Monday, June 28, 2010

RIMPAC, HGE, IVs, PCV and whatever else in all caps I can come up with

It's RIMPAC 2010! Are you read for an influx of ships and sailors? Pearl Harbor is. Possibly to the tune of an extra $40 million+ pumped into the local economy.

I had never heard of RIMPAC until a couple of weeks ago. Then I started seeing international flags going up all over the Navy Exchange and figured something was afoot. In short, RIMPAC is a joint military exercise that the US Navy conducts every two years with an assortment friendly foreign nations. It has made for a very crowded, very busy Pearl Harbor. They seem to be mooring warships wherever they can find room. When I first moved to Hawaii, and was driving around Pearl Harbor for the first few times, I was surprised at how quiet, how empty the place felt, especially after working hours. Granted, sailors with families live off base, so many sailors leave at the end of the day, but there are probably thousands of single sailors living in the barracks at Pearl. It struck me as odd that being on base after hours was like being in a ghost town. No one walking around, the bars on base relatively empty, most sports facilities idle except for the gym. Even Zac noted that the place seemed a lot more abandoned than when he was here in the early 2000s.

The arrival of
34 ships, 5 subs, 150 aircraft and 20,000+ sailors from 14 different countries has certainly changed the vibe around the place. I was over there on Thursday evening and Pearl Harbor was buzzing with activity. Sailors getting on shuttle buses to the Navy Exchange, maybe down to Waikiki, sports teams playing against one another (they have tournaments set up for five or six different sports), sailors actually lined up at payphones(!), and guys just walking around - destination and purpose unknown. It was kind of fun for me to see the place so full. I also thought it was really neat seeing all the different ships from all over the world. Who knew that the Canadian ships were a different color? (They're more of a green-blue than our gray-blue.)

The arrival of the RIMPAC ships also has meant the arrival of people that Zac hasn't seen in awhile. We were able to hang out with one of his friends from Zac's days on the Port Royal this weekend. I enjoy meeting people who have known Zac at different times in his Navy career. The stories are terrific. It sounds like the ships will be in port for a little longer then they'll get underway for a few weeks, head back in to port for a few days and then everyone goes home. Hopefully this means Zac will be able to have some more opportunities to hang out with his friends.

The other excitement around our house involves Toivo. [warning: this might be a little gross.] On Thursday last week Toivo started having the runs. That's not entirely unusual. Every now and again he'll eat too much grass or something and he has issues for a day. But this time around it lasted all day Thursday and Friday. I didn't think a lot of it since, other than the diarrhea, he seemed fine. On Saturday afternoon Zac noticed that Toivo was passing straight blood. That scared the hell out of me so I whisked Toivo over to our vet.

We couldn't get an appointment, but the clinic (which is also a 24-hour emergency vet hospital) does accept walk-ins. When we arrived a tech did a quick check to make sure that Toivo was stable. We ended up waiting for an hour and half to be seen. (I would have waited however it long it took.) The vet was concerned, but seemed to immediately know what was wrong with Toivo. He took a blood sample and ran a PCV test, which measures how much of the blood's volume is red blood cells. Toivo's was really high (64). Essentially that means that his blood was a lot thicker than it should be. Left untreated, the thickening of the blood can cause major complications.

The high PCV result confirmed the vet's suspicion that Toivo had Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE). The vet recommended an IV of fluids to get Toivo's blood back in balance and starting him on antibiotics. This meant a night at the hospital for Toivo. I'll admit, I teared up when they took him in back. Even though you know that you're doing the right thing, it still makes you sad to see your dog being taken away by techs to be kept in a strange and scary place for the night. The vet told me that most dogs respond to treatment within 24 hours and sure enough, he was right. I got a call Sunday morning saying that Toivo had a good night and that if his next PCV test came back normal, he could go home. Finally around 8 o'clock I got to bring him home. We were both relieved to be walking out of there.

So now that he's home, and feeling better, I can breathe a little easier. Toivo is still a little tired, but he's not suffering. He gets to eat specially formulated wet dog food that is easy on the digestive tract. (We never give the dogs wet food.) This drives Zoe nuts, which I'm pretty sure pleases Toivo to no end. (Don't tell Toivo, but I did slip Zoe a spoonful of the food when he wasn't looking, just to be sort-of fair.) And, of course, he's getting lots of love.

But I can't help but laugh at his leg. They had to shave part of it for the IV. Since Toivo is so fluffy, this has resulted in a spot on his leg that looked naked and alien. I tried to take some photos that accurately reflect the hilarity of it, but I'm not sure they do the trick.
This just confirms to me that I can never shave my dogs because they would look terrible. I bet they're only half their size under all that fur. But the inch and a half that Toivo has exposed is gut-busting funny. (Only because he's okay, though.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Who doesn't love a solstice?

Happy summer solstice to everyone. Enjoy all that sunshine, especially you folks way up north who get to enjoy a hint of light until almost 10. We're so far south here in Hawaii that the longest that the light is pretty much gone at 8:00. I do miss those long, Minnesota summer days.

I don't have much new to write about. My weekend was pretty good. Zac and I spent a lot of time hanging out. We even checked out a nightclub last night, since I was itching to go dancing. Turns out the place isn't as much a dance club as a lounge, but we still had a good time. It felt good to get dressed up and break out of the shorts-and-tank-top routine.

As many of you know, Zac and I have been trying to get pregnant for awhile with no success. It's something that I've stayed away from on this blog because, really, it's no one's business but ours. But I know many people are curious and, frankly, it's been one of the major topics on my mind and it's been tough not being able to talk about it. So I'm breaking the silence here and catching you all up on where I'm at.

Zac and I have been trying for almost a year. That's pretty normal I hear. But I'm also just about 33 and while I know I'm not too old, I also know that time is not on my side. I decided I need to know if there's something amiss, or if our timing is just bad. I spoke to my doctor about a month ago and she referred me to a fertility doctor. I had a bunch of blood drawn last week (test results pending) and an HSG on Friday. An HSG is not fun. Not at all. After experiencing the procedure I could probably list off 1,500 other things I'd rather do than endure another one. Essentially it's a procedure to see if my, er "plumbing" is free flowing. It involves iodine, the radiology department and some serious discomfort. But the results of the test were positive: my tubes are nice and open and a blockage is not the reason for my lack of pregnancy.

I'll go in for more blood work in a couple of weeks and Zac will have to go in to have his numbers counted. (I'm going to try and leave Zac out of this conversation as much as possible, since I'd like to protect him as much as possible.) We won't know if there's anything "off" until we get him checked. I'm still convinced that our timing is just wrong and we've just been unlucky up to this point. But it is frustrating. I have friends and family that are in various stages of parenting and pregnancy and while I am deliriously happy for them, it's hard not to feel frustrated about the whole thing. I hear about people getting pregnant unintentionally or at a young age and I think, I did it right, right? I waited until I was married and in a good place emotionally and economically in my life - why is this taking so long? There are moments I feel incredibly selfish and angry, and then there are moments where my patience kicks in and I'm fine with waiting until Fate decides it's time. But it can be an exhausting roller coaster ride.

Adding to the emotion is that there are moments where I want nothing more than to be a mom, which are then occasionally followed by moments where I absolutely relish not having children. It's a give and take that I intellectually understand - you give up some perks as a childless couple for other perks as parents. I say "intellectually" since I can't understand what it's like to be a parent yet. I know full-well the perks of being childless. Going on vacation whenever, going out to dinner without interruption, the lack of child-rearing-expenses, etc. You life gets to be all about you and your spouse when there are no kids. And doesn't that sound pretty gosh darn appealing?

But then the other day I was in line at the check out at the grocery store and there was an 18 month old little girl in the cart in front of me and I couldn't help but make silly faces at her, trying to make her smile. And then she smiled at me and we played peek-a-boo for a few minutes. And that's when it washes over me - I'd be good at mothering. I believe that. And I would like the chance to try. I swallowed the lump in my throat as she and her mom paid for their groceries and headed to their car.

If kids aren't in our cards, for whatever reason, I'll be able to make peace with that. I've got plenty of love to give my nieces and nephews and friends' kids. I just want to know if it's a physical issue or just Fate messing with me. Since it's the summer solstice tomorrow, perhaps I need to sacrifice a small woodland-creature to some fertility goddess like Haumea. I suppose it couldn't hurt. Or maybe I'll just leave Her a chocolate chip cookie. I never was one for harming cute, furry animals, even if it potentially tilts the scales in my favor.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memorial Day, work and travel plans

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend last weekend. We spent almost the whole weekend socializing with friends. It's fun to spend time with everyone, but at some point you feel like you've been eating and drinking for too long. It also didn't help that one of our friends made a key lime cheesecake as a dessert for their bbq. A key lime cheesecake. It was sooooooo good. It took a fair amount of restraint to keep from having a second piece. Like I needed cheesecake in the middle of this weekend! It was good to get back to normal life (and normal eating habits) when Tuesday rolled around.

After a three week hiatus, I'm back to working on my legal editing work. It's always nice to have some time off, but after a while the bank account starts to dwindle and the panic starts to set in. The impression I got from my supervisor is that this is the last project for me - really and truly the last. I've had a stay of execution for the last 12 months as he's always been able to find more work for me to do. He warned me this last time that there isn't anything else available after this current assignment. I spent some time the other day updating my resume and searching online for jobs. I even applied for one - another job submission off into the mysterious hiring world hidden by the internet. I got the confirmation e-mail that they received my submission, but I won't be holding my breath to hear from them.

My contractor status been the best possible work situation for me out here in Hawaii. If I was working a full-time office job I wouldn't be able to do nearly the amount of traveling and spending time with Zac as I do. I've heard from other Navy wives that sometimes it's better to cut back on work when they're home (shore duty) and ramp up to full-time when they're gone (sea duty). Especially as the ships have leaner and leaner manning, the guys are working longer and longer days, even when they're in port. And then they leave for months on end - why not work then? (I suppose having kids changes that equation - once the guys are underway, why pay for childcare so you can go to work to pay for said childcare? I'll debate that issue when it comes up.)

Anyhow, I'm happy to be back working, even if it is only for a few more weeks. It's money in the bank and good for my sense of self worth. Once the project is all done I suppose I could work on that children's book that everyone keeps harping on me about - it's a lot harder than you think people! Blogging does not make me good at creative writing. I've got friends that went to school for writing - and they have spent years working on their craft. I have not. I've got writer's block and I haven't even started. (And beside not knowing what to write I have other issues like, how the heck can you write a picture book when you have no pictures? 15-30 words on a plain white page doesn't make for engaged readers.) It's all rather formidable and daunting and it's like standing at the base looking up at Mount Everest.


Wow. Got a little sidetracked there.

Going back to the flexibility that being less-than-full-employed offers, Zac and I are in the process of trying to figure out a trip back to the mainland this fall. We'll probably spend a good chunk of time in Nebraska together, then he'll head back to Hawaii, with me continuing on to Minnesota for a while. Zac is due a long trip home to the farm - he hasn't been back since we came out here. I'd like to get him up to MN, but that just isn't going to be in the cards for 2010.
I'm planning on being out in MN after Megan has her second child (in July) and my cousin has her first (in August), so I'm shooting for something in September. I should start looking for Minnesota Twins tickets and Gopher football tickets now. The thought of catching a baseball game and a football game in our new stadiums sounds delightful. Living in Hawaii is kind of like living in a live-sporting-event-abyss. Yes, I can go to Warrior football games but going to a UH football game at Aloha Stadium is like going to a Gopher game at the Metrodome. (You MN people know what I mean.)

I'll have more concrete dates as September approaches. Just keep me in mind, and hopefully I'll be able to be see everyone this time around. I missed seeing my friends last time. Hopefully I'll be able to spend some time reconnecting this time around.