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Overwhelmed: Be Your Own Advocate and Listen to Your Self

Please be sure to read the RR Dogs: Please Help Fill Our ‘Tank’ post at the end of this story.  Thank you!

I recently went to a major cancer center in the Houston area for a second time/consultation in light of new test results.  While even more tests are pending, as well as a re-read of the PET scan results, I thought that I would share with you what happened at the visit.  I have been traumatized for days and have decided that I will never go back to this place. Ever.

I was originally given Figure F (figures referred to are all in the main drawing above) as the only alternative to getting a large mass out of my abdomen.  It entailed totally opening my tummy up from sternum (breast bone) to pelvis and from hip to hip.  A lot of organs are taken out of your body and examined, the docs dissect and remove things and then put what’s left back in.  You are exposed to the possibility of major infection and complications including your organs being too swollen to close you back up on the first surgery.  I was not and am still not willing to do this.

Between visits one and two, I had done a ton of research and had seen four other doctors before this visit.  I also brought a list of questions to try to discern if I could trust this organization and doctor with my life.

While I could tell by the size of the mass that I would not be eligible for laparoscopic surgery, I began to see that I may be eligible for robotic surgery which, I thought, would present with less exposure to infection.  I asked.

“I am willing to try that…” the doctor said.  “But, if I run into any problems or if I can’t get the mass out in one piece, I will need to proceed with the original option (F)–in addition to all of the robotic incisions.”  I wasn’t comfortable with the word “try” or the lack of confidence.  I just knew I’d wake up after surgery regretting having been there.

The way things would proceed, if I started with robotic surgery, would be that I could choose Drawing A or B first–there would be five incisions going up and down just below my sternum–the middle one would be longer–PLUS one incision that went all the way from side to side.  I could choose if I wanted to start with the huge one to be above my belly button or down by my pelvis.  The doc would try to get the mass out of one of those incisions–or if need be, make both huge “across” incisions.

The alternative is that if it wouldn’t come out of my tummy, they would then split open my bottom end somehow (I couldn’t ask for any more details without fainting) and bring it out that way.  I would be cut apart all over on top and on the bottom.  I couldn’t even imagine what that recovery would be like!

If I didn’t want to do those options,  they could start with A or B but extend the middle incision of the robotic surgery from my sternum to my pelvis–whether I chose the above the belly button or across the pelvis incision.  And, if that didn’t work, after all of those incisions, they would resort to a complete open surgery–that was the first option–in addition to.  I kind of felt that they were looking at that as the only way so I’d wind up looking like a puzzle on my tummy.

I was getting clammy and faint so I moved over near a cool block wall and sat down. The docs don’t want to get into more detail lest the patients don’t proceed with surgery (yep) — losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in their fees and for the hospital and staff–but I had to know a few other things before I walked (or ran) out of there.

What do they do for pain management given what I knew I would feel like after all of that?  “Can you take Motrin?” the doctor asked. I almost got up and left right there.

I expressed that after all of the above, I am afraid of winding up on the show, “Botched,” especially after seeing all of the pieces of myself that would need to be put back together.  “Well, I’ll try my best but you can opt to have a plastic surgeon there to sew everything back together but I doubt that insurance would pay for that.”  The doc shrugged her shoulders.  I held back my bile.

I also have a serious HAI, (still–after nearly one year being hospitalized in the ICU for an emergency bleed and repair in my small intestine–and my recent blood work shows things are STILL getting worse by the week!).  “What do we do about the HAI?” I asked. “Well, I feel comfortable operating first and then when you can recover you can deal with finding an infectious disease specialist or whoever to help you.”  Last wrong answer I could tolerate–and I had more questions.  I–emphasis on I–am not comfortable with that approach unless this was a life or death decision–but no one asked what I was comfortable with. You must be your own best advocate!

Before I gathered my things, as I was being asked continuously to schedule surgery, dates being thrown at me as I was trying to leave, I asked if I was eligible for alternatives like cryotherapy (freezing the mass) or several other things that did not involve a “mess.”  Yes, I got the impression and some discussion, that I could take the chance if I wanted to–but of course, they didn’t do them there so they weren’t offered as options.  That was all I needed to hear.  That “yes” and the discussion that the mass is stable right now, gave me a sigh of relief and the freedom to explore more options and their willingness to schedule surgery in the late summer meant that I had time to figure things out.  They handed me a lab slip since I didn’t want to go to their lab–I just had to leave their premises before I had a nervous breakdown (whatever that is) and I left.

Moving Dog Food…Ouch!

I think because I still have the HAI infection from last year’s hospital emergency and the night before this visit to the hospital I had caused sciatica/hurt my back by moving a bunch of 50 pound bags of dog food (I do major projects like that when I have anxiety to keep busy), I was in a weakened state to deal with the cancer giant monsters.  My brain was operating at full capacity but my body was weak.

(Boy, do I need those little dog food bags for awhile again!  Anyone feeling inspired to help with this, Walmart.com has the best prices right now for 4-11 lb bags–I can send you links or an e-credit will help a lot.)

It was late in the afternoon, I was dehydrated, hungry and frazzled by the time I got to the next doctor for help with my back.  I apologized for babbling but I was just beside myself.  He was so kind and used obvious communication techniques that he must have learned in school or therapy to communicate with me, to calm down and to help me clearly tell him what had happened.  I am normally very steady and optimistic but that day, I had been rattled and I was upset.  He ordered medicine to help with the pain of my back (not Motrin!) and told me that I was lucky that the nerve issue didn’t go past the back of my knee which would have been a more serious back issue–and also told me lovingly to stop moving hundreds of pounds of dog food!! (He tells everyone about our animal rescue efforts like a proud uncle.)

When I left his office it was close to 5 PM. I took the lab slip over to the hospital with the chapel. I needed to take a little time to sit down and pray and to light candles for our angels and loved ones and all of our (yours and ours, on earth and in heaven) animals.  I regrouped and felt much better. The energy of the chapel is very soothing.

I got up and went to the chapel hospital’s lab and turned in my paperwork.  They were a little confused by the cancer hospital’s paperwork but eventually figured it out.  A few people had to get involved to input everything into the computer, then I gave my blood and my urine and left to go get a Pepsi in the cafeteria and made another stop in at the chapel.  Thank God for that chapel. I hope God doesn’t mind that I sat and prayed and drank my soda, too.  Someone was walking around trying to figure out how the stained glass windows were made…

It didn’t get better…

The next day, I had a message from the cancer hospital machine. It was from someone I did not know but I returned the call thinking that they just wanted to pressure me into scheduling surgery again or ask me an insurance question.  Boy was I wrong…

“Our paperwork has been defaced!” the woman began.  Huh?  “It is unlawful for a doctor’s orders to be defaced!”  I was tired and the call baffled me but I began to understand that this caller was hostile.

Are you accusing me of doing something illegal,” I asked. “I didn’t say illegal.  I said unlawful,” the woman said.  “Well, it means the same thing!  And if you are accusing someone of a crime (I could not grasp what in the world she was talking about), I should think a lawyer should be present!”

(FYI, after the call, I looked it up. Illegal is against the law and unlawful means not authorized. Still it felt like a call from an investigator on the new show called, “CSI Cancer Hospital Monsters”!)

“The doctor gave you a lab slip for tests yesterday…and they were written on!  Then, the (chapel) hospital faxed the slip over to the doctor (to confirm the order) who turned it over to me when they saw the writing on their order.  NOBODY writes on doctors’ orders especially if they are from XYZ Cancer Center!” she snorted out.

What?? or WTF (sorry) I was really thinking. but refrained from saying.  “Did they have a pink flower drawn on them? Were they crumpled up? What exactly is the problem?” I asked.  “All I did was turn in the slip, sit down, get up when I was called, gave my blood and left a urine sample and left. Whatever happened or was done to the orders, I am innocent!”

“Well,” she huffed.  “Someone wrote instructions under one of the tests and it is unlawful to write on a doctor’s order. IF it was you, you will have jeopardized your relationship with this hospital.  IF it wasn’t you or to find out who it was, I am going to request that the (chapel) hospital open an investigation!!”

Well, I had had enough of them and in a loud and firm, trying-to-be-polite voice, I told her first to compare the handwriting in my chart to the handwriting added on to the order and she would find it was not my writing.  It wasn’t.  I then proceeded to tell her to stop everyone/anyone from their organization from calling me and that I wanted to end the relationship with that hospital immediately. I don’t care if I have to go the moon for help. I don’t need people treating me like that.  No one does. I felt so sad in that moment for the people who are sick and are at their mercy and can’t advocate for themselves–or don’t have someone to help them–and go there expecting to save their lives or extend their time and are stuck in the machine.

In order to heal, you need to be at peace.  I initially liked the doctor–I could tell that she was very smart and I still think she is–that is why I went back twice.  But I did not like the control that the machine or monster that is “THE” cancer center, according to their ‘CSI’ representative, had over the doctors and the process.  There was no way on God’s green earth that I would willingly lay down there, probably wake up with incisions all over my body like a messy road map only to find out what organs they decided to remove, need a plastic surgeon later to put me back together, all while being sick with a serious infection that wasn’t resolved ahead of time, making recovery longer–only to be given Motrin as I could see me crying in pain–while I am sure I would be suffering terribly–and in need of a second surgery to put my body back together again. Nope. It is not going to happen.

I was so traumatized by those two days last week that I could not even write or talk about it all to anyone.  The very good news that came out of all of that is that I do know now is that I can take my time to find both a doctor I can trust who works for a hospital I respect and even explore some alternative treatments. I will pace myself and get the HAI infection resolved first.  I might even feel a bunch better after that and will be better able to figure out the bigger problem the back doctor pointed out, and I agree.

In the end, listen to your heart, your soul and or your gut.  If you start to feel intimidated and overwhelmed, pressured and uncomfortable and the answers you are being given don’t line up with what you know to be the truth or feel that the things you need done to be comfortable are being ignored or belittled, do not stop there and just accept the solution before you.  You will find another solution. Leave it all in God’s hands.  I will and I did.

Sending much love and many hugs,

Jane

PS:  I have written a post on the treats that we really need for the dogs’ treat bucket. I ordered $300 of treats and food a month ago (so grateful to our angels) but they will run out by the time the new treats hopefully come in.  The dogs need something to do every day–especially when some cannot even walk to run and play or have other disabilities.  It is their exercise and play time really–it gives them something to look forward to.

Story Links:

RR Herd: Please Help Fill Our ‘Tank’

The Two Uh-Oh’s

 

 

 

 

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"Do Good" Opportunities, Uncategorized

RR Herd: Please Help Fill Our ‘Tank’

Hi Angels!

Preparing for a long, difficult summer, these are some specific things we really need at the Rescue Ranch.  Of course, “Everything Dog” is always welcome but these things are favorites or special requests or things that the dogs just can’t “live” without! (Dingo Ringos, too! from petmountain.com)

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Amazon, Chewy.com, petmountain.com have the best prices–highlighted boxes are best deals/prices on amazon. (Be careful on amazon when choosing an option–some of the vendors offer bundles that cost considerably more if you don’t do the math ahead of time.)  The prices below are the best options.

1. Treats (some beloved examples)

Healthy Hide Good ‘n’ Fun Triple Flavor Wings 

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Good ‘n’ Fun Triple Flavor Kabobs

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Smart Bones Stuffed Twistz (Pork/Beef and Peanut Butter)

SmartBones.StuffedTwistz.pork

Peanut Butter filled Sticks

SmartBones.stuffed.peanutbutter.bones

Knot Bones

(Good ‘n’ Fun or flavored knot bones (Petco or Petsmart) or Rawhide large rolls (Sam’s Club) at least Four inches to 8 inches/12 “big dog” bones needed each time.)

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2.  Gift Cards/e-credits: Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, generic Visa (helps with medications and vet bills), amazon.com e-credits, HEB, Petsmart and Petco–and any gift cards that you are not using–we’ll find a way to use them to benefit the RR dogs! (Note: Even if you have used part of one, just write the balance on the back or tape a piece of paper on it with the remaining balance.)

There is also a GoFundMe associated with this page on which gifts can be used on medication or whatever the dogs need.

 

Please care and help as you can.  Your life will be better for it.

Blessing others is actually an opportunity to bless our own lives.

 

Not matter how hard life has become, we made a promise that the dogs at the RR will always have a home until God calls.  While we can’t take in any other dogs right now except for a temporary hold or if found to find their owners, we still have our hands full.

Maybe sometime in the future,  I’ll be able to take in mama dogs again needing to birth their pups (as long as the vet or rescue signs a contract to take them back when they are weaned!) or some animals that need hospice or help transitioning but I right now I need to take a break from taking in new dogs while I take care of Someone. I still help other dogs and their people by consulting on cases all over the country–gratis.  Helping animals to me is a profound honor.

Thanks for caring. Especially for caring.

Jane

 

1. Anything e-  including amazon credit and online gift card credits should go to: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

 

2. Mail and packages go to:

Rescue Ranch

4057 Riley Fuzzel Road

Suite 500-130

Spring, TX  77386

Note: Chewy and other vendors do not include any notice of who sent the RR a surprise.  Please send a separate email–and don’t be embarrassed please–to let us know that you are the angel who is blessing the dogs.  Please email: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

 

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For more on Father Leo Clifford OFM’s (1922-2012) series “Reflections,” you can see his ten minute very simple but profound spiritual insights on YouTube or you can buy one or more of his books or DVD’s on amazon.

“An Angel came to visit a petulant child of God. ‘When must I stop giving?’ he asked. The Angel said, ‘Living is Giving and Giving is Living. You must keep giving as long as God is giving to you.” *

Fr. Leo Clifford, OFM

(*Parapharased due to a slow transcriptionist–me!)

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Happy, beautiful, James, brother of Gracie, is showing off his beautiful reflective collar that his Angel sponsored.  Both he and Gracie are difficult to see at night and so both were graced with them–but in different colors!

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Half the size of Jamesie, Someone calls Miss Gracie a perpetual motion machine!  It is almost impossible to get a pic of her standing still and as dusk approaches, it is getting harder to even get even a clear-ish pic of her in motion!

This week, in an effect to put ointment on her ear (it looked like she may have a little cut), she rolled over and to my dismay, she has a large hard mammary swelling.  She is on antibiotics to see if it is an infection and if it doesn’t respond, it will need to be biopsied  Please put her on your prayer list.  I will write more about Gracie’s story separately once I have more information.

Grateful.

 

Angel Cloud Photo Credit: Danny Ferraro, Montgomery, TX

 

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Recent Stories (refresh the link if your links haven’t been activated yet)

The Two Uh-Ohs

RR Herd Talk: Quick, Frozen Dog Treats

Temporarily Traumatized: You Must Be Your Own Advocate

 

 

 

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Uncategorized

RR Herd Talk: Quick Frozen Dog Treats

Hi Angels-

Just a quick post…

Before Someone got sick (with Lewy Body) and I just run out of time and energy these days, I used to make fresh this, that and the other thing for us and for alllllll of our rescue dogs in our care.  But, realizing that something had to give, I thought about how I could make the dogs happy and keep them cool in this near 100 degree heat all summer.

I tried different things. Then one day, I was looking at a box of what we call “little dog food” that an devoted angel and her mother had assembled.  “Hmmm,” I wondered. “Could those freeze in their containers?”  The next thought I had was, “Would I have to take them out of the containers and put them in each dog’s bowl (a lot of work) or would the dogs eat the treat and leave the container?”

For the little to medium dogs, the 3.5 oz-5.5 oz side containers are per-fect.  (They must be in plastic–just no metal cans (the dogs want to chew on them–which is dangerous! and the lids don’t like freezing).  For the big dogs, I tried freezing the 8-10 oz tubs because the bigger dogs (especially one)–just one time–got the little iced food lose and swallowed the whole 3.5 oz frozen treat! No problems but I wouldn’t let that happen again.  FYI, the bigger tubs take two days instead of 12 hours to freeze.

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All brands froze nicely–the pate’ and the foods with gravies froze better than those without gravy (lower left).

One of our angels sent a package of four fruit doggie ices–which I tested.  I offered dogs food vs. the fruit.  Brindy eats everything and really enjoyed the fruit–but they are half the size of the small meat containers so I gave her one of those, too, afterward to keep her busy and happy.  (I wonder if individual serving applesauce containers could be frozen–and would the dogs eat them??)

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The Smoothies for Dogs are made of pureed apples, pureed bananas and water–the carrot cake flavor has pureed carrot and the pina colada has “flavoring.” I wish I knew what that was to be able to recreate it.

I have been thinking of other easy alternatives–of course, you can puree blueberries or float them whole in milk-water, broth, or just water–and lots of other things would work (click here to go to my link listing safe foods for dogs–not accounting for any allergies your loved doggie may have) and I thought of this…

Those butter containers, Chinese food gravy or plastic containers, etc. with a lid–can all be filled half way or full with dog food–or dog food mixed with water if you want to make it go farther–and then frozen.  Overnight, they will freeze. After taking them out of the freezer, briefly touch the bottom of the container to a bowl of warm/hot-ish water and they will release–allowing you to put the iced food into your dog’s bowl. This will take a little bit of effort–on a difficulty scale of 1 to 10, it is probably a 2-3.  If we run out of the little containers or we don’t have amazon credits or our “Crayola Angel” flies away, I will probably need to do this.  The dogs love them and since the only way they can keep cool is through their mouths or paw pads (and tummies), even though they are all kept indoors especially during the heat (or cold) except for a potty/run break every few hours, they need something to do and a way to keep nice and cool.

…and if you cannot afford wet dog food, you can use plain water with just a touch of milk, soup, broth, whipped cream…something your dog loves–even peanut butter mixed into water!  Their noses are about 10,000 times more sensitive than humans so they will figure it out.  You can also make just a container of ice and freeze it half way, place a treat or piece of meat or something edible in the middle and cover it with water.  They will lick the ice try to get to the treat–and continue to lick the ice after they reach the treat because it will taste good!

I hope this helps someone.  I know it makes a difference at the/our Rescue Ranch–and we live and breathe everything dog–and lots of them–so I really know what I am talking about!

Sending Hugs from the Herd–

J

PS  To send e-credits or e-gift cards, please use: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

 

Mailing address (ALL gift cards you are not using we can use, too!):

Rescue Ranch

4057 Riley Fuzzel Road

Ste. 500-130

Spring, TX  77386

 

Please help if you can.  Imagine trying to take care of a small “farm” of rescued, special needs (mostly) dogs on Someone’s now-disability income that only covers the mortgage and utilities!  Eek! Four years ago, things were much different but now, we depend on God to watch over us and to provide and to reach our/more angels’ hearts to help us to help the dogs regularly.

PPS Did you know??  There is a Go Fund Me  associated with this blog if you would rather just give on it–those funds go toward the dogs medicines, vet, anything that is needed that is not on amazon–the needs are endless!  Click Here.

 

Brindy.celebratingMandyDay.Nov2014.a

Like the cereal commercial that says, “Give it to Mikey. He will eat anything!”–Someone says the same about Brindy!  She was a distemper survivor with Project Hope serum, (immense thanks to Dr. Alson Sears, DVM, retired) had a life-threatening case of mange, is allergic to Ivermectin but has heartworms, more (she was spayed way too young by the shelter at eight weeks–with active distemper (so it was like a double-whammy), so she has little or no immune system)–and yet she is always sweet and sun-shiny, making me so very thankful daily that angels (especially one guardian angel) blessed her with the help that she needed to keep living.

Every animal deserves life.  There are no breeds or sizes or animals that are cuter or better than another.  Their spirit shines through once you get to know them and see beyond their injury or disability or depression/mourning even.  They are just pure love and just want to be loved.

Please adopt/foster/volunteer/rescue/help the animals.  You can go to petfinder.com to find an organization in your area or an animal who needs you–now!  They only have days to live if they are left at a shelter or have been ‘captured’–so don’t waste time.

Grateful. Always.

To God goes the Glory!

I wonder if other animals would eat frozen treats like this!  Yoghurt is a good thing to mix with water–add a little honey! Frozen tuna for cats? Frozen peppermints for horses?  Just thinking out loud!

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Uncategorized

The Two Uh-Ohs

Hi Angels–

After I searched through more than 2,000 images to try to get you one that would sum up the PET scan results in a nutshell, I don’t feel so good.  I get kinda queasy when it comes to something being wrong with me personally which is funny because I am practically a medic in the animal rescue world!

In the image above, the purple “balls” in the center are masses that don’t belong there. When Someone saw these pictures, the first thing he said was, “There isn’t any room for any of your organs!”  Yep, it feels that way, too.  Now I know why when I went for an annual check-up, my doctor’s face looked really worried–and I was sent to five oncologists within two weeks!

The orange striations throughout, which show up better on the original (I had to take a camera shot of the screen since this was on Someone’s old computer–they don’t open on Mac) are things whose metabolic activity is “uncommon” according to the accompanying report.  The white light is on my left side (even though my back is down at the bottom of the screen and the white hip bones show on either side–and is not something I wanted to find.  There is more white light on that side as the picture wraps around the masses.  It is the most serious “color” of all but may or may not be cancer yet–there is no way to know without taking it out to biopsy.

The good news is that it is all still in a covering or encapsulated and has not broken out or spread to anything. It cannot be biopsied while inside me to design targeted therapies, for instance, or it would spread all over.  It all has to come out as one piece–and then they take it apart to figure out what to do next.  I don’t know if I have the strength to go through all of that. I am praying for insight and alternatives right now.

In addition to this, they found out that my spleen is greatly enlarged and the HAI, or hospital-acquired infection I had gotten from a nurse’s neglect and subsequent injury, last year when I was in the ICU from an unknown small intestine ulcer that let go, are all “hot” or sick on the PET.  This week, I am going to get testing to see IF there are any antibiotics that this HAI will respond to-or not. There may be one or two but they will more than likely be IV antibiotics and this will be more than I want to hear right about now since that will be a big deal for me as well. That testing takes ten days or more to even come back with an answer.

The super great news is that the tests for lung cancer and bone marrow or lymphoma are negative. I only had to have blood marker tests and the PET and didn’t have to face having–or not–biopsies or treatment. The problems that showed up on the MRIs on my lungs were from pneumonia scarring and the bone issues are a degenerative condition that I just will deal with–most likely started from eleven steel pipes falling on my head at a very orange home improvement store (no, I didn’t sue).  That type of injury starts a process all the way down the spine that can only be dealt with symptomatically.

I will write more as we go along.  I feel like I want to lay down now so I don’t pass out.  I don’t want to deal with these things but if I don’t–in some way or another–they will cause problems down the line that cannot be resolved.

The entire time (months) I went through all of the tests the insurance company requires to get to the one the doctors really want, I prayed for Jesus to intervene so the biopsies would not be necessary.  He did.  The rest of the time, I just kept saying to myself, “Jesus, I trust in You” and I do.  The name of Jesus is something supernaturally powerful–never forget to use it, to ask for Him, to just say his name in cases of trouble, anxiety, danger even.  And so, now, I will keep saying the same and have confidence that all things will work out as they were meant to.  As Someone always used to always tell me with complete reassurance, “It will be alright.” It always was.  I miss hearing those words–but they are tucked away deeply in my heart. I pull them ‘out’ whenever I need them..

Sending love and hugs to all–

J

(I blurred out some personal information to prevent identity or insurance fraud.)

Lesson Learned:  Vitamin D3 combined with K2 are very important to general health–and women, start young, combine them with calcium. Please research this and check with your doctor to make sure you can take them.  They are life-sustaining and disease-limiting.  Ironically, we give all of our rescue dogs vitamin D3 drops (be careful so you don’t overdose it) and it is on Someone’s every day list of things to take but I didn’t take the time to bother with my own “invincible” self. You just must make time for self-care.

PS All input welcome: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

Look for a separate post for the Rescue Ranch much needed items in the next few days.   Burger King and McDonald’s e-cards or gift cards (any actually) and amazon credits are always need! e-anything should be sent to: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com Grateful always and in all ways!

Let your tests become your testimony.

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