Category Archives: medical

Scary grass and a wonderful veterinary practice

imageProving that there is indeed never a dull moment, minutes before I was planning to leave for work on Friday, Jeter sidled up to me with an eye well on its way to being grotesquely swollen shut. Since I had just taken him outdoors not 30 minutes previously, I was at a loss as to what might be the problem. A quick Google image search (dog swollen eye) and I had my presumed answer – bee sting.

Never having dealt with this before, I didn’t know what to do. This is my usual response in medical emergencies, by the way. As Jeter’s eye continued to disappear behind a balloon of fluid, I decided to phone our vet, Boght Veterinary Clinic never expecting a response to my call since it was after 5:00. Well, was I most pleasantly surprised…

imageThe woman who answered the phone was exactly what I needed – informative, helpful and wonderfully competent. I explained the issue, adding details about his demeanor (normal), breathing (also normal) and the appearance of his eye (gross, but apparently not abnormal when stung by a bee). I was placed on hold for a few minutes while the receptionist consulted with the Doctor. On her return, I was offered a couple of options: 1. Bring Jeter in as soon as I could get there, even though the office was now closed and it would take at least 30 minutes in Friday evening traffic to get there. 2. Take Jeter to the nearby emergency veterinary hospital or 3. Give him three 25 mg tabs of Benadryl. I went with number 3.

Here’s the thing, so many veterinary practices would have not made themselves available beyond regular hours, might have insisted that I take him to an emergency facility for treatment and would not have so willingly recommended a dosage of over the counter medication. Their reasonable and pragmatic care, dispensed with the caveat that medical advice over the phone is less than ideal, was yet another example of why I have been loyal to this practice for more than 25 years.

Saturday morning, Jeter’s eye was almost back to normal. He was his usual bouncy guy self, except for one thing – he seems to be afraid of grass! For whatever reason, it seems that Jeter is associating the lawn with the bee sting. It’s kind of silly because I’m convinced he got stung on the back deck, but he’s holding firm to this new phobia and refuses to step foot on the grass choosing instead to walk on sidewalks, driveways and in the street. It’s ridiculous! Any tips for getting my boy back on the grass?


Filed under medical, Recommendations, Summer

Learning to stand on my own two feet

imageBeing a runner has many health benefits. There are the obvious ones like improved cardiovascular capacity, weight loss and stronger legs, but I’ve found the more subtle ones to be even more impressive. Things like a dramatically tighter core and the mental ability to focus on immediate external conditions while simultaneously allowing my mind to travel to places far away. It’s been a life changer.

Like most things, though, it isn’t all good. I’ve taken a couple of spills over the years and suffered more than one twisted ankle. There’s also been residual discomfort, some might call it pain, that I’ve simply learned to accept. My usual aches are hips and feet, specifically right hip and the ball of my left foot. I went to a podiatrist last year in the hopes that I would be fitted for orthotics, but left the office sad and empty handed after the doctor’s conclusion: running hurts.

Since then, I’ve just carried on with the understanding that yoga helps (find time for yoga), more stretching post run is necessary (find time to stretch) and my foam roller can soothe (find time for the foam roller). This week I finally made good on my intention to have my chiropractor give me a good look over and I am really thrilled with his impressions and recommendations.

First – if you haven’t ever seen a chiropractor, I really recommend it. Mine, Lee Masterson at Delmar Wellness, has singlehandedly (ok, two handedly) made the biggest difference in my balance, comfort and performance in the many years since he began adjusting my body. I originally went to him to have my alignment corrected during a pregnancy, believing that it would be beneficial when it came time to labor. I’m convinced it did – natural, unmedicated childbirth achieved. I continued to see him periodically for years as he helped me to tweak my posture and maintain conscious of how out of whack my body quickly became when I held my children on my hip or torqued in weird ways.

Yesterday’s visit, my first in at least 3 years, was enlightening. Lee began by eyeing my stance and having me walk as he observed. He quickly assessed my right hip’s weakness and lack of flexibility, as compared to my left side, and began working my right leg with a series of stretches and the assistance of some cool little machine that tapped my leg and hip with some force. He talked me through some proactive exercises, such as side planks, and modeled the stance he wanted me to begin developing to offset my current condition. It was a great visit.

Last night’s run felt wonderful – it had finally cooled off a bit and Jeter and I found two sprinklers to play in along our route. My hip felt significantly looser and my left foot hurt only mildly. I’ll be taking all of Lee’s suggestions and am optimistic that running will be even more enjoyable moving forward. If you see me standing with my feet less than 18″ apart, please feel free to correct me.

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Filed under Exercise, Local, medical, Recommendations, running, Uncategorized

A tale of two abortions

imageMany, many years ago an older friend shared with me the story of her illegal abortion. It involved a large amount of money, cash only, of course, a bus ride out of the city and into the “everything looks the same” suburbs, and an extracted promise to never tell anyone where she had been (as if she could remember) and what she had done (as if she could forget).

I remember being riveted by her story, trying to imagine the emotions my friend must have experienced on that scary afternoon. How nervous she must have been that something, anything, could go wrong – what if she missed her connection at the bus station or if the “abortionist” was really a scam artist intent upon robbing her? Would there be post-procedure complications? Might her decision to terminate her pregnancy in an unregulated “clinic” threaten her future fertility? What choice(s) did she truly have?

When I became pregnant as a teenager the only question I had to ask myself was this: Am I prepared to be responsible for another’s life? Recognizing that my present situation was but one indication of my own lack of personal responsibility,* I knew I needed to terminate my pregnancy. I called Planned Parenthood.

When I arrived for my appointment, jar of first morning’s urine in my school bag, I was treated like a human being. My options, choices, were explained and I was offered an array of services, including abortion. My questions were answered and I was provided with a referral to the facility where I would ultimately end my pregnancy and begin my new life as a much more responsible, sexually active, young woman.

I had no concerns about the legitimacy of the medical care I received or the competence of the practitioner. I understood the potential for complications or long term problems resulting from my abortion and accepted the small risk, knowing that actually having a child would be far more perilous.

In the years since my abortion, I’ve often wondered who that child, my child, would have grown to be. I’ve thought about how old (s)he would be and tried to imagine the life I would have known if I had become a teenaged mom. Ultimately, I can only conclude that the three children I do have most certainly benefitted from the services made available to me at Planned Parenthood and I have no regrets for the choice I made. I stand with Planned Parenthood.

*I’m NOT suggesting that all unintended pregnancies are the result of a lack of personal responsibility. This was MY situation.


Filed under girlhood, medical, News, Observations, politics, Uncategorized

When treats are tricks!

This isn't Jeter, but this is what he looked like!

This isn’t Jeter, but this is what he looked like!

Late the other night, after dinner and a run and some quality time with a pint of Haagen Daz, I finally settled on the couch with a bottle of cider and my guy to relax. The plan was to pick up where we last left off in our much-delayed viewing of The Sopranos and I was very really looking forward to reconnecting with all of the involved.

Jeter was his usual good-natured self, happily enjoying a roasted marrow bone. As I refreshed my memory with a few minutes of the previous episode (sometimes I doze off) Jeter jumped up on the couch next to me, something he doesn’t normally do. I pushed him down. He jumped back up. I pushed him down a second time, looking him in the eyes and saying “no.” That’s when I noticed the marrow bone circling his lower jaw.

We sat him down and began our attempts to remove it. We tried to slide it, turn it and push it all to no avail. He wasn’t in pain, but he was drooling up a storm since his mouth wouldn’t completely close and he couldn’t fully swallow. I began to panic – be it one of the boys or the dog, I definitely don’t shine in situations such as this. I called the emergency vet’s office and we headed over to Latham.

We arrived to a nearly empty waiting room and a full staff of super nice people. Wagging his tail, Jeter left my side and went with a vet tech to a room where they sedated him and deftly slid the bone “donut” off his jaw. It couldn’t have been much more than 5 minutes later when the tech returned with the offending bone in hand and reassured me that they would be waking Jeter up and he would be ready to depart with in 30 minutes or so. Sure enough, a short while later Jeter came wobbling out looking a bit dazed, but fine.

$250 lighter and infinitely lighter-hearted, we headed home less than an hour after our arrival. While I no longer will be preparing small marrow bones for Jeter, it is reassuring to know that top-notch emergency veterinarian care is nearby. Also comforting was hearing from the staff that they see this same situation about once a month – and that it’s just about always a Labrador.


Filed under family, Local, medical, Recommendations, stress

The ultimate CT

Does anyone else remember that abbreviation meaning something else back in the day? I’m not talking about the state of Connecticut either. These days, however, CT is the short form of Computerized tomography aka a Cat Scan or the test I had yesterday afternoon.

If you’re (fortunately) not familiar with CT scans, allow me to share the experience. Following blood work to ascertain the functioning of one’s kidneys, the patient is positioned, injected with saline followed by dye, and then moved into the machine for a few minutes. When the technician has everything they need, one is released to await results from their physician.

The images are essentially immediately viewable and, if you’re lucky, you hear from your doctor quickly. For me, this is the hardest part of the test and the longer I wait, the more convinced I become that there is something seriously wrong. Something so terrible the doctor doesn’t even have words for the sheer awfulness of the results. Yep, that’s what happens, at least in my mind.

After 10 days of worry, 4 visits to medical facilities, and an inconclusive biopsy, I was a bit on the edge. When my surgeon finally called this afternoon to give me the (good!) news, I was so stunned that I didn’t know what to say…

She doesn’t feel the need to operate to remove this latest lump. She’s of the opinion that the lump is a “fried” salivary gland which shows no sign of malignancy. I’m to be closely monitored and the prognosis could change, but, for now, no surgery. I know there will be some disappointed folks out there – namely the friends who have sincerely offered to cook, drive and sponge bathe me, but I’m sure we can work something out.

Never has a good CT been so appreciated.


Filed under cancer, medical

Not doing it myself

Inspired by this sunflower.

Inspired by this sunflower.

Since I’ve shared the part of my weekend when I did do things myself, I believe it is only fair to also share the days since then when I’ve been very much accompanied. Monday I went to see my ENT. I wasn’t alone. My doctor pretty much did what I expected – an in office fine needle biopsy, orders for some blood work and a CAT scan and the promise of a call to schedule surgery. Whatever it is, it’s coming out.

Because I had been so open prior to the appointment, I felt compelled to report back to my friends, both “real” and virtual, to share the news from my office visit. The warm wishes, promises of prayers, and offers for assistance have left a greater mark on me than that bruise, or any of the already existing scars, on my neck. Thank you, friends.

Two days post-appointment, blood work done, anticipated CAT scan tomorrow and surgery three weeks away, I am bolstered and protected by the people I love, people who have demonstrated that they return the feeling. Although I’ve been down this path before, in terms of medical intervention, this sense that my being taken care of is a concern to many, is new. And cherished.

So, pathology should be back in a matter of days and in just a few weeks this latest (and literal) bump in the road will be gone. Thanks for traveling this path with me, and to someone who has allowed me to ride shotgun for a change, thank you for taking the wheel. I so appreciate it.


Filed under cancer, Flowers, friends, love, medical

Good news/bad news and a bit of a Grimm tale

The good news? I weighed less than I thought I would when I stepped on the scale. The bad news? I need to see my ENT surgeon post-haste. For the record, I like it better when the good news follows the bad.

I went to see my endocrinologist yesterday. I wasn’t scheduled to see her until January, but there was something about the thing I felt in my neck that made me uncomfortable. I made someone a promise that I would call first thing in the morning and I did. The receptionist was great and took my history after a single run through. A couple of hours later, my doctor phoned and asked if I could be there by 4.

Following our usual chit-chat, my doctor got down to business, dimming the lights and lubing up the ultrasound wand. With her usual thoroughness, she repeatedly scanned the area of my neck where the protuberance was. After a few minutes she asked if she could bring a colleague in for a second opinion. I stared at the ceiling, attempting to escape the room mentally by trying to see what the wattage was on the bulb, but as the second physician took his turn with the magic wand tears slipped from my eyes. The doctors conferred.

Their opinion? It’s either a “bad” lymph node or a chronically inflamed minor salivary gland. (See how I put the bad news first?) The plan now is to see my ENT on Monday and have her determine the appropriate course of action. I’m sure there will be some sort of diagnostics or study conducted. The hope, of course is that it is nothing serious, but my history leaves me feeling vulnerable.

To be clear, I don’t write about my health to garner sympathy or concern. It’s more an exercise in becoming accustomed to the possibility of yet another surgical procedure. It also feels a bit like an exorcism.  If  I express my fears and release them from my inner psyche they kind of lose their power.  Sort of like in that fairy tale when the miller’s daughter shocked Rumpelstiltskin by knowing his name, causing him to run away never to be seen again.  I’ve seen you before and I know your name, Cancer.  How about you stay away and let me have a shot at happily ever after?


Filed under cancer, medical, musings, stress