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Four Day Dementia “Bender” Started With A Shower Head

My next story will be a RR dog story!

There are funny things that happen along the way but it seems like they are happening less and less frequently.  Like what happened to this weekend’s chicken bar-b-que pizza (aka a piece of rock-hard cardboard–see pic above or click the link at the bottom of your email post) that I decided to make instead of ordering in!

I always set the cook timer so the oven would shut off after the designated baking time because I never know what is to come but with everything going on, it took me another forty minutes to actually take the pizza out of the oven!  Dinner ruined, it’s soup and crackers–again! Oops! It was too late to call for pizza delivery.

I never thought I’d be writing about dementia–never mind living through what is simply a mind-bending experience–especially at my age (not retirement age).

I always thought that Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and the rest were “elderly” diseases which came on gently and progressed until the afflicted passed on at a much advanced age.  I never knew that there were “early-onset” versions of these diseases which progress faster–and come on and continue fast and furious–until the afflicted person passes on at a much younger age (in their forties, fifty or sixties).

In my Someone’s situation, he was in his 50’s when it hit. It didn’t help that I had never heard of something called Lewy Body Dementia which is a combination of the symptoms of about seven of these illnesses combined–not for the faint of heart or mind to deal with.  (It took nearly ten months and almost fifteen doctors and five different brain scans to get a diagnosis.) I am really strong but this is testing even my resolve.

I woke up this Friday morning–after about an hour and a half nap–to find a shiny metal shower head on the bed–it looked just like the one on the shower I use! My first thoughts were was the house being flooded and where was the water shut-off valve to the house!  I sprang into action.  (There is just never rest for the weary in these situations–every time I fall asleep, I wake up gasping, with my heart racing, wondering what I am going to find next–even if nothing is going on.)

Turned out that overnight Someone had “flipped” into what would become a four day active dementia “bender.”  (He doesn’t drink alcohol but I am at a loss for what to call these episodes. I need to ask his LBD specialist.)

He remembered that I had mentioned that I was having trouble with the water pressure in the shower and decided that he was going to surprise me and fix it–or at least investigate it’s cause. Thankfully, he fell asleep before he took out the main water valve in the shower thus avoiding the water catastrophe that I immediately jumped to in my mind when I saw the shower head on the bed.

For four days, I’ve had to be an almost 24/7 safety monitor, nanny, diplomat and stern mother to a very much grown-up man.  Thankfully as I write, he has snapped out of it and is now “himself” again which I pray will last for a few days–at least long enough for me to recover and regroup.  During those active dementia days, I can do nothing more than focus on what is before me second by second.  It feels like a million issues coming at you in fast motion that you have to evaluate, respond, prevent, intercede in and even deal with consequences or “oops-es.”

When in active dementia, which is particularly unpleasant in Lewy Body, everything has to be said over and over again–rarely are particular directives heard or understood until the intensity and volume increases as does the emphasis.  (In other words, talking softly, which is my nature, and calmly explaining things doesn’t work–between their brains not processing words/sounds and they are not wanting to be told “No.” You just have to “insist” sometimes!)  You have to take things away like from you would from a toddler who doesn’t know better, you have to prevent things from happening–always trying to anticipate one step ahead but sometimes never being able to do so.

Yes, there are institutions for people with this illness. Unfortunately, insurance nor Medicare covers them.  They are all private pay–at $8-12,000 per month depending on geography–the little bit of equity we still have in our house won’t go very far at all. A diagnosis of LBD means being held in a locked memory care facility (the most expensive level of care not by choice)–one that requires leg bands that track the patients like prisoners and prevents them from wandering away plus it requires a high staff to patient ratio.  Most people in these units however are of advanced age. The early-onset LBD people are few and far between.  The activities in these locked units involve looking out of the window, playing checkers and wheelchair gymnastics. My Someone is still able to walk and function when he has continued periods of sustained consciousness so it would be absolutely devastating to “snap to” and find out that your day consisted of bird watching–with a group of 80-90 year olds (no offense meant)–some in a continued state of “awake unconsciousness.”

Some caregivers and doctors have said that I could just “quit”–just leave Someone at his doctor’s office and say that he no longer has home care or just “resign.”  (How do you “resign” from caring from someone you love?) He would then become a ward of the state which would be worse than the private pay institutions.  I have been inside a state-run facility, many years ago as a volunteer Christmas caroler, and quite frankly, it was horrifying.  Everyone was naked, they had no blankets or anything that they could hurt themselves with in any way, the unit was locked down with heavy doors and gates and people were heavily sedated to keep the staff-to-patient ratio low. Even to my own detriment, I will not allow this to happen to Someone.  There has to be another solution.

Since I had to be awake most of the past four days–with an occassional nap–I needed to stay busy so I decided to clean out the refrigerator and Someone’s snack corner in the kitchen. (Someone’s snacks were overtaking the majority of kitchen so I had to designate an area with a confined bin and space which translates to limited snacks. He’s always loved to try different things–in sequence–but now, he wants to try them all at once!)

Dementia affects each person differently so I can only speak to Someone’s dementia-based quirks, one of which is saving one bite of anything “for another time.”  That means when I took apart the kitchen’s snack corner and bin and the refrigerator, there was zip-lock bag after zip-lock bag, stuffed in the back of the ‘frig and in Someone’s snack area, full of quart and gallon bags–each with just one single bite of everything he liked but had almost finished.  (I keep up with this task regularly so this wasn’t a surprise. It is just getting worse.)

Normally, I would have just thrown these bags out but with this stage of LBD, Someone can’t lose control over his “things” suddenly lest it trigger a tantrum.  Not wanting to deal with that at all, I had to ditch most of them quietly (Someone has no conception or memory of the inventory of what was there just that there were “bags of bites” there) so I left those that were recent/edible and then gave Someone a twenty four hour time limit to finish them. Without setting boundaries, no matter what they are or how arbitrary they are to me, Someone would just be lost. Setting and maintaining boundaries is no easy feat–they can be modified, and most times are many times over, but they have to exist.

I am extremely grateful to have Someone in my life still, in spite of this beast called Lewy Body Dementia.  I am having a difficult time imagining life otherwise.  I think the knowledge that this is not an illness that will get better but in fact, one that will end in ‘The End,’ is more than a little bit terrifying.  Those days that we can go for a ride in the car and enjoy the sun and the wind–and stop at Dairy Queen and hold hands and enjoy an ice cream–or sit and watch a movie together and have dip and chips or a pizza–or popcorn if we are lucky enough to actually be on time for a movie after four, five or even seven tries–are precious.  I used to take them for granted–like they just always would ‘be.’ Now, I know that they are going to be memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

My intention is not to depress or sadden you by writing about Someone’s illness and the situation around it.  I want you to just appreciate your life and your blessings and to encourage you to live in the present moment.  It is too easy to push through everything just to get through the day but the littlest, sweetest moments get lost.

For instance, I know that when Someone walks by me and tugs lightly on my big toe (if I am laying down resting, always with two ears “open”), that means that he loves me.  He doesn’t let a day go by that I don’t find my big toe being lightly tugged at least once.  While it may wake me up from a much needed nap, I have to appreciate the significance of what is happening.  Those tiny little moments get lost if you don’t slow down to notice them–and stop and thank God for them, too.  (Even a little dog’s lick of my finger after holding her water bowl up to her mouth is the same thing–it is a “thank you” or an “I love you” for taking special care of her.  Slow down, notice them and tuck those things away in your heart.)

Promise my next story will be a dog story–after all, my life is dogs–and dogs are my life!

Thank you for caring.  Especially for caring.

Jane

 

Want to Help?

If you would like to help with the many special needs dogs that I care for, please send a credit for amazon to: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

OR

If you would prefer to mail a card to Someone or something like a gift card (generic Visa to your favorite fast food restaurant or grocery store–all and any will be appreciated) to help the Rescue Ranch dogs, please mail to:

Rescue Ranch

4057 Riley Fuzzel Road

Ste. 500-130

Spring, TX  77386

 

Grateful. Always. Grateful.

 

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Archives: Girl, the Texas Pearl, and Brave Ada–both now our precious angels–enjoy the Sol Light (a light-therapy light) that was sent to the RR to try.  Little Bitty Bits is the one who adopted it as his own–and everyone else had to share!

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Bitty Bits LOVES the Sol Box by Pawsitive Lighting.  I think light therapy is good for people and pets–especially if you or your animals don’t get much time outside for your bodies to make Vitamin D (D3 especially!)-which is critical for all of our immune systems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not Just for Catholics: Divine Mercy Movie: One Day Only October 28. Tickets Selling Out Fast

I pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet every single day at 2 PM (which is 3 PM EST) and then I pray the rosary. On the weekend, on television, the chaplet is accompanied by music on EWTN  from the Shrine of the Divine Mercy and so I pray along with millions.  Wanting to know more about the history of the prayer/chaplet…

…I am currently reading the Diary of St. Faustina, the young nun who was given the vision of Jesus–and told to paint Him exactly as He appeared before her. She did…It is referred to as the Divine Mercy (original of painting above). She passed away at 33 after much suffering and illness.

While she was alive, her superiors had the painting redone (St. Faustina was not a professional painter) and it has been redone a zillion times–carrying miracles and blessings with it.  (I learned from the Diary...You will know the original Divine Mercy by two things–Jesus’ right hand should be no higher than his shoulder and His eyes should be looking slightly down, not directly at you.)

Now, the movie of Saint Faustina’s story will be shown on Oct. 28, 2019.  Tickets are on Fandango.com by zip code. There is only a 7 PM showing  on Oct. 28, 2019–in most of the 700 theaters–and so there are limited seats available. (If you want to see the movie, buy your tickets now.)

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Love and Mercy: Faustina dramatizes key moments in St. Faustina’s life and the difficulties and triumphs that accompanied the spread of the message following her death in 1938.
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A new film about the life of St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy message revealed to her by Jesus will be shown in theaters for one day only, on Oct. 28.

 

Love and Mercy: Faustina is set to run in more than 700 movie theaters across the United States.

 

The docudrama follows the incredible call of St. Faustina to religious life and the gift of the Divine Mercy image and messages she received. The healing effects of the Divine Mercy message continues to impact millions of people around the world.

 

The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, who promote the message of Divine Mercy, served as consultants for the 120-minute docudrama that was written and directed by Michal Kondrat.

 

“The idea to create Love and Mercy first came to me two years ago after reading the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska,” said Kondrat, who filmed in his native Poland as well as at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and locations in Lithuania and Italy.

 

“Divine Mercy is changing millions of lives, but most Christians are still unaware of the power of the message that Jesus gave to humanity through Sr. Faustina, a simple Polish nun who is now a saint,” said Kondrat, whose previous films include Two Crowns, dedicated to the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

 

Filmed in English, Love and Mercy: Faustina dramatizes key moments in St. Faustina’s life and the difficulties and triumphs that accompanied the spread of the message following her death in 1938.

 

Captivating scenes include Faustina’s call from Jesus to enter the convent; her relationship with Fr. Michael Sopocko, the priest sent by Christ to help her carry out her mission; the often-frustrating process of creating the Divine Mercy image, as Jesus had requested; her and Fr. Sopocko’s trust in Christ amid the many spiritual trials; and the handing off of key Divine Mercy documents to a Marian priest, Fr. Joseph Jarzebowski, who escaped to America to fulfill his promise to promote Divine Mercy.

 

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Saint Faustina

Maria Faustyna Kowalska (born Helena Kowalska; 1905–1938[1]), also known as Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament and popularly spelled Faustina, was a Polish Roman Catholic nun and mystic. Her apparitions of Jesus Christ inspired the Roman Catholic devotion to the Divine Mercy and earned her the title of “Secretary of Divine Mercy”.

More on the Divine Mercy Chaplet: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaplet_of_the_Divine_Mercy

Divine Mercy in Song:

This is the entire 20 minutes from the Shrine of the Divine Mercy–but the actual Chaplet itself is only a little more than ten minutes.  (If the link does not work, just go to Youtube.com and search for Divine Mercy in Song.)

 

Just a side note…there is something very special about this painting.  I printed out several copies and placed them in a couple of rooms at the Rescue Ranch.  Whenever I feel overstressed or need comfort, I just touch His raised hand for a second–or stand and say a prayer or even just say, “Help.”

I feel extremely blessed to be able to share this with you–whether you believe that Jesus is the Son of God or a prophet or a spiritual mystic, this story is pretty amazing. You don’t have to be Catholic to print the painting of Jesus or to appreciate the content of the movie.

Whenever I am scared or going to have a test or operation, I just keep repeating the saying underneath the painting, “Jesus, I trust in You.”  There is a powerful sense of peace that comes with saying (or thinking) this tiny prayer.

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I hope you sign up (above–click on the four black lines at the top of this blog page– you can get email notices of new posts by just entering your email address–and they stay private to this blog) to get my posts–and check out my other posts while you are here!

Remember, LOVE is all this life is about–even finding the way to love yourself.

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The World Turned Upside Down: Life with Dementia

I was trying to dig out cold butter from the tub with my white plastic spoon today.  I was just trying to put some on spaghetti–I can finally start eating soft foods after almost a year and a half after a dudodenal ulcer blew open.  The situation was just so silly that I thought that maybe I should share a little snippet of what life is really like these days–living and caring with Someone with Lewy Body Dementia. Unless you have lived through it, you just cannot imagine the different stages that come and go, some more traumatic than others.

Not only do I want to share, so in case this crosses your own life, you can be braced for what’s to come but for those of you who are lucky enough to not have this in their lives, please take a breath many times a day and appreciate the simplest things–like you can use silverware to eat, and plates, that you can sit at a table and have a conversation that revolves around more than snippets from TV shows and that you can smile and laugh with each other, with your animals, even with yourself.  I really miss talking about geology, world events and working on finding the remedies and cures for different canine diseases and life in general.

Plastic spoons are the only utensils that we use now since a year after after Someone was diagnosed with LBD–just before Christmas, December, 2015–we were in shock for a month after that!

Imagine trying to eat spaghetti–even broken up into small pieces before boiling it, is a comedy to behold!  I even have to use a spoon to cut birthday cake!

Soon, I will need to order red plastic spoons and plates since as these patients’ vision decreases, they can only really see their food against red–and now, they have discovered against yellow, too.  (Helping them continue to be as independent as possible is the continuing goal.) There are red dishes, spoons, cups and some adult size toddler forks (smaller, wider tines) but with the hand tremors that come and go, forks are not as safe as spoons.  After the “red everything” stage, there are vibrating spoons that counteract the tremors so LBD people or even those with Parkinson’s can use to continue to try to feed themselves.  Just a single vibrating spoon is almost $200!  That phase is still a while away I hope-so is the wheelchair and the need for a home with no thresholds, wider doorways, non-slip floors and many more accommodations.

I keep a small paring knife hidden in a plastic bag, tucked inside a drawer, just in case I need to cut up some fruit or vegetables.   I had to put all of the regular silverware away at least two years ago.  I just emptied out the drawers and put it away.  The utensils were being used for digging in the yard, getting lost down the disposal (something that is now also locked down–and unfortunately rusting into a mass), being put in the microwave with meals and more.  I do have a rubber mixing spoon and ladle out that I use for the dogs’ food.

The oven and cooktop are locked and are only used when I have the baby gates to the kitchen closed to keep Someone out and it is safe to use them. I am on high alert during these times–it is not relaxing at all to cook. The switches are taped down on the appliances if I can’t remove the knobs or lock, corners on counters and furniture are wrapped in bubble wrap and packing tape in case of a fall or Someone slips. The doctor is ordering a lock for the refrigerator and freezer.  Middle of the night food feasts happen more often than not, contributing to Someone’s growing waistline. (This is important to stop this because I have to be able to help Someone if he slips or falls or even needs a shower, etc. but at a certain weight, I will be unable. Even now, I would need a mechanical hoist if he could no longer walk.)

We use plastic or paper plates.  Too many of dishes were broken in the first few years and it just became a hazard.  I have lovely things to set a table with, but now, little by little I am donating most everything to a women’s shelter donation store or asking if anyone needs anything. (If you are in need or setting up a house, please contact me.) We drink out of plastic cups and the dogs all have metal dishes–no more ceramic or hard plastic–and water bottles so if something drops, there is no mess or hazard.

It takes at least three hours to get Someone up and showered and dressed to even go to a doctor appointment. Thankfully, he is still able to stand and take care of himself but I have to supervise everything–from taking an hour to just get him to get up out of bed to getting him to eat to changing into clean clothes. (Hygiene is constant issue –they see wearing clean clothes as “wasting” the clothes they wore previously–unless they are covered in mud or dog food or spaghetti sauce for instance.)  For some reason, a lot of dementia people have an aversion to baths and showers (maybe it is a water and/or noise phobia?). I have to wait until Someone is sleeping to gather up all of his clothes and towels and wash and dry them and put them back exactly where they were and how they were.  If Someone is awake and I try to do his wash, he will wrestle them away from me and put them all back where they were.

Often times, I have to reschedule appointments two, three or more times in a row before we can actually get somewhere.  Some doctors understand, some do not and then I have to find another one who will.  I think until you have lived with this disease, you cannot comprehend how devastating it is to “normal” life expectations. Maybe then they would be more tolerant.  Having patience is a grace that I continually pray for–sometimes second by second.

Lewy Body Dementia is a progressive, neurologic disease–and it is terminal, usually in about seven years give or take.  The hardest part to deal with, besides utter and complete exhaustion from having to be a babysitter/superviser 24/7 because they sundown or have episodes that can go for twenty four hours of straight activity, is that at any time,  they can “flip” back to normal or back to “active dementia.”  One minute you can be supervising someone who goes to get the mail at 3 AM in his BVD’s (everything has an alarm and bells on it now to thwart these episodes) to the man you knew before he became ill–just physically declining, suddenly “showing up.”

At that exact moment, when he flips back to consciousness, he is himself and cannot understand why everything is locked up, taped up, why I am hovering, exhausted, and repeating things over and over again since in the dementia state, you have to repeat the exact same instructions day after day and sometimes hour after hour. There is a sharply declining short-term memory.  I have even tried making signs like, “Turn off the TV,” or a schedule of eating and activities but they are simply ignored and in his “normal” state, he is offended by it all.  Hearing issues/mistakes happen often and while some are hilarious, others offend Someone when he misunderstands what was said and it is really uncomfortable.  Hearing and eyesight decline–almost every single light in the entire house is on all night long and TV’s and/or the stereo are on as loud as I can stand it.

Television is the be all and end all. It captures the LBD mind and he will stand in front of it like in a zombified state for hours if I don’t intervene. TV is on 24/7 on two sets.  On one TV, he sets the channels up for the dogs–we have one, Rocky Rocks, who actually can watch the shows with Someone and so Animal Planet and Vet shows, etc. are on all the time.  (I have to take a movie of Rocky watching TV.  It is too funny! He loves porcepines and horses–and of course, dogs! My beloved Poppy was the only other dog I have known who could watch TV like this.)

On the other TV, which is in the bedroom, Someone will try to watch all kinds of very noisy war movies or history shows but since I sleep on a futon couch perpendicular to my “Sigh,” “old” bed,  I intervene and put on some things that are more peaceful. My mind has got to rest a bit!  I get a little grump or two directed at me like, “Why don’t you just go to sleep…” which means, “Go to sleep so I can change the channel back and turn the lights on,” but my eyes, ears and mind just get too tired to have that noise drilling into my mind all the time. I finally decided to take an hour a day and go sit in the guest room and do my prayers and rest when Someone finally goes to sleep. I just enjoy the quiet and stillness. Once he falls asleep, I go into the bedroom and turn just the screen off on the TV. He will wake up if the sound is turned off–and I need a break–so I leave it on low!

They hoard things–everyone has different things but let me tell you that this is mind-warping to deal with.  One night, I saw a row of ants going across the wall into the office.  “What in the world…” I thought at 3 AM.  I found a cache of candy stuffed behind the door.  I began to look for more.  After finding two garbage bags of candy–all clearance candy he picked up and hid from whenever we went grocery shopping and there was nothing special imparticular–from lollypops to tootsie rolls to Sweethearts–anything for less than a dollar.  I let him pick a few things out and had to throw it all out. It has been accummulated from the clearance tables for years apparently. He only has $20 in his wallet for emergencies so he had to get it cheap and there is no discrimination of what it is as long as it is on clearnace.)

Between his weight issues and the disease destroying his teeth and gums and skin (he was a tooth health fanatic so this just breaks my heart for him), I could not have these outdated, children’s sweets squirreled away all over the house.  (Any sweets angels send, like special treats, hams, breads, cheeses and cakes, I keep in the refrigerator and share a little at a time. He can definitely have the fruitcakes and goodies that you send–he loves fruitcakes especially!)  I now have to supervise Someone in the store like a hawk which makes it very difficult to concentrate–or to relax at all. Walmart is the number one go-to requested stop–so we stay away from it! Candy is just one of the things that Someone likes to hoard.  Cardboard is another huge issue. (One day, the pictures I’ve taken will speak a million words.)

They also develop habits that are harmless but test your last raw nerve.  For instance, if I serve ice cream for a snack, he eats it and then scrapes the bowl at least 300 times if not more to make sure nothing is “wasted.”  When I stop and pick up salads, I get “ordered” to leave the kitchen because he now has taken over my precious spice collection and spends an hour creating his special salads.  I am glad that he is doing something with such enthusiasm especially more than sleeping or watching TV so I emotionally let go of my spices (I used to love to cook–and Someone loved whatever I made even when I goofed!) but it hurts a little to see the spices that I collected from all over and used to cook great meals with, no longer organized nor usuable for more than Someone’s salads.

Since everything is on lock down, only the basics happen now in the kitchen–a beautiful chef’s kitchen is now unrecognizable no matter how many times I re-organize it.  I look at the pictures of what it was and just want to cry, hence the need for gift cards to bring in meals for Someone and for the dogs.  There are days and nights that I can do no more than hand out burgers to all, take a shower and collapse because my body just hurts so much.  (I still have to stay awake though until Someone gets tired enough to lay down–then I wonder what quality of sleep I am really getting one hour or half an hour at a time.)

Someone loves getting cards in the mail.  It is the highlight of his week.  The few people, the very few, who send them, will be blessed for their compassion, I am sure. His family and friends ditched him when he got sick and so his world is me, the dogs and his mail, his doctors, the clerks at the grocery stores and occassionally, the handy man who his wife thankfully sends over to help me around the yard/house. To see the happiness that comes from opening a card–he cannot do email anymore–and now he asks me to read the cards to him–is a special moment.  I thank God for those who do this and who continue even though he can’t write back. It has been a few years and a few more to come.

When the weekly mail comes and there are no cards some weeks as time goes on especially, I notice his disappointment and am sad for him.  To see a man, who was so selfless and gave everything he made to help people and animals and to perfect the cure for canine distemper, be abandoned by almost everyone, is heartbreaking. Even his own mother wrote to him a few months ago telling him to just get his act together, come take care of her like most sons would do, and go back to work!  (He would give anything to go back to his beloved geology!) Even she, knowing the diagnosis and prognosis doesn’t get that just because he is walking (albeit slower and stiffer) and talking (albeit more confused), that he is dying slowly and painfully.  This is why it is called “the slow goodbye.”

There is levity at times when I have had some sleep and he is “himself,” we do belly-laugh at the things that have happened or that he has said or that he mistakenly hears instead of what was said. Someone says he is glad that I can “entertain” myself in this situation. The moments can last for an hour or a few hours but I always know that Lewy Body Dementia is going to return–the beast that I had no knowledge of before this and the beast that I am determined won’t get the best of us. I thank God that I believed in Him and in Jesus so strongly–in fact, my entire life–before this happened.  I talk to the Divine, pray a lot and ask for strength, for mercy, for stamina even as I run through my day and the long nights.  I don’t know how someone who didn’t have an established faith would do in this situation.

The dogs are a blessing even though some people, including his mother, have said to get rid of them or even euthanize them if I can’t find them homes. They are not adoptable or they would have been adopted a long time ago.  We took them in when no one else would. Yes, it is super difficult to juggle all of this but with some help, which is dwindling at the most needed time, it was easier.

The dogs play with Someone and give him a reason to get out of bed or away from the TV and they just adore him.  He talks to them with such love and adoration and they respond in kind. They play catch and tug and a couple of them sleep with him or nap with him. It is a beautiful thing to watch. He is a dog whisperer really. If we didn’t have the “Herd” to care for, I think the situation would be so overwhelming for me–there would be no distractions to a situation that is devastating.  At least this way, there is love, entertainment and play time for all of them and Someone–just the work of keeping it going all falls on my shoulders alone now–and I can’t go out to work to support the crushing expenses or even to go to the doctor by myself.

Yes, there are locked memory facilities that admit Lewy Body patients.  They cost about $12,000 a month–so it is not possible to do at this time plus I don’t want Someone to be locked up when he is still flipping into conscious awareness.  It would just destroy his spirit.  So as long as I can manage, I will continue what I am doing–learning to laugh at the bowl-scraping and the hoards and piles of things and the, and the, and the…Some day, I will be able to live a “normal” life again and in the meantime, I just have to flow with what is going on, making sure Someone is safe and that everyone is taken care of.  I pray for the strength to keep going and for the patience to do so as well–sometimes minute by minute.

Today, when you would rather stay home from work, be joyful that you can go to work.  When you are tired and have to cook dinner, be thankful that you have a kitchen to use and the ability to make whatever you want, when you want.  When you want to go to a movie, to a doctor, to have dinner with friends, be grateful that you can get out to do these things and also that all you have to do is grab your keys and wallet/purse and get in the car–without planning for hours on how to just get to the store for some milk!

…and when your dog/cat/horse needs to eat, share your table scraps–as long as they are foods they can eat.  No dog should “pass on” without having tasted pizza or ice cream or peas or lettace with ranch dressing or mashed potatoes with melted butter! Cats have their own special treats as do horses and hamsters and turtles!  Never walk past or over an animal without stopping to massage their shoulders or pet their heads or buy them a new toy or tell them that you love them. The same stands for the people in your life.  Never take anything or anyone for granted.

In other words, be kind, compassionate, sharing of yourself, caring and loving whenever you can, as often as you can to those you know and even to those who just cross your life’s path.  Live life with a grateful heart no matter what life brings your way.  In the end, it is all really just about love.

God bless you always in all ways.

Jane

Mike.Mebs.Pops.Grand.Canyon.2.2007.a.lighter

Yes, ours dogs–our babies really– (Mebs and Poppy) even went to visit the Grand Canyon with us!  Just after this photo, the Rescue Ranch opened and we took in our first dog–a little Cocker Spaniel, Kasey, in February, 2007.  

 

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Kasey was the dog of a soldier who was deployed to Iraq.  He had been left with the soldier’s mother in North Carolina but we found him in the Los Angeles area while we were on vacation!  We contacted the phone number on his tag and his family relinquished him to us.  God called Kasey’s name in April, 2016 and then Poppy was called just six weeks later. We adored this gentle little dog and always will.

 

Remember, please click on the link below in your email of this post to see the featured pics as well as the edited posts.  I always edit after I publish–it is easier to correct posts in that format.

 

IF you want to help the Rescue Ranch–or write to Someone–the mailing address is:

Rescue Ranch

4057 Riley Fuzzel Road

Suite 500-130

Spring, TX 77386

 

Anything e-  credits, cards, (amazon credits are needs as are generic gift cards, gift cards to McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s and HEB (grocery stores) should go to: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

 

Thank you for caring.  Especially for caring.

 

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PS  Sorry I have not been writing so much these days.  I used to get up every day at 5 AM and just write.  Now, I have to put it on a ‘To Do’ list or I have resorted to writing “Write!”  on the palm of my hand!  One day just blends into the next and there is never time–except for once in awhile–to sit for hours and just write.  Those were the days I thought would never end…cherish yours while you can.

 

 

 

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Surviving the Rain of Noah: Houston’s Latest Storm Imelda

The Rescue Ranch is in the greater Houston area and yes, we experienced Imelda or what felt like the rains that lifted Noah’s boat out of the water in biblical times! Thank God, we are all OK–emotionally, spiritually and physically–dogs, people and property. Many others were not so lucky though.

We knew there was a storm coming and while we keep sandbags and plastic sheeting handy to block the doorways outside, we didn’t have to use it.  We are in a little “island” of properties that seem to be protected–while the area around us gets high water in the streets mostly.  The buildings and homes have not flooded were we are.  We can’t get out of this small area though–the roads are blocked off to stop people from leaving and winding up under water!

The rain came down so hard and fast–and thick–that it blocked the air conditioning unit outside from working–and it was starting to whine and sound very stressed so it had to be turned off.  Anyone in the southeast knows that keeping the inside free of humidity and heat is very important to more than our comfort.  While we keep it between 75-76 degrees to keep the bills down, we cannot just open the windows for fresh air and cooling.  There is none to be had!  The air outside turns inside hinges to rust in the house, brings mold and can wilt anything in a day or two.  We were told by the builder, when we first moved in, to never open the windows and to decide on a a/c temperature we could live with and keep it on and steady–always. (We also run two dehumidifiers 24/7 as well.) I love sleeping with the windows open at night and so this was a real adjustment for me not being able to.

For storms and very hot days, I keep ice blocks and frozen ice bottles in the freezer and have battery-operated fans to keep the dogs cool in case the electricity goes out as it often does.  If it gets really really hot, I put a cold facecloth or towel (depending on the size of the fan) over it to blow the cool air at the dogs.  I also keep a bathtub filled with cool water and can add ice to it if need be to cool off our feet or the dogs!

The dogs have never heard rain like we just had in Imelda.  Even Harvey was a multi-day event and we had lots of notice that it was coming.  There was panic in the dogs’ voices and barks but with reassurance and calming chews, they all gnawed on a bone until they calmed down.  I stayed up to comfort the animals, just listen to the rain and the sirens (and pray for those in trouble) and just pray prayers of protection.  I never get upset with storms–they always remind me how powerful God is and I appreciate it and just am in awe more than am frightened by it all.

We lost the television signal and the phone and internet right off the bat.  I wondered how would we call out if there was an emergency!  We had no idea for a good day or so what had happened to the area.  Even my radio was not getting reception because of the thickness of the rain and quantity of lightening I think.

The lightening was and still is very dangerous right now.  We have ground lightening–which means when a lightening bolt comes down from the sky that one from the ground goes up to meet it in the middle.  We also have side to side lightening that is about five to six feet off the ground.  It is very dangerous and when an animal won’t come in when it starts, you have to go out to get it.  I had to go get Big Mandy, the St. Bernard, one year who was stuck on the side yard.  I had to run down low to make sure we didn’t get hit by the side-to-side lightening and hope that the ground lightening didn’t start just yet.  It was counting on faith and a “Grace of God” moment.

People were stranded on the highways going across the area and north and south. Just two days prior, we had been on those highways to the city, anticipating the rain that was to come, we ran a few errands early.  Thankfully.  Some people have lost their lives and it makes me sad.  A young nineteen-year-old man went out to resuce his horse but the lightening plus the high water caused his death. No one has mentioned what happened to the horse. Another man thought he could drive his van through the water until he hit a dip in the road that was eight feet under water and despite ten good Samaritans going in after him, he perished.  Others went to farms and one by one, carried goats and led cows and horses to shelter.  The water was going over the huge animals’ backs and still rising!  There are more stories like that but I will just ask that you pray for the people of the area who lost their homes–again–who lost their lives, who lost their workplaces, and more.

Thank you for asking if we are OK and for praying for the Houston area.  There is great power in prayer.

I think the powers that be in state government need to fix the flooding problems here.  They had no zoning in the past so every inch of property in the city was cemented with roads and parking lots and buildings–leaving a city built around bayous and rivers, on the Gulf of Mexico, with no where for water to drain off so it just builds up and goes into the buildings and homes.  Even the corrections that were made to fix the problems with Hurricane Harvey after August, 2017, had a negative impact on some communities that never flooded before!  It is an engineering nightmare that needs to be addressed.  It is just not fair for so many people to keep losing their homes and property year after year–they can’t even sell it to move on because it keeps flooding!

Sending lots of love and always Hugs from the Herd!

Jane

 

To help the Rescue Ranch rescue dogs…

*You can send an e-card or amazon credits (needed right now) to: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

*Send a gift from the Rescue Ranch Amazon Wish List: http://a.co/5Gay7Cf

OR mail cards, generic Visa cards, prayer cards, Everything Dog to:

Mailing Address is:

Rescue Ranch

4057 Riley Fuzzel Road

Ste. 500-130

Spring, TX   77386

 

We have a dog with cancer, two dogs with congestive heart failure, one dog with serious skin issues along with lots of special needs dogs–all who need medicine, supplements and vet care never mind the basics of eating and bones for stimulation since some of them cannot even walk. We need your help in any way you can–prayers included. Thank you for caring, Especially for caring.

Just an idea of what your gifts help with:

$10 is one meal for all little dogs

$20 is one meal for the medium dogs

$20 is one meal for the big dogs

$60 is knuckle bones for all for one week

$325 is medicines for big dogs for a month

$225 is medicines for little dogs for two months

$15-25 is a Burger King Whopper-only dinner for all (or Wendy’s or McDonald’s)

$9 is bones for a day for the big dogs

$9 is bones for four days for the little dogs

$30 is a bottle of 500 ppm Silver Wings Colloidal Silver (for their water)

$35 is a bottle of Manuka Honey for those with immune system issues (caused, for instance, by being spayed too young while sick with distemper)

Medical supplies, vet bills, peanut butter for medicine balls, supplements like Manuka Honey and colloidal silver help keep the dogs with weak immune systems strong, are all extras, nevermine the chicken for those who can’t eat dog food (mouth injuries cause all kinds of problems), or fresh milk and whipped cream so the blind dogs can gauge the milk depth in the bowl, kibble, canned dog food, etc. etc. etc.

If you want to just give a gift, you can go to the top of this blog, click on the black spot and it will open to a way to get email post updates as well as a Go Fund Me link to help the dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Take Care of Your Own Self First: My Personal Journey

Breathe. Believe. Receive.  “Everyone has limits, and there will be days when you feel that you just can’t do it anymore…Sometimes you need to stop achieving and start receiving. Know that real strength comes from knowing your limits and asking for help.”  Leeza Gibbons

Rose.red.single

With the help of your prayers I am sure, I survived last week’s efforts to open a pyloric stenosis with some success and no complications other than a lingering stabbing pain in my front and back which will go away after about five weeks. Fixing the duodenal bulb defect may or may not be necessary in the future, and if so, it will need to be laparoscopic or even open abdominal surgery “to cut the whole thing out,” said the doctor as I cringed.   Here’s to hoping that it can be avoided.

I have been on a liquid/baby food diet for months now to faithfully aid in the healing process and with the hope that my complete cooperation will help avoid further surgery. I have two more weeks before I go back to get the results of everything but the doctor seemed very happy even though I was on consciousness-altering IV meds.

A few of you have told me that all the medical stuff is too complicated to understand–so far–so let me try to explain it all for you.

Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area in August, 2017.  While we did not flood, thanks be to God, I had to take care of Someone at home with a terminal neurologic disease, lots of special needs rescue dogs AND help rescuers all over the area who had been flooded out and their animals needed to be placed and moved ASAP.  There was tons of pressure to do things fast to save lives. People were calling, just desperate for help, but the added stress on top of my own level of severe stress was extraordinary.

I had had a vague pain in my right side for awhile–it was deep inside my body just above my waist–but during Harvey the pain became unrelenting.  I remember collapsing once and telling Someone that I felt like I was dying but I didn’t know why. Eventually, I picked myself up and kept going.  Lives were on the line.

I did call my PCP and he called in a few different medicines to try to help but I found that keeping two ice packs pressed hard on that spot–even laying on top of the ice for more pressure or binding it to my abdomen–was the only real relief I could get. Yes, the PCP recommended going to see an internist but there was no time and it was very difficult to get around.  Saving lives was all that mattered to me. I thought my own “life” could wait and by thinking that way, I almost lost it!

LESSON LEARNED: There is a reason airlines tell you to put your oxygen mask on first–before you help anyone else.  You have to take care of yourself to be able to help others.

Things got worse after the storm passed.  Solid food wouldn’t stay down and I found myself getting weaker and the pain was getting worse.  I still didn’t give myself time to find out what was wrong.  Then, last May, a little more than eight months after Harvey, I almost died.  I felt a volcano erupting from deep inside myself one Sunday afternoon.  Within hours, I had lost more than half of my blood volume and my sight, which returned once I was laying down and stabilized. Every half hour or so, the blood was coming up and down which really confused me as I tried to figure out what could be going on.

I remember asking to be put in the tub at home just to contain the mess–while I was figuring out what was happening–before I went to the ER.  (Silly me took photos of it all and texted them to my friend, a nurse, to ask if she thought I had a problem that I could not handle.  She just about became unglued that I hadn’t called 911 yet!) From the ER, I was put right into the ICU.

At first I refused surgery and transfusions.  From Sunday to Tuesday, I was kept alive by three IV’s in my arms and the Grace of God.  Then a person who worked in the ICU whispered in my ear, “You don’t want to ‘do’ your family like this, ” he said.  He continued to tell me of a young husband who recently refused help like I was doing, whose heart then gave out and his wife had to bury him.  I was heading down that road and in fact, I would wind up having an NDE the next morning.  I came back to see about a dozen people in gowns and masks surrounding me.

I finally agreed to exploratory tests and procedures and ultimately OK’d fixing whatever was wrong. It would turn out to be an unknown ulcer in my small intestines that ate through the duodenal (small intestines) wall all the way to a blood vessel.  The doctor said when he got into my small intestine, the blood vessel was continuing to rhythmically spurt blood and I would have died had he not fixed it.

After surgery, the nurses tried two different times to get me on my feet and I slipped through their arms right to the floor like a wet noodle.  I could not stand up.  I had no blood pressure or strength.  I had written, “No Transfusions,” on my forearm before I got to the ER with a Sharpie but the nurses explained that I was still at high risk for heart failure never mind not being able to recover if I didn’t take blood transfusions. I prayed about this and just bit my bottom lip and decided to accept packed red blood cells as a gift from God.  As the blood was running into me for hours and hours, I just kept repeating, “Jesus, I trust in You” to quell any anxiety I was having. I want to thank anyone who has donated blood–ever. You saved my life.

Fast forward.  

After a week in the ICU and step-down floors (lessening levels of care), I kept having a pain in my back especially on the right side.  I think this problem existed the entire last year but the PCP thought the pain was a kidney infection–the duodenal bulb and kidney pain are about in the same area.  Since tests showed that I had an HAI or hospital-acquired infection from a hospital mess-up, I spent from August to January, 2019 going through a bunch of tests and scans and being treated in the hospital outpatient transfusion center to get rid of that infection that was resistant to oral antibiotics.  The pain in my back would lessen for awhile–I wasn’t eating much during that treatment–but then it would get worse again.

When the pain would not fully go away and yet the HAI tests were negative finally, light dawned on my marble head this summer and I went back to the surgeon who “fixed” me in the hospital.  Maybe, just maybe, something was wrong from the surgery?

At first, the doctor said, “What happened last year is old news.  It is all healed.  The pain in your back is just orthopedic. I’ll get you a referral.”  Nope, I thought, not so fast.  I asked for, really insisted, for more (ugh) tests. I knew that “deep inside” pain from last year and it wasn’t orthopedic.

stomach.duodenum.image.wise.geek

To his surprise, when the doctor did a colonoscopy and endoscopy* in June, 2019 (*sending a lighted scope down your throat), he found that he could not go through my stomach to the small intestine–or the opening that allows food to go from your stomach to your intestines, the pylorus–to see how the repair of the ulcer was doing.

The end of the small intestine that meets the stomach–the duodenal bulb–was deformed from scar tissue from the ulcer repair–and the hole to allow anything to leave my stomach was almost closed. Every time, post surgery, I would try to eat, my stomach became like concrete and I couldn’t keep a lot down.  (Ice cream, applesauce, McD’s egg patties and Boost Breeze–a clear juice-like nutritional drink with protein that I was first given at the hospital–have been my dietary staples for over a year.)

After five to six weeks of being on a quadruple dose of anti-acid meds and a few other meds, the doc went in to open the pylorus–the hole that allows food to go into your intestines.  They have a bag of different tools to try from balloons to stretch it open to botox to keep it open and other methods before resorting to cutting out the section of your stomach and intestines–ouch.  I did not know what I would wake up to but even without my glasses, I could see that the doctor was happy. The pylorus is open about 60% now, even though I have to stick to my same boring diet of no solid foods–hoping that it continues to open even more with time.

One More Issue to Deal With

In the meantime, two of of three medical issues I’ve had are hopefully falling behind me. I still am facing a decision of what to do about the mass in my belly that they found doing all of the tests for my intestines.

It is hopefully still encapsulated–surrounded by a wall of tissue–but on a May, 2019 PET scan, it reacted to the dye which means it could contain cancer.  (They cannot biopsy it, as they can can with some masses, or if it is cancer, it would spread. It has to be taken out whole or left in and then I have to deal with the consequences of either decision.)

The hospital is currently having another radiologist read the PET scan then I have to go to another surgeon (hopefully with another approach than the major cancer giant in the Houston area which was gruesome) in a few weeks to discuss the results and risks of both leaving it–or having it taken out.  The cancer giant said that his surgery would require four teams of doctors, huge incisions and a long recovery time.  I just don’t think I want to go through all of that but with lots of prayers and God’s Grace maybe I won’t have to.

I’ll write more about the Rescue Ranch dogs soon.  They are on their best behavior and so many days in the past weeks, I have relied on those Whoppers and burgers, tubs and bones that you have sent–and I have been and continue to be soooo grateful for your compassion and caring. I just didn’t want you to worry about me since some of you knew that I was going in to the hospital.

Sending lots of love and always Hugs from the Herd!

Jane

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Bitty Bits tried out the diaper and suspenders sent to us by handicappedpets.com

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Incontinent after being maimed by a mentally-challenged teenager, he also lost his tail in a prior accident, so the diapers didn’t stay up/on.  Instead, we opt for expressing him (pressing on his bladder) and using lots of pee pads.

Bits is not feeling well right now.  He is still eating but he is having to be syringed water and milk.  He has lost most of his vision from a eye disease that affects Chihuahuas and little dogs but he is still lovable.  Until God calls, we will love and cherish every minute with him.

Bunny.Penny.doxie.playing.chair.a

Even dogs in wheelchairs, or carts, can have fun!  Bunny and a little dog we saved and since adopted out–Penny–loved to play tug!  Penny was dumped at a shelter on her first birthday after her owner found out at her vet that she had mange.  The medicine that was dropped off at the shelter with her worked in just two weeks and we then had a proper birthday party for her before she went to her new home.

The Rescue Ranch is about trying to do the right thing morally for animals who experienced so much wrong at the hands of people.  We want the dogs to know love–and that they have a home and a good life–before God calls them.

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We sang “Happy Birthday” to Penny and the whole gang was ready to have a taste of Penny’s first birthday cake!  Bunny is next to her on the junior bed, my beloved Poppy’s apricot tail is in the middle and Girl, the Texas Pearl and Someone are on the right.  So many others’ photos I’ll save for another time.

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Penny was such a great dog!  I considered calling her owner to tell her that the mange had cleared up so Penny could go “home,” but after mulling over how her owner literally dumped her at a shelter and on her first birthday, I decided that Penny should have a new home with unconditional love.

 

Doxie.dogs.heart

 

To Help the Rescue Ranch Dogs…Please.

*If you would like to send something on the Rescue Ranch 2019 Wish List, please go to our amazon quick link: http://a.co/5Gay7Cf

*If you would like to help with via the Go Fund Me link (for medicine, food), please go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rescue-ranch-holiday-blessings-2018

*E-Gift cards and amazon credits should go to: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

*And if you would rather use the postal system or send something, our Mailing Address is:

Rescue Ranch

4057 Riley Fuzzel Road

Unit 500-130  (make sure this is on anything you mail please)

Spring, TX   77386

Be sure to include an email address if you can with anything you mail or send.  If you can’t, if you want to know that it arrived, please send a separate email to: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

Please remember that…Any and ALL gift cards to any restaurants, stores, fast food, etc. are ALL WELCOME!  We will make sure that they benefit the many dogs at the RR!!

Thank you for caring.  Especially for caring!

Hearts.loveisallyouneed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Do Good" Opportunities, Human Interest News, Lewy Body Dementia, Spiritual, Uncategorized

God Grant Serenity…

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“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I have had a very difficult time sitting down to write.  Not because I don’t have so many things to write about or to say but because I have too many things to write about and to say!  Where do I begin…??

Several angels have written to me asking how I am doing and why they haven’t heard from me lately so I thought that I would post to this blog to let you know that I am still standing and that being overwhelmed is the understatement of the century.

As you know, I am not only trying to help Someone with a bizarre, progressive and terminal neurologic disease, Lewy Body Dementia, all while having been sick for more than a year with a hole in my small intestine–most likely caused by the acid released from holding in lots and lots–did I say lots–of stress!  (Yes, I am now acutely aware that stress can kill you so exercise and relax as often as you can so it doesn’t get to this level!)

In addition, while not the stressful part, I have lots of special needs dogs who call the Rescue Ranch their home–and require lots of resources and time and attention.  The stressful part is trying every month to figure out how their needs are going to be met since Someone can’t work anymore and is on disability, we are now living on 30% of what our income was when we started the RR–and angel help has dropped dramatically due to lack of exposure, I think.  I just can’t do it all, including writing regularly, and as a very responsible person, it bothers me that I can’t juggle all of these things right now.

I was supposed to have the first surgery this past Wednesday, endoscopic–(the docs are trying to do it by going down my throat into my intestines first trying to avoid open surgery from the outside/in which is a big deal) to repair the damage with lots of tools where my stomach and small intestine link up but after the stunning unexpected loss of a significantly close family member on Monday morning (not Someone), my guts were too swollen inside from crying for them to operate so it has been rescheduled to this coming week.  In the meantime, I am limited to a liquid diet of Boost Breeze (a nutritional drink with protein that is thin like juice), applesauce and ice cream.  After more than a year of being sick, I am still hopeful that getting better is just around the corner!  (I keep putting off the surgeon who wants to operate on my abdominal mass until after I can at least eat again!)

Meanwhile, Someone is getting worse.  Staying up all night, he has full-on feasts at 4 AM (the docs are finding me locks for the frig and cabinets) and then he wants to go wander the neighborhood for exercise afterward–and have me go with him–and then takes the dogs out for playtime before dawn…well it all has me exhausted.  No matter what, my alarm goes off at 6:50 AM every day,  which is hours before Someone is even ready to settle down so I can start my day.

Now, by noon, he is able to lay down but in his wake, he leaves the kitchen as if there were a New Year’s Eve party (minus the alcohol), hoards every bit of cardboard possible and candy and sweet things (they are hidden in the den, in the office, in the laundry room, etc.) and he fights to keep it all from being recycled or thrown out, all while calling professionals and writing checks/getting them in the mail on those 4-5 AM outings or while I am napping–which are being returned NSF–gulp–and causing just plain havoc that I have to spend hours daily trying to straighten things out just about every other day.  He sounds credible on the phone but he doesn’t understand what he is doing. I feel like all I am doing is fixing problems and cleaning up after Someone.  The messes and screw-ups, though, are getting bigger.  It is time to lock up the phones and the computer.

The problem is that every major incident causes that acid to run through my body (yes, when it is this bad, you can actually feel a stress hormone being released, triggering the acid and eating through your guts) making me more and more sick. (In fact, for over a year, I kept two ice packs on the spot that blew open last year, trying to quell the pain and postpone whatever was happening. I didn’t have time to get it fixed, whatever it was–and now look what has happened!)

The doctors (his and mine) have been encouraging me to consider permanent placement of Someone or at least temporary placement for a few months while I get better. No stress=no acid release=my guts being able to heal. But, it is not covered by insurance and so unless we have the assets to do that (we don’t), or I surrender the RR and his disability which would leave me and the dogs virtually homeless, I have to either take care of Someone or find a relative who can/will (there are no volunteers to help in any way despite his extended family.  Since he’s gotten sick, other than one visit from his half-sister, I just hear “crickets” when I even ask for a show of caring like an email or a card).

Realizing that I am no longer the super human that I tried to be, I have to nap when he rests and force myself to get up to do both dog, house and property maintainance and I have a list a foot long of my own Honey Do’s.  I am not a plumber nor a lot of things so they are going to require professionals although I sure am doing my best to try to learn.

The RR angel fund has one regular gift of $15 each month. Then…one angel sends a box of Rattle Ball treats monthly; another sends big cans of food and peanut butter bones; another sends gift cards for Someone (and special surprises for him) and the RR Herd as she is able; another collects things with her mother and drops off different size food tubs that I’ve been freezing for treats in the 110 degree plus heat, blankets, toys, and odds ‘n ends that we need as she can monthly-ish; one gives amazon credits when she can; one sends the much needed little dog food tubs and includes special treats for Someone (all who do this just touches my heart), and occasionally, a gift card or prayer card or special religious very special something or an extra surprise for the dogs finds its way to me.  I am so grateful for all of this help, I truly am.

That said, it costs $800 month to feed the dogs and $600 for their medicines and medical supplies and $300 for bones (I try to make them myself as I can) and and and.  I refuse to give up on these animals when they have less than a year to five years left most likely (special needs animals have shorter live spans) but having more–and more regular– angel help, sure would take some of this stress away. The overall debt is crushing and the constant hoping that help will come is a source of unconscious stress. Hopefully by next May–give or take a month or two–I can make some permanent changes or get well enough to figure out a way to pick up a work-from-home income or be strong enough to move.  I know that right now, I can concentrate for five or ten minutes at a time–imagining eight hours of concentration time seems like a dream from way back when and now impossible!

I had to laugh last night when I took a good look at what I personally own.  I have been trying to organize to be ready to pack and get the RR ready in case I need to put it on the market next spring.  I have been making bags of donated personal stuff to give to a shelter and a section of stuff (like furniture and some wedding presents, etc.) that I may have to sell on consignment or give away to angels and realized that I haven’t bought any shoes for myself in over 15 years and that aside from some pajamas, I haven’t bought anything new to wear either in all that time!  I have always made the needs of the dogs and now those of Someone a priority and myself last.  I don’t feel bad about it, I just thought it was kind of interesting!  I don’t even have any vices that I waste money on!  Sustaining and preserving life has always been more important to me my entire life than money or possessions and when I really took inventory last night, it was clear that I am living/have lived what I believe.

Well, enough for now.  We are alive and as fine as can be.  All prayers are welcome and very much appreciated. In turn, every time I am at the hospital, we light candles for you–and that is a very special place in which, I am sure, God hears prayers.  I try to look above the immediate circumstances and just firmly believe that God has brought us here and so He will bring us through it!  He can move the heart of one, some or many to help or to pray or to find ways to make a difference in any of our lives.  Remember, every act of caring and compassion counts, no matter the size.  It is all about intention.  He can also send a miracle, a benefactor, heal us, any one of a thousand things to change a situation.  It is my/our job to remain optimistic and faithful.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Labor Day!  If you happen to be in Florida, please be safe and if you find yourself in trouble, please let me know if there is any way that we can help.  Keep your pets with you and be emphatic (and unwavering) about your pet’s safety.  They depend on you to safeguard their lives which is an awesome responsibility and one that you morally must honor and if you can’t, you must find someone who can.

Sending lots of love and always Hugs from the Herd!

J

 

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Cubby when it was his turn to eat some of the RR 2019 (12 year!) Anniversary Cake…

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Sweet Cubby AFTER having his turn at the cake!  He was happy–and even had to have a run with his favorite toy before sitting down for this pic!

Cubby and his brothers were abandoned by a rescue group at the RR–and we were never able to get them adopted so they found their forever home.

All (any) e-credits or cards please send to: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

Mailing address:

Rescue Ranch

4057 Riley Fuzzel Road

Ste. 500-130

Spring, TX  77386

 

Immediate needs:

Stuffed Twist Peanut Butter bones  (as many as possible)

Wish List Wet Foods (three sizes needed: 10 oz, 3.5 oz and 2.5 oz)

Visa/MC Gift Cards (can use for medicine, food, etc.)

Amazon gc’s or e-cards

Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s gift cards or e-cards

Any gift cards to HEB, Kroger’s, etc.

…and IF you are not using a gift card of any sort, please let us put it to good use!

 

Thank you for caring. Especially for caring!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Uncategorized

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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