My day went something like this....
I woke up this morning with a pounding migraine. It's okay - I get them. I give myself Imitrex injections for the headaches and during certain times of the month I get them almost daily. The streak usually lasts 5-6 days, but I'm mostly able to keep the migraines at bay using the Imitrex shots. The problem is that the shots are very expensive, and my insurance is stingy and I always run out of coverage on them before the end of the year. I have fought them and fought them and I've had my doctor fight them as well, to no avail. Sometimes it will take 2-3 shots to get rid of a single migraine, and I can't afford to spend $215 for two shots, so I did what anyone else would do. I had Eric go to his doctor and tell them that he was suffering from migraines, and that he'd been given Imitrex shots before and they'd worked for him. Booyah! Plenty more shots to get me through the end of the year. Take that, AETNA! (PS- He does get the very rare migraine, too, so it wasn't a total lie.)
Anyway, I woke up with a pounding headache this morning, but I had to go teach my step class. The same step class that I convince myself to quit every Tuesday and Thursday morning on my way to the gym. I don't know what this stage fright thing is, but I wish it would go away. I keep thinking that I will eventually get used to it, but it's now been almost three years and every Monday and Wednesday night my nerves kick in, and from about 5:00 on, I can't relax. I stress that I'll oversleep and somehow not make it to my class. I have nightmares that I can't manage to get to the gym in time, or that I forgot my shoes or my music. I dream that I can't get the stereo equipment to work right, or that I can't find the gym. I wake up in the morning with a feeling of dread that I'm going to mess up, or I'm going to feel sick in the middle of class, or that some other horrible unthought of thing will happen. I worry that people walking past the class on their way to other classes or to the equipment will look in the windows, see me teaching and think, "Well if the instructor looks like that, why should I bother?" I figured I just needed time to adjust and that I'd eventually get over it, but so far it hasn't happened.
So this means that typically I don't sleep very well before I teach. I have what I call stress dreams and I toss and turn a lot. However, despite my fears that it won't, my alarm always does go off (I set two of them.), I wake up, get dressed, brush my teeth, wash my face, finish helping the kids with whatever they need and drive off to the gym. By the time I've pulled into the parking lot, I've composed my letter of resignation in my head. I tell myself what a load off it will be to not have to teach anymore. Then I park in the employee lot, punch in the code to get into the gate, and go in the back door by the tennis courts. I grab a towel and some water on my walk to the studio, wave hello to the ladies who always get there early enough to sit and chat at the tables by the climbing wall, and I enter the cold studio. I turn on the lights, turn on the stereo, check the headset microphone and make sure it has fresh batteries, set up my step, plop my choreography notes down on the floor in front of me, and review my notes until people start to trickle in. I like to get there at least fifteen minutes early so I have plenty of time to troubleshoot any stereo or microphone problems. Once those things are set I'll chat with the people who have grown from acquaintances into friends.
Then I start the class, and all those feelings of dread and stress melt away. I'm in my element up there. I know what the heck I'm doing, and I'm confident in it. I enjoy leading the class and I know the members enjoy it. So after class I gather my stuff and walk to my car thinking, "What the heck is wrong with me? I'd never want to quit doing this." And this is the cycle that repeats twice a week. Poor Eric is so patient with me. He hears the same things over and over again, but he never gets frustrated. He just listens and tries to be understanding even though I am clearly a basket case
So I woke up with a bad migraine today. I also knew that today was the day that I was going to have to put our beloved rat, Javier to sleep. About six months ago he started making wheezing noises so I took him to the vet and they prescribed antibiotics. His breathing was very labored, like he'd always just finished running a marathon. We tried multiple treatments for him, and some of them seemed to have a temporary effect, but after a couple of weeks he'd be back where we started. The vet had suspected a respiratory issue, but the medications should have helped him if that's what it was. A couple months later I went out to the rat rescue organization where we adopt most of our rats to get our two new boys neutered. I took Javier along with us so the rat expert could take a look at him. I respect veterinarians for everything they do and the knowledge that they have, but a lot of them aren't familiar enough with rats to really know the ins and outs of treating them. That's why this organization is so valuable. They really know rats. So I took Javier with me and the lady from the rescue agreed that Javi was very sick. She suggested a three part treatment to see if it would help him. She said that he probably felt like he was having an asthma attack all the time. But despite the labored breathing, he was still his happy self, so I wanted to keep trying treatments on him because I felt like his quality of life was still good, and we loved him so much. Unfortunately none of the treatments worked and his health continued to decline. Especially over the past two months. He began to pee every time we'd get him out of his cage, which he never used to do. I think even the smallest movements stressed his little heart and lungs. And he began to get skinnier and skinnier. He was also puffing up his fur all the time, which is a sign of pain. I knew that his days were numbered and I couldn't stand to watch him sit in his cage struggling to breathe and getting thinner and thinner. That's the hardest thing about being a pet owner - when do you know that it's time to say goodbye? Being the one to make that decision is really hard. To say that you are the one who should decide when to end a life. It's tough.
So that was what I had going for me when I woke up this morning. I don't normally like to have a migraine shot so close to working out, but I knew it would be really hard to teach my class with a pounding headache, so I went ahead and stopped in the bathroom to inject myself before I left the house. I grabbed my gym bag and sat quietly in the car on the way to the gym, hoping the shot would kick in. By the time I got there, at least the headache was gone, but my heart was still heavy about Javier. Class went well, and since I had actually remembered to pack my bag last night I was able to spend some time in the steam room (my favorite!) before taking a shower and getting ready there.
Yesterday when I emailed the girl from the rat rescue organization I asked her if she could help me with euthanizing poor Javier. Unfortunately since I've been through this before with the rats, I know that the vets at the office we use aren't consistent with how they choose to euthanize a rat. The method varies depending on who I get. I've done my research on this and there is really only one humane way to euthanize a rodent. The best way to go is to give them something to sedate them, and then give them a shot in the heart to stop their heart. Only once have I had the vet allow me to hold the rat while it has passed away. The other ones have made me leave him with them and they take them in the back and put them in a tank where they breathe in a gas that eventually makes them die. I know that my rats would be scared if they were just dumped into a glass tank and left to pass away on their own. I don't want that to be the last thing they experience. I want the option to hold them and comfort them as they're passing. I knew there were home methods to use, but I didn't have what I needed at home to do them, so I hoped she could offer some assistance.
She emailed me back right away and said that she was so sorry about Javier and that she could help me. She told me that I could go over there right then, but she lives a good 35 minutes away and it was late, so I asked if she was available today. It turns out that she works right near my house, so she said that she would come over once I got home from the gym. I had no idea what she would be bringing with her, but knowing how much she loves rats and all she does to find homes for them, I knew it would be humane and the right thing to do. I knew that I was just putting off the inevitable, but I still dawdled at the gym. I took extra time in the steam room. I filled my water cup up like three times, then I took my time walking to my car. On the way home I realized that I needed to go to the bank, so I did that too.
Finally I was home and I went upstairs to check on Javier. He was sitting in his cage huffing and puffing and wheezing. In the past when we've had to do this, I've given the kids a chance to say goodbye. That is absolutely heartbreaking - to see them holding the rat on their lap, petting them and talking to them, thanking them for being such good pets and friends and telling them how much they'll miss them. Then I'm the one to pull the rat out of their hands and walk out the door - it's excruciating. It really is. The kids were already having a hard time with getting back into the swing of school after being gone for winter break, so the last thing I wanted to do was tell them right before school that Javier would be gone when they got home. I decided that I'd just tell them that he passed while they were at school. I know some people don't agree with lying to your kids. About anything. I'm not one of those people. If there's a white lie that I need to tell to protect them, I'll do it. Don't get me wrong, I don't go around lying to them all the time, but for something like this, I wouldn't think twice.
So I picked up Javier from his cage and held him in my lap, petting him as I called Dr. Kevorkian to come do her thing. She told me that she'd be there in five minutes. I got all nervous that she'd come in and check out my rats and scold me for something. She takes her rats very seriously. I had recently moved their cage off the desk in our spare room and put them on a chair so that Emily could use the desk to rainbow loom. The chair was in front of the window and I immediately worried that she'd come in and tell me that they should never be around drafts. Then I hid the bag of Petco brand pet food because I know how anti Petco she is. She hates the way they treat small animals and doesn't like people to shop there. It was crazy how nervous I was to please her. She's probably in her twenties and just a very serious person. Here I am, forty-two years old, running around my house with my dying rat in my arms, hiding bags of pet food and moving their cage in case she comes up there. I also closed Emily's bedroom door because it was messy and I didn't want her to judge. Even I can see the humor in that.
Anyway, she arrived and was very nice and respectfully somber as she carried her little bag inside with her. My dogs were acting like idiots as usual, and Rudy shoved his nose right into her crotch as I led her into the kitchen. (Thanks a lot Rudy.) She asked where I wanted her to set up and I said the kitchen table would be fine. I already had a towel with me since Javier would randomly pee when being held. She took him from me to just check him out first. She showed me how blue his little feet and hands were (yes, I call them hands), which meant that he wasn't getting enough oxygen. The puffy fur and bony body were also signs that it was time. This is when I get all emotional and need that reassurance from someone else that I'm making the right decision. I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said, "My husband asked me to make sure that you thought it was really time. It's time, isn't it?" She stroked his fur and said, "Yes. We've tried the meds and those blue feet are sure signs. I mean he could go on for a while like this, but he's suffering. I would do the same thing if he were mine."
I nodded and took a deep breath and said, "Okay." She opened her little case and said, "By the way, what I'm doing is very illegal, so please don't sue me and take my house." I shook my head and assured her that I'd never do that, and that I just appreciated the opportunity to be able to have Javier be comfortable in his own environment and with me. Plus this way I also didn't have to go through the whole Kramer vs. Kramer scenario of ripping him out of my howling kids' arms to take him to the vet. She took a small drinking glass out of her bag, along with some cotton pads. Then she took a brown bottle of some sort of liquid medication type stuff. She explained the gist of what we were going to do. She said that the liquid was anesthesia, and that basically we were just going to overdose him on the anesthesia. That he would go to sleep and just never wake up. She said that at the vet, a lot of times they'll use this to sedate the rat, then give them an injection into the heart just to be sure. But that if we kept him under it long enough, it would be enough to send him off in the most peaceful way possible.
She opened the bottle of anesthesia and soaked two cotton pads with it. She then put those in the bottom of the glass. She turned the glass on its side and explained that we needed to put Javier's nose into the opening of the glass so that he would breathe the fumes. She said that rats don't like breathing the gas, so sometimes they will struggle a little. I helped her hold his struggling little body up to the mouth of the glass, but he wasn't having it. He fought us and pushed away with his little hands. While I wanted him to be comfortable by being with me, and in his own environment, I wasn't counting on this. He would never, ever bite, and of course, even in his fear he didn't try to bite us. He just pushed away and wiggled around to try to stay away from the gas. The stuff had a strong odor and he probably didn't like it. Eventually we were able to get his head in there and then he started gasping. Well that just about did me in. His little mouth was open and he was gasping for air. I hadn't cried up until that point, but I started crying pretty hard. It was kind of surreal. Here I was, sitting in my kitchen with a virtual stranger who was helping me illegally euthanize my pet rat, crying like a baby. If someone had come to me five years ago and described that scene to me I'd have told them they were crazy! Javier made one final gasp and then the anesthesia seemed to take hold and he settled down. I was able to pet him and talk to him as he relaxed and stopped squirming. She said to me, "This would probably be a good time to say your goodbye." I looked at her and said okay, but I thought to myself, it's not like I'm going to bend down and give him a little speech right here in front of her. So I just kept soothing him and telling him that he was a good boy until he lost consciousness. Eventually his breathing slowed more and more until he finally took his last breath. Once that happened I settled him on his side and she told me to leave him in that position with his face in the glass for as long as possible. Since she doesn't have access to that final shot to give him, if he didn't inhale enough anesthesia, there was a tiny, tiny chance that he could wake up. But this lady knows her stuff. She's taken in hundreds of rats from shelters and who knows where, and she's had to handle dying rats numerous times, so I knew it wouldn't happen. She re-packed her bag, I gave her some money to donate to the organization, and thanked her again before she left. I sat and cried for a few minutes, then I covered him with the towel and tried to move on with my day.
By this time it was just after noon and I had two hours to figure out how to break the news to my kids. I decided to busy myself around the house. I took the rest of the decorations off the Christmas tree and packed them up. Then I took the tree out to the garage, then pulled some dead plants out of the flower bed in the front yard. I vacuumed the house and did a few loads of laundry and finally it was time to go pick up the kids from school. I wanted them to think that he'd passed away naturally, so I got rid of the cotton balls and glass, and I wrapped Javier in a towel and put him in the closet. Then I searched for a box to put him in to bury him. A shoebox would be too big, and the ground is hard right now, so to dig a hole big enough for a shoe box would be hard, so I was trying to find a smaller box. I looked all over the place and couldn't find anything that would work. As I walked through the kitchen I opened the cabinet to put something away and noticed that there was a new bottle of Absolut vodka in there. It came in a box. The tall, narrow box was perfect for Javier. I took the box down and set it on the kitchen table before leaving for the school.
Owen was going to his friend's house after school to practice his Blues Brothers routine for the talent show, so I just had Emily and the two other kids that I drive carpool for. I dropped both of them off and walked into the house with Emily. Normally she runs straight up to the rats to talk to them and pet them before washing her hands, having a snack and starting her homework. We all love our rats, but Emily loves them like no one else. At any given time in the day she's walking around with a rat in her arms. She plays with them, she sings to them, and she just really, really loves them. So I was seriously dreading telling her. She told me that she was really hungry and started looking for a snack. She saw that I had bought ramen noodles at the store and asked if she could have some. I said that would be fine. She likes to make them, so I helped her get the pot and fill it with water. As we waited for the water to boil, I said, "I have some bad news." She said, "Is it Javi?" I said yes. I told her that he'd passed away. She started to cry and I hugged her and just let her cry. I told her that he must have passed away while I was at the gym. We talked about him for a few minutes and I told her that he was in a better place where he could jump around and take as many deep breaths as he wanted without a struggle. Emily agreed and we finished making the noodles. She was sad, but she seemed to handle the news better than I thought she would. She asked where he was and I told her that I had him wrapped in a towel. I told her that we could bury him that night. I asked her where she wanted to bury him and she said behind the fence where we buried her parakeet over the summer.
Since it was Tuesday, that meant hockey practice for Owen. It also meant that I was going to get together with my friend Alicia for our regular Tuesday night ritual of watching the Real Housewives. We save Sunday night's Atlanta Housewives and Monday night's Beverly Hills Housewives episodes and watch them on the DVR together on Tuesday night. We alternate whose house we watch at and the visitor usually picks up salads for us to eat while we watch. It was my turn to go to Alicia's, which meant that Emily would have to go to hockey practice with Eric and Owen. I figured getting out of the house would do Emily good anyway. Eric stopped at home to grab Owen's hockey stuff and Emily, then went to pick up Owen at his friend's house. I left it up to Eric to break the news about Javier to Owen. He told him on the way to hockey. Owen also seemed to handle it okay. Later Emily told me that she feels like it's just a little easier to know that he just passed away on his own. This reinforces my decision to handle it the way that I did.
Normally Alicia and I grab salads from somewhere, but I texted her and said, "I know we've both had stressful days, so I'm going to get us sushi instead! I need to drown my sorrows in good food!" (She's got a lot going on at work - like 3 people in a row either quit or got fired, so she's handling way more work than normal.) She texted back and told me what she wanted, and I headed out to pick up our food. Once I got to her house, she sent her son into his room to entertain himself so we could start our shows in the living room. (Her husband doesn't get home from work until around 7:30 or so.) There's something so great about being in the comfort of a good friend where I felt like I could just exhale and unwind. We sat on the floor and ate our sushi while we caught up on our days. I teared up a little when I told her the details about Javier and she told me about the stuff going on at her job. I mentioned that I'd had a migraine this morning and that I needed to find a neurologist who used Botox to treat migraines. (It's something I've been meaning to do for a couple years now.) I told her I would just start calling neurologists in the area and ask the receptionist if they prescribe Botox as a migraine treatment.
Once we got our chit chatting out of the way, we settled in to stuff our faces while watching Housewives. I think we were both slap happy from stress, and under normal circumstances we have a tendency to crack each other up a lot and laugh a lot, but because we'd both been so tightly wound, I feel like we were laughing more than usual. It takes us like two hours to get through a one hour episode because we have to pause it so often to dish on what we're seeing and laugh at stuff. Several times I cracked up so hard that I almost peed my pants. This isn't unusual for me, unfortunately. So just to be safe I got up and went to the bathroom about halfway through the episode of Beverly Hills. I came back and resumed my spot on the floor in front of the couch and we started watching again. About ten minutes later, Jamie Lee Curtis appeared on the show. She was helping Kyle with a fashion show. Alicia and I made eye contact and started to snicker. For no reason - that's the best thing - sometimes there doesn't have to be any reason. We just find things funny. We probably sound like immature fourteen year olds to anyone eavesdropping, but I don't care. We have fun, and laughing is good for the heart, the mind and the soul. After we snickered at the TV, I sighed and said, "Oh Jamie Lee...." Then Alicia said, "She's a hermaphrodite." I nodded and said, "Yes. I know!" For whatever reason, this sent us both into hysterics. And I started to pee. So I started to flap my arms at her to tell her to shut the hell up and stop laughing because the more she laughed the more I laughed, and the more I laughed the more I peed. But you know how it is - we were laughing at something so stupid, then we were laughing at the fact that I was wetting my pants. On her floor. In my jeans. I had made it to my hands and knees by then, and I kept squealing, "Stop! Stop!!! STOP LAUGHING!" Her husband, who was in the kitchen at that point, and very familiar with my "problem" called out, "Do you need a towel?" I yelled back, "Yesssss!!" By then the floodgates had opened and there was no turning back. When I get to that point all I can do is let go. I soaked my underwear, my jeans, my socks, and even the bottom part of my sweater. And, of course, her rug. Once the laughter wore off and reality set in, we stared at each other in horror. "What do you need?" she asked. I answered, "I don't know! Pants! Clothes! Towels! Oh my gosh! This is horrible!" Alicia is smaller than me, so she started to politely stutter, "Um, I don't know if I'll have pants...." She trailed off. I finished for her. "To fit me. I know! So get something from Bill! I have to take everything off!" I waddled into the bathroom with my legs far apart, doing the walk of shame known only to me and every other three year old being potty trained. Once in the quiet of the bathroom I assessed the situation. It wasn't good. My jeans were completely drenched. By the time I took off every piece of clothing that had come into contact with my urine, I was down to my bra and a tank top. I waited in the cold bathroom (they never use that bathroom so the heat vents are closed and they keep the door closed) for Alicia to find something for me to wear. I heard her hissing at her husband, "Bill! Help me find some sweats for her!" Poor Bill. I cleaned myself up in the meantime, horrified at what had just happened. She finally knocked on the door. She said, "Here are some pants. Try them out. And here's a sweatshirt, too. I looked at the pants. They were both nylon sweat type pants. You know - the kind they use to make windbreakers. They have zero stretch in them. Bill is a pretty small guy. He's not any taller than me and like most men, he has nothing going on in the way of thighs or a butt. Any extra weight he carries is in his belly, where the beer goes. I looked at both pairs of pants. They were men's mediums. I held them up and shrugged. What choice did I have? I put them on and while they were fine at the waist, they were squeezing my butt, crotch and thighs like nothing else. Could I get any lower? I'm in my friend's bathroom, with a pile of my own clothes sopping wet on the floor, wearing her husbands pants that are too small for me! I threw on the sweatshirt, washed my hands and walked back into the living room. "Are those okay?" she asked. "Yes, they're fine," I lied. I then got down to the business of cleaning her area rug. Luckily it's brownish/tan so she couldn't really see how much of a spot I left. I cleaned it all up, put my wet clothing in a grocery bag, like they do to the kids in preschool, and went to settle back on the couch. We still had part of Housewives to watch, and all of Vanderpump Rules!
As I sat down Alicia said, "How did that happen? I thought you just went to the bathroom like ten minutes ago?" I said, "I did. This is what happens! I can completely empty my bladder and fifteen minutes later have that happen! I really, really need to get that surgery to fix this ridiculousness! I need to make an appointment. This stuff can't go on!" She said, "Yeah, because what if we were out somewhere? Are you going to wet your pants at the Eagles concert when we go?" I looked at her like she was crazy and said, "Of course not! There will be music playing! We won't really be talking, so there won't be that much laughing! If I wet my pants it will definitely be at dinner before. And in that case, I guess I'll just keep a change of clothes in the car. But seriously, this is a major problem. I've just been putting off going to the doctor because I don't want to deal with surgery!" Alicia agreed that surgery wasn't a fun thing to think about, and we resumed our show.
As we watched I struggled on their couch to get comfortable in those tight pants. I lay on my side lengthways along the couch. I kept tugging at them. "These pants!" I gasped. Then I tried a different position, but no matter what my thighs and butt were protesting and trying to burst free. I finally got myself fairly settled and tried to focus on the show. I texted Eric.
ME: OMG, I just peed my pants bad!!!!!! Soaked my jeans and underwear and sweater and socks. And I'm shoved into a pair of Bill's size medium nylon sweat pants!!
ERIC: What else is new?
ERIC: Send me a pic.
ME: OMG No!
ME: I'm wearing them home so you'll see.
ME: If you need to bury Javi, he is under the staircase
ME: In a towel
ME: I feel like these pants are 2T!
ME: Have you buried the rat yet?
ERIC: Yes. After dinner.
Alicia and I resumed watching. We got some more laughs out of the ridiculous people on Vanderpump Rules, when suddenly this commercial comes on the TV. We both thought it was a joke. It had to be. Like one of the fake commercials SNL makes. Watch it -
Okay, seriously? As the commercial started Alicia and I stopped talking and just watched. It had to be a spoof....but wait. No. This is a real thing. Now don't think I'm insensitive - but come on. That is one of the weirdest ads I've ever seen! I gasped. "I think I have this!" Alicia laughed and said, "No you have urinary incontinence." I said, "Yes, but I have this too! I laugh uncontrollably!" We continued talking about how strange the commercial was and even called her husband in to watch it. Before we started it we said, "Tell us if you think this is a real commercial or a fake one." He thought it was a farce too, until he saw the phone number, etc. It was just so weird. And that's about all I can say about that.
After Vanderpump Rules was over I gathered up all my stuff and bid my friend adieu. I said to Alicia, "Tell Bill thanks for the clothes. Considering the state I was in when I put them on, he probably never wants to see them again. But I'll still wash them and give them back." She laughed and said, "No problem. I'm just glad you have something to drive home in." I said, "Yeah, no joke. If I had to drive home in just what's dry, I'd have been in my tank top and shoes. Imagine me getting pulled over wearing that. How would I explain my way out of that ticket?" I thanked her for her hospitality and said, "Now if you'll excuse me I have to go home and look up all the medical treatments I need. Botox for migraines, bladder surgery for the wetting problem, and possible medication for PDA. We chuckled and I hit the road.
When I got home, the kids were asleep and Eric was in our room playing his PlayStation. I modeled my tight pants for him and then ran to the closet to get something more comfortable. As I peeled off the pants like you peel the skin off a grape I called out to him. Did you bury the rat? How'd it go?" He told me that they did bury him, and that it was sad, but the kids were doing okay. I said that I was glad and got my nice, comfortable pajamas on.
And then I crawled into my bed and reviewed my day in my head. Migraine. Euthanizing a pet rat in my own home. Burying him in an emtpy vodka box. Wetting my pants in front of my friend and her husband. Borrowing her husband's size 2T pants to wear home. I'd say that today was a day that I won't soon forget.
How'd you say your day was again?