After getting absolutely no response on the Bukowski post (none of you blog readers enjoys classic literature I guess) I suppose it is back to doing what people liked about this blog: funny animal stories. Actually, what people seem to like best is advice or sports or politics or medical shit but here goes anyway.
I was in my second year of pet sitting, having yet to give my business a name (it later became Moonlight Pet Sitting) and I had a regular client I’d acquired through the clinic I worked at. Suffice it to say all of my clients at that time were through the clinic. I’d met the family when I assisted with the euthanasia of their cat, a very sad event indeed, but what follows is quite humorous. Besides the cat they also had two beagles, a male and female, Max and Roxy respectively. They were both very sweet dogs that got to enjoy a lot of time outside because they had a fenced backyard, and were also very young at this point. Max was just over a year and Roxy was six months. Because of this she had to be crated when left alone in the house and Max had to be kept in the laundry room. They later added a dog door and allowed Roxy free reign, but at the time I was pet sitting for them this wasn’t the case, so I always tried not to be gone for very long in sympathy of their overactive bladders.
Whenever I pet sat for them the owners would gate off the kitchen/dining room area (as this had the patio doors that led to the backyard) and this was where we spent all of our time. The living room was right next to it and I could turn on the TV and watch it from the kitchen table. Gradually I’d allow myself to go over the gate and sit in one of the living room chairs, but mostly I hung out with them out of compassion because when I went over the gate they wanted to as well. At night we all slept in one of the kids bedrooms in the bed together, snuggling closely.
So things went like this for about a year and then a friend of theirs got a poodle mix named Black Jack and I began pet sitting for him too. He was a very sweet, hyper little guy and he loved playing with Max and Roxy. Since they got on so famously the owners elected to have me pet sit all three at the beagle’s house when the two families went on vacation together. No problem, I thought. Easy money because I could charge for three pets.
That was where I was wrong. Together they were a nonstop combo of playfulness that knew no bounds. They tore around the yard constantly, the three of them acting like kids on the first day of summer vacation. And that wasn’t all. For some reason (although all three were fixed) they went at it like a bunch of horny teenagers. Black Jack was after Roxy and Max was after Black Jack. Yes, this meant that Max was gay or bi, but at least he wasn’t going after his sister (I failed to mention that they were from the same bitch, different fathers but same mom).
One evening as the orgy was taking a turn for the worse I had to separate all of them but I allowed Max to have his pillow. He kept at that thing, humping and humping as I watched and laughed. That is until I realized I should make him stop. I mean, enough is enough, right?
When I took the pillow away I noticed Max was walking all hunched over, that he seemed as if he was in pain. Closer examination revealed his erect penis was stuck outside the prepuce (the sheath of skin that holds it in). It was big and red and swollen (well, duh). I didn’t know what to do so I called the veterinarian I worked for. At the time he’d take my calls after hours (it was nine on a Saturday night) on his home phone or cell.
“Hello?” he answered.
“It’s huge and it’s swollen!” I exclaimed.
“And it’s all red and I can’t get it to go down! What do I do?”
At this point I have to mention that the vet was young and had a perverted mind like my own. I think it is safe to say he thought I was talking about myself and was somewhat taken aback (only because he wasn’t gay).
“What do you want me to do about it?” Sounds like a personal problem, his tone suggested.
“It’s Max!” I explained and at once he understood.
“Let me get on line.”
He booted up his laptop and started researching it.
“Get some cold water, or some ice and apply it to the, um, swelling…”
At this we both had to laugh.
“Either that or you can use salt. You know, like how you can remove a leech or slug?”
I dug through the cabinets, found a rag and then filled it with ice from the freezer.
“I’m going to try it and call you back.”
I hung up and sought out Max, who had lied down in the meanwhile. I rolled him over onto his back (he was such a sweet, docile dog) and saw to my joyful surprise that it had gone in on it’s own. The ice pack wasn’t necessary. I called the vet back.
I brought Max in to see him the next day and while he was being examined I referred to him as ‘Boner Boy’ and the name stuck. It became our personal nickname for him whenever he visited the clinic for shots, blood draws etc. And I still pet sat for he and Roxy and took them on walks, until 2008 when the bottom fell out of the market and the family had to cut back on their spending and could no longer afford me. It was sad to see them go.
But while I was still pet sitting for them I had to tell the owners about what happened, and they had to confront the issue that their dog was gay (or bi) and that the three probably shouldn’t be combined for overnight pet sitting. After that I took care of the houses separately. Black Jack’s owners continued to be a client of mine after Max and Roxy no longer were, so I would see them around the neighborhood, and then eventually they didn’t need me anymore either. But by that time my clients had all turned over and I’d replaced them with new ones, but I’ll never forget little Max the Boner Boy, his sweet sister Roxy and the ever-randy Mr. Black Jack…they were always ‘up’ for a good time!
Category Archives: pet sitting
After getting absolutely no response on the Bukowski post (none of you blog readers enjoys classic literature I guess) I suppose it is back to doing what people liked about this blog: funny animal stories. Actually, what people seem to like best is advice or sports or politics or medical shit but here goes anyway.
I started this blog ten months ago with the idea of writing funny stories about my pet sitting business, using it as a platform to promote my debut novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World. The stories were meant for entertainment purposes only; I wasn’t trying to impart any kind of message. And then, out of the blue, I came down with a neurological disorder and in the blink of an eye my pet sitting business was gone. Having no other recourse, I moved from lovely San Diego back to my home state of Wisconsin. Here I found work in another field entirely, back breaking labor that exhausts me every day, making me realize how easy my pet sitting business was. My point? This blog will either have to be about my pet sitting exploits of the past or I’ll have to think of something else entirely. No one (I think I can say this without dispute) will want to read a blog about the life and times of a landscaper. Oh, I am certain there are people out there that want tips about landscaping, but there are few who would want to listen to me prattle on and on about dumping and spreading wheelbarrows of mulch on primed beds, of mowing lawns at seventy degree angles and shoveling tons of gravel. But don’t get me wrong, I’m being paid very well for my hard work, it’s just that it gives me a lot of time to reflect on what I had. Like the dog walks, this kind of work gives you a lot of time to think. As I’m busting my ass it is easy to wax nostalgic about those carefree dog walks, those cushy pet sitting jobs. As a pet sitter I’d have my laptop set up at a table overlooking the various yards of the various homes, and inevitably I’d see the gardeners (Hispanic, mostly) toiling away in the yards. Sometimes they would see me and I’d feel a bit foolish, that they were out in the hot sun and I’m in the air-conditioned house with the dogs, sitting on my ass, writing. Of course in my mind what I was doing was very important; I was, after all, writing the novel that was ultimately going to save humanity from itself. But how could I explain that without looking like a douchebag? Instead I smiled politely and would occasionally ask them if they wanted something to drink.
In Wisconsin there are still white people that do gardening, so I must insist that I am not insinuating that I feel I am doing work that is beneath me. I am getting paid top dollar for my efforts (more than I’m getting paid as a writer, but a bit less than I was making as a pet sitter) it is just that it is hard work. The hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. But I still get to work outside, and my family lives in Madison, Wisconsin. And the neurological disorder, the sleep twitch that turned everything in my life upside down? Well, it is unfortunately still a part of my life, albeit a manageable part. Gone are the nights of no sleep while I twitched away like I was being electrocuted with a cattle prod. Now I have medications that keep the twitches at bay, and some nights I don’t have to take any medications at all. After doing a sleep study, involving a polysomnagraph (a sleeping EEG) the neurologist determined that the problem would go away eventually, but he couldn’t say when. For anybody interested in the subject of hypnic jerks there is a blog called ‘The Man Who Cannot Sleep’. Many people post messages there that have suffered or are suffering from this strange sleeping disorder. They offer advice as to what they do to alleviate their problem, also making suggestions as to possible causes. It is very interesting. I had a doctor in San Diego who had apparently never heard of it; because of his misdiagnosing, my problem got worse before it had a chance to get any better, hence my hasty departure from the wonderful sun soaked state of California and back to the unpredictable rain, snow, mosquitoes and humidity of Wisconsin.
So this blog has been intermittent at best, as I no longer have the generous amounts of time I used to have to write. But I have been hard at work on a new novel, getting up an hour early everyday before work so that I can get in a few thousand words. I suppose once I find my focus on what this blog is supposed to be about I’ll retool it and come back bigger and badder than ever. Maybe I’ll even find a subject that people will actually want to read about. Who knows, stranger things have happened!
I haven’t updated this blog since June, might have been May, I’m not quite sure. What started as something I updated every week became more and more sporadic as a health problem took over my life, changed everything, and left me to pick up the pieces. The topic of the blog started to take a turn in late March/early February; what started as funny anecdotes about pet sitting became personal rants about various things. Then there were a few posts about my health issue, how a primary care physician mismanaged it and then nothing…tumbleweeds…less than nothing. My life as I knew it completely changed, forcing me to move from sunny San Diego back to rain-soaked Madison Wisconsin (a fine city in its own right but nonetheless very different from what I’d been accustomed to over the last decade) to live with my parents while I figured things out. Here I am, a man in his mid-forties, and a serious sleep disorder forced me to move back to Wisconsin from California to live in my parent’s basement. It’s almost like the set-up to a bad movie produced by Happy Gilmore Productions (no offence dudes). And the town they live in is cow pastureland, cornfields and dairy farms. I moved from the very edge of the Pacific Ocean and into the heart of cheese country.
There are many things I use to console me: 1) I can now watch the Packers play every week during football season 2) My entire family lives here and I do enjoy their company very much 3) Once I get my shit together I can get the f*ck out of here and go back to California. We’ll see how that works out.
I am writing this on the evening before seeing the neurologist to review the results of my polysomnagraph (a sleeping EEG). This was a test I’d begged my doctor in Encinitas for but he refused me, telling me it was ‘a pain in the ass’ and that he could figure out my problem without tests. Well, thanks to the neurologist here, we know what I am dealing with (preliminary results were phoned to me right after the test) and that it is nothing life threatening, but what a trial it has been! I’ve been hosting a seemingly endless stream of ‘exaggerated hypnic jerks’, sleep starts that every one has but, in my case, EXAGGERATED. Most people will have a few and then fall asleep. Mine go on all night, every night, nonstop. Just when I am on the verge of sleep: POW! A jerk that shakes my whole body (or just moves my hand, foot, arm, leg, neck, back etc.) waking me up. Shit, I’ve been through this a million times. I’m sort of sick of telling the story.
Irony, that lousy bitch, came in the form of my returning to this lovely manure tainted paradise and the problem seemingly going away. All of a sudden I could sleep without twitching, and I was able to reduce the medication I took nightly. I did the sleep study and it showed I was ‘normal’. Five days later and the twitches came back with a vengeance straight out of the bible. Seriously, they were like electric shocks being sent through me at regular intervals (possibly from a cow prod?). And worse yet, the medication was no longer working! Sleeping pills used to shut them down and now it was barely keeping them at bay. I was jittering and jiving the night away until I was forced to get up because sleep was impossible.
The worst part of the whole ordeal (besides leaving my sunny seaside town and my pet-sitting business and my independence) was having to try and get people to understand my problem. Somebody was forever giving me advice on what they did when they couldn’t sleep. I don’t know how many times I had to tell them: it isn’t that I can’t sleep, this isn’t insomnia! I am jerking more than a prepubescent boy who’s just discovered masturbation! This is a physical problem, not a mental one. Of course, the longer it went on, it became a mental problem; I nearly had a nervous breakdown from lack of sleep. Hence why I came to my parents house and am writing this in their basement, hence why I abandoned a successful business in one of the best cities in America to cut grass and weed flowerbeds.
So, this blog can still be about funny pet sitting stories, no problem there, but I am no longer a pet sitter. In fact, as I alluded in the previous paragraph, I’ve been working as a landscaper for my brother in law’s company. I work much harder now and get quite filthy. Inbred chicks at the BP won’t give me a second glance when I come in reeking of organic compost (read: manure) with circles of dirt lining my neck like jewelry. Writing, well, let’s just say I haven’t been doing a great deal of that. My latest novel is stagnating at around two hundred and five pages and promotional activities for my self-published novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World have screeched to a dead halt, with the exception of the video pitch I submitted to greenlightmymovie.com. I’m not sure if that $40 was well spent, but it was an interesting experience.
Tomorrow I find out what my neurologist (actually, not my neurologist after tomorrow; I had to switch health insurance and my new policy no longer covers him) thinks of this on again, off again problem. Maybe he will do me a favor and give me a lethal dose of barbiturates, like they use to euthanize animals. Put me out of my misery, as it were. Or maybe he’ll just shrug his shoulder and say: “Sucks to be you dude.” Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be worth the two hundred + bucks it costs for thirty minutes of his time, and that bit of advice you can take to the bank. Just don’t take it to mine; the check will bounce. Peace.
It has been several weeks (maybe a month) since I have posted a blog; for all practical purposes it seems I have fallen off the face of the earth. In fact, I have done just that. In March I posted a blog entitled ‘To sleep, perchance to dream’ in which I described a sleep disorder that had been plaguing me. The disorder, as I’d explained it, was right as I am about to fall sleep one of my hands, feet, arms, legs, elbow, neck, whole body, etc. twitches, awakening me. This goes on all night. Seriously, when I try to go to sleep, the moment my body relaxes, I twitch and am fully awakened. To say ‘this sucks’ is truly an understatement, but what’s worse is/was the treatment I received from my primary care physician, a doctor I’d seen only twice previously for an unrelated matter. This self-important asshole didn’t listen to me; I told him what I was experiencing and he concluded (after a brief, basic neurological assessment) that I was bi-polar. This was all in my head, he told me. Possibly I needed a medication called Seroquel, something to even me out. I probably ran around like a maniac for several days, he postulated, excited and hyper, and then I’d crash and become slow and unresponsive for the next few days. No, I told him, that was not the case. Sure it is, he said, ignoring me.
Now, I’d already been prescribed trazadone and lorazapam from an urgent care facility, meds I was taking for sleep at the time of that visit. I’d gone to them, desperate, after four nights without sleeping, and they were kind enough to listen and give me something. I took the meds, slept, and made the appointment for a week later with my doctor (the soonest I could get in). The disappointment I felt when he told me it was psychological was profound, but by that point the efficacy of the two drugs were vastly reduced so I wasn’t thinking as clearly as I should have. In other words, I believed him. Two days later, after having not slept at all, I decided I needed some tests. I called an MRI center and made an appointment. I couldn’t get in without my doctors referral, of course, so I then called his office and asked to be referred. I admit I was doing things backward, but what the hell, I didn’t know the procedure. I’ve been gifted with having good health the majority of my life. There was a definite learning curve going on. After waiting all day, a game of cat and mouse (me chasing after them, they answering my questions elusively, implying that it was all right, that they would fax over my info but not doing so) I called the clinic and they told me to come in, that my doctor’s office promised to send the records. I was on the table when the doctor’s office called and said they refused to refer me. Crestfallen I left, and his male nurse called me. He told me that we all get twitches right before sleep and I just had to learn how to relax. He recommended I do deepbreathing excercises, acupuncture treatments and take medical marijuana. I was so distressed and muddled that I took him up on all three. I made an appointment for acupuncture (not knowing if my health insurance would cover it or not-they don’t, it turns out) and went there the next day and got my medical marijuana card to the tune of $50. I then purchased $180 worth of liquid THC, edibles and a smokable that was supposed to knock you out cold. After one application I discovered smoking was out of the question; it made the twitches 100 times worse. The liquid THC was no better; it made me drowsy but couldn’t get me past the twitches like a prescription sleep aid. At my own best judgment I decided not to eat the brownie. Disappointed anew, I found another doctor online and made an appointment to get a second opinion. I picked a doctor based on how quickly he could see me, not on his credentials, and for this I paid dearly. It turned out he was an even bigger ass. Without anything other than a brief physical assessment he decided I was suffering from depression. The twitches were all in my head, he told me, and I should seek the care of a psychiatrist. I left his office with mixed feelings; I’d been doing everything the doctors told me to do: I’d done the MMJ, I’d had the acupuncture (only one treatment, all together I;d do two) but still nothing worked. I still had the trazadone (I’d stopped taking the lorazapam when I got down to ten pills because I didn’t want to get addicted and then run out, having read that even two weeks use could cause dependency. Whether that’s right or not is irrelevant; my doctor and the other doctor made it clear they wouldn’t prescribe it to me again, in fact most likely thought I was there seeking more of that particular drug) but it was only working sporadically. I mixed it with benadryl, liquid THC and melatonin, and some nights it still didn’t work. So I went home, got online again, and found a psychiatrist nearby that had availability within the week. Meanwhile, my primary care physician offered a service to his patients that was quite convenient, an email service through his website. Utilizing it, I contacted him and told him I’d gotten a second opinion and that the other doctor didn’t think I was bi-polar, that he thought I was depressed, and I’d made an appointment to see a psychiatrist. In the meantime, I ventured, was there anything he could prescribe for me to help me sleep because the trazadone was wreaking havoc on my system, giving me monstrous diarrhea. He got back to me, said he wasn’t surprised about the other diagnosis, said there was no need to see the psychiatrist, that he could handle my psyche meds himself, and proceeded to prescribed mirtzapine, another anti-depressant in the same class as trazadone but much easier on the digestive tract. I looked up the drug, read all the information about what a wonderful aid it was to sleeping, and was briefly excited…until I tried it. He prescribed a 30mg dose, one I’d find was quite heavy for what I needed. Throughout the entire ordeal I’d researched every diagnosis, every drug. Mirtzapine, I found, was more active for insomnia at lower doses, a quarter of what he recommended. At lower doses it wasn’t an anti-depressant, it was an antihistamine. But the drug was hit or miss; one night it would work, the next it wouldn’t. And the way it made me feel the next day made it entirely worthless. I felt washed out, dizzy, depressed. After four days I contacted him via the website again and told him it didn’t work, that I needed something to fight my symptoms (the twitches), not the side-effect (sleep loss) and he pulled Restless Leg Syndrome out of the hat this time. Gone was the bi-polar, out with the depression, now I had RLS! Ordering no tests to confirm, telling me we could do a sleep study but it would be a terrible inconvenience, he prescribed ropinerole, a medication used for Parkinson’s and RLS. Desperate for anything to work, I decided I’d give it a shot. This decision was made on a Friday, and I couldn’t get the medication until Monday, so I had the weekend to research it. Long story short, by the end of the weekend I was convinced that this was not the right medication, not only because I had none of the symptoms of RLS, but that the side-effects (it would take a week to start working, I couldn’t take any other sleep aids with it, Omeprazole contradicted its efficacy, and it could potentially cause ‘sudden sleep onset’) weren’t worth it. I drive over forty miles a day for my job; the last thing I needed was to fall asleep behind the wheel while doing seventy on the freeway. As it turned out, getting this medication and seeing the psychiatrist fell on the same day, and for that I am entirely grateful. She did a psychiatric evaluation, to which I answered the questions as honestly as I could; I left out how utterly depressed I was simply because the reason for it was the sleep loss and the mis-management of my care. By the end of all her questions she determined I definitely was not bi-polar and that I was not merely suffering from depression. She actually did what the other doctors didn’t: she Googled my symptoms and found links for ‘hypnic jerks’, ‘sleep starts’ and ‘myoclonic twitches’. Reading some of the posts that described in detail what I was telling her, she decided that she would prescribe Lunesta. To say that I was thrilled is being trite; I was nothing short of ecstatic. Finally, a REAL sleeping pill, not a fucking anti-depressant with somnolent properties. I almost kissed her. She gave me some samples and it worked like a charm. At the risk of this blog post being waaaayyyy too long, that unfortunately is not the end of my story. Turns out my health insurance wouldn’t cover Lunesta because it wasn’t available as a generic so I had to get Ambien. For some reason she’d prescribed Lunesta in a 3mg dose (the highest) but Ambien in a 5mg dose (the lowest). The Ambien didn’t work for sour apples. I needed to take four Ambiens, two benadryls, two droppers of liquid THC, and two melatonin to get about four hours of sleep, and sometimes I even added a trazadone. By this time I was truly at the end of my rope. I was suicidal (don’t tell the shrink, she’d have me committed). I was faced with a very tough question: call my parents and ask for their help or kill myself. In the end the choice wasn’t that hard; I called my folks. Anyone who has read this blog knows I am a pet-sitter/dog walker. I’d been carrying on throughout this whole ordeal and none of my clients were aware of the difficulties I was going through, yet meanwhile I was growing more and more despondent. When I was overnight pet-sitting I felt as if I was drowning, trapped. I was anxious, panicked, unable to think what I was going to do next. One morning I was walking a dog I’d been pet-sitting over the course of the week and I found myself plotting my suicide, my method, the note, the day…and that was when I started making phone calls. First I cancelled all of my up coming overnight pet-sitting jobs, then I cancelled all the up-coming visits, and next I cancelled with all of my regulars. I then looked up my health insurance, checked on my out of state coverage, then called my Mom and Dad. Within two hours they had a flight home for me (California to Wisconsin) for the following week. My clients were bummed, but understood that it was for my health, for my own good. Before I left I saw the psychiatrist and she was kind enough to prescribe Ambien CR (12.5mg strength) and a client of mine gave me two weeks of 3mg Lunesta. Between the two I figured I could hold on for a while longer.
As I am writing this I’ve seen a doctor in Madison, Wisconsin, and he was quite surprised at what my primary care physician had done (diagnosing me via emails with no tests, as well as the dose of the ropinerole: 2mg’s when the drug starts at .25mg’s). With his help I have an appointment with a neurologist that specializes in sleep movement disorders and will hopefully be recommended for a sleep study in which they will do a polysomnagraph (a sleep EEG). Via this test it will prove conclusively that the twitches are real, that this hasn’t all been in my head. Hopefully from there they will offer a solution, a treatment that won’t just mask the symptoms. Throughout all of this I’ve realized that the sleep medication suppresses my central nervous system, stopping the twitches. When the medication wears off, they come back. At first I thought the medication was just knocking me out, getting me past them. I’ve had this for so long I’ve been able to study it, to see how it works, and what works on it.
This has been a long ordeal, and presently I am losing money (in more ways than one: I have to pay out of pocket for the acupuncture, probably for some of the tests, I am not working, I’m paying rent for my place and I’m not there etc. etc. etc.) but at last I finally have some hope. My family has been very supportive and with their help I’ve been doing much better as I while away the time until my appointment in three weeks (yes, the neurologist can’t see me until May 20th). I’ve also been doing nothing to promote my novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World and I haven’t posted a blog in a month. So, if anyone reads this, please buy my book. I really need the freakin’ dough! Peace!
I moved to San Diego from the Midwest a decade ago, and I still can’t get over some of the things I’ve experienced over the years. I live north of SD, in the burbs, and up here the folks are very well off. Let’s put it this way: up here, you’re either rich or you’re poor, poor being anyone who makes less than $40,000 a year. Anyone who makes a pitiable $35,000 is eligible for heat assistance! So you are either rich or you work for the rich people. I suppose it could be worse. By working for them I was able to write my debut novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World. Yet with money there is a natural breakdown of what ‘normal’ folks would call civilized behavior. These wealthy douchebags own leased Beamers, Mercedes, Porches, Audi’s, Corvettes, Hummer’s etc. and drive like they own the road and they’ve written the traffic laws themselves. Red lights? Pish-posh. Speed limits? Not here my friend. I’ve lived all over the U.S. and I’ve never seen so many effed-up auto wrecks in my life. Seriously! You know those cars chases in Hollywood movies that seem so unrealistic? Well, they get all their ideas by watching these buttholes drive. First month I was here I saw a woman drive her car off of a twelve-foot embankment and land upside down in a (fortunately) low-tide lagoon. What happened next? People stopped their cars, got out…and took pictures with their phones! I think I’m the only one who called 911. Honestly, one morning I’m driving along El Camino Real and I see a waterspout gushing a hundred feet in the air. Some dillhole took out a fire hydrant! Every morning on Interstate 5 there is a major, five-car pile-up in which at least three people are seriously hurt. How could this happen? Well cheese and crackers it don’t take a genius to know that you gotta let off the gas and use the brake once in a while. I could go on and on but what the hell would it matter…
And where else could I start and profitably maintain a pet sitting/dog walking business in which the majority of my clients treat their pets better than children in third world countries? While little kids with bloated stomachs are eating grubs and being swarmed by flies in some faraway craphole, I’m opening up can after can of cat food for some overweight feline who can’t decide if he wants the tuna or the salmon delight. He’ll then eat half (or a third) and I’ll throw the rest away, thinking about all the hungry kitties in China. The gardeners and the cleaning ladies who commute from Tijuana just can’t get over the fact that my clients and I make such a fuss when one of the spoiled pets has the runs or vomits and is rushed off to the veterinarian. Hell, in their country, the dogs are covered in ticks and fleas and are walking around half-starved, eating out of garbage cans. They’re lucky if they can bring their freakin’ children to the doctor if they’ve been throwing up or have diarrhea, much less their pets.
As an example: I was walking a dog that had been attacked by another dog and suffered severe nerve damage in one rear leg. Hence, when she walked she dragged the limb (until her owners got her a brace). A gardener I walked by commiserated. He said: “Is broken, yes?”
I tried to explain that it was nerve damage but we had a language barrier. No matter what I said, he didn’t understand. So finally I agreed. “Yeah, it’s broken.”
“You get splint,” he advised and I nodded, nodded as I slowly backed away from him. But I understood full well how he thought: in Tijuana their dogs would walk around with broken legs and no one would give it a second thought. Eventually the limb would become necrotic or septic or succumb to gangrene and would need to be amputated. In most cases the dog would simply be put down. He probably thought he was being really kind, offering me the advice. And he was, in his own way. Should I have been angered that he thought I was so stupid I’d let my dog walk around on a broken leg? No, there’s no point. I actually had a client (a white couple) who did just that. Their cat broke a limb and the night before I showed up to pet sit they called me and told me Junior had a limp but it was nothing to worry about. Yeah, it was broken, had been for two weeks. Yes, it was necrotic. Yes, it had to be amputated. These people were white and rich and incredibly stupid. Sh*t happens.
So come on out to sunny Southern California! If you make less than $50,000 a year there’s a good trailer park I’ll point you in the direction of, and places where you can get food stamps and discount clothing. Don’t worry that a gallon of milk is $9.00 or gas is $6.66 for regular unleaded. You got the sun, the beach, and the palm trees. Find yourself in California my friends!
Ah, to sleep, perchance to dream…
That is a very famous quote by the illustrious (and quite venerable) William Shakespeare. And that dude knew what he was talking about, I’ll tell you what. Now, I’m only using that quote as a great opening line. All similarities end there. This post isn’t about him or any relation to that quote. Anyway…
You never know just how great sleep is until that day when, for some reason, you simply can’t get it. Some people suffer from insomnia, others from pain that keeps them from sleeping, but there is another condition that can rob you of sleep, one that really sucks because if it didn’t exist exhaustion would simply carry you away.
I’m talking about ‘Hypnic Jerks’, and when they become severe enough they are known as ‘Myoclonic Jerks’. The first is a seemingly innocuous series of muscle spasms that happen as you are about to fall asleep. Just as you are crossing the threshold into slumber land one of your body parts twitches, awakening you. This happens to a lot of people, maybe a couple times a night before they finally fall asleep. The second is a serious disorder that can cause real problems. Treatment involves tranquilizers or anticonvulsants. Bummer? Yeah.
Two weeks ago I developed these symptoms. One night (after a weekend of heavy partying-please, don’t ask. I’m not very proud of myself) I was kept awake all night long because of these Hypnic jerks. When I got out of bed the next day I realized I’d slept maybe an hour tops. This went on for three more nights until I sought medical help. I simply had to. With each passing night and no sleep I felt as if I was having an out of body experience. I didn’t trust myself to drive (yet I did, I had to) and I thought about Christian Bale’s character from the Machinist, about how he claimed to have not slept for a year. If I had to go a year without sleep I’d be dead fifty-one weeks prior to that, no f-in’ shite. It really sucked the big one. You know it’s bad when, at around three in the morning, you are thinking about what you might take the next night to get to sleep. Since the Benadryl didn’t work that night, I’d think, tomorrow I’ll try Nightquil.
The doctor at urgent care was kind enough to prescribe some strong tranquilizers, and at last I’ve been able to sleep, but here it is 14 days later and the Hypnic jerks haven’t gone away. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I went to my regular doctor today and he said to stay on the med’s I’d been prescribed and in two weeks we’d reevaluate. The next step, if they don’t go away, is to get an MRI. Then we can see what is going haywire in my brain. Oh yeah, and I’m sure my health care provider is going to deny me coverage for the test; last year it was recommended that I get a CAT scan and my doctor’s office had to practically put a gun to their head to okay it. If I need an MRI, I’ll probably have to pay for it myself.
What, you ask yourself, does this have to do with pet sitting or promoting my novel? Well, I was pet sitting through the whole thing, so one of the houses I was staying at (the week I didn’t sleep for four nights) became a house of horrors to me. Each night I sat and listened to the same sounds; the rustle of the blinds from the ceiling fan, the breathing of the dogs, the newspapers slapping the pavement when they arrived around four a.m…Jesus, it was awful. I kept it together pretty well though, I have to say; I don’t think the dogs noticed anything unusual about me (except that I paced around and talked to myself a lot).
I am now at the point where I’ve had sleep almost every night for about a week (I say ‘almost’ because one night I tried to cut the medication dosage; didn’t work, I didn’t sleep), and I am feeling back to ‘normal’. Unfortunately, the sleep is ‘drug sleep’ so I feel sort of spacey throughout the day. I guess I am writing this because it just helps to write, to concentrate. I haven’t worked on my new novel in three weeks (since before this started) and I’ve only recently continued my promotional efforts.
To sleep, perchance to dream…I have another great quote, but the source isn’t as well-regarded as the first: ‘You don’t know what you got until it’s gone…gone…gone…
(Yeah, I still have a sense of humor buried in here somewhere. It’s stuck between the folds of a brain I am trying to call out of early retirement.) Peace.
I sat down to write a blog post about another funny pet-sitting incident and found that, at my current pet-sitting job, it was all but impossible to come up with something because the pets were, in a word, distracting. While pounding away at my laptop the parrot (Pedro, colored a festive red and sporting an extensive vocabulary) kept shrieking “I want to come out! I want to come out!” at the top of his lungs while Henry, a yellow lab, kept blindsiding me with love/lick attacks every ten minutes or so when he got bored with licking his massive, overly-sized, veiny balls. Not to mention Lilly, the little poodle-mix who, whenever the spirit moved her (which was quite often) decided that a good bout of incessant barking was necessary to keep the household vibe flowing smoothly. It was within this chaos that I, the ever-fearless writer extraordinaire, tried in vain to concentrate upon what would merely be a 500-1000 word post that would probably be read by two people. Oh the humanity!
Yes, the trials and tribulations of a writer beset with the occupation of tending to people’s pets is fraught with interruptions; sometimes I wonder why the hell I got into this business in the first place and then I remember: I dropped out of college and went on the road with a grunge/metal band and failed to make any money. After an extensive tour of duty as a fry cook, grill cook, pizza maker, sandwich maker and prep-cook in various restaurants, ultimately leading me to working in a dog kennel and then becoming a veterinary technician, this seemed like a dream job. I stayed in a lot of mansions, swam in a wide variety of saltwater pools, drank gallons of expensive, bottled beer and watched The Simpson’s on TV’s big enough to screen the latest Pixar masterpiece.
But after a while you yearn for your own house (in my case trailer-cue the banjo music maestro, please), and your own bed. Lately I’ve noticed that I dream crazy, vivid, lucid dreams while I’m at my place and hardly dream at while I’m pet-sitting. That can’t be good.
When I think about it, I find it amazing that I was able to write my novel The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World under such conditions. I barely wrote any of it at my trailer. I pet sat so much between 2009 and 2012 that the time I spent at the trailer was mostly consumed by drinking binges and intense masturbation sessions. Good times, yes, very good times…
So, as if to punctuate this entry with a hefty dose of realism, I was just interrupted during the writing of this blog by the house owner’s mother. The dogs started going crazy and, after a quick inspection I found her trying every key on her ring in an attempt to gain entry. She claimed to have sent me a text to inform me that she’d be stopping by but, alas, I never got it. So for almost an hour I entertained this elderly woman as she stumbled around the large house, going from room to room, asking after each pet (I failed to mention there was also a gecko and a beta fish). I assured her that Gecky had enough crickets to eat and that the fish didn’t appear to be suffering from ‘swim bladder’, a condition she was certain the poor little fellow had. I watched with ensuing hilarity as she tried to have a conversation with Pedro, but his vast knowledge of the English language far surpassed hers and he overwhelmed her. Recognizing defeat, she decided to go home.
After letting her out and locking the door behind her I took a deep breath, let it out, and wondered if maybe my old job manning the wing station at Hooters was still available. I recalled that the job left me feeling very conflicted (in between bouts of horniness I was plagued by a terrible, all-consuming depression) and thought that maybe I’d give them a call. What the hell, couldn’t hurt.