Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Lot of Nothing

Nothing much happening that's fit to report -- good or bad. Things are so-so -- not fine and dandy, but okay. We plug along.

The best news is that Gussie's teeth have healed nicely and he is back to playing with toys and chowing down on his hard nugget food. Actually, I guess we should say, Gussie's gums have healed nicely. All his front teeth except his big pointy canines are gone. So are a couple of teeth on the right side. He doesn't seem to miss them much.

At school I'm on metal detector duty every morning until Christmas. This is onerous stuff. One gets to dig down in all the assorted back packs and gym bags looking for potential weapons. I've never found one -- I've always assumed that if one actually wanted to do damage to a school, walking into a known metal detector with an AK47 was beyond stupid. Our students aren't that dense. So actually, my job is probably merely an announcement to the kids that we don't approve of them carrying guns and knives and brass knuckles to school and we maybe could find them if we actually had to. Meanwhile, I stand for 30 minutes every day at 7:00 a.m. bent over a low table, pawing at kids' gym shorts. Thrilling work -- and very physically draining. I go home exhausted every night.

John Hopkins University today announced that my high school, the one I cherish and am so proud to teach at, is a "drop out mill." They claim that t0o many students pass through our doors, only to drop out, and that we have reached a new low in education. Two of my district's schools made the list of infamy while seven made it just across the state line. The out-0f-state schools simply agreed that they had problems, but my district was highly combative. The Hopkins' statistics claimed that only 33% of our student body ever graduate high school. Our statistics show that in the past two years we've been at 77%. I've been at the school during those two years and I'm quite sure that the 33% is an erroneous (or very old) statistic.

In November I'm scheduling multiple IEP meetings for my SPED students and their parents. This necessitates phone calls, meeting arrangements, and long hours spent writing the IEP's. In my district these documents are NOT easy to produce. Some districts actually have drop down and plug-in IEP forms, but we create 25 page essays.

My graduate class sucks the big one. The professor is one of those that reads the PowerPoint slides to you. Why, oh why, won't professionals learn NOT to do that? Moreover she is the queen of the buzz word -- and she really doesn't get what the life of a public school high school teacher is like. I hate the course, I don't respect the teacher, and the assignments -- dear Lord! I haven't read the book except for the first chapter -- too busy trying to create the damn writing assignments -- and she keeps yammering on about how the final will cover textual material. This does not bode well.

So -- the upshot is I'm tired. Very tired.

Right now I'm counting the days to Thanksgiving. And then Christmas. But the week of New Year's we have completely off. Finally, I can get some much needed house time and some uninterrupted, deep sleep. If I can just survive until then.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Doing Fine

Sweet Gussie had a hard day but came through with flying colors. Six teeth were removed -- most of them from the front from what we can tell. He's not exactly opening wide for the viewing of his little mouth. His canines however are in tact and his tongue does not hang out from his mouth because he has no teeth to stop it -- I actually worried about that before surgery.

The vet phoned around 11:00 a.m. and said that his pre-surgery blood work looked great so obviously he was beating the infection along with the help of the antibiotics. The bill, when we went to get him at 3:00, was a couple of hundred dollars less than the estimate.

Fritzy was miserable all day and hid under the covers for most of the morning and afternoon. He looked very relieved when Gus bounded from the vet's office into the car.

Tonight Gus has drunk his fill, finally, and had a small, soft dinner. We also managed to pill him with little difficulty and no moaning. Now he's sleeping on his pillow in the computer room completely worn out.

We are glad he is home, safe and sound. Once again we have a lot to be thankful for -- both physically and financially.


Here it is 1:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning. I'm sitting looking morosely at the computer screen and at my feet sit two miserable faces, trying to tell me their water bowl is missing -- and there are no tiny tidbits left over from dinner on the kitchen floor. Fritzy always leaves just a little for the 2 a.m. snack.

The vet's instructions were very specific. No food or water after 7:30 p.m. Up came the water bowl and the left-over food at, well to be honest, 8:15 p.m. -- but we were close enough. Now each boy wants a little drink before setting in for a continued night's rest.

Gussie, the dental patient, came pawing the bed at midnight to tell me the water bowl was -- not just empty -- completely missing. That got me up. We've all been awake since. Gus, the stoic who chooses not to gripe or complain much -- has settled back on his pillow, watching me from a distance. Not Fritz, who is very vocal and persistent about his needs. He follows me everywhere, giving me the sad eye and trying to herd me into the bathroom where the water bowl is kept, so I can see for myself that a vital part of his existence is lost. I tried the subterfuge, luring Fritz to the kitchen for a secretive slup (after all he's not having a full dental in the morning) -- but his lapping brought Gus on the run, looking for a sweet sip of cooling drink.

This is going to be a long night. And a longer day tomorrow with Gus having his teeth removed and his jaw evaluated -- possibly even restructured. Gus is on the mend, thankfully. He has been carefully eating out of the side of his mouth, trying to protect those bloody front teeth. He has also been whimpering, just under his breath, when anything touches the infection. This makes it very hard on the humans to pill him every day. But Sunday morning he felt fit enough to pick up the soft, small ball in the living room and give it a couple of squeaks. The soft chew toys that he has so loved to run around shaking sit silently waiting for better days.

Gus will be home tomorrow night. I won't leave my babies at the vet's overnight. Usually only a tech is on duty, if that, at a vet hospital at night -- so no matter what, my babies come home to spend the night with me. In interviewing vets after my old one moved away, that was something I made sure could happen. The boys can spend the day at the vet's getting restorative treatment -- but nights belong to me. I'm here, I can sit up with them all night if need be, and they will not be caged for long periods of time.

It will be a huge relief to pick up Gus tomorrow. Hopefully, his little mouth will then be completely on the mend. Until then, I'll just have to try and ignore the sad little eyes that are following me everywhere.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bad Parents

Poor little Gussie, our youngest, the boy of the amber eyes and sweet disposition, is ailing.

Sometime last week I began to notice Gus wasn't eating very well. He took treats and chowed down on them but he ignored his dinner bowl. However, by morning the bowl would usually be empty, so I assumed that he was getting up at night for a leisurely snack. Evidently, however, Little Itty Bitty Fritty had been enjoying two dinners for some of that time.

Gus' behavior became lethargic and periodically he would whimper just a bit, so I finally gathered him for a hug fest and noticed that he seemed very sensitive around his beard. Opened up his mouth -- and his lower teeth had fallen out and his gum was a bloody mess.

How could we not have noticed that his teeth were rotting right out of his head?

Into the vet he went first thing this morning. He has a gum infection, a least one of his upper teeth is also loose but because he now hurts so bad, the vet wasn't into poking him anymore than necessary. She felt he was having some bone loss in his jaw, however, besides the rotting, falling out teeth.

Poor little mite. He's never snapped at us or his housemate but he must have been in misery for some time. Awful misery, actually. I can't imagine what he has been feeling -- but my own jaws ache in sympathy.

We have to clean up some of the infection before he can have a full dental exam done under anesthesia. We have doses of pills -- not easy to get him to swallow what with his extremely sore mouth. Tonight we gave him pancakes for dinner and he gobbled them down so happily that he never noticed he was swallowing antibiotics, too. Clearly soft food was a delight -- and he was very hungry.

We'll be paying through the nose, of course, for our lapse in health oversight. Today's vet bill was $73. Next week's is probably going to be in the four figure zone. Added to my own recent -- and ongoing -- dental woes, 2007 has been the Year of the Tooth!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Washing the Dishes

This is an embarrassment to admit -- but we are not good around here at washing our dishes. Once we were but that time has passed. I know that dirty dishes piled up in the kitchen bring vermin and bugs and nasty smells so I buy paper plates (awful for the environment) and we throw them away after one using. Both the dogs and the humans eat all their proper meals on paper. We drink our soda straight from the can. As the glasses slowly broke one by one we didn't replace them and our cabinet now holds a grand total of two plastic glasses and once glass that used to hold a candle. We own a weird variety of Schnauzer coffee mugs out of which we drink our hot tea. We have a set of eight bowls we use for cereal. We now even buy our soups in the cans out of which one can drink. We only own one set of pots and pans which we wash as we need a clean one.

Our house is very tiny. We have two postage stamp bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room and a Pullman-style kitchen. Two people cannot work in it at the same time. In it we have a small full size refrigerator that is 25 years old and an electric stove we bought from an apartment sale in 1983 and a good microwave oven. The stove has four burners, an oven in which the door does not shut properly, and a broiler that does not work. We have a garbage disposal because we are not neat enough or clean enough to live without one.

We have had two dishwashers in the 35 years we have owned this house. The first an apartment sized Kenmore was purchased from Sears in 1975. We took out the row of drawers in the kitchen to install it. That one lasted 14 years. We found in the 1980's that was very difficult to find the half-sized dishwashers and they are now sold at twice the cost of a regular sized one. We bought the second one from the huge mega-store in Omaha and had it trucked into our city -- and it lasted three years. Then Hubby got sick to death of pouring money into it to keep it running and we were without a dishwasher for the last eight years.

I was miserable. My method of cleaning had always been to gather up the decorative shelves of glassware and run them through the delicate cycle on the dishwasher. I'd stored the sterling and the hand blown glass away. My bad back made standing at the sink for more than five minutes agony. Hubby, however, was adamant. We simply didn't need a dishwasher. He would wash all the dishes and once they air dried, my job was to put them away.

In principle this sounded find. But when one washes dishes only once every two weeks, the reality sucks. So from 1999 until yesterday we lived without a dishwasher. Yesterday I came home to find a new apartment sized GE dishwasher sitting in our kitchen. Across from it sat the new Frigidaire 30 inch electric stove.

I am in heaven. Hubby got the dishwasher leveled and raised a bit today. Then he sent me to the store for dishwasher powder and spot remover. We had to take the spice rack down because the new stove is a bit more narrow than the old one so I also needed to get wall cleaner. What had fallen under and behind the stove was disgusting but we didn't own a broom. I got one of those, too.

I am cleaning the kitchen in spells and spurts, simply because it's such a huge job. I've got the walls sprayed, the floors swept, and I've run two loads already in the dishwasher. This is heaven. You never realize what a joy it can be to clean when you have given up on it for the last ten years or so.

What caused Hubby to change his mind? When we were talking about the new windows Hubby installed last month, I mentioned that I didn't look at the house anymore. I didn't really see it -- and in point of fact, I couldn't actually tell him how many windows we had in the living room. I casually threw out that once I couldn't wash the collectible glassware in the dishwasher I had just given up. I didn't have the energy to hand wash everything and since I couldn't maintain the things I loved, I just shut myself off from the housekeeping. If I didn't see it, I could ignore it. I hadn't thought much about the remark, but I had noticed that for just a second the inscrutable man suddenly looked startled.

So now we have a lovely dishwasher. And since he really likes to cook and bake and broil, we also have a lovely new stove. I'm seeing the kitchen in a whole new light!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Dentist -- AGAIN!

Tomorrow I have the fourth of five dental appointments to fix a broken back molar. The first of August the root canal was performed -- took two appointments to get it completely dead. Then two weeks ago we started the process of building up the back molar for tomorrow's appointment of making the mold which allows the dental student to make the crown.

I told my dentist at the last appointment that if I had had any idea how awful and long and involved this process was going to be I would have pulled the damn tooth. I'm sorry I didn't. I was clearly told that keeping the tooth was in my best interest because without it the top teeth would move around because they would not have any contact below them.

But . . .the cost of this one broken tooth has become excessive -- in terms of money, in terms or time, and in terms of misery and discomfort. The root canal itself was pitiful and ended up causing me a week of misery -- and $500. That's the cost for a molar root canal at the dental school. In a regular dental office I understand the cost is MUCH higher.

The last appointment again involved filling my mouth full of equipment which makes me highly nervous and claustrophobic. I had thought that since the nerves to the tooth were now completely dead due to the root canal I wouldn't need anymore deadening shots. However, because tthe tissue surrounding the tooth was "going to be disturbed" so I got the full multi-shot treatment. This appointment, though, only cost me $88.

Tomorrow I get to fork over the $380 the gold crown is going to cost me. Since every appointment has been so uncomfortable I'm dreading this one. I can't imagine how they could possible "hurt me" anymore than they already have, but dentists seem to be very adept at devising torturous treatments.

Because so much of the tooth had to be built up, I've been required to make three separate appointments for the making and fitting of the crown -- which means that I since this is the dental school and the appointments go from 9 to noon, I have to take the day off from school, also. Adding that in to the money, the pain, and the misery of this whole experience, I would have been far smarter to just have had the tooth pulled. That costs $45 and could be done in thirty minutes.

I told my dental student I was really sorry I hadn't elected to have the tooth extracted and she was horrified. In fact, she has called me twice since then to make sure that I'm not a miserable patience and to ensure that I actually will show up for the next appointment.

Oh, I'll show up alright -- but I won't be happy about being there.