A Summer in Missoula!

Well, it looks like I’ll get to stay here in Missoula until at least the beginning of August. The hospital here extended my contract again to help cover for several changes they will be implementing. I’m not going to argue because there is so much to do here during the summer that I didn’t want to miss. Things such as…

Glacier National Park, for one. I was so worried that I was going to miss out on seeing the park that I was willing to drive up and look around as best I could in just one day. Now I”ll have the opportunity to really see the park and hopefully spend a day or two there. I’m told it’s something you don’t want to miss and will never forget. I even have an offer from a coworker to show me around if our schedules allow. She used to be a guide up there and knows all the cool back trails.

Floating the river! I haven’t done that in years and, even though I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to sunlight, I’m willing to buck up for this! Even if I have to buy out the sunblock at Walmart.

Testicle Festival. That’s right, I said testicle festival. It’s actually a thing and man, am I intrigued. A friend told me about it a month or two ago and I thought she was joking until I passed about five billboards advertising it on the way out of town. I’m not entirely sure what it’s about but here is a link to their website, testyfesty.com. I can’t make this up, people.

Fulfilling my beer card at the Rhinoceros bar so I can get a free t-shirt. As my friends and family know, I will do almost anything for a free t-shirt. This beer card requires me to drink all 50 of their draft beers, not in one night or even in one month so it’s definitely doable. Luckily, I like beer and I’m not a beer snob so I’ll try all kinds. If I don’t like it, I can generally find someone to pass it off to.

I’m sure there are a lot more things that I’m either forgetting or haven’t discovered yet. I’m definitely open to suggestions if anyone has any!

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National Laboratory Professionals Week

Last week was National Laboratory Professionals Week which celebrates everyone who works within the lab, from phlebotomists to techs to pathologists. While not well known, like the jobs themselves, it’s still a lot of fun and nice to be recognized. The lab that I’m currently working at in Missoula made sure to celebrate the way lab folk do – with food!

In honor of lab week, I thought I’d share some humorous lab comics with you all.

Disclaimer: I’m using my phone to post this as I’m out of town and without proper internet so it’s a 50/50 chance the pictures will work. Sorry! Also, I got these pictures from a Facebook page called ‘Lab Humor’. Highly recommended for all lab professionals with a sense of humor.

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Guilty.

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Someday I hope to be given the chance to say “Eureka!”

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I can’t wait until next year! Who’s wants to play?

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My poor blind dog does this sometimes, but I have a feeling it’s more because she missed the bed and less because she wanted to play out osmosis.

In all seriousness though, thanks to all of my fellow lab nerds out there for all that you do!

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My Poor Blind Dog

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If my dog could read this, she would howl in disagreement to the term ‘poor’. She is the epitome of happy-go-lucky and has the ability to bypass every difficulty with ease. Yes, she is sleeping in this picture, but you would never be able to tell because she doesn’t have eyes. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that.

My dog’s story is long, even though I’ve only had her a little over two years. She is approximately 10 years old and is a rescue pet. I picked her up from a “rescue group” in Salt Lake City when I lived there. Once I finally got a hold of the group and convinced them to let me adopt her (the correspondence took weeks which was strange to me), the lady that I was emailing told me to pick her up from a local groomer. She told me all of her vet records would be there with her. I was told she was about 2 years old, current on her shots, and had been fixed. Well the groomer handed her over without any knowledge of vet records and told me to contact the rescue group lady again. I was told the dog was named Minerva (yeah, who does that to a dog.) That name lasted until I got to the car. I’m pretty sure she had never ridden in a car before, or at least in the front seat by herself, but she was a trooper and smiled at me the whole way. Even though she had just been groomed she had terrible breath, which should have been my first clue.

When we got home, she would happily interact with me but wouldn’t relax if I held her. In the apartment she sat by the front door and watched the Criminal Minds marathon intently, but she wouldn’t come in any further unless I picked her up and moved her. She especially enjoyed the gunfights. After constantly hounding the rescue group lady for the vet records I finally got a copy of the rabies vaccination, but that was it. She finally just stopped responding to me. Not trusting them at all, I set up Miya (new and improved name) with a full check up at my vet to get all of her immunizations complete. Once there I discovered that this poor dog had a double ear infection, a mouth full of abscessed teeth, and two parasites (hookworm and giardia, both transferable from dog to human…awesome). I immediately went home after this appointment and bleached my entire apartment. Twice. The vet was unable to tell if she had been fixed due to the lack of scarring and let me know that, according to the few healthy teeth she still had in her mouth, my dog was 7-12 years old. Not 2. The rabies vaccination record that I had been given was a fake, since there is no vaccine in production that was good for the length of time the paper stated. Apparently, this “rescue group” is well-known in the area as being fairly shady. I was told by the group that Miya was a puppy mill rescue but some say this “rescue group” runs the mills and then “rescues” them when they get too old. In any case, I had no qualms adopting a senior dog and I’m glad I was able to get her out of there.

After a major surgery to remove 19 of her rotten teeth and lots of antibiotics and medications to get rid of the parasites and ear infections, I had a healthy and happy dog. She was finally beginning to warm up to me. She would lay down on my lap but still wouldn’t fall asleep. Here’s her a few months after I brought her home.

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She had a hard time understanding that the concept of the booster seat was to help her look through the window on her side of the car. Look at all of those snizzle spots on the window, though. Gross, Miya.

For the next year she was mostly healthy with a few bladder infections and issues with her anal glands not draining properly. Trust me, that one is more gross than the parasitic diarrhea. Even still, almost a year after I had her she was finally given a completely clean bill of health; I still have the lab results to prove it. That’s when she started to go blind.

She would start bumping into walls and tripping over things that were out on the floor. After about a week I noticed her eyes were a little hazy so I made her an appointment for the next day. They initially diagnosed her with glaucoma and sent me, no joke, to a doggie ophthalmologist. The doggie ophthalmologist then told me that it wasn’t actually glaucoma, but she did have a couple other issues. She had eyelashes that were growing in the wrong direction which were scratching her corneas (technical term: ectopic cilia.) She was also unable to create tears to help prevent damage (technical term: keratoconjunctivitis sicca.) They plucked the offending eyelashes, gave me a million and one eye drops to administer multiple times a day, and set me up for a follow-up appointment the next month. At the follow-up appointment they plucked a few more eyelashes, announced that one of her eyes had begun to create tears, and took back what they had said regarding glaucoma. I included links to each of these conditions if you’re interested in reading up on them. The website is for the place I took her to. I highly recommend them if you are near one of their locations and have a pet with eye issues. Anyways, some dogs are able to live a long and happy life with the proper treatments, but Miya was not one of them. She was completely blind within two months and the extreme pressures were uncontrollable in three. When the pressures began causing grand mal seizures we began discussing final treatments. Since she was already blind and had other issues on top of the glaucoma, the doggie ophthalmologist suggested the eye removal surgery. The pain would immediately stop with no chance of relapse. There are injections that can be done instead of the surgery, but they have a chance of failing and are not exactly a cheap alternative. 

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This was her at the vet after her seizure. She constantly had this pained look on her face that was just heartbreaking. Even still if your hand, or arm, or face got close enough to her face you got kisses. She is always available for kisses.

The next week she had the surgery and I will skip the part about how terrible she looked with the swelling and the stitches and the dried blood. The part I do want to discuss is how playful she was just hours after she came home. She hadn’t played in months and here she is, post-surgery, playing like crazy with the stuffed dog my mom had bought her to snuggle with. I hadn’t realized how terrible those eyes made her feel until then. She healed quickly and never missed a beat. I went from about 10 different medications to the occasional pain medication, and then to none at all. It was fantastic.

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Post-grooming. She’s so tiny without all that fluff!

When she first went blind I was told that I should never rearrange the furniture and that she would never want to go on walks, particularly in any unfamiliar areas. Well I’m here to say that my resilient puppy handles moving every three months like a champ and will go on long walks in new areas no matter where I’m at. She only puts up a fight in snow and rain. She just doesn’t like being wet.

I feel like if she had to choose a senior quote it would be, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming” I try to be a positive person and look on the bright side of things, but I will never hold a candle to this dog. She’s been through hell and still welcomes each and every person she meets like they are the best thing that has ever happened to her.

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She is an amazing dog and, even though I joke about how expensive she’s been and that it’s a good thing she’s pretty, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I’ll leave you with this beaut. Miya defying the typical blind dog stereotype and enjoying her vacation at the Ft. Laramie National Historic Site.