Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Love Sugar

How appropriate. :)
Too bad it's in California and not here!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Three Little Fosters

Furry fosters everywhere!

The first of the latest flurry of fosters was Precious.

Her owners thought she was so precious that they bred her, kept (sold) the babies and turned her into the shelter because they didn't want her anymore. Yet, they named her "Precious". People suck.

She came to foster because she had mastitis and needed some meds. My NFBF was going out of town for a week so Christy told the girls that they could have a dog for the week. They took care of Precious for most of the time so I don't have many pictures. She was A LOT cuter than the pictures show.
She looked like a tiny Scottie mix. See how little she was:
She got along great with my dogs. She was a bit nippy with the kids, especially if they tried to stop her from doing something she wanted to do, like eat the kittens' food. Despite this, she got adopted quickly. Yay!

The next of the furry fosters was the fuzzball we called Football. Her real name was Pelusa, but she was the shape and size of a football, so "Football" stuck. Whenever we called her that she'd wiggle all over. Cute! Football was an 8-year-old Maltese mix. She was pregnant with two pups. The first was stillborn and the second she couldn't get out. The Humane Society did surgery to get the other dead puppy out. Poor Football.

This trauma didn't affect her lovely personality at all though. She was awesome! Calm and affectionate, completely housebroken and not destructive, great with the other dogs, ignored the cat, LOVED the kids. She was a matted mess when I got her, so she received lots of grooming here. She didn't complain about any of it, even though some of those snarls had to hurt pretty bad! She didn't even complain about having her nails trimmed. What a good girl she was!

After I turned her back in to the shelter, it took 4-5 days before she went up for adoption. They had to do a dental on her because her teeth were pretty rotten. I felt so bad that she had to be at the shelter for that long . :( She really is a family dog and a house dog who likes a comfortable bed and companionship.

I was worried about her getting adopted because she was so old. When she did go up for adoption, her info card said that it was required for her to meet any children before going home. Based on info I submitted on her, her card should have read "Friendly - men, women, children." I kind of freaked out. Requiring to meet kids implies that the dog is not good with kids. Pelusa loved the kids! She let all of them carry her around like a doll and she sat on their laps all day. I called the shelter and asked them to change it. They said that usually with small dogs they put the child intro requirement because they have a tendency to be nippy. This is fine and good for some dogs, like Precious, for example, but Pelusa needed as much help appealing to adopters as she could get. "Friendly-children" is definitely appealing!

I have to admit that I was kind of a bitch about it to the shelter girl. It seems like lately they have been ignoring the temperament assessments that we are required to turn in when we turn in the dog. Fosters are with the dog for weeks or months so they should know their temperament, but I feel like the info goes unread sometimes. So, I complained. And I felt bad about being a jerk. I was just so worried that Football might be overlooked because potential adopters thought she didn't like kids. Then, she got adopted that same day. Oops - now I really feel like a jerk!! :) I promise to be nicer in the future!

My newest foster is Ridley, another min pin. Another min pin with another broken leg that is.It's unfortunate that min pins are crazy gung-ho daredevils and yet have tiny, thin, little bones. So breakable! Here he is in his cute cast:
Ridley is only 15 weeks old. He does NOT like cage rest. He is the most hyper puppy I have ever fostered. He wants to run and play 24 hours a day. He's a ball of energy. Poor kid!

When I'm home, I keep him in an x-pen with lots of toys. He'll scurry from one toy to the next playing his heart out. Then he crawls under the bed. And over the bed. Then under the bed. You'd think he'd wear himself out eventually, but he doesn't. He goes CRAZY when the dogs are around and they start playing or when I throw the ball for Frankie. He wants so badly to join in the fun. :(

I take him back to the shelter on Friday for a splint change and a x-ray. Unless he's a super-healer, he'll be on cage rest for 2 more weeks after that. Poor little guy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Could Result in Serious Injury or Death

I went skydiving. Finally!

I had a trip booked a year and a half ago that was canceled for wind. And then we never got around to re-booking. And then...hello, Groupon! Woo hoo! I rounded up a few likely takers and bought the deal for Desert Skydiving in Buckeye. Nothing like saving 50% on something I wanted to do anyway! Woo hoo!

The brave souls who joined me - Wayne, Nichole and Litte David:

The training is in 3 phases. First you watch a video.
The video tells you that skydiving could result in serious injury or death. Then it tells you that skydiving could result in serious injury or death. The phrase "serious injury or death" was used about 11 times in the video. Hmmm...I wonder if they are trying to tell me that skydiving could result in serious injury? Or maybe even death?

Then you learn some stuff from the instructor. Here we are learning some stuff.
He didn't mention injury or death.

The last training step is to learn what to do in the plane. Here is our little, tiny plane.
They taught us to rock forward, backward, forward...then fall. Sounds easy, but they also told us that most people forget or refuse to let go of the door. I was determined not to be a hanger-on.

Here we are heading to the potty last nervous pee.

Nichole and David went up first. The plane is so little that it can barely fit a pilot, cameraman, 2 jumpers and 2 instructors, so we had to take turns. Wayne and I waited on the ground for a long time. During this time, I did what the video suggested and noted the injuries and deaths that were reported in the latest issue of Skydiving Magazine. Probably not a great thing to read while you are waiting to jump, but I can say I went into it fully informed. I read about a 21 year old kid on his first jump. The instructor kept checking his altimeter to pull the cord at the right time. It appeared to be malfunctioning. The instructor finally decided to pull the back-up cord...about 2 seconds before the safety-chute opened. The two chutes tangled in each other and neither inflated. Splat. The kid paid extra for the videographer, who filmed the whole thing. I also read about 2 jumpers who got tangled in each other's parachutes. One resulted in serious injury, the other in death.

Finally we saw Nichole and David parachuting towards us. So awesome! They both landed safely, though David skidded on his butt a little bit.

Then it was time for Wayne and me to suit up and get in the plane. First of all, I would like to counter the anti-skydiving excuse of "there is no reason to jump out of a perfectly good plane" by telling you that this plane was nowhere near "perfectly good". It kept stalling on the drive to the taxiway. I seriously doubted its ability to fly. Jumping out would be a relief. I could definitely envision serious injury and death in this thing!

The plane was the most terrible experience ever. Like I said, there is barely enough room. I sat on the floor with my back against the pilot's seat (the only seat in the plane). My instructor sat, basically, in my lap. And on one of my ankles. It was painful. I was too short to see out of the windows so I couldn't gauge our distance. I thought we'd never get to the top. Then, when we got to the desired altitude, they opened the door. Oh holy bejeebus, it was cold! I had asked David and Nichole if it was too cold up there. They said not to wear a jacket because you'd be too scared to notice the cold. Not for me! I was too cold to notice being scared. It took forever for the photographer to jump and then for Wayne and his instructor to jump. I was sooooo cold that I would have jumped out of that plane without a parachute just to get out of the cold.

My instructor and I got into position. One of my feet was out of the plane on the step. It took me a few tries to get it on the step because the wind kept blowing it out of line. To make sure I wouldn't be a hanger-on, I chose to not even hold the door at all. I knew I could fling myself with all my strength out that door, but since I was tethered to an instructor that weighed twice as much as me, I still wouldn't fall out. So I didn't hold on and I let the instructor rock me forward, backward, forward...and a front dive! Woo hoo! It was hard to tell what way was up for a second. I don't think we flipped all the way over. And then I was upright. Freefalling. And I was still cold. It was pretty and exhilarating, but mostly I remember it being cold.

When we got low enough to pull the chute cord, it was warmer. It was more fun to have the chute up. I got to steer. If you pull down hard with your left hand, you turn left. The harder you pull, the tighter you turn. Whee! I was spinning us like crazy. Super fun!

We coasted for what seemed like a really long time. Finally, the ground was getting closer. I prepped to land. And we stuck it like Mary Lou Retton! Not even a bobble! I rock!
It was an awesome experience and I recommend it to anyone who's considering it. And I recommend wearing a parka, even if it is over 100' on the ground! I wish I had! :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Rest of the Story

So, Little Diamond, what ever happened with those kitties that were born in your backyard? And what was the deal with the migraine madness? You've left us hanging for the rest of the story....

First, the kittens.

About a week after I last tried to get the kittens, I went back with Christy and her daughters. We were able to get my two kittens but the older kittens ran away. We went back again later and found Mama in a trap (the guy at the school had said he was going to do the trap, neuter, release thing) and one of the babies huddling with her, but outside the trap. It was sad. The kitten was terrified of us and mad, too, but eventually we were able to grab her and put her in a kennel. We brought back food and water to put in the cage for Mama in case the guy didn't come back for a few hours. The other two older kittens were not there and we were never able to catch them.

Christy fostered my two kitties, who went through a series of names but were still always called White Kitty and Black Kitty, and the older kitten who they named Marie. I went over to their house to visit a few times but I don't have any pictures. When the kitties were old enough, Christy tried to turn them in to the Humane Society, but the shelter was so full that they would not take them. The Humane Society did a 4th of July special where all cats and kittens were only $4 to adopt and after that, there was room for our kitties. Christy took them in and they went up for adoption. Hopefully they all found wonderful homes!

Next, the migraine.

For the two months following, I still had a constant minor headache. My neurologist prescribed new medications and then after a month of no real headaches, he decreased the meds. Now, I only feel the effects when I look sharply down and to the side...which I only do when I shave my armpits.

While I am no longer experiencing any real headaches, I am experiencing the headache of medical bills. I should have been alerted when my neurologist sent me for an MRI. His office tried to get the procedure pre-approved through my insurance. My insurance company declined it. I asked the customer service girl why. She told me it was because of my pre-existing condition. "What pre-existing condition?" I asked. She ummed for a while and then said, "Your aneurysm." My ANEURYSM? I've never had an aneurysm! She put me on hold for about 15 years while she looked into this. She came back on the line to agree with me that I don't have an aneurysm (good to know) and to tell me that headaches are never pre-approved. Whatever, I thought. The procedure is $300 and I'd just pay for it if they declined it later.

And then the bills started rolling in. I had to pay my deductibles on all the emergency visits and the CT scans and the doctors at the ER and my regular doctor and etc, etc. But then I started getting bills, BIG bills, saying that the insurance claims were denied. My bills totaled over $8,000! Now if that doesn't give a person a headache, I don't know what would.

I gathered up all the bills and EOBs and all my insurance info and dumped it into the lap of my friend, Irene, who agreed to figure it all out for me. The thought of dealing with the insurance company was WAY more than I could handle. Irene found out that my insurance does not allow a person to go to an emergency room for a headache. Ah. Good to know. The first ER, the one that did nothing to fix my migraine, coded my visit as "headache" and that is unacceptable. The second ER who knew a thing or two about migraines, coded my visit as "acute sinusitis" which was acceptable to the insurance company.

Irene tried to get hospital #1 to re-code the visit, but they would not. The next step was to appeal the insurance company which I assumed would be an exercise in futility. Irene wrote a good letter and I got my doctor to write a letter as well stating that he referred me to the ER since there was nothing more he could do for me.

During the appeal time, my phone was ringing constantly with the doctors and hospitals wanting their money. Hospital #1, though not so great at migraine-treatment, has a really nice billing department. The billing lady assured me that she thought the insurance company would approve my appeal since I sent in a doctor's note, but if they didn't, she would work with me to take 75% off the amount I owe. That particular bill was $5,005, so 75% sounded good to me!

Last week I got a letter from the insurance company. Guess what!? They approved my appeal. I can tell you that I didn't see that coming! Yay! Now I've just got to let all my friendly bill collectors know that they'll be getting new info from the insurer soon. Whew! What a headache.

I have to say though, that I live every day in fear that this migraine business will come back. My neurologist didn't have much interest in talking about the cause. He was only worried about making sure I recovered. All the possible causes - the bad massage, too-tight ponytails, eating a lot of hot dogs (one of my co-workers is convinced this is the reason), drinking too much soda, missing a few b.c. pills - I've avoided all those possible triggers. I haven't had a massage or a hot dog since. I wear a barrette instead of a ponytail holder most days. I take my pills religiously. I don't ever want to go through that nightmare again!

And now you know....the rest of the story!