September 21, 2013
She always looked as if she had just put fresh eyeliner on her golden eyes.Nothing bothered her and she loved wandering around the yard.She was always a very happy dog with a most beautiful coat.
She was happy to share her rug with a pregnant Little Mama cat.
And equally happy to share her carpet with Pookie, an older lady cat.
Monkey cat loved her,
And loved to rub on her
As they strolled around the farm
I think he felt he needed to keep an eye on her
to be sure she didn’t get into a paddock by mistake.
Since her coat was so thick and long I had to clip it for the summer.
But it came in handy when we lived in Canada.
Time Sneaks Up On Us All
Over the past several weeks (months really) I have watched my beloved friend deteriorate to the point where she tripped over doorsills, could not stand without trembling and shaking, and paced in pain and discomfort through the night. Finally, through my dense brain and the belief that I could ‘fix’ whatever was wrong with her, came the realization that she was not going to get better.
So….how do you say good-bye to a devoted friend that trusts you implicitly, never complains, would follow you to the ends of the earth as long as she was able to stand and breathe? How do you decide to end a life? How do you know when it’s time? Is it better to end the life while dignity remains…before incapacitation reaches a point that is embarrassing for the animal?
I hope I have made the right decision.
I hope my Rally Dog is in a good place, enjoying playtime before agility class, riding in a car with her head out the window, eating her own special cup of vanilla ice cream from a cardboard cup, chasing the end of a lead shank, bounding after a flock of turkeys that have had the dumb luck to infringe on her yard, coursing through the woods and looking forward to cookies at the split in the trail, sleeping curled up with Pookie, eating chicken and bouncing along through the tall grass with her ears flopping, dragging her favorite fuzzy toy around and making it squeak, running across a yard covered in 6″ of fresh snow and dipping her head for a mouthful every few steps just because she can, sitting on the porch fulfilling her duty by keeping an eye on the front yard–protecting us from invading squirrels.
I will always remember these things about her. And I’ll remember how she was always happy and ran around with her tongue hanging out of one side of her mouth. I can close my eyes and picture her bouncing around in excitement when I buckled the treat bag on and she knew we were going to agility class. I can feel her nose poking me right in the back of my knee at the most perfectly unexpected time.
She was the most considerate dog.
She shared her food with kittens and cats, let the older cat move into her warm spot in winter, and never got into the cookie bag even when it sat on the porch beside her food bowl.
In spite of blindness and deafness that encroached upon her senses until she traveled in a dark and silent world, she never once threatened to bite any person who surprised her with a touch either when she was awake or sound asleep, whether they were total strangers or well-known friends.
She was always gentle with children, kittens and puppies, and she often settled more aggressive dogs at agility class.
Those are memories I will hold close in my heart of a soul that was always there for me through the worst devastation of my life and through some of the happiest times of my life. A steady light that kept me going when I wanted to stop, comforted me when I felt more alone than I could handle, and looked after me without judgement or expectation and with eyes filled with trust and faith that I would always do the right thing.
Goodbye Rally Dog.
August 15, 2013
I recently had the extreme pleasure of reading A Camping We Will Go on mentalmom02's blog My one complaint is that it woke memories that I would rather have left quietly gathering dust and spiderwebs in a hidden nook of my mind. Unfortunately, now that the memory is in the front and center it looks like I will have to blog about it and subject you, Gentle Reader, to the horror of it all.
July 28, 2013
(A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
(B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.
(C) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.
Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health Human Services
(A) The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000. (Yes, that's 80 million..)
(B) The number of accidental gun death per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
July 26, 2013
6:30am SQUEALLLLLLLLLLL!!!! Yip, Yip, WhIsTlE, wHiStLe! The sun's out! Time to get up. Why is my human covering her head with a pillow? Isn't sunlight fun? Why is she so upset that I got her up at midnight, 3 and 5? I sleep all day. I was bored. I made my signature high pitched noise to honor her with it and...and she covered her ears?
July 8, 2013
Broken tears roll down my face
My spirit is devastated
Of my strength there is no trace
My faith got annihilated
To lose another brother
Who I love so much
May be more than I can handle
No more words, never touch
I just found you
So many miles from me
Why did I had to lose you?
But at least you will be free…
July 5, 2013
Time Passes When You’re Having Fun!
It has been several weeks since I was told by the doctor to start physiotherapy and I have to say that I have been through many emotions since it started. I’ve been like an oddly aligned pendulum, swinging back and forth, up and down between excitement that I can walk again, frustration that I can’t walk yet, annoyance that I can’t go riding, fear that I’m going to re-damage the knee, and occasional pain both just walking around and at the hands of the physiotherapists.
OK…let me start at the end of Part 9 when I received the script to start physiotherapy. It was the happiest and most exciting day since finding out I needed surgery. As Doug, my boyfriend, was driving me back to my apartment I called and booked an appointment with the physiotherapist. It was Wednesday and I was told that I couldn’t start for 10 days…TEN DAYS!! OH, the Frustration!!
For the next ten days I practiced walking without my crutches. I went to the flea market and walked for probably a mile, I went to antique malls and walked up and down stairs, I drove my car around and went grocery shopping. I couldn’t straighten my leg all the way up, and I couldn’t bend it more than 90 degrees, and my buttocks–especially the left one–were so sore I couldn’t sleep for the first two days, BUT I was getting out of the apartment. I no longer had to wait for someone else to bring ice, I could just hop in the car and go get it myself. I had my freedom back!
Who Needs Physio?
Then I went to my first physio appointment and went through four pages of questions about my condition and what could I do and what surgery did I have and did I have other physical issues or illnesses. ARGH! It took longer to complete the form that to have the therapy!
Once the forms were complete (and my credit card information was on file) I met the physiotherapist. What a nice guy! He was super professional, knowledgeable, just a really nice guy. I’ve had friends who went through physio sessions and barely lived to tell the tale, but I had every confidence after meeting him that my physiotherapist would never hurt me. Oh how naive I was!
The first session was very gentle. He tested my flexibility over my entire body to see how much the knee was affecting me and where. He watched me walk, bend, stretch and balance and made notes about everything. Then he massaged my injured leg and loosened all the muscles that I didn’t even realize were sore until that time. OUCH! but it was a good hurt. In short order I was back in my car and wondering what I needed physio for. Except for massaging the back of my thigh and calf, I could do all those exercises myself. But I decided to keep the next appointment and see if more would be done when I wasn’t spending the first half of the appointment filling out paperwork.
The day after my first physio appointment my knee swelled so much I thought my toes were going to explode. It took two days of ice and propping my leg up to get the swelling back down. Of course, spending an entire day sitting in a restaurant with old friends, walking through department and grocery stores, and driving for two hours probably caused most of the swelling, but I really didn’t want to believe that just plain normal activities could make my leg look like I had connected an air hose to it. In fact, if you saw the Harry Potter episode when he blew up his horrible Aunt and she floated off, then you know just how my leg looked.
My second session started off with gentle stretching exercises, then the massage and taping my knee to help work the skin over the fascia and control the swelling. This was important because my knee wouldn’t bend if the joint was filled with fluid. At the first and second appointment my left knee was about 1.5″ bigger than my right knee. Also, this time when the measurements were taken to determine how much flexion I had my knee was forced to flex as far as it would go without pulling the ACL. OMG!!!!!! To give you an idea of how that felt, Mr. Nice Guy Physiotherapist told me to breathe like I was in Lamaze while he tried his best to pop my new ACL loose! I’ve never had a baby or been through Lamaze, but I’ve seen the movies. This was NOT a fun moment in my life. Especially when I was told that even with ‘help’ bending my knee I only had 63% flexibility.
Well, so far I’ve had about 5 weeks of physio and I’ve learned to ‘bridge’, ‘crab walk’, ‘reverse stride’, and both flex and straighten my left leg. I’m now within 1 degree of straightness and within a few degrees of matching the flexibility of my right leg. It still hurts to walk or to push the wheelbarrow, but Mr. Physio has told me that the pain will fade as my leg gains strength. When pressed for some kind of timeline, he protects his reputation by just saying that each person advances at the speed they are capable of handling and he won’t say if I’m coming along well or not. Although his assistants did tell me that few people have to be watched because they overflex the bridges or overstep the crab walk, so I guess I started out in better condition than most who have ACL replacements.
Recently I’ve been emailing a friend who had knee replacement surgery a few weeks after my ACL was replaced. Although the surgeries were both done on the knees, there is almost no other comparison between them. Her surgery was far more extensive than mine, and her scarring as well as the length of her hospital stay is proof of that. However, while I was not allowed to touch toe to the ground for almost 3 weeks, she was walking on her crutches in less time and outside working on things. Maybe I’m just a wimp, but I know for sure that I would never have been able to do that in such short time.
I would love to hear from others who have had knee surgery. What was your recovery time? How long is it REALLY before you walk without even thinking about it? Was it ACL replacement or full knee replacement, or some other knee surgery?
Am I a wimp, or am I doing OK? Enquiring minds want to know.
June 18, 2013
I tried to post this a few days ago and couldn’t get it to format properly. I hope this works better. If you’ve seen this already, please forgive me.
Several Years Ago
I was living Canada and breeding sport horses. I adored having the foals around frolicking in the fields. It’s like living the Hollywood dream, you know the one… house in the country, ten acres, a big, bright barn, a couple of barn cats and a devoted dog, a front porch with a view of deer grazing in the field across the road, nearest neighbor almost visible through the trees and barely close enough to shout to.
Life Was Beautiful and Perfect
My husband and I both had our own successful small businesses. He was a radio engineer, working under contract to maintain the student radio station, CKCU, at Carleton University, and taking in contracts from CBC TV and other local radio and Yoyotelevisions stations. I was an office maintenance specialist working for several real estate companies and small businesses setting up and maintaining internal systems as well as training new staff and designing custom forms and flow charts.
In the evening I fed horses and played with foals, training them to lead, pick feet up, stand quietly for bathing, load into a trailer, and all the other things foals need to know. On weekends I would load a few of them into my horse trailer and travel off to a show, always bringing home a box full of ribbons.
Then Disaster Struck
Out of the blue, at our anniversary dinner, my husband of 30 years started having trouble swallowing. Within 6 months the once strong and vital man of my life had been through chemo, radiation, and 11.5 hours of surgery to remove his esophagus and redesign is stomach to compensate. Everything he ate caused intense pain and various stomach problems, he passed out if he stood up too fast, and my life changed from ‘happy-go-lucky’ to full time nurse and caretaker.
We expected this to be a temporary situation. We expected him to recover, adjust, regain his strength, and for our lives to gradually revert to our earlier status–with, of course, some necessary adjustments in dietary habits. It would just be a matter of time.
In the meantime, the cancer clinic and all the doctors were following the recovery process and there were many follow-up appointments. Each one showed improvements and our emotional roller-coaster ride seemed to be levelling off.
Then Came A Spot
About a year after the initial surgery, at one of the routine check-ups, the x-ray came back showing a little spot almost off the edge of the screen, so a second x-ray was scheduled. The regular x-rays had been taken of the area where the cancer was originally concentrated. The new spot was much higher but, because it had been missed on all the other scans, had grown to significant size.
We checked all avenues.
His body was maxed out on chemo and, once chemo was used and didn’t kill everything, the cancer typically developed an immunity to it. In his weakened state chemo was not an option. Radiation used in the area was already at maximum. More radiation would dissolve all tissue and kill him. Surgeons had already removed everything they possibly could from the area. Surgery was not an option.
Our Only Option
There was no way out. Esophageal cancer is very aggressive and spreads throughout the body quickly. It was already in his lymphatic system, which means it was taking the fast track, the body’s express lane. It was now about 22 months since the original sign and diagnosis.
What could we do? I had already dropped my most demanding client, and before the surgery he had found a competent engineer to subcontract his business to. I started bringing all my work home rather than doing it in the offices. I tried to stay out of the way and let him do as much as he was comfortable with, while at the same time being there if he needed me.
Gradually it became more and more difficult for him to breathe until one afternoon he asked me to take him to the cancer clinic. At the clinic they discovered that his lungs were filling with fluid and they took him to a room. An hour later he was connected to feeding tubes and tubes to remove the fluid from his lungs…more incisions. They also put him on monitored pain meds and gave him an ‘on demand’ pain button, which he rarely used.
The Big Decision
Our home was in the country about an hour from the center of Ottawa. Ted was in the hospital for three weeks on the opposite side of the city.
By this time it was past the middle of winter and just over two years after his initial diagnosis. I was keeping up as best I could with the small contracts I still had, but was spending as much time as possible in the hospital.
We talked about many things during that time, and one of those things was his desire to go home. He didn’t want to die in the hospital with strangers, he wanted to be home, propped up in front of the fireplace and watching the snow fall through huge windows behind a bank of house plants.
The hospital staff, and especially his surgeon, let us know that moving him home was impossible unless I could get help and, miraculously, my parents arrived within hours on a surprise flight from Florida. I met them at the airport and we went straight to the hospital to get the process started for moving him home.
A Death Sentence?
For over a month Ted had been unable to eat. He was being fed through a special IV that was provided every day. The content was determined by blood tests taken each evening. He was also receiving transfusions every two days because he was losing blood internally. We were told that both of these support systems would end if he went home. This meant that he would live less than 10 days after leaving the hospital. However, even if he stayed in the hospital his life expectancy was no more than two weeks. For him the decision was easy.
The next two days saw deliveries of special equipment to the house that was designed to make his last days as comfortable as possible. A hospital-style bed arrived with a special mattress to prevent bedsores. Soon there was an oxygen machine, numerous attachments to the hospital bed, boxes of pain medications, and all the paraphernalia that accompanies them from needles and syringes to special hazardous material disposal boxes, cotton, bandages, soaps, saline solution, ….. Our living room began to look like a hospital room, but more friendly.
The bed was set up in front of the fireplace so all we had to do was tilt the header and he had a view of both the fireplace and out the front window. The armchair stayed and more chairs and small tables were moved in, but the dining room table was moved to the porch. I think the day he arrived home from the hospital in the ambulance was one of the happiest days of his life.
The Last Days
For the next 10 days I slept on the love seat in the corner of the room so I could hear him if he needed anything. There was a small clock that chimed softly when it was time for his pain meds, and the IV unit chimed when it got low. I learned to give him all his meds and to change the IV and during that time rarely slept more than an hour or so at a time.
Gradually, the little strength he had when he arrived at home decreased and his color went from pink (they gave him blood just before he left the hospital) to pale white. Sometimes my parents and I would be sitting near the bed talking and he would be laying in bed with his eyes closed. Out of the blue he would surprise us by interjecting a comment into the conversation. Instead of sleeping, he was laying quietly and listening while conserving his energy.
Then, one afternoon, he took a deep breath and didn’t breathe again for what seemed minutes. This went on for several minutes, not like he was in distress, but like he just no longer needed that much oxygen. I held his hand until I realized that it had been almost half an hour since his last breath, and his hand was getting cold.
That was the tail of winter five years ago. Many people have rudely and unthinkingly told me that I should ‘get on with my life’. At first I was shocked by these statements. For a tine I went through a stage when I was guilty that I couldn’t move on. Then I realized that those who say such things have never lost anyone really close to them. One day they will suffer a loss and they will never make such a statement again. For the last year or so I’ve been saying ‘yes, I know’, and letting the comments slide off my shoulders.
So…what AM I doing now? Now, finally, I’m washing the walls in my mind and clearing the past. The memories are being carefully wrapped in tissue paper and stored in special boxes in my head where I can take them out and smile nostalgically as I look them over and reminisce. It was a very special time and I never want to forget, but I don’t want to live there for the rest of my life.
The physical items from the past that I surrounded myself with for their comfort value are beginning to look old and out of place. I think the time has come to turn my head away from the past and look forward into a bright new future. A future where the people are alive and new memories can be made. A future filled with possibilities. A future without the strings of the past holding me back and slowing my steps.
Oddly enough, now that I’ve made this decision I feel very calm and relieved.
I’m taking a giant step of faith in the future. Have you made a decision lately or in the past about your future? Have you knowingly stepped onto a new path rather than following the road of least resistance? Tell me about it in the comments below, I would love to hear your story!
June 17, 2013
Woo Hoo again!!
Ok, this is the Real McCoy, the full glass, the Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow…. This was my first REAL doctor’s appointment and I was REALLY going to see the surgeon and he was REALLY going to look and my knee and tell me if everything was OK.
But, before I get into that, there’s a whole five days worth of updating to do….
Poor Mark was stuck with me, complete with my depression and letdown after the last appointment fiasco, but he is nothing if not positive and his upbeat attitude, like a gold nugget on the other side of the balance scale and kept my side from dipping into depression and feeling sorry for myself. I really think this third week would have been a major disaster if not for Mark. On Monday, the day before he was heading back to Canada, Mark finally got a break from nursemaiding me with the arrival of an invitation for an afternoon visit to a friend who lived in a nearby town. So, off he went with my blessings and the sincere hope that he would have a good time.Meanwhile, Doug had arrived back in Florida and was planning a visit that afternoon. The plan was for Doug to arrive in the afternoon and the three of us to have supper together, but I’m sure you have all read the book about plans and mice and men. Seems they never work out as they should.Anyway, Mark’s visit lasted much longer than expected. This turned out to be a fortunate turn of events because it gave Doug and me a chance to catch up on news from Connecticut and the events of the past few weeks here. But the day started to get late and Doug lives two hours to the south so finally he decided to head for home and Mark was still not back.
and, since Mark’s plane was leaving late the following day, Doug made plans to return just after noon so we could all have time for a chat and dinner together. Since I was still not cleared for driving, Doug would drive Mark and me to the airport after dinner, then he would stay the night and drive me to my doctor’s appointment the next day.
The next day Doug and I headed off for the REAL doctor’s appointment and once more my nerves were at cracking point.
Have you ever felt like you were stuck in an Abbot and Costello movie?
Once more the GPS took us in the totally wrong direction. ARGH!! Can’t someone do something about that?? This time we had two GPS’s and BOTH of them took us to the wrong location…on opposite sides of town!
Oh well, we finally made it to the correct location and I had a new x-ray and saw the REAL doctor. He spent several minutes pulling and twisting my leg, checking flexion, tightness of the joint, and the ability to straighten the leg then, wonder of wonders and miracle of miracles, he told me that every thing felt great, wrote me a script for six weeks of physio, and sent me on my way with a new appointment in 6 weeks.
OH! And did I mention that he said I should start using only one crutch and wean myself off them completely within a week? After holding my foot off the ground completely for almost three weeks I could finally start at least THINKING about walking again.
Doug and I stopped on the way home to have breakfast and celebrate my new ambulatory status, and I felt as if a 100 pound weight had been lifted from my mind and chest. Until that moment I had not realized how concerned I was about the possible repercussions of the fall. But suddenly the world was a brighter place and, once more, the future was filled with endless possibilities.
This experience is not over, but already it has been a turning point in my life. If you’ve had a turning point in your life, I hope you will leave me a note about it in the comments section and tell me how it turned out. Thanks for sticking with me through this story, it has meant a lot to me.
June 16, 2013
The day of my very first post-op doctor’s appointment arrived and I carefully showered, chose a good walking shoe and hobbled out to the car for the drive to the surgeon’s office. Mark was my chauffeur and away we went in a swirl of dust and flying stones…. OK, so we really drove very sedately out of the driveway to prevent my knee getting banged on anything. After laying in bed for two weeks, it seemed like we were going at a pretty good clip.
We arrived slightly late because my GPS wanted us to go to a different area and I didn’t clue in to that fact until we were well into the wrong area. What is it with GPS equipment anyway?? This mixup in directions seems to happen fairly regularly, and NO I did not put the wrong address into the darn thing!
So…we sat around for a few minutes waiting for my name to be called and finally it happens: “Mrs. Kayuk, can you follow me please?” After several attempted gitty-ups I finally made it up out of the chair and carefully maneuvered myself down the wide hallway behind her. My anxiety level was off the scale. What if my fall the first night had torn everything loose? What if my kneecap had been fractured? What if I had to have surgery again???
When we arrived in the designated room, she bent over, looked at my knee and said brightly, “So…what seems to be the problem?”
OK, I might not be the brightest light on the planet, but I think that even without the crutches and obvious swelling and incisions on my knee I would be pretty sure that knee had recently had surgery.
Since Mark had already been with me for a few days and I had caught up on some much-needed rest and a few meals I was feeling a wee bit better than a cretin, so I answered her equally perky, “Oh, this is my first exam after the surgery.”
She looked at me like I was from another planet and asked to see my appointment sheet. I handed the sheet to her and she scanned to the current appointment, handed it back to me, and said, “You’re here to have your stitches removed!” Then she bounced out of the room for someone else.
I sat there for a moment with my brain digesting this information and trying to correlate it with the obvious lack of any sign of stitches in my incision. Then I bent down for a closer look at my knee…… Nope, definitely no stitches.
About that time she flounced back into the room with another seeming teenager who had a closer look at my knee, pressed in all the sore spots, and said, “Looks good, you can go now. The doctor will see you on Friday.” And she turned to leave.
“Wait!” I croaked. “That’s it? I had an appointment for removal of stitches that aren’t even there?”
“Yes, that sometimes happens. We book all the appointments at the time of booking the surgery so we know your appointments will be in a timely sequence and you don’t get bumped. We don’t know at the time of booking if the doctor will be able to do plastic surgery or if he will need to use stitches. If you don’t need stitches removed you can call and cancel that appointment. (I’m supposed to know that??)
So… a lunch bag letdown of an appointment and I was chauffeured back home in my air-conditionerless Neon on the hottest day so far this year… I’ve rarely been so disappointed, or so happy to crawl back into bed.
June 12, 2013
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
It's you vs. you.
Don't be mistaken.
It's not you vs. anyone else.
It may appear to be that way.
But it really isn't.
It's you vs. you.
The fight is within.
The exterior is just the playing field.