How to dream your way to a great story at DIY MFA

There’s this thing I do over at DIY MFA. It’s a semi-regular column called Speculations all about fantasy and science fiction.

dreams

 

This is my third column, on sleep and dreaming. Come on over and visit. There are a lot of great columnists on lots of different genres and topics. Plus, Gabriela has a tonne of great resources, a podcast, courses, and other tasty writerly goodness for you to check out.

I have a little anecdote to share with respect to dreams and writing.

It has to do with this little tip:

  • Sleep on a creative problem. Similarly, if you’re stuck on a scene or a plot point, ruminate calmly on it before you sleep. Even if you don’t dream up a solution, your mind will be working on the problem and when you head back to the page, the answer might just appear. Like magic.

So it happened, just the other night.

I’d just finished writing and posting my Next chapter update and went to bed thinking about the short story I’m hoping to write this month. I had an idea that’s been simmering since January.

That night I had a dream that, taken at face value, had nothing to do with my story idea. Except that it did in that weird way dreams have. And now I have three quarters of the story sketched out in my moleskine. I just have to figure out an ending that will work.

It makes me furiously happy when my dreams cooperate with the muse. Or maybe they’re scheming. Whatever they’re doing, it works. Like magic.

 

Changing things up and the reasons why

A few years ago, I decided to change things on the blog. I started curating Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday, and then, on weekends, I mostly blogged my session notes from various conferences and conventions I’d attended.

It was easy for me, with respect to generating content, and I sincerely thought I was offering something of value to my readers. My WordPress stats do not bare this out, however. Round about 2014 (when I started the curation and session notes), my views drop and are consistently below a thousand per month.

views

Views dropped again after Nuala died in 2015. My pupdates were clearly some of my more popular posts, as well.

Even looking at it by day, I only seem to have a peak in views (40+/day, which I know is nothing when it comes down to it) about once a month. When those peaks occur varies. It could be after a Tipsday post (most often), or a Thoughty Thursday post. Sometimes, it’s on a weekend, but it could be session notes, or a monthly update. There’s really no pattern that I can pull out.

But clearly, this means I’m not doing my job.

I have therefore decided that it’s time to shake things up again. Not too much. ‘Cause I’m cautious that way.

I’ve had the most views, likes, and comments on my curation posts, so I’m going to keep blogging those. I’ve created better graphics for them (thank you, Canva) and I still believe they have value.

It’s the weekends I’m going to rethink.

I’m also going to continue my monthly updates. I like sharing my progress on various projects and it keeps me accountable.

I’m no longer going to blog session notes, though. Instead, I’ll do a summary/highlights post of any writerly events I attend. There are enough of those that it will keep me producing quality content. In the past couple of years, I’ve actually glossed over some of these events, or only given them a passing mention in my monthly updates, because I really haven’t had the time to write a post devoted to every event I attended.

I’m going to revisit some of the topics from the blog posts that, even five years on, continue to receive the most traffic.

I’m also going to post a referral to my DIY MFA columns when they come out.

Finally, I’ll fill in the gaps with Movie Madness, Series Discoveries, and the odd book review. There may also be the occasional Muse Inks post on this writer’s life, which won’t focus on the writing, but the other stuff that fills up my life around writing.

When Phil and I get our next fur baby (this fall is the new goal … we hope) Sundog posts may even return 🙂

Because writerly goodness is a solo effort, though, I’m still going to have to take the occasional blogging vacay for some of the bigger events I attend. It’s the way things have to go while I’m still working a day job.

If I want to set the time aside to write and to attend my various writerly professional development opportunities, I really don’t have the time to generate a lot of content to pre-schedule and fill in the gaps. I find myself at the limit as it is, but that may be because of the various commitments I’ve made to some of the professional writing organizations of which I’m a member.

I’m considering a re-envisioning of those commitments, too. There’s only so much of me to go around. Do I want to be writing, or do I want to be contributing to the success of writing organizations? It’s going to be a tough decision, ‘cause I’m like Eek! the cat. I always think it never hurts to help. Until it does.

The next few weeks in writerly goodness:

Next weekend, it will be my monthly Next Chapter update. The weekend following, I’ll be away at Story Masters and won’t be posting, but I’ll tell you all about it the weekend after. I’ll have a few more events to discuss in upcoming weeks, but I’ll get into that in my Next Chapter post.

So stay tuned as I work my way through this transition.

And let me know what you think, please. Will this shift be a pleasing one for you? Perhaps only time (and stats) will tell, but if you have any thoughts to share, I’d love to hear them. And if you have requests to make, I’m all (virtual) ears. I know I can’t please everyone, but I’m willing to incorporate some of your suggestions into my ongoing plan.

Thanks for your time and attention.

You’re the bestest!

Muse-inks

Something apropos of nothing

I’ve gotten back into pendants lately.

I used to wear necklaces a lot . . . aeons ago, but found them inconvenient in more recent years.

When I started swimming regularly, it was a pain to have to remove them (and often forget them). When I got into yoga, it was a similar issue, with pendants/charms slapping into my face in various poses.

In the last couple of years, though, I’ve grown fond again. I don’t have the time to swim, and no longer have a membership at the Y to facilitate it. I do some simple yoga in the mornings, on my own, and I don’t have to worry about leaving my necklaces anywhere that might result in my losing them.

So here’s the new line up.

pendants

It started with the lovely knotwork angel my friend, Margaret, picked up for me in Wales (far left). This was followed by the raven (October’s charm in one Celtic system), the Brigit’s cross, and the green man.

Last Christmas, my sister-in-law, Stephanie, gave me the Origami Owl pendant. At the time, it included a typewriter, a birthstone (my dad’s), my initial, and the purple dangle. I added a paw, for Nuala, Zoe, Thufir, and Tripod, a dragonfly (transformation), a bee (I’m a business expertise advisor, or BEA, at work), and the infinity and tree of life dangles. It’s a little cluttered, but that’s me 🙂

In August, my mom-in-law brought me back the sea glass pendant from an artisan in PEI, when she and Stephanie vacationed on the east coast. I love sea glass and it turns out to be very symbolic of my writerly life.

I have others. A set of earnings and necklace that are dolphins curled around fluorite balls, a pegasus with a quartz crystal dangling from it, a meditating goddess, a dragonfly, a unicorn, and some much older, gold jewellery that I keep for sentimental reasons. I might pull these out and share at some point, but for now, I’m too lazy to do it 😛

This is all just to say that I like necklaces again.

Something truly apropos of nothing 😉

Next weekend, I hope to do another double post on Saturday, finishing off the midseason follies and reviewing a few of the more interesting movies I watched in the last year. Then it will be time for my next chapter update the weekend after that, and I’ll finally move on to some of the interesting panels and presentations I attended at WorldCon.

Be prepared for another weekend blogging hiatus in November, for NaNoWriMo. I’m just putting this out here now, because I won’t be on leave, as I’d hoped.

Be well until next I blog 😀

Renovation MADNESS

Before I dive in, I have to let you know that Phil has been very good about not involving me in the actual destruction, or the reconstruction. I know nothing of ‘lectrics (as Phil calls them). I’ve just tried to keep the house clean and keep up with the weekly business of laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, and that kind of thing.

Because of Phil’s various health issues, this is going to be a slow reno. We’re going at Phil’s pace, which is largely on the weekends. But . . . because he’s been feeling so good lately, as a result of the medications he’s on and the changes we’ve made in diet/lifestyle, he felt good enough to tackle the project in the first place.

He chose the living room/dining room area of our small house because it would be a relatively easy reno. Strip it all down, clean up the ‘lectrics, insulate, vapour barrier, drywall, mudding and sanding, floor sanding and refinishing, and painting/finishing details.

The bedroom took about two weeks of solid work, and he had the closet to deal with.

He expected to be done before the end of October, thus making my leave with income averaging and a new puppy a possibility.

But things never go as planned, especially with a house as old as ours.

In a way, it’s good that the pay issues at work caused me to reconsider my leave. It may work out better, even though I was really looking forward to a new little squirmer. It will be that much sweeter when we can.

The ‘lectrics turned into a massive undertaking. When we had previously tackled my office and the bedroom, the ‘lectrics were fairly simple. Phil just removed all the old stuff and ran new wiring.

The living room . . . not so simple.

livingroomrenobegins

It begins.

The room is directly above the panel, and Phil saw right away that he couldn’t leave things the way they were.

There were hidden junction boxes, as many as five wires snaking through a single hole, and three generations of wiring dating back to the original build sometime in the 1940’s. All of this is not up to current building code.

So, Phil patiently turned off the power, traced the wiring through the ceiling, basement, and sometimes the walls, removed the old crap, and replaced/rerouted the wiring efficiently and cleanly. Not all of it, though. There were several places where it looks like additions to the house were built over/around the existing wiring. Phil would not have been able to get at it without removing the siding and original wood from the outside of the house.

He wasn’t about to do that.

As it was, he had to cut holes in the kitchen and side entry to track down and replace some of the old wiring. These will be patched up temporarily pending renovation of those areas.

The pictures:

demofinishedish5

Demo done (kind of).

sept17-1

View from the kitchen (today).

sept17-2

A fresh start.

I’m not going to show you the devastation in the other areas of the house, the problematic wiring, or the piles of old wiring (currently waiting at the end of the driveway for the second delivery of a bin and removal).

Things should be more straightforward from here on out.

I’ll offer further updates later in the year.

Have another short post coming up. Stay tuned.

Home and garden update

So this one’s not going to be much in the way of words, but there will be a lot of pics 🙂

As of last fall, the work the city had promised to do for us when they repaved Marttila Drive was still not done.

In October, one crew came by to build our new front steps. Even though I asked for an estimate on rebuilding the side steps, too, the contractor never got back to me.

But the work was done. Ok.

NoOneWillTripOnThat

No one’s going to trip on that

In December (remember we didn’t have snow until Boxing Day) another crew arrived to do the interlocking brick. They didn’t go under the front steps, though and now the side steps, our old, but very solid steps we made ourselves, overhangs the brick.

Oh well. We’ll build ourselves a new set  . . . someday.

brickwork

Notice the former garden that’s now growing out from under the front steps

In February, in the middle of a snow storm, yet another crew arrived to install the railing on the retaining wall. It had already snowed quite a bit and they had to excavate the cement pylons they had to bolt the railing to.

RailingYay

Unfortunately, one of them was not placed properly.

railingfail

Stable as hell

With regard to the garden, I planted the raised bed Phil built for me last year.

gardenplanted

The transplanted hops vice and clematis seem to be happy.

hps

clematis

Now if I could only get around to weeding . . . 😦

Phil has now added solar power to our gazebo.

WorkinOnTheLectrics

So we can work outside, even after sunset. Summer office: accomplishment unlocked!

GazeboAtNight

And that is this writer’s life.

I’ll be back in a bit with the latest Ad Astra reportage.

Muse-inks: The dream vs. reality (check)

On my way to London in August, I was listening to the radio when I heard Beck’s “Dreams.” It’s been on my playlist since.

I don’t know if it’s the driving foot-drum or the grunge-y guitar. I love this song.

Dreams have always been a BIG part of my process. I get ideas from them. I percolate writing ideas into concepts through daydreaming. I studied shamanism for a few years wherein the primary mystic delivery system is dream.

Not incidentally, my characters often receive insight from dreams.

I have dreams for my writing career, too. I may have mentioned them a few times on this blog.

Particularly since “winning” NaNoWriMo my first time out in 2013 and subsequently joining the (some would say) cult of word count tracking, I’ve learned that I’m capable of more than I thought in terms of writing productivity.

I share my productivity, or lack thereof, with you each month on my Next chapter updates.

If you look closely, though. I don’t write a heck of a lot.

My daily drafting would probably average about 250-300 words, or around a page. Sometimes I have a good day and I write 500 or a 1000 words, but some days I don’t write at all. I fit it in where I can around work, blogging, television, and the stuff of life like laundry, gardening, family dinners, and housework.

I’d like to think that if I had the opportunity to write “full time” I’d jump at it. But I *know* I wouldn’t be writing for 7.5 hours a day, five days a week. I’d probably write in the afternoons, primarily. I could still get a shit-load of writing done in that time, though.

I think.

A friend of mine shared that she’d written a thousand words in an hour on her current work in progress. That’s impressive. Other authors I follow report similar results, or better. Several of them with much more demanding lives than I have.

Catherine Ryan Howard recently blogged about her year of amazing productivity (watch Tipsday for that post) and I’ve shared a past post by Kameron Hurley, in which she wrote marathon 10k weekends because that was the only time her day job and life allowed her to have uninterrupted writing time.

Can I do that? I honestly don’t know. I’ve never had to.

A couple of other authors I follow (Marie Bilodeau and Jim C. Hines) have recently made the brave leap into full time writing. It takes more dedication than you think it will to make the writing life work.

I’ve been thinking about this again because I’m querying Initiate of Stone right now. If an agent decided to offer me representation at this point, I wouldn’t be able to leave the day job and focus on writing. If my agent was so lucky as to get me a deal contingent on additional novels, I’d have to find a way to bull my way through everything, including my resistance, to get the work done.

Right now, I make the choice to spend Saturday (and sometimes Sunday) mornings with my mom. On my days off, I generally do that, too. It’s not a duty. It’s something I want to do. Tomorrow, I’ll be taking her out shopping. She’s my best bud as well as my mom.

All the social media stuff that backs up during the week falls into the weekend as well. And preparing my weekly curation posts.

I let this happen.

Part of me says this is the way it is. Another part of me says that the day job gives me the excuse/luxury/lack of urgency to be lazy. I don’t need to grind out words to meet a deadline and pay this month’s (or heaven forbid, last month’s) bills.

I’m also thinking about my potential productivity as I head into another NaNoWriMo while I’m working, and travelling for work, during November. My only goal for this year is to beat last year’s 28,355 word effort.

In August, due to my two and a half week trip delivering training, I gave up posting on the weekends. I think I’m going to do that in November, too, even though I’ll have Can-Con sessions to report on. Y’all will just have to be patient 🙂

I continue to discover that I can do more than I think I can when I have the proper motivation.

If nothing else, I’ll try and see what happens.

The dream is still alive despite the reality check.

What about you, dear reader? Will your dreams survive the reality check?

Until next week! *waves*

Muse-inks

Caturday quickie: I got nothing

Yup. As the title says, I’m running on empty this weekend.

So instead of posting nothing at all, here are some pictures.

Phil made me this new garden. Next spring, watch out!

Phil made me this new garden. Next spring, watch out!

Of course there are a lot of power lines and cable lines in the way, but this is the sky, after the rain. And it's been raining all day.

Of course there are a lot of power lines and cable lines in the way, but this is the sky, after the rain. And it’s been raining all day.

Hope to be back on the blogging horse next weekend.

And, of course, we’ll see you for Tipsday!

Caturday Quickie

Caturday Quickie: Honey, I’m home!

Actually, I got home Wednesday afternoon. It’s a six hour drive from London, Ontario back home to Sudbury.

Upon arriving, I immediately got to the unpacking and setting aside of laundry and completely forgot I had an appointment for a massage. It would have been nice after two plus weeks of standing and delivering.

I’ve left a message to reschedule, but haven’t heard back yet . . .

On Thursday, I started by new position. It’s another consultant position, but this should not be as crazy-making as the last one I was offered.

Since then, I’ve been trying to get back on track.

It hasn’t been going so well.

I discovered back in the spring that travelling for the purpose of delivering training no longer serves me well.

I used to be able to write in the evenings and get something done. Now, not so much. And it’s been a challenge also, because I’ve been sharing all sorts of posts and articles about writing process recently. Most of the authors espouse a write anywhere mentality. So I feel guilty for not having written (much) since I left on August 10.

I’ve fallen into the trap of comparing myself to other writers, most of whom have the privilege of writing full time.

That’s not me. I still have a day job.

Also, I’m an introvert. Training all day, while I am good at it, is draining. The group we had to train this time around was lovely. And social. My co-facilitator and myself were invited out once each week. A full day’s training followed by an evening of socializing and then another full day of training is deadly for me.

I probably shouldn’t have accepted every invitation, but I didn’t want to be rude. Plus, this particular group of trainees had all come from away, in two instances leaving family behind until they were settled and established in their jobs. In one case, the trainee’s family remains in Taiwan.

So I went, and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself. They’re great people. I just didn’t have the time I needed to recharge by myself.

So all the writing I did while I was away was to revise and submit one short story and to revise my query letter following a webinar (with the fantastic Kristin Nelson—squee!). I’ll share more about that in my next chapter update next weekend.

So now I’ve just about caught up on all of the videos and newsletters and social media I deferred while I was away.

And now I’ll get back to writing.

By the way, London, Ontario is a lovely city. It’s called the forest city and here’s why:

The forest city

The view from my hotel

But I really enjoy being home with Phil (whom I missed enormously) and being able to sleep in my own bed, and getting back to my “normal” life.

Also, it’s nice to be able to help out my mom, who’s had cataract surgery on one eye while I was gone. This week, I get to take her to the second surgery and follow up appointment. It’s more than nice to be able to be here for her.

I’ll get back to regular weekend posting shortly. I have Series discovery and Mel’s movie madness posts in the works. Fun times 🙂

Caturday Quickie

The shape of our lives has changed: A tribute to Nuala, April 15, 2005 to July 9, 2015

At 10:45 am on July 9, 2015, Phil and I guided our little sweat pea on her final journey. She was suffering from kidney failure, a condition for which there is no treatment in dogs. She’d stopped eating and most of what she drank came back up.

We could not give her a celebratory day. She barely had the strength to walk, let alone play, and, as I mentioned, she wouldn’t eat—even her favourite treats. The best we could do was to be with her and let her know she was loved until the end.

We had ten years of joy with her from the disgruntled yawp she offered us upon our first meeting, to her final, peaceful sigh.


In 2005, a little more than two years after the tragic death of our last dog, Zoe, from hemangiosarcoma, Phil and I were finally ready to look for another dependent quadruped to share our lives with. We had a cat at the time, Thufir, but we missed having a dog.

It was Phil’s sister, Stephanie, who saw the listing as she was perusing The Pennysaver (think print version of Kijiji). She brought it to my attention at break, giving me the magazine to bring home.

We called and made arrangements to see the pups. We drove down to Dill Lake Road and up to the house at the address we’d been given.

We knocked, the door opened, and we were led downstairs. The bitch and her pups were nestled in the space under the stairs in the midst of blankets and newspaper. The pups were all nursing, squirming as they do. Adorable. Kawaii even.

The owner crawled under the stairs. “Would you like to see one?” she asked.

“Do you have any girls left?” I asked. We’d been told on the phone earlier that several of the pups had already been claimed.

“We have one left,” the owner said, examining the pups. “Ummmm . . . this one.”

She grabbed the pup right off her mother’s teat and held her out to us. That’s when we received the disgruntled yawp. There she was, pudgy little belly, stubby little legs, delicate paws with tiny nails, ears folded over, and tail quivering, and she opened her mouth and cried, as if to say, “Hey! I was eating! That’s rude!”

Of course, I took the pup with an “aw, poor thing.” One sniff of that milk-laden breath, one touch of that soft butter-belly, and that was it. I wanted to take her home.

She was only three weeks old, though, and we’d have to wait.

In the meantime, we bought all the necessary puppy supplies and I finalized the arrangements for a self-funded leave. It was important to me to solidify the bond with our new pup and to ensure that I wasn’t a zombie at work because of the initial midnight feeding and outing or crying during the first nights.

For a name, we settled on Nuala. Even though the name refers to she of the white shoulders and Nu was a black dog with white bits, Phil wanted to name her one of my crazy Irish names. The world is grateful he didn’t convince me to call her Siobhan 🙂

No one could spell or pronounce Nuala correctly as it was. Our vet even included the notation (Noo-la) on her file.

We tried to crate train her. We really did, but she never felt comfortable. Remembering the time Zoe wedged her head between the bars and was stuck like that—panicking—for hours before we got home, we decided to relent. Baby gates around the kitchen would suffice.

There were the usual trials with house training, but Nuala was pretty good. Once she matured enough to control her bladder, we were golden.

Elegant pup

When I returned to work, we generally took her over to my mom’s. She was still working then, though, and when we had to leave Nu on her own, we were pleased to discover that she was not destructive. She valued her home. We appreciated that.

Nuala also didn’t bark. Except in the rare case where she was freaked out by something, or wanted to be brought in from the back yard (a vocalization we called the bark of command) she was quiet. It was almost like she thought barking was rude.

I started walking her in the mornings, and made friends with another morning dog-walker who lived up the street from me. Stacey (human) and Daisy (canine) became our buddies, not only sharing morning walks, but also going to the Laurentian Conservation Area on the weekends to let the dogs run wild in the bush.

I even jogged with Nu for a while. I called it puff-a-lumping, and even at a trot, Nuala could stay well ahead of me.

We attended puppy classes at the local PetSmart and Nuala proved to be a submissive girl. Her routine with the more rambunctious puppies was to roll over on her back and pee.

puppy class

She was just a really good dog. Cuddly and patient and incessantly licky 🙂 We really didn’t mind puppy kisses.

She never really caught on to the whole fetch thing. She preferred to play keep away, or, if playing with Daisy, she would defer to her canine playmate. She just loved to run.

Nuala and Daisy

Nuala learned to do all the standard things: sit, lay down, stay, come, and eventually, she shook both paws and could do high-fives with both. She wouldn’t stay still long enough to balance a biscuit on her nose. Still, we tried.

She didn’t like swimming, either. She loved the water, but her paws could not leave the lake bottom. This is one of the reasons we think she had husky in her. Huskies aren’t great swimmers. They’ll do it if they have to.

Nuala not swimming

The one bad habit Nuala had was that when she could, she dashed out the door and ran across the street to the neighbour’s. They had four Persians and Nuala loved kitties. We think she missed Thufir, who died in 2008.

Nuala’s early years were fairly uneventful, health-wise.

Then I noticed that she was losing patches of hair on her chest. Turns out she had food allergies. Enter expensive prescription food after a summer of making her food (salmon and rice, or salmon and potato, plus supplements). It also explained the periodic ear infections she got, as they could be an extension of the allergies.

Treats were now replaced with carrots or apples. Nuala loved them. She was quite the veggie dog.

Our pup-friends moved away and I continued to take Nuala to the Conservation Area until my father was hospitalized. Then I went to visit him on the weekends instead. Nuala adjusted graciously.

In 2011, she cracked a tooth length-wise and had to have dental surgery. Due to the stubborn nature of her roots (the roots of all dog molars are hooked), the surgery took longer than expected. She recovered fairly quickly, though.

The next year, she started showing evidence of arthritis. We thought her hips. She went on a regular regimen of Meta-cam.

We renovated our bedroom that year and Phil sawed the legs off the bed frame so Nuala would have an easier time getting in and out of bed. Yes. She slept with us. It’s why we had a king sized bed.

We also installed a runner beside the bed so that when she jumped down, she wouldn’t slip and end up doing the doggy splits.

It turned out, though, that she didn’t have arthritis. Her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was slowly tearing. By December of 2012, the ACL had torn and Nu couldn’t put any weight on that leg, her right hind.

Post ACL surgery

So she had surgery to replace her torn ACL with a length of cable in January of 2013. In the wake of the surgery, she developed urinary tract infections (UTIs) (yes, that was plural) and the vet discovered that she was shedding protein in her urine, a sign that her kidneys were in distress. Further blood tests revealed that her kidney enzymes were just fine.

Still, we started her on Fortekor and switched from the allergy food to kidney support diet as precautions.

Then her ears started to get bad. She gave herself a couple of aural haematomas from scratching, one in each year, and eventually, the vet diagnosed her with fibrocystic ears. Her ear canal started to produce fibrous cysts. Enter the prednisone.

We tried to wean her off the pred, because long-term use was not good for her liver or kidneys, but we had no choice but to continue. The only permanent treatment was to remove her ear canals, something we weren’t prepared to do to our dear little pup.

The following year, in the summer, Nuala developed diabetes, which was a possible consequence of prolonged prednisone use of which we were unaware. We started a regimen of insulin and low calorie prescription diet.

We tried an alternate medication to the prednisone, but it was not effective and we returned to using the pred.

With the new treatment plan, Nuala was behaving like a pup again. She was playing again. We were happy.

Over the next months, we took Nuala in for several glucose curves and adjusted her medications, eventually reaching a good balance in about March of 2015.

All seemed well.

And then, three weeks ago on Friday, Nuala stopped eating.

It started with her leaving carrots uneaten. Remember, she LOVED carrots. We tried apple. No go. She left increasing amounts of her breakfast and supper uneaten, of concern because she had to eat a certain amount to process her insulin.

We took her in to the vet on Tuesday. Urinalysis, blood tests, and x-rays revealed another UTI and the beginnings of kidney failure, liver failure, or both. She ate a full meal at the vet’s, though, and they weren’t concerned about that. We were sent home with antibiotics and a plan to revert to the kidney support diet.

The next day was Canada Day, and Nuala continued to refuse any food we gave her. Then she started to throw up.

Thursday was worse. I resorted to cooking up a batch of rice and salmon, which she did eat, and subsequently threw up. I talked to the vet that day and he told me that we were overcharged for the x-rays and that he would leave some medication and the kidney support diet for us the following morning.

Phil picked up the meds: a anti-ulcer medication and an appetite stimulant along with a case of the kidney diet and the veterinary emergency number (just in case). When he got home, he gave Nu the anti-ulcer med and she promptly went over to her food bowl and started licking it.

So he fed her more rice and salmon. Two bowls. Which she ate. For supper, she ate a can of the kidney diet and we hoped that Nuala was past the worst of her illness.

Then she threw up.

Despite the administration of the appetite stimulant, the only thing we could get her to eat for the weekend was biscuits. She continued to throw up. On Saturday night, I reviewed the instructions on the medications and the antibiotic indicated that it should be discontinued if vomiting and/or diarrhoea developed. We discontinued the antibiotic.

Monday, I was sick (legitimately) and I called the vet in the morning to tell him the latest and see what he could suggest. I ended up making an appointment to bring Nuala in Tuesday morning.

I had a huge breakdown Monday night because Nuala was doing so poorly. I was certain we were going to have to euthanize her in the morning.

Phil took Tuesday off and I went to work. When we left to take Nuala to the vet, I called my mom and asked her to meet us at the door. I wanted her to have the chance to say good bye.

When he got into the office and examined Nuala, the vet said that he wanted to try one more therapy. He wanted to put Nuala on fluids to rehydrate her and administer anti-nausea drugs. He wanted to keep her overnight. If he could flush the urea from Nuala’s system, we might gain some time and, more importantly, quality of life for her.

He did this at no charge. He knows us and knows that we would always wonder if we had done absolutely everything we could. He wanted to exhaust this last possibility.

Wednesday morning, we brought Nuala home to stay with my mom. The techs had taken additional blood samples when they discharged Nu.

Around noon, the vet called and indicated that despite 24 hours on fluids, the level of urea in Nuala’s blood was exactly the same as it had been when we brought her in on Tuesday morning. Her kidneys had failed.

I asked if Nuala might make it to the weekend. The vet told me that she might not make it through Thursday. When we got home on Wednesday evening, Nuala hadn’t eaten anything.

On Thursday morning, we knew it was time. It was heartbreaking because she would still wag her tail when she saw us. She still had light in her eyes. She wanted to be happy, but felt too ill. She wanted to eat, but couldn’t bear to. Both Phil and I stayed home from work, we called the vet to wait for an appointment, and called my mom to come over and sit with Nu and us until it was time.

Enjoying the sun on her last morning

We bundled Nu into the car and went for her final vet visit. Phil brought all the leftover food and meds into the vet’s office and settled up before the appointment while I took Nuala for a final walk. I let her drag me into the wild strawberries and blueberry bushes in the lot next to the vet’s office, get full of fluff from the weeds, have a good sniff, and empty herself out. Surprisingly, she still had something in her to empty.

The appointment itself was very respectful and entirely at our pace. Everything was explained and we were given time to spend with Nuala. Our dear little pup had been there so much over the last few years that the staff all knew her.

None of the potentially awful things they warned us of happened. She just sighed twice and settled under our stroking hands.

And it was done.

The rest of the day was spent in a weepy daze. Phil made lunch and invited my mom over. It was surreal.

Slowly, it dawned on me. The shape of our lives had changed.

Our lives had increasingly been structured around Nuala.

Now, we have to shift around her absence.

It’s as simple, and as goddamned hard, as that.

Better days

Better days

Caturday quickie: Pupdate

Crash puppydog

What Nuala spends most of her time doing these days 😦

It’s been a while since I’ve had to offer a proper pupdate of this nature.

All was going well with our Nuala until a week ago last Friday. Previous to that day, our dear little pup (DLP) was handling her medication well, without apparent incident. She would snarf down her food in thirty seconds, consume carrots, apples, and cheese with wagging abandon.

In short, she behaved like the pup that she, at ten years of age, no longer is.

Then, on Friday, she stopped eating.

It started with her carrots, her mid-day and evening snacks. As a dog with food allergies, it was the snack (outside the hypoallergenic treats) recommended by our vet. Nu left a carrot uneaten.

As the weekend progressed, she ate less and less of her food.

Come Monday, she puked and wouldn’t eat any of her food at all.

Tuesday, we took her in to the vet and he examined her, performed blood tests, urinalysis, and took x-rays.

That evening, we were given the news: the only obvious issue was a urinary tract infection. We would be getting antibiotics for that.

Her blood work was troublesome, though.

Her kidney and liver enzymes were both elevated, indicating potential failure of either or both organs in the future.

There’s nothing that can be done for kidney or liver disease in dogs.

They’re starting dialysis trials at the veterinary college at the Univerity of Guelph, but it’s an ordeal for the animal and a great expense for the owners. At this point, our vet did not recommend it.

So we’d continue with the Fortekor, get Nuala back on the kidney support diet, and see how things went.

She left most of her food Tuesday evening and didn’t eat at all Wednesday (Canada Day). This is not a good thing for a dog on insulin. She needs food to process the drug. And she continued to vomit.

On Thursday, I resorted to canned salmon and plain rice. She ate. I was relived.

On Friday, Phil picked up an appetite stimulant and another medication to prevent ulcers from the vet.

When he returned, Nuala licked at her empty food dish and Phil gave her a serving of rice and salmon. She ate. He filled her bowl a second time and she ate again. Friday evening, she ate a full can of the kidney diet without being prompted.

Better days

Better days

This morning, she picked at her food and we tried the appetite stimulant. It didn’t appear to work, but then, at noon, she ate her food. And vomited it up two hours later.

The weird thing is that the UTI shouldn’t put her off her food. No obstruction was apparent in the x-rays. Her kidney and liver situations were not far enough advanced to depress her appetite.

So we’re all at a loss (even the vet) and Phil and I have the vet emergency service number in case something dire happens over the weekend.

It’s so distressing to have a sick pet. You just wish they could talk.

So that’s the latest health crisis for our DLP.

I’ll keep you posted.

Caturday Quickie