Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tampons belong in the toilet, not the garden

Last week we had a handyman coming to take measurements for hardwood floors we were having installed. While I was talking to the handyman, Rusty, my Jack Russell terrier, was out in the yard. At 7 ½ years, Rusty still very much has the energy and mentality of a puppy. He will get into everything, especially if it’s food. In the chaos of having company, I noticed A look outside then yell out the door into the backyard. This is normal, as Rusty often gets into the garden. I paid no attention as I discussed paint colors for our dining room walls. I remember A saying something about the dog having gotten into some trash in the yard, which was strange because we don’t keep trash in the yard. We put it in the trashcans that usually are all lined up in the alley. As we live in a city row house, the trash cans are sort of collective property among the neighbors. But last Tuesday, the garbage collectors didn’t do a very good job and someone threw an entire bag of random trash into our yard along with an empty can.

After the handyman left, I peeked out the back window. In the garden, raw trash was strewn about, and upon closer inspection, I noticed it looked like someone's bathroom trash. I was embarrassed to see a collection of white tampons starkly contrast against the dark soil. I quickly grabbed a few plastic bags and headed out to clean up the mess before any of the neighbors saw our unsightly flower beds. As I cleaned it up, I grew angrier, knowing that I was cleaning up someone else’s mess of things that belonged in the toilet and not in the trash, or the garden.

About half an hour later, I noticed my dog was hanging out in his crate and when I coaxed him out, he started walking around in circles and kept looking back at his side. I took a closer look. Had I been feeding him THAT many extra treats lately? His entire torso was getting really fat. He’s a pretty fit dog, being a JRT and all. He burns off most of his dinner jumping up and down just before I feed it to him. I tried to see if food would get him excited. It did, but he didn’t have nearly the amount of energy he normally does when I say: Are yooooouuuuuu . . . HUNGRY? There was no jumping straight up and down to kitchen counter height, which is pretty much a clear sign something is wrong.

Could he have eaten one of those tampons? I wondered. How many could he have eaten? What else was in that trash that I didn't see? I cringed at the thought of explaining this to the vet. I called the Pet ER and told them his stomach looked bloated and the tech said: “You need to bring him in like RIGHT NOW.” So I put his leash on, which he did get excited about, but he was so bloated by this point, that when his tail wagged, his belly and torso swung back and forth, more like a large, happy lab than a little svelte JRT.

The vet techs were waiting for us when we got to the hospital. Inside, they whisked the dog away and directed me to the desk to fill out paperwork. Then I nervously waited in an examining room, where a tech met me and I explained to her that he had gotten into trash that was not mine and he may have ingested a large quantity of feminine products. She warned me that something like that would probably have to be removed surgically and then left, telling me they would start X-rays on the dog and the vet would be in shortly.

So there I sat, wondering how much this would cost, if I had gotten the dog there in time to save him, if the vet was going to be male or female and if they’d ever seen a dog that scarfed down as many tampons as he could find. (Of course they have, I told myself. Dogs eat everything.) Still, I prayed for a female vet. My wish was granted as a young woman, who looked fresh out of vet school entered the room along with another younger girl carrying what looked like a reporter’s notebook. But I pretended not to notice and thought there must be some explanation for the notebook. She must be in vet school. The vet introduced herself and then mentioned something about the other girl being an intern for the city’s Style magazine, which didn’t make any sense to me at the time. I acknowledged her, but thought I must have heard wrong. How was I going to explain that my dog may have eaten a bunch of tampons with a reporter writing down everything I said? It’s bad enough the vet thinks I’m an unfit dog owner. I can’t have the entire city thinking that.

So the vet asked what happened. I gingerly explained that Rusty got into the trash, making sure to clarify again that it was not my trash, but that someone had thrown some into the yard. “It looked like bathroom trash” I said, thinking I could leave it at that. She pried further and I had to divulge the information. I watched as the reporter jotted down everything I was saying, still confused as to why she was really here.

We went into the hallway where Rusty’s X-ray was glowing against a lightbox. I could still see the svelte frame of his body, but his stomach took up most of the torso and was at least four times the size of his little heart which is always beating at the pace of a constant drum roll.

“Is that larger than it should be?” I asked, pointing to his stomach.

“Yes. It’s distended to about four or five times what it should look like.”

Inside his stomach, on one side, it was filled with what looked like elbow macaroni. Tiny tubes were all curled up together and on the other side, there was just a whitish transparent blob. It kind of looked like this:

Eventually the reporter approached me and asked for my name and phone number in case she wanted to use any “anecdotes” from our visit. The former reporter in me told me to have mercy on this poor budding journalist who was desperate for a great lead to her story, and had hit the jackpot with me. But I didn’t know her and she was still green. I couldn’t be sure she would have mercy on me, so I told her no, she couldn’t have my name. If she was a true sleuth though, she stole it off my dog’s chart.

The vet told me the X-ray looked good and nothing seemed to be lodged in his intestines, which would have been more precarious and expensive. She gave me some prescription, high fiber dog food and sent me on my way. Needless to say, the situation has pretty much worked itself out, but I am anxiously awaiting next month’s issue of Style magazine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


As you may have gathered from my last post, I am getting married in a few months. I am oh so grateful for the man I am marrying, (we’ll call him A) and for the friend (we’ll call her S) who told me repeatedly he was the one for me, years before she ever introduced us. I’m not sure what my friend saw in each of us that prompted her to put us together, but if you are single, you may want to become BFFs with her so she can get to know you and start working her magic. She has a gift for matchmaking, and quite a sense of humor.

A knows and understands me better than I do myself sometimes. It’s one of the many traits that drew me to him in the first place. And that has come in handy recently. As A knows all too well, I absolutely hate surprises. So when his parents told him they wanted to surprise me on our wedding day with a bagpiper at the ceremony, I am so glad he stepped in to say: that’s a really bad idea because she doesn’t like surprises any time of the year, but on her wedding day, she would really hate them.

A and I are paying for the majority of the wedding ourselves so we’ve had control of most of the logistics. A bagpiper is a wonderful idea, but I can’t help but imagine myself on our wedding day, when a strange man in a kilt showed up and started playing in the middle of the ceremony or reception.

So if my future in-laws ever read this blog: I really appreciate the gesture of a surprise, but surprises make me hyperventilate, and here's why:

My mother, who you may have read about here, is full of surprises, and not always the good kind, though they are usually well intended. She emanates a certain childlike innocence, making it hard for anyone to be really mad at her for long. She knows not what she does, most of the time. Kind of like when my dog rips apart one of my favorite high heels and then comes to drop it at my feet with a huge smile on his face, his tail wagging furiously.

In my early twenties, when I was trying desperately to find a way to move out, I got my big break, a job two hours away from home. I was out on a date with the recipe thief the weekend I got the job, when my mom called and told me my Jack Russell Terrier was very sick and I needed to come home to take him to the vet. She even produced tears during her frantic phone call. I turned around and raced home. When I got there, I ran into the house looking for my dog, who was safely penned in the kitchen. I was bombarded by a group of people who I didn’t recognize at first, yelling “Surprise!” When my eyes focused on them, I realized they were five of my closest friends.

“It’s your going away party!” my mom yelled.

“How’s Rusty?” I asked producing some tears of my own by this point.

“He’s fine. I had to use that as an excuse to get you to come home.”

“Oh. . . Wait. How did you arrange this party that fast? I just got the job yesterday,” I said.

“I’ve been planning it for a while, but then when you got the job, I decided to make it your going away party, since you have to move away.”

“But what did you tell everyone the original occasion was?”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. It was just to have a party.”

“OK,” I said, knowing that this was going to upset me more if I dug any deeper at this point. And anyway, I had friends to hang out with and banana bread to eat and even cards to open. As the night wore on and I laughed with friends, I started to wonder more about my mom’s motive behind the party.

“Your mom is SO funny,” all my friends said while she was in the other room.

Throughout the night, my mom was manic and frantically bustling about, ordering people to "eat more dinner!" and "cut the cake!" I know my mom is easily excitable, so I can imagine the scene (but I try not to) before I arrived - when I wasn’t there to monitor her.

Later on, she told me not everyone she invited could make it.

“Who else did you invite? And how did you get their addresses?”

“I took your address book from your room.”

“Who else did you invite?” I asked again, realizing that the book was outdated and from high school and college, consisting of people I hadn’t talked to in a few years, some of them ex-boyfriends.

“I invited a few other girls and a few guys.”

“MOM. That book was old.”

“Don’t worry about it. I didn’t invite anyone you haven’t talked to in a while.”

I decided to let it go and not even think about it anymore. A few weeks later, one of my friends called to say she was sorry she couldn’t make it to the party and she asked how I’d been doing lately.

“I’m fine, why?”

“Well your mom said she was having a party for you because you’d been ‘feeling down’ lately.”

I couldn’t remember feeling down or giving off that impression, but my mom's mood swings were rampant that year. When I confronted her about it, she told me she just wanted to have a party. That’s fine and all, but don't tell your daughter's friends she's depressed just for an opportunity to have people over because if she isn’t feeling down before the party, she sure will be after.