We are ecstatic!

We just checked Mabel’s leg and it is looking so much better! It is not a goopy mess anymore. The fur seems to be growing in around it and it is not bleeding any more. The lump is still there and she is still 17 years old but we will take any progress we can get. Oh and she ate 3 times between 11 am and 7 pm! Way to go Miss Mabel.

The interesting thing about having senior dogs around is that every day is a gift. You don’t take them for granted because you don’t know how long they are going to be with you. Dogs like Mabel, who have not known much kindness in their lives, seem to know and appreciate a soft touch. Deb was combing her today and her eyes were closing she was enjoying it so much. Mabel is not a dog who asks for much besides going outside and eating. When she asks for these things there is no doubt about what she wants and she makes it clear she isn’t going to wait. I am so happy that she feeling better after the scare we had at the beginning of the month that it is joyful when she barks and I seeing what she needs is a pleasure. In these moments she is so full of life and herself.

If you have room in your home and your heart think about adopting a senior dog. Yes, there can be issues (like incontinence) or giving meds or going to the vets and yes they may not live all that long but it is so worth it! I can tell you that they will live much longer in your home than they will in an animal shelter. The rewards are too many to list. Just know that you will be helping an animal finish out its days in comfort and peace and you will reap the rewards. check out SAINTS or your local shelter for a senior animal who needs you today.

Dispatches from the Land of Fat Phobia

Deb and I just came back from visiting my mother, sister and brother-in-law in Calgary (and Radium, BC). It always surprises me how food is such a mine field with my family. Growing up I was placed on diets beginning at the age of 8 years old. I remember going to Weight Watchers meeting with my mother who lost the same 57 pounds over and over again. Food was cast into the realm of good and bad. You either deserved food or you did not. If you didn’t work hard and ‘earn’ it then you couldn’t eat it. But if you had done something particularly strenuous that day then you ‘deserved’ a little something extra. This attitude became completely entrenched in my family when my mother married her second husband. He managed his weight meticulously. He backpacked and cross-country skied several hundred kilometres per year. In fact, we spent many summers backpacking for weeks at a time walking well over 200 km with very heavy packs. He was very concerned about food and how much we ate (or didn’t as the case was). Despite his influence my mother remained overweight the entire time they were married.

Once he passed away from leukemia (which was a shock to all of us given his very healthy lifestyle) my mother ceased to have interest in food. Currently she is about 5 feet 9 inches and weighs about 130 pounds. For the first time in her life she is thin and she loves it. The other morning after I got up I was sitting with my mother and sister (who were smoking their faces off) and my mother starts talking about how she can eat anything she wants now. She said: “If I want ice cream, I have ice cream, if I want potato chips, I have potato chips and I don’t have to feel guilty about it.” My internal dialog was screaming about how silly this was and how food should not have this amount of power in our lives. But I know better than to get into this kind of a discussion with them. So I sat there biting my tongue and wishing it would just stop.

Later that day my mother insisted on watching The Biggest Loser – Australia because she enjoyed the ‘personalities’. I couldn’t stand it. It was so contrived. My mother likes this kind of thing because it makes her feel superior just like being around me makes her feel like she has won because I am fat and she is not. She was so excited that I had lost weight (about 50 pounds). The only reason I lost it was because I was so sick for so long but that does not matter to her. She keeps thinking that I am going to suddenly lose all the weight and morph into an entirely different person. I have news for her – it is not going to happen.

Usually these visits take a huge toll on my self-esteem. Not this time though. I look at my mother and sister (who are like one person as Deb says) and I know I am so different from them (I am adopted). I also know that I will never have her approval unless I weigh 125 pounds. I have long given up on this ever happening. Instead I do other things for her. I am her personal computer support department. On this last trip I picked out a new computer for her and set it up in Radium including installing all of her programs and configuring it just the way she likes it. Deb spent her time cooking and filling her freezer with easy to heat up meals so that she might eat. We are also a little concerned as she is having a lot of trouble breathing. Just plugging something in caused her to breathe audibly for 10 minutes. She complains of having no energy, being tired and generally feeling unwell. I am concerned that she is in the beginning stages of COPD. She has smoked for probably for 50 years and now she is likely smoking more than a pack a day. I hope that she sees a doctor soon about getting a physical and a chest x-ray. I doubt she will ever quit smoking.

Other lowlights from the trip: our flight into Calgary was horrible. There was much turbulence and the landing was very hard. Then we went to get our car from Budget and the call centre had messed up our reservation and we could not the same rate I had been quoted ($43 per day). Apparently, they were sold out but they would give us a car for $170 per day if we wanted. So the question was are they sold out or are they not?? I could not get anywhere with them. So we rented from Enterprise who had excellent customer service and gave us a car for $109 per day. We were very impressed with them. Our flight back to Abbotsford (I cannot say enough good stuff about the Abbotsford International Airport – we will never fly out of Vancouver again!!!) was ok with just a bit of turbulence. We were both completely exhausted by the time we got home and slept until noon the next day. Thankfully, the yearly trip is now over barring any family emergencies.

We are off

Deb and I are off to Calgary (and Radium) for the next couple of days. We will be back on Friday.

A quick update on Mabel – she seems to have returned to her normal, demanding self. We are so pleased to hear her barking and demanding food again! She ate 3 times yesterday. It appears her lack of appetite for a couple of days had to do with the medication she was on.

Extreme begging and other dog stories

So, with 9 dogs in our household we have become experts at the beg. They all have it down to a science. The sound of cutlery on china gets everyone’s attention and they all gather around. Sometimes it is a bit overwhelming for the claustrophobics among us. Other times I half expect to hear the theme music to Jaws start to play. We have become accustomed to taking more food than we want simply so we can share with the dogs. Now, everyone here has a different way of doling out the treats. Sometimes it is done by age, or rank in the pack but usually it is by favourites. Yes, we are not perfect, we have favourites. Some dogs, like Mabel, do not have to gather around her treats are brought to her while she lays in her bed covered up by fleece.

mabel in fleece

Now, on to extreme begging. Mabel also has this down to a science. When she wants food, she stands in the kitchen, barks, opens her mouth, barks, opens her mouth until someone puts something in it. It is very effective:
Mabel gearing up to bark for chicken

Having had success, here is Mabel eating her chicken:

Mabel eating chicken

Different dogs employ different strategies. Piper relies on her big brown eyes to get what she wants. She uses all of her pug wiles all the time to get her share:

Please Mama...
I am so very sad...sigh...
Clio has a little bit of a challenge because she is blind. She can smell the food she just has a hard time finding it sometimes.

Not to be outdone, Sienna has to get in there too:

Now on to some random pictures of the crew. This is Madison laying with Clio and Mollie. Madison is one of the most photogenic dogs we have:

This is MacKenzie at the dikes:

Kiefer at the dikes:

Here is Piper in the classic ‘pug slouch:’

Not to be left out – here is where I found Bella this morning:

Oh the Government

So I used to work for the province of BC. I quit in Feb of 2007 to take another job. A couple of months later I received a letter in the mail advising me that I had been overpaid by $212 and they wanted me to repay this money. Now, the province has a very elaborate computerized payroll system. Everything is entered, in real time, by the employee and signed off by a supervisor every pay period. They withhold one week of pay so there is always time to play catch up if they needed. Anyway, I argued with them and demanded proof. They sent me a bunch of stuff but they still did not convince that I owed them any money so I ignored it.

Fast forward to March of 2008. I received a new letter from someone else demanding that I pay this $212 or they would report it to the credit bureau. I tried to email this woman but it never went through. So, finally, I phoned. The first person I talked to had no idea how to collect a debt from a former employee. Finally, they transferred me to someone who did. I paid the $212 on my credit card. I told her I was doing this under duress as I did not believe I owed them any money. She took the payment anyway.

Yesterday I get a message on facebook from one of my former co-workers. She tells me that they have a cheque there for me from the Ministry of Finance. She said they had accidentally opened it and what did I want them to do with it. I gave her my address and asked how much it was for. And, you guessed it, it was for $212 minus some deductions!!!

Now, here is what I do not understand. First of all they make me pay money I don’t owe. When they are trying to find me to tell me I owe this money they have no problem locating my address and mailing me a letter. Then when they then decide I don’t owe them any money they send it to an office I have not worked at since at least 2005! I had been at different offices before I quit. I am stymied. I will update once I see the deductions.

Worried about Mabel

So Mabel has not really been eating much since she went on Baytril for her leg infection and metacam to reduce the inflammation. We are not really sure why she does not want to eat. It could be that her stomach is upset from the medication. She does not want to take anything from us as she thinks it has a pill in it. She did bark last night to be let out and for some food. She ate about a third of it. I hope her appetite is improving as she cannot afford to lose any weight.

Edited to add: she just ate 2 pieces of bacon!!! She actually took it from me and did not seem to worried about there being a pill in it.


Well, the month of June has arrived in the lower mainland. Us locals refer to it more accurately as Juneuary. It is cold and it is wet. Our backyard (already in the flood plain) is completely soaked with pooling water once again. This does not bode well for getting the septic system fixed anytime soon. It has to dry out enough so that when Deb digs to the lid the hole does not fill with water. It is looking like August or September before it is dry enough out there for that to happen.

Thankfully we have mowed the lawns – front and back. The new ride-on did a great job plowing through 2-4 foot high grass. I can’t imagine how bad it would be right now if we hadn’t mowed. Now it will be too we for some time again. Hopefully the grass won’t grow too much in the interim.

There is one good thing about the rain – it beats down the allergens that cause my hay fever. Out here in Maple Ridge they hay…and I get real hay fever. I sneeze for hours on end until it feels like my head is going to blow up. I am also mocked ad nauseum for the noises I make when I sneeze. Noises which are completely involuntary.

Summer will arrive soon enough. Hopefully it won’t be too hot this year!

Free at last…

Since December 19, 2007 prednisone has been a steady medication in my life. I was started on it for the pyoderma gangrenosum I developed in November of 2007 when it was finally diagnosed correctly. Now you might be wondering why I am so happy to be off of prednisone. Well, the main reason is the sheer number of side effects which can be seen here and here.

Luckily I did not suffer all of the side effects. For some reason I do not seem to get the increased appetite side effect. I am not sure why but I have heard some people say they were so hungry on prednisone that they would eat Styrofoam. That is some serious hunger!!! I also did not gain weight on prednisone. I am not sure if the weight gain side effect comes because people are eating more or if it is just a side effect. I did get to enjoy some of prednisone’s other side effects. It affected my mood incredibly. I was depressed and anxious on it – especially at the highest dose of 80 mg per day. I have definately been slow to heal. I still have patches of shingles that are not healed – including the infected patch on my back. I have also had increased fatigue and weak muscles. There are other side effects I have had to deal with but I don’t want to bore everyone!

The other good thing about getting off the prednisone is that I get to go off of 2 other medications I was on to deal with the side effects. To deal with the emotional/mental side effects I have had to take clonazepam. I did have to wean off of this drug as the withdrawal looked a little scary. I can also stop taking pariet which I needed to deal with the stomach upset caused by prednisone.

Finally, to be off prednisone marks a huge victory in my battle with ulcerative colitis. The fact that I am off of it with no return of symptoms means that I am finally in remission. While the prednisone certainly helped get the symptoms under control it alone does not put colitis in remission. It is likely due to the imuran I have been taking since the beginning of January. As an immuno-suppressant, imuran works to depress the immune system so that it is no longer attacking my colon. Imuran is a drug given to transplant patients to stop them from rejecting the new organ. There are some serious side effects (including the risk of cancer – rare but it is there) however, given the choice between ulcerative colitis, losing my colon and taking imuran – I chose imuran. I am so looking forward to my health continuing to improve. For the first time in 3 years I am free of ulcerative colitis symptoms.

Things I can post about…

Well, there is lots going on in my life right now but I can’t post about it – at least not yet.

So, what is there to talk about? Well, music for one thing. I have discovered some really good new music – much by accident. I was listening to the CBC yesterday on my way home from the grocery store because there was nothing to eat in this house (even though the cupboards are overflowing…but that is another story) and Stephen Quinn played a song by Dustin Bentall. I thought I would hate it…but I loved it! He played Crash Hard. I had to buy it from iTunes immediately. I don’t know about the rest of the CD but if this is the kind of music he is putting out at 22 he has a bright, bright future ahead of him. I also downloaded Mercy by Duffy. This song has been going through my head since I saw her on Ellen. (Yes, I have to admit it, since I have been off sick I have been watching Ellen and much to the chagrin of Deb and Angelina she has exposed me to music they would prefer I did not listen too…but that is for another blog). You can see Duffy’s video for Mercy here.

What else – how about some dog updates. Piper seems to have calmed down and she is no longer playing ‘bowling for blind dogs.’ Keifer has discovered the garbage can again – which sucks. However he has been doing really well learning to ‘come’ at the park when there are distractions around. He really is quite smart and learns quickly. Much to Deb’s surprise he showed some interest in fetching a ball the other day. Mabel’s leg is looking much better with the antibiotics. She is being a very good girl and keeping it clean while not overdoing it. However she is way too smart for us. We are having to give her antibiotics and she is spitting them out and pulling them out of everything we put them in. Thankfully we only have 4 more days.

We are going to visit my mother for a couple of days next week. I am going to be installing a new computer for her at Radium. She is still running a Win 98SE machine and it is not meeting her needs anymore. I always think these will go relatively easy. I hope that is the case. My worst fear is dealing with setting up her internet connection with Telus. They have assured me that we do not need a new disk for Vista but I remain skeptical.

Oh, I caught the tail end of the Scripps Spelling Bee yesterday. All I can say is holy shit those kids are smart. I have an excellent vocabulary and a Masters degree and I had not heard of 98% of the words those kids were spelling. Totally blew me away. Congratulations to Sameer Mishra!!!