30 September 2022

The FBI Called - A Raising Parents Story

 You guys.  I mean...omg....YOU GUYS...Seriously.

Yesterday was a long day for me.  I'd worked all day, trying to get through startup and all that.  Lucy is feeling better thus more difficult to keep calm and quiet.  Then add Kevin phoning what-felt-like-every-fifteen-minutes for a variety of valid reasons.

By 5:00p.m. I was over it.  Super tired, cranky, over it.

Oh, wait, by the way: The vet declined to remove Lucy's stitches until Monday and extended bedrest/meds until then as well.  Five additional days.  So when I say Over It, I mean OVER IT.

Kevin came home and then went outside to do stuff.  He mentioned that he was going over to the parents for some reason that I can't recall now.

He phoned about fifteen minutes later and had The Tone.  The about to lose his sh*t tone. Sigh.

The parents fell for a phone scam and gave the "F.B.I." $2,000 in gift cards.


What had happened was Kevin went into the parents house and his mom was on the phone, looking rattled. He asked them who she was talking to and she waved him off.  Red flag.  Not only don't wave him off, there is no reason not to tell him who she's talking to.  He rose his voice and asked again.  She tried again to wave him off when he reached over and took her phone.

She freaked out and said that it was THE FBI and they had to talk to them and they had been working on this all day.  


Kevin answered the phone but of course, they had hung up.  

He made them explain what was happening.  The short version is that the FBI phoned and said they needed $2000 in gift cards from different stores in order to settle some fraudulent activity that had occurred.  She reports that she told them that her sons handle all of the financial stuff but they persisted, adding that the sons might be in on it so don't tell them anything.

So, instead of asking their sons or calling their daughter in-law who is ONE HUNDRED FEET AWAY FROM THEM AT ALL TIMES, they went to town and bought gift cards.


They went to Target and got a $500 gift Target card.

They went to Rite Aid and got two $500 Apple gift cards.

They went to Safeway and got one $500 Apple gift card.

Then they returned home and waited for them to phone and gave them the information.  This is where Kevin walked into the situation.  Actually, they had phoned back because she gave them incorrect information (thank you, dementia)

While Kevin was hearing this, the phone rang.  He answered it and they answered him.  He said it was a very soft spoken, overly polite guy.  When Kevin demanded to know who he was, he said that he was talking to his mom (called her by name) and needed to finish the conversation.  Kevin went all "I'm The Captain now" and then the guy tried to tell him he was F.B.I.  Kevin -  doggone he's quick - said "We both know you're not so now what?"  The guy hung up on him.

Then Kevin phoned me with that tone.  "The parents gave the FBI $2,000 in gift cards."

"G@dammit" is all I said.

"I'll be right over, we need your help."

Ten minutes later, he came over with the gift cards.  I had just searched for what to do in this situation while Kevin phoned the attorney for his work for advice.  


Try to close the cards.  I went to Target first and saw that the money was still there.  We phoned the store but they said you have to call the corporate office and they were closed.  I set that aside and began to work on the larger issue: $1500 in Apple gift cards.

While I'm on the phone with them - they were very helpful -  Kevin says that we need to "spend" the gift card at Target before the scammers do.   I went back to my work computer and began to buy two televisions.  By the time we did this, the scammers had used the card. #$#%@  So, there was $500 gone.

Meanwhile, Apple is working on suspending the cards so they are rendered useless.  

This is where it got complicated:  The first representative said that the amount could be refunded via the method the cards were purchased. 

The second representative stated they had to be returned to the retailer where they bought them.

Kevin went back over to the parents and explained that they were out $500 because we weren't quick enough and that we were working on the Apple ones.  He explained that they had to return to the stores to return them.  Kevin mentioned not to waste any time in the morning and get there so nothing else could go wrong.

We ate dinner at 8:30 pm, watched television for a minute then we both slept restlessly.

Kevin left at 5:15 in the morning and shortly thereafter, I was sitting at my desk and starting to work.  

At 6:35, my f-i-l phones me. He was already at the store waiting for them to open.  He had called Kevin to have him remind him what to do, much to Kevin's frustration because he was to CALL SURELY BEFORE YOU LEAVE SO SHE CAN BE AVAILABLE IF YOU NEED HELP.

Anyway. That's a whole other set of problems.

A few minutes later, my f-i-l phoned me again.  The store told him they could not take the cards back.  Why am I not surprised.

I told him I would phone Apple again and to sit tight.  Fifteen minutes later, I had to text Kevin to call his dad and tell him to come home. Turns out he already had so there's that.

What had to happen is:

Call the Corporate Office of the Store to file a claim.  I had to search for two telephone numbers, swim through the phone tree, wait on hold, then explain everything again to each person.

Of course they're not just going to give someone money over the phone, that's crazy. (intentional, sarcastic irony)   They both explained the process, which is the exact same for both companies:

Copy the cards, front and back

Copy the receipt

Email them to the provided email addresses (not public domain emails) with the claim number

Now you wait.

One of the stores emailed an auto-reply about thirty minutes later with a claim number.  The other store just did the same, some seven hours later.  But that's PROGRESS.

So, maybe they'll get the money returned. I'm skeptical just because it's fraud and it's a consequence.

Next step:

Report it to the local law enforcement; in our case: the sheriff's department.

I don't know if it's our area or all Sheriff's deputies but this is the second one I've spoken with who was very funny.

I explained that my elderly in-laws gave the FBI $2,000 yesterday.   Immediately, he says "Please don't be gift cards. Don't be gift cards..." And I finished his sentence with "$2,000 of Target and Apple gift cards."

He said that it happens A LOT and the stories are ever-changing.  The most recent one is Border Patrol, which is terrifying because that would be plausible in our case.  

I explained everything we did and he was very encouraging. He laughed at the taking the phone away from the parents and the comment "It's like raising teenagers."  He was sympathetic but realistic that we may not get the money returned.  He also said that while it's good/necessary to file a report, it's pretty futile.  

Next step is to file a report on the State and Federal websites.  Frankly, I don't have the energy for it today but will do it tomorrow.  If I felt like it would have any affect on the outcome, I would do it but it's futile.

Now we have to have yet another discussion with the parents about....everything.  They are just not able to handle their lives anymore.  I'm exhausted fixing things over and over again.  Kevin's exhausted with having to check in constantly and babysit.  We are not talking about the siblings who think they're helping and are, in fact, not.

Oh, wait...I was going to tell you about this but then EVERYTHING ELSE HAPPENED:

A few Saturdays ago, the m-i-l phoned and she needed help with an online order.  Not a shmamazon order, an online order.  I practically ran over there to see what she had done.

She was ordering brain improvement meds from Tom Selleck on the facebook because she "needs them" and "I know him from t.v. and he wouldn't lie."


So, if you're taking notes: you can search through facebook settings which ads have been viewed and/or interacted with.  This is the ONLY way I could a) figure out who she was talking about because my clue was "He's on the show with his family and they're all cops"  b) find the ad to see if she made a purchase. There wasn't so WHEW.

I mean..C'mon.  We think we have the fire put out and then they light another, bigger one.

The next idea we have is to get a landline phone with a voicemail and disable the ringer.  We'll forward all the doctors, etc. to the landline phone.  Then they are to only answer the cell phone if it's a family member.  We would then screen the messages every few days.  

I simply cannot think of anything else to do other than take their phones away, which is fun to think about but not a reasonable situation.

P.S. The FBI will never phone you.  Ever.

27 September 2022

A Complete Sh*t Show

 Contrary to my conspicuous absence, I am not dead.  I have wished for death a few times over the past weeks but alas, I am here.

No, not the 'Rona.  Almost worse.  Everyone is fine, everything is fine.  "Fine".  My sanity and carpet have taken repeated hits but here we are.

I mentioned a while back that Lucy had a growth and we had to have it removed.  It was on her bum and grew quickly, like in a month quickly.  Surgery was scheduled and breath was held.

They removed it, unexpectedly removed an anal gland also, and fast forward: it was like super cancer but they have gotten it all.  However, it can return but fortunately, in the same place if it does.  So that's mostly all good news.

Now, when I say the last three weeks have been a complete and utter sh*t show, I mean that ACTUALLY and LITERALLY.

What had happened was: the surgeon used dis-solvable stitches for the first surgery.  Those stitches held...checks notes...not at all, it turns out.  She was unable to control her body so there was poo where she laid, where she sat, where she stood, on her bum, on her blankets.  POO EVERYWHERE.

We can't keep her calm and resting and WORSE BY ALL THE MILES: she isn't able to keep poo inside.  It's like the bum was just open so she constantly felt like she has to poop and there is never not poop present.  AND she'll be sound asleep then something happens and she jumps up, runs around, tries to scrub her bum on whatever available surface whilst pooping.

AND THEN, we couldn't keep her clean.  It was matted on her tail and she was getting a diaper rash, essentially.  She started to resist being cleaned.  And she can't sleep through the night without pooping.  

In addition to the no stitches, they had us giving her pumpkin to make sure her stool was soft so she could have less pain with pooing.  So, lack of control AND not-quite-diarrhea.  Also: I may never eat pumpkin ANYTHING ever again. Ever. I have Pumpkin PTSD.

Finally, after a few phone calls where we were told this was "normal", I insisted and took her back to the vet.  She was red and swollen and clearly uncomfortable.  And, let me say it again: POO EVERYWHERE.

They took her to be examined and the Vet came out to the truck to talk to me, never a good sign. It's always the vet tech.  Yep, she needed another surgery. Not only FML but *swinging of arms all around* F*&K Everyone's Life.  They would phone me to let me know when and we went home.

The vet is twenty-five minutes away in my hometown.  We had gotten home, I had cleaned myself up and got her settled when the phone rang.  They wanted her at the clinic RIGHT NOW.  Back into the truck we go, back to the clinic.  

I dropped her off and they explained that they would keep her overnight this time for observation.  I was SO relieved just for that.  We hadn't slept in a week.  Imagine a toddler with explosive diarrhea for a week.  (We have since realized that parenting was NOT FOR US so thanks Universe for that)  The washer has not stopped since the surgery, there is plastic on my office floor, one of her beds are ruined and the frustration level was off of the charts.

One I returned home, I scrubbed the house from ceiling to floor, including washing the carpets.  It feels like the house will never be clean again.  I'm trying to ignore that the washer has begun making a sound during the spin cycle.


Totally bought an awesome carpet cleaner. Recommend 1,000 percent: 

It's like pressure washing BUT FOR YOUR HOUSE.  So satisfying.


We went to bed early, slept through the night, and in the morning they phoned with an update.  I did all my weekly errands then went to pick her up.  They sent home some more meds, continued bedrest and Oh, by the way, this resets the clock for TWO MORE WEEKS.  Yes, yes, I was teary and frustrated.

I mean, she can't be left alone. Not only was it Poo-apalooza, she would get anxious and want me RIGHT THERE.  She would prefer to be ON ME and in my personal space.  Instead, she was confined to my office with plastic on the floor and a regular exchange of blankets and towels.  FOR TWO WEEKS.  She's managed to work around every version and combination of the cone(s) in some way.  

Thankfully I work from home and this did allow me to get a truckload of work completed during my busiest time.  But with POO.  This situation was slowly subsiding and then it wasn't.

Now we're to Saturday.  I woke up and the dog was still with me on the bed.  Kevin reported that he came to get her three times and she declined.  He didn't think much about it but I was all "Oh...no..."  

Sure enough, she had pooed a little but now, there was a little blood.  Sigh.

Kevin took her outside to go potty (which had been going great post-second surgery) and she couldn't and she was bleeding.  Now we are on our way back to the vet for an emergency appointment, again.

She had not pulled her stitches but she had strained and tore the tissue a little.  I just KNEW she pulled her stitches again and it would be another two weeks. So, whew.  Instead, it's another vet appointment this week instead of a drop-off to get her stitches removed.

Then there's the new medicine.  The vet tech was explaining what it was and how to use it when she paused. "I have to ask is there anyone in the house that is allergic to Sulfa meds?"

BECAUSE WHY NOT.  Of course I'm allergic to sulfa meds.  

It is an ointment that has to be applied twice daily.  "You can wear gloves but be CAREFUL" (side note, quoting Kevin: "Why would she think we WOULDN'T be wearing gloves in the first place?")

They said again to keep her sedate and calm.  This is where I will express some frustration:


Lucy is so active so we have to keep her absolutely knocked out in order for this to happen.  I am medicine-hesitant already and this is making it worse.  Also, I hate to be repetitive but POO EVERYWHERE. We couldn't just keep her calm and sleeping 24/7 for two...now three...weeks without medication.

So after I dropped her off for the second surgery, I went to the independent pet store and bought CBD gummies for her.  We give her two - three, twice a day, and it mellows her out without making her unconscious.  Then we use the big guns for night time so we can sleep.

Oh, I didn't mention sleep.  After the overnight stay at the clinic, Lucy has decided that her crate is Guantanamo.  She refuses to go into it.  We moved it into our room and still so much no.  INSTEAD we have a layer of blankets under her and because we can't let her jump or roam, a leash tied to our bedframe to prevent her from leaving. Yes, a leash from one end of the bed to the other.

And she wakes about 2:00 a.m. and needs to go outside and a changing on the blankets.  Kevin takes her out while I change those and start the washer, again.  We sleep another (maybe) three hours then our day starts.  I've had to begin showering before Kevin leaves for work at 5:15 which I don't enjoy but it does make my day easier.

One of the suggestions for keeping dogs calm and sedate is to "Give them a view"  This made me laugh because....how?  Do we build her a deck in front of the window so she can see outside?  The vet and the pet store suggested Dog TV channel so I got it.  She is absolutely un-interested, COULD NOT CARE ONE BIT.  I tried to put her on the deck but if a rabbit appears, there is no SEDATE AND CALM, even with the meds.  Thus the Dog TV channel that she doesn't care about anyway and being stuck in my office.

Now it's Tuesday and she's both constipated and still leaving "tracks".  We are counting minutes until Wednesday's appointment to get the next steps.  The appointment was first thing in the morning then they had to bump it to the afternoon because the universe is testing me.  While it is supposed to be stitch removal and a return to normal, we both have a feeling that we're still a week out from that.  Unless she makes a miraculous recovery in the next almost-two days.

We had to have one of the nephews dog sit her one day during the week last week because we had made plans to go to Seattle.  Now we have an opportunity to go to the track in Canada this weekend and we're again trying to work out who can stay with her.  Just trying to coordinate that adds to the stress so we're not committed to going.  (we will have to wait until Spring to go if we don't though)

So, with all that there are two things:

We are in over $3500 in costs, probably more if I really thought about it, and that is a lot to spend on a pet, FOR ME.  We couldn't get pet insurance because it was considered a pre-existing condition.  AND the clinic doesn't take insurance so we'd have to pay out of pocket then get reimbursed anyway.  

Finally, the bigger issue:  the removal of the gland made the surgery significantly more of a thing than planned.  We are concerned that if this turns out that the poo thing is a non-resolving effect of the surgery, we have some big decisions to make.  

It's not just the mess, (but my gawd the mess)  it's the quality of life for Lucy.  She went from being a free and happy puppy who rarely heard "No" to being confined to one space, on a lead and wearing a cone, being told No a lot, being on painkillers, and not feeling well.  

So not only is Lucy at the end of her rope, so are we. Let's hope, but not expect, a good outcome at tomorrow's appointment.

04 September 2022

$1500 and A Travel Pillow

Because 2022 and I just need MORE to happen, Lucy is sick. She has a mass on her bum, literally on her bum. It appeared about two months ago, grew quickly, and as you've probably guessed: it's cancerous. It HAS NOT SPREAD and she's perfectly healthy otherwise. The Vet was very encouraging about the whole thing and that she's young enough that it's "worth it", if you get what I'm saying.

When it first appeared and the vet commented on it, we guessed that it would be a thing, more about the location than about the mass. Then it grew so quickly that it was a concern. I took her to the vet on Thursday afternoon and the results wouldn't be ready for three days.

I got a call from the vet on Friday. I knew it was bad news. 1) call from the vet, not the vet tech and 2) probably wouldn't hear until Monday and heard on Friday.

What's funny...ironic funny...is that I was standing in the middle of a nursery at the time. One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Seriously. Seriously. So the juxtaposition of bad news while being in a gorgeous setting was not lost on me. Also, Lucy was waiting for me in the truck.

Sidenote: Look at this gorgeous place:


Meanwhile, back to the original call from the Vet:

The most imminent task was getting blood work and xrays because if those came back with bad results, it was going to be a Whole Other Conversation. Where the nursery was about forty minutes from where the vet clinic was but luckily, heh: luckily...they are closed from 1:00 - 2:00 every day so that gave me time.

I finished getting what I "needed" and rushed to pick up groceries. I skipped all the other errands and hurried home. Unloaded everything and put Lucy back into the truck to leave.

Oh, this is where I mention that Kevin took an impromptu week of vacation. He was in Seattle, working on some racecars so he was out of town and a little out-of-touch. I decided that this was a Good Thing as the last thing he needed was to hear bad news. It could absolutely wait until the next day. And yes, this meant me shouldering this by myself but Hey, Hi, Hello, this is me. It's what I do.

Xrays and bloodwork was quick and we went back home and took a nap. Because mygawd.

Next Friday, she's having surgery by a specialist (because: why not) and the cost is $1500. So far, it's been $600 in exams, x rays, tests, meds and visits. Plus about $60 in neck pillows and no-lick spray. I mention the cost because this was just a topic of conversation: how much to spend on a sick pet and when to call it.

During the surgery, they'll remove the mass and hopefully it will be just fine. The concern is how close it is to....sorry, sorry, sorry...her anus. It's right on the edge. That's why a specialist instead of "just" a surgeon. The surgeon who splits his time between the midwest and the northwest, doing surgeries on pets; because this isn't complicated enough.

She has to have the neck pillow...or the "Elizabethan Collar" as the vet called it...on 24/7 now because she keeps fussing it. We have one that looks like a travel pillow, and it is cozy but cumbersome. Then we have another one that looks like a pool toy that she can wear outside. It's just a better material for outside:

Fun fact, she is able to reach the Area with both pillows. If not directly, then near.  Doggies lick their wounds because they think that's helping.  In this case, not helping and gross.  And this is where I share that we made Another Trip to the vet yesterday.  She was uncomfortable and licking and *hork* so the vet asked us to bring her in.

The original vet gave us a pain/inflammation reliever but it makes her high.  The other pill was Gabapentin, which is the nerve blocker I was on so no thanks. The vet today was NOT excited about giving meds so that makes me happy.   He did give an ointment (one of the worst words in the English language) that has to be applied twice daily to The Area.  *hork*  It's going to be a two-person job so this will be Super Fun.

And she has to wear the Travel Pillow all the time and not just at night.  I thought she would hate us and pack her bags but she's become accustomed to it now.  Unfortunately, we have to get the legit Cone of Shame for after the surgery but she'll be high and probably won't mind it.

When this is done, we're going to have to have the carpets cleaned because of "leakage" and licking. *hork*   I've washed her blankets and our quilt multiple times too.  Now it's basically not leaving her alone  PLUS the collar so that a further mess isn't caused.   I can't think about this too much or I'm burning the house down.

One of the worse parts of this is telling people.  Everyone loves our doggy and she has a little following on the social media.  I just included one of her photos with the neck pillow in the weekly post and didn't comment.  As expected, someone asked about it and I answered with a low-key answer.  We just don't need this more dramatic than it already feels.  Yet people care and want to know so it's a weird balance to try to keep.

The surgery is at 10 am on Friday and they will have her most of the day.  Then it's bedrest for a few days (that should be easy *sarcasm font*). I think we're going to try to keep her in her crate or on her big pillow in the living room.  Watching her NOW is stressing us out, I can't imagine when she's high and has stitches.  

Then hopefully we can just move on from this adventure.  We are assuming that this is true because anything else is unacceptable.  Again, the vet thought it would be okay but because of the location, it gets tricky.

Funny thing is she's still happy going on walkies. Her bum just bothers her.  She caught A MOUSE at the beach last night so this is not slowing her down at all.