he sent me for an MRI to get a better look at what was going on in my belly and it showed I have sludge in my gall bladder. Not stones, but sludge.

So apparently, the sludge would slide around in my gall bladder and cause it to spasm. Which could be pretty intense and not always relieved with things like Tylenol #3's and Gravol. But never so severe that I was willing to sit in the Emergency Room for hours on end to get a shot of Demerol or Morphine, because by the time I would get in, the pain would be gone. So I would take what I had at home and stick it out. Sometimes, that would be up to 6 hours.... talk about a major belly ache!

The GI doc wanted to put me on some medication that might (and I repeat, might) dissolve the sludge. So for six months, I took three pills a day that did absolutely nothing for the attacks. I felt no different. Went back at the end of those 6 months for a repeat MRI and guess what? The sludge was still there!

So the next step was referral to a surgeon to get the offending organ removed. Saw him in August and had the surgery two days ago - laparascopic cholecystectomy.

It all went as expected and no unusual complications but I did puke a fair bit after because of the morphine they gave me. That settled about 4 hours post-op so not too bad. The thick feeling in my ears was from the anaesthetic and that didn't clear until last night some time.

So today, two days post-op and I actually feel pretty good except I have a sore belly. I look like a stabbing victim though! I have four holes in my belly. But I am not nauseated and I have a relatively good appetite, although I am being careful about what I eat. Don't want to load my system with fatty foods and end up in the biffy in an hour with everything exiting in a hurry! I haven't experienced that but do know that some people don't tolerate any fatty foods at all once the gall bladder is gone.

For those of you with an interest, this is a link to a video of an actual lap choley. Not mine though, because the hospital I had it done at doesn't have the capacity to tape the procedures - or at least, that is what they told me. I would have liked to see what I personally look like on the inside, but that is just the nurse in me coming out, I think.

I am keeping my fingers crossed now that this will mean an end to the attacks of abdominal pain. I asked the surgeon to have a good look around at the parts he could see when he was in there to make sure nothing looked amiss. Will get his view of things when I see him in three weeks. Until then, I am just hangin' out, healin' up and takin' it easy.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Getting these two to do any office work is like pulling hen's teeth....

They tend to lounge around and waste the day away doing stuff like..... sleeping!

"Wha...? You want me to do something? What? Load the printer with more paper... well, okay.... if you insist..."

"Where do we keep the paper again?"

"Is it in here....?"

"Is it up there...?"

"Alright, already... I'll close it when I'm done.... OKAY??!!!??"

"Blah, blahblah blah BLAH!"

"No.... I didn't say anything...."


"Okay.... I think I found it."

"Noooo... I am NOT dawdling...."

"Gimme a minute, will ya! It's hard to handle this stuff when you don't have fingers! Sheesh."

"I'm on my break. I'll get to it in 15 minutes."

"GAWD! This job is way too physical!!"

"I need to rest...."

"I was NOT sleeping on the job! Really, I wasn't...."

"I'm ready! For what.... I don't know.... but I am ready... honest!"