Poor Kane has been scratching a lot since the middle of last week. I though it might have something to do with using the woodstove, though this seems to not dry out the air as much as the forced-air furnace does. He also seemed to have some, er, uh, well, rear-end itching, too, which sometimes means worms. So, yesterday morning I took him to see the veterinarian.
The vet ran a comb through the hair on his back. We think Kane may be part Husky, and he has that underfur that Huskies have. She then did something very interesting I'd never seen done before. She soaked a cotton ball with water and daubed the fur with it. She told me that if he had fleas, the fleas suck blood from the dog, and the flea excrement, when wetted, would turn red. Sure enough, a few red dots appeared on the cotton ball. She combed a few more hairs, and looked him over. Neither of us could see any fleas or any flea dirt, but this time, we found a flea on the edge of the table. Ah ha!
Apparently this time of year fleas are looking for any place that is warm. Dogs who are sensitive to fleas need only get one flea on them to get itchy. It's odd; he spends a lot of time outside in the summer and doesn't get fleas, and very little time outside when it is cold. Sneaky buggers, those fleas! But, a treatment of Advantage, and a little Prednisone, and he isn't scratching anymore.
This morning the alarm went off as usual and Karen got out of bed, and I went back to sleep. I woke up when she got back into bed. Uh oh. She'd been sniffling a bit last evening and her throat was a little sore, and last night she awoke with a throat so sore she couldn't swallow. Afraid she had strep, she called in sick, not wanting, of course, to give it to any of her students. I called and got her a doctor's appointment, made her tea and toast, and took her in. We took Kane with us; he doesn't do well in the house when one of us is sick. While she went in to visit the doctor, I took Kane for a walk in the woods around the doctor's office, the first real walk I'd had in awhile. It wasn't too cold, the sky was partly clear, the air was brisk but not biting. All the leaves are down now, and the trees stand stark as does the underbrush, and you can see far into the forest. Kane somehow got some thistle buds stuck to his back. We went back to the car and waited for Karen.
The quick test indicated no strep, but her glands are all swollen. She seems like a run-down clock, or a flashlight with old and worn batteries. I'm going to try to talk her into staying home tomorrow if I can if she doesn't look any better, but she can be pig-headed about these things.
Tomorrow I have an appointment in the morning with my pain doctor, who has been on vacation. We have a lot to talk about. She doesn't know about the adventures at Dartmouth and the aftermath. It was through her that I was being treated with methadone, though she had wanted me to get off it. I know this is dumb - after all, I am paying her for treatment - but I want to see her reaction to all that has happened. Over the last few years when the "wheels have come off" as they have lately her guidance and wisdom has helped get me centered. Things that should be obvious to me she deftly points out, getting me back on an even keel. It is unfortunate that she took a holiday when she did - can you sue a doctor for mal-vacation?
A new pain management group starts up tomorrow as well. I plan to volunteer as a "big brother" to the participants of the group. I have done this once before. Basically, I serve as a contact point for participants, if they have questions about techniques, or the readings, or some such. I call and check up on absent members, and sometimes lead guided meditations at the start of the meeting. In general, I help out my pain doctor running the meetings and discussions.
This is going to be a real test for me. Prior to going to Dartmouth, I knew I was more than ready to do this. If things got nasty, I had the methadone to fall back on. Often the intensity of the meetings would cause me to have pretty nasty headaches. It got so I would just dope myself before I went.
And, in the last few days, the headaches have begun to return to their original intensity. I've had three days in the last four where the headaches have been bad enough that I would have treated them with methadone before. However, they have responded to triptans, ice, Advil, and Exedrin (today), where before they would not have. Tomorrow is a busy day, so if I do get a headache, I will probably go the chemical route again.
But I've noticed something has shifted, changed. When I awoke with a bad headache this morning, the thought occurred to me, "You know what? You've got no recourse here. Your safety net is gone. There is no sure-fire relief, there is no way out if this gets worse." And I confess, for a few seconds, I felt panic. But it didn't last. I wrapped the ice around my head and crawled into bed, and felt better. I didn't take anything else, and it got better. I can't exactly say I relaxed, but I didn't get paralyzed, either. After about half an hour, the pain had subsided enough to take care of Karen. Getting outside and walking boosted my spirits to the point to where I was in a pretty good mood.
Oh, my moods are still all over the place. I still have aches in muscles and joints, mostly on my left side (controlled by the right side of the brain, where the emotions are). Still, I feel like I have turned a corner, one I have been avoiding for a long time. Though I've got the stamina of a dehydrated earthworm I feel somehow healthier, more right
. I feel that what I'm lacking is some sort of skill, or realization. Maybe it's like I said to Siona
once; That I'm already healed, I just don't realize it yet. Though in similar situations I would have considered myself to be in a hole, I don't feel that way now. I'm on a path. Right now I'm lying sprawled and gasping on the path, not moving very fast or very far, but I'm on the path and this time I think I'm on the right one.
Music in my head: Long Way Home
, Norah Jones