Sunday, January 10, 2010

Good News/Bad News

SUMMARY: To start the year running, I've got good news and bad news. And more good news. Etc.

Gratuitous dog photo: Dogs love riding in the car around the neighborhood when they don't have to be in crates.

  • Good news: My house appraised for much more than I thought it might in this market.
  • Bad news: That means my property taxes will keep going up, not down like so many other people's.
  • Good news: That might mean that it's a shoo-in for my refi application to go through. Just waiting to hear when closing should be--I think--

  • Good news: Paid off the last 73 cents on MUTT MVR last week!
  • Bad news: It's wayyyy overdue for its xxx,000 mile check-up.
  • Good news: Passed its smog check again.

  • Good news: Tika has been running around like a lunatic without her bootie and no signs of a sore foot. Ran her two runs (jumpers courses with weaves) and she was fine. Haven't tried contacts again yet.
  • Bad news: She continues to look, every once in a while, like she's sore for a few minutes or more.
  • Good news: It goes away again. But I wish I knew--our next trial is in just under 2 weeks, and she's signed up for a day of agility.

  • Good news: Boost loves doing agility.
  • Bad news: In class last week, after we've done virtually no agility for 3 weeks, she popped out of the weaves EVERY time at the 10th pole as I moved away from her. Instructor said, well, I had to support in in N following ways, and I was maybe rude and said, no, I don't have to, this is why we practice weave distractions down to the bone at home until I can't get her to pop for any reason.
  • Good news: When I finally just picked her up, carried her off the field, and put her away until the next run--then the next time, she did the weaves all the way through.

  • Bad news: Shattered tooth down into the root. Happy New Year! The dental surgeon I had to go to to get it excavated said I didn't *quite* win the prize for the most pieces of tooth to be dug out.
  • Good news: Didn't hurt before, hurt afterward more than I had hoped but less than I had feared, and only for that first evening, and it's been fine ever since.
  • Bad news: I dread finding out how much an implant is going to cost. No dental insurance.

  • Good news: Doctor says, Those things? They're harmless. They're called ruby spots (cherry angiomas).
  • Bad news: Yeah, you'll probably keep getting more. Yeah, they can get bigger.
  • Good news: Can burn them off with liquid nitrogen. [Like warts, I guess.]
  • Bad news: THAT's not a fun procedure. And it can scar. Either way, I'm going to end up looking like a giant polkadot by the time I'm 100.
  • Good news: Remind myself: they're harmless.

Tika sees another dog while on leash:

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    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    Bleahhhhhhh Part 2

    SUMMARY: Cold? Flu? Aardvarks? And who is that other person in my bed?

    By late yesterday afternoon, I felt a bit like I was floating somewhere behind my body and looking out through my eyes from several feet back. Whole body felt odd, numb but not actually numb, just in an achey, removed way. If one of the dogs shifted position, I'd jump in complete surprise, forgetting there were actually dogs in the house. Trying to work on an interesting project for work and I kept thinking it was something else (not entirely sure what).

    Dogs were going nuts all day because I had no energy all day to even throw the toy for them. Neither are good about bringing it back--that's all a long story and i keep meaning to videotape it for everyone's entertainment so you can all think "Ha! At least my dog brings the toy for me to throw!"--and when I finally gave in midday to the incessant pissing and moaning, I ended up yelling at both of them for not doing what I wanted and sort of realized that wasn't normal behavior on my part so gave up even trying.

    Dogs really got pissy and annoying as the early evening wore on and my patience was pretty much nonexistent; eventually realized that I hadn't given them dinner. Poor dogs with Human Mom's mind not functioning on all pistons.

    Finally occurred to me to take my temperature, and sure enough, running a low-grade fever (not over 100, but my normal is in the 97.6 range). I haven't had a fever in so long I hardly remember what it's like. Don't remember feeling halfway hallucinatory ever, though. My mom says that my dad used to start having hallucinations if his temperature went up by just a degree or two. So I crawled up to bed way early and lay there, sort of wide awake but couldn't concentrate even on reading, and I love reading. Although I was able to do a couple of "difficult" sudokus eventually, in record time, go figure.

    I'll tell ya, though, I was very careful every time of the many times I half woke up all night to cough or blow my nose not to disturb my sister who was sleeping on the other side of my bed. I kept hoping I wasn't keeping her awake; it must be miserable sleeping with a sickie, not to mention possibly contagious. When I had to get up to visit the loo, I realized with a shock that I hadn't closed the door even though there was someone else in the room, even though it was dark and she was probably still asleep, and then I couldn't remember whether it was Ann or Linda sleeping there, and then finally I realized that I was still feverish and it was only the dogs on the other side of the bed.

    Very very odd experience.

    Thermometer said no fever this morning but I still feel almost the same, though not quite so disconnected. Nose still running around like a nutcase. Dogs are very unhappy with me. Apparently I can type and string sentences together at the moment (by late yesterday afternoon that wasn't happening very well).

    But I'm thinkin' no agility class tonight.

    And I'm wondering about tomorrow--the Turlock USDAA trial starts Friday at 5 p.m. (or 6?) and I'm scheduled for score table and I'd have to load everything into the car in the morning, leave by 1 probably to avoid goshawful traffic-- Not feeling confident about ability to do that at the moment. Certainly couldn't do it today.

    I can't remember that I've ever missed an agility trial due to my own illness since I started in 1996--210 trials or so-- And I hate to lose the entry fees or cert's.

    OK, feeding the dogs (yay! I'm remembering), crawling back to bleaaaahhhh bed.

    P.S. I must point out that not only have I not ever to my recollection slept in the same bed with any of my sisters, I also haven't slept in the same room since 1966 and not even in the same building since 1977 or so, with only occasional shared hotel rooms with significant others (and separate beds). In case you were wondering.

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    Wednesday, May 27, 2009


    SUMMARY: By dose is all stuffed up.

    I thick I wore byself out so thoroughly this weekedd that by resistetce wet wayyy dowd ad dow I have ad awful code id by head. Bleahhh. The dogs still wat to play id the yard. Bleaaahhh. I am so tired. By braid is so dub. Dub. Dagdabbit I'b tryig to say "dub" oh dabbit.

    Dogs will dot be happy today. Huban bob doeset have edergy to eved throw the ball. Hubad bob also will dot be goig hikig todite. Baybe we will be doig a lot of dappig id by cosy bed upstairs. Baybe we will have to go buy bore kleenex.

    I will try to stick with words that are usable with a stuffy head. This is hard to do. Especially with a stuffy head. Avoid ebs & eds. Bleahhhh. Agility hiatus is the phrase for today. Possibly thursday, too. Hope it's better quickly, because friday/saturday is USDAA agility at Turlock. Will require health. Bleaahhhhhhhhhh.

    Dabbed ems ad eds.

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    Tuesday, May 05, 2009

    Old Age. It's Not for the Faint of Heart.

    SUMMARY: A scare, sadness, and relief.

    Over the last week, I've been talking to my first sister a bit about her 13-year old Lab mix who has been in declining health. But the dog still loved to go for walks, even if she could barely stand. Incontinent. Maybe a little senile, a little hard to tell. When was the right time to let her go? Would she make it easy by slipping away quietly some night in her bed?

    No, she leaped down a couple of steps into the carpeted living room yesterday--the dog who could barely walk, needed a towel under her belly held by her human caretakers to help her stand, wanted to leap down the step--fell, and couldn't get up again. Her front legs were as strong as ever, but her back and hind legs had given up, couldn't hold her up. Had she damaged something, or was this just progressive deterioration? Could she feel anything in her rear legs? Could it be fixed? Guessing not--

    My mother has had some serious health issues lately. She's still SO much "Mom"; no sign of the mental deterioration that she had so feared because all of her female relatives succumbed to it, but at 80, some other things have come up in rapid succession, landing her in the hospital or emergency room several times in the last half year. We've had some scares. I don't know whether she or we are more scared each time.

    She's had some procedures last week to try to stabilize her heartbeat. Thought it was successful. Then problems, and to the emergency room. Then OK and home again. It's her heart, for goodness sakes; these aren't minor things. She's always been so strong, or seemed like it to me. Very active and healthy, mentally and physically and socially.

    Last night I told my sister to call me if she decided to put the dog to sleep and needed company, someone other than her own daughters, whom she'd have to take care of more than they could take care of her at such a difficult time.

    I've heard nothing all day. Headed out for an evening with my Master Composters group around 6:00. Home a bit after 9, and there are 4 messages blinking on my answering machine. Given that I usually have about one once or twice a week, and given the way things have been going, that couldn't be good.

    The messages were from my dad, saying that he was taking mom to the emergency room again. From my first sister saying that she put the dog to sleep and shortly thereafter got the call about my mom and was now at the hospital with my parents. Two from my out-of-state fourth sister wanting reassurance, feeling outside of everything.

    OK, that's not so bad--given that there were no additional follow-up calls.

    I called my first sister for an update. Mom's back and legs seemed to be giving out, wouldn't hold her up, she fell or was afraid of falling (not clear on this), couldn't feel one leg. Couldn't get up. So they'd gone to the hospital.

    The doctors had ruled out heart attack and stroke and were progressing through a variety of other tests. Mom was perfectly capable of chatting and being--well--just the same mom as always, just with a body that's not willing to play the same games the same way any more. Turns out that it's just a (probably) minor infection, and she'll spend the night there so they can keep an eye on her to be sure that the treatment is taking rapid effect.

    I am greatly relieved.

    But meanwhile the hospital can't find a copy of mom's Advance Directive. What does the directive say? If she falls down the steps into the living room and can't get up, what do we do? She's not a dog, not senile, still going to contribute a lot to her family and the world--we expect--and she's only 80, for crying out loud, that's not old enough to be frail. Is it? Isn't 80 the new 60? And 60's the new 40?

    It's all so much really out of our control. We have to rely on the expertise of others, and we have no good way of knowing whether they actually have any idea of what they're talking about. We like to hope so. We have to hope so.

    Because I expect mom and dad to still be around when I hit 100. That's just the way it's supposed to work. And by then, I'll have lost how many dogs to the Big Milkbone in the Sky? Four so far, two more on their way--Tika's 8, Boost's 4. Ten years from now, I don't expect that they'll still be with me. Some other young and bouncy and crazy and loving dog will most likely be in my life. It won't be the same as any of my previous dogs. It won't be as good as they were. And, in other ways, it will be better.

    Not so easy to adopt a replacement parent from the local parent shelter; their screening requirements are REALLY tough. So I'll have to keep the ones I've got. And meanwhile my sister's dog is gone. In peace. But so hard for the ones left behind.

    I have no clever line to wrap this up. Because the story really has no end. So I guess I'll go to bed.

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    Monday, March 30, 2009


    SUMMARY: Taxes, earthquake, agility dangers, necks, bugs, computers...

    • There was a 4.3 earthquake not far from here this morning. Wasn't home so don't know whether dogs noticed. But my guess is not. One quick shake and then a little rolling; nothing too disturbing.
    • I finally spent the time to get my papers together for the tax guy. I noticed once again that no agility-related or dog-related expenses seem to be tax deductible. Maybe if I were an agility instructor? Or an agility lecturer?
    • An agility friend and her dog collided this weekend at an agility trial, she fell and hit her head and was knocked unconscious. Scary. Spent the night in the hospital; she doesn't remember a thing about the incident.
    • What are those horrid sort of round bugs that are smaller than the head of a pin that have been infesting my kitchen cupboards now for probably a year? I think they came in in a batch of dog biscuits that weren't sealed up. Maybe 6 months ago, I emptied all the cupboards, threw out several things that had been infested, and put everything else in ziplock bags. But they've beeen increasing with a vengeance. Yesterday I went through the process again. Found 6 things in plastic bags that were infested; two I couldn't tell whether there was an opening in the bags--maybe they were infested when I put them in the bags. The others--they had eaten right through the bags! Another scary thing. Had to toss two supposedly sealed new dog treat things again that they somehow got through the bags.
    • Yet another agility friend apparently has a little cattledog with the same neck issues that Tika has. Apparently vet said it's from all the shaking of toys. Boost still shakes things like a 7.6 earthquake when we're tugging, but Tika doesn't much shake things any more (just pulls). Maybe that's because of her neck? The friend says no more shaking toys for her dog. How do you stop it? Argh.
    • I still haven't blogged my info from last weekend's trial. Tika did pretty good. But I took a few photos and I've been busy and now my computer's down, so I can't do anything with them. SOMEday I'll talk about last weekend. I took good notes!

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    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    Sunday Results

    SUMMARY: Generally had a good time. But pretty awful in the Q department.

    My first run of the day was with Tika in Grand Prix, and like yesterday's first run, it was lovely and gave me hopes for a successful day--cool weather, Tika was jazzed, we connected well, and although she slammed a bar that I thought had cost us 5 faults, in fact it never fell, so she Qed and was one of only 5 of twenty-one 26" dogs who ran clean, for a lovely 5th place grand prix ribbon. We run clean so seldom in GP--and place almost never--that it delighted me.

    A friend also delivered our custom-ordered fancy ribbon from the earlier trial where Tika finished her ADCH-Bronze, so I got to hang that on her crate and enjoy it all day.

    However--that was it. Snooker--I made a bad mistake and knocked us out on the 2nd obstacle. Jumpers: One bar down. Standard: Missed getting a toenail into the A-frame contact zone by a hair's breadth, according to the judge. (She could've gotten a toenail in and it would've looked the same to me: Dog flying off the Aframe. So I'm glad that the judge is looking! Or maybe not!)

    So much for Tika's 50% Q rate in USDAA. Last time she had a USDAA weekend that bad was 3 whole years ago--34 USDAA trials ago--where she managed 0 for 10--and before that, a whole 'nother year back, where she had 3 trials in 3 months with 0 or 1 Qs.

    So that made me sad. On the other hand, I made a special effort to get her revved up for every run this weekend, no slacking off (could the bars and contacts be a byproduct? Perhaps, perhaps--) and she ran very well indeed and it was a pleasure to be in the ring with her every round.

    Boost continued today with refusal, runouts, and bar crashing, although she did weave poles just beautifully in all 3 classes that had them. In fact, she completed a beautiful and difficult opening in Snooker, requiring her to take a jump after I led out 2/3 of the way across the field, wrap around the Aframe into the weaves, and then complete the weaves as I did a rear cross. It was lovely. And then we went back into refusals/runouts/bar crashing.

    I managed to laugh after our last run of the day, Jumpers, which was so full of errors that it was hard to do anything but laugh, but really can't I figure out how to run with this dog? All those entry fees for nuthin' are an expensive way to not have as much fun as I'd like.

    Walking the Jumpers course (including Team Small Dog Leader) to show what nice, pleasant weather we had and of course since it was Team Small Dog, I had to get a different angle on the whole thing. Hmm. This could work. Must practice technique more.

    I'm threatening to go up to Power Paws every day this week just to run jumpers courses for an hour (with breaks). Maybe I need another private lesson for more suggestions, because some of the ones I've worked on don't seem to have the desired effect. That's a lot of time, though, and I'm busy busy busy...

    Here's most of the 16" USA World Team dissecting a course run. I'll bet they practice at Power Paws a lot more than I do. Or somewhere.

    My shoulders have nearly bought the farm--I'm doing physical therapy now, and the right biceps hurts SO badly most of the time. Not sure what aggravated them more now, as they've been off & on bad for a few years now. But they're baaaaaaad in the very bad sense. Had to borrow shade space from a couple of friends because there was no way I could manage a canopy. It worked out very nicely. (Boost's crate covered or she throws herself wildly against the sides when she sees dogs doing anything interesting, knocking over the water and putting holes in the crate and like that.)

    We also didn't manage to win any free entries in the workers raffler, but we did land this catch instead (I think I dropped one ticket in because, what the heck, who doesn't need dogfood?). Tika thinks this was the best raffle prize ever and wants to know when's dinner?

    Lastly, I remembered to take a picture of agility feet so that we can compare and contrast to hiking feet. What to do with the comparison is left as an exercise for the student.

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    Monday, May 05, 2008

    Handling a Sore Dog

    SUMMARY: What to do when your dog is sore?

    I'm a terrible patient in some ways--not very patient, really. When I'm injured, I tend to push the limits of what doctors suggest. Thank goodness, modern human medicine now wants you to do as much as you can as fast as you can, rather than resting abed.

    So, for example, if I've badly sprained an ankle (enough to go see the doctor), and confirmed that it's not broken or torn, and the advice has been to rest it for [some period of time], I rest it until I can run on it... a day? three days? (Of course I have to keep testing it, not resting it, to see whether I can move without, like, screaming.) I don't seem to have done myself any serious damage this way. Sure, it's not 100% when I start being active again, but if I don't move, I put on weight (it lurks in the shadows, waiting for any sign of weakness, and then LEAPS onto my hips at a moment's notice!). And maybe I have to ice it and take NSAIDs for longer than I would if I had given it the full rest, but in so many ways I feel better by pushing the envelope.

    (Aside: OK, really, how much work is pushing an envelope? I mean, really!)

    When my knee was so screwed up that I could barely walk, I did listen to my physical therapist when she said "you are scratching yourself from the trial this weekend and you are NOT running, NOT!" When the orthopedist said, "I can't say that I give my blessings for you to go to the Nationals and run your dogs, and I don't think it's a good idea, but I can't stop you from doing something that you want to do, so [fill in assorted medical advice]," I did in fact go to the nationals and I did run my dogs and I borrowed a bicycle to get around, and I did not suffer greatly for it except that it was damned dull sitting in my chair icing my knee constantly when there was so much to do and see that I couldn't [do or see]. But that was possible because the knee had improved somewhat in the preceding 2 or 3 weeks so that I COULD, in fact, run on it without, like, screaming. And, furthermore, Tika's team made it to the finals and she took home an individual placement ribbon, her first ever. So what did that teach me?

    But that's not what I came here to talk about.

    So, now I have, in my care, lovely furry athletic beasts who are in much better shape than I am and who rely on me for intelligent, well-reasoned choices about their care. Ha! I try to be a better patient for them than I am for myself, but I am of mixed feelings, because failing to follow my own medical advice to the letter seems, in fact, to have been good for me.

    So, what to do when the dogs are hurtin'?

    When Jake, at nearly 10, first came up sore--suddenly so painful that he couldn't even go up stairs--x-rays proved arthritis. Vet prescribed 6 weeks of complete rest. Six weeks! On a wild and crazy dog who ran full out chasing tennis balls for 20-30 minutes daily! He got full rest for maybe 3 or 4 days, and then very limited exercise for a couple of weeks after that and then we did just a little tiny bit of class at a lower jump height, and all that time he showed no signs of pain, none! OK, he was on anti-inflammatories, too, for at least a couple of those weeks, and I knew that, and I was cautious. But not six weeks worth of cautious. And this 17.75"-tall dog continued to jump 22" in USDAA for another 18 months, then jumped 16" for another 3 years (eventually only one run a day) until he died at 15. He still jumped at 12" beautifully with no signs of pain.

    So now Tika, just 7 this February, has been turning up sore more and more often. What's the right answer? How to treat her? I know that active dogs are at least as bad as active people--they don't care if they're in pain as long as they're moving moving moving! Until the pain gets to be too much for them. I know that they don't necessarily show it until it's pretty thorough.

    I can't afford regular chiropractic visits (for myself or for the dogs). Some people swear by it, since dogs can't and/or won't tell you when they're sore, you need to do some massage and hands-on evaluation of all their joints on a regular basis, whereas with a person you can get away with it only when you need it. But not all of us have those resources. So it's my own limited-skill dog massage and limited-skill dog stretching and just trying to pay very close attention to what the dog's behavior tells me.

    For instance, when it's mealtime, does Tika spring fully into the air several times? Does she just lift her front feet off the ground but the rear feet stay down? Does she just wriggle in an excited little dance? Does she play full-out with Boost or does she play a little and then tell Boost to get lost, or does she plop down and refuse to play? Things like this tell me a tremendous amount.

    So, to run Tika this last weekend or not? She seemed painfree and rarin' to go Thursday and Friday with no drugs since Tuesday. I was cautious by scratching her from 2 of her 5 runs a day and picking ones that I thought would be easiest on her body.

    Over the weekend, I watched her carefully and constantly for any sign of soreness. Did she stand up as soon as I approached her crate (versus staying lying down)? Did she stretch comfortably (versus not at all, or minimally, or even too much--which was a sign with Jake that he was feeling a bit off). Would she take a toy? Would she try to shake it? Did she bounce when I brought out the frisbee?

    I avoided playing tug with her as much as possible, and when I did, I worked on keeping her head down instead of at my level and keeping it less intense to avoid the real insane neck-wrenching kill-shakes. We did a little frisbee first thing in the mornings but I kept the throws short and at ground level. I tried to get her out of her crate a little early for extra warmup and stretching, and to walk her around several times during the day so she didn't stiffen up. She looked great on course, landing lightly on her feet, turning smoothly without slowing down.

    We played a bit more intense frisbee at the end of the day Sunday, but not nearly as much as I let her the previous weekend. Still no sign of any soreness today. Next trial isn't for a month, and they'll have a complete week off while I leave them at home going to AZ.

    It's a balancing act with tough choices. I have plenty of friends with dogs with chronic injuries who struggle often with when to rest the dog, and how much, and what other treatments to try, so I'm not unaware of the risks of running a dog who has had issues. Having mere pet dogs is so much easier.

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    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    Bodily Function

    SUMMARY: Me knee hurt. Grunt. Me hip hurt. Grunt. Me go doctor musculoskeletal.

    Another agility blogger's post got me pondering the function of certain of my bodily parts.

    The knee has been deteriorating again. Could it have anything to do with failing to keep up the exercises with which I had made great progress on strengthening my quads? Nah, I'm sure it's mere coincidence. Have been having trouble even getting up stairs the last couple of weeks.

    My short-term solution? Ignore it, feed it drugs, keep doing agility, curse and fume and grunt every time I stand up, and hope it gets better.

    OK, common sense finally prevailed and this week I've started those physical therapy exercises again, AND icing it at every opportunity. Although it hurts a bit just doing quad sets and leg lifts, Lo! already today I can feel a difference. How odd.

    Two weeks ago I woke up with my opposite hip in pain. Could very well be from the recent increase in adjusting my movements to try to avoid hurting my knee. Not so much an ache as feeling that it was out of position and pinching something. Felt like it needed to be yanked and torqued. Hard to do to oneself. So I ignored it, fed it drugs, kept doing agility, cursed and fumed, and hoped it would get better. (Since this has been an unsuccessful strategy in the past, I figured it's worth another shot.) It actually did get a bit better over a week, then a week ago I could barely walk in the morning again.

    So I made an emergency call to the chiropractor recommended by my housemate/renter. I haven't been to a chiro in years. Last time was one visit when my hip was so bad suddenly that I could barely walk (sound familiar?) and after one painful and uncomfortable visit, pop! it was better. I didn't like the treatment but I liked the result. And before that, a different one for a while for a wrist problem. Might have helped, might not have.

    Unlike many of my athletic compatriots, I don't go in for regular appointments to get "adjusted". If I could do it once a year like I do for a regular physical checkup, maybe I would, but it always seemed to be "you need at least 6 visits to get reassembled properly." And without anything specific, I just haven't seen the point.

    But in this case, I couldn't see going to my regular doc or even an orthopedist and expecting them to yank and torque anything, ever. Anyway, the guy fit me in to his schedule. In his office, I, who have been living in my body for a rather long time, fumbled around trying to explain where I thought it hurts, and meanwhile he put his thumb against a spot in my lower back and said "here?" and Yowp! it sure was. We had a long discussion, he took xrays, and he sent me home with instructions to ice it and to come back Monday after he'd had a chance to look at the x-rays.

    Felt much better the next day. And all he did was take x-rays and poke my back once with his thumb. What a genius! But it's not perfect, still; I could tell when I started my quad sets and leg lifts--that hip is still not in kilter. On Monday, we went over the x-rays. My L3 and L4 vertebrae are completely out of whack--the L4 out of line front to back, the L3 side to side. And I've got quite a bit of degenerative disk disease there. (Yes, known; that's the area pinpointed on MRI for my bout with horrific sciatica.)

    He wanted to know what sort of accident or trauma I'd been through maybe 10-15 years ago. Same question the docs wanted to know with the sciatica disaster, and I still got nuthin'. So he says he's going to stay away from my lower back entirely and just deal with the hip.

    Chiropractic yanking and jerking--and especially in the neck--have always frightened me a bit, and especially with the latest studies shown that chiro neck-cracking can be dangerous. I was very glad to discover that he doesn't touch anything that doesn't need touching specifically, and our long discussions reassured me about his knowledge and approach.

    So he did some work on my hip Monday, and it was NOT painful or scary, and it has helped a bit. Still icing. Still going back today and probably at least a couple more times until it's happy again. He thinks I need at least 6 visits to get reassembled properly. At the moment, he's covered by my Kaiser insurance, but that apparently ends in early June, so I'd better experience a rapid cure or I won't be able to afford it anyway. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to be icing it and resting it.

    Icing, OK... but, man, I have *agility* to do! So it's off to class with Tika tonight, Boost tomorrow, training in the yard... I'm nothing if not foolishly in denial.

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    Friday, February 09, 2007

    Health Milestones

    SUMMARY: Things is lookin' good.

    I realized today that, sometime in the last week, I crossed the threshold where I can now stoop or kneel to get at things in low cabinets, without pain, and get back up again (there's been the rub!) without hardly even noticing my knee. This is excellent, and it's been just 2 months and a not quite 2 weeks since my surgery.

    The flu thing I think is mostly past, although the cough lingers. Today's the first day all week that I haven't still been very droopy and low-energy and needing to nap or at least lie down and rest for a while. And I think last night was the first night in at least 2 weeks that coughing wasn't an issue during the night. Huzzah!

    Now if only I'd keep up on that exercycle work I keep promising I'd do--

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    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    Random Musings

    SUMMARY: Random notes and thoughts accumulated over the last 2 days.

    Tika's Next USDAA Titles

    By the way, that Super-Q also finished Tika's Snooker Master and Snooker Champion titles. Next up (if we want something to chase):
    • Snooker Bronze: 1 snooker Q
    • Gamblers Champion: 1 gamblers Q
    • Tournament Silver: 2 DAM team Qs

    Next USDAA trials: March 17/18, April 12-15, April 28-29, May 5-6.

    Barrelling Forward Mere Inches From Death

    I was barrelling down the Sunol grade Sunday night at nearly 70 MPH with the flow of dense traffic, firmly gripping the steering wheel with hands determinedly at 10:00 and 2:00, surrounded by vehicles, when it struck me. There we were, each of us encased in nearly two tons of nearly paper-thin metal, rocketed down a slope at a speed of over 100 feet per second. That's the entire length of a football field in the time it takes you to take one breath. Do you realize how fast that is?

    And furthermore, there are four lanes, with vehicles in each of those lanes, on either side of me feeling close enough for me to reach out and touch if I dared to take a hand off the wheel to roll down a window. And the road is not only going downhill, gravity propelling us even faster, but it's curving, so every one of us, side by side, hurtling along at speeds unimaginable for most of human history, must judge the exact curve of the road for hundreds of feet ahead, as the slightest twitch in the steering wheel or momentary relaxation where the wheels would find their natural path of going straight, not arcing, would send the vehicle slamming into the neighbor, or into the concrete K-rail sitting less than a foot beyond the outer lane marking, to carrom back into traffic, taking out multiple lanes of cars. In the dark, with only our headlights to guide us.

    It's amazing that anyone survives. It's amazing that there are as few accidents as there are.

    Boost's First Advanced Weekend

    Wow. I knew we weren't ready for Advanced, but we looked even less ready than we did previously, and it wasn't all simply because they were advanced courses. What a mess! Oddly enough, we did better in the Grand Prix and the Steeplechase than in any of our regular classes, although we didn't Q. We survived the Steeplchase with no faults on a course where more than a third of the entrants were offcourse, but with too many bobbles to make time. And we Eed in the Grand Prix just two obstacles from the end on the place where I knew we'd have trouble (and where many much more experienced dogs also Eed), on a hard wrap from a tunnel going away from the dog walk onto the dogwalk without going back into the tunnel next to the dogwalk. If she'd made that, we'd have qualified.

    She left several contacts without a release, she knocked bars, she ran past Aframes and dogwalks and tunnels, she kept turning back to me instead of pushing forward over lines of jumps, she popped out of weaves... argh. (Although she did some of all the same things very well, too. Still, more bobbles than I had expected.)

    Back to the drawing board.

    What's scary is that, in watching video of the only run I have of hers from this weekend, it looks like she's stutter stepping some of her jumps, which I didn't notice in person at all. Yikes.

    Health In Agility

    I wasn't as recovered as I had thought I might be from last week's flu. I coughed and hacked and blew my nose all weekend, feeling badly as much about possibly spreading something that I thought I was over as I felt about being there and not feeling in my prime. I tried to always smother my coughs in my jacket rather than my hands or the air, and carried a little bottle of Purell hand sanitizer around with me to slather on my hands every time I touched my nose or lips. I sure hope I didn't spread anything.

    Survived the days, but had a cough that rattled in my chest and just wouldn't clear all night Friday and Saturday nights. Sat up for several hours in the middle of the night in the Motel 6 in Turlock Saturday night, because sitting seemed to reduce the hacking, which gave me a chance to watch the film "Three Wishes", a just all-around feel-good film with the most interesting mixed-breed cute but almost alien terrier dog costarring with Patrick Swayze.

    Before that, and despite Tika's ADCH and other good showings for the day, what kept running through my head were all the things that we had muffed all day long. Seems that my mood follows my physical state in more ways than one, and I was tired and weak and coughy and achey and so were my thoughts. By the time the movie was over, I felt good about life and myself and my dogs and that's when I really began to enjoy having finished Tika's ADCH.

    Odder things have happened.

    Knee's Good

    My knee, meanwhile, held up fine. I iced it on general principles when I got to the motel, but it didn't bother me all weekend and seems not to have any puffiness or soreness afterwards (aside from what had been there before post-op already). That's very promising.

    DAM Team News

    Tika's team, Three's A Charm did well at the Nationals in November, but now it turns out that Skeeter, our third, is losing her vision and is apparently now retired from agility. At first they thought it was PRA, but turns out it's glaucoma, and just heard today that with treatment she actually seems to be doing better, although her depth perception is iffy. In any event, looks like they probably won't be competing any more.

    So Brenn and Tika decided to go an unusual route and asked a 12" dog, a papillon named Roxee, to be our third for the April Haute TRACS team event. (Photo of Roxee, her handler Rob, and her owner.)

    Now we just need a team name. Roxee's owner (different from her handler) had some possible suggestions that I didn't have the presence of mind to write down, so we'll have to find out again.

    Qualifying for Nationals

    Tika earned another 5-fault Grand Prix Q, so she's now GP qualified for the Nationals. She turned on the rocket fuel for Steeplechase and didn't even pretend to stick her contacts although I came to a full stop expecting her to, too, so she got way ahead of me and then turned back to see what I was up to, wasting time, but the killer was when somehow I managed to push her PAST an entire tunnel and had to run back for it. So technically we were clean but about 3 seconds over time.

    So Tika still needs 2 Steeplechases and a Team, and Boost still needs everything. Gah.

    Knocking Bars

    After 5 runs on Saturday and 3 on Sunday during which Tika did not knock a single bar--not one!--I dared to hope that we could manage another Jumpers Q. Well, she was fast and felt smooth, no bobbles on this course, although still coming in a second and a half behind first place--but with TWO bars down, I guess to make up for the rest of the weekend. Sigh. So much for sticking around to the dire end instead of heading home early. But one's gotta hope. Only 4 of the 16 26" dogs who stuck around managed to qualify on this course, so we were in good but frustrated company.

    What Was Your Last Q?

    Got to wondering over the weekend whether anyone had ever done a study to see whether there was a predominance of one type of class that most often held people back from a key title. For example, Tika had moved up to Masters Standard before she finally earned her first-ever Jumpers Q for her AD (novice title). Then it was a Gamblers Q that kept us from our USDAA MAD, which seems to me to be pretty common. And it was a Jumpers Q again that kept us from our CPE C-ATCH for so long. So it's been my surprise to discover that it was a Snooker Q that kept us from our ADCH.

    With Remington, it was Standards that kept us from ever earning our MAD.

    With Jake, it was a Gamblers leg that kept him from his ADCH, a Standard for his NATCH, and a Snooker for his C-ATCH, but the latter really wasn't much of a delay, it just happened to be the last Q needed (compared to alllll the others, which were significant delays after the last preceding Qs).

    So, even based on my dogs, I can't make any general statement about the most-common class to be last.

    How about for everyone else? Feel free to drop a comment here.

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    Friday, February 02, 2007


    SUMMARY: The flu seems to have departed.

    And I think I'm gonna be all right.
    Yeah, the worst is over,
    Now the morning sun is shining like a Red Q Ribbon. (1) (2)

    (1)In USDAA, qualifying ribbons are maroon. Kinda red. On to Turlock for competition!
    (2)With apologies to Simon & Garfunkle.


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    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    Happy Birthdays

    SUMMARY: Lots of Finch agility birthdays. Celebrate with the flu.

    Yesterday Boost turned 2 and I turned mumble hack hack cough. Sorry, that was the flu choking me up for a minute. Had a lingering cold for the last 2 weeks that finally seemed to be almost gone by the end of the weekend, then monday evening felt overly tired & sore & was approaching miserable by wake-up Tuesday. Abandoned computer almost entirely tuesday afternoon and went back to bed, something I almost never do--working from home, I can sit for a while then rest, etc. But nooooo.

    Got my flu shot this year, too, back in Oct. They say it would be worse if I hadn't.

    A little bit of a fever tuesday but not much. The three worst parts: (1)No energy, just want to lie down. Can only watch TV. What kind of hell is that? (2) Coughing, blowing nose, coughing coughing coughing. Yesterdayevening stomach muscles and between shoulder blades were getting to that sore place where you desperately want to cough to clear your breathing and desperately want not to because it hurts. Better today, so coughing must have slacked off some, but hard to tell otherwise. At the moment (3) worst part is excruciating pain moving through my joints which is not fever-like at all. Trying to decide whether to go see the doctor. Tuesday night shoulders hurt so bad could barely move arms. Wednesday moved into my knees and last night into my fingers. This morning could barely walk & it hurt, although that has eased some. Right now hands so bad can't wash w/out pain, can't grip anything. But--it's a miracle--or a curse--I can type some until I'm so exhausted from being exhausted that I have to go lie down again.

    Don't want to miss this weekend's next chance at Tika's super-Q because my next chance isn't for another 6 weeks, and would just be so nice to finish before Tika's 6th birthday, which is the 14th of February. Plus this weekend has Grand Prix and Steeplechase and--since I've been obsessing about those--don't want to miss them.

    But at the moment the thought of trying to do ANYTHING makes me want to crawl right back into bed. Bleaaaaahhhhh--- need to be better before tomorrow afternoon so I have the energy to pack the car.

    Dogs are going nuts. Thank goodness the renter-housemate plays with them a little daily.

    And now--back to lie-down state.

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    Tuesday, January 23, 2007


    SUMMARY: Just thinking.

    • It's been SO dry here this winter. Not just in terms of rain (which we're quite low on), but the air. My fingers have been cracking since December. I use moisturizing hand lotion all the time. But I wash my hands so often, too, with being out with the dogs and (the last week or so) a cold and doing stuff in the yard, it's hard to keep up. Now my lips are chapping, my whole face is flaking. I think I'm starting to go hoarse--cold/cough or dry air? Ack.
    • The lilac bush is going going...hopefully soon gone! Blog commenters are good at making me put my money where my mouth is. I offered it on, thinking that no one could really possibly want an 8' tall/wide shrub, but I was swamped with replies. This is apparently the ideal time to remove it. So after 5 years in this house, it's finally going*. But this means I'm having to dig up all the plants around it that I want to keep and move elsehwere. This is why I found/bought/stole/created dozens of pots and potting soil all summer, to do this, and then it just seemed like SO much work. But with shovels impending, I've made good progress today (yessss---less billable work again) and hopefully can finish tomorrow.
    • Tip for the brain dead: When you're lifting something really heavy and you're out of condition and you want to set it on a platform (read "agility table") that's next to you, turn, don't twist at the waist. Owwwies. I knew that. OK, now I have a sore back muscle on one side. Hope it doesn't stiffen up before the weekend.
    • For 2 days straight, Jake wouldn't play fetch no matter what I tried. Would finally go and get the toy and then skirt around me at the edges of the yard to dart back into the house. Yesterday he was coaxable, but I had to coax a lot. Then he fetched forever. Today I wasn't in the mood for coaxing, and he lay on the deck watching me toss a toy for the others for about 20 minutes between uprooting irises and narcissi, then he came down and asked me to to play fetch! I was thrilled. Did it a long time, too, like yesterday. Sucks getting old.
    • My mom's closest cousin--my clever, funny, "aunt"--has been writing incoherent letters from her home in New York. Senility/alzheimers/whatever is setting in big time. I think that's the curse & the fear of the woodward family women: Live a long life with your body and a shorter one with your mind. It's scary. My mom's doing good so far but we all know from her stories of her grandmother and from the way her mom deteriorated that we all could be next in line...and now the cousin... Argh even more. I'll just assume that doing agility will preserve my mind forever. Or, the way I sometimes run courses, no one will know the difference anyway. That's probably a better strategy--just be incomprehensible all the time so you and everyone else just get used to it.
    *Oops, that would be an unclear pronoun reference. The lilac shrub has not, in fact, EVER been in this house to my knowledge, but *I* have been.

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