27 December 2011

The Higgs Mushroom Incident

Reese will eat anything small enough to fit between her jaws, and she'll do it in the blink of an eye. For instance, during the three microseconds it took me to open the gate, she took a bite of mushroom from the one that some mensa candiate pulled out of the grass and left on the edge of the sidewalk. I turned around just in time to see something white disappear into her mouth. By the time I bent over to pry the mysterious object free, it was too late. At least she left behind the telltale mushroom with an incriminating bite-shaped piece missing.

Well, fuck.

Not being a mycologist, I declared the walk over and dragged the disappointed dogs back inside. Matt found out what the suicidal puppy did while I was en route to the phone to call the vet. Not surprisingly, the receptionist said to bring her in immediately, with the remnants of the mushroom if possible. Matt loaded the puppy while I ran back outside to retrieve her leftovers.

The one benefit to emergency vet visits for poisoning is that your furry moron gets bumped to the front of the line. Of course, you get to pay the emergency fee for this nifty benefit, but we'll just ignore that for now.

After explaining Reese's new diet to the vet, I got to call poison control! Poison control, veterinary edition, charges $65 per case number, payable via any major credit card, to offset the cost of offering their services. But if the vet calls, poison control tacks on an extra $25 because they can. So the vet offered us the option of calling ourselves to save the extra $25, and I started dialing.

I had a nice little chat with the lady from poison control, in which I got to describe the offending mushroom in graphic detail. Of course the stupid thing matched three possibilities, one of which was nice and poisonous, and "not uncommon" in our area. Great!

She described exactly how the evil mushroom would soon destroy the poor puppy's liver and the symptoms for which to watch. I took notes. Then she described a host of precautionary procedures to cure Reese of the mushrooms.  I took more notes. Finally, she gave me a website with the email addresses of volunteers who identify mushrooms in possible poisoning cases. I ran out of space on the post-it note. Luckily, the vet picked that moment to reappear and I handed the phone over. I suspected that the professional would do a better job of describing the proper protocols to follow than I had any hope of doing.

First, they induced vomiting. Some poor vet tech got to examine the results and reported a small amount of white chunks. Next, Reese was given activated charcoal to absorb any poison that made it to her intestines. This delicious snack was followed with medicine to protect her liver from doom. And finally, they drew blood to establish a baseline for liver function, which they would compare with blood drawn 24 and 48 hours later.

When we finally made it home, we took close-up pictures of the offending mushroom and went to the internets. The website to which the poison control operator directed me didn't list anyone who was anywhere near Southern California. After a bit of debate, we chose the expert with the Stanford email address under the theory that it was the most prestigious sounding of those located in the state.

The expert replied the next day with the good news that Reese's preferred nosh was not poisonous. He did, however, decry the quality of the pictures. But that wasn't nearly as important as the no dead puppies part of his message.

Matt noticed the email address from which the expert replied - cern.ch. As in those guys who tried to destroy the universe with their Large Hadron Collider. Since we no longer had to worry about Reese keeling over, this email address was hilariously funny. Unfortunately, most of the jokes were so horrible that I will not risk ruining the internet with them.

No puppy story is complete without pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

I'm on the right
A less vomit-inducing meal 
She never stops barking, even in her sleep
Reese's opinion of Zero
Dog fight!
I will sit on you until you shut up!

11 December 2011

Save money... kill hookers

I've been so preoccupied that I completely forgot to put Zero's embarrassment on public display. So, without further ado, I present Zero The Advice Dog!

Zero The Advice Dog
Needless to say, he did not appreciate his Halloween costume nearly as much as I did. But his opinion didn't matter nearly as much as that of my brilliant coworkers, who awarded him best dog costume. For those of you keeping track, that is two years in a row. And don't bother feeling too bad for Zero. He got a hot dog for lunch that day, followed by half a steak bought with his prize, a $50 gift card.

Fast forward six weeks to the holiday party. I wasn't sure until the last minute that I would be able to go, so I didn't get the appropriate supplies until the last minute. The sparkly dress was quite easy to find; Loretta had ordered one online that didn't fit her properly, and she was more than willing to give it a new home. With that accomplished, it was time to find masks. After all, I had no intention of attending a masquerade without one, and I certainly wasn't going to let Matt walk around with a naked face.

I got lucky and found the perfect mask at the first store we visited. Silver rhinestones over the face, a giant plume of real black feathers. And just $30 for a two day rental! Sold! Oh, and Matt found a cheap piece of crap mask that didn't look entirely hideous.

I'm the one on the right
Between the lack of interior lighting and feathers covering my eyes, I had a tad bit of trouble in the vision department. As a result, I may have looked a bit like a chicken when trying to follow a conversation.

Chicken problems aside, my mask achieved a high level glory. A level right around best female mask. Which makes it two years in a row for me as well. The best part was that my prize was a spiffy new Kindle Fire! A much tastier prize than last year's scotch.

Of course, all this victory comes with a price: I must continue my reign next year!

06 December 2011

Since Play-Doh isn't FDA approved

There is only one way to remove a boob, and that's with a rusty spoon. Boob replacement, on the other hand, comes in three flavors.

Option one is an expander, in which the surgeon puts a glorified balloon behind the chest muscle. After it has about six weeks to heal, they numb the skin and inject saline until the expander reaches the desired size. Then the expander is replaced with a silicone gel implant. If only one boob is being restored, the other one often receives a small implant to achieve symmetry in the perkiness department.

All breast implants go behind the chest muscles, otherwise they would slip down and result in a belly button boob. There is only so much existing room behind the muscle, which is why the expander is used. However, since an expander starts out small, their is an initial asymmetry. Plus an additional surgery to switch the expander for the permanent implant.

Option two uses a different muscle, the latissimus dorsi. The medically inclined may have noted that this is a back muscle, and most people prefer their boobs on the front. Well, the surgeons don't let that little detail stop them. The muscle is detached at the bottom, swung around to the front, and used to hold an implant in place. This creates a horizontal scar along the bottom of the muscle's usual position on the back. However, it creates an instaboob of the correct size, and the implant is not a temporary one.

The obvious drawback is that you lose use of that muscle. I am assured that people with this type of reconstruction don't miss the muscle, and that the other back muscles compensate for the missing one. Oh, and there's a large scar on the back. Sadly, the muscle is numbed so there is no accidental or purposeful boob flexing.

Finally, option three is a tram flap. There are four vertical muscles in the abdomen. One of these is rolled up and used to create a boob. Like with option two, the muscle is numbed and there is no ability to perform boob flexing. On the other hand, there is an instaboob without the no longitudinal scar on the back. But that's all moot as I do not qualify for this procedure. All the surgeons agree that I don't have enough belly fat to use, plus things would become messy if I were to get pregnant. That leaves me with only two options.

Option one is much less complicated, so there is faster healing. However, it does require a second, though fairly routine, surgery. Not to mention I'd have uneven boobs for a couple of months. Option two is more complicated and has a longer healing period, but the end result tends to feel more like a real boob since it uses more of the patient's own tissue.

Then there are considerations involving the implant itself. Generally, they last for somewhere between ten to twenty years before requiring replacement. The new silicone gel ones feel more correct that the saline ones, plus the gel is cohesive and will not leak out should the implant burst. Choosing the silicone gel over saline was the one easy decision.

After much consideration and discussions with four different surgeons, I have selected option one. Why start with the more invasive procedure, when I have a good shot at getting the desired results without rearranging extra body parts. Should things not work out well, they can always take out the implant and switch to option two with a different implant. On the other hand, once muscle is detached and numbed, it cannot be restored to its former glory.

Compared to choosing the number of boobs to remove, that was an easy decision. I still haven't made a decision on that front, and I very well may end up talking with yet another doctor. I figure if I talk with enough doctors, eventually they will converge on a number. Of course, with my luck, that number will be something like 1.47, which is as useless as it gets.

05 December 2011

A delicious new puppy

Way back in the before time, Matt and I visited a Swedish Valhund breeder to get Zero a spiffy new puppy. After I got sick, we waitlisted ourselves for a myriad of obvious reasons. Then, on Friday morning, Matt got an email. A female, long tailed puppy was returned because the couple that took her home were not actually ready for puppy, much less a squeaky one. Would we care to take her home?

It's one thing to say no to a theoretical puppy. It's quite another to say no to an actual puppy shown in actual pictures. In other words, by the time Matt called me at work, the decision was already made for me.

We tossed Zero in the car and drove up to Morro Bay on Saturday. On Sunday morning, we went to the farm to retrieve the puppy currently named Ginny. Pure bred puppies require long fancy names, so she also ignored her full name, Ginevra Weasley.

Ginny, Zero, and a couple of the other dogs got to know each other during a boat ride on the creek that runs through the breeder's farm. The breeder gentle paddled, while pointing out the various sites along the haunted Halloween cruise. My personal favorite was the gnome village, complete with gnome houses and staked gnome vampires. Apparently Zero agreed, as he picked that point to jump in the 28°F water for a closer look.

He instantly regretted that decision and hauled himself out of the water, onto a mostly submerged tree. The breeder was closer, so she scooped him up and deposited him back in the boat. As Zero had no intention of freezing alone, as I was soon equally wet, despite having wrapped him in my now filthy sweatshirt.

Upon our return to dry land, I hung out by the nice, warm fireplace. Zero alternated between cuddling with me and barking at the cat. Ginny happily ran around her exercise pen. And Matt got to discuss important things with the breeder.

The car ride home took forever, but that did give me plenty of time to decide upon her name. Eventually, I chose Rhys, a Welsh name meaning enthusiasm. Matt objected to giving her a male name, despite the fact that he kept using a male pronoun when referring to her. I acquiesced, and she was duly crowned Reese.