Guarded

Frida has been doing pretty darn well.  Her eyes aren’t open all of the time, but to catch her in the act makes my heart soar.fwe

My father in law said corneal ulcers are tremendously painful.  We’d heard it before, but to hear him say it woke me up.  Frida has been walking into snowdrifts not because she can’t see but because she is keeping her eyes closed even while walking because they hurt so badly.  fbp

Two days ago she had a great day with open eyes more than not.  A terrific walk, too.  Yesterday was not so good.  She insisted on itching her eyes as we started the walk so I had to bring her home and install her head in the cone.  I offered her a walk later but she politely declined.  Here’s hoping today is better.tns

This morning I made three quarts of spicy Indian soup and added to it a roasted butternut squash.  Might be the best soup I’ve ever improvised.  Dinner tonight is in the bag. p4

Friday’s fourth ritual pizza was terrific.  It hung up on the peel as I put it in the oven.  I’ll use cornmeal instead of flour on the peel.  That should help.

Lacey has been caring for Frida this morning.  I should tap in.

Have a great day.

Epic Flail

I resisted buying a bicycle for four months.  Then I didn’t resist buying a bicycle.  I wish I could blame it on the growler of Death Wish Coffee IPA that I enjoyed (part of) last night (I did type the purchase offer while under the influence), but I had started the process of caving as I wrote yesterday’s post.  Spending time last night with a car collecting friend helped me feel better about giving in to my deep dark acquisitive side.  After all, it is just a bicycle.  I have room for it.  It won’t require registration, insurance or maintenance that is outside of my skill set.  Blah blah blah.  Better sell a couple of more bicycles this summer!F 02.27.15

Frida is doing pretty darn well.  She learned to drink while coned, which is a huge relief.  Her diminished kidneys need liquid when they need it (not when I remember to take off the cone).  She is still keeping her eyes closed when she is stationary, but today over the course of our mile and a half walk she only face planted into one snow drift.  My fault, really.  I now vigilantly guard against her tendency to list to the left, but when she turned to head up a driveway toward the snowbank I assumed she was going to sniff some pee.  Not.  She crumpled into the drift.  I hope she had her eyes closed.  I’ll be more careful still.

Remember when I asked you to shovel the full width of your sidewalk?  So that wheelchair users and lovers could safely pass?  Now, another reason–I am Frida’s guide person and I can’t do it effectively from behind.  We need to be side by side.  So shovel the full width for Frida and I, because we’re going to be walking on your sidewalk soon.  She’s still got legs!

Yesterday I made vegetable stock and chocolate pudding.  Today I made banana breakfast bars.  Tonight, the fourth weekly pizza.  Time to go snuggle Frida.

Take care.

Treatment

Frida is sleeping behind my chair as I write.  These days she rarely stays near voluntarily.  She is an old dog.   As often as not she wants to be left alone to sleep the day away, preferring her own room and sometimes needing a different floor entirely.  Her proximity just now is involuntary.  I’ve closed the door to my office and her cute little head is encased in a plastic cone.

Her corneal ulcers were not healing so our friend suggested a visit to the ophthalmologist.  A cancelation in the specialist’s schedule got us in that same day (yesterday).  She debrided Frida’s eyes with a spinning diamond burr, popped in contact lenses (as bandages), adjusted meds and timing and recommended 24-7 coning for three weeks.

Frida was terrific immediately after the procedure, scratched eyes, contacts and cone be damned, but I now suspect her good spirits were attributable to the lingering effects of local anesthetic and her desire to quickly get as far away from the place as possible.  Using her eyes and walking fast seemed like the best bet.Frida Being Encouraging 02.25.15

I have pictures of Frida in the cone but won’t be sharing them.  The picture above was just before we went in to see the specialist.  Frida hadn’t opened her eyes even to walk for more than a day.  In the parking lot, though, she put on the ritz–showing me that her eyes were perfect and there was no need to see a specialist.  Dogs are wicked smart and crafty.

When we got home it all went to shit.  She kept her eyes locked tight all night and she was just short of catatonic.  Aaaakkk!  I was beside myself with guilt.  Why would I put dear Frida through three weeks of hell near the end of her life?  How would Frida eat and drink?  How would we get her outside to pee and poop?  Lacey had already had a long day at work but had enough left to counsel one last client.  Me.  Bless her straight to heaven.

Lacey stayed on the bed with Frida while I boiled pasta, heated jarred sauce, fried sausages and steamed kale.  Dinner in bed for us.  A mechanical affair–a chore to be attended to.  An episode of Glee helped some, but there was not nearly enough Rachel in it for my taste.  Then it was time to take Frida to pee.

Cone off.  Lacey and I both escorted Frida around her backyard snow track.  Frida wouldn’t open her eyes so it took ten minutes to make the circuit.  One true step would be followed by a second wayward step pegged into deep snow on the side of the narrow trail.  Anxiety would freeze her in place until we could coax her from behind, clapping from the front, to get her restarted.  Repeat thirty times.

Lacey and I were underdressed.  Our boots weren’t laced.  We’d imagined a quick out to pee and then back to a warm house.  Two minutes tops.  Not so.  Frida didn’t pee in the yard, so we went to the front walk to give her another chance.  Damned if that little girl didn’t open her eyes and decide to lead us on a one mile walk at 9:30 pm!  Her first walk in three days.  She used to miss a walk a year, but with her condition and the extremely cold temps, for a month she’s missed walks every other day, if not more.  A half mile into this walk I noticed Lacey didn’t have gloves.  I took the leash to free her hands to find pockets.  I laced my boots.  It was cold and dark, I had to pee and Lacey’s hands were most certainly pink ice blocks, but to see Frida open her eyes and walk, well, we would have gone five miles.  She would only have needed to lead us.  Luckily, she didn’t.  At 3/4 of a mile, she peed twice and pooped.  Money.  Homeward.

Today is much better.  She’s opening her eyes some.  I’ve walked her a mile and she wanted to go more.  No cone when I am snuggling her, when we walk or when she is eating and drinking.  My work is mercifully light today so I can give her my full attention.  Maybe the diamond debridement and the attendant care will help Frida’s eyes heal.  Maybe she’ll come with us to Provincetown again (we already have reservations for this summer).

I’m getting ahead of myself (and awfully one dimensional).  Internet shenanigans are as good as I can do.  I dropped a comment on a blog post written by the chef at the Saratoga Wine Bar and it has born fruit.  Or vegetables, to be more precise.  I’ve never been to his place, but All Over Albany directed me to his blog and I enjoyed much of what he wrote.  His food sounds wonderfully and thoughtfully prepared and his posts are entertaining.  A real character.  Accolades aside, I didn’t much care for the line “No, I do not like “vegetarians” in general.”  So I told him.  You can read the exchange if you want (in the comments to the post linked above), but let’s just say I was not confident I had made a positive connection.  Until this (in relevant part):

Randal Putnam, I’ve put a new vegan dish on The Wine Bar menu. Moroccan winter vegetable stew with turmeric rice.

That’s positive!  I hope I can get there to give it a try.  Frida will decide that.  Do me a favor?  If you are in Saratoga, get to the Saratoga Wine Bar and order the Moroccan stew.  Let the chef know you are thankful for his accommodation.  Don’t search his blog for the word “vegetarian.”  I did to find the links I’ve added to this post and, well, collecting his comments on the subject doesn’t present a very encouraging picture.  Still, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  He really sounds like a swell fellow with maybe one blindspot.  We all have them.  I’d list mine but I can’t–that is the nature of blind spots.  You don’t know they are there.  Please tell me when you notice them.  I can’t grow otherwise.

Onward!  Week four Friday pizza crust is rising in the fridge.  Frida is snoring.  Lacey is out the door for work.  I should get back to resisting buying another bicycle.  It requires all of my attention and strength to say no!

Be well!

Suspended

Frozen, really.  I shouldn’t complain in my heated home, but this winter has been a little much.ffa

Every time the heat cycles on I think of the dry air irritating Frida’s tearless eyes.  We’re doing our best to keep them going, but our friend visited last night and concluded her ulcers are not healing.  Not getting worse, but not getting better.

We remain hopeful.  We started a new immunosuppressant last night to try to restart her tears and our friend will come back on Tuesday to test.  Has it been a month already?  That’d make for roughly 1,200 drops and/or applications of goo into her poor little peepers.  Each time prying open her surprisingly strong velveteen eyelids.  Sometimes I can only pry them open enough to let a drop be pulled in by capillary action.  Willful thing, her, but she is tired of being messed with.

That’s all I have had on my mind.  I haven’t written as frequently because I suspect it isn’t fun to read bad or sad news.  I’m writing today because I need to, so thanks very much for listening.

Take care of yourselves, okay?

Short Note

Frida is still not producing tears and we’ve temporarily removed from her regimen the medicine that may help her resume tear production.   That medicine is hard on her corneal ulcers.  The hope is without the tear meds her eyes will heal more quickly at which point we can resume the tear medicine or an alternative tear medicine.  So Lacey and I are solely responsible for keeping her cute brown marbles moist.  Drops are applied at least every hour.    Suspending tear medicine is not usually an option because few folks are with their dogs every moment of every day such that they can’t properly maintain the eyes (which can become irreversibly damaged in as little as a week).  I am so very thankful to be working from home!

fs

We had a nice walk today.  I love her waxy paw prints on the driveway.  The Mushers Secret has done a terrific job of protecting her paws this winter.  Just one paw lift so far.  fpp

It is also nice to see her eyes open so wide.  When she doesn’t need to use them, she as often as not keeps one or both of them closed.  Probably smart, but it breaks our hearts.  fw

I made a quart of red sauce this morning with ancho and costeña chiles.  I understand self respecting Mexican chefs don’t make salsa ahead of time, but I am more than happy to have it in the fridge.  At lunch it added flavor to my quesadilla.  qda

Almost forgot.  Pie number two!  The one with the three day rise in the fridge.   Amazing!  The sauce, just three ounces of tomato paste, three ounces of water and some dried herbs with no cooking was also just the ticket.  Pizza!  p2

Still not bicycling, but I thought about it today.  The idea was to pump up my tires and pedal to the store for a growler of beer.  The reality is I have plenty of beer on hand and I am happier to stay near Frida.  I pedaled to the beer store!  A very short ride but when you haven’t been out for week after weeks, well, it felt swell.  Starting tomorrow we get some really frigid air that will stay with us for a week or more.  What a winter!

Hope you are well.  If I don’t write before Valentine’s Day, I hope yours is lovely.

Oh Dear

A real winter, yes.  I continue to crush the neighborhood shoveling competition, but the joy has gone out of it.  I continue to do it because it is pretty nice to get outside and, more importantly, it is the right thing to do.  Let me get the following off my chest.  Folks–please clear the full width of your walks.  Don’t clear only a shovel’s width path.  Codes require a minimum width of sidewalk for a reason and those reasons don’t blow away with the winter’s winds.  Remember wheelchairs?  That I don’t see wheelchairs on my street isn’t relevant.  Wheelchair users have a right to go everywhere, whenever.  Even if they don’t live on my street, they should be able to come visit.  Or maybe it is a chicken and egg thing.  People who find themselves in wheelchairs have to leave the neighborhood, even the city, because no one thinks of them.  Not feeling it?  How about preserving the ability of your neighbors to walk side by side, even hand in hand?  Single width shovel jobs require walking one after the other.  That isn’t right.  Not here.  Not anywhere.  Viva la romance!

fot

Frida has some serious eye problems.  I probably wrote about it already but I am too lazy to check.  Corneal ulcers in both eyes.  We’ve been messing with it for about three weeks and have recently discovered the cause.  She isn’t producing tears.  All cried out!  She is on meds now to try to jump start tear production.  With those meds, I am placing something in both of her eyes about every waking hour and she is getting checked weekly by our vet.  She is at times very uncomfortable, blinking, winking, holding her eyes closed.  She also hates us messing with her eyes.  I am seriously concerned she will begin to run at the sight of us.  It has been very trying for all of us.  We’re hopeful that by addressing the cause of the ulcers we can stop the progression and start the healing.  Please think good thoughts for our little winky.

far

 

Tonight we’ll enjoy our second Friday night homemade pizza night.  The first week’s pie was great, even though I sized it beyond my ability to get it off the peel and onto the stone.  I had to quickly fold one side of the crust onto itself.  I like the folded rustic look.  Almost looks intentional.pnw

I’ve done a bit more reading about crusts and learned that a cold rise in the fridge can be beneficial, so I made the dough for tonight’s pie on Tuesday.  It has doubled in the fridge.  I also read about making proper pizza sauce.  Until now, I’ve used red sauce from a jar and always noticed it was a bit too runny.  The recipe I hope will fix that mixes six ounces of tomato paste with six ounces of water and a bunch of herbs.  That rests for thirty minutes–no cooking required.  Easy!  I love Little Anthony’s and doubt our pies will never equal theirs, but it is fun to have something different.

Oh winter!  I wish I pushed myself to get out on cross country skis or even a little downhill, but wishes haven’t made it so.  I won’t be too hard on myself.  It is tough to leave Frida when I know her cute little brown eyes will dry up without hourly tears from a bottle.  Come on tear ducts!  You can do it!

Be well.

Noise