Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A $400 Fart and More

For a while there i was having trouble thinking of what to write about, after all every good story needs a bit of conflict, a problem to solve--a little excitement, well, it just wasn't there to write about.  Last week however, there was a little too much.

Last Tuesday my daughter had an orthopedist appointment in Baltimore, she inherited my unfortunate gene contribution and ended up with scoliosis (curvature of the spine).  I spent several adolescent years encased in a barbaric plastic structure called a scoliosis brace, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, especially on a hot, humid day.  So, the day the pediatrician looked up at me and said that she detected minor scoliosis, I had to swallow the giant lump in my throat to tell her that two people in the previous generation have it.

Suddenly, I'm hauling my previously healthy as a horse kid for x-rays and specialist appointments.  Tuesday was the day.  I was dreading it.  My experience was not stellar as a kid.  I remember going into the scoliosis clinic at Rhode Island Hospital thirty some odd years ago.  I remember starting the day with x-rays and then sitting for hours waiting on uncomfortable chairs with my brace biting into me and my legs going to sleep.  If I didn't know that I missed near full days of school to do this, I would chalk it up to my memory blowing it up bigger than it was, but I remember.  I remember getting hungry at my school lunch time, knowing that it could be several more hours until I would get a chance to eat, because there was no way to know when they were actually going to call you into the examining room. 


I knew that I sometimes waited an hour and a half inside the examination room in my little open backed outfit, freezing (according to what I've read recently us redheads have a mutated gene that makes us more sensitive to heat and cold), hoping the doctor would come, so that I could get dressed.  Only once do I remember the doctor coming in quickly, I was undressed and didn't even have my open backed outfit on. He opened the door and walked right in with four or five medical students.  I was horrified.  I was five foot ten, maybe 110 lbs and about 14 years old--and in walks a class while I'm naked.  No "Excuse us." or anything, I couldn't even speak. The class entered and then the doctor with his creepy handlebar mustache asked if it would be okay if they came in.   They took my silent rage as assent.  I still get angry thinking of the scene.

Now it came to be my daughter's turn.  I don't think either of us slept well.  We seemed in super-slow-mo getting ready and needed to run around a bit near the end.  Fifteen minutes before we were due out of the door I woke the dog up, so that I could feed and walk her.  She has never liked mornings and seemed especially sluggish.  When she walked into the light of the kitchen, I think I screamed, or at least stifled one.  She was bloated like an engorged tick.  Her legs looked like little sticks trying to bend around her huge belly.  She struggled to walk.  She was trembling and her eyes appeared full of pain.  A day and a half before she had again attempted to eat the upholstered chair that matches our couch, the vet calls it a dietary indiscretion.  I feared that some of the foam had become lodged in her system or that she had developed bloat, which could be fatal.



I rushed into the office to google the location of a local emergency vet, all the while trying to figure out how I was going to leave for the appointment in Baltimore and get the dog to the vet at the same time.  The emergency vet had already left for the morning and the wouldn't be anyone there to help her for two hours.  My dog's regular vet would open in forty-five minutes, but I was supposed to leave in fifteen minutes.  I called, the answering machine picked up.  My husband was at his doctor's office, not sure if he had strep.  


My daughter, watching my dialing frenzy, suggested that I call our neighbor and friend who pet sits for us to see if she could take Stella.  She said she could after she got all of her kids on the bus, knowing I had a back up plan I felt a little better.  I decided to see if I could get the dog in before regular vet hours and drove her to the vet, which was right down the street.  I knocked and they let me in, I convinced them to take the dog because I had to get to Baltimore for a specialist appointment.  My daughter stood there in the vet's office looking stunned, terrified and hadn't had the opportunity to comb her hair after coming out of the shower.  She had a giant mass of red frizz, dark black circles under her eyes and was on the edge of a sob.  I don't think the vet techs thought I was taking her to the orthopedist.

By the time I checked the dog in, Stella already looked thinner, she was moving around better, she still wasn't right, but she seemed better.

We headed out the door.  We needed gas.  We hadn't had breakfast, it was sitting sitting ready on the counter at the house.  We had used all the the extra time I had put into the schedule for us to get lost in Baltimore, to find the parking garage and the wander through the maze of hospital corridors.  There was not time for an error.  We stopped at Mc D's for breakfast, with my food allergies I can only eat the hash browns (and from how I felt later, I fear I may be mistaken on that point).  I pumped the gas and we quickly continued on. Traffic was light.  The GPS took us through all of the worst neighborhoods in Baltimore, so that we had a lovely mother/daughter talk about poverty, inequality, and industrial decline.  


We parked without a hitch, found the office on the first try and checked in using the electronic kiosk right about on time, somehow.   We waited for a few minutes and were told the the staff member we were to see was not in.  Would we like to reschedule or wait a little to be squeezed in to another staff member's schedule? Of course, we waited.  I was not going to attempt another re-run of that morning.

The appointment was fine, they even paid for our parking, because they made us wait an hour and ten minutes.  


The day was on the upswing.  We were able to get on the highway toward home and call to check on the dog.  My husband was at home, the dog was still at the vet.  She appeared to be okay, they had x-rayed her and found nothing and the swelling had gone down.  She appeared to have had a nasty case of gas and just needed to pass it.  Yes, it was a $400 fart.  

My daughter and I stopped for authentic burritos for lunch and headed home.  When the adrenaline left my system that afternoon, I napped for three hours.  That was our Tuesday.

Thursday, I came home and noticed two of our chickens in the yard, but I didn't see the third.  Ursula and Athena were standing jammed inside a lilac bush, looking ill at ease.  I went inside.

L to R Paisley, Ursula and Athena

My daughter's bus pulled up a few minutes later.  The dog made her usual "she's home!!" noises, but they changed, became deeper, a little disturbing sounding.  I was walking down the hallway toward the front window when my daughter burst in the front door sobbing.  Paisley, the Barred Rock, was next to the driveway, I had been looking off into the distance for her, I had missed seeing her body, half plucked and fully eviscerated, near the turn in the drive.  A hawk, raccoon or something had caught her.  I buried her behind the shed, while my daughter, still in her jacket, sobbed face down on her bed. Paisley had been such a sweet thing.  She was my favorite chicken and she's gone.

It has been quieter this week.  I am thankful.


  1. Sounds like a tough week. If your daughter does need a brace, i hope technology has come forward enough to make it an easier process

    1. From what I can see there is little new in the treatment of scoliosis. The biggest change is that you can choose a color or pattern for your torture device, a girl in the waiting room had a pink camo brace.