Friday, November 20, 2009

Beware of the Grass Awn

Well, if you follow either Chris or me on Facebook, you know we've been through quite the saga with Havana. I'm happy to say, after 4 surgeries and over $1,000 in vet bills, it's finally over.

[Warning: This is long. If you're only interested in the Cliff Notes version or photos, scroll to the end. Also be prepared ... the second picture is pretty nasty.]

It all started back in August. We noticed she had some swelling on her side, by her back leg. We were a little worried and took her to the vet. He checked it out and thought it was likely some lymphatic fluid buildup. He put her on antibiotics and told us to monitor it. The antibiotics seemed to work, the swelling went away, and we thought it was over.

Then, a week or so after the antibiotics ran out, we noticed that the swelling returned. Some days it seemed to be getting better, and other days it seemed worse. Havana was acting normal and eating and didn't seem to be in any pain, so we figured it wasn't anything serious.

In early October, we flew off to Phoenix for a wedding. My parents were watching Havana. Early Sunday morning, my mom called us and told us that they needed to take her to the emergency vet because she looked like she'd been shot. There was what looked like a puncture wound on her side. Back by her leg. (It was actually an abscess that had burst.)

Surgery #1
When we took her to the vet on Monday morning, they told us what it was - a grass awn. How we've never heard of this before, I have no idea. Apparently, they're very common and found all over the country. And now we know they are also very expensive. Anyway, they opened Havana up, found a "drainage track" which confirmed their suspicions, took out a bunch of small pieces of grass and sewed her back up.

A couple weeks later, we went in and had the sutures taken out. It seemed she was finally healing. Everything looked good until two mornings later. We noticed that she was paying particular attention to the area and to our horror we saw that the incision had opened back up. It was red and swollen again.

Surgery #2
So we took her back into the vet. They told us they had to go back in there. We left her for her second surgery and when we picked her up that night, we started the whole recovery process again. She seemed to be okay. But then we noticed that she was again swelling up at the top end of the incision. The vet had told us there may be a small amount of swelling at the bottoms as stuff drained, but it shouldn't have been at the top.

Back to the vet we went. To make a long story a tiny bit shorter, they had chosen to go the more conservative, less aggressive route with the second surgery because everything had looked so good. But when she got swollen up again, they realized they made the wrong decision and should have been more aggressive with their surgery.

Surgery #3
For the third time, poor Havana went under the knife. This time, the incision they made was twice as long and they took out some of the infected tissue. They sewed her up and we were very cautious with her. We made her wear the Cone of Shame at all times. We limited her activity to going outside to go to the bathroom and going downstairs to sleep. We didn't want to do anything to mess this one up. We were hoping this was it. When we took her in to have her sutures removed, she looked fantastic. The vet was very happy. And so were we.

Ten days later, we couldn't believe our eyes when we saw swelling. Again. We were totally discouraged and at a complete loss because it seemed we were in a never-ending cycle. How long would this go on? If she went under the knife again, how would we know it wouldn't just come back? We took her back to the vet knowing what we he would tell us. Because it was the fourth time and we felt like we were getting nowhere, we decided to get another opinion. (Her side, by the way, was getting worse by the hour, it seemed. The swollen area was getting bigger and it was obviously very painful.)

Surgery #4
The new vet confirmed what the other vet had told us. She needed another surgery. So we had no choice. We left Havana with the small hope that this vet would be able to do what the other one hadn't - find the cause of the swelling. Less than an hour later, the second vet called and (FINALLY) said she had some very good news. She had found the biggest grass awn she had ever seen in her life. And she's been doing veterinary medicine for a long time.

Here's what she pulled out of poor Havana ...

THAT little thing - a piece of grass - is what was responsible for months of stress and worry for us, pain and swelling for Havana, four surgeries and over $1,000 in vet bills.

Because of the amount of infection, they had to leave an open drainage tube from her wound for a few days.
So. There you have it. Our latest dog drama. I have some more thoughts to share, but I'll save those for another time because this is already way too long.

If you're still reading this, thanks for persevering! I'm willing to bet you're probably related to us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stop This Train

I have a post on Compassion's blog today and I'm pretty sure this is my favorite one yet. It's my heart, packaged in some words and a few photos.

I know I'm biased, but still. I recommend you read it. :)

My husband, a.k.a. Blog Editor Extraordinaire, exercised his editing powers and sadly John Mayer got the ax.

However, this is my blog, so here is the ending I originally wrote which is the perfect summation of my feelings ...

This makes me proud and sad and happy all at the same time. I truly feel like parent whose child is growing up too fast.

Someone tell me, how do I stop this train?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I just read the most moving blog post I think I've ever read.

Brant Hansen, a radio DJ whose blog I follow, was recently in Afghanistan. He went to Afgha... actually, you know what? Nothing I write can do his post justice.

Just trust me. You should read it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Puppy Love

This is what it's like every day when Chris gets home. I'm not kidding.

They greet him like he's been gone for a year.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Heartbreak at the Coffee Shop

I am in a very awkward situation right now. It's tearing me up.

I have an hour and a half to kill between my haircut and my book club, so I set up camp at the corner table in It's a Grind. I just sat down to enjoy my Praline Latte and am working on setting up my new computer when I notice the man and woman in the chairs beside me. They are very clearly arguing. Within a minute, it is obvious what they are talking about.

They are (not at all discreetly, mind you) trying to negotiate who gets what in their divorce. They're arguing about the house, the cars, the pet, the appliances - everything. It's awful. It's uncomfortable for me, but I can't help hearing them. I feel like I'm intruding on a very personal and devastating conversation.

The part where I almost start crying, though, is when they start arguing about what they will tell their kids. Obviously the kids are small.
"We'll just tell them daddy and mommy made a big mistake and should never have gotten married. That we'll be living separately now."
I know I'm still a newlywed and all, but I can't stop obsessing about how a couple gets from their wedding day to this point. How does it happen?? Chris and I have talked about how we can never EVER allow divorce to be an option. Ever. We cannot even allow ourselves to consider it for a second. Because the second we indulge the thought, even to write it off, it begins to take root.

I don't know anything about this couple. I don't know what circumstances lead them to this point. What I do know, though, is that my heart is hurting for them, and especially for their kids.

Meet Elember

A hurricane hit El Salvador this past weekend. I know this because I have to report on it for my job. Whenever there's a crisis, my task list gets reordered around that crisis. So as I was going about my newly rearranged El Salvador-focused Monday morning To Do list, I opened Compassion's home page.

And I fell in love.

This is Elember.
He's four.
He has the cutest bowl haircut I think I've ever seen.
And now half his country's under water.

Will you sponsor him? Or if you can't, will you forward this to someone who will?

I'm telling you, it would make Elember's day.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

'Tis the Season

Today was a momentous day.

After church we went Christmas shopping. But here's the remarkable part ... it was Chris' suggestion! You know I wasn't about to say no.

So the first hour we were at Costco. We even had lunch there - both of us for $3.17!! (Isn't Costco great?)

Then the next five hours we were at the mall. Yeah, I know. Five hours. I can't believe both of us lasted that long. Once we got going, we just decided to knock it out all at once. Actually, we spoiled ourselves a little too. Thanks, Old Navy!

In other news, I'm typing this post on my ... BRAND NEW MAC! Seriously ... it's so pretty I hardly want to touch it.

Maybe this new toy will help me to blog more frequently.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Nine years ago today was my first day at Compassion. Seriously? It feels like just last week I wrote this.

It's been one wild ride!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Tiny Little Burrito

Well, the news is out and all I have to say is ... FINALLY!

See I have this little issue with keeping my mouth shut, especially when I'm excited about something. And it doesn't get much more exciting than this ...

They told us a few weeks ago and it's been killing me to not say anything. (I had a couple close calls, but thankfully in the end no beans were spilled.)

This news is doubly exciting considering everything they've been through this past year. Congratulations, guys.

Pray with me for a healthy baby?

P.S. My super talented brother designed all those ads. Don't you think Chipotle should hire him?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cross Country Snowboarding

I apologize for posting three videos in a row, but this one is too good to pass up. (Thanks, brother.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No matter how many I see ...

these clips never seem to get old.

This is Danyl, a teacher from the UK auditioning for a television show called the X-Factor.

In case you missed them, here are the other two.