Sunday, November 13, 2016

It's a Dog's Life

Last we spoke, I was seeking some much needed solace after an "interesting" cruising experience on the "unfun" ship.

Unfortunately that solace lasted about 3.2 seconds.

Upon returning home, we noticed that our little white dog, Dundee, was not himself. With a history of back problems, we knew that he had likely hurt his back jumping off the couch or watching "Dogs with Jobs" with a little too much enthusiasm. We immediately gave him an anti-inflammatory pill in a spoonful of peanut butter and hoped he would feel better quickly.

He didn't. With each passing day, Dundee appeared to be experiencing increasing pain, his appetite diminished, and he just wasn't his usual happy Dundee self. The vet examined him and suggested that if he didn't improve soon, he would benefit from a CT Scan to determine the exact nature of his back injury. The kicker? The CT Scan was in Miami. Ugh.

Over the next few days, I administered my little dog Tramadol every 4 hours - shockingly the same painkiller and strength that I am on. Nights were the worst! Dundee would awaken panting, obviously in pain and I had to hold him tight so that he didn't thrash around. It was exhausting and difficult.

Now anyone who knows Evan well knows his incredible ability to sleep soundly in any situation. If Evan was a Miss America pageant contestant, he would likely win the talent competition with this unique and functional skill. It really is impressive! I suspect that he perfected his ability to sleep soundly in any situation after years of overnights on uncomfortable hockey buses. I actually questioned if Evan was faking this skill in order to avoid loss of sleep until the Firehall incident of 2008. In Evan's previous life, he was a Firefighter with the City of Calgary Fire Department. When there is a call, tones sound in the firehall, increasing in volume and pitch to alert the Firefighters to get moving ASAP. One night, Evan slept through an entire fire. He missed the tones, he missed the bustle of the firefighters moving around him, getting into their gear, and jumping into the truck. He missed the entire thing! Upon returning to the Hall after the fire, Evan's crew found Ev sound asleep in his bed, completely unaware of the night's events. So they did what any professional would do in that situation - they painted Evan's toenails red. Evan defended himself by explaining, "My panic threshold is not very high." Ya, it's probably for the best that he retired that career.

So, you see, I can't really blame Evan when he fails to wake in the middle of the night. He doesn't do it on purpose. But let's be honest here - it pisses me off…just a little.

On the third sleepless night, I held my shaking dog in my arms and physically shoved Evan from his slumber, "I need help!"

Ev did wake up briefly and took over the duties of holding and comforting our distraught dog. Seeing that he had it under control, I rolled over to catch an hour of sleep before I had to get up for work. I was quickly awakened from a light sleep to see Dundee wandering frantically around our bed while Ev slept soundly, arms out, holding an invisible dog. At that moment, I mentally retrieved my "Having a baby: pros and cons" checklist and dusted it off. Picturing sleepless night after sleepless night with a fussy baby, I added a big 'ol check mark under "cons" (Aside: Do not tell me that Evan would surely wake up if it was his own baby crying. He would not. End of discussion).

On Thursday night, Dundee became noticeably worse. The vet told me to watch carefully for any signs of motor issues such as difficulty walking or the dragging of his back legs. While trying to encourage Dundee to eat, Dundee stood up and began dragging his back legs. His back legs didn't work! What a horrible thing to witness. Frantic, I called the vet and we began arranging a referral to Miami for an emergency spinal surgery.

As annoyed as I was with Evan during the sleepless nights, I couldn't have asked for a better partner in crime as we prepared Dundee to travel to Miami. Evan quickly booked a flight while I arranged the paperwork to get Dundee off island (The Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture must approve every exit and entry of each animal). At this point I was sleep deprived and panicked, picturing my precious pet paralyzed. We knew that time was of the essence and Dundee required surgery immediately. Evan calmly packed his bag, carefully placed Dundee in his carry case, kissed me goodbye, assuring me that Dundee would be fine, and flew to Miami that night. As scared as I was, I felt reassured knowing that Evan was taking over the reigns.

Dundee received spinal surgery the next morning. He was diagnosed with a condition called "Intervertebral Disc Disorder," characterized by a ruptured disc in his back. Thankfully, they were able to operate in time, and he is expected to make a full recovery. We will, however, have to limit his jumping activity in the future, as he is prone to further disc problems. The Fido Network may be permanently replaced with The Food Network. Phew. Upon hearing that everything went well, I took a deep breath…but just for a second. We were now faced with the daunting task of importing him back on island.

The paperwork for importing your pet on island is extremely complicated. Blood titres to prove that your pet possesses the rabies vaccine, flea and tick treatments, as well as paperwork completed and signed by a Clinical Vet and a Federal Vet are required. Although Dundee was discharged from the Vet Hospital in Miami on Tuesday, Evan and I worked overtime to complete the paperwork so that he could fly back to the island by Thursday. Ev found himself in an Uber, searching the city of Miami for a USDA accredited Vet who would stamp our documents without the typically required week's notice. To make matters even more complicated, it was election day and Ev was stuck in traffic, gazing at posters of Trump's tangerine face everywhere (obviously Hollywood, Florida was Trump territory)  There was a bit of pleading, a bit of ass-kissing, and more than one text between us, "Are you F$#**ing kidding me?" Ev and I joked that our wallets were wide open at this point, makin' it rain all over Miami! Yes, Dundee is expected to make a full recovery in 6 weeks. Our wallets, however, may never fully recover. Haha.

In the end, my furry boys (Ev hadn't shaved in a week) returned back to island on Thursday night. I have never been so relieved to kiss that little black nose (That would be Dundee) and feel those comforting arms around me (That would be Evan).

I know that if you are not an animal lover, you will read this blog in dismay, wondering what would possess one to make such an effort for an animal. All I can say is, I consider my pets to be part of my family. They bring so much joy into my life and are completely dependent on me to keep them safe. There was no way that I could sit back and watch my buddy become paralyzed.

So now the fun begins. Dundee is confined to a kennel - puppy jail - for 6 weeks, with short walk breaks throughout the day. His first night in puppy jail was challenging and consisted of him rattling his bars at 4am shouting, "I was framed! I want my lawyer!" (Ok, I made that part up, but I'm sure that's what he would say if he could talk). Just like me, Dundee now has to partake in physio exercises! We can take our Tramadol, do our leg lifts together, and watch "Donut Showdown" - excellent puppy/human bonding time! And somehow Ev is not only graced with a rehabbing wife, but with a rehabbing dog as well.

"Lucky you!" I exclaimed.

"It's a good thing you guys are good-looking and loveable," he joked.

I am so looking forward to some down time here. I presently feel like I'm in a dodgeball game, avoiding balls left and right. I don't dare stand still in fear of being smacked in the face! Since my surgery in September, Evan hasn't been home for more than 10 days at a time. We are celebrating a long weekend on the island and Ev and I are really looking forward to some quiet, UNEVENTFUL time at home with our furry friends.

Cheers Friends!

Dundee is home! hooray!

This is not Dundee. This a random dog at the beach. I thought he looked like Evan because he is handsome and has lots of freckles

Dundee's very unfortunate reverse mohawk. 

Who's a good boy? 

Dundee is allowed out of puppy jail for visits with his friends

Biloxi kept Dundee's bed warm the entire time he was gone. 

I don't know what all the fuss is about…stupid dog. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Seas The Day?

Have you ever wished you could freeze a perfect moment in time? This summer at my Baba and Gido's 70th wedding anniversary, I glanced over at my Baba and Gido as my talented Aunties and cousin performed my Gido's favourite song. My Baba was smiling from ear to ear and my Gido's eyes had welled up with tears. He was obviously touched by their voices and all the family and friends who traveled far and wide to Meath Park, Saskatchewan, to show their love and support. I recall that moment vividly. The love in that room was palpable. I consciously made the effort to take a mental snapshot in my brain, as that moment in time felt so incredibly special. About 3 weeks later, My Gido was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. On October 20, just over 2 months after that special day, my Gido passed away at the age of 90 years.

My Gido loved to farm. He was a very dedicated, hard-working and successful farmer and land owner. Some of my favourite Gido memories include sitting in the combine with him, while he explained and demonstrated the function of the endless display of buttons and levers. Despite his ailing health, my Gido was still farming in mid-September. He wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I picture him now, in his heaven, wandering through the perfect canola field in his rubber boots. We will all miss him very much. My heart breaks for my Baba. She is a very strong, inspiring woman. She told me that she knows it's time to close that chapter of her book and begin a new one, but I can only imagine how difficult that must be after 70 years of marriage. Theirs was a true love story. 

Baba and Gido at our wedding in 2005

I experienced one of the hardest realities of living so far from home…I couldn't get back in time to be with my family for my Gido's funeral. It sucked. I spent an entire night awake, searching for flights that would get me to Saskatchewan within a few days. There were no flights under $3500 and less than 30 hours in length. The itineraries were ridiculous, with overnights in Cancun and Jamaica. I finally conceded that, given my present health (still dependent on that damn crutch), it just didn't make sense to spend 30 hours traveling each way for 2 days at home. I have never been so homesick in my life. I really wanted to be with my Dad, my Baba, my sister, and my extended family. I am so looking forward to going home for Christmas this year. 

A few months ago, I had booked a cruise for Evan and I during my half-term break. Knowing that getting back to Saskatchewan was off the table, and that the cruise was non-refundable, Evan and I decided to go on the 5 day cruise, hoping to relax and enjoy some quiet time away together. Plus, Evan and I have always wanted to visit Turks and Caicos and this was the only ship that included Turks in its itinerary during my school break. 

I'm not sure why I booked a cruise for us. To be perfectly honest, I find the cruise ship tourists to be quite annoying here on the island. I reasoned that perhaps I find cruise ship tourists annoying  because I am typically driving through them, attempting to get to work on time. Maybe if I was on holidays, I could thoroughly enjoy being an annoying cruise ship tourist as well. I mean, cruisers always look so carefree and oblivious when I almost hit them with my car. I wanted to be carefree and oblivious. I was wrong. I won't go as far  to say that the cruise was a mistake, but well, uh, it wasn't ideal.
I see land - we can make a jump for it!

Within an hour of arriving on the ship, still docked in Fort Lauderdale, I found myself seated in a buffet area, surrounded by intense volume. The people who stood and ate directly from the buffet table ate and spoke LOUDLY. The man who belched rudely from his table belched LOUDLY. The group of party animals who downed shot after shot whilst chanting, "USA! USA!" chanted LOUDLY. Wide-eyed and desperate, I looked across the table at Evan. Could we still get off the ship? We hadn't actually left our port just yet. I could still see the crew untying our ship from the dock. Could we jump? I could jump. Screw the knees! And right there, in the "country comfort buffet," barely 2 hours into our cruise, I began sobbing LOUDLY. 

"I don't want to be here. I want to be with my family. These people are too loud. This is awful!" I choked, chin trembling.

My always calm and cool husband took my hands in his and said, "Kirst. It's OK. This is where the knobs congregate. This is knobville. We will find the calm and quiet part of the ship and we will have a great time together."

He was right. We did find a quiet area of the ship and we did enjoy our time together. I would not; however, choose to go another cruise like that one again. Ever. 

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em? 

For one, everyone on the ship had knee problems. Or so it seemed. One-crutching around the ship was impossible without being stopped by someone who eagerly wanted to share their knee surgery tale. Ugh. Evan joked that I was like one of those bitchy contestants on the Bachelor - I was NOT there to make friends. Instead of stopping when a fellow passenger began sharing his riveting knee surgery story, I would simply snap, "I've had 7 knee surgeries" and angrily one-crutch away. Evan even resorted to holding up 7 fingers mockingly upon my angry exits. Haha. Oh dear. As far as I was concerned, no one on that ship had knees as bad as mine. On one interaction, a LOUD woman bellowed, "Oh honey, I know exactly how you feel!" as I turned to bark back my "7" story, I noticed that her leg was amputated from above the knee. Oops. I smiled meekly. She won. I was officially a cruise ship BIATCH. 

Craving a quiet and relaxed holiday, I was repelled by the intensity that my fellow cruisers were holidaying. I get it, some people only get 5 days off work to party like it's 1999, and we are incredibly lucky to live in a vacation destination. Maybe I used to vacation like this? On the other hand, even when I had limited vacation time and lived in a frigid climate, I have never been rude to servers on holidays nor have I ever had such little consideration for the people around me. Evan and I watched from a safe distance as each day, for 4-5 hours, the same group of middle-aged partiers guzzled Budweiser, belly flopped into the pool, and chanted "Hell YA WHOOOHOOOO!"(Apparently the universal language for "I am having fun.") Mouths gaping open, Evan and I stared in disbelief. Ev commented, "It's like we're at the zoo…but we're in the cage with the monkeys." Yep. The icing on the cake was when, at 11am, one gregarious partier began yelling insistently at the bartender, "One More!" signalling for a shot. By 1pm, and more than a dozen shots later, her face had officially fallen off. She slurred something incoherent to her spouse from across the pool. When he turned to attend to her, she responded with a…ahem…umm I don't even know how to write this…oral sex gesture. (I'd like to take this moment to apologize to my Baba and Grandma and anyone who has to demonstrate what that gesture looks like to them). That actually happened. Gross. Me. Out. The sideways rain for 4 days straight, along with a good bout of seasickness (puke!) just about finished me off. The grand finale was when the ship, mere miles away from the Turks coastline, had to turn and head back to sea, forgoing the port, due to dangerous weather conditions ("Bye Turks!") 

I'm just going to turn my chair around and pretend that I never saw that

Now I know I've painted a dismal picture, but to be honest, it wasn't ALL bad. There were some wonderfully good moments. I thoroughly enjoyed my tea and fruit on my balcony every morning, peacefully listening to the waves crash against the ship. On an island in the Bahamas, I was able to find a tiny chapel on the beach and silently say a prayer for my Gido and my family. I just wanted to feel close to them and that quiet little chapel was the perfect place for me to seek solace amidst the chaos. Evan and I were also able to spend some much needed time together, bonding over this "unique" experience, people-watching and discussing the disarray around us. Finally, I was so impressed with the service on the ship and was able to meet some amazing people who worked for the cruise line. One waiter stood and talked to me about his life and family in Bali for over an hour. One sweet staff member confided that she had just recently discovered that she was pregnant with her Spanish boyfriend's baby. I listened and nodded as she explained how scared she was to tell her disapproving South African parents. One Dominican bartender, Pedro, had the most contagious smile that I had ever experienced. I have never met someone who appeared to be so genuinely happy, despite the demands he was facing from my fellow passengers. He was inspiring…and he made an amazing margarita. Overall, the crew was phenomenal. If I could have cruised with the crew, it would have been a much different experience.

Our quiet spot - far from "Knobville"

Dinners together were the perfect people-watching experience

Best. Margarita. Ever. Drink until I forget about that nasty gesture. Haha. 

island in the Bahamas - the one beautiful day of sunshine

Our fabulous waitstaff

Pedro, the happiest man in the world!

Our peaceful balcony

Oh well. I realize now that I was not in the right frame of mind for such a vacation. Lesson learned. It felt really nice to return to Cayman, cuddle our pets, and Skype with my family. Despite being back at work, my tranquil little casa on the sea feels like the right "holiday" for me right now. whooohooo (that's my serene version). 

Crutches in paradise