Moki has been pretty sick for over a month--no appetite, rejecting his food, and losing a lot of weight. I took him to a local vet, but although the guy did some of the right things, it was a bad fit. He just didn't like Moki, and Moki and I didn't like him. So then we went where we should have gone in the first place--the Animal Medical Center--where Flash had such excellent care when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Even better, one of my writing colleagues, Eileen Palma, is married to one of the internists at the AMC. So we had a connection.
It worked from the get-go. Doug Palma, veterinarian extraordinaire, is smart, conscientious, and incredibly caring. From the moment Doug walked into the examining cubicle--photos of his wirehair Fox Terrier Oscar imprinted on the tops of his sneakers, LOL--Moki loved him. (Moki always--always--knows whom to love and whom not to love.) Doug got down on the floor with Moki, and Moki basically rolled over and let Doug examine him from top to toe. The conclusion was that Moki needed to have an endoscopic biopsy of his stomach and intestines, the worst possible outcome being some kind of cancer, which would have been a death sentence. The endoscopy was scheduled four days before Christmas. Merry Christmas.
It would be cruel of me to make you wait until the end of this blog for the outcome of Moki's tests, so I'm not going to do that. The great news was that Moki has no signs of any neoplasm (cancer) in either his stomach or his small intestine. What he seems to have is some sort of food sensitivity or allergy that caused all the symptoms. Yes, I learned, this can even happen to an animal who has had no prior health issues and has been fed premium food all his life. So he's being treated with drugs that increase appetite (he's eating like a dog again, I'm happy to say!), prescription-single-source protein food, and a wait-and-see attitude. Just watching him eat is extremely satisfying, because it was so hard watching him "not eat" for all that time. I'm cautiously optimistic that he will gain back the weight and be a healthy dog again. However, when we started the process, waiting for the results was excruciating, so here are some activities that helped me stay sane while I waited for the diagnosis. Hopefully they might help others in similar circumstances.
- Bake a lemon bread. My dear friend Cecily is a wonderful baker, and she is also very generous. So the first time I tasted her lemon bread, it was so delicious, I asked her to share the recipe, which she was happy to do. She told me she had bought one at a bake sale years before, and she loved it so much she asked for the recipe. So the lemon bread continues to be "paid forward." The last time I made it for some people, they all said I should post the recipe, and that's what I'm doing now.
Bread: 1-1/2 sticks butter; 1-1/2 C. sugar; 3 eggs; 1/4 tsp. salt; 2-1/4 C. flour; 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder; 3/4 C. milk; 1 lemon rind, grated; 1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice.
Topping: 1/2 C. sugar mixed with juice of one lemon.
Preheat oven to 350 deg. Cream butter. Add sugar, eggs, salt. Sift and add flour and baking powder. Add milk, lemon rind, and lemon juice. Bake 1 hour or until done in greased loaf pan. Cool for 10 min. Remove from pan and brush with topping. Enjoy!
- Rake leaves. One of the reasons (really not the primary one!) I moved to the city was to avoid having to rake the ridiculous amount of leaf detritus that fell into my back yard every fall. I think my record was about 100 big bags of leaves from all the huge deciduous trees nearby. My back yard was fully fenced in, so even though the trees were off my property, after the leaves fell within the area of my fence, they had nowhere to go. But I wanted a city apartment with a back yard for Moki, which I got, and there's a really huge old dogwood tree in it. So guess what? Even though it's already January, that tree still has leaves on it, and when those leaves fall, they are in my back yard. Deja vu all over again!
- Knit gloves. I love to knit. Some years ago, I heard of a place that spun wool from dogs' undercoat. So I began to collect that opulent undercoat from my Tervs--Flash, Sizzle, and Ava--when they were shedding. I acquired a few skeins of Terv yarn, which is warmer than sheep's wool and beautiful to work with. The results are not only beautiful but true conversation pieces. And knitting takes time, which is a benefit when you're biting your nails down to the quick waiting for the medical reports to come in.
- See La La Land. Suspend any disbelief you ever had, and spend two hours with this incredible movie. Magnum opus.
- Play music. This one's a no-brainer. I'm so lucky to have my harp. It "calls" to me every time I walk by it, and if I didn't force myself not to sit down, I probably wouldn't do much else besides play. Then there are The Canby Singers and The NY Cecilia Chorus. Also, I've been looking for a vocal quartet since I moved here from Boston and had to stop singing with The Ad Hoc Singing Committee. Yup, schlocky barbershop, pop tunes, G&S, crazy arrangements of Rigoletto and Xmas Carols, whatever--I love it all. And I may finally have found a group. So music continues to be my true love and the sine qua non of my existence.
- Write books. I just sold two more to Black Opal, which makes it a total of 8 they're publishing. And I'm well into my next opus, book #11, which is a divergence from all of the others I've written. I will provide details later. But the fun news is that my third book is set for publication in March, only two months from now! It's called Time Out, and it takes place in current-day New York City as well as Boston in 1886! Stay tuned for more details as I get them. In the meantime, On the Rocks and Four Shots Neat are both available--from Amazon or from me. So if you haven't read them yet, I hope you will!