Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Nemesis

When we first purchased this torture device piece of equipment last year, I used it steadily for two weeks, hating every step. The slightest jog made me feel as if I would vomit and pass out. Watching Seinfeld DVDs and listening to my iPod did nothing to diminish that hatred. Even the ceiling fan and the built-in fan on the machine could not deliver me from the imaginary flames as I trudged along.

I have always detested exercise, except for the twelve years I played tennis. In 2001, when I could no longer play due to a skin condition, I became a lazy, food junkie, adding 5 pounds or more each year to my small frame. At 5’4” I should weigh 125 pounds, but two weeks ago at the doctor's office, to my horror, I nearly broke the scale. Even being nine months pregnant did not put this kind of weight on me. The next day I began eating healthier and I've already lost 7 pounds. I’m going in the right direction; I just need to add exercise to the equation.

Yesterday, I decided to push aside my intense aversion for the dusty black machine and get down to business. I reasoned that I would walk at a slow pace for at least 5 minutes. Simple enough, right? One would think so, but the thought of putting on a pair of tennis shoes seemed too big a chore. Even I thought this reaction was absurd. Nevertheless, I began to whine internally. ‘Craaaap. I don’t want to put on shoo-ooes!’ which was instantly followed by, ‘Good God, woman. Are you going to let a trivial task such as placing shoes on your feet stop you from getting healthy?!

After guilting myself into locating the !%#@!! tennis shoes, I was ready. Slip on and go – so easy, see?! It’ll be OH-KAY, I told myself. I walked into the newly painted room which housed the gigantic apparatus and saw that it wasn’t plugged in, AND it had an old comforter sitting on top of it. ‘Craaaap! I’ll have to bend down and retrieve the cord which is way underneath the machine and tangled up with the power strip. And where will I put the comforter? Lawdy, lawdy Miss Claudy. It’s hopeless’, I whined again.

I started to walk away; in fact I half turned to head toward the door when my brain started arguing with itself again. ‘Really, Gail, this is ridiculous. Just move the comforter to the floor, bend down and plug the thing in. It’s not that difficult.’ The other side of my brain quickly chimed in, ‘Oh, forget this [expletive]. It’s too much trouble. I give up'.

Seriously, I could not believe the exchange going on inside my head, as though there were two people taking up residence in that fuzzy, addled space known as my brain. One entity was acting in my best interest and the other clearly wasn’t. I finally succumbed to the more sensible voice and reached down to fling the comforter across the room, albeit angrily. After finagling with the cord/power strip and getting that untangled, there was no turning back. Power for the treadmill and more power to me. Victory!

Or was it?

After 2 minutes of walking on level 2 I began to think I couldn’t go another step. Pathetic, right? I kept going though, because the deal I struck was to walk for ONLY 5 minutes. Thirty seconds later I bravely bumped it up another level to slightly jogging. That lasted about 10 seconds and I was certain Double D would have to call an ambulance, but finally I was able to focus back on the #2 button for a more leisurely walk. Whew, okay, I can do this. Around the 3 minute mark, I thought I could try jogging again. WRONG! At 4 minutes I began cursing and feeling sick. Dismal, I know, but I pressed on. At 4:59 my finger was poised over the beautiful red STOP key. I did it!

They say it is supposed to get easier each day. I’ll let you know - if I live to tell the tale. Maybe Sparky will team up with me. Nah.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Sometimes I take my right to vote for granted. Many times I feel the choices before me are so poor that it would make no difference if I voted or not.

Recently, I received an email reminding me of the crimes against the Women’s Suffrage movement which was not all that long ago. To put it in perspective for me, this was taking place when my grandmother was just a young girl. Let’s take a look at what happened during the Night of Terror, November 15, 1917, when thirty-three women picketed the White House and were arrested for “Obstructing Sidewalk Traffic”:

Dora Lewis (b 1862)
Dora was one of the more outspoken suffragists and therefore, received the most brutal treatment. She was hurled bodily into her cell, knocked unconscious and feared dead when she collided headfirst against the iron bed frame. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Dora was dead and suffered a heart attack.

Lucy Burns (July 28, 1879 – Dec 22, 1966)
Lucy’s hands were chained to the cell bars above her head and she was left hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

Alice Paul (Jan 11, 1885 – July 9, 1977)
As one of the leaders, Alice went on a hunger strike. This led to her being placed in a psychiatric ward where she was tied to a chair, a tube forced down her throat and raw eggs poured into her. She, along with several others, received torture for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

It’s hard to imagine in this day and age that anyone would be forced to endure such horrific treatment for carrying a picket sign in front of the White House. I am humbled and deeply thankful for the bravery of these women; otherwise, we might still be under complete male domination today.

Reading these accounts, I have to ask myself: if I had been born during that time, would I have joined this movement and rebelled against the system, even if it meant being beaten, jailed, chained, kicked, choked, and worse? Would I starve myself for the cause? Although I am normally questioning and rebellious by nature, would I go that far? I don’t know.

Inez Milholland, who was a lawyer, World War 1 correspondent, suffragist and public speaker, was known as the martyr of the Women’s Suffrage movement. She died in 1916 at the age of 30 before realizing victory. Her last public words were, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?"

Women were finally granted that liberty in 1920 as set forth in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Let’s honor the memory of those women who paved the way for us by casting our vote in this upcoming historical election.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Beast

Today I had planned to take Chance to the vet as part of my day off; however, Spenser has been panting excessively lately, and for the last few years he does this gagging thing where he makes hacking sounds and tries to lick every piece of furniture we own. We send him outside where he chomps nonstop on grass. Later, he upchucks and the episode is over until the next one.

So, I took Spenser in to Dr. Fred instead of Chance.

Spenser is a beast. He is very difficult for me to control physically and he becomes so excited when he knows he's going for a car ride that I can hardly focus on driving because he's all up in my face and plastering the car and me with drool like he's Beethoven or something. It's really gross.

Last year I bought one of those pet barriers for the SUV and had never set it up. Last night I was so proud, I got it all put together by myself. It felt very sturdy and firmly in place. Except for the fact that my car looked like a paddy wagon, I was thinking 'hey, this is gonna be a breeze'. NOT! I got about a mile away from the house and Spenser had pushed down the second bar with his big head wedged through, determined to get up front near me. I pulled over on the side of the road, put it back in place and dared him to pull that stunt again. I felt bad though, because he was really stressed out, but so was I. And I had the more important job of getting us to our destination safely.

We arrived at the vet's office and by the time I parked the car, he had pulled the whole contraption completely down. So much for being sturdy and firmly in place. He nearly jumped out the back window which caused me to start yelling. Not the calm submissive state I had hoped to achieve with my trusty pet barrier.

We had to wait almost an hour to see Dr. Fred. Thank God for that thick leather leash I decided to bring. I worked a lot of muscles in my arm keeping him close to me. Spenser finally settled down and things were going pretty well. He barked at a Shih Tzu and a Pit Bull that came in, but other than that, he was well behaved. Dr. Fred's patients are very friendly. Everyone was asking if Spenser was a puppy. I laughed as I told them he's almost 9 years old. No one could believe it. He really doesn't look 9 and he does indeed act like a spastic puppy.

Besides the fact the he now weighs 104.2 pounds and had a temperature of 103.6, turns out he has a condition called Laryngeal Paralysis. Laryngeal paralysis is a disorder in which the nerves that control the muscles and cartilage that open and close the larynx (voicebox) do not function properly, causing voice changes and difficulty with eating or breathing. The larynx is located in the back of the throat. Air moves from the mouth or nose through the larynx, and into the trachea (windpipe). Normally, the laryngeal cartilages (also known as the arytenoid cartilages) are pulled open during breathing. In laryngeal paralysis, these cartilages do not open and close properly, making it difficult for the animal to take in air normally. It is a disorder in which the nerves that control the muscles and cartilage that open and close the larynx. Finally, after almost 3 years, a diagnosis that makes sense.

Spenser's throat is three times the width it should be because of the swelling. Dr. Fred gave him a shot to help with the swelling and prescribed Prednisone. Dr. Fred said he likes to take a conservative approach first before doing surgery. We also have to elevate Spenser's food and water high enough so that he doesn't have to bend over.

Everyone knows Spenser is a challenge for me in every way, but I don't want to see him suffer. I'll do my best to make him comfortable and we'll go from there.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gustav Update

Everyone in the fam is okay. No injuries or major damage. They will be without power for the next 1-3 weeks. At least my uncle has a generator so they can watch TV and get cooled with the fan. Oh, and charge their cell phones.