Friday, September 26, 2008

Improbability

Warning: this post contains gross health details that you may want to avoid!

You know how, in some books, you’ll come upon a plot twist so unbelievable, so absurd, so manufactured to fit an implausible story line, that you throw the book at the wall in disgust? You know the ones: the long-lost rich relative conveniently dies, leaving a poor earnest orphan rich beyond her wildest dreams, or alternatively, leaving a cool house in Tuscany/France/fill-in-place-here. Or, maybe it’s about a man who falls in love with a woman simply by seeing her photograph (or in the course of a single meeting) and spends ginormous amounts of time and money trying to find her – and, of course, he DOES and she immediately falls in love with him too. There are any number of variations, including ones that don’t involve at least one super-rich person, but the common thread is that they always lead to the implausible situation. I had one of those plot twists in real life this week, which, in a book, I would have instantly scoffed at. Seriously – I’d have considered a book with this plot twist a total wall-banger.

What happened? Well, to explain, I have to go back a bit – to when we first moved to Washington. We’d only been there a couple of days; literally, the movers were still at my house unpacking. I got a terrible stomach pain, and I had to go to the Emergency Room. It turned out that I had a partial intestinal obstruction, a condition that can be life threatening, and I had to spend my first week on Whidbey Island in the hospital. There are only two treatments for an intestinal blockage: conservative treatment, which involves having a nasogastric (NG) tube put through your nose into your stomach for several days, while at the same time, not having any food or water, so your digestive system can rest – and surgery. Conservative treatment is hideous – I wouldn’t wish an NG tube on my worst enemy – but it’s always the preferred treatment because with surgery, there’s an uncomfortably large risk that the blockage will re-occur. If conservative treatment fails, or if the blockage is complete, rather than partial, then surgery is required. Without surgery, your intestines will die, and then you, too, will die. It’s a complex situation, but the treatment decision is pretty simple.

I was lucky that time because the conservative treatment worked, mostly. I continued to have a blockage, but it resolved enough that I was able to manage it by being super careful about what I ate – no fiber, including one of my favorites, berries – and no food at all when I felt it getting worse. Still, I considered myself lucky because the surgery was supposed to be so risky and painful that it seemed like a much worse alternative. Because it was so horrible to go through, I spent a lot of time working out the events that led up to getting sick so I could avoid them in the future. When it happened, I’d just completed the long-distance drive from Texas to Washington, and I was in the process of unpacking my stuff in the new house. I was also completely overloaded with stress and “to do” list items and I hadn’t been eating right at all.

Naturally, I thought of all those things when I was planning my recent move to Texas – so many of the same elements were due to be repeated, in an almost identical fashion. But I was really careful, in spite of my moaning about Prissy, to space out my driving so that I wouldn’t be spending so much time each day in the car, and DH came to Washington to help with the movers, so I wouldn’t have to deal with that on my own.

And it seemed as if my careful plans had worked, in spite of all the problems we had getting back to Texas. By Saturday, I was feeling OK and DH and I went out to look at cars (his is on its last legs), with plans to visit the mall afterwards to see if I could pick up some hot-weather clothing at an end-of-season sale. We were at the mall when I got an awful pain in my stomach. At first, I thought it was just the Mexican food I’d eaten the night before and I tried to ignore it. But it got worse and I told DH I thought we’d better go. He must have known something really bad was happening because he knows I have to be nearly dying to cut a shopping trip short!

DH asked if I wanted to go to the hospital, and at first, I said no, so we went back to the apartment, where I lay down and tried to wait out the pain – I still thought (hoped) it might go away – I didn’t immediately think it had anything to do with my obstruction. But it got worse and worse. In fact, it got so bad, I thought I really might be dying, and I finally, reluctantly, agreed with DH that I needed to go to the hospital after all.

He took me to a hospital that he knew of because it was on one of his running-routes, a fortunate choice too, because it turned out to be one of the best in the city. The waiting room was crowded and my heart sank because I wasn’t sure how long I was going to last sitting upright in a hard chair, but there was a nurse doing triage and she sent me back to a room (with a bed) right away.

I saw the doctor and gave him my history, and he sent me for a CT scan, the results of which produced my bizarre plot twist. My pain was caused by an intestinal blockage, and this time it was complete. In other words, conservative treatment was not an option. I needed surgery right away because my small intestine was ischemic, which meant it was starved of blood supply and was already beginning to die. It was just too bizarre to think that the first blockage was caused by the events surrounding my move from Texas to Washington, and this new one was caused by moving back! As I said, if I’d read it in a book, I’d never have believed it; I’d have pitched the book at the wall.

I had surgery last Sunday (today is Friday), and it was even worse than I’d imagined it could be. The surgeon, who was terrific, started out trying to just open up the blockage with a small incision and a laparoscope, but when he got inside, he found sections of dead bowel, so he had to convert the surgery to a complete open (big incision) one and he had to do a complete resection of my small intestine, which involved cutting out the dead bits and sewing the remaining, healthy bits back together.

I went into the surgery hoping to come out with just a small laparoscopy scar and no blockage, and I came out with no blockage (yay!), but with a huge 5-inch long vertical scar, plus another small vertical scar and accompanying drain. In addition, I given a central line because my veins were insufficient for the IVs I needed. For the uninitiated – like me, till I had one, a central line is a kind of IV port with caps on it where different needles can be inserted, while leaving others free for drawing blood and giving injections. The central line was startling because it’s much larger and more permanent looking than a regular IV, and it was placed in the most uncomfortable position on my neck. And it was “installed” there, not just stuck on with tape. And, as if all that wasn’t enough, even though the conservative treatment hadn’t been an option, I was stuck with an NG tube too. ~Shudder!

I’ll tell you what – it’s a pretty big attitude adjustment to go from looking at David Meister dresses at Neiman Marcus on Saturday, to facing the surgery I just described on Sunday.

There was one bright side to all this misery – I got an immediate payback for moving to Texas. DH called Auntie on Sunday to tell her about my surgery and she arrived in my room on Monday. She was a God-send. She spent every day this week keeping me company; she took care of the dogs while DH was at work; she brought me magazines and face cream; she helped bring home some of the gorgeous flowers I received so I could enjoy them at home; she even brought ME home from the hospital because DH was in a meeting he couldn’t get out of when I was finally released, and, now that I’m home, she’s making me my grandmother’s favorite baked custard, which is fabulous because there are very few things that I’m allowed to have, but that’s one of them. She’d have come to Washington if I’d asked her to, but because we weren’t so far away, she was able to get here in time to really make a difference. I expect she’ll read this at some point, so here’s to you, Nancy Barber. You are the best!

Auntie’s going back to Little Rock tomorrow, and I have a huge long recovery ahead, but I’m not as down as I might have been otherwise because I’m so grateful for all the support I received from my friends and family. In addition to Auntie coming to stay with me, my Uncle Mack and Aunt Shirley and my mother sent me amazing flowers. And, most importantly, DH went so far above and beyond to take care of me that I still cannot believe it. Even though his back has to be KILLING him by now, DH spent every night in a chair in my room so I didn’t have to be alone. Every night he stayed – all night. And he brought me every single thing I asked for, e.g. he raced out to get me a hair dryer on a moment’s notice because I got to have an unexpected shower and I was going to be cold if I couldn’t dry my hair. Gillian called me twice and talked for hours, although it must have been seriously expensive; and my friends on Penman Review cheered me up by playing along with the pathetic missives I sent from my mobile phone.

Thanks to all of you. I love you all. God bless you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Close Call

We had a lot of things to do last week.

Move out of our house in Washington. Check.
Sell our house in Washington. Check.
Fly back to Texas so we could buy our new house. Ahem.

The movers were terrific; they had everything packed and loaded by noon on Thursday. We were really pleased about that because we had rescheduled our original flight, which was supposed to go through Houston on Friday, for Thursday night, so that we could get into San Antonio before Hurricane Ike closed the airport. We were all set to start the long drive to the airport when the call came in from Continental Airlines -- our red-eye flight was departing as planned, but they weren't allowing any pets on the flight, which meant that, for all intents and purposes, our flight was cancelled because we had to get Tabitha, our kitty, to Texas too.

"Um, what do you mean, we can go, but our cat can't?" I asked the guy from Continental. "Do people often just abandon their pets if you arbitrarily refuse to honor their reservations?"

"Noooo...," he said, "...but the hurricane..."

"What about it?" I asked. "It affects pets first? There'll be extra turbulence cause there's a little cat on board?" I may have sounded a tad bit sarcastic there, but oh well.

"Um...," he was clearly stunned. "Management..."

"Right," I said. "Good answer. Thanks a bunch."

I hung up on him and asked DH what he thought we ought to do. DH thought we ought to reschedule our flight and not worry. I, being the anti-Pollyanna, thought DH was nuts. I called our real estate agent in Texas and told her we might not make it to the closing of our new house on Monday and asked her what we ought to do. I expected her to tell me that it wouldn't be a problem to reschedule the closing, but without coming right out and saying it, she implied that we might lose the house if we didn't close on time.

The seller was supposed to close on his own new house on Monday as well, and there was a backup offer on the house we wanted from the very first day we made the offer. The possibility existed that the seller could use that as a reason to break our contract and accept the other offer. But the seller's new house closing was IN HOUSTON. It was obvious that his closing was NOT going to happen on time. The realtor said she'd check with him about postponing and get back to me. She did and the news was not good -- he insisted his own closing was going forward, and that ours had to go forward as well.

Our realtor is very nice, but she didn't seem to understand that we might not be able to wave a wand and appear in San Antonio on Monday. "Can't you just kennel your cat?" she asked.

It took me a while to explain that this was our last trip, and that we couldn't leave our cat in a kennel indefinitely, and that I had no idea when I'd be able to come back and get her. I finally had to tell her that if she didn't figure something out, the deal was probably off. Once I managed to get that point across, things changed quickly. She contacted the title company handling the transaction, and they found a local notary who would meet us with the closing papers, which we could sign on Friday afternoon. The notary would then send the papers overnight to San Antonio, so they'd be there in time on Monday. Funny how "impossible" things can be made to happen when there's money on the line!

Then we were left with the other problem -- getting back to San Antonio in time for DH to appear at his new job on Monday. We spent Thursday night sleeping on the floor of our empty house in Washington, trying to figure out how to do this.

DH called around to all the airlines and finally found a flight on United that went through Denver on Saturday. United doesn't have the special pet program that Continental does, and in fact, United are complete idiots about pets because they suggested that we put Tabitha in the hold, but then they said they couldn't put her on the connecting flight, so she'd arrive on the same flight the next day. I didn't want to put her in the hold in the first place, but the idea of leaving her in some God-forsaken baggage area overnight was impossible, so we arranged to take her on the flight.

We signed our house papers on Friday and spent that night at the W Hotel in Seattle. It was fabulous having a bed again after spending the previous night on the floor. Saturday morning we headed over to the airport bright and early to be sure we had plenty of time to check in since we expected it take longer with Tabitha in tow.

The airport was a freaking nightmare~! I swore last year that I would never fly United Airlines again, and if they hadn't been the only game in San Antonio this past weekend, I would have kept that resolve. As it is, we probably would have been better to keep it anyway -- they are just pathetic. In addition to the hurricane, there was bad weather in Chicago and San Francisco, and there were several hundred people waiting in line to check in! We waited in line for 3 hours, and we were still waiting when our flight departed -- without us.

When we finally got up to the desk, the gate agent was kind and apologetic and she booked us a flight for the next day, this time via Los Angeles. She also gave us each a $100 certificate for future travel (yeah, right; like I'll fly United any time soon), but that was it. So we had to find an airport hotel that would accept cats -- NOT an easy task -- people travel with dogs, but who brings their cat? By this time, there were about 400 people in line, and some of them were turning into an ugly mob -- United got a manager out there to talk to them, something they should have done hours earlier. Since they were having so many weather problems, they should have called in extra people to work to reduce the line, but I suppose they've fired them all so the management can still take home big bonuses. Whatever.

On Sunday, we went back to the airport and waited two more hours to check in, and were finally able to do so. United got their revenge on me for my animosity because they marked my ticket as requiring an extra security check, so while DH and Tabitha were able to sail through, I was forced to be hassled and felt up by my favourite folks, the TSA, before proceeding to the gate, where we learnt that the status of our flight was "delayed." Indefinitely.

At this point, DH informed the people standing near him that he could completely understand why people sometimes went insane on airplanes and defecated on the drinks cart -- and I didn't even shush him because I agreed, although I admit that I sincerely hoped he wasn't thinking of doing so. Fortunately, before we were required to consider that possibility any further, we were told that our flight would only be an hour late, and we would probably still make our connection to San Antonio.

And we did. We arrived there on Sunday night. DH made it to work on time. Our house papers arrived on Monday morning and we were there to deliver the cheque for the house in person. As we expected, the seller of the house was not able to close on his house in Houston; his closing was delayed by 10 days because (Surprise!) there was a hurricane there, you know. Our kitty was a champ -- she was stuck in a carrier for more than 12 hours and she never made a peep. Our furniture will not be here until 4 October, but we are all, including our animals, here, safe and sound, in Texas now.

Thank God. I thought it was never going to happen.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Welcome Home?

The movers cleared out our house in Washington yesterday and we were supposed to leave on the 11:50 pm flight. We had moved up the flight because it had a connection through Houston and we were concerned about the possibility of weather delays caused by Hurricane Ike. At the time we changed our flight, it appeared that Ike would pass well to the south west of Houston, so we weren't that concerned. Fast-forward two days -- Houston was in the direct path and the airport was scheduled to close about an hour after our flight to San Antonio was due to depart.

We were all set to get on the plane, in spite of the risk of being caught in the Houston Intercontinental airport during the storm -- a distinct possibility if our flight was delayed for any reason. We didn't get on the plane, however, because although our flight was still on schedule, Continental called yesterday and said that kitty's flight was cancelled! Kitty was supposed to fly in Continental's special climate controlled pet section, but they decided to cancel pet flights before doing the same for the rest of the flights. Kitty has to go WITH US, though, so we were out of luck.

The only real reason that it mattered was because we completed the sale of our house in Washington on Friday morning, and we're supposed to close on our new house in Texas on Monday morning and it will be a big problem for us if we lose the new house. DH got the company travel agents on it and they found us, including kitty, another flight for Saturday that goes through Denver and flies directly into San Antonio. We're still not sure whether it will happen though since the weather is going to be dicey across the southwest, so we also got the seller and the title company on the case and they were able to get the closing papers to a notary on Whidbey Island, and we did a contingent signing of the papers this afternoon. If we can't make it to the closing on Monday, then all we'll have to do is to wire the money to the seller on Monday and we'll own our new house.

This whole week has been incredibly fraught, and last night was pretty close to the culmination of it. After we found out that the airline wouldn't take kitty, we had to work the phones to get the new airline reservations and to get the sellers' title company into gear to do something to save the deal on our new house. It is, incidentally, amazing what can be accomplished by phone when people think a lot of money is on the line to be lost. Originally, we were told there was no way we could buy the new house without signing the papers in person, but funnily enough, that seemed to change when DH informed them that he works with contracts on a daily basis and Hurricane Ike falls into the category of "force majeure" (act of God) and we were ready, willing, and able to execute the contract and therefore, it was on the other party to do everything in their power to bring the deal to fruition (I've always hated contracts, but those BIG words come in handy sometimes) -- and, suddenly, a notary was located on Whidbey Island who would meet us with the proper papers and who would send them overnight so they'd arrive in time, even if we did not.

So, we signed our papers and we spent last night sleeping on the floor of our empty house. Tonight we are in a swanky hotel in Seattle, with our fingers crossed both for our flight to leave as planned tomorrow and also for all our friends in Houston and Lake Charles who are getting hammered by Ike tonight.

It is bizarre to us that the Gulf Coast has not had a major hurricane since our own experience with Hurricane Rita in 2005, just before we moved to Washington, and now, our old and favourite places are facing devastation tonight with Hurricane Ike. We've been phoning our friends to see if they need help -- if we arrive back in Texas tomorrow, we're ready to help them in any way we can. If any of our friends, and you know who you are, need us, please call on our cell phones and let us know. We should be in San Antonio on Saturday evening and you can stay with us, or if you need us to come to you with ice, etc. we will be there as soon as the authorities will let us through. For our Lake Charles friends, we know the levee is breached in Cameron, and our thoughts are with you. We believe you'll be OK, but if you need us, just call us and we'll do whatever we can to help. As for our Houston friends, y'all are in the path. We're praying that you all make it through, but if you need us, let us know. We are praying for you...











Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Peace of Mind or Piece of My Mind?

This whole week is turning into a comedy of errors. Every hour seems to bring a new absurdity to light. DH called the phone company yesterday to tell them we wanted to cancel our service as of Friday. Of course, the phone company has a fancy automated message -- press 1 for this; press 2 for that. And they list an amazing array of options in that message; I know because DH used speaker phone to call them. You can press a button for all kinds of cool additional services -- even high speed internet. You cannot, however, cancel your basic phone service from the automated message. To cancel, the message said, you must stay on the line until a customer service representative is available. The message then said that there was an approximately 30 minute wait, but you could leave your name and number and the next available customer service representative would call you back.

DH left his name and number and then moved on the next absurdity. A couple of things about that one: 1) we're really lucky that DH received a relocation home buyout with his new job; the market is terrible here and our house isn't going to sell until it picks up, which could be years; 2) our house is over 100 years old, but it was essentially rebuilt from the ground up about five years ago. It had new everything, including new windows and a new roof, which we're sure of because we had the house inspected when we bought it two and a half years ago. The relocation company decided they needed to have the roof specially inspected by an inspector from Portland OREGON. That's hundreds of miles away. Our former realtor talked them out of that, but he's former now because he got so irritated with them he said he couldn't work with them!

In addition to the comedy of errors with the inspections, the relo company now says they didn't receive the notarized forms we sent them last week. The purchase of our new house, which is supposed to happen on Monday, is dependent on receiving the equity from this house, and that is dependent on those forms. The receipt is, naturally, in Texas -- because we expected them to let us know if they didn't receive the forms. And they did -- the day before the absolute deadline. We have no idea whether we'll get our new house in Texas now.

And finally, we were supposed to fly back to Texas on Friday morning (with our kitty), but now, Hurricane Ike is projected to come in on Friday night. It's only going to be tropical storm strength in San Antonio, but there are no direct flights from Seattle, so we have to connect in Houston, which may be evacuating by then, depending on the forecast. We've changed our reservation to the red-eye on Thursday night, and we have our fingers crossed that we'll make it back before they close the airport. Kitty is already locked in the bathroom to keep her from getting out (and lost) while the door is open for the movers. She's utterly miserable. If our flight doesn't happen, and it may not, there's no telling how long she'll have to stay locked in her cage.

Life's a beach. To be continued... if we survive!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pleasant Activity -- NOT!

For a person who hates to fly, I find it bizarre that I am on the verge of making the Continental Silver Elite frequent flyer program this year. We flew from San Antonio to Seattle yesterday to complete the final stage of packing and moving our stuff out of the house. The flight itself was fine, but I had a brief interlude of hyperventilating for a few minutes after we took off. I can laugh about it later, but I have to admit that the slightest deviation from what I think of as the normal pattern freaks me right out.

Yeah; I know I'm an idiot, but I just can't help it. When the plane takes off, it usually ascends fairly rapidly, and then a flight attendant makes some pointless announcement thanking me for flying their crappy airline and telling me they have mixed drinks available for $5 and that someone will be along shortly if I wish to purchase headphones for the movie. I don't care what the announcement says (unless it's telling me to assume the crash position); I only care that it does happen. My logic for caring is that I've concluded that if something happens to the plane on take-off, the flight attendants probably aren't going to be worrying about collecting my dollar for headphones!

So yesterday we took off and I waited for the announcement that helps me stop panicking. I've trained myself to remain calm when the engines switch from a sort of high pitched whine to a roar. That normally happens at a certain altitude, and it normally happens within the first two minutes after take-off. The announcement generally follows the change in the engine sounds within about a minute. I know when it usually happens because I time it. So I waited for the announcement. And I waited. The window shade was down because it was really sunny and hot, so at first, I looked at my watch instead of looking out the window. After about 5 minutes, I noticed that my ears weren't popping as they normally do as the plane increases its altitude. I raised the window shade ... and started hyperventilating.

My ears weren't popping because we were still so low to the ground. Too low. I must have made a little gasp because DH asked me what was wrong. I pointed at the window.

"Oh yeah," he nodded, "that's the Woodlands. I hear they have a really nice mall."

"Um ... right," I said. "That's the mall right there. I think I can read the license plates on the cars!"

DH laughed, but I wasn't kidding! I was, in fact, trying to work out whether to head for the forward exit when we crashed or the one behind us since we were midway between them.

Six minutes passed, and then seven -- no ear pops and no announcement. "Don't you think we're flying awfully low?" I asked him.

"Maybe, but what's the big deal? It's not as if anything is wrong. We're still in the air."

"Why don't they make the announcement then?"

He looked bewildered. "What announcement?"

"You know," I said. "The one about the drinks and earphones."

"Who cares? Nobody listens to that anyway."

"Holy Mother of God," I said. "Of course nobody listens to that dumb announcement, but when they make it, it means the flight attendants aren't making burial arrangements!"

DH laughed again. "Holy Mother of God? You are such a goofball." He's entertained by my occasional bouts of melodrama.

I looked at my watch again. "It's been eight minutes. Do you think we should try for the forward exit or the rear one?"

"I think you should stop hyperventilating," he said. "You're going to pass out if you don't quit that. I'm going to read my book, but maybe you should ask the guy sitting next to the door if he would change seats with you. That way you can be the first one out when we crash."

I informed him that he sucked and he agreed with me and went back to reading his book.

The announcement was made after 9 minutes. I had a ginger ale.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Wild Wild West or Nightmare on Highway 10

Pip and I made it to San Antonio on Sunday, as planned. Prissy made it here too. Barely. She would not have, if not for divine intervention. i.e., She would not have made it if my uncle had not married VM, who happens to be a goddess.

What happened? Well, for one thing, doggie Xanax does NOT work. At least it doesn't for Prissy. I gave her one, as the vet instructed, about an hour before we left the house. Prissy's carrier wouldn't fit in my car, so I made her what I thought was a nice secure-feeling nest in the back seat. I wedged her bed, which is a sheepskin covered foam thing, into the space between the two front seats to keep her from jumping on me while I was driving, and then we left.

Prissy melted down. I don't mean this in the sense of getting a little upset; I mean she went f#$% crazy. She bounced all over the backseat of the car, all the while making this horrible sort of keening sound. After about 15 miles, I stopped and gave her another Xanax. The first one clearly wasn't working, and she was completely hysterical. We started off again, with me telling myself that the second Xanax would help and that surely she'd get used to being in the car and calm down.

I was wrong. By the time we caught up with the last remnants of Seattle rush-hour traffic, Prissy's keening was so loud that I couldn't even hear the stereo. And then she started lunging. Prissy isn't a big dog -- she only weighs about 22 pounds -- but she's muscular and strong, and that, combined with being hysterical, allowed her to knock down the foam bed barrier I had put between the seats.

If the thought of wrestling with a hysterical yelping pug while navigating through bumper to bumper traffic going 60+ miles per hour doesn't make you nervous, then your disposition is much steadier than mine. Of course there was nowhere to stop; we were on an expressway filled with people trying to get to work. Talking to her didn't work. Yelling at her didn't work. Pushing her back with my elbow didn't work. I slung my right arm across the gap in the seats and held on for dear life. It was pretty grim.

I finally made it to the exit for the road heading east. At that point, I was still hopeful that once we were out of heavy traffic (and noise), the Xanax would kick in and she would settle down. It was not to be. I wrestled with her across Snoqualmie Pass, and ultimately, all the way to Boise. In more than 8 hours of driving, Prissy never stopped lunging and keening for more than 15 minutes. By the time we got to VM's house, I was on the verge of tears. I was also on the verge of wringing Prissy's neck with my bare hands.

Still, I was hopeful that she'd calm down once we got out of the car at VM's house. When we did that, it wasn't hot, so I put Prissy in the garage, along with her bed and a chew-toy in hopes that some quiet time outside of the car would help her calm down. Nothing doing. She keened and bounced off the walls the entire night. Neither VM nor I got any sleep. By this time, I had about decided that something was so terribly wrong with Prissy that she'd never be all right again. I was on the verge of taking to a local vet and asking him to put her down.

I called DH and told him this and he convinced me not to do it ... yet. We decided that the best plan was to find her a carrier that would fit in my car before I left Boise, so at least her lunging wouldn't cause an accident. After that, I planned to give her one more day. If she hadn't calmed down somewhat by my next stop, then I intended to take her to a vet to see if there was anything they could do to help her ... or it would be the end of Prissy's line.

I should note that while I don't adore Prissy, I am a dog person, and the only reason I would even consider this is because I was desperate. And because Prissy was so freaked out, I was afraid that she was permanently broken. DH said later that he tried to convince me not to do anything drastic because he knew that I'd feel like crap later, and that I'd probably never stop kicking myself. And, of course, he was right.

VM was awesome in all of this. She was calm. She was patient. She was tolerant about the fact that a hysterical keening dog was bouncing off the walls of her garage all night long, preventing her from getting any sleep whatsoever. I know VM didn't get any sleep because I was standing out on the patio with Prissy at 1:30 in the morning and VM came out there and hung around with me. The next morning VM helped me find a place that had carriers in stock and she went with me to get one. She also made an awesome coffee cake for breakfast! (And margaritas the night before, which I truly needed...)

Once we got on the road again, Prissy continued being hysterical for a few hours. But just when I thought I was going to have to look for a vet at our next stop, Ely, Nevada, the gaps between her bouts of keening started to get longer. Gradually, gradually, she settled down. When we stopped for the night, I was ready to give her a chance until the next day. She was hysterical in the hotel for a while, but then she settled down there too. And so, Prissy survived.

We spent the night after Ely with my friends in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I wish I could have stayed there longer. My friends have a beautiful house and I would love to see more of that area -- it's an amazing-looking place. But we needed to get to Texas, so there was no lingering.

In addition to Boise, Ely, and Lake Havasu City, we also spent a night in Lordsburg, New Mexico and Ft. Stockton, Texas. Pip was an angel the whole time. He never made a squeak in the car.

This drive was definitely up there with the most difficult things I've done in my life, and I was too distracted to appreciate the scenery, but the American West is stunning. I've seen parts of it before, but I've never driven on the smaller roads that I used this time. The smaller roads allow you to see more than just the highway -- you really feel like you're THERE.

I hope to see more of the West someday, without a crazy dog in tow. Speaking of towing -- I think it would be a good idea to institute a law whereby people driving ginormous recreational vehicles that are towing massive trucks, boats, and other vehicles behind them, should be required to submit to a mental status test every 100 miles or so. I can understand why you'd want to tow a car or a boat behind an RV; those things are too big to drive around once you get to your destination, so you'd want to park it and use the smaller vehicle (or ride around in your boat). What I can't understand is why so many of the people who do this appear to believe they're cruising in a Maserati!

Heelllooo, people. You cannot make lightning-quick lane changes going uphill in a 40-foot land-yacht while dragging a Suburban behind you. As far as I'm concerned, attempting to do this puts you in the same category as Prissy, and you need your head examined!@