Archives for October 2010

EPI

[EDIT: Quick reminder that is related to this post — voting is still going on to support EPI research. Please consider clicking over for the five seconds it takes to add your vote!]

If you’ve been following my semi-constant whinging on about Yara on Facebook and/or Twitter, then you’re well aware times is not good.

Basically the positive news we got from her last round of tests at the vet in July isn’t lasting. Since her major rebound of SIBO last month she’s been on-and-off sick. It’s incredibly inconsistent and until yesterday hadn’t manifested into accidents in the house. Her stool would be somewhat soft one day and then the next it’d be fine.

Anyway, over the last few days she’s had very loose stool and then yesterday morning she had a middle-of-the-night accident in the house that was very close to the “cow plop” type stool that is a trademark of pancreatic issues. And it was quite a somewhat larger amount of fecal matter than is her normal; another hallmark of EPI. So, I called in.1

The vet and I are kind of stumped. All things considered I’m doing pretty much everything I can to keep Yara healthy with regards to her EPI. But the research the both of us have done basically seems to suggest that sometimes dogs just have issues and there’s no rhyme or reason as to what works for one dog and doesn’t for another. But given Yara’s results from July, we’re going with the assumption the current issues are stemming from low B12 levels. She has B12 added to her food,2 but we’ve decided that isn’t enough and so for the foreseeable future Yara’s now back on weekly B12 injections. You can imagine how much I’m looking forward to this.

We’re trying to avoid putting her back on Metronidazole, the antibiotic she was just on for the SIBO incident. She’s been on it now three different times and while it’s helpful, it’s a bit on the aggressive side. However, given the loose stool her vet is concerned that she might develop another bought of SIBO, so to offset that possibility she’s put Yara on Tylan Powder for two weeks. Because of that I’m giving her Forti-Flora, which is a bit of a stronger pro-biotic than those found the cultured yogurt I generally add to Yara’s food.

Hopefully she’ll improve. She did get sick again last night, which I only discovered as I was headed out the door to work, so we’re home for the day again just to be on the safe side. Yara has an appointment on November 11th for her rabies shot and I’ve now amended that to include a full exam to check up on her. That is if we don’t end up going in before then.

As for me? I’m very torn by all of this. I can’t help but think how I’d have given up long ago if this were just a pet of mine dealing with this. And then I feel horribly callous for thinking that.

I’m just worn out, I guess.

  1. Well, actually the fact that my para-transit bus rolled into my driveway at 5:45 a.m. (35 minutes before it’s scheduled pick up and an hour ahead of it’s “usual” time) had a bit to do with this, too. Since I’d spent the majority of my awake time cleaning up after the dog, I was hardly ready. In fact, I was still in my jammies!
  2. Along with her enzyme supplements, omega-3 fatty acid and probiotics.

Buyer’s Remorse

Much has been going on here: Yara’s been on and off sick again. School starts in a little over a week. Work is, well, work. I’ve been reading up a storm. And I need to buy a new winter jacket/coat. But since everyone’s been wondering about my new Kindle, I’ll blather on about that.

While the title might make you think otherwise, let me put your minds at ease because I love it. All of the reasons for which I purchased it are exactly as I expected and I think my favorite thing is that because it’s a device that’s supposed to emulate reading on paper it isn’t so overly bright that my eyes are bothered, which is my main issue with using the ereader software on a computer or cell phone.

So whyfor with the remorse?

Well, it would seem that my Kindle was a lemon. I noticed straight out of the box that it seemed like the left side seemed to have some give near the page buttons. Compared to the right side, it felt as if the casing wasn’t put together properly and depending on how I held it there was a slight creaking when the buttons were pressed. However, it worked just fine and so I didn’t feel a strong need to call Amazon.

Anyway, in Amazon’s infinite wisdom, they shipped the cover case in an entirely different order so it finally arrived last week. The Kindle is meant to literally hook into the cover — there are two little groove holes on the left side of the device that lock it into the case so that it opens like a book. When trying to fasten the Kindle into the case it started to restart for no reason that I could understand. Furthermore the Kindle wouldn’t lock into the case. So, I called Amazon and ended up returning the case because I wasn’t entirely sure if it was defective or I’m just too incompetent to get it to work the way it should. (I figure maybe a sleeve would be more ideal anyway, since the case makes it hard to use the left side buttons and of course the most comfortable way I’ve found to hold the Kindle would require mainly using those buttons.)

I also spoke with a Kindle support specialist and we ran through a similar “restart your computer” routine for the device. Which, of course, didn’t fix the problem at all so I had to call back the next day to have a replacement sent out and I boxed up the Kindle to have it sent back straight away.

If all that isn’t bad enough, the replacement Kindle has it’s own issue. Oh, don’t get me wrong it feels like it’s put together firmly this time and it hasn’t restarted or done anything remotely crazy. Well, except for some loos part inside rattling around.

Amazon was incredibly apologetic and in fact they believe this issue is probably due to damage during shipping. So I’m waiting for Kindle Number Three to arrive tomorrow and I pretty much feel that regardless of the cause if this one has any issues I’m officially giving up.

Kindle, Revisited

The big news around these parts arrived in the mail today:

My new Kindle propped up against a stack of five mass market paperback books to show scale

Yes, I finally broke down and bought a Kindle. Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me. While I’ve dug my heels in for a long time1 this is probably the one electronic device that is truly my kind of tech toy. As my Goodreads account will attest I read constantly and there are always a good many books on the horizon to be read next. And while both the local independent bookstore and the library almost always have a stack of books waiting for me to pick up, I’ve also been religiously downloading books with Amazon’s Kindle for PC software.

I’ve mentioned before that while my vision is poor I can read regular print. My issue isn’t so much with text size, though my preference is still for larger print, but rather the spacing between words. Which is why the majority of the books in my possession are hardcovers. It means that I end up spending another $5-$10 over the smaller mass market paperback version to own a book. But large print versions, which would be the most logical and obvious choice for me, are even more expensive than that! This was one of the major draws for me to getting a Kindle since I would be able to manipulate the text size and spacing. And I wouldn’t have to spend more money on an accessible version of a book.

Anyway, the final push to give in and purchase yet another electronic device was made this past weekend. For my birthday I’d gotten a set of books from Raechel and several months later I still hadn’t read them. I’d tried. Three different times, in fact. But much as I was loathe to admit it, the print was just too much of a strain on my eyes to be comfortable for to read. After searching around for a more accessible version, I discovered sadly I was out of luck as there was never a hardcover or large print version made. There was an audio cassette, which is long out of print and the only one I could find was going for $75 on eBay. What I did find, however, was that Audible has the books. And so I signed up for my free trial and got the two of the five books for free . . . and with that made my decision to order a Kindle. (Let me digress a bit here from Kindle talk because I sense a swarm of suggestions coming that I don’t want nor need. I am fully aware of the many services out there that provide blind persons books in accessible formats and I fully support them. But in this particular instance I am focusing on ownership of books that are accessible to me. I not only want to be able to read a book, I want to hold it, have it on my shelf and maybe even have it signed by the author.) Personally, I find it kind of ironic that this would be the deciding factor for me because to be honest I am not a big fan of audiobooks. I’ve always been very much of an auditory learner and I certainly embrace the accessibility they provide to readers with disabilities, but in terms of pleasure reading I enjoy not just the aesthetic of reading but the physicality of it too. And, I think the dull droning of college textbooks — and the fact that they put me to sleep — really killed off what left of any enjoyment an audiobook may have provided. So, we’ll just say that I’m humbled a bit by the realization that my future reading may incorporate far more books on tape than ever before.

As for the Kindle itself, I don’t see it fully replacing all the future hardcovers I will no doubt purchase any more than it will replace all of the books currently on my shelves. I’ve been reading a pretty constant stream of ebooks since first downloading the Kindle software in March and that hasn’t changed my mind in the least; there will always be books I want a physical copy of and there are definitely those that I own and can’t bear parting with. Since placing the order, I did go through all of my books and weed out those I can’t comfortably read. It’s not more than a tenth of the total books I own, but it’s still a pretty stunning pile.2 I’ve not yet decided what I’ll do with them all, especially those that were gifts, but I am sure they’ll find readers one way or another.

  1. If you’re experiencing déjà vu, fear not the state of your fragile mind, I did indeed have this same debate about getting an mp3 player before finally settling on my much adored iPod Touch. Of course, I’m still debating upgrading to the latest generation.
  2. 56 in total, not including the books Raechel gave me for my birthday . . . and the sad thing is my shelves don’t appear any less full!

October 6, 2010

It’s been raining and dreary for days and I’m sick. So, of course, I’m having one of the crappiest days.

In no particular order, I’m basically being followed around on Goodreads and having my reviews mocked and or trashed by an aptly named user account. I’m not so much bothered about the mocking or the mean-spirited comments, I’m actually more irked at the cavalier attitude I received when I reported it. But, whatever. Other things are certainly more important.

Then there’s this whole thing going on with Yara’s meds. It’s this stupid long story that just irks me to no end. Though, a very sweet gesture from an online acquaintance did help soften the blow a bit. (Seriously, Ren, you are too kind.) It’s the principle of it all and this constant struggle that I shouldn’t have to be going through and mostly I want to cry.

I had an entirely horrific day at work. No surprise there. Not even going to bother to get into it.

Because honestly, it’s all trumped by the fact that at lunch Yara and I were very nearly run over by a car. Obviously, we’re fine. I’m not even shaken up anymore. Instead, I’ve moved on to being highly pissed about it. I’ve had traffic checks with my dogs that have been really scary: cars screaming passed us, narrowly cutting us off. Heck, getting sideswiped by a car and being knocked on my ass when I was younger was the deciding factors that led to me getting a guide dog. But this was just so incredibly the driver’s fault that I’m sure my blood pressure is sky high.

It’s raining, as I said, so I tend to rely on my dog’s hearing more so than my own. Especially with cars being so much less noisy these days. We’re at the crossing with a car parallel to us (Swan Street) and another perpendicular (Elk Street). It’s a stop sign and both cars have yielded to us so we cross. And when we’re hardly more than two feet from the curb, the car on Swan turns into us and crosses right in front of us. They crawled along, but the thing that totally baffled me is the car gets right in the middle of our way and just stops. I don’t know, like maybe they only just then noticed the angry blind woman and her soggy dog.

All I can say is that I am so glad for Yara, who was a total angel and took the initiative to not just go backward but cross in front of me and push me back. But also that the idiot behind the wheel of the rolling death machine was going so slow because even another 10 miles faster and we’d have been hit. He was that close to us when he got in our way.

Health and “Hunger”

So, after an absolutely hellish Saturday morning and three more days of being woken up at oh-god-thirty to clean up a diarrhea accident and spending roughly $150 at the vet Tuesday, I am happy to say that Yara is doing pretty much fine. Yesterday she had her first formed stool. It’s still very soft, but is a nice, normal color which means she isn’t reacting to the prescription food.

As for me, I caught a stomach bug and spent Wednesday morning having my own issues at oh-god-thirty. Thankfully, I didn’t have to clean up after myself, though.

On a similar topic, epi4dogs.com is hoping to raise some money through Pepsi Refresh for EPI research and a general information/awareness campaign. I’m fully in support of this and hope that you’ll take the few seconds out of your time to click over to that there link and cast your vote. There are some other very worthy causes that you can also vote for, too. I’m sure I sound like a broken record and it’s hard not to after all of our struggles with this horrible condition, but there really needs to be more awareness of EPI. GSDs are the most common breed of dog to be afflicted, but it isn’t a condition solely limited to them. The belief is that EPI is caused through genetics and the aim of the research going on at Clemson University, which is where these funds would go, is to determine the exact genes that create this abnormality.

The other portion of the raised funds will be used towards an ongoing awareness campaign to spread knowledge and information about EPI. While EPI is manageable with proper treatment, there are dogs that die from the extreme effects. Diagnosis can take a long time, especially if the vet you are working with is ignorant of EPI and the symptoms. Without proper treatment, these dogs are literally starving to death. Sadly, some dogs are diagnosed too late and the malnourishment they suffered from EPI has done permanent damage to vital organs. Having a support system during the initial diagnosis and treatment process is absolutely invaluable. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for both of the vets that Yara has seen over the last three years; they’re informed about this illness and better yet they are both invested in Yara. But unfortunately there are still so many vets out there who have never heard of EPI (it’s only been recently it’s been taught in vet school, and I’m not even sure every school covers it) and that leaves a lot of dogs in a very scary place.

Somewhat related to the above in the sense of starving to death at least, I just finished reading Hunger, which is a fascinating young adult novel by the phenomenal Jackie Morse Kessler. (Otherwise known as Jackie Kessler, author of the Hell on Earth series.) It’s the story of Lisabeth, a seventeen-year-old anorexic who is one of the Four Horsemen . . . the Black Rider, Famine. Really, that was all I needed to know to pique my curiosity, which was good because that’s about the extent of the blurb.

Book cover

I feel I should have so much to say about Hunger because it is such a powerful read. Instead I’m left completely blown away and nearly speechless at this terribly short, yet incredibly intense novel. Kessler has managed to take eating disorders and weave a fiercely unrelenting story without being the tiniest bit preachy on the subject. She doesn’t shirk away from the pure physicality or raw emotion and presents Lisa’s suffering in a tangible and gripping way.

What initially piqued my interest in the book was the vague description I’d had of it. I’m sure if I’d really searched I could have found out more, but I was thoroughly intrigued by how the author would intermingle these two ideas. (Turns out, as she explains in notes at the back of the book, this isn’t exactly a foreign concept in literature . . . or at least comics.) It’s a truly fascinating juxtaposition and, aside from the uncompromising nature of Lisa’s (and Tammy’s) struggles with food, was the main force compelling me to read on further.

Basically, I’m left kind of bereft of words. It really is a fantastic book.