The Indignities of Aging

As I approach forty, I notice more and more wrong with my body. I’ve got aches in my joints, a little bit of mitral valve prolapse, a degrading C6-C7 disc in my neck, a white-matter hyperintensity on the front of my brain, and my hearing’s been going since my days in the Army. And now there’s a new interloper on the block: asthma.

See, for the last 18 months or so, I’ve had problems with fatigue, shortness of breath, and a drop in my power output when I’m on the bike.

During my full work-up a few months ago, they subjected me to a lung function test, and while my lung capacity is above average for my size (a happy 6.5 liters), my flow rates had some issues. Two weeks ago, during Theo Wirth CX, I heard someone wheezing, looked around and realized that it was me. A rude shock to be sure.

I am now on albuterol, which is a good thing. As a precautionary measure, I’m going in for an echocardiogram to ensure that the mitral valve prolapse hasn’t gotten any worse.

3 thoughts on “The Indignities of Aging”

  1. Dan –

    Martha asked me to respond here to prevent our blog from getting inflammatory. I agree with your assessment that our shelter failed Spike. Unfortunately, it would be hard or impossible to hold them accountable for that because they and others would dispute that characterization. The shelter (and readers like “allforthem”) would claim that a vet recommended putting Spike down, so trying to keep him alive was “selfish” on our part. The people in charge at our shelter reflexively defer to the opinions of vets.

    What they don’t understand or won’t accept is that vets rarely deal with small, sick kittens. We’ve seen dozens of vets over the last few years, and most of them readily admit that. When we make an observation or suggestion, most vets listen and encourage us. They readily give us subcutaneous fluids and syringes to use at our discretion. What drives us crazy is that our shelter won’t do the same, despite the fact that kittens suffer as a result.

    The people who know the most (and who state that fosterers absolutely need fluids on hand) are the super-fosterers like the expert we visited with Spike. Most of what we know we’ve learned from two books we bought about raising orphaned kittens, and both were written by super-fosterers.

    The vet who recommended that Spike be put down made a reasonable judgement based on his experience, Spike’s condition, and shelter economics. If Spike were our pet, he might have emphasized Spike’s chance at recovery. What shocked us was that even when the economics were stripped away (we were willing and able to nurse Spike back to health at no charge) and the human-animal bond (our attachment to Spike) was clearly evident, the shelter chose to rebuke us rather than bend its rules.

    As Martha pointed out in her comment, this attitude at the shelter is relatively new, and we attribute to the departure of managers we used to work with and their replacement with younger, less-experienced staff who don’t seem comfortable with empowered and experienced volunteers.

    We realized the winds had changed when we were leaving for vacation in March and contacted the most experienced fosterer at the shelter (we’re probably the second most experienced) about taking care of our two “Bottle Rocket” kittens during our week away. She agreed to do it, so we asked our recently-hired shelter contact whether that would be OK.

    It was, but we were told that we shouldn’t have contacted our fellow fosterer directly. In the future all such inquiries should go through her. If you think about that for a few minutes, you realize how inimical that attitude is to the goal of helping small, sick kittens. And that lack of empowerment and trust pervades the shelter staff-to-volunteer relationship now.

  2. Hi Dan,

    I just wanted to respond to Ted. Sorry to hijack your blog!

    Ted, if all the management changes at the shelter are resulting in poor animal care, then some action should be taken. You have just described two examples of the shelter being crummy to its most experienced fosters. Are there more? Do other fosters have examples?

    I understand you want to keep things calm and be professional, yet you could do that while getting the word out. This is the kind of thing a local newspaper would be interested in and you could always be background (like Deep Throat). Another technique is to tell the story to a friend in the area and ‘forget’ to let him/her know that you don’t want the information released and oh by the way here’s the number for the paper I understand so-and-so is interested in animal welfare stories…

    Just something to think about… If the upper management of the shelter is so bad that they have driven off the more experienced/confident/ caring workers, something will have to change or hundreds of animals will suffer.

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