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[sticky post] Change in commenting policy

I didn't bother mentioning this when I wasn't posting, but I've set the comments in this journal to friends-only in the wake of a truly impressive level of spam over the past few months. I always used to screen non-friend comments and then let through anything obviously human, but the spam was such a hassle I gave up. I plan to leave it this way for a few months and then change it back to see what happens.

Sorry to anyone who might see an old Flashpoint entry or something and want to comment. :(


Captain International

I haven't seen the new Captain America movie--have heard good things, up to a point, about the political part of the plot, and I'm assured Steve Rogers feels like Steve Rogers again, instead of the miserable tool we saw in The Avengers, but the thought of sitting through the blow-shit-up finale that seems to be mandatory in a post-Avengers world... I'm yawning uncontrollably just thinking about it. Might be best if I waited for DVD so I can skip that part.

I think it was actually the second Star Trek movie, last summer, that hammered home my thorough done-ness with the giant city-destroying battle to end the film, but it's also reminded me that what I liked about the original Thor was the personal scale of most of the action, and all of the goals, in that movie. Sadly, I think those days are gone, unless and until Marvel sees its franchise collapsing under its own weight and they decide they need a Casino Royale-style refresh. I'm not holding my breath.

But if they do that, Cap might be just the hero for the job.

But to get back to the original point of this post, there is a lot I have come to dislike about the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, but someone on Tumblr posted a series of screencaps of an artistic choice of theirs that is rather delightful.

Cap carries a little notebook in which he writes down "modern things to look up." According to the screencaps in this post, the first few items in the list vary depending on the market.

Behold! Cap's multicultural list!

I had a problem with the Brazilian version for a second, until I realized the very top of the list was cropped in the screencap and, yes, Ayrton Senna was there after all.

Suggestions for a Canadian version of the list appear at the very bottom of the post. I assume Canada got the American list. (Also, "Troubleman soundtrack"-- apparently there are elements of the modern era I also need to look up.)


Okay, 2014, get your act together

I normally don't do the "this year sucks" thing, but I'm beginning to wonder whether this year (or month?) is maybe just an asshole. Came home last night and Vlad was so obviously off-colour that I took him to the emergency vet. Just as well, he had a urinary blockage. And in the course of the exam the vet got suspicious of his thyroid and yes, he's hyperthyroid as well. So once we get the urinary issue sorted out he's going on medication. (A gel to be rubbed into his ear to begin with, because at the moment all the options that make pills easier to take are out.)

He's been in either the emergency clinic or the local one since last night but should be ready to go home tomorrow. Also, he informs me that Elizabethan collars look better on old British monarchs than handsome pussycats.

(The vets all agree he's darling, by the way.)

Speaking of handsome, and also British, let's change things up with a smidgen of Tom Hiddleston's little teaser ad for Jaguar. Apparently they've decided to go the "spokesvillain" route:

Just to close the loop

A lot of you will have seen this on Facebook--

After a lot of soul-searching, and the realization I was sick with anxiety all the time and the horse was just plain sick all the time, I made the call to have Mitzi euthanized last Wednesday (Jan 8.) My vet was very kind, my brother and his gf came with me and looked after me all day, and Mitzi was herself enough to frisk her uncle for peppermints-- but could not pass manure at all despite her diet of watery gruel. Her digestive system was shot and there was no point putting her through anything more. We petted her a lot and when the time came she walked into the arena with me-- the ramp is no longer at all scary-- and went very peacefully.

Her ashes were ready for pickup the next day, my brother drove me to Truro and she's now in a plastic trunk in my spare room until I can find her a nicer wooden box or have one made.

The biopsy results came in on Thursday or Friday and I just spoke to the vet. She had squamous cell carcinoma, which could have contributed to the original injury (tissues breaking down) or been a result of it (healing cells turning cancerous.) I looked on PubMed and found three articles about abdominal neoplasms of this type in horses and the only clinical sign Mitzi ever showed was weight loss--which happened very slowly after she was moved to a barn that fed less free-choice hay (the old place fed enormous amounts) so I thought the weight loss was caused by the change in diet. (And by mid-December she still wasn't scrawny: the vet who treated her third impaction noted her weight would be ideal if it was normal for her.) We had actually started to increase her grain, to make up for what we thought was the reduced hay, when she started having colicky symptoms.

She was never feverish, off her feed or--except when actively impacted--depressed, nor were there external carcinomas. So really, there was nothing for the vet to go on, and there wouldn't have been much she could do anyway.

I've cleared a lot of my stuff out of the barn, have a couple more things to pick up including my saddle, and am getting used to not planning my evenings around trips to the barn anymore. She was an awfully, awfully nice little horse.


Without getting into too many details because I've gotten into them so many times with concerned people in my immediate circle--

Mitzi had several colicky/rectal impaction episodes in December. Just before Christmas I talked to one of our vets about taking her to the vet college in PEI for an assessment, which was scheduled for Jan 13. The surgeon my vets consulted didn't think there was anything that could be done surgically if the rectal problem was related to the deep wound we've been treating, but was willing to have a look. The local vet sent pictures of the wound for discussion.

The barn owner and I then chickened out because the weather has been really unpredictable, and we asked the own vets to uiltrasound Mitzi's gut and see if there was any point in the several-hour trip. (Mitzi's not an experienced traveler so among other things I was afraid the stress would make her worse even if the weather was okay.)

In the meantime, the second local vet had noticed what she thought was a melanoma in the vulva. And, when I talked to the first vet again about the ultrasound, she explained that the surgeon in PEI thought it was possible the whole mess--wound, slow recovery, digestive issues--could be explained if Mitzi had cancer. So we were hoping to rule that out with ultrasound and biopsy.

You can see where this is going: she's full of growths which are probably cancerous. The biopsy results are due back sometime this week. She's been passing manure okay but yesterday was stocked up to the point she was very reluctant to walk. I'm at the horrible stage of kind of hoping it is cancer, because she's not getting better (the wound is deteriorating) and I'm spending all my time sending background prayers that she won't get sick again. (We had a blizzard on Friday and I was terrified the whole day that she'd get sick, because there was no way a vet could get to her.)

If it's cancer (which according to my vet isn't treatable), at least I know what the next step is, and I'll take it by the end of the week. If it's not, I'll have to make some sort of decision based on well-being and the prospects she might get well, which frankly are looking worse all the time. I'm kind of resigned to the idea we're suddenly in palliative care, and her condition does seem to be deteriorating: no matter what we do, something is always that bit wrong. Her quality of life is definitely worse now than it was a week or so ago, so I actually find myself hoping the answer is definitive. Yeah, I feel bad about that. But it's been a very long six months for everyone, especially Mitzi, and I would like her not to be sick anymore.

Damn, this has been a very fast turnaround. And--since the ultrasound was on Tuesday--a very long miserable week.


We have to stop meeting like this

Yeah, I don't mean to turn this into the OMG I have a crisis journal, but...

We had a helluva snowstorm this morning-- it took my bus an extra hour and a half to get me to work, mostly because of bottlenecks on surface roads in my community. It seems to be mostly rain now, which is good.

And a relief, since I got a call from the barn at just after 11 to say Mitzi was looking colicky again. I called the vet, she went out like a BADASS and at least this time it hadn't turned into an impaction. (She was perfectly cheerful and normal at 8 last night when I longed her, normal manure, etc.) could be a result of the constant stress of having this wound looked after and meds--she drank a bunch of water yesterday and has been drinking well since we started electrolytes.

Anyway, I'm still at work because it would take me so long to get home for the car and then get out there that the barn owner figured I should sit tight until the vet had a chance to check her, in case it wasn't quite so bad. Which apparently it wasn't, although we're now trying her on beet pulp and oil in her feed to see if that works. Argh.

Still. Could be worse. I just hope it isn't!


it's Wednesday, feels like Friday, and I have a nagging corner of a headache that won't go away. This may be partly a stress hangover from the weekend. On Saturday afternoon, Mitzi seemed a little listless and off her feed. I called the vet, who said it could be related to the wound (which had just opened another draining spot) or maybe the meds she was on for a while. We gave her a little bute and agreed to call back if she got colicky.

I was driving a friend to the airport for 6 the next morning, so I dropped in to the barn on the way home. And yeah, she was colicky. Not severely, but she was clearly in distress, wanted to be comforted, couldn't pass manure, kept making a yawning gesture-- I called the vet just after 7 AM and she was out by 8:30. We spent the next several hours with me holding my sedated horse while the vet did a rectal exam to clear manure, during which she found an impaction. She then ran a tube through Mitzi's nose into her stomach to pour in mineral oil (Mitzi was only about halfway sedated for that and was a champ) while I held her. In case the oil didn't work, we next ran about ten litres of IV fluids into her to liquify the contents of her gut to clear the impaction that way. Of course, no matter how we warmed up the fluids, they cooled off in the half-hour or so it took to infuse them, so Mitzi's core temperature (which had been normal) dropped about a degree and she got shaking chills. We ended up putting her rain sheet, cooler, winter blanket and a borrowed winter blanket on her. It's amazing she didn't collapse under the weight of those.

Eventually, once the IV was done and she was fully awake, I took her to walk in the arena until she warmed up again. Then I went and had some lunch and picked up a couple of things at the tack store (it was after 2 at that point) and by the time I came back she had passed some manure on her own, and has been digesting normally ever since.

Monday we were due for snow, ice and freezing rain in the late afternoon so I took a vacation day, visited Mitzi in the morning and again about lunch time, once again took her for a walk and she seemed perky and interested in life again. WHEW.

Yesterday she was pretty much back to normal so we're putting her gradually back on grain. We're also adding electrolytes in the hopes they encourage her to drink more (drinking too little may have caused the problem in the first place.) Last night I also had a pretty awful drive home in snow that got worse earlier than I was expecting, but oh well.

Anyway, it's a good thing I have an emergency fund because the next vet bill I get is going to be EPIC, but at least I still have a horse. A very sweet, cooperative horse, in fact. But it was pretty damn scary for a couple of hours!


One of these days

I don't think I've mentioned, in the past few months I've been trying to gather the nerve to begin looking for a house of my own after decades of apartment-dwelling. I'm doing pretty well saving for a down payment (although that's going to take a hit when I finally get the latest bill for Mitzi's issues.) Halifax isn't cheap by regional standards, but not too bad by national ones.

The question of "where" and "what kind of house" has come up more than once. I've never lived in a bedrooms-up place, but I've always wanted to. I love storey-and-a-half houses, but I've noticed a lot of semi-detached homes have exactly the layout I like. There are a lot of semis in Sackville, the community nearest my barn, which also has bus routes to my work.

This past Sunday, I drove home from the barn in what turned out to be black ice conditions.

Monday, heavy fog.

Last night, torrential rain.

I'm starting to think that idea of a semi in Sackville is a great one. I wished I lived there this week!
Okay, so while we were in the throes of figuring out that two pesterings a day were too much for Mitzi, a former fellow boarder (who's a graduate student in a healthcare field and thus even more stressed and tired than I was at the time!) and I decided to see Thor: The Dark World together. We wanted to eat popcorn, ogle, and be distracted.

Short spoilers ensue.Collapse )


Mitzi update

Where to begin... okay: in the spring, Mitzi managed to rub herself into something (I have no idea what) and tear her perianal area quite impressively. Messy, draining, will probably take until next summer to heal. After several false starts (and a move to a new barn, more on that in a minute) she's now on a regimen in which the wound is being cleaned daily and dressed with topical antibiotics. The vet had wanted her cleaned twice a day, but she moves around a lot if there's only one person working on her, and actually twice a day seemed to leave her just raw enough to get really defensive, so we were actually doing less cleaning than the once-a-day plan in which the barn owner helps me. So, with the agreement of the vet, we switched back to the once-a-day plan.

"We" in this context is me and the barn owner, or me and one of the other boarders at our new place.

The new place, in case I forgot to mention it here, was made necessary when the old barn closed to boarders over the summer. It had gotten to the point where there were just too many horses for the hobby-owners, who also have full-time jobs, to keep up with and also have any time to themselves whatsoever. I was shocked but not really surprised when it happened, since both owners had been looking progressively more tired every time I saw them. The place I've moved to is a lot more expensive, but has an indoor, individual turnout pens (so Mitzi isn't penalized for being at the bottom of every peck order in existence) and an owner whose full-time job is the barn.

The old place is actually taking in a few boarders again in the new year, having reorganized and renovated to make it easier on everyone. I was invited to return but decided to stay put. I have less confidence as I get older and I appreciate having the pro on hand for advice and correction. (Also, to be honest, the well-meaning neighbour lady-- who part-leases one of Old Barn Owner's horses and does a lot of the chores-- strikes me as having less sense than the average fifteen-year-old and I was never thrilled about her handling my horse. She's done some impressively stupid things with the horse she was leasing, and I'd just rather not know about them. I'm pretty sure the barn owner does, since they talk and she's not reticent, so that's all good.)

Anyway, I've been going to the barn every night for the last couple months on the new cleaning regimen, which has frankly been a little tiring in the fall term. (Impressively busy, thanks, which is a high class problem!) I haven't been riding because I slipped another disc last winter, but it never got to the stage of the case five years ago, and last week I went back to yoga with no ill effects, so I expect I'll be back in the saddle again fairly soon.

The boarders at the new place are pretty much all women about my age, friendly, and western riders of quarter horses. I had forgotten just how much I like western quarter horses. There's a monthly clinic by the former owner of the place, and everyone does a little reining. They have all promised they won't hold my dressage saddle (which is a compromise with Mitzi, who was trained western herself, because she's hard to fit a saddle to, and with me because the lighter saddle is easier for me to handle) against me. Mitzi has adjusted to the arena, including the rather steep access ramp, and is quite happy in there especially when other horses are present. The outdoor pen is actually surrounded by turnout pens so when you're out there in fine weather, there's practically a her watching, which Mitzi thinks is just fine too.

New Barn Owner thinks Mitzi is a peach--all her personal horses are mares, so adding a new friendly mare to the mix was fine by her. I am grateful for this, especially since it means she is happy to help with Mitzi's wound care (and happy to offer advice on how I might modulate my own behaviour to, you know, not set the horse off when we're cleaning her.)

And that's pretty much our story right now. I should try to get pics of the new place and post them sometime. I'll let you know when we're riding again!



Shelley McKibbon