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Monday, August 28, 2017

What She Was Made For

     Many a nature film has showed me lions bringing down an antelope or wolves selecting and devouring the slowest caribou, so suppose I was as well prepared as any child of the suburbs. And yesterday my dog Tiger Lily leapt repeatedly at the porch screen, snapping her considerable jaws, until a trespassing dragonfly lay on its back on the sill, one leg twitching its last. In fact, it had only one leg. Tiger Lily couldn't know that I really like dragonflies, with those huge glinting eyes and iridescent wings. An intruder is an intruder. She has even barked furiously at the little windows next to the front door until we realized she was protecting us from the scary dried starfish whose alien arms stuck out beyond the top sill. 
     Today she caught a squirrel. She walked out with me and my bag of eggshells and banana peels to the compost bin. I was about to set the empty bag aside and get ready to play some fetch when she dropped her shredded, filthy knotted-rope toy and dashed at the big oak in the rear corner of the yard. A squirrel skittered up the trunk, as usual. Then a second one appeared. Lacking wit to climb straight up, it ran around the trunk, only a foot or so above ground, with Tiger Lily right on its tail. 
     We're pretty sure Tiger Lily is a Catahoula leopard dog. They breed them, a mix of many, in Louisiana to rout wild hogs out of the swamps. Her body shape is somewhere between a boxer and a greyhound: big chest, tiny waist, long spine. She's very fast, strong and smart. She likes people better than other dogs, and she has the brindle pattern common to the leopard dogs, in her case a tawny base with distinct, black tiger stripes. And I can easily picture her bounding through the bayou, snapping at the heels of a hog. 
     For this chase, she kept a tight radius, and, as the squirrel slowed a little on maybe the tenth circuit, she grabbed it and flung it onto the grass. Pounce, grab, shake. When it flies loose, nudge it to see whether it's playing dead, which it did a time or two, then tried to run. It didn't get far. 
     I did hope she wouldn't go full feral and try to extract its liver while I fetched the shovel. She stood guard over the corpse while I dug the deepest hole I could manage and restrained her instincts while I slid the shovel underneath, noting the teeth marks and slobber in the grey fur. Covered it, tamped down the soil and picked up her fetch toy. Normally, when she returns it to me, she shakes it until I have to say, "Yeah, I think it's dead, girl." For this session, she brought it to my feet and dropped it. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Eyes Quit

     Yesterday I spent an hour in a torpedo tube with a  jackhammer, a pile-driver and a woodpecker. MRI. It stands for Major Ruckus Inside. I got through one round of the Lord's Prayer before I became the mother in Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron. (Short story. Read it.) Halfway through, the tech slid me out to stick a needle in my arm. Vein collapsed. Switched to back of the hand. She extracted the needle when the hand started to swell and sting, but enough stuff ran in for the necessary cranial chiaroscuro. Can't wait to see the proofs.
     Keeping eyes closed during the jaunt was easy, because my right eyelid hardly opens at all, and the left is at half-mast. Two fun things are careening along side-by-side: blepharospasm and double vision. A while back, my vision suddenly doubled. While I was driving. Doc said it's common with age. (Stinking age.) Corrected it with prism lens in glasses. A year later the double vision doubled, needed twice the correction. Made him nervous. Tested me six ways to Sunday, found nothing organic, but referred me to specialist to make sure I had no bugs in the brain.
     All this time, I'd been alarming friends and family with almost constant squinting, made worse by stress. One solution, Botox, said the doc. Needles around the eyes? Um, no. But the specialist couldn't bear to watch me blepharospasming, he said, when he knew Botox could help. Nowhere near as horrible as I imagined, he and his assistant assured me. Finest needle in existence, smaller dose than cosmetic use, placed differently. No plastic face. No sweat. Seven sticks per eye, two in upper eyelids, were about as much fun as you'd expect, but Lamaze breathing got me through four childbirths, and it got me through this. Then he ordered the MRI and blood tests to spot any cysts, tumors or chips inserted by aliens to cause double vision.
     By evening, I had fever, abdominal cramps, pain across my back, nausea and general misery. About 2 a.m., I thought to ask Siri "what are side effects of medical Botox?" (She says "bottocks." Heh.) And there they were: fever, cramps, back pain, nausea, general misery. Drooping eyelids too. That started a couple days later as the first delights started to fade.
     Called the spec's office. No, no, no, said they, nobody ever gets side effects like that from this application. No patient ever has. Droopy lid isn't unheard-of, but it should be better in a week. Four days later, joke's on you, the right eyelid is lower than ever, and the left opens only halfway. I think I look like I've had a stroke, but the hubs says I only look drunk. Hey, that's a relief.
     In another couple days, the spec should have the MRI results. He will also get an earful-- an eyeful?-- about side effects.