The Long Goodbye

Yesterday we had to say good-bye to our beagle Minnie. Making the hateful decision to put her to sleep was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to commit to-how do you knowingly go about making arrangements to end the life of the thing you love most in this world?

First let me take a step back to tell you that we nearly lost her back on February 13th of last year.  In the middle of the night, we rushed her to Tufts after she collapsed and couldn’t breathe. She was diagnosed with Chronic Valvular Disease & Congestive Heart Failure. Her cardiology team couldn’t tell us how long she would live, but we were given the vague expectation that it could be anywhere from one to six months depending on how well we could control her symptoms with heart medications.

Ever since last February, we’ve been living on borrowed time with Minnie. It’s been a long year of increasingly sleepless nights and constant worry. Living with a dog who has CHF means listening to persistent coughing, monitoring breaths per minute, maintaining a low-sodium diet and keeping up with ever-changing heart medications.

It’s been a delicate dance to keep her as happy and healthy as possible this past year. She continued to enjoy her long walks with Spencer and still eagerly ran to the kitchen every time she heard the refrigerator door open or the turn of the electric can opener. She enjoyed Winter one last time rolling in freshly fallen snow and taking long lazy naps in all her favorite spots of our house. She was happy and content despite her failing heart. We helped her have a good quality of life this past year.  We never gave up on her.

But recently she began fainting as a result of her coughing and seeing her wake-up after a fainting spell struggling to breathe and not knowing if she would recover was unimaginably painful and we just couldn’t put her through it anymore.  We loved her too much and knew it was time to say good-bye.

We let her go yesterday – nearly a year to the day when we first discovered her condition – our most loved 11-year old girl.

We were with her till the last beat of her broken heart.

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Rough Edges

Like everyone else on the planet today, I’ve been thinking about all the things I want to do differently in 2013. I’ve got a laundry list of things that I could tell you about myself that I’d like to focus on improving in the New Year, but some of them are too intimate and I don’t really feel like sharing them in case I don’t do so good.

But then today I got this letter mailed to me from my friend Jillian.  She attached this Post-It note to a couple of Pom Wonderful pomegranate coupons:

I peeled back the note and checked out the coupons it was attached to and just laughed my ass off. Talk about someone knowing you so well! Of course I was itching to immediately grab my scissors and start neatly trimming around the edges so I could tighten that shit up. In fact, one of the coupons she sent was so badly ripped that the tear went right through the little section where you can see the expiration date of the coupon.  C’Mon!  I was thinking to myself, “How can I even use this at the grocery store? The cashier won’t even be able to use it.”  And oh how that bothered me.

One of the poorly clipped coupons

But then I paused and thought that getting these coupons couldn’t have come at a better time for me because it reminded me that this was one of the things about myself that I wanted to work on in the New Year – my perfectionism which has probably manifested itself into a very mild form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  (Yes, I am compelled to line up my wallet “stripper ones” so that the faces are all pointing in the same direction – don’t you?)

It’s this perfectionism that has prevented me from writing more because every word has to be placed just so. It’s this perfectionism that won’t let me start a project unless I know I’ll be able to complete it 100% within weird self-imposed strict guidelines or else I’ve failed. 
I know I’m sitting here writing this and I’m not happy with how I’m getting my point across, but you know what? I need to be OK with it.  I need to console myself and say that at least I’m writing something rather than just thinking of all the things I want to write.  I’m performing an action.
In 2013, one of my resolutions is to embrace the rough edges that come my way and learn to maneuver around them. After all, it’s not always about the straight line and sometimes you just can’t find those damn scissors.

My First Heimlich

Photo: Heimlich Heimlich Hippos via Shirtoid.com

You never forget your first time.

Spencer and I went out to lunch today.  I just happened to look up from my delicious Chicken Oscar and noticed that a waitress was performing the Heimlich maneuver on a fellow diner.

It happened so fast.

At first it just looked odd that the waitress was hugging this guy and then it dawned on my slow brain that I was seeing a medical emergency in progress.

I stopped chewing and probably exclaimed ‘Cool’ or something like that to Spencer. Then a chunk of food came flying out of the guy’s mouth and it was over as suddenly as it probably began.

The waitress was smiling at the man who clearly knew his life had just been saved by her.  He sheepishly inserted himself back into the booth and I could see the waitress reaching back into her apron to pull out her pen and pad to presumably take the rest of their order.

A few moments later, I noticed our waitress had slapped on her plastic gloves and had a spray bottle of cleaning stuff ready to presumably wipe up the mess the poor guy made on the table when the mysterious chunk of food stuff flew out of his windpipe.

Just another reason for me to recommend having a meal at Not Your Average Joe’s in Westborough, MA. Excellent food, outstanding service and you just might have your life saved while you’re there.

Introducing The Wrong Kim Perry

I’d say for the past 6-8 months, my Gmail account has been mistakenly tangled up with at least 3 different Kim Perry’s, but probably more. Apparently I’ve been quite busy doing the following:

  1. Apartment hunting on Rent.com in Alpharetta, GA. 
  2. Reviewing my CanaDuct Cleaning experience via Homestars.com.
  3. Being Chief of Emergency Medicine.
  4. Writing cautionary emails to my co-workers about the state of the ladies bathroom (a personal favorite topic of the ACTUAL Kim Perry)
  5. Attending various Little League games
  6. Travel to Cancun

All of these emails have been clogging up my inbox so I decided to use the labels feature in Gmail to help me organize all this noise. I created the label “Wrong Kim Perry” and began creating filters for the daily emails I would inevitably receive in the hopes that someday I would actually be able contact these “others’ to explain that I’ve been receiving all of their emails and eventually pass along all this information that was really meant for them. And trust me, I have tried to contact these other Kim’s explaining that their emails have been reaching me in error. To date, zero success.

But this latest batch of emails that I’ve begun receiving from a property management company alerting me to dry cleaning being picked up and packages delivered to my apartment in New York city got me thinking that it might be interesting to occasionally document all this crazy shit that I just can’t seem to rid myself of every time I check my personal email.

Just in case readers of this blog are interested in the double, triple and quadruple lives that I’ve been apparently living, I’ll be sure to keep you updated going forward.

My First MRI

Today would have been my mother’s 63rd birthday.  I celebrated her birthday today by having my first MRI this morning at St. Vincent’s Hospital which is appropriate because my mother suffered from severe neck and back problems her entire life and I’d think something’s gone wonky in my back. I guess the only good thing about that is it took me into my early forties to notice.
My back went out a week before Christmas and it’s just never been the same.  My lower back is always sore , but for the past two months, I’ve suffered from poor sleeping because of this weird pins/needles feeling every night when I lie down to go to sleep.  It’s a hard sensation to describe, but trying to get to sleep while feeling like there’s a fireworks show going on throughout your body doesn’t exactly make for a night of restful sleep. Wait. I just thought of a better way to describe it: it feels like the pain you get from holding a sparkler during Fourth of July and one of the sparks randomly hits your skin and you sort of jump.  Whatever – it’s still all about the fireworks.
Last week my doctor switched me from muscle relaxers to a wonderful drug called Neurontin which brings me back full circle to why I just might be turning into my mom.  She took that very same drug for a long time to help with her fibromyalgia and neuropathy.  It’s prescribed to people for lots of reasons, but my favorite description of neurontin is that it helps “…decrease abnormal excitement in the brain.”  Yup. That’s me.
I remember my mom having to go for an MRI a couple of times and she had a lot of problems lying flat because of her back. This morning I was more nervous about feeling claustrophobic in the MRI machine so I popped a Xanax when I woke up this morning to mellow me out before I went for my appointment. I figured it was more of a preemptive strike because I’m not so good in crowds and get especially freaked out in elevators transporting more than three people. It definitely took the edge off.
My favorite part of the MRI experience was being given a sheet of artists that I could listen to while having the MRI. Can you believe the first artist on the list was AC/DC?    But they had a whole range of music that I could choose from while I lied perfectly still in that medical coffin:  Celtic Woman, Jethro Tull, Billy Joel (my mom’s favorite), Yanni, Madonna and Eminem.  I ended up choosing the generic Calming Seas which wasn’t the best choice because it didn’t really calm me down.  I blame the dolphins and their damned squeaking language of the sea.
The MRI took about 20 minutes and I did great because I closed my eyes through 99% of the whole MRI. It was recommended that I think about calming scenery like lounging on a warm beach, but instead I kept myself deathly still by imagining how good my bowl of spicy Tortilla soup was going to taste this afternoon while having lunch at Playa del Carmen in Holden.
I’m hoping there’s nothing serious going on with my lower back, but I was particularly missing my mother today because today is her birthday and I’m having back problems just like her.  But then again, sometimes I just miss her special way of  worrying about me more than I worry about myself.