December 31st, 2001


In Review: The Year of the Monolith

I still want 1999 back....

For the first time in years, Warren was able to be with me New Year's Eve. We went to my favorite New Year's Eve party, the annual one at Mike Ward and Karen Schaeffer's house. After lots of good conversation, we and several dozen friends toasted the new year and watched as folks shot off rockets and fireworks. The last time Warren and I spent NYE together had been the year I filled in the 4pm-midnight shift because the gal doing Sunday nights at the time wanted off and knew I liked Warren. (This is way before he and I were "an item.) It was also the night of our first kiss. (Gush gush)

Anyhow, back to 2001....

I had just fallen out of the loop with my health club's personal trainer program. Then I contracted pneumonia. I was bedridden for the month of January. Fuzzball spent most of the time by my side, only leaving to eat and "go to the bathroom." I wound up "talking" like her at the end of the month. DEEeeeeEEEEEF! Nyai-YEE? Nyarf.

My then-employer, BroadVision, had started having financial problems as part of the dot-com fallout. Our customers were going under, so we were losing business. Our first layoff was in early February; my best friend Diana was one of those cut. This effectively doubled my workload. A junior writer who'd been hired straight out of college and who'd started right before the layoff (and thus avoided the axe) was put on my project, but she wasn't able to do as much work as a senior writer. To make things worse, she was cocky and arrogant. Ugh.

April came, and with it, another layoff. Nobody in my group got the axe, but the two women in the double cubicle across from me were axed. At this point folks had been suspecting IT would be extra-sneaky about how to hide who "got it." I managed to figure out how to get around their tricks and actually came up with a list. One of the IT guys nosed around through my printouts and tried to get me into trouble for figuring out their algorithm, but it didn't work because my grand-boss was smart enough to know what I did. I deleted the file with the obvious filename and told a few trustworthy folks where the backup copy was hidden.

My boss and I had a bet as to when my product would ship. I won it, but I never got to collect because both of us got laid off the day after it shipped. I still don't know whether he knew I was getting the axe. He sensed he was, and we all knew this other guy in the group who was both highly paid and underperforming was going to get it. My getting laid off surprised my group. I suspect it was because I was the next highest-paid writer in the group.

The weekend after at Westercon I got poisoned by the con hotel; they told me there were "no mushrooms in the meat sauce." I blew three job interviews the following week.

Yet another layoff took place in July. The next-highest-paid writer in my group (the only other one with the title "Senior Technical Writer") got the axe. I had thought my list of layed-off employees caused my demise until this.

Fuzzball's health had deteriorated through all of this. She started having seizures roughly every 10 days. The folks at UC Davis overdosed her on Phenobarbital and she stopped breathing. They got her back, and she was feisty enough to spit out the respirator tube, but she was never the same afterwards. When Warren and I picked her up she didn't recognize us.

She eventually started warming up to us when she realized We Brought The Food, but she was less affectionate. She became incontinent, so we wound up putting her in a pen in the den and lining the floor with a vinyl tablecloth and butcher paper (newspaper stained her pretty white fur).

Somewhere in all this the staff at the veterinarian's office did a full changeover. Instead of Dr. Madden, an animal-lover worth shlepping for, we got "Dr. Death," this woman who Fuzzball disliked upon first meeting. Fuzzball rarely disliked anyone, so this was noteworthy. This doctor had it out for Fuzz upon first meeting. (I later learned she was eager to euthanize any older dog, no matter how alive and happy the animal was, but it was too late by then.)

As Fuzz kept getting worse and worse, Diana's father also started going downhill. In October, Fuzzball had a stroke. We could tell because she was circling tightly in one direction. I took her to a neurologist in Rohnert Park; he offered little hope.

Diana got a call from her family saying her father was dying. She was distraught, so Fuzz and I drove up with her. Fuzzball spent the week recovering from her stroke, behaving amazingly well. She clearly enjoyed having full run of the mostly-carpeted house. She also found a ledge she could jump off into a bed of hay. Diana found Fuzzball's leaping both amusing and frightening. I only wish I'd seen it. Fuzzball loved to leap off high surfaces. By the end of the week she was no longer walking in circles.

Diana's father, OTOH, was deteriorating. The tumor around his colon was metastisizing and had grown to where it had practically closed his colon shut, forcing him to throw up a lot.

I helped around their house, picking fresh blackberries and making cobbler, and Fuzz and I flew back a few days later. Diana's father died, and it was like living through my father's death all over again. It turned out he died around the same day my paternal grandmother had died back in 1988.

When Diana needed to drive back, I flew up. We stopped at a yummy cheese factory and I blew a wad on cheddar. I'm still going through it. I also got a speeding ticket on the way back on the one stretch Diana's car went past 65mph. Damn.

A week later Fuzzball had another stroke. This one was bad. Let me rephrase that: This one was bad. I was up with her while she moaned in pain for a couple of days. She had another seizure and bit her tongue rather badly, so badly she didn't want to eat.

The next day I took her to her "regular vet's" office. "Dr. Death" was the one on duty. Had I known this I'd have taken her anywhere else, but it was too late. Just as "Dr. Death" was coming I tried to open Fuzz's mouth and noticed maggots coming out. Eeeuw! "Dr. Death" started going on about how "I didn't know she was so toxic!" and "We're going to have to shave her there" (as if that was going to make me love her any less) and rushed off to don rubber gloves.

"Dr. Death" wanted me to take Fuzz to the emergency clinic of her choice and not ours (I figure there must've been kickbacks involved), but I instead opted to take her to the emergency clinic near home with the nice doctors and staff we knew and loved. They charged less and did more for her, but alas, they sent her back to the "regular vet" and "Dr. Death."

It became clear "Dr. Death" wasn't going to help Fuzz, so I finally opted to take her to Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Altos because I'd heard such good things about the place. Unfortunately, Adobe has gotten big, and they neglected Fuzz. The doctor who first saw her was okay, but Fuzz got transferred to another doctor who couldn't wait to euthanize her. I didn't want to give this guy the pleasure of doing so. He neglected her eye infection, and he ignored the "do not administer phenobarbital" line in her chart, making her worse, when he should have instead given her steroids and mannitol to cut the swelling in her brain.

Finally I was able to get a second opinion. That doctor suggested I take Fuzz up to the senior neurologist in Rohnert Park (she'd seen the junior one), because "If Dr. Pedroia can't help her, nobody can."

The morning I went to pick her up her kidneys had started to fail, so the doctor gave her something to try to jump-start them. It took some coaxing and the signing of payment plans I knew I couldn't meet to get her out, but I took her to Dr. Pedroia's office the morning of November 9th. Warren went with me at my request. We stopped at home before heading up 101, and on my answering machine was a message telling me I'd just landed a job.

When we got to Dr. Pedroia's office 1.5 hours later, Fuzzball, who allegedly couldn't swallow, had consumed several ounces of bottled water while cradled in my arms. She was starting to moan in pain. It was awful, only made more so by her "doggie love noises" in between. It was as if she was pleading with me to get rid of the pain and not have her put down.

Dr. Pedroia looked at her and said it looked like she'd suffered irreparable brain damage, thanks to the folks at Adobe, who'd give her the wrong treatment. He confirmed what I'd suspected about the phenobarbital and the other stuff. He said he could try to get her kidneys back online, but he said it looked bad as far as the brain went. He said she was "nearly comatose" and could go on like this in a perpetual semi-seizure for another six months, and that all we could do was drug her out of her misery.

I gave him permission to euthanize her. He was the first doctor outside of the emergency clinic who had offered a solution other than euthanasia, by saying we could take her back home and inject morphine every few hours. I was willing, but I could see Warren wasn't. The fact that this guy wasn't showing enthusiasm about euthanizing her was what made me comfortable about him doing so, if that makes any sense. He didn't want to spend more than 48 hours on Fuzz because, as he put it, "my staff gets attached to these animals, and it hits them really hard when one of them goes."

I just wish he hadn't kept lying to her and saying, "Everything's gonna be all right" when it's part of my religious beliefs that all animals must be treated with respect, and that if you're going to kill an animal, you must be honest with it.

That night we tried to get dinner in San Rafael, but the damned restaurant told us there were no mushrooms in the meat sauce. (Sound familiar? Maybe that should be the Catch Phrase of The Year.)

A little over a week later, I started as a contract tehcnical writer at Cadence, then left to be Fan GOH at Loscon 28 in Burbank. I was really drained, and it showed. :-(

I got back from the con and immediately plunged into work. This month I've been working like a madwoman, trying to pick up hours at the radio station to make up for the ones I've lost when Cadence shut down for Christmas and New Year's. My search for a female bichon frise puppy has been futile so far.

Somewhere in there 9/11 happened. I never got called in to help at the radio station (KLIV) even though I was available and eager. I did get to be on the air when the bombing in Afghanistan started, prompting some truly horrid impromptu filks as I almost added too many "lalas" to "Jalalabad" in one of my reports on sister station KARA.

In conclusion: 2001 had potential, but except for Loscon, it sucked.

Time for me to get ready and go to Mike and Karen's party. Right. OTOH, staying home would depress me more.
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