Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mystery Mutt!

For over 30 years, we have been involved with animal rescue. We have "specialized", if you don't count the cats, and adopted only one breed of dog - the Keeshond.

Keeshonden (plural) are the whole package. Smart, and beautiful; with lovely temperaments. They are wonderful with kids. They are vigilant to a fault, and will tell you about every leaf blowing across the grass. They are so pretty that people will stop you on the street to ask about them.

And they don't take abandonment well, at all.

These are not dogs to chain to a tree out front. They want to have conversation over a nice bottle of Merlot. They want to discuss preparation methods for cauliflower. They know that half of the bed belongs to them; and there is no good reason they can't ride along to the dry cleaner. Some people just don't want to have that level of involvement with a four-legged creature; hence the need for Keeshond rescue.

We have adopted puppy mill mommas who never heard a human voice until they were too old to have puppies; and have no concept of speech. We have parented a retired Canadian/American Double Champion, after her puppy-bearing days were behind her. We have gone tooth-and-nail with this beautiful, brilliant and extremely bossy brown version of the breed:

And then, there is Hope.

We got a call quite a few years ago, that a "Keeshond" was wandering around a race track in North Georgia. She had been taken to the local animal control shelter; and, well...let's just say her "expiration date" was fast approaching. Would I go get her? The rescue coordinator had been assured she was a "purebred."

Well, a "purebred" something. My two hour drive north was uneventful. South, it appeared, was going to be a different story.

This "Keeshond" was about 1/2 the size of a normal Kees. One ear stood up, the other did not. She had just about no fur, lots of freckles, a mouth full of broken teeth, and a personality as big as Montana. She also stunk to high heaven.

The drive south was excruciating. Stink and toenails. The stinky little thing wanted to stand on my lap, and clearly had no concept of manual transmission. I stopped by the office of my Sister-In-Law-The-Vet on the way back. Hope had diarrhea in the waiting room, got some antibiotics and a once-over. SIL asked, "What IS she?" My response, "I have no idea. How old do you think she is?" SIL looked at her broken teeth and replied, "Well, she could be two. She could be ten. I don't know." It was clear that she was not going to be the star of the Keeshond Rescue website.

That was nearly 10 years ago. We have been wondering and wondering about this odd, grumpy, feisty, rode-hard-and-put-up-wet little excuse-for-a-Keeshond. She has none of the attributes - although she is gray, as they generally are - and a whole bunch of "otherness" in her compact self. I have always referred to her as "a bag of sticks", because she has bones sticking out everywhere. But I just heard a better expression..."a bag of antlers." Which describes Hope perfectly.

For Christmas this year, my mother got a DNA kit to test the genetic makeup of her Great-Dane-With-an-Underbite mutt. Who would have guessed? Boxer - of course, underbite. And Rhodesian Ridgeback? Come on, how likely is it that a Rhodesian Ridgeback is just wandering around, waiting for a boxer to come along to make really odd-looking puppies? But I fell for it, swabbed the inside of Hope's cheek with the "polyester swab" guaranteed not to cause any lasting damage. And now we are waiting, waiting. I'm just not sure how I will explain to her that we are not her "real" parents.

Stay tuned. And feel free to place bets here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fun with Fibromyalgia!

Fibromyalgia is a collection of symptoms that result in widespread pain and fatigue. I know a lot about it, because I've had it for years; and I also have a lot of friends who hang out at health stores and watch infomercials. Therefore, in addition to having fibro, I know what everyone except people who have it thinks will cure it.

So I have put together this helpful fact sheet for long-time sufferers, the newly diagnosed, anyone with a family member battling this demon; and hypochondriacs. All in simple terms. No scary graphics, posters or newsreels; and no Doctor Scribble.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Within the last few decades, medical doctors noticed an alarming trend. People, mostly female people, swamped their offices, complaining of pain and fatigue. The doctors, of course, recognized hormones and hysteria, and prescribed appropriate anti-anxiety medications. Resulting in decidedly not anxious patients with widespread pain and fatigue, returning for follow-up visits.

So some of these doctors got together at a fancy resort, to discuss the trend. After a few martinis, they decided to have a Name-The-Syndrome contest. Some of the ideas floated about were "Fibrocystitis", "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" and "Fibromyalgia" (literally, 'pain in the fibro.') The votes were split evenly, and they decided on a Limbo Tie Breaker. Dr. Finartener, from Sioux City Iowa (who was only 5' 4" and some thought should have been disqualified because he had a genetic advantage) won the Limbo Contest. He cast the deciding vote for "Fibromyalgia", because he had used that word in Scrabble and swore on his Merck's Manual that it was a real syndrome and won the game. And now he could prove it.

What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

Well, if you wake up in the morning and you feel like total poop, and everything hurts and you have stomach cramps and you are already menopausal or you are male so you aren't getting your period, and you had no idea your ears had joints except now something that seems to be an ear joint is throbbing, and you don't have a fever and you don't think you have been bitten by an exotic insect; you likely have Fibromyalgia. Another sign is if you are trying to explain to the dog how to start the coffee maker, because the thought of putting a foot on the ground makes your teeth hurt. And, come to think of it, lying here with those sheets TOUCHING YOUR SKIN is pretty painful, too.

What are the causes of Fibromyalgia?

My personal Healthcare Team have offered the following list of possibilities:

A physical or emotional trauma
A virus
An autoimmune response
A side effect of my thyroid disease

And my mother thinks I need a new mattress.

How is Fibromyalgia Treated?

What doesn't work: Everything ever invented for the treatment of pain. Like Anaprox, Aleve, Ibuprofen...all for "inflammation" that we don't have. Topicals, like Ben Gay, and Icy Hot; because even though you THINK your knees hurt, in 15 minutes it will be your elbows. Hello, the pain is not really coming from what hurts. It is coming from your brains!! They just want to trick you into believing your hips hurt, when it is really your Frontal Lobes! Haha, silly brains! You could play Smack The Gopher with a Thermapad all day and never land on the part that hurts.

You can take Vitamin B shots. You put the needle in your arm and, I am not making this up, inject the Vitamin B slowly over a period of 3 minutes. When a doctor demonstrated the technique (using my arm) I swore I would never be in enough pain to make THAT treatment worth it. He assured me that "one day you will crawl to me on your hands and knees to beg for a Vitamin B shot!" Good to know.

You can take drugs, off-label, designed as sleep aids. Is that brilliant? I hurt, so I will take something to make me sleep through it. And then my handsome prince will kiss me awake, and I'll find the glass slipper, and let down my hair and escape from the tower.

Or, someone call Billy Mays, you can try this NEW! BREAKTHROUGH! TREATMENT! I read about yesterday...a low dose "addiction" drug is showing some promise. So it can help crack addicts, and all of us "pain addicts." Come on.

Exercise appears to be a real antidote (perhaps because when you fatigue other muscle groups you don't notice the fibro?), and I think that "mind over matter" is a great approach; staying active scares the bejesus out of this syndrome.

And some people report relief with a bubble bath, and a nice chardonnay.

We won't die of fibromyalgia; but we can wither away if we don't fight back. 4% of the population suffers - I imagine this number is very low because most people who exhibit fibro symptoms think it is a natural effect of aging. It is not.

Fight the Fibro.

This blog expresses personal opinion and a degree of smartypantsiness, and is not a substitute for actual medical advice. Please consult your medical healthcare provider for real information. No animals were harmed in the process of this study, although the dogs resent the fact that dinner will be late.

Friday, April 10, 2009

This is a Test! It is Only a Test!

I am baffled. I am a very noisy person. I hang out with generally noisy people. I attract noisy people, I am attracted by noisy people. Especially noisily laughing people.


I have analytics on this blog. I know that lots of people stop by to Katch up Wit The Kitties. But, apparently, only shy, quiet, and keyboard-phobic folks visit, because no one leaves a message. This makes The Kitties unhappy, and very restless. And, let me tell you, life with Unhappy, Restless Kitties is no fun. I worry quite a lot about the Collective Power of Unhappy, Restless Kitties.

(I have considered, and rejected, the idea that my musings are so profound that readers are rendered temporarily mute.)

A tutorial: to leave a comment, you just click on the "comments" thing. If you are not a "Blog Person" you will make a little account, by filling in a couple of blanks. Then you type some words that are written in wavy text. Eazy Peazy. And then you can comment here, and on other blogs! You will be a Published Author! And the Kitties won't be Unhappy or Restless! Try it! (For my personal safety, please!)

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Oldest American Cell Phone Tells All...

6" x 3/4" of High Tech, chrome-look plastic!

RARE "Cingular" nameplate!

Elegant and stylish monochrome display!

Accessories readily available on eBay, or in the Vintage section of Etsy!

Streamlined operation! No cameras, games, Internet or music functions to interfere with your calls! No annoying "flip" to perform before talking! Six built-in ringtone choices! No model number to remember!

Okay, so am I anti-technology? Saving the planet by reducing, recycling, reusing? Just plain too lazy to shop for a new phone? Nope, nope, nope.

This model-numberless model featured a $10/month plan in 1998. Guess who's still down with that?