longest day ever? barnum: fixed. chair: fixed?

last night i spent 2.5 hours shaving barnum down with betsy. he looks surprisingly sleek; we didn’t do as bad a job as usual! (pictures to come.)

I went to sleep at 3:30 a.m.

woke at 6 a.m.

rushed around to get out the door with betsy and barnum by 8 a.m. and with loads of stuff for our long day.

dropped barnum off at the vet for neutering (more on this soon), a soft rag that I slept with against my skin to make his overnight stay easier, instructions for x-rays of his hips and elbows while he “under” as well as a request for trimming matted fur between toes (he has thickets of fur everyeveryeverywhere!).

betsy and i drove 2 hrs to dave, the guy who built my pchair (more on him and his organization, later, too), for repairs. dave’s workers never showed, so we spent The Entire Day waiting for various people to be able to do various things on the chair: betsy and dave and dave’s wife debbie, and dave’s neighbor, and whomever else he could cobble together, to help work on repairs. since the chair was out of the van, i spent almost the whole day sitting in the van being exposed to eau du city chemical exposures: smoke, diesel fumes (commuter rail and cargo trains went by every twenty minutes or so), some sort of horrible burning smell, very nice-but-fragranced people, etc. i used up my entire supply of oxygen tanks (four!).

at noon, i called the vet to check on barnum and was told he was recovering nicely.

at a certain point, i had to get very creative about how to relieve my bladder in the van. post for another time.

all this free time sitting in the car gave me a chance to clean up the debris, learn how to use my cell phone, and learn how to use my gps (which i’ve had over a year and never tried before; it was extremely useful for finding places to eat and then getting home).

at 4:30 i called the vet again to check on barnum, ask how he was doing, did he behave well, was he resting calmly, was he cooperative at the beginning, was he on pain meds, did he seem comfortable? yes, yes, yes. ok. wanted to ask her to tell him i loved him, but didn’t think that’d go over.

around 6 or 7 or 8 pm (who can keep track anymore?) dave’s brother (sorry, can’t remember his name) was able to do some of the finishing work on the chair repairs, then i tested it, then betsy and dave’s brother tweaked it more, based on my body/positioning needs. i tested the chair. we packed up.

we had to stop for another bathroom break and a snack (whole foods market) because, silly me, i had only packed lunch for us, not lunch, snack, and dinner.

all day long i longed to go home and see barnum, then remembered there would be no barnum at home. such a strange, lonely, wrong feeling to think of coming home to no dog.

we finally arrived home at 11 p.m. we had been on the road for 15 hours. i’ve had 2.5 hours of sleep.

betsy helped me bathe and change — to get all the chemical residues off me. i have a migraine, but we were both impressed that it took until about 8 p.m. for the migraine to hit. i started writing this blog to unwind so i can sleep. i keep dozing off before i can hit “publish.”

i’ve been up now — and “going” — for 20 hours. i think today was the first time i’ve been in a grocery store in  years? definitely first time in this new chair. found out whole foods does not carry adult diapers (story for another time).

don’t know yet if the chair is entirely fixed, because it will need some field testing, but several things were discovered that were wrong with it and repaired, so that’s definitely a good sign.

betsy had been adamant that if she spent the whole day out with me doing things, things needed to get accomplished, although neither of us ever thought that “the whole day” would really be the entire whole completely full day, like it was.

but here are some things we definitely got accomplished:

– barnum is “fixed” (neutered)

– the pchair leg rests have been readjusted to fit me better  (fixed?)

– various chair wiring issues were discovered and repaired (fixed?)

these are all accomplishments!

hidden background: for the past couple of weeks, betsy and i have been discussing if we are breaking up. we have felt like we don’t want to, yet there are certain needs we cannot meet for each other, which has been true for many ears. this has been another major heartbreak i have not been blogging about, mostly to protect betsy’s privacy.

but two things became very clear to me today:

1. all day i was missing barnum and looking forward to seeing him when i got home, then realizing he would not be here when i came home, and when i arrived home and he wasn’t here, i just knew that no matter what, i cannot live  without a dog in my life. it’s just wrong. i love barnum. he is my dog. whatever else happens, that is True.

2. no matter what happens with betsy, i love her, she loves me, and we must continue to be family and be in each other’s lives, whatever form that takes. we belong together. i need her in my life like i need a dog, and she understands that’s the best thing i can say about a person. i am leaning toward some unconventional definition of relationship, partner, family, etc. we will have to see what we can come up with that works.

i told her this on our way home — that we just have to stay together, in some form — after making her laugh so hard for so long that her driving was erratically unsafe. the humor primarily involved a gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate cupcake i bought her as a thank-you gift for the day.

i also told her that i had realized we had to be together, one way or another, when i was in the whole foods bathroom. we have decided i should go to whole foods bathrooms for all my major relationship thinking and decision-making.

i have no idea when or how i will recover from this day.

blogs to come, eventually, on the continuing decision-making process about barnum’s future as my SD, the neutering (these are related!), how the chair handles now that it’s been tinkered with, all with pictures and videos, hopefully, when i am functional again.

or, what passes for functional, in my life.

please please please please may i sleep, long, hard and undisturbed by migraine-induced nightmares and the dogless house.


sharon, the muse of gadget, and barnum (sdit?) now a few ounces lighter


10 Responses to “longest day ever? barnum: fixed. chair: fixed?”

  1. 1 Kat April 26, 2011 at 3:20 am

    I hope you sleep well and Barnum comes home soon! I remember when we got my Randi spayed, she milked it! She’d lay on the floor next to me and turn her belly up, showing her scar, and whine. It was sad and cute at the same time. It also put her into a false pregnancy which was a first for us! She “nested” under one of our end tables with her “babies” – her plush toys.

    I am curious: If your migraines are chemical-induced (are they?) do standard triptans (e.g. Imitrex) work for you? I am a migraine sufferer and if I take a Relpax (another triptan) at the first sign of aura, plus a Compazine for nausea and a Vicodin for pain, I can usually head off (no pun intended) the worst of the pain and only be out of commission for maybe 4-5 hours. If I miss the aura, though, say by waking up in the middle of the migraine, I often vomit so much that I have to go to the ER for shots of dilaudid and phenergan.

  2. 2 Karyn April 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    WOW what a day you had. I find it interesting that the vet kept him overnight- was that your choice or how they do it there? In our area its common place for dogs to go home after all but intensive surgeries. Its probably a good idea the way its being done with Barnum. I can’t imagine trying to get him detoxed without a bath when he comes home- another day huh? I remember how hard it was to detox Thane after his foot injury and Met after his foot surgery so can imagine what is ahead for you.

    Today though I hope you have good migraine relief and sleep so that you and Barnum can soon test out the repairs and improvements in your chair. I’m so glad things came together enough to pull that off. Awesome deal!

  3. 3 kendra April 27, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    wow! again!
    so interesting how synchronous my life exp are with you.

    on april 26 my dog zenji went to vet for dental cleaning, but had 8 teeth extracted! worst condition of teeth i’ve ever seen … longer story.

    i always have to pay extra to have vet give zenji bath right before he is picked up to reduce toxic odors, which they did. but–as has been case last several times, he still stinks from scents and it triggers my toxic overload. want to hug him, but can’t get close … he was in so much pain, actually moaning that first day. had to carry him outside to pee (flashback to carrying my heart-dog Bear out to pee in february when he had cancer, shiver, sigh)

    i’m also going thru major review of relationship with my live-in caregiver-friend …

    can we say “over-whelm”?

    breathing, laughing, sighing, crying,

    do you still need donations for powerchair-van?

  4. 4 Kat April 27, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Dear Kendra, I just had to say I love that name – Zenji! 🙂

  5. 5 Sharon Wachsler April 27, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Oh, Kendra, I’m so sorry. Yes, I have been very overwhelmed — I have experienced so much loss in the last three years, and it seems sometimes like it will never stop — and it sounds like you are very overwhelmed, too. Those memories seem to hit hardest when we are already reeling, too. I’m so sorry about Bear.

    With vets, I have them meet me outside. If it’s nice, and they have a lawn, we do exams, blood draws, etc., on the lawn. If it’s cold or raining, or if they’re worried about the dog bolting, we do it in my cargo van.

    This doesn’t solve the problem completely, as the smelly vets or techs still touch the dog, but usually a wipe-down with a cloth or a trip to the pond for a swim helps a lot. I used to ask them to wear gloves, but it didn’t help, because often techs do the “vet hold” and get them all smelly anyway.

    I have run into three types of situations where this doesn’t work:
    1. ERs. I don’t know why, but both ERs I have dealt with have decided they are above the law and don’t comprehend “reasonable accommodation.” I have run into real problems with this, including with information not being communicated to me because I was outside, and the vet and dog were inside. This is a large reason Jersey lost her eye to glaucoma, and now I am much more assertive.

    2. Situations where the dog HAS to go in. This was true for Gadget to get chemo, and for things like surgeries.

    3. My current situation, where I can’t find a vet who will work with me who is also competent. My current vet is OK, but I’ve had an awful time with her office staff. Also, Barnum is not the angel (yet) that Jersey and Gadget were, which makes it more difficult. I had to really threaten them with the ADA, and we came up with a compromise, where they do the exam in the barn (they treat horses, too), and that seems to be OK.

    Anytime a dog goes inside a vet’s, we have to do the full bath procedure afterward. To make things easier, we shaved Barnum down super short so there would be less fur to soak up the fumes. I used PICC line dressing supplies to cover Barnum’s sutures so the area wouldn’t get wet. He actually is not smelly, thanks to the bath, but the E-collar (satellite head) is. It reeks of the vet office, even though my PCA washed it down a couple of times. But, if I take it off for a second, he goes after his stitches. However, in the past, I kept the E-collar, over time it outgassed, and I was able to use it for years, for both Jersey and Gadget, any time there were stitches or skin eruptions, etc. However, it broke, finally, so this time we had no choice but to get a new (smelly) one.

  6. 6 Sharon Wachsler April 27, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    “do you still need donations for powerchair-van?”


    Thank you so much for remembering, and asking. Yes, I am still collecting for it. We went to meet with the guy who installs them. I can get a used one from him, and trade in my old one, but it will be a little more expensive than I anticipated because of the size and weight of my chair — I need a different kind of lift than we’d thought.

    I so much appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness, and I hope you don’t donate more than you can afford.

  7. 7 Jen April 28, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Sharon, still loving your blog. Your posts make me think seriously and laugh loudly…”now a few ounces lighter”?! I hope the good things keep going well and the difficult things come to easy resolutions.

  8. 8 Sharon Wachsler April 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you, Jen! “Think seriously and laugh loudly” — wow! No higher praise! 😀

  9. 9 Karyn April 28, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks Sharon for the reminder on the E-collar. Thane does not need one now but I know that Mets does not fit him. Its way too long for Thane’s short muzzle. I tried to use it once when he was chewing a lot but he could not even drink water wearing it- whereas Met could.
    Maybe I need to try and find another like Mets in a smaller size- ya think? grin
    I hope B’s recovering alright after his surgery. Thane’s happened a little under a month before I got him so I did not have to deal with that part of things. It takes a while for all the hormonal shut down to impact them though.
    Hope you two are resting smile

  10. 10 kendra April 29, 2011 at 12:52 am

    e-collar: fyi, whole dog journal had great review of all alternative med collars in august 2010 issue, “A Better Cone.” their top choice was ProCollar, then Soft E-collar, BiteNot, the Comfy cone, and last the kong e-collar. so many options i’d never heard of before.

    fyi, i find the whole dog journal totally worth its subscription price–it has no advertisers, so they report more candidly than possible in other mags. it has already saved me lots of $$ in time, research, and info i just did not have access to.

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