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Rocket Man

Posted Aug 21 2009 12:39pm
My household currently consists of three inhabitants: me (obviously), my shih-tzu/yorkie mix (aka "shorkie") puppy Sampson, and my amazing mother, who has basically abandoned her life in CO (and my long-suffering father) to come live and stay with me in New York before, during, and immediately after the transplant. All this so that I didn't have to choose between my doctors here, who I love, and the option of relocating my life temporarily back to Denver in order to have full-time familial care post-transplant. Seriously, how lucky am I?

(And yes, for those of you wondering, my father gets out here as often as he can, and my sister lives here already, so we're quickly becoming a cross-country family. On the plus side, I am REALLY looking forward to some of the incredible trips we're going to be able to take post-transplant recovery using all those frequent flyer miles!)

Anyway, back to the point of this post, which is that while there are three inhabitants of my apartment right now, I am, to the best of my personal knowledge, the only one of those three who actually has cystic fibrosis. I can say this with relative certainty because my mother has actually had genetic testing (she's a carrier, obviously), and my puppy . . . well, let's just say he hasn't demonstrated any sort of poor growth issues yet. Seriously, let's face the facts: he's a 20 lbs shih-tzu/yorkie -- there's just NO WAY that dog is pancreatic insufficient. That, when coupled with his complete lack of a cough (I'll admit I'm discounting that time he swallowed an entire "turkey disk" dog treat whole and had to cough it back up -- twice. I just really don't think that counts as a "productive" cough by the CF definition) leads me to the conclusion that my puppy most likely does NOT have CF. And as a CF-free dog, he has no need for digestive enzymes, the vest, nebulizer cups, or Xopenex inhalers. Or at least, you know, that's my humble opinion anyway.

Yeah, try telling him that.

Not long after I got Sammy I noticed he had a slight obsession with my treatment time. I was frankly expecting the sight/sound of a mechanical vest and noisy little pari ultra compressor to freak out my little guy, who at that point had already demonstrated his complete aversion to vacuums, thunderstorms, and even the terrifying sound of my tiny New York style dishwasher. So imagine my surprise when, night one, this puppy of mine comes right up to my vibrating vest, sniffs around a bit, and immediately curls up right next to it, head resting on the "box" throughout my entire treatment. This developed into a routine that I found straight up adorable . . . until the day when it evolved from cute little puppy massage bed into a "let's chew the power cord" game. Seriously? Thankfully I caught the change early, and the problem was solved with a little bit of black electrical tape.

My dog's obsession with CF paraphernalia has, unfortunately, proved much harder to fix. In the past year, Sammy has -- despite my most diligent efforts -- chewed up three neb cups, one O2 "connector" for extension tubing, and (perhaps most disturbingly) an entire box of rubber gloves he found in the bag of a naively unsuspecting homecare nurse. Brilliant work, puppy of mine.

More recently I reported to some of my friends that I had pried open my dog's mouth to find inside . . . a Pancrease MT-20. Apparently, my puppy had gotten ahold of an entire bottle of enzymes, opened them, and found them to be at least enough to his liking that there were several dismantled enzymes and tiny balls scattered across the floor. The remaining, uneaten enzymes were unceremoniously deposited nearby, molded tightly into a little ball formed by dog spit and half-dissolved enzyme c oat ing. It was, in a word, disgusting. (Another word might be "messy.") A quick call to the vet, however, revealed that they do in fact make doggy enzymes that are not so different from our own, and that the beloved shorkie would be just fine. And he was fine -- his stools were the pride of the dog run for several days due to their intense firmness and easy clean up -- except for his still uncured obsession.

Flash forward a couple of months to tonight. I'm relaxing in the living room, my mother has gone down to Whole Foods market to get us some yummy ingredients for dinner, and the evil (Um, I mean sweet and adorable) shorkie was, I believed, resting quietly in his bed. His bed, by the way, also happens to be in my room. So I'm happily reading my book, minding my own non-trouble-making business, when suddenly I hear what sounds like a rocket ship taking off from my room. Granted, there was no doubt that this must have been a small rocket ship, but I'm not kidding when I say there was at least 30 seconds worth of ignition, turbo charge, and blast off. And, seeing as how there are NO rocket ships of any size in my room (or elsewhere in my apartment, for that matter) and the only things I have that even might RESEMBLE rocket ships involve tanks filled with highly combustible gas, I was probably justified in being a little freaked out.

My fears were magnified by what can only be described as the fastest shorkie on the face of the planet making a direct beeline OUT of my room, where he promptly took a flying leap onto my lap. Let me just say, having a terrified puppy come storming out of your room, from which NASA appears to be running mini-scale flight tests, is really just NOT a comforting sign. True, it's better than having an injured puppy, or a puppy riding aboard an out-of-control oxygen tank (both of these seemed like viable alternatives in the moment), but it's still just. not. good.

So after a perplexing visit into my apparently still-intact and pretty much untouched room, I decided to let the only eyewitness show me exactly what happened. I coaxed the shivering Sammy back into the room, only to notice that he immediately: 1) sniffed the air (which even I could tell had an odd smell to it), and 2) ran quickly to the edge of the bed, peered under it, and then beat a hasty retreat back behind my legs, as any good little mama's boy should. So I looked under the bed, and what did I find?

A mini rocket ship.

Sort of.

Well, okay, not at all. But I get how it happened. Want a hint? Because apparently pressurized inhalers can, when properly punctured, actually travel a pretty good distance. At least to halfway under a queen-sized bed. And let me (and Sammy) tell you, they sound darn impressive while doing it.

Exhibit 1: My Xopenex inhaler


Exhibit 2: Extreme close up of the puncture hole now in the inhaler, shaped (suspiciously enough) much like a shorkie tooth mark.


So okay, my dog might not have CF. And he might have a very strange (and seriously uncool) sense of what makes for a good chew toy. But he just might have a future career in NASA, and how many puppies can say that?
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