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Archive for October, 2007

Not Such A Happy Halloween

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

As all of you know, my "gimp" status is well-earned. I have suffered from bad knees since birth, a condition that caused dozens of right-knee dislocations from the age of eleven on, and finally resulted in major surgery at the age of twenty-three; surgery that was supposed to "fix" me and aid me in living a more normal (and much less painful) life.

The dream was never to be - the 2001 surgery left me worse off than before. I've had arthritis in my knee since my earliest twenties due to the wear and tear my condition caused every time I took a step - I also scar terribly, resulting in a severe case of arthrofibrosis. Three months and two manipulations later, I was no better and have lived with a painful, "frozen" leg since.

In 2003, I underwent surgery to "clean out" the scar tissue. I woke up to my three-day hospital stay with 20 staples in my leg and a morphine drip, my leg being worked in a CPM machine. The machine came home with me and I stayed in bed most of the day hooked to it; at night my leg was bolted down into a Dynasplint, which put increasing pounds of pressure on my leg as I attempted to sleep to aid in regaining my extension. Things went well until winter fell, and the arthritis and pain left me unable to continue with my rigorous physical therapy - soon I was right back where I'd began.

Today I get by as best as I can with my condition. The doctors say there is nothing left that they can do for me except for a total knee replacement - something they'd like to hold off on for as long as possible as they only last approximately ten years and I am only in my twenties.

Recently, I began getting cortisone injections into my right knee; painful but somewhat effective. The first shot, on September 12, relieved some of my pain for a couple or three weeks. However, as the seasons began to truly change and the pressure and temperatures dropped, I began having extreme pain and difficulty with mobility again. My doctor agreed to give me another cortisone shot, even though it was soon because "your knee is so messed up, and there's nothing else we can do for you". I will, after this one, have to wait the normal three month period before I'm eligible for another.

The first injection in September - though painful - went well. I was sore and swollen for a few hours afterwards, something that putting ice and keeping my leg elevated healed quickly. This time, however, I was not so lucky.

The first time, The Worm came with - and drove me home. This time I went by myself (he was at work) and drove myself home, I also hobbled quickly around the house getting myself settled (leg propped up, ice placed atop). I have read that the cortisone shot, while not a pain killer itself, does give an anesthetic effect for the first few hours. It was during this time that I believe I over-extended my leg.

I had myself propped up on two pillows - instead of my medical-issued foam lift - and, in the less-feeling state straightened my leg out more than it is used to (or capable of) being extended. I remember pressing down on my leg with the ice pack, and a few hours into it feeling "odd"...that my leg was "straighter" than it normally goes.

This was quickly followed by extreme and agonizing muscle pain. I cannot move my leg without mind-numbing pain on the underneath of my leg - it feels, the best I can describe it, exactly as it did after waking up from manipulation procedures - where the doctors bent and straightened my leg past its normal limits, breaking up scar tissue in the process. I was always in utter agony waking up from those, as you can imagine.

So here I am on my favorite holiday, laid up in bed, unable to even make it to the bathroom without my long-since put up crutches - any weight placed on my leg at all sends me into spasms of muscle and joint pain. I am missing work (again) due to my leg problems, and now am going to miss out on my most beloved holiday.

I try not to let my leg slow me down or keep me from living my life to the fullest point possible - but times like this it is extremely frustrating and depressing. I am handicapped, disabled, and I will suffer with this condition (which will only grow worse) for the rest of my life. It's a daunting reality that I cannot help but face at times like these.

So here I am, laid up in bed, with my books, laptop, and the TV to keep me sane, thinking about how my usual luck caused my doctor yesterday to prescribe me a lesser dose (5mg) of my pain pills than I usually get (10mg) - something I'd just deal with had I not ended up this painful, unfortunate situation.

I hope this won't last but a couple of days - though I don't know for sure how long it will take to heal. The key is to stay off of it as much as possible. So send me your white light, good thoughts, and/or prayers - I certainly need them! Thanks for listening.

Daddy’s Little Girl

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

It's been awhile since I shared any Sweetpea-news - so I thought everyone would enjoy this precious vid I shot of my 17 mos-old niece (my Sweetpea) saying "Daddy".

Cuteness overload commencing...

Embedded Video

Blogged with Flock

Justice Prevails in Baton Rouge – For Once

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

I honestly didn't expect ultra-conservative Baton Rouge to vote out the no-liquor-Sunday blue law this past weekend. I hoped - but I didn't hold very high expectations.

I'd like to believe that our voters finally opened their eyes to the relevance of the separation of church and state in a democratic and free nation. Most likely, though, the "yes" vote comes from the considerable influx of the more liberal and open-minded New Orleanians now living in the capital city since Katrina.

Whatever the reason, it is something to celebrate - a landmark in the otherwise right-wing, unprogressive, overtly pious city in which I reside.

There was no valid reason - other than a Christian one - for not allowing the sale of liquor and wine on Sundays. In fact, city groceries and convenience store owners, due to the massive amount of revenue they were losing, convinced the city council years ago to allow the selling of beer after 12:00 noon. Restaurants, as well, were allowed to sell liquor (of any kind) after 11am and with meals.

It is obvious, then, that the refusal to sell hard liquor and wine was not intended to curb drinking or limit drunken drivers on the roads - had this been the case, all liquor in all places would have been off limits for purchase. Instead, the limited prohibition on liquor sales was, pure and simple, a blue law - one, in this case, created by Christians in an attempt to force everyone to acknowledge their sacred day of rest.

Such secular-based laws are completely unconstitutional - forcing everyone, regardless of their beliefs, to adhere to one particular religion's practices goes against the very notion of a "free" country. Freedom of religion does not just mean that you are free to worship as you please - it also infers that you are free to exist without another's religious views being forced upon you.

The majority of Baton Rougers agree - 61% of the city chose to nix the law, and it now goes on to the Metro Council for a final vote. Since voters also decided to give the Metro Council members a raise, one can only hope they'll listen to the will of the people and finally remove this arbitrary "law" from the books.

Justice does sometimes prevail - even in a generally unjust region.

Iggy Still Hostage

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

The fight for Iggy continues still.

I'd hoped to be able to write a happy follow-up to my Give Iggy Back post; instead, a battle of wills and ego has commenced with an innocent animal who can't speak for himself at the ugly center.

Marina Baktis, founder and owner of Mutts and Moms, and co-owner, Vanessa Chekrou, believe that Ellen is using her fame, money, and influence to bully the shelter into returning Iggy - which claims it does not place small dogs in homes with children under the age of 14.

Baktis and Chekrou claim to be looking out for Iggy's best interest, but one has to wonder how removing the dog from a home where it was happy and from a family that loved and cherished it is in Iggy's best interest. Instead, it would seem that their defiance stems more from not liking their authority questioned than any real concern for what is best for Iggy.

If Ellen wants to start her own rescue group then she can decide where the dogs go. Who is she to say who is a good home and whose not? And who is she to say where I should place my animals and how I should do this? I don't tell her how to run her show.
- Marina Baktis

When it comes down to it, Marina Baktis is putting her ego ahead of Iggy's welfare. A dog cannot speak for itself, and it is up to us - as their caretakers - to do what is best for them and to help them have the best life possible. If Iggy has become attached to this family and these little girls, tearing him away from them is unfair and cruel. Little Iggy doesn't understand what is going on - he doesn't know from rules and policies. He has no concept of the human egos that would use him as a pawn to satisfy their own bruised pride. He understands only that he has been taken from where he was happy, loved, and comfortable; he is likely sad and confused. How Marina Baktis can stand here and cite policy when a defenseless animal is hurting and heartbroken is beyond me.

I believe these women care deeply for animals and, usually and under different circumstances, do what is best for them. However, in this instance, they are allowing pride and ego to cloud their judgment - and it is an innocent dog and two innocent, young girls who are suffering because of it.

Marina Baktis's lawyer, Keith Fink, made the following statement:

She doesn’t think this is the type of family that should have the dog. She is adamant that she is not going to be bullied around by the Ellen DeGenereses of the world ... They are using their power, position and wealth to try to get what it is they want.

Again, this reiterates the belief that Baktis and Mutts and Moms has that they are being "bullied". Yes, they have received death, arson, and boycott threats - something that sane people and Ellen DeGeneres have strongly decried. The ignorant people doing these things have done nothing but exacerbate the entire situation. Still...Iggy and his family should not be punished because of it.

What Mutts and Moms seem to be missing is that this is not about Ellen DeGeneres getting her way; this is about two little girls crying over losing their dog, and a little dog being taken from a place where he was loved and happy.

Reports indicate that Iggy has been placed in a new home; a new home that could have went to another dog at the shelter. In taking Iggy from a stable, happy home, Mutts and Moms took away the opportunity for another needy pet to find its forever home. How can they - as people that claim to put their dogs' best interest first - justify this?

I fear this sad tale will have no happy ending. Mutts and Moms claims that Ellen has "ruined" their business...when in truth, it is they - with their willful, obstinate decision - that has done so. If Marina Baktis and Vanessa Chekrou put their own pride ahead of the animals they care for, perhaps it is for the best that Mutts and Moms is no longer able to operate.

Give Iggy Back!

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

The purpose of any no-kill, pet adoption agency is to connect stable, loving families with homeless and abandoned animals. This is usually accomplished with the help of selfless, benevolent volunteers who open their doors as foster homes for these animals until a suitable, permanent adoption can be made. Some 3-4 million animals are euthanized every year, and the altruistic efforts of these volunteers and adoptive families saves hundreds of animals from that terrible fate.

It would seem, then, that these agencies would do whatever is necessary to ensure the animals find happy homes, and would, at all times, have the animals' best interest in mind.

With that in mind, one has to wonder what the Pasadena, California-based Mutts and Moms had in mind when they took Iggy, a Brussels Griffon mix dog, out of the nurturing, happy home it had been placed in by its former owner.

The story began on September 20, when talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and her partner, Portia de Rossi, adopted Iggy from Mutts and Moms, a nonprofit volunteer organization run as one of the no-kill agencies described above and started by Marina Baktis.

Ellen and Portia tried everything to acclimate their six cats to the addition of Iggy, who Ellen describes as a "rambunctious" dog; even spending over $3,000 for training in an attempt to bring peace to their cats and new dog. When Ellen realized nothing was going to work, she made the difficult, yet best, decision for Iggy and her other pets...her hairdresser's family had been wanting a puppy.

It seemed the perfect home for a rambunctious puppy - the hairdresser and her husband had two daughters, aged 11 and 12, according to Ellen. Indeed, it seemed to be a perfect fit; Ellen describes daily updates and photos from the excited family about their newest and obviously much-loved member. Naturally, Ellen sees her hairdresser every day and she was able to keep up on the minute details of Iggy's new - and obviously very happy - life.

Into this happy story now returns Mutts and Moms.

Whenever a person adopts a pet from such an agency, they sign paperwork saying that should they - for whatever reason - no longer be able to take care of said pet it will be returned to the agency in question so that a new, suitable home can be found. The reason for this, obviously, is to prevent people from dropping pets off somewhere or bringing them to shelters where they might be euthanized - going against the very calamities these agencies attempt to prevent.

Ellen did sign such papework when she adopted Iggy, though - as she readily admits - neglected to read the fine print. She did not realize there was anything wrong with giving Iggy to the hairdresser's family, but feels she made a sound decision with Iggy's best interest in mind. To her horror - and the heartbreak of Iggy's new family - Mutts and Moms saw fit to remove Iggy from his new home because of Ellen's decision.

It is difficult to understand their reasoning, or believe they could even come up with any valid excuse as to why they chose to take a happy dog from a loving home - causing distress not only to the young girls who had become attached to him, but to the dog itself.

I am almost certain there are a good number of dogs still in need of adoption at Mutts and Moms, and cannot fathom why they would waste the time, money, and effort in seeking to confiscate and then re-adopt little Iggy. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Ellen admits she made a mistake in not contacting Mutts and Moms before attempting to place Iggy with this family; however, Iggy nor the family (nor Ellen, for that matter) should be punished for her blunder. It was a very simple and honest mistake. As you can see from this clip, Ellen is simply heartbroken over what has happened and begs the agency to return Iggy to the family that loves him.

Had Mutts and Moms truly been that worried about Iggy, they simply could have asked his family to come in for an interview, or traveled to his new home to make sure it was suitable and the family acceptable. The new family could have - and no doubt willingly would have - signed any paperwork that was needed or done anything the agency asked of them to settle this issue and secure Iggy as theirs.

Instead, Mutts and Moms decided to take an innocent little dog away from a home and family where he was happy, loved and comfortable and stick him in a foster home to await re-adoption. They broke the hearts of two young girls and have caused pain and tears to everyone that knows and loves Iggy - and all I can do is sit here and wonder why?

From what I have been able to tell, Mutts and Moms has removed its website and contact information from the web; apparently they have no interest in hearing what we - the disgruntled public - has to say. A cached web archive of the site, however, can be found here.

I have read that Mutts and Moms is affiliated with Paw Boutique; their site is also non-functioning at the moment. A Dog Lover's Guide to Pasadena, however, lists this information:

Paw Boutique
523 S. Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA

Support Mutts & Moms dog rescue by shopping at the Paw Boutique for all your pet supply needs: food, treats, toys, beds and more. Store also offers a pet food delivery service.

Their email address is pawboutique AT yahoo.com.

While I do encourage everyone to make their voice heard and ask Mutts and Moms to return Iggy to his rightful home, I ask that you also take into consideration the other animals there needing homes - boycotting this shelter only hurts the dogs that are fostered there...please do think of this.

I would like to believe that M&M had the best intentions and that someone just made a terrible and badly thought-out decision, and that the shelter will see what a mistake it has made and return Iggy. I hate to see any such shelter taken down or become nonoperational because they are so desperately needed. In your ire for this unfortunate and painful circumstance, please, remember the dogs there that still need homes; I ask that you find a way to express your frustration through something other than boycotting.

My message to Mutts and Moms is simple - please do the right thing, and return Iggy to his family and home.