"Do Good" Opportunities, In the News, Lewy Body Dementia, RR Dog Stories, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Thank you, Alex Trebek: Your Life Makes a Difference

While I’ve been “holed up” writing the tome of all tomes to get my Someone’s Medicare restored, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on a lot of deep subjects.  

I set aside two weeks to write a complex Reinstatement Medicare appeal and to gather all of the medical documentation from hospitals and ask doctors to write letters to explain what happens with his illness. Someone has a terminal neurodegenerative disease (brain) and used the wrong words to try to get something accomplished. Instead his intent was misunderstood and Social Security cancelled his health insurance (retroactively) for one year (on top of it all) instead of cancelling the excessive monthly surcharge retroactively for one year. (Someone was right about the surcharge being wrong, BTW).  The cascade of people who were paid–and now have been unpaid–is staggering and will take more months to straighten out…

In those two weeks set aside for my writing, two dogs became critical, and then became terminal–and my two weeks of isolation to work became a month now. I take whatever time is needed to help them transition. In those moments, nothing else matters but life and death.

First, my beloved baby Charlee passed in my arms. After he was buried, brave, sweet Pasha took a turn for the worst and headed to heaven. She was just buried.  She spent nearly a week laying on my bed and in the last days, she just wanted to lay on top of me, her head on my heart.  Life is just suspended for me in those days–those precious days–and in talking and singing to the animals soon to pass, I get to reflect on a lot of life and after life issues.

Heart.white.red.border

Never lost on me is how precious life is and our time together.  In literally the space of a breath, one passes on to the Great Beyond–and while I truly believe that there will be a joyous reunion some day, the time between now and then is at first sad because we miss our loved ones who have passed on. But then, realizing that the sick are well again, that the paralyzed can walk and run again, that the elderly are young again–that we are restored to our best whenever that was–and free of our broken bodies–makes missing them a little easier to bear and in fact, always makes me able to smile through my tears.

So today, when I heard that Alex Trebek, the long-time host of the television program, ‘Jeopardy!’, has been diagnosed with Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer, I winced. It is one of the worst diagnoses to hear–right up there with a Glioblastoma brain tumor or or or.  He will be in my prayers.  I pray that he has a strong faith or finds faith. Faith will carry you over and past all the fear and pain–if you can just keep “looking up.”

Mr. Trebek has a wife and grown children who will help him now but he will have to pass on alone–but not in fear.  Never fear.

What I have seen, having been with so many passing animals as a rescuer and caretaker of special needs animals–and some people who were my friends and family or even neighbors–is that we are alone for less than a millisecond, for when we leave our bodies, all of our loved ones are within ten feet or less of our bodies. (Yes) We can see them before we pass, just waiting to welcome us and show us what our life after life will be–and it is all Love and all about Love–as our spirits separate from the body.  If you have lived a good life, good in the meaning of trying not to do bad, no one should be scared to pass on.**

Alex Trebek and ‘Jeopardy!’ have a special place in our lives.  Someone used to watch the show with his family growing up–both at his grandparents’ home and at his parents’. Now, slowly slipping into a terminal case of early-onset Lewy Body dementia, the one daily and very conscious thing that he still wants to do consistently is to watch ‘Jeopardy!’  He wants me to sit with him and we answer the questions out loud–whether we are right or wrong, it doesn’t matter–and we laugh at some of the answers we both can blurt out!

What matters is that we are doing something together, that we are playing a game that requires Someone to use his brain (and memory), and I know that six times a week, that the memory of sitting and “playing” Jeopardy on those days with Someone will eventually become a precious memory for me. They will give me something to smile about through my tears, long after Someone either is no longer able to consciously engage with me or on his own journey to the Great Beyond.

Thank you, Mr. Trebek, for making a difference in our lives.  It may seem like you are just hosting a TV show, but to us, you are helping us through a difficult time in many ways.  I will always be grateful.  You will always be a “smile” in our lives.  You have made a difference with yours and that’s what really counts in the end.

And for those of you going through a life after life journey, too, there is a simple but profound song that I play on my laptop sometimes when I am writing.  It makes me cry but it also makes me think. We all should be living like we are dying every day–for tomorrow–even the next hour or minute–is not guaranteed.  I can testify to that many times over from what I have seen in my own life. Life can be over in the next second. Don’t let that be lost on you, please.

Sent with much love and prayers–

Gratefully,

Jane

Live Like You Were Dying   (song)
To Listen to the song on Youtube:
He said
“I was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime

I spent most of the next days
Looking at the x-rays
Talkin’ ’bout the options
And talkin’ ’bout sweet time”

I asked him
“When it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How’s it hit you
When you get that kind of news?
Man, what’d you do?”
He said
“I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”
He said
“I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden going fishin’
Wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
I finally read the Good Book, and I
Took a good, long, hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again

And then
I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”

And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying

Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity
To think about
What you’d do with it
What could you do with it
What did I do with it?
What would I do with it?
Skydiving
I went Rocky mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I watched an eagle as it was flying”

And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
To live like you were dying
To live like you were dying”
Songwriters: Craig Michael Wiseman / James Timothy Nichols / Tim Nichols
Live Like You Were Dying lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Round Hill Music Big Loud Songs, BMG Rights Management
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For anyone who would like to help my efforts caring for many special needs dogs who have no where else to go, the Rescue Ranch Herd as they are called, please help any way you can:
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Prayers are always welcome and much appreciated.
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E-anything–from email to much needed amazon credits and gift cards–from generic Visa to fast-food restaurants, please use: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com (or the mail)
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Mailing address: Rescue Ranch, 4057 Riley Fuzzel Road, Ste. 500-130, Spring, TX  77386
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Rescue Ranch website: http://www.firststop-laststop.com  (I will update the site/blog after I am done with this project. I will let you know when Charlee and Pasha’s stories are there.)
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PS  Does anyone have a selfie stick they are not using for an Android?  Someone has a new fascination of taking selfies of himself and of sleeping/cuddling dogs.  He is struggling to extend his now-starting to-tremor-hands far enough away from his face.
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Note: I am on the last couple of days before I can submit this Medicare document, so please forgive my complete “withdrawal”–from living practically!  Next week, I will be able to respond to emails, send Thank You’s, etc.  Just know that while I may be using all of my energy to finish this document–it is so intense that I can’t distract myself.  I need to be laser-focused.  Know that you are never far from my thoughts, prayers and always in my heart.  Truly.
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**For those of you who are wondering what to do if you haven’t lived a “good” life, I believe that it is never too late to turn your life around.  It is all about Intention–even if you have done things that you are not proud of or that hurt someone no matter how long ago, doing things now that are “good” or kind or compassionate–and really do them with loving intent to do good–will turn things around, and cancel out in a sense, what was done in the past.
Of course, making amends with the person you actually hurt or did wrong against, would be the best but planting seeds of good–small, medium or big–will make a difference and turn things around. And if you fall down again, get up again and keep doing good! In the very end, you will be asked to judge yourself–I believe, in front of God–and the peace of knowing that you have nothing to fear at that time, is priceless.
For more on Lewy Body Dementia (early-onset means you get sick before you are elderly), please go to: lbda.org the Lewy Body Dementia Association.
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"Do Good" Opportunities, Animal Health, Lewy Body Dementia, RR Dog Herd Stories, RR Dog Stories, Uncategorized

Superbowl Sunday: Starts with a Sob, Ends with a Laugh

The game was on and it was time to take a break!  The dogs were all fed and had just gone out, Taco Bell was our dinner (and doubled as our “game snacks”), thanks to finding our very last Taco Bell gift card (thankfully, sent by an angel).  I was intending on making chips and onion dip and veggies and ranch dip as Someone requested but well, time these days, time is more precious than eating.

Two dogs have become critical in the past few days–which begins to take a lot of time and energy away from everything else.  Charlee Barlee–the center quarterback in the above pic with his now angel-friends Chula and Penny–a black and tan Min Pin–has right side congestive heart failure.  That causes water retention in their tummy (his becomes rock hard between treatments) and the water begins to cause respiratory issues.

In addition to two heart meds and an antibiotic, I use epsom salt gel or solution to soak his tummy which causes the water to leach out of the tissue into his urine, relieving some of the tummy pressure.  Rubbing the tissue also helps move the water out.  Also, a no salt diet is paramount.  That means cooking everything since finding ‘no salt anything’ commercially prepared is nearly impossible to find.

Pasha Dasha, the other dog in early distress, had a skin tag on her rear area.  It was just something that we had to keep clean and watch.  Suddenly Friday night, it was as round and swollen as a bursting plum!  Until she can see a doggie dermatologist early this week, I have been washing “the plum” in Hibaclens, rinsing it with Povidone Iodine and slathering it in Neosporin.  The idea is to keep it as clean and covered as possible so it doesn’t get infected.  I am hoping that the specialist can remove it with a cauterizing loop and a local anesthetic.  Being nearly fifteen years old, Pasha is not a candidate for general anesthesia surgery.   (I am concerned about this sudden change in its size which could be something much more serious now.)

As if caring for Charlee and Pasha’s extra needs wasn’t enough today, Someone managed to accidentally get his healthcare cancelled.  (I am going to have to lock up the phones soon. The docs think they already should have been put away.)  Sigh.

Almost a year ago, someone picked up the phone and was correct in his understanding and concern that he was being charged over double what he should have been for Medicare but he mixed up his words.  While intending to ask that the extra premium be cancelled and retroactively refunded, Medicare processed it that he wanted to cancel Part B Medicare (OMG).  Not only did he get it cancelled but they did it retroactively–leaving over $108,000 in 2018 medical bills now being rejected and sent to me to pay in full.

I just found out about all of this recently when bills from his end-of-the-year surgery began to bounce back as not paid. This is just an example of constant problem-solving of lliving with someone with Lewy Body.  Sometimes big issues like this one, sometimes many smaller ones arise but there is hardly a day when you just can relax and have a normal day. You are always trying to prevent things from happening or having to band-aid those you didn’t expect.

After sobbing for about three hours this morning about the magnitude of this issue, I knew deep inside that there is no one coming to the rescue and I just have to pull up my “big girl pants” as my mother used to say and fix the situation myself with a little help (a lot of help) from Above. During those three hours,  I talked to God a lot. Without my faith, I would not be able to handle this or many situations in my lifetime.  I kept hearing, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” a famous quote.  And so, I will succeed, God willing!

Eventually, after letting the Chihuahua twins–little tiny Chippie and Sissy–make me laugh and kiss my tears away, I was able to pick up my laptop and begin the lengthy, many-day process of writing what will be tantamount to a thirty page thesis with supporting documents about why this was not intentional, how Lewy Body affects people, and requesting that his Medicare be restored retroactively.  His doctor also wrote a letter for me to include for which I am grateful.  (Please say a prayer that my words reach someone at Medicare who has mercy on us.)

In Texas, to protect your home from creditors, there is a homestead declaration.  That said, in this situation, I think that you have to have lived in the home over 4,100 days. We are OK on that front, thankfully, but for a year now, I have been sorting out closets and clothes, etc. etc. etc. in order to downsize and intending to move near a ‘locked memory care facility’ in case, or for when, I can no longer physically help Someone.  My thought is that at least we would live near enough to visit often (hopefully I can alternate dogs visiting, too) and make sure proper care is given. (I am supposed to be touring these facilities but I can’t bring myself emotionally to do that just yet.)

Now, with these medical bills hanging over our head, until Medicare is fixed (God hear our prayers), we cannot move or risk putting the house in jeopardy. Plus, Someone’s doctor thinks now that I should not move at all until and unless Someone goes into a care facility first so as not to confuse him.   Interim moving tends to speed up the progression of this illness and shortens their life span.  Bins and boxes all over the place need to be organized and put away for the time being, I guess.

Well, the Superbowl started and I put the computer down to eat my bean and extra cheese nachos and to watch the beginning of game  Normally, I would happily watch the entire game since every year we’ve been together, we make this a “date” of sorts–this, the World Series play-offs and the Kentucky Derby.  But, after being up so early and getting so emotionally and physically drained, after dinner, I brushed my teeth and when I sat down again, I just passed out during the second quarter.  I even missed the half-time show!

I woke up when the news came on wondering what quarter the game was in.  I was so disappointed that I lost that time together but Someone didn’t even notice–or notice that I had not shared the cinnamon sticks slated for dessert.  He said he just figured that I ate them all (and was happy that I had enjoyed them.) LOL.

Thank you for stopping by and for caring.  Especially for caring.

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If you are a caregiver dealing with someone who has any of the dementias or a serious illness, please reach out to others for support. Find online support groups, support groups at your local hospitals or even private groups or ask friends and family to step up to the plate and help you.  The caregiver is the person who actually takes the brunt of these illnesses and is devastated physically, mentally, emotionally and financially so please take care of yourselves first and foremost.  Maybe start here to find resources: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-ab&q=caregiver+support

 

If you are thinking of adding a wonderful animal to your life, please adopt an animal in need–and rescue a life.  There are special groups for each breed of dog and cat, even hamsters, chickens, horses, snakes and more.  They have newborns to seniors, animals in good health to special needs.  The animals only have a limited time to find a forever home or they are being killed or “euthanized” in ways you don’t want to have nightmares about so I will spare the details but please try to adopt one–or two–or add another one to your family. https://www.petfinder.com/

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; but trust also in me.” Jesus Christ

 

Please become an angel and help me to care for the Rescue Ranch special needs dogs (they have a safe place until God calls their name) and now, finish caring for my special needs Someone.  On call 24/7, it is not possible to do anything else.  Thank you for blessing us–for in blessing someone else, you are really blessing your own life.  Think about it!

Link to help: https://www.gofundme.com/gofundmecomicantbreatheblogfeb2019

 

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:25

 

Sending prayers…Helen, the mother of one of our angels (helpers), passed away in the past few days.  She had a long life and was ready to go, to move on to a new phase. Please say a prayer for her family and for so many others who lost a loved one, for it is hardest on those left behind.

Those who have passed, are instantly surrounded by love and are not in any pain of any kind but are filled with understanding, optimism and happiness.  I believe that we will see them again and it will be a joyous reunion.  Looking forward to that day helps me smile through my tears.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lewy Body Dementia, RR Dog Herd Stories, RR Dog Stories, Uncategorized

When Lewy Body Entered Our Lives: The Case of the Missing Dog

The Rescue Ranch is a rescue sanctuary that I co-founded twelve years ago to take care of special needs dogs.  They were just being euthanized or killed because no one would help them and that bothered me deep in my soul.  They had every right to a good life despite being abused or hit by a car or being kept in an infected shelter and contracting an illness.

Vets, rescue groups, shelters, owners…all email or call with situations to go save dogs’ lives (or to come pick them up or some just “dump” them on us) that require beyond-normal time and effort.

A complicated pregnancy, a spinal cord injury, broken legs, smashed mouths (many causes), Distemper, Parvo which are now curable (contact Kind Hearts In Action!), Brittle Bone Disease and so many other afflictions.  If the dogs had surgery, were fixed up, treated, they would be available for adoption or returned to their original referring people/organization.  That was the theory at least.

We found that no one wanted to put in the continued time and effort, and we would soon discover the very unexpected escalating expenses as they aged to keep them stable–not the rescue groups, not adopters, not their original families would take them back.  Since we had made the promise to help them and give them sanctuary, basically, we made the decision that they could stay at the RR until God called their names. Many are still living happily but it takes it toll especially on me, especially now. (We have a whole lot of furry friends that depend on the Rescue Ranch and its angels–will you become one?)

Mr. Lewy Enters the Picture

Taking care of the RR dogs used to be a partnership but as they say, Mr. Lewy, or Lewy Body Dementia, a terminal, in this case, early onset (not just seniors get it) brain disease came to land in the brain of my co-founder and primary benefactor of the Rescue Ranch, right before Christmas 2015.  His salary, bonuses, and lots and lots of overtime all went to pay for the overhead and bills, with help from angels to supplement with the dogs’ expenses. We gave up and have given up everything to help them all.  That said, all of that support evaporated in 2015.

“You have Lewy Body Dementia,” I remember the head doctor, or “Dr. Genius” as we called him, of the neurologic specialty group of rare diseases saying to him–herein called Someone–with not so much as a tint of emotion (diagnosed after five high-level brain scans over ten months time).  Huh??  “It is a terminal illness that lasts from two to seven years and ends when you die–usually because you lose the ability to swallow and you drown in your saliva…”

We sat there in shock and silence for about half an hour and then were ushered out only with a letter to turn in to apply for his permanent disability benefits. Needless to say, we skipped Christmas that year and I pulled the comforters over my head for what seemed like a month (getting up only to do the necessities of self and dog care).  He didn’t think he was sick so it was life as usual.

Well, Mr. Lewy is a bizarre disease with ups and downs, bizarre twists and turns, with unexpected moments of lucidity–or Someone coming back to himself for a few hours a day–but in a weakening body that is just falling apart.  (No one warned us that this disease takes apart the skin, teeth, gums, bones, and so many more parts.)

I am always on alert now pretty much–twenty four hours a day, seven days.  I wait for the moment every day or many times a day, to fix whatever Someone did “wrong” or broke or lost or or or. When I hear, “Uh-Oh,” my heart skips a beat and I start running. I never know what I am going to find.

Gracie is Missing.  What?

Early this morning, around 4:30 AM, I had to ‘string chicken’ as I call it as a vegetarian-sometimes-vegan (I say a prayer for each chicken that gave its life to feed these dogs–and no, I am not nutty)–basically making chicken breasts into small pieces to mix into the dogs’ dinners who won’t eat regular dog food. With special needs dogs, the need for fast food (for doctor or hospital days when I just cannot do high-level meal preparation) or people food or alternatives is paramount. Every night it is like having a dog restaurant to open and close/clean up and not every night is the same.  That said, it is better than syringe-feeding or hand-feeding each dog because they refuse to eat or drink.

I heard the back door open and Someone yelled IN, “Gracie’s missing.”  I was watching the early morning news, thought that Someone was taking a break in his recliner because all was quiet and I was just working on the chicken, not in the “alert” mode.  I didn’t know that he had gone outside at that hour.

At first, I was not too worried about Gracie since I figured she was probably in another room that Someone hadn’t looked in, happily sleeping.  If she was outside, the entire property has a seven foot fence so I wasn’t too worried other than about the cold weather.  The only concern I had was that her collar may be caught on a bush or maybe she was stuck in some mud because I didn’t hear any barking and there was no movement outside at all–not even a twig snapping.

My radar started to go off.  Dementia was somehow rearing its head and I needed to find out what was happening.  Gracie was not on the property and after a full sweep of the RR, she was not inside.

I ran outside with no jacket and in socks and it was freezing out (thankfully, we live in the South). I had to solve this problem fast.  I stood before Someone who basically looks back at me now with a blank stare and started bombarding him with questions.  He would answer me! despite his decision to not bother responding to questions any more.

“What happened? Where is she? Where could she have gone!!!??” I started asking in my calmest, loudest voice.  I had to force an answer out of a demented-in-that-moment person (he was not lucid) with only the tone and strength of my voice.  As a low-key, calm, pretty gentle person this is very difficult personally for me to do.

“I looked through the fence and she is outside the gate,” Someone said.  OMG I thought. “How did that happen!?”  We have two big gates to get out of the fenced area but you can’t see one from the other. I knew that they were both locked.  He said that he was trying to open one of them when he saw Gracie through the slats, who is nicknamed, “The Wild Child,” but she disappeared, happily running.  He couldn’t get the gate opened, couldn’t figure out how to get to her so he came in to tell me.

“Well,” he started again. “Last week when Gabe was here to cut the lawn, he closed the other gate wrong and it cracked.  He said that he would fix it in two weeks.”  Why didn’t anyone tell me?  Before the sun went down that same day, that gate would have been fixed, and most likely I would have had to fix it myself. Screws, saws, drills–I have to learn now to do it all–and I am still learning.  (Caulking and Gorilla glue solves a lot of problems! LOL)

I “ran” over to the other side of the property. Sure enough the bottom horizontal beam at the bottom of the gate was completely off.  The crack had weakened the beam and the screws and the cold weather must have contracted the wood enough for it to just come lose.  Gracie is only about twenty five pounds and fast as lightning and must have just run through the hole.

Thankfully, and Thanking God in that moment, that I give the dogs lots of bones and treats and love and attention every single day because they respond really well to me. I give them a taste of my dinner–one by one by one by one by one…–and share whatever I can.  So, when Gracie heard me yelling for her a few times over, she came screaming through the now open gate and ran past me and right inside!  I was so grateful.  It was cold and dark and she can’t really be seen at night, except that I made sure that her collar has reflective thread in it so I can see her outside at night–in the yard!

So, all is well for the next few hours while Someone sleeps then it starts all over again.  I wonder what today’s challenges will be! I cannot even being to imagine. You cannot plan for any of this. Sleep for me, will just have to wait.

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I hope that you become a Rescue Ranch angel, too.  My gift to you is my writing, sharing my stories, sharing my knowledge and my love but I can’t do this alone. I need virtual support, prayers, and your gifts really make the difference in being able to finish this mission that I’ve been given–or falling flat on my face.  I am trying as best I can with all that I am.

Link to help: https://www.gofundme.com/gofundmecomicantbreatheblogfeb2019

Grateful.

Jane

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

 

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