Tag Archives: Curly

Merry Christmas 2014

And here we are, it’s Christmas Eve! Perhaps one of the best things about getting married (besides the whole commitment to spending the rest of my life with the person I love and all that…) is that I get to celebrate Christmas even more.

And always with this guy!
And always with this guy!

We did the Vonck thing last weekend with my parents and siblings and nieces and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and puppies on that side of the family.

You can kind of tell that we're related... and that we enjoy our time together, eh?
You can kind of tell that we’re related… and that we enjoy our time together, eh?

Tonight, we start the party Stankowski-style, which as I have mentioned before is big, big, big.

No matter the “side” or the location or the event,¬†as the Muppets say (in the best version of A Christmas Carol ever produced EVER): wherever you find LOVE it feels like Christmas!

{Source}
{Source}

And it’s so true! Love, love, love… every where! In every way!

And to quote another immortal soul, one Mr. Frank Sinatra:

I wish you shelter form the storm
A cozy fire to keep you warm
But most of all, when snowflakes fall
I wish you love

That is truly my Christmas wish for you. For everyone. For myself even. Lots of love.

And especially for my sister’s dear friend Jackie, who I unfortunately did not get to meet when I was in Midland for a few days– I really hope she knows how much she is loved! To be loved by my sweet and fisky sister, that’s a big deal ūüôā

Claire knows it's a big deal to be loved by my Shabsky Balu-- look at that happy little face!!
Claire knows it’s a big deal to be loved by my Shabsky Balu– look at that happy little face!!

I love all the rest of you too and I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for hanging out with me for another year here at Under the Tapestry.

My goal for 2014 was to convince you that I am truly unhinged, but full of love. (The best kind of unhinged, really.) If I haven’t done that yet, let me just send you a quick Christmas card…

Created using Minted
Created using¬†minted.¬†I’m so so so pleased with minted. Highly recommend!

Transition to crazy dog lady — complete!

Oh how I love that pup!!

 

Wishing you and all of your furry (or scaled or feathered or whatever) friends a very merry holiday season full of love, love, love!

D is for my diggity dog!

Did you know that I have a dog?

NO?!

This must be the first time we’ve met. Because I do have one. And I love her… so much that I talk about her constantly. Even more than Harry Potter, the Civil War, and¬†dinosaurs combined.

(That’s a lot.)

My dog is a double doodle– her mom was a golden doodle (golden retriever plus poodle), her dad was a labradoodle (labrador retriever plus poodle). So, ultimately, our designer mutt is half poodle, one quarter lab, and one quarter golden. 100% perfection ūüôā

Curly 4

We kind of stumbled across the double doodle breed accidentally. My sister has a golden doodle named Grizzly that Seth and I are absolutely in love with, but Seth has always really wanted a lab. A quick Google search after jokingly mentioning a triple mix (and my mom’s serious question– how would they even do that???)¬†revealed that it wasn’t actually a joke at all and we got real serious about finding one of these sweet pups to bring into our home.

The second we put an offer on a house, we applied for a puppy. We were ready!

Curly was born in southern Illinois on August 13, 2012 and came to live with us in October. I was in love with her from the very first picture the breeder sent. Her happy little face was just too much and I just love her more and more and more every day!

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I used to think dogs were cool. That it would be nice to have one and that puppies sure were cute.

Now that I have one of my own, though? Dogs… are…¬†everything!

Everything that is good and happy and sweet and fun and loving, and, and, and…

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After the cat I grew up with (Callie) passed away, my parents got a dog. It was a total surprise and likely the result of my mom wandering off in a pet store and leaving my dad to his own devices. Oscar just showed up one day, completely out of the blue, and it was an absolute shock… but we were delighted.

(Side note: Oscar was¬†not the name I would have chosen. So I call him Shobsky, because that’s what his name would have been if it had been my choice. But it wasn’t. So technically it’s Oscar, but he responds just as well to Shobsky if I use the right tone of voice.)

Unfortunately, Oscar didn’t come into our family until I was a junior in high school and I was¬†very self-centered at the time and unable to really appreciate the doginess of our dog. I didn’t really¬†get it.

Then we got Curly. And now I super get it.

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My Curly girl is everything to me. I absolutely adore her and her sweet face. Everything she does is just so cute to me. She hangs with me when I’m depressed and gets excited with me when I’m happy. She’s such a trooper.

And Curly made me better at being around all dogs. I truly love them all now, even the grumpy old ones like my Oscar. I used to get nervous, I thought licking was super gross, and I was always a little bit uncomfortable. Not anymore!

Now, I can¬†barely restrain myself from petting ALL the dogs.¬†All of them. Every last one. And I thank puppies for licking me– “oh, so sweet! thank you for the kisses!! thank you!” And I’m much more comfortable with my dog than without. With any dog, though. I truly do love them all!

Believe it or not, Curly even made me love my husband MORE. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved him a whole heck of a lot since like 2002, but the way he interacts with my Curls leaves me absolutely enamored… all I can do is smile at those two. It’s like all of my heart is there before my eyes.

Curly and Seth

Life with my sweet, and somewhat troubled, dog has also shown me that I can handle anything– good times and bad, happiness and stress, the calm of uber-sedation and the cray cray of visitors. All of it. I can handle it. Because it’s totally worth it.

So as long as we’re hear, chatting about my Curly girl, how about a little update?

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Seth and I took Curls to Madison for a follow-up last Monday. Granted, we’d had two visits to the emergency vet in the interim because the little punk can’t resist chewing on her cast, but those were relatively minor issues. On Monday, they removed the last bits of the fixator and now she’s just got a hard splint from toe to hip. She’s doing well, we’re feeling nervous. Her bone is essentially swiss cheese now that the pins are removed and we’ve lost our security blanket. Our next, and hopefully last, appointment is on June 11th. They anticipate removing everything at that point and we’re hoping to work out just some sort of temporary bracing situation for when she might need a little extra support (on walks, when people come over, when playing in the yard). So far so good and all signs suggest that things are going just about as well as they could possibly be going given the state of her knee when we started. It’s certainly not¬†normal, but we’re on the right track. The best news is that even if this surgery fails completely, she’ll never be worse than she was before she started– in fact probably a little better considering they removed a bone chip that had come off of her patella and a wire that was just floating around in there doing nothing. So… win-win? A little?

Curly 1

Home from Phoenix, Stories to Tell

Phoenix City Hall
It’s a scientifically proven fact that crooked pictures are at least 47-times more artistic than straight on shots. See?

I went to Phoenix last week for the HMO Research Network (HMORN) conference. The science was fascinating, Phoenix was gorgeous, but my body gave me an awful lot of grief and it was all-in-all a pretty rough trip. I am very glad to be home.

On Saturday morning, my sister-in-law Kayla, the professional Body Pump Instructor, came over to teach my other sister-in-law, Trista, and I the newest Body Pump release. It was an awesome work out (too awesome, even, said my quads the next day), but halfway through I was pretty sure I was going to vomit. I thought maybe it was because I ate breakfast about an hour before and that may have been a mistake (go ahead, ask me if it’s because I’m pregnant, I dare you), but it turns out it wasn’t the breakfast, it wasn’t the intensity of the work out, it was a VIRUS! Or something. And it was¬†miserable. The bathroom pretty much became my home.

Bitty little fever to go with the nausea and diarrhea. Joy.
Bitty little fever to go with the nausea and diarrhea. Joy.

Except… we had to go down to Madison to pick up Curly after surgery and there’s no way Seth could have picked her up on his own. I had to go. Thank goodness for rest stops, Immodium, and Pepto. It was just enough to get me down and back, although it was certainly pleasant for no one. And I’m sure I was not the most uncomfortable person in the car. You see, the ultimate outcome of Curly’s surgery was good, but repair requires use of an external fixator for at least four weeks. (At least— we’re hoping for more like 6 – 8.)

Love when she sits like a person. Not loving the incisions and pins and pain killers and all that.
Love when she sits like a person. Not loving the incisions and pins and pain killers and all that.

Poor baby is having a rough time, of course, but is doing incredibly well. Leaving for Phoenix was particularly stressful on account of leaving Seth on his own to take care of her. I know she’s a dog and normally that means food, water, potty, but not this time. It means 7 different drugs 4 times a day, cleaning of the entrance sites of the pins, and all of the effort required to keep this “high energy” dog extremely calm and as comfortable as possible. No easy task.

The good news, though, is that Seth did exceptionally well. We had Curls into our local vet to check everything over yesterday morning and she was thrilled with how it all looks. I’m particularly pleased with the incisions. She has a big long incision down the outside of both of her legs (on the right to repair the damaged knee, on the left to harvest muscle fascia for the repair) and the difference between this surgery and the last¬†three is truly night and day– clean, dry, beautiful stitches running neatly down each leg. No oozing, no gapping, no swelling, no redness. Definitely a good sign.

Looking cozy, eh?
Looking cozy, eh?

Meanwhile, in Phoenix, I was busy subsisting on the blandest food I could find (lots and lots of dry cereal and bananas, seasoned with the pink stuff, of course) and locating (and destroying) the nearest bathroom until 4 am on Wednesday morning. Bad enough, right? Except on Tuesday night, during a viewing of The Grand Budapest Hotel (which was absolute Wes Anderson brilliance, by the way) I noticed that my hands started to feel kind of bad. Swollen. Puffy. By Wednesday morning, the virus had subsided, but my hands no longer even looked human and finding an urgent care became priority number one.

After presenting our posters in the morning and listening to a few talks, I could no longer bare the spreading and the throbbing (and the concern that my wedding ring may end up resulting in auto-amputation of my finger) and I sought out medical care. Fortunately, there was a walk-in clinic a mere two blocks from the hotel and I headed there for a prescription of oral steroids and some ice packs… three people, ice, and lots of petroleum jelly also helped to get my ring off and my finger was saved. Whew.

I cannot even tell you how kind the clinic staff were. It was amazing. Minnerva, the lovely NP who treated me, has even been in contact since I left because she wanted to 1) make sure I was doing ok (I was under strict orders to seek emergency care should I develop shortness of breath– immediately) and 2) to find out if I’d gotten a diagnosis (medical curiosity– love it). And I did! After a visit first to family practice and then to dermatology yesterday, I was diagnosed with dyshyidrotic eczema¬†and was prescribed a big, fat steroid “blast and taper” to deal with this flare up and a steroid cream to be used at the first sign of blistering in the future.

Done in time to make it to the Desert Botanical Garden-- whew! Itchy hands, but lots of cacti for scratching. (I kid.)
Done in time to make it to the Desert Botanical Garden– whew! Itchy hands, but lots of cacti for scratching. (I kid.)

If you’ve known me a while, you know that this hand rash business is not new. It started happening back in 2009 after I had the swine flu (or, as Seth and I like to call it, the piggy pigs) and didn’t stop happening until I graduated and moved to Wisconsin in 2011. But since then– nothing. Not even once. Sweet relief. So you can imagine my panic when it came back in Phoenix– with a vengeance.

Likely, this is something I’m going to have to deal with on and off forever, but having a diagnosis, knowing some of the triggers (female gender (not much I can do about that), stress (such as traveling on the heels of my dog’s fourth surgery… a surgery that took 9 hours and two faculty surgeons to complete), extreme weather conditions (Wisconsin to Phoenix? that’ll do it), other illnesses (like the piggy pigs or an intestinal virus), and frequent hand washing/transitions from wet to dry), and having a plan for how to deal with it makes a world of difference. At least I feel pretty relieved.

So, lots to whine about, as the 1,000+ words above demonstrate… but also lots to be happy for. Seth did¬†so¬†great with Curly (seriously, he’s going to be such a great dad someday– but again, not preggo, I promise) and it was really nice to travel with Trista. She and I had lots to talk about and I think we’ve come to an important conclusion about some important things to say– lots and lots more to say about all of that at a later date. A series even. Additionally, my poster spurred a lot of really interesting debate. It presented evidence in direct contradiction to the 2009 United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines for mammography screening and someone who came up for the purpose of discussion worked for the USPSTF at that time. Yikes! We had a spirited and interesting debate and I was really pleased with my capacity to have nerve-wracking scientific discourse (with crazy hands) without getting worked up or personally offended or anything. Lots of other poster traffic and I was pretty pleased with the outcome– I’m really looking forward to sharing some of the suggestions and comments with the docs I worked with on the project. Lots of good stuff to think about. Trista and I got to have dinner with she and Seth’s cousin Ginni and her little boy Keegan. The restaurant was a hole in the wall, but an absolutely gem, and then we went for drinks in the spinning Compass Room overlooking the entire city. And finally, last but not least, I came home with¬†four mini cacti¬†from the botanical garden for planting! Pretty dang excited about that!

St. Mary's Basilica in Phoenix. Gorgeous. And look at that sky?!
St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix. Gorgeous. And look at that sky?!

I hope you’ll stick with me… and that Trista and others will join me in the upcoming series we’ll talk about tomorrow. It’s important and I’m really looking forward to the discussion. See you then!!!

She made it to Madison!!

Guys! I’m so crazy sad about my sweet puppy girl right now. I mean, I’m happy that she¬†finally made it to Madison and is first up on the schedule for surgery tomorrow morning. That’s a good thing– this is necessary and if there’s even a chance it could fix my Curly girl’s leg, it’ll be totally worth it. But then I think about her down there in Madison without us, not understanding why we left her, and it breaks my heart. I can’t stand the thought of her being sad!

At least we did everything we could to make her last couple days before surgery awesome. She had three extra long walks yesterday (with a sling, of course) and got to play in some fresh snow (thanks, Wisconsin). Plus, Seth brought her down and picked up a surprise guest in Mosinee on the way down to Madison– his dad. And Curly¬†loves her grandpa more than anyone else, so I’m sure she was absolutely thrilled about that. (Plus, I was super glad Seth had company for the drive.) I was so sad to leave her and go to work this morning, though. I made her hug me for like 10 minutes. (She hugs on command, btw, it’s so cute.) I’m pretty sure she thought we were having a battle, but I’m ok with that. Felt like a hug with growling to me ūüėČ

No one was here to greet me at the door when I came home, there was no little nose fiercely sniffing up at my bowl of chili as I carried it to the table, and my house is so so quiet– so squeaking, no chewing, no pitter pattering, just me. My Curly girl is gone for now, but when she returns this weekend, she’ll basically be a robot. At least that’s what I envision the fixator is going to look like. I like robots… and I¬†love Curly, so I can only imagine that this is going to be awesome. Just a couple of days.

Sigh. I can’t even imagine having to do all of this with a human child. There are some really amazing parents in this world! Parents to¬†humans, I mean. Like my friend Aimie, but we’ve talked about that before.

 

Crazy news: Seth just got home. Apparently, the surgeons practiced Curly’s surgery last week on a cadaver. I guess that extra week may have actually been a good thing. You can never have enough practice. Especially when it’s my pup in your hands. Always a silver lining.

New thought: silver linings are kind of like brief glimpses at the top side of the tapestry, don’t you think? I truly believe that¬†everything, even the things that seem super duper crappy at the time, has a silver lining. Recognizing the silver lining is like getting a brief and amazing glimpse at the way the threads all come together to make that tapestry I named this blog after. Remember that? Am I mixing too many metaphors here?

Silver Linings

 

And if not a silver lining, a silver platter at the very least, eh, Chim Lee???

 

Surgery #4 — Postponed. Again.

My pup. Seriously. If it can go wrong, it will.

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Seth was in Miami on a business trip (not to be pissy about it, but it did snow here THREE times while he was there. Just saying.) and it was my job today to get Curls to the vet in Madison by 4 pm. No problem. I took a half day off of work and made plans to get together with my cousin and her little family (meeting a new baby, yay!) for dinner.

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Except I made it almost to Coloma, which is truly the middle of n-o-w-h-e-r-e Wisconsin, when the vet’s office called to cancel Curly’s surgery.

Nothing like a 4 hour road trip to nowhere!

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We’re rescheduled for next Thursday. Thursdays are better than Fridays because if emergencies happen on Thursdays, Thursday surgeries get pushed to Friday and Friday surgeries are canceled. Now we know.

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I was a little ticked, of course, definitely frustrated, but I’ve got to admit– there were a lot of oks about the day after all.

It was absolutely gorgeous out– warm and sunny. A good day for a drive, even if it ended up getting me nowhere.

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I’ll have another road trip in the near future to finish listening to the excellent Dean Koontz audio book I checked out at the library. (Fear Nothing– really good so far, but I’m a huge DK fan. Huge.)

I got home around 3:30, which gave me enough time before Seth got home to finish up some work I’ve been promising to get done all week (sorry, Sassy!).

And last, but definitely the best, Curly was home when her dad got home and she couldn’t have been any happier. Not only that, but her pup cousin Zoe came to stay with us too and Curls is beside herself with excitement.

Sadly, I had to cancel my dinner with Beth and co, but next time, maybe Seth can come too! Even better!

For now, we’re all home, safe and sound, everyone with at least 2 (if not 3!) good legs for walking on. Not too shabby, really. And Curls will still get her surgery… we just have to wait a little while longer. A week isn’t going to hurt anything. Perhaps by then¬†all the snow will be melted. Maybe.

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In other news, my brother talked me into downloading snapchat on my phone. I’ve never felt so old in my entire life. Ever. But he coerced me with promises of pictures of my niece next weekend. How could I resist that?!!

 

I hope you all have wonderful, wonderful weekends!

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Sweet potatoes– she loves them!

 

PS: Did you see that I tagged this as a recurring theme?! Clever, right?! Because Curly has surgery a lot and bad things always happen. Ha ha ha!

A Creepy Ode to My Friend Krystal and a Reminder to Keep Trying

This morning a beautiful e-card full of hummingbirds and flowers popped up in my inbox. It was from that crazy nice security guard who gave¬†me a ride on Friday– he was thanking me for the doughnuts! All I wanted to do was thank him for being so kind on so many yucky days!¬†Goodness gracious, do I ever love living in Wisconsin. The kindness in this place, it’s nearly overwhelming!

A Jacquie Lawson e-card. A huge smile on my face.
A Jacquie Lawson e-card. A huge smile on my face.

It’s the littlest things, isn’t it?

This is the reward for trying.

I was reminded of that all weekend. How important it is to¬†try, even when you’re scared or shy or nervous or anxious. Trying makes all the difference.

You see, my friend Krystal came over this weekend (and she brought her husband and daughter with her– also kind of cool!) and I was stressing before hand. Why? I don’t know… but I always do. Krystal is super happy and kind and fun and¬†pretty like you wouldn’t believe. She’s an amazing mom and crafty and hilarious and has excellent taste in movies and gorgeous, super long, curly hair. Every time I see Krystal I get nervous all over again that she’s not going to like me.

Except the first time I really met her, she proved me wrong right away.

Seth was one of Krystal’s husband’s groomsmen and I flew to Green Bay from DC for the wedding. I didn’t know them much at all– I just knew that they were cool (perhaps a little¬†too cool for a nerdy girl like me) and that Seth loved them. I had to go to the rehearsal with Seth since he was in the wedding and what else was I going to do in GB (in January!) while he was busy with wedding stuff. I thought it would be awkward and I’d be out of place, but I wasn’t! At all! Krystal was¬†so warm¬†and¬†kind and actually excited to meet¬†me. Krystal’s one of those people who attracts people just like her too– her family was warm and kind, her friends were warm and kind, everyone there was just welcoming and happy and all around¬†good to an overwhelming degree.

In my warped mind I kept thinking… but, she’s¬†pretty!! how can this be? and yet it was, and my warped mind was w-r-o-n-g wrong. My second track tries to get it’s punches in every time I am going to see Krystal again, but when she gets out of her truck, smiles big, gives me a hug, squats down to pet my overly-excited pup and then gets excited that Curly still pees for her (Krystal is literally the only person who still gets excited pee from Curls, quite the compliment), I’m instantly at ease.

I don’t have any babies, but Krystal trusts me with hers. My dog is a maniac, but Krystal loves on her anyway. I’m not an exciting person, but Krystal is content to chill on the couch and watch movies. I make a lot of Harry Potter jokes, but Krystal always laughs at them. I tell Krystal a story about eating an entire can of Pringles, and Krystal tells me that not only did she eat an entire can of Pringles, but she did it laying down and got so many crumbs all over her chest that her husband threatened to take pictures.

The best part is that Krystal does all of this even though she’s seen me at my¬†worst. I remember going to their house in GB one time when I was in the midst of a pretty deep depressive episode. I could barely force a smile and I was horrible, horrible company the whole weekend. Another time I had a migraine like you wouldn’t believe and all I wanted to do was lay down on a cold pillow in the quiet dark and pop a couple Excedrin every couple hours. They took me to the drugstore for Excedrin (sweet relief!) and made sure we had enough puppy chow (mmmmm… puppy chow…) to get through the weekend. (I really, really like puppy chow.)

It’s true that things don’t always work out as you’d hope, but trying is always worth it because it just¬†might. My sister-friend* Melissa told me one time that while she’d prefer never to see me hurt, she would always prefer that I get hurt for¬†trying¬†rather than for not. (And FYI, she told me this on a phone call from the freaking Ritz-Carlton Laguna Beach while she was celebrating her birthday with her husband. Taking the time out to call me– crazy woman, and crazy good friend!!!!) Even though it’s scary and the prospect of not being well-received is difficult, it’s worth it for those instances in which you befriend a Krystal or make someone’s day with doughnut holes.

 

*On vacation, Melissa and I automatically become sister-wives and it’s awesome. Our husbands joke then that they are brother-husbands, but that’s ridiculous and doesn’t make any sense (obvs). We are sister-wives in that we cook together and hang out together and take care of the (Melissa’s) kids together… and all those things are more¬†fun because of it. It’s so awesome! I’m pretty sure I would¬†not dig the polygamy aspect of sister-wifery,** but the companionship part? Totally!

 

**Pronounced WHIFF-ery, not WIFE-ery… like the brothers Deslaurier on The Mindy Project.

Murphy’s Law– It’s true. That’s why they call it a law, I guess.

You’ve undoubtedly heard it time and time again:

If anything can go wrong, it will.

We should have named my dog Murphy.

We left Madison last Thursday with the news of an infection in Curly’s joint capsule and an empirical prescription for clavamox. Empirical antibiotic treatment means that they¬†hope it’ll work, but really have no idea.

Bad news bears: it didn’t.

Fortunately, the doctor had the foresight to culture the joint fluid and do antibiotic susceptibility testing. While whatever the organism was (and of course I’m super curious) was resistant to clavamox, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) ought to do the trick.

Ugh, the irony. I’m pretty sure this is some sort of karmic retribution for the bottles and bottles of bottles of TMP-SMX I fed mice to clear their genital flora before infecting them with the clap.

I’d like to think that I could satisfy the universe by just becoming a vegetarian or something so it would leave my Curls alone, but alas, I do not like vegetables that much.

So today’s brief and kind of lame blog post is actually brought to you on account of reason 1.5– something I hadn’t accounted for when I first told you about dog stuff and work stuff being the things that kept me away. Today, I had to take my dog to the vet to get a tear test (because apparently TMP-SMX can alter tear production… who knew) and was gone from work for about 2 hours, leaving me quite behind at the end of the day and making up for it tonight. Clever, universe.

Very clever indeed.

Karma is everything they say about her, isn’t she?

 

And back to real work… got to pay the billZ and all that!

Curly Lambeau, my sweet, silver-lined, puppy girl.

At this point it’s pretty safe to assume that when I miss big chunks of blog time it’s for one of two reasons. (1) Work got crazy and life got insane or (2) something happened to my dog. Since work finally calmed down a bit, this absence can be attributed to reason number 2.

As you’re likely aware, I have not yet been blessed with any babies of the human variety (ugh, we should really chat about that at some point). But I do have a dog.

If you have any human children or find yourself lacking in love for all things puppy, you’re probably going to hate me a bit for saying this right now, but that’s ok…¬†my dog is my baby, and I totally treat her like one.

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I absolutely adore my Curly girl and love her more than I love myself. I’m pretty sure that if a car were careening toward my Curls, I’d jump in front of it to save her without a second thought.

Curly came into our home in October 2012, the same weekend my friends Ellen and Rob got married (such a happy weekend!), and my husband and I have been absolutely in love with her ever since. She’s a high-energy, super happy, double doodle (her parents were a golden doodle and a labradoodle) with cream colored curls befitting of her name (although she’s actually named for Curly Lambeau, the founder of the Packers).

Last fall, we started noting problems with Curly’s knees and our local vet recommended surgery to repair patellar subluxation (her knee cap is not where it should be). Doing what we thought was best for our sweet girl, we took Curls to an orthopedic surgeon in Appleton where she had her first surgery in October 2013.

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It failed.

And so did the next.

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And the damage got worse after the second failure, necessitating a more extensive third surgery.

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Which also failed.

Last Thursday, I took Curly back to the surgeon noting a decrease in her willingness to use that leg and the x-ray painted a rather grim picture, worsted only by the picture the surgeon painted me. Essentially, I left with two options, including doing nothing and hoping for some sort of adaptation to the new anatomy that would allow Curls some function in that leg or… amputation.

Ugh, my stomach.

The surgeon was apologetic, but resigned. Those were our options as far as he was concerned and that was that.

I had to call Seth and tell him the news. And then I had to drive the 2 hours home from Appleton, mulling it over in my head and nursing a nagging stomachache. I called my sister on the way home and, forgetting she’s preggo, ended up making her cry (hormones and all…), but she really is the best pup-auntie (or p-auntie– read it out loud, ha!) ever and it really helped to chat with her. Later on I talked to the incredibly kind and generous animal-loving folks I work with who were super encouraging and suggested we seek a second opinion at the University of Wisconsin – Madison vet school.

And that’s where we spent our day yesterday. So glad we did! We don’t necessarily have¬†good news, per se. But we do have a new found cautious optimism based on the extensive examination and imaging studies they performed, the shocking amount of time the orthopedic surgeon was willing to spend with us talking and drawing diagrams and showing us 3D models and such, and the willingness of the folks in Madison to collaborate with the previous surgeon in Appleton as well as others to really think this through and come up with some better options (better than amputation, anyway) for our girl.

It was a long and exhausting day, but it was definitely worth it. And while I’m constantly worrying about the decisions we have made (Curls is essentially worse off at this point than if we’d never done surgery at all all– did we make the right choice?! should we have gone to Madison sooner? would they have done anything differently if we had???), I had a long car ride last night on the way home to think about what this has taught us, Seth and me, as future parents to more fur babies (pleeeeease, Sethy?!), human babies (hopefully), and as leaders of our family unit (said in my dad’s alien/robot voice, usually reserved for comments such as “hello, daughter unit…”).

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  • Second opinions are a good thing, medically or otherwise. It never hurts to get someone else’s take on something. Especially something big and important. (Like a career change and cross country move.) But even sometimes things that aren’t. (Like whether or not you should include a funding statement on a poster if there was no funding.) Knowing what we know now, I think we would definitely have had an additional medical consultation for Curly earlier. But when I think about it, it’s the same thing for my GI woes– it wasn’t getting better, so I kept pursuing alternatives until¬†finally I found someone who did the right tests and asked¬†the right questions and got to a diagnosis. When I have questions, or am afraid that the doctor might have questions of his or her own, from now on, I’ll be more willing to seek alternative advice, opinions, or just general thoughts. It never hurts to ask.
  • Collaboration is¬†so worthwhile.¬†Oy, this is ironic. Seriously. Group work? I’ve never liked it. Never. I begged and pleaded my way out of it through elementary school, I stressed and worried my way through it in middle school and high school, I just did all the group work myself in college, and made sure I had a very solitary, dependent-on-no-one kind of thesis project in grad school. And then, I entered the¬†real world and figured out why all those teachers had been trying so very, very hard to get me to participate in a team setting for all those years– because it’s necessary and it produces better results. Every project I work on now is a team effort and cultivating good team relationships has become a key aspect of my daily life– and thank goodness for it! I’d be¬†l-o-s-t¬†without the biostatisticians and programmers and budgeting folks who can do all those crazy things that just hurt my head to even think about. And I suppose it’s truly no different in medicine, human or veterinary. I’m sure Curly’s first surgeon is top notch and used to success. He should probably have consulted someone else or suggested that we do ourselves, if not after the first revision, than definitely after problems arose with the second. That’s what they’re doing for Curly down in Madison, because that’s what’s going to result in the best care. An introvert’s nightmare, true, but there’s definitely some merit to this whole collaborative practice thing.
  • You don’t need much to be truly happy. Curly has been through a lot. Her first surgery was October 16th and she’s spent the past 5 months cut open, stapled and stitched closed, bandaged up, wearing a cone, confined to her kennel, limited to short leash walks with a sling, and pretty much continuously drugged. I’ve pulled at mats in her fur and cut her hair myself (and even accidentally nicked her once! it was the worst!!! I felt so horrible!!), I’ve spent an entire night wiping her backside and washing her blankets, I’ve sprayed her with stuff that stings and fed her stuff that’s bitter. Yet, through¬†all of that, Curly still loves us and she’s still ridiculously and unreasonably happy. She goes crazy and tries hard to sit still despite her frantically wagging tail every time we walk in the door. She brings us toys and blankets to play. She bounds through the snow stopping to eat a bite here and there. She gives kisses and nuzzles my hand when it falls over the edge of the bed at night. She’s just such a happy girl. And that’s what every veterinary employee we’ve seen in the past couple of months has been amazed by– she should, by all accounts,¬†not be this resilient. But she is. And thank goodness! We love, love, love our happy girl!

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  • Pets are a great source for giving and getting unconditional love. I love my pup. I love her like crazy. I know she’s not a human (seriously, I do know that) even though I often treat her like one. My mind is on her constantly and even if she ends up with no back legs, I’ll feel bad only at the thought that it could be somehow my fault, never about her condition. Because it truly doesn’t matter to me. She’s perfect, exactly as she is, no matter how ultimately functional or irreparable her leg ends up being. Taking care of her after surgery can be hard, but it’s worth it. Even the tough cares (seriously, the diarrhea after surgery #2 was¬†not a joke) are totally worth it and done without a second thought because they’re done for her and I love her. Curly has taught me, for certain, that Seth and I are capable of great love– both for one another and for¬†our family, whether fur or flesh. It’s a reassuring thought!

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This has been a tough few months, for no one more so than Curly, I’m sure. But she’s just done so ridiculously well. We can’t explain it, but it seems like she knows we’re only trying to help her and that trust is amazing. (The only thing she¬†doesn’t trust is that the treat your holding doesn’t have a pill inside of it– that still requires some trickery. Trickery or salami.) I’m certainly not glad for any of this, but I am grateful for the small reminders day in and day out that our household is a happy one, bum legs and all!

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Coming up in the near future (in no particular order):

  • A second look at STEMinity
  • A more inclusive definition of family
  • The adult version of “If You’re Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands”
  • A book club quarterly review

 

 

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Advent for Thirty: Joy!

I wasn’t really sure what to write about joy. But I got home from work one day last week and had a package waiting for me on the counter. It came all the way from Alaska and this is what was inside:

Treat yo self! In cross stitch! omg!!
Treat yo self! In cross stitch! omg!!

My friend Aimee (yes, that Aimee!) sent me a treat yo self cross stitch! I’m so in love with it! It’s just genius! And it brought me a ridiculous amount of joy! Such an awesome and unexpected surprise!

I sent my sister a picture right away (she was super impressed and super jealous, as anticipated) and then set about deciding where to hang it. I wanted to see it pretty much all the time and to be awake while near it… so I settled on my office. Right by my monitor.

I hung it there. It made me smile– and does so again every time I look at it. And then I realized, in my office, I’ve surrounded myself with little items that bring me joy!

Surrounded by joy... in my office!
Surrounded by joy… in my office!

You can see my treat yo self cross stitch to the left of my monitor. Above that is a line from the Mumford and Sons song Roll Away your stone about grace. The best picture ever of my niece and my puppy makes up the background of my desktop. Other family photos (including one of four generations including me, my mom, my grandma, and my great-grandma) are above. To the right is the super clever science clock my brother made me when he was in high school… apparently my sister picked up on my love of science at some point too and the stuff gonococcus (the bacteria that causes gonorrhea– do STDs bring me joy? Yeah, little bit…) on the left is from her. I’ve also got a Michigan Tech husky pup and lots and lots of pictures from the UP (also taken by Aimee). What you can’t see are all the other microbiology and squirrel jokes I’ve got tacked up, the hand drawn pictures made by another Aimie’s kids, the framed fall leaves from my grandma’s house, or the quilted pine tree with an inspirational message sewn on the back (I can’t even talk about it– it makes me cry every time) that my friend Jess’s mom made for me that hangs by the door.

(I’m suddenly noticing a severe lack of dinosaurs and Harry Potter… will have to do something about that.)

Work can, of course, be tough at times. But the environment I have created for myself is one that is jam packed with joy. And when I thought about that, the more I realized that my house is the same way. So many reminders of the things that bring me joy in my life!

Things like my family. All of it!

The whole big Vonck-Stankowski-Drengler-Krueger-Space clan!
The whole big Vonck-Stankowski-Drengler-Krueger-Space clan!

There has been no greater joy in my life thus far than the day I married Seth and got to celebrate with all of our family and friends! All in one place! So much happiness! It was perfection!

And books, so very, very many books. I love books and they are everywhere in my house.

So many books... in so many places...
So many books… in so many places…

Apparently, some things never change. When I was really little, I didn’t sleep with a stuffed animal or a blankie– I slept with a book under my arm. For me, reading books is a huge source of joy!

And of course, these two, they bring me joy every single day!

My snugglers!
My snugglers!

The way my husband and my pup snuggle just kills me– it’s the sweetest!!

And there are a million other little things that bring me joy…beautiful dishes (especially Polish pottery), when it snows so lightly that you can see each individual flake perfectly formed on your mitten or your windshield, when my puppy tries to catch leaves in her mouth, connecting with other Michigan Tech grads, tinsel, making someone else laugh, and I could go on and on of course, because the list of things that bring you joy¬†should be a long one!

Despite my long list, there are definitely times when I simply cannot find joy… in anything. In fact, it happened most recently at the end of September– we talked about that here. Intellectually, I¬†know that there are a lot of things that should and usually¬†do bring me joy. But I’m not always capable of feeling it.

I am doing well right now as I approach 30. Joy comes easily and I’m feeling pretty good. But I can hear the voice of depression inside me. It’s suggesting we perhaps try to go drug-free… which at this point in my life I know is as ridiculous as a type 1 diabetic listening to their pancreas tell them that they need to go without insulin. Nice try, brain. It’s just not going to work for me.

I was trained in chemistry, then in microbiology, and now I work in medicine. I know better than to think I can outsmart my brain chemistry… and yet those insidious thoughts sneak in, hell bent on robbing me of my joy. But at 30, I’ve finally learned that I cannot let that happen– because what’s life without joy?!

Thanks to Advent for Thirty for convincing me to reflect on that! Advent for the win!!

2013: The year I crapped my pants. Twice.

It’s December 31st, 2013. I just got home from Appleton. We picked up my pup from her third surgery on the same knee. Here’s hoping that this won’t be the third¬†failed surgery.

Curly in Cast

And that’s pretty much how 2013 has been. Except… EXCEPT! I started Under the Tapestry. And¬†that has made all the difference! Because each time we chat, I’m reminded that for every dark cloud, there is a silver lining, and that each and every tangled thread I see is part of a much bigger and more lovely picture.

For example:

In 2013, I crapped my pants. Twice. We’ve been over this. My stomach was a MESS. A terrible, horrible mess. And I went through a lot of scoping and the like to be diagnosed as cra-a-a-a-zy lactose intolerant. But in the process, I was saved from a pretty much certain fate of colon cancer. So boom– turns out that was pretty awesome!

If that’s not enough to make me believe in silver linings and blessings in disguise, what could?!

For that reason, and many others, I am truly grateful for all the good, and especially the bad, that has happened in 2013. Of course, I wouldn’t mind a lesson or two¬†less in 2014, but I’ll take it as it comes. After all, the bad often comes with a funny story to share and knowing it’s good blog material makes it much more bearable!

Best wishes to you and yours in the coming year, friends!

 

PS: Tonight, Seth and I are wearing comfies, snuggling our pup, watching tv, eating chips, and struggling to stay up until midnight. Perfection.