Lost in Space!

P&S Press’s blog has gone silent for the past several weeks while its proprietor has been dealing with a small tsunami of crises. Of late, my life seems to be an exemplar of the “whatever can go wrong will go wrong” adage.

In the tsunami department, a flood of editorial work has come in, most of it from scientists and mathematicians in China. This copy is challenging to edit: subject matter is arcane and complex, and the English is mightily ESL. It takes hour after hour to read, re-read, and proof it.

Meanwhile, my little dog, Cassie the Corgi, developed a cough and wheezing. Took her to a vet who, despite a negative test result, decided she has Valley fever. Even though I’m not convinced and a second vet is similarly unconvinced, nothing would do but what we had to put her on an antifungal drug that damn near killed her. She was so sick that twice I thought she surely would die within a few hours. Another drug, given concommittently, eased the cough but made her so incontinent she actually would leak in her sleep.

Before long the floors were covered in pee pads, as was anyplace the poor dog would sleep. She refused to eat. I managed to coax her to take a crumb of hamburger at at time, but she wouldn’t eat enough to keep a flea alive.

Finally I decided, unilaterally, to take her off the antifungal. Over the course of some days, she slowly started to recover until she was almost back to normal – except for the wheezing. Took her off the cough suppressant (which contained prednisone) and the last of the incontinence cleared up.

The cough continued to improve, to the point where she could bark exuberantly without hacking and wheezing. Now she coughs mostly when she drinks water…but she’s always done that. Corgis often do that – the other dog does, too.

Today she’s at the vet’s, where she’s supposed to get a full-body ultrasound sound. I almost typed “scam”…which is what I suspect. This is a very fine vet – I think of him as the Mayo Clinic of the Valley’s veterinary profession. And that tells you how wary of everyone and everything I’ve become. Valley fever is a highly lucrative disease to treat – I’ve already spent around a thousand bucks, and if he can prove that’s the dog’s problem and then he can talk me into treating it, we’re looking at expenditures like that going on for at least the next six months, possibly far, far longer. Many dogs are put on Valley fever medicines for the rest of their lives.

“Talk me into treating it” is the operative term. If he believes he can prove the dog has this disease, I may tell him to put her down. She’s 12 years old. I am, as we scribble, broke and cannot afford to pony up thousands and thousands of dollars to keep an elderly dog alive. First I’ll take her back to the other vet; if she agrees that Valley fever is the issue, I’ll probably just have her put to sleep.

Friend of mine has lost four dogs to Valley fever. One of them was on the toxic pills for six years! She told me that her biggest regret with three of them is that she didn’t have them put to sleep sooner.

Nevertheless: in the absence of a positive titer (which will come around in the next few weeks, if that’s really what she has), I remain skeptical.

My own theory is this dog may have a collapsed trachea. This causes exactly the same kind of coughing and wheezing as we’ve seen in Cassie. The condition is not uncommon in corgis, plus at about the age of two, Cassie was injured when she shot off after a cat while she was on one of those dratted extendable leashes. Before I could move, she flew to the end of it and jerked herself into the air – by the neck. It hurt her enough to cause her to scream.

If that didn’t damage her trachea, nothing would have. So the likelihood of a mechanical cause for the coughing and wheezing seems to me to be high enough to give one pause about dosing the dog with a poisonous drug.

Surgery to repair the trachea: about a thousand dollah.

So as you can imagine, this has been a bit of a distraction.

We had a major rainstorm last week, which most of the country has heard about, no doubt. Certainly no Category 4 hurricane, but lots more water than we’ve seen in these parts in a long while.

In the middle of this, my rooftop AC/heating unit went cattywampus. I thought it was the Nest thermostat, a complicated bit of arcana that my son gave me. After hours of farting around on the phone with the Nest tech, I finally called my AC guy – over the Nest guy’s objections, as though they owned the damn thing.

Understand, I took that thing offline because I highly resent the prospect of Google (which owns Nest now) tracking every effing deep breath I take when I’m in my house and knowing whenever I leave my house. Since most people don’t think about that – i.e., these “smart” devices invade your privacy in a Big way – he probably figures Google does own my thermostat.

AC guy takes the thing off the wall and behind it finds…WET WIRING.

Holy shit.

Climbs on the roof and discovers the roof is not, after all, leaking. Exactly. The wiring the AC guys have run down through the roof to connect to the thermostat is so badly sun-rotted that water is seeping down through the route and making its way down to the thermostat by capillary action.

He replaces all the wiring ande rewires the device. Now it’s working. Now Nest is still arguing with me about that. And I’ve had about as much of that as I care to think about.

Moving on, the other day coming back from delivering a vial of pee to the Other Vet, by way of determining whether Cassie has a urinary tract infection (surprise! she does!), I crashed my car.

Not exactly a crash: more like a fender bender. Trying to change lanes at the height of bumper-to-bumper rush hour, I clipped the back end of a flatbed being towed behind a pickup.

The other driver didn’t stop – he didn’t even slow down. I did…and found the plastic “bumper” on the front of the car bent, ripped, and flapping in the wind.


Car was running fine, though, so I was able to get home. Insurance broker (always buy insurance through a broker, not direct from some compan’s agent) reported that because I’d bought the premium plan, I had a 0-dollar deductible and also a one-accident-forgiveness. So repairing the car wasn’t going to cost me anything but still more hours of my time. And, of course, my driving record…

He recommended getting it fixed on my own, if I could possibly afford it.

My son, who also is in the insurance industry, recommended taking it to the most expensive body shop in town and getting it fixed – right.

Meanwhile, by way of making sure the car was safe to drive at all, I took it over to my mechanic’s shop. They inspected the thing and found no damage under the hood, no bent struts, no serious damage except the bunged-up fender.

Then they started to play with it, and darned if they didn’t bend that fender back into place, secure it with the car’s clips and some bolts, and leave it looking no worse than if I’d scraped the side of some planter bed.

They did find, however, a gouge in the tire’s sidewall. They recommended changing it out. Since the last time I’d taken the car in for servicing, they remarked that all four tires (which are the cheap junk provided by Toyota) would soon need replacing.

So it was off to Costco, where I figured to drop around a grand for four new Michelin tires. God help me!

On top of almost a thousand bucks I’ve paid out to vets!

And the $10,000 I need to pony up to replaster the pool!!!

But lo! One good thing happened. Count it: 1. The Costco tire shop foreman inspected the thing, said “you don’t need to replace any of these tires. The tread is fine on all of them, and this ding on the sidewall isn’t going to do any harm.” Only thing that needed to be fixed was the walloped tire’s air valve, which was bent beyond usability. New air valve: sixty bucks.

It was the first non-nightmarish thing that’s happened in three weeks.

Meanwhile, I volunteered to do receptionist duty down at our church. This occupies one afternoon a week, which is normally OK…when there are no complications. It’s very quiet here (whereinat I’m writing this), so I can do editorial work or, in its absence, write blog copy. Except…

This morning I had to schlep the dog to the vet for the proposed fishing trip full-body scan. In the rush hour – when we can’t turn east out of my neighborhood because of the city’s peculiarly stupid idea of traffic control – it took FIFTY MINUTES to reach his office.

To give you an idea of what this means, getting back home took twenty minutes.

Then I forgot to stop at a grocery to pick up the dog food we ran out of. So I had to schlep back down the fancy store that carries their food, but didn’t have time to turn around and drive home, drop the stuff in the fridge, and then get back down here to the church on time. So now the dog food is stashed in the church kitchen’s refrigerator and I’m stuck here until 4 p.m., at which time I will have to make another fifty-minute drive to the vet’s office.

Rather than going home and then turning around and retracing my steps, I believe I’ll just go direct to the vet’s from here – cutting about ten or fifteen minutes off the schlep, I hope – and then just sit in his waiting room and work on the emanation that just this minute came in from the current client. They close at 6:00; I’ll get there around 4:45, so that may give me another hour and 15 minutes to translate the copy to English.

And since that just flew into the email in-box, it’s time to quit this and earn some (about to be much needed!) cash.

Watch this space…sooner or later I’ll get back to posting Ella, Asked, and The Complete Writer.